Monday, January 26, 2015

Continuing Education Resolutions for 2015!

eCampus ResourcesFront line librarians at the Atlanta-Fulton Public Library System. spend a lot of time touting the benefits of our library system’s free databases to our patrons and the public in general, and while I do actually use many of them myself while manning the reference desk, I have never actually enrolled in an online course through the continuing education databases that we make available. I hope to change that in 2015! With so many varied class topics to choose from in either personal or professional development, it seems foolish to continue to allow these opportunities to pass me by. And what better way to sell these resources to our users than to become familiar with the process myself?

While we offer several test preparation databases as well that are also very useful for those interested in furthering either education or career (See all eCampus Resources,) the two continuing education databases we subscribe to at AFPLS are Gale Courses and Universal Class. Both are free to library card holders in good standing and both offer a wide array of highly interactive, instructor led courses.

Gale Courses: Courses available through this database run for six weeks and new sessions begin every month. This is a certificate program geared towards professionals, including CEU (Continuing Education Units) and PLU (Professional Learning Units)-granting courses, and online GED, SAT/ACT Prep courses. Enrolling is a simple process that only requires the user to have a library card and email address to create a free account. Once enrolled students must log in and view the first two lessons within 13 days after the start date of the course to avoid being automatically dropped. If dropped, you do have the ability to enroll in the course during a later session. When a course selection is clicked on, users will be given an overview, syllabus, instructor information and requirements for enrolling. Clearly this is not an entirely self-paced set of courses as each session takes place within a six week time frame, however with classes ranging from Accounting and Finance to Writing and Publishing, users from all backgrounds are sure to find value in the classes offered here. An award of completion will be given after a passing final score.

Universal Class: While this database definitely offers courses that would be beneficial to professionals, it also offers hundreds of courses, all instructor-led, on almost any topic imaginable. This resources boasts over 500 online self-paced continuing education classes for adults in a range of subjects related to skills, jobs or personal growth. Face Painting, Weight Training, Flower Arranging, even a Beginner’s Guide to Wine class are all examples of the personal continuing education resources you will find here. When library card holders choose a course they will be taken to a page with a full course description, syllabus, information about the instructor and number of CEUs the class provides. Another feature of this database I liked was the recommended related classes that are also listed for the user when a course is selected. Signing up for that wine class? Maybe you’d like to pair that with Italian Cooking 101! Classes are self-paced here, which may be both a blessing and a curse. It’s wonderful to have the flexibility to take a class at any time of day or night that suits your schedule, however with no completion deadline I can see how a lot of users might start something they never finish.

Both of these offer users so much variety in terms of the range of topics covered. For someone like me just looking to find something fun it’s almost overwhelming! Still, I am excited to discover something new and to accomplish my goal of completing one of these classes in the near future. As the day winds down that wine class is sounding better and better all the time…

Tuesday, January 6, 2015

Atlanta Housing Authority Choice Voucher Program

The Atlanta Housing Authority has opened its Housing Choice Voucher Program (Section 8) today, January 6, 2015, through next Tuesday, January 13, 2015 at 5:00 p.m. Instructions for registration can be found on the website in both Spanish and English and there is also a 1-800 Hotline you can call for assistance. All branches of the Atlanta-Fulton Public Library System and many other sites around the city are available to accommodate applicants who need computer access, and these sites have been provided with some information to help applicants get started. Registration is FREE and pre-applications will NOT be accepted at any AHA office or property. If you are selected you will be notified via email at the email address you provide at registration, or applicants can call the Hotline or log onto the Website for updates. 

To submit a pre-application, registrants must be 18 years of age or older or an emancipated minor as defined by law. Registrants who submit a pre-application and are selected as applicants to be on the official HCVP Waiting List must meet HCVP eligibility criteria and other requirements at the time they are drawn from the HCVP Waiting List for voucher assistance.

Applicants must meet HUD's Very Low-Income Limits published during the period in which they are drawn from the waiting list, and applicants must reside in the city of Atlanta during their first year on the program. For more information on HCVP eligibility criteria, click HERE.

Don't let this deadline pass you by!

Monday, December 22, 2014

Find Your Next Favorite Book!

The Atlanta-Fulton Public Library System has several tools for helping our patrons discover their next great read, the best tool of course being your local librarian! But while databases such as NoveList (hint: get to this one through GALILEO using the GALILEO password) are excellent resources for finding author or title read-alikes, finding all books in a series (listed in order!) and for finding recommended books in a particular genre, there are other websites out there that can also help readers find just what they're looking for...even if you don't know what it is you're looking for! Below are just five reader's advisory websites that can be used to help discover your next favorite book.

