Category Archives: Helpful Resources

Demystifying Healthcare Enrollment

Finding the right healthcare coverage can be a real challenge. At the St. Charles Library, we’d like to help you find the information you need during the open enrollment period for Medicare, which goes from October 15 – December 7, and ACA Marketplace plans, which opens November 1 and runs through December 15.

For a personalized comprehensive listing of all the Medicare supplemental insurance options available to you based on your age, gender and location, you can use the Weiss Ratings’ Medigap tool. Because Weiss also publishes rankings of healthcare companies, your results will include information on the strength of the companies offering plans that are available to you. AARP’s Medicare Basics page also contains several tools to determine which programs and deadlines are relevant to you.

If you want to make changes to your current Medicare coverage, open enrollment runs from October 15 – December 7. The Social Security Administration controls the signup process for Medicare and contains a guide directing you based on whether you need to sign up for Medicare or makes changes to already existing benefits.

To apply for an ACA Marketplace plan between November 1 and December 15 or make changes to an existing Marketplace plan, go to and select the options for your situation. You can also call 1-800-318-2596 or go to their Local Help page to find an Agent or Broker who can walk you through your particular situation and available options. See our Affordable Care Act Trending Topic page for more information.

Because the advertising budget for Medicare and Marketplace open enrollment has been cut drastically this year, many independent advocacy organizations have stepped up to fill the information gap. These are other great resources if you’re just not sure what insurance options are available to you, or if you want to spread the word to friends and family who may be unsure of their options.

Get America Covered provides a basic checklist covering what you need to do based on your current healthcare situation. The ACA Signup Project provides an interactive map that lists each state’s ACA marketplace deadlines (some have extended deadlines), so you can help friends or relatives in other states. The Illinois Coalition for Healthcare Access is an additional organization that can connect you with local help to walk through your healthcare coverage options.

If you need some help understanding all the medical jargon on your healthcare application, this printable glossary is a great resource to have handy while filling out forms. You can also check out our Health & Medicine Research Guide for even more information on a wide range of health-related issues.

No matter your situation, there are a variety of resources to help you locate the healthcare coverage you need and here at the St. Charles Public Library we are ready to guide you to those resources.

Eclipse-Mania Hits St. Charles!

sun-moon-earthIn case you’ve been living under a rock (pun intended), you’ve probably already heard that on Monday, August 21 around 1:20 p.m., Illinois will be privy to a solar eclipse viewing. Partial sighting will take place in the Chicagoland area, and if you’re lucky enough to be in the southern portion of the state (Hello Carbondale!) you’ll be able to witness the main event.

A popular question this week has involved the availability of eclipse-viewing glasses. The library will be distributing them to St. Charles Public Library cardholders (one pair per card, please have your card in hand to receive a pair) this Friday -Monday when our doors open. We will also be live-streaming it on the lower level in the Huntley meeting room, so consider yourself invited.

Staff has also compiled a list of related resources that are currently being featured at the Reader Services Desk. Feel free to check them out and take them home:

American Eclipse: A Nation’s Epic Race to Catch the Shadow of the Moon and Win the Glory of the World
by David Baron 523.78 BAR

Documents the efforts of three scientists to observe the rare total solar eclipse of 1878, citing how the ambitions of James Craig Watson, Maria Mitchell, and Thomas Edison helped America’s early pursuits as a scientific superpower.

Eclipse: Journeys to the Dark Side of the Moon
by F.E. Close 523.78 CLO
Looks at the science of eclipses, reveals their role in culture, and focuses on people who travel around the world chasing these events.

Sun, Moon, Earth: The History of Solar Eclipses, from Omens of Doom to Einstein and Exoplanets
by Tyler Nordgren
An astronomer describes how solar eclipses were treated and interpreted by past civilizations, philosophers and Victorian scientists. 

In the Shadow of the Moon: The Science, Magic, and Mystery of Solar Eclipses
by Anthony F. Aveni
Explores the scientific and cultural significance of solar eclipses.

Mask of the Sun: The Science, History, and Forgotten Lore of Eclipses
by John Dvorak
An astronomer explores the ways eclipses have shaped the course of human history.


News for Readers of Romance

Many readers were shocked at Harlequin’s recent announcement that they will stop publishing several “categories” of romance.  For those who want to more information,  please check out this informative post from Novelist.  I think it is also helpful that they explain how to find certain types of romance using specific searches in the Novelist Plus database.

