Thursday, May 31, 2007

Book Quest: finding a good summer read

Looking for a good book to read this summer? The Internet is providing new tools to locate fiction, non-fiction or classic reads.

In this blog, you'll learn about some wonderful tools to find a good fiction book, one tool for adults and one tool for children and teens.

These favorite tools for fiction readers are NoveList and NoveList K-8, two databases in MARVEL!: Maine's Virtual Library, a suite of databases provided free to all Maine residents by a collaboration of the University of Maine, the Maine State Library, the Maine State Legislature and the Maine Telecommunications Educational Access Fund.

NoveList and NoveList K- 8 are databases that help readers explore fiction books and find a great read. NoveList features adult, teen and children's books, NoveList K-8 features only the children and teen titles.


You can use the quick search feature in both databases to search authors, titles, series and keywords. If you love series, you'll love the option to search by series name and find out the order of the books. If you like plot elements, you will enjoy the keyword search. A sample search for: historical fiction, europe, world war generates a long list of likely titles. You can also use the keyword or series name if you can only remember a character name or a series name and can't remember the author. For example, who wrote the books with a character named Thursday Next?

For more detailed searches, you can use the search our database option that allows you to search lists, genres, more plot elements, articles about authors and more. For example, a search for suspense stories and gothic romance yields many titles. You can sort your results by popularity, year, relevance. Using the detailed search option, you can also tailor your results by reading level, number of pages or date. For example, someone searching for a moving book on the Vietnam War that featured soldiers and was written over ten years ago and was widely read, might use the search terms: Vietnam War soldiers. They would limit the search to adult books written between 1960 and 1996. To find the book, try sorting the resulting list of titles by popularity. The title is The Things They Carried by Tim O'Brien.


Other popular features in the databases are author read-alikes and genre book lists, for example, mysteries and thrillers, romance, Christian fiction, science fiction, award winners and more. A librarian favorite in NoveList is the What We're Reading section featuring 20 avid readers, reviewers and authors who describe their current and past favorite books and authors, make suggestions based on appeal factors and discuss author read-alikes. For example, if you are a fan of Tony Hillerman, librarian and reader's advisor Joyce Saricks suggests books by Margaret Coel, James D. Doss and Aimee and David Thurlo for readers who like mysteries "about Native American protaganists and customs in contempory settings".

If you are a member of a book group, you might like the book discussion guides. The guides have information about the author, a plot summary, some sample questions for the book group and suggested additional readings.


Younger readers have their own database, NoveList K-8, that excludes adult titles. NoveList K-8 also notes the reading levels for many books making it easier for kids and adults to choose books that suit a child or teen's reading level. The same search features are available in both databases, for example, teenage horse lovers and can search for books that feature teenagers and horses or find the order of books for the Narnia series. There are extensive lists for teens, children and younger readers. The lists allow patrons to browse books in various genres, such as graphic novels, sports books for children or adventure stories for younger children.

To get to NoveList, first go to MARVEL!: Maine's Virtual Library. You can click on the MARVEL! icon on the Curtis Library home page
or go directly to MARVEL!at

Once you reach the MARVEL! home page, you will see a list of about 50 databases, click on the letter N to get to the NoveList link. Click on the name NoveList for the adult database or NoveList K-8 for the younger reader database.

  • Contact Us or Come Into the Library for a DEMONSTRATION
If you have questions about NoveList or NoveList K-8, feel free to contact the reference desk by phone, 725-5242 x 204, email or in person. We'll be happy to demonstrate the database in person.

Thursday, May 17, 2007

Brunswick History Series Redux

Did you miss the Brunswick History Series hosted by Chris Gutscher? You may borrow the DVD video of "A Walk Down Maine Street circa 1940" with Frank Connors and Norman Marriner from the Curtis Library collection. Mr. Connors' talk relied greatly on the maps of Maine Street from 1923, 1940 and 1960 that were researched and produced by Mark Cheetham of Richmond.

Also available is "Birch Island: A historical glimpse of one gem of Middle Bay" with Richard Snow.

"What the Blazes: A History of Fires, Firefighters and Equipment in Brunswick" with Clark Labbe and the talk by Ed Galvin, Claude Bonang and Jerry Cook on
Brunswick’s railroad heritage are still in processing but will be on the DVD shelf soon.