Learn about
the significance of
Poppies on Memorial Day
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CC Photo by Andy Wilkes

You may have used Google Maps to get directions from one place to another, but there’s more to online map programs than directions. Say you’re visiting New York City. You could go out and buy a map that lists hundreds of museums, shops, hotels, and restaurants. Or you could make your own map that shows just the attractions, restaurants, and lodging on you’ll be visiting on your trip!

Take a look at this video to see how this aspect of Google Maps works:

Did you miss that last part? Check out this example of a motorcycle trip through Colorado’s Passes to Utah’s Canyons.

To try Google Maps, just sign in to Google.

And click on My Maps.

You can create your own custom map. These would be useful to highlight points of interest in your area or even to highlight points on a walking tour. The options are endless.

Google Maps is swell and all, but sometimes you just need an honest to goodness road map. With the proliferation of mobile devices that offer access to mapping features and GPS, they might not seem useful. But, they’re portable, don’t require batteries or wifi, and several people can look at them at once. If nothing else, using an old-fashioned map on your next trip might make a quaint photo.

Did you know we have road maps for check out at the downtown library? Check them out from the Periodicals desk. Now you can have that map of Montana – and it won’t wind up in your junk drawer.

Your mission, should you choose to accept it:

1. Take a look at the library’s Branch Map – made using this same technology from Google Maps!
2. Sign in to Google Maps and plot your favorite store, restaurant, or other important location on the map.
3. Take the survey..

The library has tons of travel books and guides available for check out. The only downside is that the new ones are often checked out. Or, you might be like me and look for attractions that Fodor’s doesn’t always cover. Where else can you turn? Online? Yes! Online!

First stop, the library!

Yes. A great place for travel advice is the library’s online databases.

“Online databases?” you say, “I thought you’d say Convention and Visitor’s Bureau web sites.” Well, those are good too. But, library databases offer a wealth of travel information.

There are thousands of magazines available in InfoTrac. You’ll find publications like Southern Living, Outdoor Life, and Midwest Living. Magazines often highlight shops and attractions for tourists, so you’ll find articles and helpful hints for planning your trip. Runner’s World features good exercise routes in various cities every month. Our New York Times database has an extensive archive of travel reporting on domestic and exotic destinations.

A simple search in InfoTrac for travel AND kansas brought up articles from Better Homes and Gardens, and a city profile from U.S. News & World Report. Add the term runner and you get a list of activities for runners in Kansas City from Runner’s World !

Tip: A subject search might work better than a keyword search, so watch where you’re searching!

What about the web?

There are online tools for readers, foodies, gardeners, music lovers… So, of course there are online tools for travelers!

Kayak is a travel search engine. That’s it. Kayak makes it easy to compare air fares by using its various sorting features for times/prices/stops. Then, the site links you to the airline’s web site for booking. It also compares deals for hotels and rental cars.

TripIt is an easy way to share your travel plans with any relatives or friends you might be meeting without bothering them several times. When you get an email confirmation from an airline or hotel, forward it to tripit.com. It will automatically generate a daily schedule of all your travel and lodging. Then, login to TripIt and add any concerts or restaurants you might visit. TripIt will use Google Maps to give you driving directions and NOAA to give you daily weather forecasts for destination. You can either print this itinerary or call it up on your fancy mobile device during your trip.

TripHub is a group trip planning tool. If you are planning a trip with a group, TripHub will help you coordinate the adventure together. It integrates schedules, discussion boards, Email invitations/updates, along with mapping and destination features. It is a nice little event planner for family reunions, retreats or other group outings.

Your mission, should you choose to accept it:

1. Search InfoTrac for a travel article about the River Road or the Natchez Trace.
2. If you have time, try out one of the travel websites. (optional)
3. Take the survey..

If you’ve got any favorite travel sites, share them in the comments!

It’s almost vacation time! Combine that with Summer Reading and we’ll soon be bombarded with requests for great book suggestions. But, you can only keep up with so many books. Where will all of those suggestions come from? Where’s a good place to start?

If you’re thinking “the library website” you’re right! We’ve got tons of book lists and recommendations on the Books, Movies, Music page. They cover commonly requested genres, like romance and mystery, and some surprises, like unreliable narrators and epistolary fiction. These bibliographies are from librarians all over our system, so you’re getting the wisdom and experience of dozens of your colleagues! You can’t beat that.

What’s that? You’re helping someone who’s already read every mystery on the mystery bibliography? And they have a daughter who wants a mystery of her own? That does sound tricky. But, no need to worry…

Let’s start with Novelist and see what mystery suggestions we can find for a young girl.

novelist icon

Watch the mysterious Novelist tour now!

Novelist lets you limit a genre search by age/reading level. And you can use the advanced search to find all of the series in a genre, for any age group. So, you can find all the adult romance series or all of the teen suspense series!

Novelist also has author read-alikes, book discussion guides, and recommendations. If you’d like a portable tip sheet for Novelist, check out this PDF.

I hope Novelist, along with the library’s bibliographies, will help you when you’re asked for reading recommendations. If you have any tips to share, put them in the comments!

Your mission, should you choose to accept it:

1. Watch the Novelist tour.
2. Search for romance, mystery, or your favorite genre. Limit your search to books for adults.
3. Click on the Author Read-alikes tab and take a look at all of the authors who write in the genre you searched for.
4. Take the survey..