What is Novelist, you ask? The Library subscribes to this database to provide patrons with even more reading recommendations for both fiction and nonfiction, for all ages and including audiobooks!  It’s also handy for series information and book discussions. If you haven’t played with it lately, you just need to sign in with your library card and PIN (from home) or ask Reader Services staff to give you a demonstration the next time you’re in the library!novelist

Tracing Your Ancestors – Genealogy Series

Pen and Sword Books Are you a researcher digging for clues about your U.K. ancestors? Our Genealogy department houses a prolific series published by Pen & Sword dedicated to helping family historians track them down. Each volume hones in on a unique facet of their personal history, be it by profession (Ex.: medical personnel, fisherman, railway employee, coal miner), or military career (Ex.: Air Force, Royal Marine. P.O.W.), locale (Ex.: Channel Islands, Liverpool, rural, Yorkshire) , socioeconomic status (Ex.: pauper, criminal), and so on. These books are all available for checkout – watch for new releases to be added to this growing collection. Here’s a sampling of titles:

Cover image for  Tracing Your Ancestors Through Death Records GENEALOGY 929.1072 HER

Tracing Your East Anglican Ancestors GENEALOGY 929.107204 BLA

Tracing Your House History GENEALOGY 929.107204 BLA

Cover image for


Tracing Your Royal Marine Ancestors GENEALOGY 929.107204 BRO

Tracing Your Rural Ancestors GENEALOGY 929.107204 BRO

Tracing Your Pauper Ancestors GENEALOGY 929.107204 BUR

Tracing Your Labour Movement Ancestors GENEALOGY 929.107204 CRA

Tracing Your Railway Ancestors GENEALOGY 929.107204 DRU

Cover image for  Tracing Your Medical Ancestors GENEALOGY 929.107204 HIG

Tracing Your Scottish Ancestors GENEALOGY 929.107204 MAX

Tracing Your London Ancestors GENEALOGY 929.107204 OATCover image for


Tracing Your Ancestors’ Parish Records GENEALOGY 929.107204 RAY

Tracing Your Secret Service Ancestors GENEALOGY 929.107204 TOM

Tracing Your Criminal Ancestors GENEALOGY 929.107204 WAD

Tracing Your Legal Ancestors GENEALOGY 929.107204 WAD

Tracing Your Police Ancestors  GENEALOGY 929.107204 WAD

Fishing & Fisherman  GENEALOGY 929.107204 WIL

Writing Your Family History GENEALOGY 929.2 BLA



Going Beyond The Boys in the Boat

Logo Sticker16Like many workplaces, the Library is full of jargon.  In the world of Reader Services we sometimes pull together something called a “reading map” which is designed to be a far-reaching list of books and other resources someone might find interesting if they’ve read a certain book.

Here at St Charles, we usually call this “going beyond” the book and given our month-long focus on the book, The Boys in the Boat for One Book, One Community, I’m sure you won’t be surprised to learn we’ve put together not simply a list, but a webpage full of “beyond the book” information, including video clips, book titles, author information and more!

Reader Services also does the in-house book displays found in the New Books area, and during April we focused on titles that have a connection with “The Life and Times of The Boys in the Boat.”  Since the book also references the world of film and propaganda during that time period, we featured that in a second display, and the third showcases other stories of drama and endurance on the water.  We hope all these resources enhance your enjoyment of the 2016 One Book, One Community program!

Chase’s Calendar of Events

Chase’s Calendar of Events remains a standard print reference book.  It is the most comprehensive source of its kind and is the “ultimate go-to-guide for special days, weeks and months.”  It is also fun to browse.  You will find many interesting and unusual events listed.

The 2016 edition states that the book covers “4,000 notable birthdays, 1,400 historical anniversaries, 650 national and international holidays, 160 religious holidays and thousands of additional days of note from all over the globe.”

Brothers Bill and Harrison Chase began the publication in 1957 as a modest pamphlet for the media confirming various movable dates  (i.e.  Easter and moon phases) for the next year.   It has grown in scope and size since then – the 2016 edition has over 700 pages.

Holly McGuire, editor-in-chief, states that the Internet focuses on the ‘now’, while Chase’s offers the ‘next’ and gives people ideas on what to plan for the next year.

