Share Your Story: Hidden Online Treasures at BPL

In these very strange and uncertain times, it's comforting for me to know that some things haven't changed. Summer still means summer reading! Our theme for Adult Summer Reading this year is "Share Your Story," and you can learn more about the challenges and prizes at our website. (If you're looking for summer reading for children or teens, that's a different page.) Whether you're looking for motivation, competition, or just an outlet for your stress and energy, I hope summer reading will help you get through this summer and bring some joy to your life!

If you're taking part in the adult summer reading challenge, one of the many ways you can participate is by exploring the resources available on the library's website. We have lots of books... but we also have lots of other cool things that you may not know about! We have research guides, genre guides, digitized items from our special collections, and more online resources than I could count. I'm a librarian and I don't know about them all! So I've called in some reinforcements to tell you about our favorite hidden treasures that you can access from bpl.org.

AtoZdatabases - "I love the AtoZ business directory. I often get calls from various consumer reporters like Call for Action looking for CEOs of companies for consumers who are having problems. I recently used it to report a bad customer experience at Home Depot. With my knowledge I was able to find the CEO and write a letter and was contacted the next day via email. It's very satisfying to know you can be your own advocate." (CherylD)

AtoZ World Food - "I like to eat all types of food and I think about food all day long. A conversation about the perfect lunch from the best place can help mitigate the reality of the squashed leftovers in my tote bag. I also find a kind of sensual relief in reading travel guide restaurant listings for far flung places. Imagine myself cruising through some other city out in the world, stumbling onto a new fantasy meal on every block. Would love to eat my way through Hong Kong someday. I'd do crimes for some good egg fo yung right about now. Enter AtoZ World Food, a food and recipe database available to BPL cardholders. This attractive database contains many color photographs of food (my favorite part), recipes, menus and summaries of national cuisines. It is easily browsable by using either the Select Country by List or clicking a destination on the world map. I once made some fried spring rolls off here that were absolutely delicious. So many places, so many dishes, so little time." (MatyC)

Fore-Edge Paintings Collection - "Yes, these are scenes painted on the fore-edges of books! The Boston Public Library has one of the largest collections in the country, and many of them can be viewed online. Pure pleasure!" (LaurenL)

Hoopla - "The online resource from BPL that I use the absolute most is definitely Hoopla. Not all of it, mind you, but the comics section for sure. Ever since Hoopla became one of our services, I’ve had so much fun exploring that I am constantly running out of my 10 borrows per month. I’ve tried so many new up and coming indie writers and artists that I might never have bought or read. I’ve read entire story arcs of Batman from the 90s, and memoir graphic novels from all kinds of real people, too. So much to choose from. Always in great condition. Available whenever I want to read them, because there are no waiting lists. And one of the absolute best parts of Hoopla -- especially on a large computer screen or sizeable tablet -- is the ability to zoom in on the images, check out all the details in the art, and even make it “Guided View”, as if you were reading one panel at a time. If you like comics -- or if you are curious but didn’t want to spend the money -- you definitely need to download Hoopla to your tablet, link it to your BPL card, and start reading today! And these days, when you can't visit your regular comic store or library to browse, every Wednesday brings new releases in Hoopla for you to discover." (GuyH)

Kanopy - "Are you a film fan? If you are, the BPL’s on-demand video streaming platform, Kanopy, is the perfect resource for you. With Kanopy you can use your library card to stream thousands of movies for free. Kanopy offers access to documentaries, classic and foreign films, popular movies, educational videos, and films for children of all ages. Use the platform to watch popular contemporary movies like Lady Bird, classic films like A Farewell to Arms or acclaimed documentaries like I Am Not Your Negro, and more." (EileenS)

Law Depot - "When I became a landlord, I needed to make a lease. When I became a parent, I needed to make a will for my family. When I became a guardian for a loved one, I needed a medical power of attorney. And then the BPL subscribed to Law Depot. I’m not saying it obviates the need for clear and trusted legal advice, but for so many of the forms that I need in my life -- that most people really don’t need to spend $750 or $1k on as they are fairly boilerplate -- Law Depot was the absolute best. I could go through its menu options; answer questions about my needs; go through all the steps and provide the relevant info; and then have a perfect form for free that solved my problems. It’s not the online resource I use the most but it is easily the most useful one we have at the BPL, and the one that I wish more people knew to use. Now if we could only get a free service like Law Depot for taxes..." (GuyH)

Mango Languages - "Mango Languages is an interactive language learning resource featuring dozens of languages including Spanish, Hindi, Vietnamese, and Haitian Creole. It is an excellent way to learn a language on your own time, and it's free! I have been using Mango to brush up on my Spanish and my Haitian Creole before my next trip to Haiti." (LizB)

Norman B. Leventhal Map and Education Center - "Explore the globe through maps! Objects of beauty, historic maps are also windows into history and culture. You can view the Center's cartographic exhibitions, browse (or make) georeferenced maps, and virtually leaf through digitized atlases. A resource for learning, reference, and fun!" (LaurenL)

NoveList Plus - "If you've already read the perfect book and now you want another one that's just like it, NoveList is a great first stop! I use this database constantly in my work as a Reader Services librarian, but it's also helpful for me when I'm looking for something new to read for fun. It provides lists of readalikes for hundreds of thousands of books and helps break down each one into "appeal factors" so you can identify what it is you like about a book -- and find more books that have the same appeal." (VeronicaKM)

Opera in Video - "Aside from reading, my other big passion is singing classical music, especially opera! When I want to find an excellent example of a specific opera, I can go to Opera in Video. It has over 200 highly curated, full-length operas and documentaries for all things opera. One thing I love about it is that they have both works in the standard repertoire (think Mozart and Puccini), but also some obscure operas that you can't find anywhere else. Ever heard of composer Aulis Sallinen? Me neither until I used this resource! If you're a music student, professional singer, or opera fan, it's a great resource to expand your knowledge of the art form, or just to sit back and enjoy your favorite operas with some of the most famous singers of the 20th and 21th centuries." (SarahM)

Writing Fiction Research Guide - "So you want to write a novel and you are searching for online tools to help you organize your notes or advice on how to get your first draft ready for a publisher. The Writing Fiction research guide is here to help you navigate the world of fiction from lists of national organizations to publisher scam artists to be aware of and author marketing tips and tricks. This guide has it all!" (JordanD)

These are just a few of the countless treasures you can find on our website! Whether you explore these or others, we hope you'll enjoy your search. Don't forget to fill out the "Explore bpl.org" square on your bingo card when you're done!

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