Rewarding Resources: PA Library History

This is a site I just had to pass along.  It’s not so much a resource of the type I have reviewed before, but it is a blog about the history of libraries in the Commonwealth.  Pennsylvania libraries have a unique history.  For starters, Philadelphia was the home of the first “public” library in America, a subscription library founded in 1731. Further, in what can be argued is one of the most famous acts of charity in history, Pittsburgh’s own Andrew Carnegie spent a good portion of his wealth building public libraries, including 58 in Pennsylvania.

Bernadette Lear, a librarian at Penn State Harrisburg, has put together a blog that chronicles her research into Pennsylvania library history.  I suggest you give it a look.

Keith L Greenawalt, Public Services Manager


Rewarding Resources:

I recently ran across a column on LancasterOnline (Read the column here) about a website called allows you to find author read-a-likes, but in a visual format.  All you need to do is enter an author’s name into the word box on the homepage and you will be given a map of similar authors. results look sort of like a word cloud, but instead of the size of the word it is the distance from the original entered authors name that denoted how similar they are.  You can click on any authors name and it will take you to that author’s map. is an excellent resource for those looking for new authors.  My only criticism is that it does not give you any information about the author beyond the map.  This can be easily rectified by using sites like Shelfari, FantasticFiction, or GoodReads.

Keith L Greenawalt, Public Services Manager

(Below is the homepage and a author map for James Patterson)




Rewarding Resources: National Library of Medicine Resources

I would think that finding decent health information online would be something that most people can do without much trouble.  I think my eyes were opened a little bit when I was visiting a family member at a local hospital.  That family member asked a question of her nurse.  I watched the nurse proceed to answer the question with information from Wikipedia (of all places).  Here was a medical professional answering a medical question of a patient with Wikipedia.  That patient should expect better answers than an encyclopedia anyone can edit.  This is not only unacceptable, in the right circumstances this could be downright dangerous.

There are certain sets of information you want to be 100% accurate and correct.  Health information is one of those!

I recently sat through an excellent program at the annual Pennsylvania Library Association (PaLA) convention on public health information and supporting healthy communities that was presented by Lydia Collins of the Mid-Atlantic Region of the National Networks of Libraries of Medicine (NNLM MAR).  She shared some excellent resources that I will in turn share with you.

The following is a list of resources from the National Library of Medicine and the National Institutes of Health.  All are paid for by your tax dollars and reflect the best information available for subject experts. – This is the best single medical reference site available today.  It has information on many medical conditions and treatments, including drugs and supplements.

PubMed Health – This is the next step up from MedLinePlus.  It has more advanced and technical data on diseases and medical issues, but it still readable and accessible to the general public.

NLM Drug Info Portal – This is a stand alone website devoted to drugs and medications.

PillBox Beta – This site allows you to identify medications based on their appearance.  Find some pills that you aren’t sure about?  Use this! – This is a database of clinical trials on human subject taking place around the world.  It can tell you about the latest in medical research going on now. – This is a site devoted entirely to senior health.

Household Product Database – This site has information common household products and their safety warnings.  It also has first aid information to treat incorrect usage of the products.

National Network of Libraries of Medicine Mid-Atlantic Region – NNLM MAR is based at the University of Pittsburgh.

I will also mention that I also use fairly extensively and it is very good as well.  Keep in mind that it is a commercial site and is ad supported.

I will also throw in a shameless plug for the Healthy Lancaster County, a project of the Library System of Lancaster County and several regional health partners.

If you have any questions regarding these resources, please feel free to contact me at the library!

Keith L Greenawalt, Public Services Manager