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A Farewell Message

from Mary Climes, Reference Supervisor

I will be retiring effective December 31, 2020. It has been my great pleasure to serve this generous community. I will dearly miss my dedicated and talented colleagues and the wonderful patrons whom we serve.

From my first day on November 11, 1989 as a part-time reference librarian, I have looked forward to coming to work at Thrall. When I was promoted to full time on July 1, 1990, I felt like other people feel when they have won the lottery. That joy has not waned in the over thirty years since.

I am grateful to Middletown for understanding the importance of libraries. I am extremely thankful to the Board, Matt Pfisterer, Kevin Gallagher, Mattie Gaines, and Linda Aumick for providing me with the resources and supervision I needed to provide services to you. The value of the education and support I have received from my coworkers and from you, those whom I have served, is incalculable. I will forever be in your debt. Thank you.

      Mary Climes

Please follow this link for a farewell message to Mary from our Library Director, Matt Pfisterer on Facebook.

Friends of Thrall Used Book Store

November 20, 2020 Update

The Friends of Thrall have indicated they now hope to reopen sometime in early 2021.

Concerning Donations: In December 2020 the Friends will be taking donations by appointment. Please call them at 344-1255 to schedule books donations.

Please visit their website for more updates.

All of us look eagerly forward the Friends' book store return!

Westlaw Edge

February 2021 Update

Thomson Reuters provides our WestLaw database, a premium subscription service Thrall makes available to its patrons at the library during our hours of operation.

As of November 2020, they are offering "complimentary 'virtual' access" to Westlaw Edge for Patrons.

This means members of Thrall can access this service from home until June 2021.

Here are the complete details from Thomson Reuters:

In the uncertainly during the COVID-19 pandemic, Thomson Reuters wants to ensure you that we are here to support both you and your Patrons.

Starting today through June 30th, your patrons are eligible to receive complimentary remote access to Westlaw Edge so they can continue to fulfill their legal research needs during this time.

Here's how Patrons can get started:

1. Access the link below to Westlaw Patron Access trial page and enter your email address-(use an email address that is or never has been associated with a Westlaw account) 2. Enter your contact information. In the Organization Type field, please select Government - State or Local.

3. Skip the "Add Colleagues" page

4. Click "I agree to Terms & Conditions" and click Create Profile

5. Create OnePass Profile and Security fields

6. Confirm your OnePass profile and click Get Started to begin searching on Westlaw Edge!

7. If you are having difficulty clear your cookies and cache in your browsing history

The password will be good for 20 hours of Westlaw over 14 days (on the 14th day the password will expire regardless of use).

* UPDATE * (2/3/21)

Now Available...


Members of Thrall can now freely access Hoopla, an online service that includes...
Simply log in with your Thrall library card number and PIN (the last four digits of your telephone number) after you sign up for a free account with your e-mail address.

When registering, please be sure to select Middletown Thrall Library from the list of libraries.

Up to eight titles per month can be borrowed!

>> Please follow this link to access Hoopla.

Also worth noting: in addition to Hoopla, Members of Thrall can also access...

Effective September 23, 2020:

Full Access to RCLS Library System Materials!

As of Wednesday, September 23, 2020, Thrall and RCLS patrons are able to request items that can be borrowed from all RCLS libraries!

These materials can be requested in person at the library or by phone when we're open or at any time through the online catalog.

We are grateful to all our colleagues at Thrall, RCLS, and throughout the library system for all their work in expanding library services and restoring interlibrary loan access to circulating library materials.

Please note: all library items, once borrowed, will be subject to mandatory quarantine periods upon being returned to any RCLS library.

This means those items will take a week or more to become available again for borrowing and interlibrary loans, causing some wait lists to take a little longer to be fulfilled, especially wherever there are limited or single copies of a title.

Since we now have access to the broadest amount of materials, a librarian can also help you locate comparable materials in our own collections or elsewhere in the system if a certain item is temporarily unavailable due to quarantine.

Please feel free to...

Starting Monday, July 13th:

Expanded Access to Library System Materials!

Starting Monday, July 13, 2020, Thrall patrons can place requests on items from Thrall as well as these RCLS libraries through the online catalog:
Once items have arrived, you will be notified.

For more details on curbside services, please follow this link.

If you have any difficulties finding items or placing holds on items, please feel free to call Reference (Mon. - Fri. 9:30 AM - 4 PM) at 341-5461.

You can also ask us questions online!

We look forward to hearing from you!

Onward, and with Inspiration

Advocating Social Progress & Justice, Together

Updated July 10, 2020

As the Coronavirus pandemic of 2020 begins to wind down and life generally reapproaches some vague semblance of normalcy, we are quickly reminded, when we watch the news, read newspapers, or go online, that our world still has much progress to make in many other areas, including equality, tolerance, justice, and compassion.

While such challenges are formidable, generations in the making, we can do this together, day by day, step by step, one positive change at a time, beginning with ourselves.

And you're not facing these things alone. You have us, and we exist for you and the good of our communities, always.

Through public libraries, you can...
You matter. Your voice matters. Justice matters. Truth matters.

If you have reached the point you want to become an advocate for positive social change we have prepared a special online guide to help you begin to do just that.

You can read about it at this link, or you can follow this link to access our guide, Effecting Change.

In addition to authoritative information, you can explore historical and contemporary inspirations, especially in the Taking Action section (scroll down to Historic Persons there) and the Books: Inspirational & Informative Reads area.

We also some OverDrive eBook collections for your consideration...
These eBooks are freely available to members of Thrall. Simply log in with your library card.

When prompted for a PIN, that is, by default, the last four digits of your telephone number when you applied for a library card.

*NEW* (7/10/20): Kanopy Social Justice Video Collection:

If you need more information or have any questions, we are always here, ready and eager to help you: simply follow this link for our online Reference question form and ask us at any time.

We are grateful for our community and continuously seek to enrich and empower it through free access to the best information and research services available.

Together, we can continue to make a positive difference, in ourselves, our communities, and further.

Please be well, and please take care.

UPDATE (6/15): Evaluation Period Has Expired

O'Reilly for Public Libraries Complete Collection

(Available until June 14, 2020)

Middletown Thrall Library has requested a free trial period for this new service from O'Reilly.

We encourage our patrons and staff to explore this service up to June 14, 2020 (when the trial period ends).

Once you follow this special login link, check the "I'm Not a Robot" link and pass their "Captcha Code" test, you can begin exploring over 40,000 books and over 7,000 videos in the following subject areas: Also included...
You can also read their official product flyer (PDF).

Please feel free to let us know what you think of this service!

Disinformation Alert

COVID-19's Parallel Pandemic:

Disinformation Spreading Online

There's a parallel pandemic of disinformation online with regards to the Coronavirus, and much of it is potentially very dangerous.

Thankfully, this is a battle libraries can easily fight by drawing attention to informational issues while empowering patrons through better sources and opportunities to cultivate information literacy.

One of the newest free resources available is from Oxford University's Computational Propaganda Project, which offers a series of public awareness notices:

Coronavirus Misinformation: Weekly Briefings.

Some quotes from their most recent public briefing:

"Of all the junk news that social media users engaged with last week, 28% of it came from state-backed news agencies, and 91% of engagement with state backed agencies involves media outlets from Russia and China.

In total, articles produced by junk health news sources were engaged with four million times this week. On average, articles from state-backed media sources nonetheless stimulated the most engagement." (source)

This website can be found in the Critical Thinking section of our Coronavirus guide, which includes many other fact-checkers and scam advisories.

As better information can save lives, we hope everyone explores these issues and considers these resources and advisories to help "inoculate" themselves against this informational pandemic.

For more on evaluating information, please visit our Critical Thinking portal.

National Library Week 2020

April 19 to April 25, 2020 is National Library Week a time we celebrate all things library-related across the nation!

Thrall is both a public library as well as a U.S. Federal Depository Library, which means we offer extensive public access to government information of all kinds, including documents, special publications, and more. Thrall is one of the very few FDLP libraries in the RCLS system and New York State. You can learn more about our Government Information collections and online information guides by following this link.

Public libraries are vital institutions which help to encourage and protect personal intellectual freedom and, more generally, democracy.

A quote from our Why Libraries Matter flyer:

"Healthy public libraries are important to democratic societies because they allow everyone, regardless of income, to make informed decisions about their government, their health, their education, and their consumption of goods. Democracy only truly exists and thrives as long as there is equitable access to all information in all formats. This is one of many reasons why public libraries are essential to modern civilization and ultimately the future of every person. Excellent public libraries also allow anyone, regardless of income, to educate themselves. This gives everyone an opportunity to achieve personal and occupational success. Education empowers you to do and understand more."

Equal access to all public information is the key!

Elsewhere in the world, many citizens do NOT enjoy the same freedoms we exercise and often take for granted. Some of those governments exact extreme control over all information - something known as "state media," where only "state-approved" information is deemed publishable. Anything else can result in fines, imprisonment, or perhaps, in the worst cases, even death.

We should be so grateful for the freedoms outlined in the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, which include:

Here's a quote right from the First Amendment:

"Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the government for a redress of grievances."

Libraries promote and defend these crucial freedoms in a variety of ways:

In a world where anti-democratic governments, organizations, groups, and individuals are doing their darndest to blur the lines between truth and falsehood, it becomes all the more important everyone more actively assess information and strive towards objective truth that is born of no particular ideology or subjective agendas.

As society becomes more attentive, analytical, moving past any partisanship or personal biases, more sustainable awareness can arise, and with it a democracy and a peace that can repel, if not overturn state media and would-be dictators at any level from exploiting those who are not yet "woke" and enlightened.

Anyone seeking to defeat tyranny should support public libraries, maintain faith in the power of objective truth, and believe in the innate goodness of their community - which, as we know it, is beautifully and richly comprised of interesting, amazing, inspiring, and smart people and daily truth-seekers from every corner and persuasion across the globe.

Public libraries have been and continue to be advocates and champions throughout historic struggles for freedom and equality, and we do it all with a smile, because we enjoy what we do, believe in our cause, and we believe in you, our patrons, our communities, our friends, and our very purpose for existing!

For further exploration...


Online Services + Resources Available Now

even though our library's building is closed...

Updated: March 20, 2020

Even though our library's closed at the moment, there's still a bunch of things you can explore and enjoy at our website right now, for free, as a member of Thrall!

(Parents / guardians / kids / young adults might want to follow this link first.)

Ready? Here are some examples:

Ask a Librarian!

eBooks, eAudiobooks, eMagazines

Kanopy, Streaming Videos

Learning Opportunities

For Booklovers

In Other News...

History & Genealogy

There's ALWAYS more!

Almost all of these services and resources are available to members of Thrall throughout the year at our website.

These online offerings are continuously reviewed and refined as we develop new, or improve upon existing online guides and tools for you at

Wherever *most other third-party databases, services, and resources are concerned: we endeavor to offer our patrons access to the best ones we can license.

*Some article databases are made available to NY libraries through

Thank you for being our patrons. We look forward to serving you, as best we can, through and beyond this global crisis.

All of you remain in our hearts, and you are the very reasons our library exists!

Please be well, and enjoy!

Database Update

Newspaper Archive

As of February 24, 2020, the Newspaper Archive database can be accessed remotely (i.e. outside of the library) by members of Thrall.

Members of Thrall simply have to follow the link in the "Outside the Library" section on that database page and enter their library card numbers.

This database is also available to everyone when accessed within the library.

For more information about this database - or to access it - please follow this link.

Green Light Law

"The Driver's License Access and Privacy Act, commonly called the 'Green Light law', was enacted on June 17, 2019, and takes effect on December 16, 2019. It allows all New Yorkers age 16 and older to apply for a standard, not for federal purpose, non-commercial driver license or learner permit regardless of their citizenship or lawful status in the United States." (Source:

Related resources for further exploration...