Fantastic Fiction: Bibliographies on over 30,000 authors and information on over 350,000 titles. This site contains an extensive list of Series and Awards. For something akin to read-alikes, search for an author and once on their page scroll down for a list of books that author recommends. Also includes lists of New Books and not yet published Coming Soon titles. Mostly focuses on better known authors, so if you're looking for more obscure authors/titles, you may not find them here.

Goodreads: One of the most popular online book sites, now owned by Amazon, and is great for making book lists based on reader/user reviews. You can search by genre or browse through their lists of Goodreads Choice Awards which compile the year's best books in various genres based on Goodreads user votes. Sign up for a free account, start rating books you've read and receive personalized recommendations based on other reviewers.

WhatShouldIReadNext: This is a very straight forward and user-friendly site both in its interface and it what it offers the user. No need to create an account (although you can if you want to add your own reviews to their extensive database,) simply type in the name of a book or author on the home page and based on member reviews the database will generate a list of recommended reading. This one can be very useful when you just want to quickly get a list of possibilities to check the library shelves for.

Whichbook: A fun site to play with for readers who want to put in a few minutes of time to find the perfect next read. Whichbook generates recommended reading based on the user's mood, or essentially the mood of the book you'd like to read. The site provides a list of sliders that users can choose four of to indicate their mood (are you looking for something more Happy or Sad, Safe or Disturbing, Easy or Demanding, No Sex or Lots of Sex, etc.) Users can also browse through mood book lists that have already been created, or can create their own. A fun tool for discovering titles you may not have thought you'd like, although not as useful at finding author read-alikes.

Shelfari: Another site that has been acquired by Amazon, Shelfari is a social cataloging site for books. It requires a bit of time and effort up front, but if you create a free account you can rate, review and discuss books with other members and even join groups to connect with other readers. What I find most useful here is the virtual bookshelves users can create. Different shelves for books you've read, books you'd like to read, books you own and books you are currently reading help to sort and keep track of all the recommended titles you might come across. The readers advisory is strictly based on other users' reviews, but as an organizational tool this site is very useful.

Happy reading!

Friday, December 12, 2014

Palmetto Library Grand Opening!

The Atlanta-FultonPublic Library System announces the grand opening of the new 10,000-square-foot Palmetto Library, which will open to the public with a celebration on Monday, December 15 at 11:00 a.m. We would love to see as many of our patrons as possible at this event!

This is the second library to open as part of Phase I of the Library Building Program. Houser Walker Architecture provided design/engineering services for the new library. New South Construction provided construction management services, and Heery/Russell provided program management.

The Palmetto Library is imagined as a series of ‘rooms’ or small buildings nestled within a semi-rural landscape. Drawing on vernacular structures from the region, it features large rooms, corresponding to the major functions of the Library. A nearby barn provided inspiration for the overall form of the building, which responds to specific views, solar characteristics, and functional requirements of each defined room. Materials used for the exterior of the library draw upon the legacy of building in the entire Palmetto/Chattahoochee Hills region, while reinforcing the civic character of the structure. The structure will age well and give a rich patina to the building as time passes. 

As with all of the new libraries, a public art project featuring a local artist will be on permanent display for the community. The sculpture, On a Roll, was created by Andrew T. Crawford for the Palmetto Library. Made entirely of bent steel, this work is  loosely based on the imagery of an old tractor that has been left in a field. The sculpture responds to the facility in that its concept is a reflection of the underlying architectural theme.  The structure of the building is based on the reorganization of the forms found in agricultural buildings, mainly barns.

Please join us as we celebrate the opening of this beautiful new library!

WHEN:          Monday, December 15, 2014 11:00 a.m.

WHERE:         Palmetto Library
                      9111 Cascade Palmetto Highway
                      Palmetto, GA 30268

RSVP:            404.730.1977 or 

Monday, December 1, 2014

Atlanta-Fulton Public Library System Celebrates Its Volunteers!

The value of volunteering topped $1.5 million last year at the Atlanta-Fulton Public Library System, with 2,008 volunteers donating 67,645 hours of time in 2013 valued at $1,525,407.15 in donated services. This is the sixth year library volunteer services have topped one million dollars!

