Friday, March 24, 2017

March Is Writing Awareness Month

The Academic Achievement Center's Writing Studio will be holding several events next week.

Monday, March 27
Exploring Careers in Writing 
Berks Hall 111 from 1-2 p.m.
Learn how you can make a living writing in many different genres.

Tuesday, March 28
Meet Local Writers 
Berks Hall 111 from 10:30-11:30 a.m.
  • Elizabeth Kann-author of children's series Pinkalicsious
  • Sandra Fees-7th recipient of Berks County Poet Laureate contest
  • Stephanie Anderson-Instructor of Writing at RACC, author of non-fiction selections
  • Joey Flamm Costello-Instructor Literature and Writing at RACC, author of fiction selections
Tea with Poets and Writers
Berks Hall 209 from 2:30-3:30 p.m.
Enjoy tea while listening to students reading their work.

For all events, call Suzanne Christie to reserve your spot (610) 607-6248 or e-mail her at

Monday, March 20, 2017

Family History Tips-Part 13

Searching Family History with Optical Character Recognition (OCR)
by Brenna Corbit, Technical Services Librarian

I have already mentioned index searches that use optical character recognition (OCR), but I feel this subject needs more attention. Most database queries search manually indexed information, such as names, dates or places. OCR, on the other hand, searches every word within a document. From what I understand, OCR is a computer program that is trained to read images of text much like the human eye. Thus, OCR has opened a whole new world of researching primary sources such as newspapers. OCR can even be trained to read handwritten information.

Before OCR, the only way to find an article within a newspaper, such as an obituary, was to search a date range within a microfilm reel or digital image set. Unfortunately, we may not have a date of a particular incident such as an accident or lawsuits. Now OCR lets us find the good, the bad and the ugly about our ancestors. But it does have some drawbacks.

I have often seen OCR’s inability to read a large headline, while at the same time it will find the same word hidden within a paragraph. Flaws such as smudged text, wrinkles, folds, tears and tape marks on the original document are other OCR challenges. Many images are digital versions of microfiche and microfilm. In those days, a photographer couldn’t see if an image was captured clearly, resulting in flaws that appeared later in the developing room. Therefore, to work within this framework of pluses and minuses, here is my advice.
  1. Use phrase searching, otherwise OCR will find both phrases and broken up searches: e.g. “Jonathan L. Reber.” Don’t forget variations of the name, too—“J. L. Reber,” “Jonathan Lash Reber,” Jonathan Raber.” Even try inverting the name—“Reber, Jonathan.”
  2. Contrary to the above, do not use phrase searching. This applies specifically to Google’s digital newspaper archive which rarely finds a phrased search. In fact, it finds very little because it was a project that was left online in its unfinished, ruinous state. It is still a valuable source, but searches are best left to manually searching the images.
  3. Next of kin do not always appear in obituaries as a full name: e.g. “Thomas McCann is survived by three sons, Jeremy, Michael, and Robert, all of Philadelphia.” Therefore, phrase searches should be avoided in some cases. Unfortunately, most digital image databases do not have proximity searching, which means a search for McCann and Robert will cast a large net.
  4. Search instead for a person associated with your ancestor, such as a sister, uncle, or cousin. Recently, I phrase-searched a “Henry S. Miller” trying to prove a connection to a Seidel family. My query had a few hits, including his obituary, but no lineal proof. Therefore, I searched for information on “Henry Seidel” and his son “Franklin G. Seidel,” names my Henry Miller was closely associated with. Lo and behold, I found a large article about the Seidel farm where Henry Miller worked. It stated that he was a nephew of Henry Seidel. The phrase was never spotted by OCR.
Give your search a rest. What I don’t find now, I may find next year. OCR has been improving and some tech companies have better software. Let us just hope that something is done with the skeletal remains of Google’s News Archive.

Thursday, March 16, 2017

Don't Forget to Vote for "Best In Show"

Stop in at The Yocum Library and cast your vote for the "Best In Show" art work from Ms. Joanne Schlosser's ART 230 3D Design class. Voting runs from March 12-25. Get your ballot at Yocum's Service Desk.

Then join us on Thursday, March 30 in The Yocum Library from 4:00-5:30 p.m. for the presentations to the winners of your votes.

Monday, March 13, 2017

Spring Break March 13-19; Yocum Library Open

While RACC's Spring Break takes place this week and there are no classes, The Yocum Library will be open normal hours.

So if you want to take advantage of your week off to work on class projects or you're looking for a good book to read or DVD to watch, stop in and visit us.

Friday, March 10, 2017

Come to Yocum and Vote for "Best in Show" Student Art Work

The Yocum Library is hosting the ART 230 3-D Design Student Projects "Best in Show" Contest & Reception this March. Please visit the library and vote for one of the 25 works on display as “Best in Show.” 

Ballots are available at the library Service Desk on Floor 2. Voting takes place starting this Sunday, March 12 and continues through March 25. 

Please join us at the Yocum Library, Floor 2 on Thursday, March 30th from 4:00 to 5:30 p.m. for a reception at which the “Best in Show” award will be announced.

Also on display are two student projects which have received special awards - full-size formal dresses made entirely of recycled newspapers and books.

Wednesday, March 8, 2017

Today Is International Women's Day 2017

Every person - women, men and non-binary people - can play a part in helping drive better outcomes for women. Through meaningful celebration and targeted bold action, we can all be responsive and responsible leaders in creating a more gender inclusive world. 
The World Economic Forum predicts the gender gap won't close entirely until 2186. This is too long to wait. So around the world, International Women's Day provides an important opportunity for ground breaking action that can truly drive greater change for women.
Use International Women's Day (IWD) on March 8 as an important opportunity to:
  • celebrate the social, economic, cultural and political achievements of women because visibility and awareness help drive positive change for women
  • declare bold actions you'll take as an individual or organization to help progress the gender agenda because purposeful action can accelerate gender parity across the world
This information and photo are from the International Women's Day web site.