A New Video Streaming Service

for Members of Thrall

Thanks to our Friends of Thrall, who have made this service financially possible, we are now able to invite members of Thrall to enjoy a new video streaming service we are *trying called Kanopy.

Kanopy includes feature films, Criterion Collection selections, a number of Great Courses educational videos, award-winning documentaries, anime, children's videos, and much more.

Members of Thrall currently receive ten play credits per month, and these are used when viewing videos.

*We will evalute this service to determine how sustainable it will be in the future. For now, please enjoy!

Please follow this link to advance to the Kanopy video streaming service.

RCLS Gateway

Your Mobile Entrance into the Library System Catalog!

July 1, 2019

* Get the FREE app, and... * Available for Android OS or or Apple iOS mobile devices.

You can follow this link to reach the app's home page or search your mobile device's app store.

Please note: if you previously used the RCLS Mobile "Boopsie" app, please uninstall that and install RCLS Gateway.

RCLS OverDrive Magazines UPDATE

June 2019

As you might already know, in addition to eBooks and eAudioBooks, you can explore and borrow available electronic editions of popular magazines through the RCLS OverDrive service.

Some recent magazines added to OverDrive catalog include:
Other popular magazines include: Simply visit the website above or go to and use the Magazines option in the Browse section.

Election 2020

Online Guide + Printable PDF

We invite you to explore our Election 2020 guide covering the upcoming U.S. Presidential election.

Topics include: Our Election guide will be updated as new information becomes available.

We also updated our popular Election Year Survival Guide, a downloadable (and printable) PDF offering a variety of considerations to keep in mind throughout this latest election cycle.

We invite you to explore our latest online information guide...

Effecting Change

How Change Happens + How You Can Make a Difference!

This guide is provided to help anyone begin to understand: Our guide is intentionally neutral, favoring no particular ideological persuasion.

Explore websites, related items in the library system catalog, article databases, multimedia, and more.

Topics covered by our guide include:
To access our guide, please follow this link:
You can also download / print / share our corresponding print guide (PDF) with others!

RCLS OverDrive Magazines

In addition to eBooks and eAudioBooks, you can now explore and borrow available electronic editions of popular magazines through the RCLS OverDrive service!

Titles include: Simply visit the website above or go to and use the Magazines option in the Browse section.

For even more electronic editions (Web, Database, and/or OverDrive) of popular magazines and journals, we invite you to check out our Virtual NewsStand.

Chinese eBooks

Over 100 Chinese eBooks (fiction and nonficton) are now available in the RCLS OverDrive eBooks service.

Simply follow the link above to begin exploring these newly added titles.

Take a Virtual Voyage or Vacation!

While not all of us get the chance to travel or go on extended vacations, we can still enjoy any number of virtual voyages, traversing the world to experience the beauty and significance of other cultures and the thrill of fresh destinations- all from the safety and comfort of our homes using free library services.

Best of all, we've already done all of the work for you: simply "hop aboard" on of our easy guides below and embark on journeys to other lands, other cultures, new ideas - and even other times! You can even use our Maps and Travel guides to discover popular attractions or to estimate real mileage and costs.

Perhaps you prefer a journey of the mind, heart, or soul. If so... Please visit our website for even more summer resources!

Multilingual Options

A number of our article databases include an impressive array of multilingual options.

These options enable you to translate full-text articles into a number of different languages (Arabic, Chinese, Dutch, Finnish, French, German, Greek, Hebrew, Hindi, Italian, Japanese, Korean, Polish, Russian, Spanish, and more).

Some databases include the ability to have these articles read to you in that language.

Examples of Gale databases offering these computer-based translations include: Most of these databases also enable you to change the interface to another language.
Here's how it works: when at any database offering such options, you will usually see a Language tab at the top. That usually alters the interface.

When viewing a full-text article, look for Translate options beside the article and select a language. After doing so, often a Listen option will appear. That can be used to hear the newly translated article!

Going Beyond OverDrive:

More Free eBooks!

While many of you already know and enjoy the OverDrive eBooks service which is freely available to members of Thrall, there are a number of other free eBook providers you can easily explore right through our website by visiting any of the following Web links:
For example, in our Art guide you will find lists of major museums offering a variety of book-length "art catalogs" (many in PDF format) highlighting, and in many cases documenting in-depth, with beautiful photos, some of the finest works ever created, including paintings, sculptures, porcelain, pottery, metal works, illustrations, and more.

Our Computers section includes links to eBooks on programming, major operating systems, and related topics.

Our Booklovers and Literature guides offer even more possibilities! Simply visit the eBooks sections in either guide to discover more free eBooks and eAudioBooks providers.

Also check out our Virtual Reference Library for always-available reference works you can read online!

Algorithms + Artificial Intelligence (AI)

As "intelligent" computers are an increasing part of daily life, it is important to be aware of emerging technologies such as Artificial Intelligence and to learn how the many algorithms already out there are influencing our world in subtle or surprising ways.

To help you keep pace with these concepts and technologies, we have established an online informational guide with in-depth media coverage.

Please follow this link to explore this new guide.

New Public Workstations

We have three new dedicated research + word processing workstations with extensive offerings: We also have a new Jobs PC for the public, offering Microsoft Office, a dedicated guide to employment opportunities and career-development resources, and more.

If you're interested in using these workstations, or any of our other computer services, please visit our Reference Department.

Quality Care

As part of our daily mission at Reference, we endeavor to connect you with the highest quality sources and services available to us.

We don't just do quick Internet searches because we know you deserve better and we can do better than rely on generalized Web search engines full of questionable or outdated content.

Search engines simply show you results based on what you type or say. We go beyond that because we actually care about the quality of information you encounter, from library collections we develop for your needs and interests to all aspects of our traditional and modern Reference services and resources.

The next time you need some information or guidance on a topic, please consider asking a librarian.

While we'd be delighted to meet you in person, you can also call us at 341-5461 when the library is open or ask us online.

Getting to

Know Your World

Increasing our personal awareness about the world can help us not only to become better informed, but also more understanding, perhaps more patient, tolerant, if not more compassionate as we take the time to begin to understand others, past and current events, ideas, and our larger world.

It can also be fun to engage our intellectual curiosities, exciting to accept the challenge of new perspectives, and pleasantly surprising to discover we have a nearly limitless potential to navigate new ideas and discover fresh interests.

With this in mind, we invite you to try our newest free online service for members of Thrall: From one simple interface you can investigate major ideas, places, persons, and events - past and present - without typing! Just select something, specifying what to search, and press go.

Instantly locate articles with in our subscription databases and online encyclopedias - or easily identify related items (books, DVDs, etc.) in our library system.

You can also follow our guide links to locate potentially informative websites or quickly access our Ask a Librarian service to inquire further on any topic!

Knowledge is power, and we invite you to explore this free service - and your library's many other services - so you can further discover and develop your personal interests and your many great potentials.

Know your world and empower yourself now!

Informe Academico

August 30, 2017

Informe Academico is new Spanish-language database is now available at our website!

Official descriptions provided by the publisher: This database can be freely accessed at Thrall or outside the library (for example, at home).

If outside the library, you can log in with your Thrall / RCLS library card or with your location (as long as you are in New York at that moment).

Login "by Location"

July 17, 2017

Some of our databases now offer another login option: by location.

If you are within New York at the moment you wish to access one or more of these databases, you can opt to share your location by pressing the "Use My Location" button when at a database website.

Examples of such databases include:

If you wish, you can still choose to log in, as usual, using your library barcode number.

Free Digital Audiobooks from SYNC

May 4, 2017

SYNC is providing free access to two digital audiobooks per week for young adult listeners (ages 13+)!

Why? SYNC does this to "encourage literacy and listening in young people across the country."

To learn more about SYNC, the required software (OverDrive) - and downloading audiobooks - please follow this link:
We also encourage you to also check out our circulating collections of Young Adult audiobooks, which, if you have a library card, you can borrow from Thrall and other libraries in the RCLS library system.

You can follow either of these links to explore and request (wherever possible) various CDs or digital audio titles in the library system... well as digital audio (eAudioBooks), which you can use your library card to download to compatible computers, laptops, tablets, or portable media devices.


April 14, 2017

Members of Thrall can enjoy free access to ArtistWorks, which, through "self-paced video lessons from Grammy Award-winning music and artistic professionals," enables you to learn on your own in the comfort of your own home!

ArtistWorks includes:

Please follow this link for the ArtistWorks service login and information page.

eBooks, Easier...

April 14, 2017

Did you know many RCLS OverDrive eBooks can be viewed or heard without "apps" or downloads? It's true!

Patrons with laptops, smartphones, tablets, or desktop PCs can access "OverDrive Read" and "OverDrive Listen" titles directly through their device's Web browser!

Once at the OverDrive catalog, you can determine whether a book you are interested in is available in either format by examining the "Format" section on the book's information page: if it says "OverDrive Read" or "OverDriveListen," you should be able to log in, borrow it, and begin accessing that title immediately. Afterwards, simply log back in to pick up where you left off!

OverDrive Read editions are accessed like regular websites, and many can be read "offline" (i.e. without an Internet connection), if your Web browser supports "offline storage."

OverDrive Listen books do require an active Internet connection because they "stream" (play) audio from the Web.

For more details, OverDrive provides additional articles:

Health Reference Series Online

April 12, 2017

Health Reference Series Online In addition to numerous informational health sourcebooks we offer in our print circulating collection, we are now able to offer our patrons free access to online editions, which you can access directly through your Web browser.

Topics covered include:
Members of Thrall can follow this link to log into this service with their library barcode numbers

Fake News Fever

The Search for Truth in News

(Download this post as a printable PDF document.)

Controversies, hoaxes, urban legends, gossip, outrageous (and usually untrue) stories - sure, they can be interesting, perhaps even entertaining at times, but they can also be dangerous and lead to serious consequences, especially when blindly believed or acted upon without further investigation.

Discerning fact from fiction is a bit more involving these days, given how technology enables people to spread and react to such information instantaneously. As some media sources attempt to be more entertaining, focusing on opinions and sensationalism rather than objective journalistic research and reporting, any truth to be found can remain hidden. Mix in a little social media -- some shares and "likes" -- and things can suddenly "go viral," spreading quickly on and beyond the World Wide Web, even if such assertions are incorrect or completely baseless.

"Fake news" stories are not exclusive to the Internet or election cycles. In fact, untrue news has proliferated since the invention of the printing press, and was there, long before that, traveling mainly by word of mouth or radio. One famous example is Orson Wells' 1938 "War of the Worlds" broadcast, which provoked nationwide panic over the possibility of an alien invasion. Throughout history, such stories were used as propaganda, advancing certain interests and agendas, shaping public opinions, and perpetuating misperceptions deliberately, as this post from Scientific American and this article from Columbia Journalism Review illustrate.

Combating lies, detecting bias, discovering larger truths, and raising awareness (in ourselves and others) of potential disinformation has always presented challenges, particularly where answers are not as obvious or clearly defined as we might prefer. We must keep these things in mind as we approach a central question here: how can we know if something is fake?

Which leads to another question: where can we turn in our search for truth? If it were simply a matter of finding reliable information sources, we could simply consult such sources. But there are no perfect and infallible sources. Experts can misspeak or make mistakes. Respected sources can publish incorrect statements or retract stories entirely.

With regards to online news, the Web is essentially an ever-expanding mass of information put there by anyone from anywhere, professional or otherwise. Old information and perceptions can persist. More current and complete information could be buried in millions of search results no human has the time to inspect. Knowledge and understandings develop and spread imperfectly. Accepted "facts" can change over time as new information comes to light. Then, there are those who deliberately attempt to distort or obliterate truth.