The 24th Annual Volunteer Recognition Award Program was held Saturday, November 15, with over 125 people in attendance. Special guest speakers included Stephanie Moody, Chair of the Atlanta-Fulton Public Library System Board of Trustees and Fulton County Commissioner Joan Garner, District 6, who is also former Library Board trustee.

Library volunteers serve as adult literacy tutors, English as a second language (ESL) teachers, homework help aides, math tutors, computer assistants, clerical assistants, children’s program aides, special event hosts and more – in any of the Library System’s 34 branches. Volunteers with Friends of the Library groups are active in 24 branches and served over 22,000 hours last year.

Some highlights of the volunteer year include:
  • 146 volunteers donated over 100 hours in 2013, including 58 who donated over 200 hours. Three of these volunteers donated over 1,000 hours in 2013!
  • Several volunteers reached milestones including 28 volunteers who celebrated their five-year service award, 16 volunteers who celebrated their ten-year service award and eight volunteers who celebrated their 15-year service award. Eleven volunteers received the Millennium Award for reaching a career total of 1,000 hours.
  • Laura Thompson, volunteer at the Sandy Springs Branch since 2010, won the President’s Call to Service Award for reaching a career total of over 4,000 hours and with 1,350 of those hours being served in 2013, she was also in the top three volunteers with the highest hours for 2013. Additional winners included Ben Statham who served 1,379 hours with the Friends of the Alpharetta Library and Carol Harrison who served 1,174 hours with the Friends of the Roswell Library.
  • Eleven young adults and nine teens won the President’s Volunteer Service Award, and 15 Friends of the Library groups won the President’s Volunteer Service Award for groups serving over 200 hours in one year.
Congratulations to all of those who reached milestones in volunteering in 2013, and a great big THANK YOU to all of our wonderful volunteers throughout the library system! We would not be able to do all of the things we do without your time and dedication. You are much appreciated!

Top 2 Atlanta-Fulton Public Library System volunteers Laura Thompson, Sandy Springs Library, and Ben Statham, Friends of the Alpharetta Library, celebrate the “Big Check” with (L to R) Interim Library Director Anne Haimes and Chair of the Library Board of Trustees, Stephanie Moody.

Odessa Washington-Williams (middle), Friends of the South Fulton Library, celebrating her 5 year anniversary with (L to R) Fulton County Commissioner Joan Garner, District 6, and Chair of the Library Board of Trustees, Stephanie Moody. 

Monday, November 24, 2014

Atlanta-Fulton Public Library System To Open New Palmetto Library!

The Atlanta-Fulton Public Library System is thrilled to announce the grand opening of the new Palmetto Library, which will open to the public with a celebration on Monday, December 15 at 11:00 a.m.

The new 10,000-square-foot library for Palmetto and Chattahoochee Hills is part of Phase I of the Library Building Program. The library is located at 9111 Cascade Palmetto Highway, Palmetto, GA 30268, an area not previously served by a library.

Houser Walker Architecture provided design and engineering services for the new library. New South Construction provided construction management services on this project, and Heery/Russell was the program management team.

The Palmetto Library is imagined as a series of ‘rooms’ or small buildings nestled within a semi-rural landscape. Drawing on vernacular structures from the region, it features large rooms, corresponding to the major functions of the Library. A nearby barn provided inspiration for the overall form of the building, which responds to specific views, solar characteristics, and functional requirements of each defined room. Materials used for the exterior of the library draw upon the legacy of building in the entire Palmetto/Chattahoochee Hills region, while reinforcing the civic character of the structure. The structure will age well and give a rich patina to the building as time passes. 

In November 2008, Fulton County voters overwhelmingly passed the Library Bond Referendum. The plan will greatly enhance all of the county’s libraries, and includes 8 new branch libraries: Alpharetta, East Roswell, Milton, Northwest Atlanta, Palmetto, Southeast Atlanta, Metropolitan and Wolf Creek, and two expansion projects: Auburn Avenue Research Library on African American Culture and History and the South Fulton Library. The Library Building Program plan maintains 34 libraries, the current number of libraries in the system, by eliminating leased spaces and its oldest libraries. Green building design and sustainability are priorities for these library building projects, and the Library System expects to achieve LEED Silver on all of the Phase I projects.

