How Do You Find a Book?

Here are some tricks that librarians use to find books.  I have non-fiction books in mind, but most are also applicable to fiction books.

  1. Get the correct spelling of the author and title. For this, Amazon search engine is more forgiving than the library catalog, so it’s a good idea to cut and paste from there.
  2. Westchester Library System, controlled Subject terms: Once you find a book in the catalog that looks like it fits your criteria, and you want to find more like it, click on the subject links. This is “controlled language” that has been sorted out for you, by librarians, by specific subject headings, so you get rarely false hits.
  3. If you don’t find what you want in our system, go to  You can click on subjects on worldcat, too, (see number 2 above). Worldcat will tell you what libraries in your area have a copy of the book you’re looking for.
  4. Interlibrary Loan service. Ask your Reference Librarian to get a book from outside the Westchester Library system (after you find it on Amazon or Worldcat).
  5. Get an ebook from our catalog. Read this article, “You Can’t Judge a Book by It’s Digital Platform”  to find out how to get an ebook from our catalog.
  6. Get an ebook from Google Books.  Google has scanned books, from title to index at the back of the book.  You may full text search them.  I mention the index because if you are looking for information on topic, it’s better to use the index than to full text search, because indexers, aka humans, have gone through the book for you to look for your topic under different names, and made sure that it is not the same words interpreted differently.
  7. Go to  Google Scholar.  Google Scholar is similar to Google Books, except that these books are “peer reviewed” (aka the kind that teachers like students to use in college).  Remember to check the index, even if it’s full text searching, because the humans who make those indexers find your topic under different names.
  8. Health Resources: Our Health Resources page, accessible from, has specialized databases on Chronic Illnesses, Disabilities, Older Americans, and Pediatrics.  These databases pull together many resources other than books, but the websites and articles are all vetted, and you can look at the websites and articles list of sources to get more books on the topics.
  9. Other sources: even if you use a site like Wikipedia, you can always check the source list and look for the books that they list as a source.
  10. Project Gutenburg  “offers over 53,000 free ebooks: choose among free epub books, free kindle books, download them or read them online.”
  11. JSTOR  journals, books, research reports, primary sources. This is a great resource particularly for History papers.  Make sure you register to use it to get the full benefit!!
  12. Novelist Plus Get a recommendation on what to read next.


Mind Mapping


Mind mapping is being used by CEO’s, librarians, students, and basically everyone.  My 15 year old daughter introduced me to this method of organizing thoughts.  Anyone can make a mind map, out of any of the traditional materials such as pen and paper, so why didn’t I learn this when I was in school?

Maybe because doing it online allows for so much more (I’m old enough to have used a typewriter).  For instance, colors for different branches of ideas, ability to move things around easily, and re-prioritize without re-drawing everything.  Online mindmaps give you the ability to add pictures, which makes things much more memorable, and websites, to quickly add links to sources.  And whether in print or online, it is a helpful to get a bird’s eye view of a project or presentation, so you can note the connections between ideas.  Online, you can share your ideas with others by pushing a button.  No wonder it’s being taken by storm.

Continue reading “Mind Mapping”

Speed Reading with Recall and Comprehension: A Crash Course

Speed Readingfast-car-flames

People read faster  and understand more while reading print materials,  because it’s not as distracting.  But if you are tied to a screen, then use free app.

Move your finger along the page faster than your read- maybe 30%  faster, and try to keep up.  Or,  customize the settings on your Accelareader app to be about 30% faster than you read.  Read in chunks, not individual words, skip the “stop words” that don’t really add (like a  or the).  You can time yourself first to figure out how many words you read in a minute to figure our what  30% faster means.

When you have a little time to practice, read things at your normal speed, then go over it again twice as fast.  Force yourself to get into the habit of reading faster by practicing reading faster, and faster.

Set deadlines.  Track the time it takes to read a page, and tell yourself the next one will beat that time.

Get out of that bad habit of saying the words as you read them.  You think faster than you speak, so speaking slows you down.

Comprehension and Recall  memory

Comprehension and Recall are somewhat tied together.  Recall depends on repetition.  When you take these steps to comprehend, you are also repeating the information.

  1. Get an idea of what you’re reading before you read it by skipping through it. Read the introduction and the conclusion, the titles and headings, and if there are no subheadings, read the first sentence of each paragraph.  Don’t worry about comprehension yet.
  2. Then read it, to maintain the speed, speed up in the middle of an essay, and in the middle of paragraphs.
  3. After each paragraph, start asking yourself, “What did I take from that?” At first, actually take notes.  As you improve, take mental notes.  From there, change that from after every paragraph to after every page you read.
  4. Try to tell someone else what you read, in your own words.
  5. Other techniques for memorizing are visualization, and exaggeration. If you can visualize an exaggerated version of what you read, you’re more likely to remember it.

Go to our homepage,, under Educational Resources, and click on for details on speed reading, and more specific advice such as:  How to read a book in a day, tips for reading newspaper articles. Magazines, textbooks, and tablets, and more details on what’s written here.


Scary Stories to Watch in the Dark!

Did you have a look at our list of scary stories to read? Here they are again, just in time for Halloween!


Of course, we’ve got  great books in the library. We’ve got some great movies, too! Here are some classic chillers to watch on Halloween weekend.


  • frankenstein  Yes, it’s the classic Frankenstein starring Boris Karloff!  A quick question for you: what’s the name of the character Karloff plays?

a. Frankenstein, of course!

b. Igor.

c. Frankenstein’s monster; he doesn’t have a name.

d. Something else.

You can take the movie home to double-check your answer! Continue reading “Scary Stories to Watch in the Dark!”

Major Pettigrew’s Last Stand by Helen Simonson

Book Review

.Major Pettigrew, a kind and proper Englishman, lives in a small, country village. He frequents a shop, similar to a general store, in town that is run by a Pakistani Woman and her family.

The Major’s brother passes away. Their relationship was laced with veiled competitiveness, and rather prickly. This event is the catalyst, along with a curious inheritance, that changes his current life in ways he never expected, including the people around him.

Readers will enjoy the superb writing, and the surprises Major Pettigrew encounters as he wrestles with, and makes a go of many challenges.

So, what the heck is NaNoWriMo, anyway?

Next month is National Novel Writing Month. That’s right-many thousands of people all over the world will be striving to write a novel-length manuscript in just one month. If you’re one of them, we’re here to help!

Did you know your friendly neighborhood library is now a place for writers to meet up and work on their novels? It’s true! We’re now an official location for nanowrimo

And our creative writing club, Just Write, will be meeting twice in November. We’ll be supporting all you aspiring novelists out there with an hour an a half of writing time as part of a welcoming, encouraging group. Our first meeting is on Monday, November 14 at 6:30 p.m.

We’ve got online resources to help you work at home, too! Continue reading “So, what the heck is NaNoWriMo, anyway?”