We must often go beyond simple skepticism, question apparent authority, and begin to inquire more deeply. Thankfully, you are not entirely left on your own in these matters! Some notable "fact-checkers," such as and Politifact, are tracking and evaluating certain news items. Other news agencies and organizations, such as National Public Radio (NPR), are making efforts to educate the public on the phenomenon of fake news (e.g. "Fake Or Real? How to Self-Check the News and Get the Facts").

And Thrall is also here to help! In addition to our Critical Thinking Skills website, where you can begin to learn some of the questions you should be asking (e.g. via our printable Web Checklist), we also offer lists of websites you visit to verify or deconstruct various assertions, hoaxes, popular misconceptions, and trending news topics.

Our online Ready Reference information guide, contains links to potentially helpful websites as well as items in the library system catalog:
Members of Thrall/RCLS libraries can also use our Opposing Viewpoints database to explore various issues and become informed on established or challenged perspectives.

Beyond that, the totality of our library's collections, traditional and electronic informational services, and our dedicated librarians are available to you all year long. Also, as part of a larger collective of libraries (RCLS), we can help you locate materials on nearly any topic imaginable - however fanciful or true - across many different libraries.

Please always remember this: in your lifelong search for truth and understanding, you have a permanent ally and friend here at the public library, the only nonprofit institution in this world devoted, every single day by its very mission, to serve everyone by preserving and providing free and comprehensive access to the full spectrum of knowledge.

Write a Business Plan Month!

December is National Write a Business Plan Month.

The U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) states, "A business plan is an essential roadmap for business success. This living document generally projects 3-5 years ahead and outlines the route a company intends to take to grow revenues" (source).

While creating such a plan requires patience, research, expert guidance, and more than a little persistence and diligence, here's some very good news: potentially helpful resources are freely available to you!

Members of Thrall can enjoy free access to Business Plans Handbooks, online "collections of actual business plans compiled by entrepreneurs seeking funding for small businesses throughout North America."

You can also visit the Small Business section of our online Ready Reference guide for: Perhaps 2017 can be the year you finally turn your business dream into a reality!

Rosetta Stone Update

Some wonderful news for language learners: thanks to funding from the RCLS Central Library, Middletown Thrall Library patrons can now enjoy expanded access to Rosetta Stone.

The newly available Rosetta Stone Library Solution service covers many more languages: As before, a valid and current e-mail address is required in order to register with the new Rosetta service.

Please click here for our Rosetta Stone access page.

Financial Ratings Series Online

We are pleased to inform members of Middletown Thrall Library that they can now enjoy free access to an expanded edition of the award-winning Financial Ratings Series Online (FRSO) database.

Through FRSO, you can get detailed information on... well as the premium prices of Medigap insurance plans.

Using this information, you can compare pricing, and begin to make more informed purchasing decisions.

You can also learn how to...
FRSO also enables you to access Weiss Ratings Consumer Guides, which cover a variety of insurance topics:

Other FRSO features you might find helpful include... Thrall patrons can access this database at home by entering their library card numbers when prompted.

This database can also be accessed within the library on any of our public research or Internet workstations.

If you would like to begin exploring FRSO, please follow this link:

Learn to Use ReferenceUSA

ReferenceUSA is a database available at Middletown Thrall Library and to Thrall patrons at home.

You can use it to search for businesses, organizations, or residential listings.

The database is easy enough to search, its true power exists in its advanced searches, which has many options.

To help you get the most out of this service, ReferenceUSA is presently offering daily online training sessions ("webinars"), which you can access freely!

For a list of their upcoming dates, please follow this link.

Online registration is free. A valid and currently accessible e-mail address is required.

Free Digital Audiobooks

for Young Adults

SYNC gives away two complete digital audiobooks each week to listeners (ages 13+) during the summer!

Why? SYNC does this to "encourage literacy and listening in young people across the country."

Most importantly, these "titles, once downloaded, are yours to keep." (source)

To learn more about SYNC, the required software (OverDrive) - and downloading audiobooks - please follow this link:
We also encourage you to also check out our circulating collections of Young Adult audiobooks, which, if you have a library card, you can borrow from Thrall and other libraries in the RCLS library system.

You can follow either of these links to explore and request (wherever possible) various CDs or digital audio titles in the library system... well as digital audio (eAudioBooks), which you can use your library card to download to compatible computers, laptops, tablets, or portable media devices.

Art Treasures for Free

The Art section of our Ready Reference Center has a new subsection: There you can explore electronic collections of art books and periodicals from The Getty, Guggenheim, Metropolitan Museum of Art, Philadelphia Museum of Art, and other art museums. Many interesting titles, unique topics, and in-depth studies await your enjoyment! Our guide also highlights select titles from these incredible and inspiring collections.

If you have not yet had the chance to browse our 700s aisles in person, the next time you visit Thrall you might also enjoy perusing our own art books in print. Many of these beautiful books are often large (even "oversized") and can afford you great opportunities to witness the wonderful world of art up close and personally. These books do circulate, so you can check them out and enjoy them comfortably at home! Some browsing tips: for sculptures, try the 730s area of our nonfiction shelves. For famous paintings, try the 750s.

And that's just the beginning. When you're ready to go further, you can also use our Ready Reference Center to explore a greater selection of art plus other topics and items in the library system catalog.

Music Collection Updates

In the Winter 2015 edition of our newsletter we mentioned our classical, jazz, and wellness music CD collections would be expanding.

Those CDs are now available and ready to be checked out!

If you don't have a radio or stereo with a CD player, you might still be able to play these CDs in your car, computer or laptop, or DVD / Blu-ray player.

If you're more into digital streaming, you'll definitely want to check out our free music streaming services.

For even more, please check out our music guide online.

"Local Holds" for Library Items

From May 1st to October 31, 2015, Thrall and other libraries in the Ramapo Catskill Library System (RCLS) will suspend the "Local Holds Only" status for many library items as part of a study.

During this time, most items (except new videos and "non-circulating" items) can be reserved by any RCLS patron at any RCLS library. After the study, library directors will consider making the change permanent if it improves library item reserves (holds) and interlibrary loans in general.

eBooks Update

Download Popular Magazines!

Posted: January 26, 2015

UPDATE: This service is no longer available

Current issues of over forty popular magazines are now available through the RCLS/OverDrive eBook system!

Members of Thrall or any RCLS library can enjoy this service freely!

How it works, what you need...
Some things you should know...
  • Once you're ready, downloadable magazines can be found in the "Featured Collections" menu of the RCLS/OverDrive website. Please look for the "New Periodicals" link there!
  • Magazines can be downloaded simultaneously by up to 200 readers per title for 7 days.
  • Presently...
    • titles automatically are removed from your eBooks Bookshelf once they have been successfully delivered to your computer / eReader / device.
    • back-issues of magazines are unavailable.

"A-Z Index" Update

Posted: January 13, 2015

The Ramapo Catskill Library System's "A-Z" alphabetical index of titles available in research databases is currently unavailable.

Until their next official A-Z list becomes available, you can follow this link to an interim page we created for your convenience.

Our page provides links to lists of publication titles (journals, magazines, newspapers) covered by our three major general research databases: Biography in Context, Ebsco MasterFile Premiere, Gale Academic ASAP, Gale General OneFile, Gale National Newspapers, Literature Resource Center, Opposing Viewpoints in Context.

Coming Soon: Catalog & eBooks Update

Posted: October 10, 2014

Later this year, the library system (RCLS) hopes to complete a fairly major update for the library system catalog.

Their update is intended make eBooks easier to find and to manage by enabling access to eBook titles - as well as your eAccount - directly in the library system catalog.

You'd only need to log in once to the regular catalog in order to find / reserve / renew items (regular or electronic) or to check either your regular or your eBooks account.

Our Shelves Are Alive...

Posted: October 10, 2014

...with the sounds of music!

We hope you will join us in welcoming this new season with happiness and perhaps a little beautiful music as well!

Both our Classical Music and Mattie B. Gaines Jazz CD collections will be expanding in the future! Already vast, these collections are located on the first floor, near the stairs. They are fun to browse and always free to borrow!

In addition to a new infusion of critically acclaimed artists - Art Tatum, Keith Jarrett, Marian McPartland, Joshua Bell, Yo-Yo Ma, and Lang Lang, just to name a few - both collections will eventally grow to include these and other contemporary greats, such as Chris Botti, Cindy Bradley, Hiromi, Anna Netrebko, Nicola Benedetti, among others.

While here, you might also want to check our calm Wellness collection of peaceful music. In fact, many albums in all three of our CD collections can potentially help to establish a more tranquil and contemplative audio environment for activities such as reading, meditation, or relaxation.

Even if you don't have access to a regular CD player or stereo, these music CDs can also be played in vehicles with CD players, computers or laptops with CD/DVD drives, as well as almost all DVD / Blu-ray players connected to TVs.

Our musical offerings do not end there! Members of Thrall can also enjoy a number of free music streaming services: For more about our free music services and resources - which include books, encyclopedias, sheet music, as well as educational items of potential interest to beginning and advanced musicians and composers - please see our free Music Resources brochure at the library.

You can also check out our online guide to all things musical!

Five New Online Reference Works

Posted: October 10, 2014

Members of Thrall can freely access these new works:
For full details, please click each database title above.

Gazing into the Future

Posted: October 10, 2014

Each month we publish Future Title Watch, our very own guide to the very latest fiction and nonfiction books.

Free printed copies are available in the library. You can download and read or print these guides right from our website!

You can also browse new titles visually (by book cover) or textually via our our new books page and search the library system catalog instantly!

Titles, as they become available, can be reserved within a few clicks!

Not sure how to reserve items in the library catalog? Our librarians can help you at Reference (341-5461), or you can learn more about the catalog right at our website!

Also be sure to check out the latest edition of Beyond the Bestsellers!

Have You Met Mrs. Thrall?

Posted: October 10, 2014

While little is known about Sabra Maretta Thrall, the person who made our public library possible over a century ago, we created a new website so you can view her portrait, read her obituary, and learn more about her amazing charitable legacy, which changed Middletown, New York forever!

Please follow this link to meet Sabra Maretta Thrall!

New Computers Available!

Posted: October 10, 2014

Need to use Microsoft Office (Word, Excel, PowerPoint)?

How about free access to the Internet?

Need to print something or get/send e-mail?

Please stop at Reference and inquire about our new public computers, which we're able to offer you thanks to the generous Friends of Thrall!

Rosetta Stone SA

Posted: October 10, 2014

Learn a new language now with Rosetta Stone SA!

Tell Me More, the language learning service (free to members of Thrall), is now known as Rosetta Stone SA.

Learn languages such as Dutch, English, French, German, Italian, and Spanish online and at your own pace!

Please follow this link to begin!

InfoTrac Collections

Posted: February 11, 2014

In addition to popular general research databases such as Academic OneFile and General OneFile, you can also enjoy free access to InfoTrac Collections online.

These collections contain articles on very specific topics, including:
  • Agriculture
  • Business Economics
  • Criminal Justice
  • Culinary Arts
  • Diversity
  • Environmental Studies
  • Fine Arts
  • Gender Studies
  • Home Improvement
  • Mass Media
  • Popular Culture
  • Psychology
  • Small Business
  • and much more!

Please follow this link to start exploring InfoTrac Collections.

New Encyclopedic Works

Salem History, Literature, & Science Updates

Posted: January 13, 2014

We recently purchased a number of new encyclopedic works from Salem Press. Each of these volumes contains in-depth and up-to-date information.

We are also able to offer members of Thrall access to the online editions of these works, which can be viewed and searched directly in your Web browser - no downloading necessary!