An important part of each new library is its public art project. Through the Fulton County Art in Public Places Resolution, 1% of each building project budget goes toward the creation of public art. For the Palmetto Library, artist Andrew T. Crawford was selected through a community-driven selection process, and has produced a large steel sculpture visitors will see as they enter entitled, On a Roll. The 15-foot-long and 5-foot-wide sculpture, created entirely out of solid metal bent bars, is loosely based on the imagery of an old tractor that has been left in a field.

For more information or to R.S.V.P. please call 404-730-1977 or email To keep up-to-date on the Library Building Program or other library events, visit

Atlanta-Fulton Public Library System is the largest in the state, with 34 libraries and a collection of more than 2.5 million items. It offers innovative programs, services and virtual resources tailored to meet the needs of each branch's community. Children, teens and adults may choose from a variety of classes, visit exhibitions, listen to authors discuss their work, check out videos, DVDs and CDs, attend book club discussions, get homework help, hear music and see live performances. Last year patrons borrowed more than 3.6 million items, made 4 million visits to the libraries and our website had over 5 million hits.

Thursday, November 20, 2014

Become A Volunteer At Your Library!

The holiday season is the perfect time of year to reflect on how you can give back to your community. Volunteer efforts are a large sustaining part of so many non-profit organizations around our city and county, and the Atlanta-Fulton Public Library System could not be more thankful this time of year for all of our wonderful volunteers! If you are looking for a place to donate your time through charitable work, why not consider your local branch library? There are countless ways to get involved at all of our locations. We would love to welcome you aboard our fabulous team!


All volunteers are asked to complete a Volunteer Application!

The Application for Volunteer Service can be submitted to the Office of Volunteer Services of the Atlanta-Fulton Public Library System (AFPLS) by mail, fax or dropped off at any of our branches.
Volunteer Services: 404-730-1965

Auburn Avenue Research Library Volunteer
Auburn Avenue Research Library on African-American Culture and History
Volunteers at the library assist with behind-the-scenes clerical tasks and/or serve as docents/tour guides and hosts/hostesses for special events. SeeVolunteer Opportunities.

Children's Program Aide
Assist staff with preschool story hour by preparing craft materials and name tags, ushering and supervising children during programs. Assist with puppet shows, parenting workshops and other programs. Help with Summer Reading Program by registering children and distributing certificates.

Computer Lab Specialist
Skilled computer users are needed to assist the public by answering questions and assisting with computer basics, Internet access, word processing, spread sheets and other software programs in Library computer labs or to assist with computer classes.

Computer Lab Trainer/Workshop Presenter
Experienced trainers needed to conduct workshops on computer basics, software applications, resume writing, Internet use and other computer-related topics.

ESL (English as a Second Language) Coach
Volunteers conduct or assist with small classes for individuals learning to speak English. The Library provides training and resources for teachers and students.

Homework Help Assistance
Volunteers are needed in branches that have Homework Help Centers by helping students with their homework after school, including assisting students utilizing the computers for their assignments, and providing general supervision of the children. Another great group project. Adopt a branch now!

Job Search Coach
Help individuals learn to use library technology resources to develop their resume and use the Internet to search and apply for jobs online.

Library Clerical Aide
Help library staff with such tasks as preparing arts and crafts materials for library programs, checking books and other library materials for damage, making simple repairs, assisting with filing and/sorting library material.

Library User Survey Assistant
Take counts of library patrons and distribute surveys on library usage at the Central Library and at branches. Done several times a year. Different shifts available.

Literacy Tutor
Assist adults who are learning to read or are improving their reading skills. Volunteers are paired with learners and work one-on-one. The Library provides training and resources for tutors and learners. (more information)

Math Tutor
Volunteers with math skills needed to assist individuals with basic math such as adding, subtracting, multiplication, division, fractions and percentages.

Shape Up The Shelves!
Shape Up The Shelves group projects make it easy for volunteers to get involved with the Library. Days of service are designed with the busy person in mind. They are also a fun team builder for organizations. Teams search the shelves for lost items, shelve books, assist with processing materials and straighten stacks--important behind-the-scenes tasks that help get books and materials in the hands of patrons. With this blitz approach, groups of volunteers help the library accomplish, in a short time, tasks which otherwise might take months.

Spanish Language Teachers
Volunteers fluent in Spanish and familiar with teaching techniques are needed to present a workshop series on basic Spanish. (Volunteers fluent in other languages may also be needed to present workshops.)

Please be aware that not all opportunities are needed at all times and jobs vary by Library location. We will do our best to give you an assignment that suits your interests and skills at the location of your choice.