Friday, August 18, 2017

Countdown to Solar Eclipse-3 Days to Go!

According to, an estimated 200 million people live within a day's drive of the total eclipse. Heavy traffic is expected as many of these people travel to a location where they can view the total eclipse.

Here in Berks County, the moon will cover only 75% of the sun's surface, but it should still be quite a sight to see.

Thursday, August 17, 2017

Countdown to Eclipse-4 Days to Go!

Did you know that the August 21 solar eclipse is the first total solar eclipse visible in the continental United States in 38 years? The next total solar eclipse in the U.S. will be on April 8, 2024 and totality will be viewable in the central U.S.

Wednesday, August 16, 2017

Countdown to Solar Eclipse-5 Days to Go!

If you want to view the solar eclipse on Monday, August 21 and don't have a pair of viewing glasses that have been certified as safe, check out the American Astronomical Society's page for other options, such as making a pinhole projector.

If you do have viewing glasses, be sure to check that they are actually certified for safely viewing the eclipse. Some glasses have been sold that claim to be safe and are not. Not sure?

According to the AAS web site, "As long as you can trace your filters to a reputable vendor or other reliable source, and as long as they have the ISO logo and a statement attesting to their ISO 12312-2 compliance, you should have nothing to worry about."

Tuesday, August 15, 2017

Countdown to Solar Eclipse

 How much do you know about the upcoming Solar Eclipse? An eclipse occurs when the moon crosses between the earth and the sun effectively covering the sun in varying percentages. A total eclipse occurs when the sun, moon, and earth are 

A total solar eclipse results in darkness. See the map for the areas of the United States that will experience a total eclipse of the sun.

Here in Reading, we will experience a partial solar eclipse with 75.37% coverage of the sun. It will last 2 hours, 41 minutes, 21 seconds. The partial eclipse begins at 1:19: 22 p.m. and will reach the maximum stage at 2:42:27 p.m. The eclipse will end at 3:59:43 p.m. ( 

Monday, August 14, 2017

Yocum Adds New Online Databases

Today a library can be open 24/7 for its patrons by accessing library resources online through the Internet. These online sources are available to patrons of libraries that subscribe to them.

The Yocum Library recently added three online databases. With these additions, we now provide faculty, students, staff, and alumni the ability to access over 45 online databases for research projects and general use.

To access these online resources, patrons must have their library's passwords. Members of the RACC community can find the current database passwords in the myRACC Portal.

Here are the three newest additions to our online databases:

1. Reference USA is a nationwide compendium of business and
    residential listings.

2. Morningstar Investment Research Center is a comprehensive
    analysis on over 41,000 investments (stocks, funds and ETFs).

3. Value Line provides reliable, unbiased investment research and
    data. Remote access to Value Line is a two step process. You
    must first authenticate with your barcode and PIN, and then log
    in to Value Line.

Friday, August 11, 2017

Gather the Family for Some Weekend Fun

We've been announcing that August is Family Fun Month and the weekends are a great time to get the family together to make some new memories. Not sure what to do? There are plenty of fun events throughout Berks County and the surrounding area. Here's a sampling:

Want to expose your kids to opera? La Cenerentola (Cinderella) will be performed by the Berks Opera Company at RACC's very own Miller Center on Friday, August 11 at 7:30 p.m. and again on Sunday, August 13 at 3:00 p.m. According to venue's web site, "students in a Cinderella-themed costume, with a paying adult, will receive a free ticket for La Cenerentola....These tickets are only available at the Box Office on the day of the performance."

The Reading Fair ends its annual run on Friday and Saturday, August 11 and 12. Who doesn't love a fair? Ride the rides, take your chances on the many games, and eat all of that great fair food.

The Goschenhoppen Folk Festival in Perkiomenville celebrates the life of Pennsylvania Germans in the 18th and 19th centuries. Costumed craftsman teach their arts, visit farm animals and take a ride in a hay wagon, listen to music, and enjoy the food. The festival takes place on Friday (8/11) from 12:00 to 8:00 p.m. and on Saturday (8/12) from 10:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m.

Ever been to a rodeo? If not, you can experience it on Saturday night at 8:00 p.m. at the Mountain Springs Arena in Hamburg.

The Reading Railfest also takes place at the Reading Railroad Heritage Museum in Hamburg and starts with a rail excursion departing at 7:00 p.m. from the Kutztown Station. The festival continues on Saturday and Sunday from 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. There's something for everyone. Kids can ride on the hand-pedaled "Munchkin Railway." And, of course, there will be some great food available.

If these events don't interest you, go to the Berks Fun web site for a list of additional happenings this weekend. Gather the kids, young and old, and go out and have some fun.

Monday, August 7, 2017

Family History Tips-Part 18

 Barking Up the Right Tree: Shaking a Few Good Hints Out of Ancestry’s Shaky Leaves
by Brenna Corbit, Technical Services Librarian

In the last installment, I went on a rant concerning the dubious workings and shortcomings of Ancestry’s shaky leaf. But this time I will show you how to shake a few relevant matches from that miscreant leaf.

In the tree view (top left), hints appear as a shaky leaf. 
But in this partial screen shot example (bottom)
 of the profile view, the shaky leaf hint appears
 as a green spot.  There are two hints available for this individual.

I have pointed out in previous articles the issues of indexing, exact versus fuzzy searches, and name variations. These matters also affect Ancestry’s shaky leaf, an algorithm that tries to find relevant hints to match your ancestor’s profile. It is much like a manual index search of a database; however, instead, the computer automatically searches for you. When it does work, the hint function can yield information you may not have considered in your search.

Although the shaky leaf hints are often false leads, you can try to make that leaf work for you if you aren’t receiving any relevant hints. Try inserting information in a particular ancestor’s profile, such as a birth date or parent that another Ancestry member claims to be true, although she may have no reference or proof of the fact. Or you may have a reason to believe your ancestor died in a particular year. Sometimes inserting unproven information does nothing, but other times I have had good luck with this method.

You can also try various spellings of your ancestor’s name. For example, I was searching for more information on a Jacob Kerwer in the early 1800s, a German name that was usually Anglicized as Karver or Carver. My family tree profile had him listed as Kerwer, which didn’t yield any shaky leaf hints, so I changed his name to Karver and found many hints I could sift through, a few of which were relevant. When I was finished, I set his name back to the German spelling of Kerwer. As I have pointed out in the past, many surnames are quite varied, such as Jaeger becoming translated as Hunter or O' Maolchaoin becoming Anglicized as Mulqueen. Ancestry’s algorithms can’t differentiate between such diversity of names.

A word of advice—If you are including unproven information in an ancestor profile, whether the tree is public or private, make a note of it for yourself and/or others to clearly see. An example of my three-times great grandfather William Corbit’s profile looks like the graphic below:

Always experiment with a database. Use many variations in index searching, and try to find clues by manipulating profile information. And always question its recall of information. After all, it is only a computer program that is bound to mislead you if you don’t take control of it.

Next week we will take a look at race, color, and ethnicity.