Protect yourself from Identity Theft

ponyangry

This Little Pony is angry because her identity was stolen

This morning, a patron called wanting to know how to protect his identity from being stolen by hackers on the Internet. He mentioned a service that could protect you through the use of one password. I wasn’t aware of a service like that but a quick online search will show you that they do exist. Lifelock is one such website.

But should you have to pay that much to be protected from hackers stealing your identity? I don’t think so. There are free alternatives that anyone can use and everyone should know about. Including me… As a librarian in the digital age, I must know this stuff like the back of my hand. It’s called financial literacy–just another form of literacy that libraries need to actively promote. The Public Library Association agrees.

Here are the best online resources I’ve found on identity theft:

Federal Trade Commision – Consumer Information – Identity Theft

“How to protect yourself from identity theft for free,” USA Today, Nov 9, 2012

Identity Theft Resource Center – NPO

Suspicious Emails & Identity Theft – irs.gov

And don’t forget the 3 credit reporting agencies (your new BFFs):

Experian

TransUnion

Equifax

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Animals are confusing!

You’d think getting people books or information about animals would be easy. But it’s deceptively difficult. Here’s a few examples:

Black Panthers

blackjaguarA woman and her teenaged son came in asking for a book on black panthers. I had to ask, “As in Black Panther Party or animal?” So animal it was. I thought black panthers were their own species of big cat. Looking through books turned up nothing. Then I checked the indexes of animal encyclopedias and still was confused. Where are the Black Panthers, YO? I finally found an entry that confused me even more. It said that black panthers were really black leopards or black jaguars. It wasn’t until I read the Wikipedia article on black panthers that I got the gist of it. They aren’t their own species. It’s just what we call a big cat that has a gene which causes its fur to be black from excess melanin. They sometimes still have spots like their jaguar or leopard mommies and daddies. So “black panther” is more of a nickname than a real scientific classification.

Groundhogs

groundhogAWWW! So cute! But when one is living under your porch and eating all your plants and vegetables and you are pulling your hair out trying to make it scram, then you come to the library for answers. “What do groundhogs eat,” she wants to know, “because we’re gonna try to trap him.” Again, I can’t find any books on groundhogs on the shelf, and the encyclopedia index says “SEE woodchuck”. So they are called woodchucks, whistle-pigs, land-beavers. They are part of the marmot family and they love to eat fruits and veggies and other green things. (How is this guy so fat?) The best answer I got, including techniques on how to trap one, was from the Internet. I avoided the Internet at first because she said she wanted a book. But she was happy with the information anyway. Good luck to her! I hope the groundhog didn’t ruin the foundation of her home! (Something else I learned they are capable of…)

Pill Bug

pill bugI feel sad to even put this guy on the same page with that cute groundhog… But a boy was doing a report on the pill bug and needed to use at least 2 books for writing his report. It’s nice to know that some teachers are still requiring books to be used for research, not just the Internet. But again, is Pill Bug its “true” name? I was stumped by the books, and the Internet was also confusing. Did he want the pill bug aka woodlice aka Armadillidiidae (Arma-Dilla-Dee-Day-Ding-Dong)? Or was it really the pill millipede which looks very similar but has no other relation? I gave him the info on the woodlice variety, but geez, did it really have to be that hard?

Lessons learned? Do a quick online search before you hit the books, just to make sure if your animal of choice goes by another name or has any confusing varieties or is even really an animal! Then look it up in the books.

 


Younger Americans are reading more than I thought!

Book Readers by Age

From the Pew Internet & American Life Project

My favorite research organization, the Pew Research Center, has come out with a new study showing the reading habits and library use of younger Americans aged 16-29. I was pleasantly surprised to see that older teens and young adults are reading more than I thought! A whopping 83% have read a book in the past year. Let me guess how many of them read The Hunger Games….

Older teens (ages 16-17) in particular are very interested in reading e-books on e-reader devices like the Kindle or NOOK. More than 50% of these teens who have not read an e-book don’t even know that they can borrow e-books from their public library. This is something I hear often from adults — “I had no idea I could get e-books here for free!” — but I don’t hear about from teens. In fact, I don’t hear much from my library’s teens about e-books at all, so I’m curious if they are as interested as the report says and they just aren’t vocal about it.

The report states that “some 58% of those under age 30 who do not currently borrow e-books from libraries say they would be “very” or “somewhat” likely to borrow pre-loaded e-readers if their library offered that service.” I was just thinking about this concept of pre-loaded e-readers the other day. In Lafayette Hill, PA, the William Jeanes Library has 12 NOOKs pre-loaded with books that they loan out. I would love to find out how they financed this and how its working so far. It could be a big hit here at my library too.

So why, then, are some teens drawn to the idea of e-books and e-readers? It could be the idea of not having to lug around yet another book in their bags, what with all the textbooks and such they carry around at school all day. But there’s something inevitably cool and futuristic about an e-reader device (or any tech device that fits nicely in your hands, for that matter.) Who wouldn’t want to try it out? If you can’t buy an iPad or other tablet, the next best thing is an e-reader, which seems to be morphing more into tablets lately anyway. I also wonder if teens want to give e-readers a shot because they secretly like reading but wouldn’t be caught dead in public with a print book in their hands. Like a print book says “I’m a nerd” but an e-reader says “I’m trendy.” This is just speculation but I’m willing to bet a few teens think of it this way.

I’m going to ask my Teen Advisory Board about it, get their opinions, see if they are even interested in e-books at all. The TAB has started off very well, by the way, with our first meeting having 13 members! And they had excellent ideas for the library. I noticed I was talking too much at the beginning and steered the conversation so that they would be running the show. What a great bunch of teens! I’m really pumped to keep the meetings going and start putting their ideas into action.


Networked Teens

The Pew Internet & American Life Project calls Millennial teens “networked learners.”  Growing up in the digital age has altered the way they learn.  The report says that teens are (my notes in the indented bullets):

  • More self-directed and less dependent on top-down instructions
    • more independent and forward-thinking
    • willing to try new technology
    • groan when assignments have a long list of instructions
    • want more freedom in learning and in styles of presenting their learning
  • Better arrayed to capture new information inputs
    • used to new technology arriving constantly
    • aware of the many multifaceted opinions on varying subjects
    • aware of the massive amount of information that is created everyday, but they may not be great at sorting, analyzing, or interpreting it all
  • More reliant on feedback and response
    • numerous methods of communication (email, text, cell phone, etc) make the feedback process easier/faster
    • have a hard time editing oneself, especially with the advent of editing technology such as spell and grammar check in Microsoft Word
    • social networks are built on this
  • More attuned to group outreach and group knowledge
    • studying in groups
    • look at crowd-sourced ratings of products online (starred ratings, customer reviews, Yelp.com, etc.)
    • the collective writing of Wikipedia entries
  • More open to cross-discipline insights, creating their own “tagged” taxonomies
    • hyperlinks enable one to make connections among all kinds of topics
    • Social networking sites that allow users to post their own tags for books, movies, etc
    • non-linear media and learning experiences
  • More oriented toward people being their own individual nodes of production
    • self-publishing (blogs, twitter, etc) and the downfall of giant publishers and editors who are the “gatekeepers”
    • create music, art, video, etc through easy-to-use computer software
    • easier ways to start something new (a charity, a business, a website, etc)

Taken from Evaluating Teen Services and Programs by Sarah Flowers