A sampling of some of the most recent additions are listed below. You can further explore each series by following its link: To browse a broader selection of titles we have purchased from these and other series from Salem Press, please follow this link to the library catalog.

Most of these titles can be borrowed! Titles with call numbers beginning with "REF" do not circulate, but they can always be found within our Reference collection!

Virtual Reference Library Update

Posted: December 9, 2013

We recently added two new titles to our "Virtual Reference Library" on the Web: You can follow either title link above to learn more about each encyclopedia or follow this link to browse these and other titles currently available in our Virtual Reference Library.

All of our VRL titles are available within the library. Members of Middletown Thrall Library can also access the VRL outside the library!

New Databases & Other
Reference Service News

Posted: August 14, 2013

Several new databases are available to you: You can access any of these databases by clicking on their links above or by visiting our Databases page (which you can also reach via our home page by following the "Databases" link there).

For even more updates, we invite you to download the latest edition of our Refence newsletter, RE:fresh! (PDF).

Free printed copies of RE:fresh! are also available at the library.

Library Catalog Update: August 2013

Posted: July 15, 2013

On August 20, 2013, our local library system (RCLS) will soon upgrade the library catalog (Enterprise).

The library catalog will be temporarily unavailable during the upgrade.

SirsiDynix, the company providing Enterprise, has indicated the following to RCLS: If you do not use Internet Explorer but rather another up-to-date browser (such as Firefox, Google Chrome, or Safari), the catalog should work normally, according to SirsiDynix.

If you do use Internet Explorer (version 8 or earlier), or if you use an older Web browser, please consider upgrading to a newer browser so you can continue accessing the catalog (along with any other online services requiring and/or benefiting from a newer Web browser).

Updates to Microsoft Internet Explorer are available at:

Here are two popular and freely available Web browsers which should work with Enterprise: You can learn how to "download" (retrieve) and install any browser by visiting its website. Always review the system requirements and terms of service before installing any software.

Operating systems and individual programs will often update themselves, but there can be limits as to how far such software can be upgraded. Some examples: Microsoft Vista users can usually update Internet Explorer to version 9, while Windows 7 users can upgrade to version 10. Windows XP users might (at most) upgrade to version 8 of Internet Explorer (IE).

After installing a new browser, you can continue using your existing browser for other sites, if you prefer, but please keep this in mind: for the sake of improved computer security and functionality, experts regularly encourage users to update all software whenever possible.

Windows XP users are widely encouraged to consider installing a browser other than IE 8. It should also be noted Microsoft will end all support for Windows XP and IE 8 in April 2014.

We hope this update goes smoothly for you! If your Web browser encounters any issues after the Enterprise update, please let us know so we can notify RCLS for further investigation. It will be helpful for us to know what operating system (e.g. Windows XP, Windows 7, Apple OS X "Mountain Lion"), which browser you are using, and the browser's version number.

You can usually locate the browser's version number by clicking on the browser's Help option (in the browser's top menu of options) and then clicking the About option appearing next.

For further guidance: please consult with your computer's manufacturer, your operating system's provider, and any other relevant providers of software or services on your computer.

Learn Something New!

Posted: June 5, 2013

As a member of our library, you can enjoy free access to many educational and empowering resources and services!

You can, from home, access Tell Me More, an interactive language learning service. Learn French, Italian, Spanish, and more at your own pace! Please follow this link to get started!

We also offer you full access to Universal Class, an online school featuring hundreds of classes on all major topics. Some courses will even earn you Continuing Education Units (CEUs). These are complete courses including educational materials and real instructors you can interact with at any time. You can take up to six months to complete a course. Please follow this link to read more about Universal Class.

If you would like to study for upcoming exams (GED, SAT, CLEP, etc.), enhance your career potential, plan for college, or polish your resume, we also offer members of Thrall free access to the Testing and Education Reference Center. Please follow this link to begin using this great service.

For even more educational opportunities and learning resources, including free OpenCourseWare (OCW) courses from MIT, NYU, Princeton, Yale, and others, please visit our education resource portal.

Women's History Month Guide

Posted: March 6, 2013

Our Women's History Month information guide has been revised and expanded to afford you an even greater opportunity to discover essential events and influential individuals who contributed in countless ways to our nation and our world.

Our guide features titles, persons, and topics you can quickly click to explore related items in the library catalog.

You can also browse numerous Web resources right away through our guide.

If you've never delved much into the topic of women's history, we encourage you to visit our guide so you might increase your awareness and appreciation for the many amazing things women have achieved - and continue to do - throughout history.

Their stories are sure to surprise and inspire you!

eBooks Update - Coming Soon It's Here!

Posted: February 6, 2013
Updated: February 21, 2012

OverDrive, our library system's eBooks provider, has updated its service (at to improve access to electronic books.

This update includes:
A video overview of the new features is also on YouTube. Please click here to watch it.

For more details, please visit OverDrive's Next Generation website.

To begin exploring the new eBooks website, please click here!

Received an eReader?

Posted: December 31, 2012

Did you receive an eReader - such as a Nook or a Kindle - as a gift over the holidays?

Or you are simply curious how you can begin to download eBooks?

Getting started is fairly simple...

All you need to do is click here and, when the next page appears, click on OverDrive Help Pages (the first choice on that page).

Later on, you can always reach that help page through our library home page: just click on the eBooks: help pages link once you're there!

OverDrive is the eBooks provider for our library system.

Once you're at the OverDrive website, please select your computer, eReader, or smartphone from the list for some simple instructions.

OverDrive also provides videos for certain devices. They can be very helpful!

Happy e-reading, and happy new year!

eBooks Update (September 2012)

Posted: Sept. 6, 2012

The RCLS OverDrive eBooks service will soon see some major changes!

Here are the details directly from OverDrive:

"Dear Library and School Partners... I'm excited to report on the service enhancements we'll deliver during the 2012 holiday season and months following. We're working on a complete redesign of our library lending platform to achieve best-in-class user experience.

This Next Generation platform will include a new search engine, one-step checkout, responsive websites optimized for every screen, and a new way for users to experience eBooks-OverDrive Read.

As we've previously announced, OverDrive Read is the new browser-based eBook reading experience that provides instant access to titles from any web-connected device. Whether from a desktop or mobile device, readers will be able to quickly browse, check out, and read EPUB eBooks instantly online and offline - no activation or download required.

This will not change the number of available copies or holds in your collection, nor will it eliminate the need for user authentication. OverDrive Read takes advantage of EPUB and HTML5 with native support for color, video, interactivity and easy title integration with social media and education systems. Over the next few weeks, we'll be upgrading your OverDrive-powered website with OverDrive Read samples of most EPUB eBooks in your existing collection, and by the holidays, this new reading option will enable checkout of full titles.

OverDrive Next Generation Library Platform: One Step Checkout

Later this year, we'll begin to upgrade OverDrive-powered library and school websites (both desktop and mobile editions) with a new responsive experience which optimizes the sites for any size screen. From your library's Next Generation website, users will be able to borrow eBooks in one step. Our goal is clear: Provide the best collection of eBooks, audiobooks, music and video with the fastest and easiest experience for users to read, listen and watch. These updates will reduce the number of steps currently required to check out and download a title."


Business Database Update

Posted: August 29, 2012

The Business & Company database will soon be superceded by a new database (Business Insights: Essentials).

Here are details from the database provider:

The critically lauded Business & Company Resource Center has been our cornerstone business resource for more than a decade. But a lot has changed since its initial release in 2000. Today's business researchers demand instant access to reliable, comprehensive data and the tools to analyze and interpret the information. That's why we're transforming Business & Company Resource Center into Business Insights: Essentials.

Business Insights: Essentials includes a completely updated, intuitive user interface that makes it easy for researchers to use in-depth information on U.S. and international businesses, industries and products. By focusing on the research goals, decision-making and workflows of our core Business & Company Resource Center users, we've been able to create a notably improved interface.

Check out these exciting new features:
The full-text content includes:

Election Year Survival Guide

Posted: June 26, 2012

The newest addition to our Critical Thinking resources is a timely guide to the U.S. Presidential Election and elections in general:
In this printable guide you will find a mix of questions and considerations to keep in mind between now and November.

For even more information and potential insight, please visit our Election 2012 guide.

eBooks Update

Posted: June 14, 2012

Why aren't certain eBooks available in OverDrive?

It's in great part because a number of major publishers currently refuse to license eBooks to libraries.

Other publishers have proposed excessive limits on eBook borrowing or charge substantially higher prices for eBooks, as much as four times the cost of the same book in print!

eBook use still represents only a fraction of library items actively circulating. There is still a much greater demand for print, large print, and audio materials. Each library strives to meet the information needs and material preferences of its patrons within the fiscal limits of its yearly budget.

As the demand for eBooks increases, the library will allocate its materials budget accordingly.

For more information on the current situation between libraries and eBook publishers, please see these sites:

Library System Catalog Update

Posted: June 5, 2012

SirsiDynix recently updated the Ramapo Catskill Library System catalog ("Enterprise").

Along with some new and improved features, such as alphabetized library lists and a "pick up by" date for reserved items, this particular catalog update (4.2) created some temporary issues for some library catalog users.

If, when logging into or using the library catalog, you see a blank or partial screen, please try the following: If you experience any further difficulties, please notify our Reference Department at 341-5461 or through our online Ask a Librarian service.

Please note: on Tuesday, June 5, 2012, around 9 PM, SirsiDynix and RCLS will deactivate the catalog ("Enterprise") as they migrate it to new servers. At that time, the catalog will be temporarily unavailable until they complete their hardware upgrade (which they have indicated is being conducted in hopes of limiting future down-times).

RE:fresh! June 2012 Edition

Posted: June 1, 2012

A new edition of our Reference Department newsletter ("RE:fresh!") is available!

Topics include:
Please click here to visit our RE:fresh! newsletter page.

Print copies are also available in the library.

Search Engines:
What Are They Hiding?

Posted: May 18, 2012

When you search the Web, do you get the complete picture? Are the search results you see objective, authoritative, and balanced? The answer is not so clear these days!

Using various data such as your Web search history and social networking activities, some search engines now attempt to "personalize" search results in hopes of providing sites they calculate you might "like" - but not necessarily what you need to know!

Aside from denying you access to "all the facts," this situation, however well-intentioned and attractive as it might seem, also has the dangerous potential of keeping you unaware of important or useful information.

Your privacy is also at risk as search engines track you.

"Personalized" or "social" results can reinforce what you already think you know or want to believe, and in doing so they could prevent you from reaching the truth on any given topic.

One of the best ways to break out of this "filter bubble" and discover what you are not being show is to consult multiple information sources - and not just different search engines, but other sources available in various formats (digital, print, etc.).

A librarian can help you do just that! You could also try to take matters into your own hands and go beyond your favorite search engine by trying things like article databases, specialized encyclopedias, and the many other resources available at your library.

Remember, even the best search engines can only reveal a fraction of information available out there. You and your research deserve much better than that!

For more information - and to expand your awareness of research options...
(An online PDF edition of this post is also available.)

Library System Transition: A Progress Report

Posted: January 20, 2012

Over the past several weeks, the library system (RCLS) completed its transition from the old Horizon library software to a new system called Symphony.

Beyond the expected share of initial technical glitches and the human challenges involved in adjusting to a new system, we are happy to report on some of the more positive and exciting aspects of this transition:

If you have bookmarked any of the old catalog pages, including the old Library Account login page or AquaBrowser, please delete those outdated bookmarks (or "Favorites") and consider creating new bookmarks for either our home page ( or main catalog entrance page so you can quickly reach the new catalog and our library services.

We updated our OpenSearch library catalog plugins for Firefox and Internet Explorer users, enabling you to access the new catalog (along with many of our other services) directly through your Web browser.

