Maine Public Library Information Commons

 Maine Public Library Information CommonsBy Kim Erickson Myers January 11, 2012 2:00 AM

I recently attended a workshop to learn more about the new information resources that have been collected in one helpful online web page called Information Commons. This is all part of a Broadband Technology Opportunity Program grant that also provided computers, broadband Internet access, and video conferencing capabilities at a number of public libraries across the state.

The BTOP grant sought “funding to equip Maine’s public libraries to become — information commons areas — to serve as access points to free high-speed Internet service and to provide assistance to vulnerable populations both in the use of technology and in finding and using needed information in the areas of employment, civil law, health, government services, small business information, and workforce development.”

You can access the Information Commons online resources from our homepage at by clicking on the Information Commons logo on the right-hand side of the page. there are six components to Information Commons: Learning Express Library, Getting a Job, Health Information, Business and Legal Information, Digital Literacy, and eGov Online.

1. Learning Express Library: Learning Express has resources for elementary school levels through college and beyond. These include online courses, practice tests and e-books. the e-books can be downloaded to a flashdrive, Kindle, Nook, or other e-Reader. A great resource for parents, homeschoolers, and students, it includes GED prep, LSAT, TOEFLE, ASVAB, other civil service exams (postal worker, etc.) and test-taking skills improvement modules. you need a library card to sign in. you can create an account so that your exams will be scored, or so that you can go back to a test to finish it later and you can save all this info in one place. the user is the only one with access to this info.

2. Getting a Job: With only 12 career centers in Maine (Springvale is our closest), and libraries in almost every community, public libraries are a prime source for job seekers who need access to the Internet, computers and printers — to prepare resumes, cover letters, and apply for jobs online. under “Getting a Job,” there are great resources for resume writing, cover letters, job searching, checklists, resources on making a visit to a job fair productive, interviewing skills, and identifying cross-over skills. there is also a video on how to file for unemployment benefits.

3. Health Information: you can trust the health information provided through the links provided under Information Commons. They include MedLine Plus, produced by the National Library of Medicine, which offers reliable, up-to-date health information about diseases, conditions, and wellness in language for lay people. you can learn about the latest treatments, look up information on a drug or supplement, find out the meanings of words, or view medical videos or illustrations. you can also get links to the latest medical research on your topic or find out about clinical trials on a disease or condition.

The Health Information also includes links to information about senior health issues and children’s health as well as get Better Maine. you can use this site to find a doctor or hospital in your area, compare health care providers, and locate free health-care resources and KeepMEWell, which has information on how to stay healthy and how to assess your health risks.

4. Business and Legal Information: Starting a business? you can find information on writing a business plan, financing, taxes, etc. the Getting Legal help section has information on family law, elder law, housing, employment, and consumer law among others. there are also links to Legal help Organizations, including Pine Tree Legal which represents low-income people in many civil cases.

5. Digital Literacy: How to use a computer, navigate the web, set up an e-mail account, upload a resume, use social media. All the skills anyone must have to be successful in the workplace or to stay in touch with family and friends. there are also modules with video demonstrations and tutorials of Microsoft Office programs, how to set up and use Skype, how to use a mouse/keyboard, maintain your computer, purchase a computer, and many, many more. A link to GCFLearn — (Goodwill Community Foundation) provides tutorials on a variety of topics including cloud computing, downloading mobile apps for various platforms including iPhone, Android, etc., and also reading and math, map reading skills, computer tutorials, and money (using an ATM, counting change back, paying bills, etc.).

6. eGov Online: Many government functions are now available online. you can register your vehicle, fill out and submit your tax forms, renew your driver’s license, get a hunting and fishing license or a burn permit, pay a traffic ticket, find a state park, and more. This one resource provides links to all of these online government services.

Try out these resources. we think you will be impressed with the easy access to trusted information. as the BTOP grant application stated, “Public libraries have historically provided a gateway to information. They are perceived as safe places to go for unbiased, friendly, confidential information. as broadband is introduced into rural communities, the public library is a logical place to learn to use the new medium. … That is the aim of the Maine Public Library Information Commons Project.”

  • Split Bamboo Fishing Rods: At 7 p.m. Friday, Jan. 13, this program is back by popular demand. Sante Guiliani and Fred Kretchman will discuss the split bamboo fishing rod and encourage anyone to bring their antique fishing tackle for identification, evaluation, and value on today’s market.
  • “No place Like Home”: At 7 p.m. Saturday, Jan., 14, the Diversity Forum’s Economic Insecurity Film Series continues. After their apartment burns down, Mike and Zan Cooper (Jeff Daniels and Christine Lahti) move with their two children into the home of Mike’s brother, but tension between the families forces them to move on again, and a downward spiral of bad luck soon finds them homeless. while Mike desperately seeks work as an electrician, Zan takes a low-paying job as a waitress, and their son’s entanglement with a drug dealer adds to their heavy burdens (1989, NR, 93 minutes).
  • family fair: the York Public Library’s Family Fun fair will run from 10 a.m. to noon Jan. 21. the lower level of the library will be full of local people offering programs for children from preschool through grade-school age. Looking for a preschool? Searching for the perfect art class? Wanting a chance to try cooking or yoga? Not sure what your child wants to try next? Come to the library and talk to program representatives while your child explores hands-on activities. It’s a great way to learn more about the wonderful area we call home. 363-2818.
  • “Precious”: At 7 p.m. Saturday, Jan. 21, see this film, part of the Diversity Forum’s Economic Insecurity Film Series. Viciously abused by her mother (a riveting, Oscar-winning Mo’Nique) and pregnant by her father, Harlem teen Precious Jones (Oscar nominee Gabourey Sidibe) has an unexpected chance at a different life when she enrolls in an alternative school. Teacher Blu Rain (Paula Patton) encourages her, but Precious must battle unimaginable barriers everywhere in her lifen (2009, Rated R, 109 minutes).
  • “Winter’s Bone”: At 7 p.m. Saturday, Jan. 28, the Diversity Forum’s Economic Insecurity Film Series continues. In director Debra Granik’s unflinching noir drama set deep in the Ozarks, resilient teen Ree Dolly (Jennifer Lawrence) goes on the trail of her missing, drug-dealing father when his absence jeopardizes the family’s safety. Her deadbeat dad has a key court date pending, and Ree is determined that he show up — despite the objections of the insular Dolly clan. the film earned Oscar and Independent Spirit Award nods for best Picture and for Lawrence (2010, Rated R, 100 minutes).
  • winter Concert Series: At 3 p.m. Sunday, Jan. 29, Tom Dean will play the York Public Library. one third of the group DEVONSQUARE, this well-travelled performer brings to the stage intelligence, talent, and amazing songwriting and vocals in songs about the road, radio ghosts, redemption, Elvis, small-town new England life and, of course, love. Alan Taplin, a York High School track coach, will open the concert.

  • Infant Lapsits: 10:30 a.m. Wednesdays for infants to 2-year-olds. Come for a program of stories, songs, fingerplays and rhymes.
  • PRESCHOOL STORY HOURS: 10:30 a.m. Thursdays and Fridays. Thursday programs are designed for 3- and 4-year-olds. Friday story hours with Miss Kathleen are designed for 2- and 3-year-olds. Stories, songs, fingerplays, crafts, and science.

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