Some interesting dates to remember in 2016:

  • February 14-20 is Random Acts of Kindness Week
  • March 13 is the start of Daylight Saving Time
  • April 10-16  is National Volunteer Week
  • June 24 is Take Your Dog to Work Day
  • August 7-13 is National Exercise With Your Child Week

Chase's calendar



Start your College Search at the Library

Students and parents trying to navigate the maze of college information face a daunting task. The Library has lots of information that will make your journey easier, from test prep guides and scholarship info, to college selection guides and more.

Here’s a sample of a few useful guides:

SATs ACTAP Chemistry



Four-year collegesFiske Guide to the Colleges


s Guide





Winning scholarshipsHow to get money for collegeScholarships grants prizes

This is just a small sample of the books available in the collection on this topic. Consult the library’s online catalog to find more. Prefer to search online? Try the Education Research Guide, which also includes links to many online resources including scholarship and college information (Ferguson’s Career Resource Center) and test prep (Learning Express Library,, plus the best free and government websites for students. Questions? Ask Us!

Inside the Numbers

statDo you like facts and figures? Like to impress your friends and family with your command of statistics? Do you have a reliable source to back up your assertions on Facebook or at the dinner table? Let’s face it, if you know a librarian, you know they’ll want you to cite your source.

Did you know:

  • In 2013 the most popular domestic airline route was New York to Los Angeles. An average of almost 3,500 passengers made the trip each day.
  • The most popular spectator sport in 2013 was major-league baseball, with 76 million fans attending MLB games.
  • Americans spent an average of 28 hours stuck in traffic in 2011. This wasted 13 gallons of gas per person.
  • More American households owned dogs (36.5%) than cats (30.4%) in 2011.
  • Americans ate 23.9 pounds per capita of frozen dairy products in 2012.

These tidbits of info and much more can be found in the Proquest Statistical Abstract of the United States. The Library has this comprehensive summary of statistics in both print and electronic format. Ask at the Reference Desk for the current print edition. The electronic version is available as one of the library’s many databases and is accessible to St. Charles cardholders from home or office.

socialAnother electronic resource that provides demographic data is Social Explorer. You can use this database to create maps and reports to illustrate statistical information. This resource is also available to St. Charles cardholders from home or office.

Questions? Ask Us!

Outstanding Websites

Library Journal published an article recently highlighting “ten outstanding websites into which you can place your trust.” Here are four of those websites that are “Good 2 Know” about.

airnowAirNow allows you to enter your zip code or state to find color-coded maps that rate local air quality. Find today’s forecast, tomorrow’s forecast and the air quality index. AirNow was developed by EPA, NOAA, National Park Service and other local and state agencies to provide easy access to national air quality information.

nutritiondataNutrition Data was launched in 2003 “to provide the most accurate and comprehensive nutrition analysis available, and to make it accessible and understandable to all.” Learn how to read food labels, compare the nutritional content of foods, and analyze recipes. A daily needs calculator calculates the number of calories you burn and your body mass index. You can also generate a list of foods based upon special needs, such as low sodium, high in protein, etc.

weathersparkWeatherSpark is a new weather website that provides interactive graphs that provide current weather information for 4,000 weather stations around the world. Hour-by-hour graphs present data in an easy-to-read format. You can also obtain historical information.

usgs USGS Earthquakes is a product of the U.S. Geological Survey. Use it to identify the location of the latest earthquakes worldwide and find out magnitude and intensity. The USGS locates about 50 earthquakes each day. The site includes a great deal of historical and real-time information.

How to Give Wisely

There are thousands of charities that spend time and money soliciting donations. How do you make informed decisions on which organizations to support?

A good place to start your investigation is with Charity Navigator, which evaluates charities on their finances, accountability and transparency. The home page states that Charity Navigator is “your guide to intelligent giving.” looks for well-run but underfunded charities. Its tag line is “real change for your dollar.” Their top-rated charities are “evidence-backed, thoroughly vetted, and underfunded.” is run by the Better Business Bureau’s Wise Giving Alliance. “seeks to assist donors in making informed judgments about those that solicit their support.”’s mission is to gather and disseminate information about every IRS-registered 501 (c)(3). GuideStar does not evaluate charities but rather it provides as much information as it can find so you can make the best decision possible.

For more info on wise donating look here.