While the RCLS transition is "over," we still welcome your feedback and inquiries about RCLS's new catalog. If you have any questions, technical difficulties, or comments, please feel free to visit or call our Reference Department or to ask our librarians a question online.

As before, we will continue our efforts to help make finding books, authors, and information of all kinds easier for you to locate and enjoy!

Library System Migration Details

Posted: November 23, 2011

Soon, in December 2011, the Ramapo Catskill Library System (RCLS), along with Middletown Thrall Library and other RCLS member libraries, will make the transition to new library system software called Symphony.

This transition will introduce some changes and options, including a new online library catalog, which you can read about at this link

New features you can look forward to include:

Some other things to consider:

Library System Upgrade
and a New Online Catalog!

The Ramapo Catskill Library System (RCLS) will transition to new library system software in December 2011.

As part of this upgrade, Middletown Thrall Library (and all other RCLS libraries) will get a new and more capable online catalog!

We prepared a little preview of what you can expect to see in the new catalog.

Please click here to see the preview!

Election 2012 Guide

As we did for the previous presidential election, Middletown Thrall Library has prepared a special coverage guide covering the upcoming primaries, conventions, candidates, and eventual election (or reelection) of the next President of the United States:
Topics include: Learn about Elections, Registering and Voting Procedures, Making an Informed Decision, Campaign Financing, Political Parties, Polls, Results, and Statistics, Presidential Candidates, and Conventions.

Our Election 2012 guide is a work in progress and will be updated as necessary.

A New Legal Research Tool

September 22, 2011

In addition to our existing (and admittedly challenging) subscription database known as Westlaw, we now offer access to WestlawNext Patron Access, which Westlaw promises will help simplify "your starting point for legal research."

You can use WestlawNext Patron Access to search in plain-English, using simple descriptive terms. You can search without having to choose a database first, as you would have to do within the standard Westlaw interface. Results are ranked by relevance.

Categories included automatically in your searches are: Statutes and Court Rules, Regulations, Forms, Briefs, Pleadings, Motions, Memoranda, Verdicts, Settlements, Proposed and Enacted Legislation, and much more.

Note: some search results may not be accessible because they are not included in our library's subscription plan.

We will still offer access to the original Westlaw database. Both Westlaw and WestlawNext can be accessed on any of the library's research or public Internet workstations.

eBooks FAQ (Frequently Asked Questions)

September 22, 2011

Those of you who have recently discovered the interesting (and occasionally technically frustrating) world of eBooks naturally have many questions, such as:
We provide answers to these and many other common questions on a free handout available in print at the library as well as at our website, in the eBooks section of our publications page.

American History Resource Guide

September 22, 2011

As part of our mission to make finding information online and in the library easier, quicker, safer, and more productive for you, we have thoroughly redesigned and expanded our American History guide.

This guide centralizes American history information you can access through Middletown Thrall Library.

In addition to direct links to our history databases, related virtual reference works, and American History subjects within the library system catalog, our guide includes numerous excellent resources in the following areas: You can also access other specialized history resource guides our Reference Department provides.

Please click here to begin exploring our new American History resource guide.

Amazon Kindle eBooks Now Supported

September 22, 2011

Overdrive, the library system's eBook provider, just announced support for Amazon Kindle eBooks.

Here is a link to Overdrive's press release.

Amazon Kindle eReader users (or users with Kindle software on their computers or smart phones) can now access compatible titles with the RCLS eBooks catalog.

You can click here to jump straight to the eBooks catalog to browse Amazon Kindle eBooks for Thrall / RCLS library patrons.

Please note: you should always start out by logging in to the eBooks catalog (your "My eAccount") to see all titles available to you as a member of our library.

Downloading instructions and additional technical details concerning RCLS eBooks, Kindle, and other devices can be found at this link.

JDC: Our Shared Legacy

Our Shared Legacy: World War II and "The Joint" is the American Jewish Distribution Committee's archival collection of photographs and documents from the World War II era.

"JDC cared for hundreds of thousands of Jews in places from Cuba to Portugal during and after the Second World War - were you one of these people? Search a database of more than 500,000 names. View and tag 1,500 photos from 14 countries. Help JDC - known to millions as "The Joint" - fill in the blanks about its impact during this tumultuous time." From the American Jewish Distribution Committee website.

See also: Genocide: A Special Coverage Guide

Tax Forms

Looking for tax forms? Here are two quick links:
We still have some free copies of major tax forms (Federal and New York State) available in print at Middletown Thrall Library.

The forms are located in our Reading Room.

If you cannot find a specific form or publication, please come to our Reference Department and indicate which documents you need. Printing costs $ .20 per page.

eBook Checkout Periods

April 1, 2011

Did you know you can customize your eBook and eAudiobook checkout periods? You can!

How do you access and change this setting? First, log into you eAccount. Next click on Lending Periods (see example below):

[Example of eAccount Screen]

Once the Lending Periods screen appears you can select 7 days, 14 days, or 21 days for each kind of electronic item you borrow.

Why would you want to do this?

The current library system (RCLS) limit for eBook checkouts is 8 items. If you read a lot, you can easily hit this limit and be *forced to wait until your items expire before you can check out any additional titles.

The other advantage to reducing your checkout periods is that other eBook users will not have to wait so long for certain titles to become available!

Latest Reference Newsletter

March 18, 2011

The latest edition of our Reference Services newsletter ("RE:fresh!") is now available at this link.

Accessible eBooks Service

March 8, 2011

Overdrive, the eBook provider for the Ramapo Catskill Library System (RCLS), recently made the following announcement:

OverDrive Library eBook Accessibility Program (LEAP) OverDrive is proud to introduce the Library eBook Accessibility Program, or LEAP. LEAP offers a free membership with Bookshare to print disabled patrons of OverDrive partner libraries.

Qualified patrons can download up to 20 accessible eBooks each month for a full year at no charge! The catalog of accessible eBooks is presently more than 60,000 titles. LEAP is the result of a partnership between OverDrive and Bookshare, a non-profit agency that provides timely eBook access to individuals with print disabilities.

Patrons with LEAP memberships are provided a user account at Bookshare hosts more than 60,000 digital books, textbooks, newspapers and magazines - available in DAISY and BRF formats. These can be used with a variety of accessible devices and free desktop software.

Please click here for more details at the website.

Women's History Information Guide

March 2, 2011

Thrall's Women's History Month information guide has been updated with new links to library items and Web resources.

We also restructured the guide into subsections so it can be more easily navigated and browsed with greater specificity.

Please click here to view our Women's History guide.

African-American History Resource Guide

February 1, 2011

In our continued honor of Black History Month, Thrall has updated and expanded its African-American History resource guide.

In the guide you will find links to both library system and Web-based resources covering all aspects of African-American history from the past to the present.

Please click here to access our updated guide.

Philosophy in the Library

(You Read, Therefore We Are)

January 10, 2011

Over the past year we have expanded our philosophy and ethics (moral philosophy) collections to include many new, interesting, and informative titles.

From reality to the ridiculous, our circulating philosophy collection collectively examines the great questions of life along with some of the funnier aspects of human existence.

Now "philosophy" and "fun" might seem like contradictory concepts at first, but, as some writers have effectively demonstrated, one of the most compelling ways to approach philosophy is to do so without taking things too seriously!

For example, these three books take a decidedly comical approach to philosophical matters:
Philosophy is not limited to the past or what people used to think. Philosophy is about us and our abilities to use it to learn about the present, the future, our world, our universe, ourselves and each other.

Thrall owns a number of titles from the "Blackwell Philosophy and Pop Culture Series" along with other many books which reveal how questions posed long ago remain incredibly relevant to contemporary interests in our society. Here are some titles:
Many of these books assume you have little or no previous experience with philosophy, inviting you to learn and be entertained as you read along.

Readers with little free time on their hands might especially appreciate the "Very Short Introduction" series from Oxford University Press. These truly tiny editions can quickly acquaint you with key concepts and philosophers. Here is a sampling of many titles Thrall owns in this series:
For some more developed yet very readable and generalized introductions to philosophy, you might want to consider one or more of these titles:
Want to delve even deeper? Please be our guest! These are some of our most recently acquired titles:
In addition to these titles, members of Thrall can access the illustrated online edition of DK's Eyewitness Companion: Philosophy along with the Opposing Viewpoints Resource Center and Sirs Knowledge Source databases, which you can use to research philosophical, ethical, and other aspects of contemporary issues around the world.

For a greater selection of related library and Web resources, please see these sections within our Ready Reference guide:

Choosing an eBook Reader

December 20, 2010

Whether you plan to do some last-minute holiday shopping or are interested in exploring the possibilities of electronic books, purchasing an eBook reader (or "eReader") can be an interesting challenge even for experienced computer users.

For one thing, there are so many eReaders to choose from! Which one is "best" for you is a question only you can answer, since "best" involves personal preferences (screen size, specific capabilities) and, of course, price - how much you are willing to pay.

Then there are the inevitable *technical questions you should probably ponder before deciding to purchase an eReader.

In addition to obvious eReader criteria of potential concern, such as cost, there are less obvious issues to contemplate, such as legibility (how clear text appears on an eReader screen) and if you can comfortably view an eReader outdoors in direct sunlight or anywhere in low-light conditions.

Here's another question: will your eReader work with the free eBooks service provided by Thrall and other libraries within the Ramapo Catskill Library System?

In hopes of helping you make a more informed decision, we have prepared the following one-page guide:
* For specific technical guidance on eReaders compatible with the RCLS ebook system, please consult Overdrive's list of recommended devices:
We hope you find our guide useful.

Some other publications you might like to check out include:
Even if you're not ready yet to buy an eBook reader, you can still participate in the free eBook service if you have a computer that can run the required (and free) software!

Online Learning Opportunities:
Universal Class and More!

December 1, 2010

Middletown Thrall Library has established a new license enabling us to offer members of our library free access to Universal Class, a service where you can attend free courses over the Internet!

What kinds of courses are available? Areas of study include:

About this Service:
You can reach Universal Class several ways through our website:
If free online learning is something you would like to explore, you have many more options available right through our website. Some examples include:
This might seem like a lot, yet all of this is merely a fraction of what you could access and learn through your library. Through the collective resources and services freely available to you at Thrall, you could learn - or master - nearly any topic you ever wanted! Great opportunities for advancement and personal enrichment await you!

We are eager to help you begin your learning adventure. Whever you are ready to start, we encourage you to visit our Reference Department and speak with our librarians. You can also call us at (845)341-5461 or ask us a question online. We look forward to showing you possibilties you never knew existed!

Empower Your Web Browser!
Install Thrall Searches!

September 21, 2010

If you use Firefox (version 2.0 or higher) or Internet Explorer (version 7 or higher) you can add Thrall searches to your Web browser so you can access them instantly, at all times, no matter where you are online!

These addable searches are free, very easy to install (just a couple of clicks does it!), and fast to use.

Searches include:
We designed these "OpenSearch" foremost for our library users and online researchers, but we also included addable searches for members of other libraries within the Ramapo Catskill Library System (RCLS).

To get started, please click here to visit our "OpenSearch Plugins" page. From there you can learn more about available searches and start installing one or more search engines in your browser!

New: Video Browser Service

August 31, 2010

Our recently updated entry page to the RCLS library system catalog includes a new service we have created:

Videos in the Catalog

On this new page you can search or browse for movies, television shows, and other video content available either at Thrall or other libraries within the Ramapo Catskill Library System.

When searching, you can limit results to show only items Thrall owns.

When browsing, you have quite a selection to choose from!

Here is a list of categories you can browse:

Titles include classic films as well as contemporary movies and recent DVD/Blu-ray releases.

If you browse by Actors & Actresses, you can view lists of movies according to celebrity names and find movies their either starred in or were involved with (voice-overs, direction, etc.).

An extenstive list of television shows and series are also included.

In addition to browsing the library catalog, you can also opt to browse reviews from Common Sense Media (great for parents who want to pre-screen movies and learn about any plot points of concern), the Internet Movie Database, and more.

We hope you enjoy this new service and that it prooves helpful and fun to you!

Please click here to try out the new video browser!

For those who prefer printed lists and browsing by hand, we have four new guides of popular titles you might like to see. Printed copies are available by the DVD video browser boxes.

Online editions of our "Popular Movie" guides also exist and can be found at this link.

LightSwitch Search Tools

August 5, 2010

We are excited to bring you new generation of educational and interactive Internet search tools called LightSwitch Search Tools.

LightSwitch searches provide a flexible and innovative environment for online researchers.

Developed as part of our larger information literacy effort known as LIGHT, LightSwitch links you with some of the best specialized search engines available online.

Central to LightSwitch's design is the ability to switch quickly from one topic to another and to let users conduct more specific searches as opposed to relying on one general-purpose search engine. For example, if you switch the topic to Health and Wellness, the default search becomes MedlinePlus.

Additional subject-specific engines appear atop lists of search engines in each LightSwitch page.

For any given LightSwitch topic there is an expandable "enlightenment" panel of search terms which will appear when you click on an "enlighten your search" link. Once you do so, a variety of keywords, phrases, names, and subject headings appear, and you can select and add any of these words to your search.

For example, if you select Art, you can browse art terms, famous artists, notable works of art, and incorporate other related keywords into your query.

Some topics, such as Astronomy, Literature, and Mathematics, feature book titles as well.

The "enlightenment" panel also includes links to related Thrall Internet guides and subsections in those guides which might contain websites helpful to your research.

LightSwitch also provides a set of "keyword tools," which you can use to mark ("plus") keywords as mandatory, convert searches to phrases, and more. If you select Google as a search engine, additional tools for Google's search modifiers (e.g. site:) appear, allowing you to take advantage of that search engine's advanced commands.

As you search, you might also want to see what books, videos, and other items your local library might provide for your topic. With that in mind, LightSwitch lets you search any RCLS library's catalog: select "RCLS Library Catalog" as a search engine. Additional options (including the ability to limit results to the library you select) will appear.

LightSwitch also gives you the option of having search results displayed in their own window: just check the little box under the search engine list.

LightSwitch's predecessor, Proteus, was created with the intent of educating researchers and encouraging them to explore a diversity of search engines. Using Proteus, users could compare the quality of search results, adjust search strategies, and eventually graduate from Proteus and visit specific search engines as needed.

LightSwitch remains committed to this philosophy and offers a comprehensive "Help" page where researchers are encouraged to visit individual search engine sites (including help and "search tips" pages) to learn more about those searches.

LightSwitch is a public service we will continue to develop and refine. We hope you will find it useful!

Please click here to try LightSwitch Search Tools.

New Entertainment Guide

June 29, 2010

We have thoroughly revised and expanded our Entertainment guide.

In addition to television, movies, and theater resources, you can now access popular topics such as:
Our guide also gives you instant access to popular movies (VHS or DVD) within the library system as well as the ability to browse a wide variety of entertainment topics in the library catalog.

Please click here to visit the new guide.

New Reference Resources Online

June 25, 2010

We have some really exciting news for researchers!

We have acquired a number of new titles for our Virtual Reference Library:
Members of Thrall: Please click on each title to learn more about that reference work and to begin accessing it freely at home!

If you are not a member of our library, you can still access these within the library on any of Thrall's research workstations.

Some other updates:

Due to changes in New York State's NOVEL database offerings, the Proquest Platinum and Expanded Academic ASAP databases are no longer available. In their place you can now access:
Please take advantage of these great databases and reference works!

Database Update

April 9, 2010

Due to an upcoming change in our licensing agreement with the Newspaper Archive database vendor, the remote access option will no longer be available in the coming weeks.

The database will still be freely available to you at Middletown Thrall Library.

Diversify Your Search

March 19, 2010

This afternoon our Reference Department published a new document:
Intended for both readers and researchers, this one-page flyer offers tips (and links to tools we created) which you can use to:
Accompanying this document is a new category in our Ready Reference Center:
We encourage you to consider all of the above in hopes of inspiring you to take advantage of all the free tools and services we provide.

Printed copies of "Diversify Your Search" are also available by our Reference Department.

If you haven't done so already, please also check out our Why Search? publication whenever you get the chance.

Interlibrary Loan Service: A Friendly Reminder

January 20, 2010

The ability to request an item (via interlibrary loan) is both a free service and a privilege enjoyed by many members of Middletown Thrall Library.

Through this service you can access materials other libraries choose to share for the mutual benefit of all library patrons.

When requesting items, please be sure you truly want each item and can pick it up when it arrives.

You can track locally requested items through the online library catalog by logging in with your library barcode number and PIN (usually the last four digits of your phone number).

Overdue materials result in fines, and interloan privileges could be suspended if you frequently fail to pick up items.

Please help us to preserve this essential service for everyone by requesting items mindfully and by returning materials on time.

If you cannot pick up or return an item on time, please call Circulation at (845) 341-5454 to learn of available options, if any.

For more information, please call (845) 341-5487 or 341-5454, ext. 5475.

New Haiti Earthquake Information Guide

January 13, 2010

Our Special Coverage Center is where we present key online and library resources on major current topics and world events.

The latest guide in our Special Coverage Center focuses on the current situation in Haiti after the earthquake of January 12, 2010.

Sections in the guide include: Please click here to access the Haiti Earthquake guide.

New Online Music Services

January 6, 2010

Music lovers, we have some great news for you!

Members of Middletown Thrall Library / RCLS have two new online music services to enjoy: The database provider (Alexander Street) intends for the Jazz Music Library to be the "largest and most comprehensive collection of jazz available online" said to include "thousands of jazz artists, ensembles, albums, and genres."

Music Online enables you to browse or search all Alexander Street music databases we subscribe to through one website. These databases include: In other news: Alexander Street has merged the African-American Song database with American Song. Previous users of African-American Song can click here for information on accessing any playlists or folders they have created (now found in American Song).

If you have yet to explore Thrall's own Music information guide, please do so when you get a chance. Besides links to fun and informative websites, you will find direct links to music materials available in our library system and more.

New Language Learning Software

December 22, 2009

Middletown Thrall Library has purchased Transparent Language learning software in a USB drive format for the following languages: Members of Thrall may borrow this software for three week loan periods.

Here's how it works: As you would do when browsing our DVD collection, simply locate a Transparent Language browser card (located in their very own bin before the DVDs) and bring it to the Circulation desk.

At this time, these materials will not be interlibrary loaned.

You can check on availablity and place reserves by following these library catalog links:

New Special Coverage Guide: Afghanistan

December 3, 2009

Our Special Coverage Center is where we present key online and library resources on major current topics and world events.

The latest guide in our Special Coverage Center focuses on the current situation in Afghanistan.

Sections in the guide include: Please click here to access Special Coverage: Afghanistan.

Expanded Virtual Reference Library

December 3, 2009

Our Virtual Reference Library is a collection of electronic reference books we own that members of Middletown Thrall Library can freely access.

These books can be browsed like regular books (complete with tables of contents, indexes, and appendices). Individual articles can be printed or e-mailed as well.

The VRL is accessed right through our website.

A number of new titles are available as of today. All of these works can be accessed in the library as well as at home by Thrall cardholders:
You can reach these titles through our eBooks, Databases, and VRL entry pages: Please be sure to check out the many other titles available in the Virtual Reference Library and take advantage of the excellent information to be found there!

New Database: Critical Insights

November 6, 2009

Middletown Thrall Library recently acquired a new series of literary criticism books from Salem Press called Critical Insights.

This encyclopedic series consists of two parts: Works focuses on major literary works, while Authors examines the lives and writings of classic and contemporary authors.

As part of this acquisition, patrons of Thrall can also access these books over the Internet (either in the library or at home by logging in with their library card) in the form of a database which can be searched or browsed.

Please click here to read more about this database or to log in and begin using it.

This database was made possible by The Friends of Middletown Thrall Library.

New Issue of RE:fresh!

October 23, 2009

As you might already know, Middletown Thrall Library's Reference Department has its own newsletter called RE:fresh!

For those new to RE:fresh!, this is where Thrall's Reference Department updates you on some of our most recent and notable efforts to expand services and enrichment opportunities for our patrons.

RE:fresh! exists both online and in print at the library, and the newsletter complements this blog while extending Reference news to persons not yet online or followers of this blog.

The epic, exhaustive, and ongoing efforts we report on arise from our tireless and inspired mission to advocate and improve our services as well as your informational well-being.

Unlike impersonal, overly generalized, and profit-driven search engines focused more on serving ads and "sponsored links," we care deeply about the quality of information you encounter, and we work daily on your behalf.

This afternoon we published the fourth issue of RE:fresh!
(PDF format: view with Adobe Reader)

We deliver this newsletter with great enthusiasm and hopes of helping you connect more quickly and easily with better information.

After well over 100 years of serving our community, you still are, and always will be, our greatest priority.

In case you missed them, previous issues of RE:fresh! can be found at this link.

New Database: CAMIO

September 11, 2009

CAMIO, the Catalog of Art Museum Images Online, is a newly available database that can be accessed at Middletown Thrall Library.

This database features works from "prominent museums around the world," spans thousands of years, and contains nearly 100,000 works of art.

Topics include architecture, costumes, drawings, decorations, jewelry, paintings, photographs, sculptures, and more.

Please click here to read more about the database.

The next time you visit the library, we encourage you to explore this wonderful electronic resource!

Music: A New Collection & Information Guide

July 20, 2009

Music lovers, we have two great news items for you:

A New Music Wellness Collection
Thanks to the Friends of Middletown Thrall Library, Inc., our library now offers a Music Wellness Collection.

This collection of peaceful music features music therapy pioneers such as Steven Halpern and others.

CDs in this collection are located at the end of our Jazz collection. We encourage you to check them out.

A New Music Information Guide
To help music lovers and researchers find good information online and in the library, we created a new Music information guide.

This comprehensive guide promotes our music collections, offers "best of the Web" links by topic, and provides clickable subject headings so you can browse the library catalog for musical topics.

Our new Music guide can be reached and searched from our Web Guides page.

As with all our web guides, we plan to continue developing and refining it as better information becomes available.

A New Publication: "Why Search?"

July 20, 2009

In continuance of our ongoing information awareness and literacy endeavors, we published a new document (in print and online at this link in the "Critical Thinking" section) examining online research and the use and abuse of search engines.

As a recognized pioneer of Internet research services and resource guides, within and well beyond our library system, we know the benefits online research can often provide.

We are also aware of potential issues researchers can face on the Internet, especially wherever there might be a heavy reliance on general Web search engines instead of more appropriate sources and research services.

It is that awareness we wish to pass on to you, to empower you, so you can take better advantage of the many superior tools and resources freely available to you at Thrall.

There are often much better paths to the information you seek, and our librarians will be happy to show you the way!

New Job Search Computer

July 20, 2009

Job seekers and others interested in pursuing new career opportunities now have their very own workstation at Thrall.

Usage time is a minimum of two hours, and you can stay on longer if no one is waiting to use it. Two people can sit at this computer. A printer is attached for prints ($ .20 / page). If interested, please stop by our Reference Department.

On the computer are tools and services addressing all aspects of job searching, from cover letter and resumes (including several word processors you can use) to direct links to job search sites on the Web and interviewing tips.

We developed a number of free informational flyers (also available at that workstation) to help job searcher's make the most of their time and these technologies.

As part of this effort, we also redesigned InterJob Search guide, which anyone can access by clicking here.

Real Time News and Analysis

June 24, 2009

Turn to any news media outlet these days, and you are bound to hear words such as Twitter, Facebook, feeds, streams, and real time news.

What does it all mean?

Twitter is a website where friends, family, and co-workers can update others on what they are doing at the moment.

Each message in Twitter (called a "Tweet") can contain up to 140 characters (letters or numbers).

Twitter was born out of the world of social networking, allowing friends and family to keep track of each other. (for more on social networking, please click here)

Facebook is a comparable social networking website.

Due to the popularity and expediency of both websites, Twitter and Facebook are now also used by news agencies, corporations, and even the U.S. Government (more details at this link).

Anyone can establish a "feed" (sometimes called a "news stream"), and post messages which can be informal comments (often abbreviated) or more formal updates with links to full news pages at other websites.

All of this tends to happen in "real time," which usually suggests information is posted the moment it becomes available or known. The variable quality of such information is worth noting.

The prospect of "real time news" is fascinating, but it should also inspire questions of quality, authority, and accuracy.

As the speed and amount of information increases, potential for human error at all levels can heighten. Mistakes, misperceptions, and misinformation can multiply as the desire to provide "breaking news" or consume up-to-the-minute information escalates.

Under such circumstances, even sources deemed reputable or "official" could potentially find themselves in the midst of inaccurate, incomplete, or questionable information.

At any speed, firm facts and objective information can be difficult to determine or locate!

Such situations, of course, predate the Internet, but the sheer speed of online data transactions and increased informality of information exchanges can lead to more mishaps, especially as people might react to unconfirmed reports or make decisions based on erroneous statements.

To act upon any information, "real time" or other, without any consideration can be problematic, if not regrettable or simply dangerous.

Our Current Interests Center exists to help you explore the world of news by topic and to give you not one but several key sources to consider.

We recently established a Twitter Feeds section there.

We encourage you to visit our new Media Watchdogs section as well. There you can enjoy a deeper analysis of current events, not only in terms of actual headlines but also their sources.

At the end of that section you will find links to the "General Research Considerations and Evaluating Information" and "Online Research" areas of our Ready Reference Center where topics such as critical thinking are explored.

Critical thinking involves actively considering key aspects of information as you encounter it. Critical thinking, on or off the Internet, is essential.

We will expand upon this theme later this year in an information literacy project called LIGHT (Learning Information Gathering and Handling Techniques).

For now, you can read some related publications we provide freely at our website:

New Literature Database

May 12, 2009

We have a new addition to our Literature databases:

Something about the Author

This database, which specializes in information on children's and young adult authors and illustrators, provides access to Volume 187 of Something about the Author and forward.

Thrall has the earlier volumes of this ongoing series in print at the library.

This database is available at Middletown Thrall Library and freely accessible at home for members of Thrall.

Please click here to learn more about Something about the Author and to begin using this database.

Reference Updates for Spring 2009

April 24, 2009

Happy Spring 2009! Here are some recent updates we would like to share with you:

New York State NOVEL Databases

New York State's NOVEL database lineup changed as of April 2009. As a result, the following databases are no longer available: Now, the good news: through NOVEL we can now access the vast Proquest Platinum database as well as Grolier Online, including multimedia encyclopedias such as Encyclopedia Americana, Grolier Multimedia Encyclopedia, and The New Book of Knowledge.

You can access these databases and encyclopedias at the library or through our website.

New & Improved: Thrall Web Guides and Web Resource Search Engine

Our Web Guides page has a fresh look and expanded capabilities. The new layout gives you instant access to all topics in our guides.

At the top of this page there is a search box: here you can use our new, home-grown search engine to locate websites on an ever-expanding array of topics!

Our clustered search results will let you jump right to a website while showing you where you can find related sites and topics in specific areas within our Web Guides.

To the right of search results are recommended databases you can explore for full-text articles as well as library catalog links you can follow to quickly check if there are books / DVDs / etc. on your topic.

We invite you to bookmark our Web Guides page and to consider making it one of your first stops whenever you need to do research on the Internet.

Work continues on developing our search engine and our guides in an effort to make online research easier, faster, safer, and generally more rewarding than other general purpose search engines on the Web.

Coming Soon: Library Catalog Update

An extension to the library system catalog (known as AquaBrowser) will appear in the very near future as part of an upgrade being implemented for all member libraries in the Ramapo Catskill Library System (RCLS).

Access to the classic catalog (HIP) will still be available.

Once in AquaBrowser, you will see some new things besides titles of items and their authors: related topics, similar authors, information sorted by year or genre, and more. AquaBrowser uses Flash (a plug-in from

Genocide Awareness and Prevention

March 27, 2009

April 2009 has been designated "Genocide Prevention Month." You can read more about the designation in this press release from

"Survivors of Six Genocides Declare April 2009 Genocide Prevention Month"

To honor this month and to promote public awareness of past and contemporary genocidal atrocities, we have established a display at Thrall (outside of the Reference Supervisor's office for the month of April) as well as a web guide.

The Special Coverage: Genocide web guide contains links to definitions and histories of genocide as well as articles, books within our library system, and more.

You can click here to access the Genocide awareness guide.

Reference Telephone Numbers

February 9, 2009

Thrall's telephone system was recently upgraded, and some numbers were converted to extensions.

To reach any Reference persons below, please dial (845) 341-5454 (or just 341-5454 if you live locally), wait until the welcome message begins, then dial one of the following extensions: Please note: Our main Reference Desk telephone remains unchanged at 341-5461. This is the number you can call whenever you have a reference question.

While our 341-5462 number is no longer in service, we still have two telephones at Reference to ensure you can still get through to one of our librarians.

As a reminder, you can always ask questions through our free electronic reference service.

Introducing the "Feed of Feeds!"

February 2, 2009

You now have the option to subscribe to ALL of Middletown Thrall Library's blogs at once in one convenient RSS feed!

Topics will include Library Announcements, Library Programs, quarterly "Beyond the Box Office" reports, Booklovers, Consumer Information, Environment, Government, Health and Nutrition, Reference Service News, Science and Technology, and Youth Services News.

If you are new to RSS feeds, you can click here to learn more about RSS.

To subscribe to the "Feed of Feeds," please visit our main blogs page and scroll down to the "Subscription Options" section. You will see a link to "Subscribe to all of our blogs" in that area. Quick instructions are included there.

Historical New York Times

December 9, 2008

Middletown Thrall Library now subscribes to Historical Newspapers: The New York Times.

The subscription gives library users access to cover to cover full page images of The New York Times from 1857 through the current year minus three, i.e. currently it covers through 2005.

The database can be searched by keyword or browsed by topic or decade. Searches can be limited by date, author, and article type.

This database should delight historians and students as well as those looking for historical stock quotes and classifieds.

The database is only available for use within the library. The library's subscription to The New York Times on microfilm will be discontinued as of December 31, 2008.

Salem History Encyclopedias

November 5, 2008

The Reference Department at Middletown Thrall Library recently purchased a number of encyclopedic sets from Salem Press in addition to others we acquired over the past couple of years.

Titles in the "Great Lives from History" and "Great Events from History" series include: These and many other related encyclopedic sets can be found throughout the 900s section (History) in the Reference Department at Thrall.

Members of our library can access most of these titles freely on the web until December 31, 2011 as part of an offer from the publisher.

To get started, go to the History section of our databases and click on "Salem History."

Enjoy them while they last!

For even more history information on the web, check out our American History web guide and the History section of our Ready Reference web guide.

Members of Thrall can also log in with their library cards to access numerous history reference works in the History section of our Virtual Reference Library.

New Economy Information Guide

September 29, 2008

Middletown Thrall Library has created a new Economy information guide.

Our guide contains three sections:

The Government Information of our guide section indexes extensive information per U.S. Government agency concerning the Emergency Economic Stabilization Act of 2008.

The Housing section contains information concerning mortgages, foreclosures, foreclosure avoidance, as well as information concerning the new "Hope for Homeowners" program.

Please click here to access the Economy information guide.

You can also find links to the guide from our home page and Special Coverage Center

It is our hope you will find this guide helpful and time-saving.

If you need any more information, on the economy or any topic, please contact Reference or use our Ask a Librarian service on the web.

New 24/7 Reference Service

September 19, 2008

The reference staff at Middletown Thrall Library has been providing reference services via e-mail through our Ask a Librarian service for several years.

If the library is not open or you do not need an immediate answer, this method offers you the ability to submit a question through a web form and receive an e-mailed response usually within 24 hours Monday through Friday.

Thanks to a Library Services Technology Act (LSTA) grant, our patrons now have another choice when they need immediate reference services.

"Ask Us 24/7" is a cooperative virtual reference service that provides the ability to chat with a librarian online and receive one-on-one reference assistance.

The librarian you chat with will most likely not be local, but will have access to information about Middletown Thrall Library's holdings and policies.

Your best choice for reference services is to call us at 341-5461 or visit us at the library.

If that is not possible, using the Ask A Librarian! e-mail service ensures that you will receive reference assistance from our librarians.

If you need to communicate with someone immediately, however, and the library is not open, or the telephone is not an option, we are proud to provide you with access to "Ask Us 24/7."

The link to "Ask Us 24/7" may be found at the bottom of the Ask a Librarian web page.

Thrall Databases Revised and Expanded

September 17, 2008

We have completely redesigned and expanded the Thrall Databases section of our website with the following major goals in mind: We really want our patrons to make use of these excellent research tools and reference works! They contain very high quality articles and information you will not find elsewhere on the Internet.

The next time you want to look up some information, rather than go to a general web search engine, try these databases, encyclopedias, and reference works instead!

You can reach our databases simply by clicking the "Databases" link on our home page.

We invested in these resources for your benefit, your informational empowerment, so please take advantage of these services.

If you have any questions, feel free to stop by our Reference Department at the library or to call our librarians at 341-5461 for further assistance.

New Thrall RSS Feeds and Subscriptions

July 11, 2008

All of our blogs now offer you the option of being able to subscribe to them through their individual RSS feeds.

This means you can receive automatic updates about any topic you like, including library programs and announcements, government information, health, science, or updates concerning new books and authors.

What is an RSS feed? RSS stands for "Really Simple Syndication." An "RSS feed" provides software such as a web browser (for example, Firefox or Internet Explorer 7) a list of headlines, which are automatically updated as the feed is updated by its publisher.

After you subscribe to such an RSS feed, you will be able to review the headlines and click on those that interest you. Clicking on a headline takes you to the website (in our case, Thrall's website), where you can then read the complete story attached to the headline.

"Unsubscribing" yourself from an RSS feed in Firefox is as easy as deleting the bookmark created by a subscription.

In Internet Explorer 7, clicking the star ("Favorites Center" icon) and then clicking Feeds allows you to manage or delete your feed subscriptions.

Opera and Safari users can subscribe by going to the actual blog pages and clicking the RSS icon button that appears in the location bar (where you type web addresses). Unsubscription is easy as well: click on "Feeds" on the Opera menu, then click on "Manage Feeds." In Safari, just delete your RSS bookmark in the Bookmarks organizer.

Some 3rd party RSS/news agent software might instead require you to directly enter the URL (location or "link") of the RSS feed you'd like to join. In those cases, simply right-click (clicking with the right mouse button) on one of the subscription links above and then click on "Copy Link" (or "Location" if your browser says that).

Once back in your other RSS software, click in the box where you need to paste the link, and then either right-click and then click on "Paste" or press these keys together: CTRL V

Our feeds are updated along with our blogs, so this is one convenient way of keeping up with some of the many latest developments at Thrall!

If you have any questions, please click here to ask us a question or call us at (845) 341-5461.

New Reference Blog

July 7, 2008

To keep our patrons informed of recent and past updates to information services at Middletown Thrall Library, we have established this blog.

There are several benefits to this move, including the ability to archive prior announcements for your review and the possibility, in the future, for you to be able to subscribe to individual blog RSS feeds.

Below you will find recent and past archived Reference updates previously posted on our library news page.

Please check back periodically, as we intend to keep you posted on new research services and notable news from our Reference Department!

If at any time you have a question about any of our services, please call us at 341-5461 or contact us through our free Ask a Librarian service.


July 7, 2008

On our Current Interests page there is a new category for Podcasts.

Podcasts are audio and/or video broadcasts published on the web. They can be several seconds to several minutes long and can be on nearly any topic imaginable.

Some broadcasts are daily, while others might be weekly or published at irregular intervals.

Podcasts can be viewed or heard on computers or portable media players, such as an MP3 player.

Podcasts can be published by individuals, major media sources, educational institutions, news and government agencies -- essentially anyone!

Some podcasts are for fun or can be rather subjective, while others might attempt to be more informative, objective, or formal in their presentations.

Podcast publishers listed in our Current Interest directory include such sources as NPR (National Public Radio), C-SPAN, NASA, National Geographic, the New York Times, and the U.S. Government.

Click here to check out the new Podcasts category!

Library Catalog Update

July 2, 2008

As some of you might have noticed by now, the library catalog has been updated. This update, performed by the Ramapo Catskill Library System (RCLS), was pursued in hopes of bringing greater stability to the online library catalog ("HIP"). So far, the upgrade appears to be a success!

As a result of the upgrade, all library catalogs, including Thrall's, changed slightly in appearance. Two new tabs at the top of the catalog give you easy access to our popular RAVES! and Booklover's Blog services.

To access your account in this version of the catalog, you must use your library card's barcode number as your user name. Your password (PIN) will be the last four digits of your telephone number, unless you changed it.

If you have any questions about the catalog, please contact Reference at 341-5461 or online through our free Ask a Librarian service.

Beyond the Bestsellers

July 2, 2008

Our latest quarterly issue of Beyond the Bestsellers has just been published! Discover books and authors not always found on "bestseller" lists. You can find printed copies of it at Reference or by our New Books section.

We also have an online edition you can check out.

The online edition features links you can follow into the catalog, where you can often find reviews, chapter excerpts, or book summaries.

If you like an item, you can request it and have it set aside for you when it becomes available. If you've never done this before, just come to Reference, and we'll be happy to assist you!

Thrall Blog Updates

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As part of our ongoing effort to bring you interesting and important information as it becomes available, we continue to update our blogs with links to items on the web or in our library system.

We have blogs for categories such as Health & Nutrition, Science & Technology, Consumer Information, Government Information, Booklovers, and the Environment.

Our main blogs page can be reached at this link.

Global Food Prices/Crisis Guide

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Information about global rising food costs and related issues is now available in our Special Coverage Center:

Click here to access our new "Special Coverage: Food" guide.


Special Coverage Center Update

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Our recently updated Special Coverage Center now has an additional two information guides on the follwing topics: The bees/CCD guide can help you learn about current questions scientists are investigating about bee populations and the phenomenon of "Colony Collapse Disorder."

The oil guide focuses on current issues of oil production, gas prices, and related ideas.

Myanmar / Burma Cyclone Web Guide

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As we have done in the past, after Hurricane Katrina and the 2004 tsunami, the Reference Department at Middletown Thrall Library has created an information guide on the web. This guide covers the current situation in Myanmar/Burma in the aftermath of Cyclone Nargis that took place in early May 2008.

Included in the guide are links to news coverage from national and global media sources, blogs, information about the country and the topic of cyclones, and humanitarian relief agencies.

Please click here to access this special coverage guide.

New York State Web Guide

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Our New York State and City information guide on the web has been revised and expanded.

Some of the many categories include Arts, Business and Finance, Consumer, Education, Emergencies and Natural Disasters, Environment, Government, Health, Labor, Law, News, Taxes, Travel and Tourism, Vital Records, and Weather.

You can reach it through our home page or by clicking on this link to the New York State guide.

New Music Services

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Members of Middletown Thrall Library can now freely enjoy two new music services through our website: "American Song" and "Contemporary World Music."

The "American Song" music service is described as "music relating to almost every walk of American life, every ethnic group, and every time period."

"Contemporary World Music" features "contemporary reggae, worldbeat, neo-traditional, world fusion, jazz, flamenco, Bollywood," and many other genres.

To begin enjoying these services, go to the Music section of our Databases page and log in with your Thrall Library card number.

While there, be sure to check out other premium music services we subscribe to on your behalf, including, African American Song, and Smithsonian Global Sound. You have free access to all of these!

We also invite you to browse our extensive and ever-growing audio CD music collections at the library.

New Language Learning Service

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Members of Middletown Thrall Library can now enjoy free access to an online language learning service called Tell Me More. You can reach it right through our website by clicking on the Databases link on our home page.

If you ever wanted to easily and interactively learn languages such as Spanish, German, Dutch, Italian, American English, or French, now's your chance!

When you first log into the service with your Thrall Library card number and create your own user name and password, your computer will be evaluated to ensure it meets the "Tell Me More" requirements.

You will be prompted to download and install the "Auralog components."

Please pay attention to any web browser warnings and allow the installation process to continue uninterrupted. If you do not approve the installation of the required "Activex" components, you may not be able to use the service completely or at all.

The service does make use of "pop up" windows, and Internet Explorer users will be asked to permit "pop ups" for the website.

After you select a language, you can choose from a variety of activities, including learning how to pronounce words, associating images with words and phrases, and forming complete sentences in another language.

Within just a few hours every few days you can be well on your way to learning another language!

This is not nearly all that Thrall offers to language learners.

If you... we invite you to check out Middletown Thrall Library's language learning collection.

Here are some examples of language materials we offer at Thrall: We also can connect you with an entire library system of language learning materials as well as informative web resources, such as government information in Spanish, and electronic translation services that attempt to translate words, phrases, and even entire web pages from one language into another!

If someone you know already speaks English but wants to learn how to read and write, we can refer you to literacy resources and literacy organizations that can help you.
Help is what we are all about! Ask a librarian today, and we will happily start you on your way to learning another language or anything else you ever wanted to know!

The Virtual NewsStand

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We have created a new area at our website called the Virtual NewsStand.

The Virtual NewsStand offers a clickable list of many popular publications we currently subscribe to at Thrall.

These publications include popular magazines, journals, newspapers, and newsletters.

A major benefit of this list of publications is that you can, from one page, access our most popular periodicals in up to three locations: the publication's home page on the web, issues of publications listed in our library catalog, and, wherever available, articles from the publication indexed in our general article databases.

You can read more about our Virtual NewsStand by clicking here.

World Book Encyclopedia Update

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When we renewed our online World Book encyclopedia subscription, we upgraded it to include a new suite of features called "World Book Advance."

You should notice the link to World Book Advance in the right hand corner of the World Book home page after you log in to World Book.

Once there, you will be able to access the new content, which includes e-books (classics), text of Supreme Court Cases, U.S. Presidential papers, primary source material, and some other research tools including pathfinders and timelines.

A "kid's version" and a Spanish Language encyclopedia are also available to you through this service.

Thrall Library members can click here for the link to log in to World Book Encyclopedia through our Databases page.

You can easily access this service from our home page as well by following either the "Databases" or "Encyclopedias - General" links.

If you are at the library, you may access World Book from any of our designated public research workstations or Internet terminals.

We maintain subscriptions such as these to help empower you as a researcher and so that, through us, you may freely enjoy access to excellent research tools and information of a substantially higher caliber and relevance than what you might typically encounter in general web searches.

With that in mind, we encourage you to visit our Databases page to discover even more services freely available to members of our library.

Future Title Watch

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As part of our reader's advisory service for our patrons, we have created a new free monthly publication called "Future Title Watch," a series of featured fiction and nonfiction titles from noteworthy authors appearing throughout the year.

Free printed copies of "Future Title Watch" are available at the library. Electronic editions are also available for downloading and printing in the Thrall Documents portion of our website.

You can also browse our monthly title features in our Booklover's Blog and click on titles you like to review and, if you want, to reserve for pickup at the library. If you are unsure how to do this, you can call our Reference Department at 341-5461, and we will be happy to help!

Playaways & MP3 Players

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As more readers express interest in electronic formats such as eBooks and eAudio, we continue to expand and modernize our collections and your ability to access those new items.

We are pleased to report that Playaway" and MP3 players are now available for borrowing.

"Playaways" are self-contained and simple-to-use electronic audio books. It's easy: Just plug in your headphones and press play!

While "Playaways" are perfect for those of you who are new to electronic audio books, computer users may be more interested in our circulating MP3 players, which can be used along with Overdrive's Media Console to transfer e-audio titles you have requested through our eBook service.

Playaways are located in the audiobooks section of the library. Checkout cards for MP3 players can be found at the end of the nonfiction section of our DVD browsers located near the Circulation desk. Our librarians will be happy to help you locate these items.

Notice to Rosetta Stone Users

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The Rosetta Stone language learning service is no longer available due to the vendor's decision to no longer offer subscriptions to public libraries.

Thrall is exploring another service to ensure our online language learners can continue with their online education!

New Library Home Page!

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Our home page has been expanded and refined in several ways. The home page now opens to the full horizontal width of your web browser and monitor, and you now have direct access to more of our online services, including our reader's advisory guides, and our blogs.

A new section called "Booklover's Lane" features links to bestseller and forthcoming title lists as well as recent "RAVES!" from readers finding certain books and authors enjoyable. You can submit your own recommendations through this free service as well. Discover fiction, nonfiction, biographies, and more through RAVES! today!

As more of our online users are using widescreen and higher resolution monitors, it is our intention that this expansion can enable you to see and do more at our site.

We truly want to be your first and best step for information in any form. We encourage you to make our home page your web browser's start up page. We can show you how to do that if you like, or you can click here for easy instructions.

New Special Coverage Guides

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At our website we offer several new information guides to help you find news and articles on specific topics: You can access these guides by clicking their titles above or by clicking here.

Our Current Interests page has also been enhanced and expanded to give you improved and immediate access to important news (such as product recalls) along with enriching and entertaining information.

Newspaper Archive Online

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Some great news for local history, genealogy, and all other researchers: Thrall has a new subscription to the Internet-based Newspaper Archive. This subscription enables you to search many old local area Middletown newspapers back to the 1800s up to the 1970s. You can also access articles in other newspapers from other states that have been indexed in Newspaper Archive.

To get started, simply click here to access our Databases page. Once there, select the "Newspapers" topic, and click on Newspaper Archive. Log into the service using the barcode from your library card.

While this service is only available at home to Thrall users, anyone can come to the library and access the service on our computers. Please inquire at the Reference Department, and we will direct you to a computer where you can begin your research.

Salem Health: Magill's Medical Guide

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A new print subscription to Magill's Medical Guide has also entitled us to three years of access to Salem Health on the web. In addition to monthly highlighted health topics, this consumer-friendly resource enables you to find information about nearly every health topic imaginable.

This service is only available in the library, and you may access it on any of our research computers by clicking on our Article Databases link and then following the "Salem Health" link in the "Health" section of the page. At Reference we also have the complete print edition ready for you to read.


Spanish Information Web Guide Updated

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Our Spanish (en Espanol) information guide on the web has been revised and expanded to enable our Spanish-speaking communities to find information in Spanish on the Internet. The web guide can be accessed through our home page or by clicking here.

Spirituality Information Guide

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A new guide at highlights informative spirituality websites as well as information available at the library, including print materials, and article databases.

This blog is updated periodically, so check back from time to time.

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