Thursday, January 29, 2015

Mentor Library providing tax instruction booklets for checkout this year

The IRS is not sending tax instruction booklets out this year, but Mentor Library is making some available for checkout at all of its branches.
This year, the federal government is not providing 1040, 1040 A or 1040 EZ tax instruction booklets to libraries, as they have in previous years. Consequently, it may be more difficult for some people to find these booklets during this tax season.

However, Mentor Public Library is helping by making some of these tax instruction booklets available for checkout, starting in Monday, Feb. 2

MPL patrons can borrow 1040, 1040 A or 1040 EZ instruction booklets at its Main, Mentor-on-the-Lake and Headlands Branches. They can each be checked out for three days.

To be clear, the 1040, 1040 A and 1040 EZ tax forms will still be available for pickup, as opposed to checkout. But the federal government is not sending any other tax forms or instructional booklets.

However, the instructional booklets are also available for download on the Forms & Publications page of the IRS website. If someone is averse to downloading or printing the booklets, they can order them from the IRS website or by calling 1-800-829-3676. The IRS site says its takes between seven and 15 days for ordered documents to be received in the mail.

The Mentor Public Library will still be receiving local and state tax forms, and they will be available for pickup starting Feb. 2.

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Local author talks about his grandfather, a Cleveland Mafia street boss

Frank Brancato was a mainstay of the Cleveland  mafia for almost 50 years. His grandson, Frank Monastra, has written the book "Mafia Street Boss" about him.
Though it seems like a bygone era, we are not far removed from the heyday of the Cleveland Mafia. Less than a century ago, the Porrello and Lonardo families fought for bootleg liquor profits during the Corn Sugar War; and the mafia's battles with Danny Greene's Celtic Club were more recent than that.

One man—Frank Brancato, a mainstay of the Cleveland mafia for almost 50 years—bridged both the Corn Sugar and Celtic Club eras. (In fact, Brancato's credited with introducing Greene to the Cleveland underworld.) In his lifetime, Brancato went from gambler to capo to consgliore.

Now, a family member of Brancato is talking about his time in the famiglia.

His grandson, Frank Monastra, has written a book, Brancato: Mafia Street Boss, about Brancato's mafia tenure and will talk about it 6:30 p.m. Monday, Feb. 2, at Mentor Public Library's Main Branch. The talk is free and open to everybody. You can register for the program here.

So learn more about the man the FBI investigated for years—under J. Edgar Hoover's direct orders, no less—and his role in Cleveland's organized-crime scene.

(For more information on Cleveland's mafioso history, you may enjoy Rick Porrello's The Rise and Fall of the Cleveland Mafia and To Kill the Irishman.)

Monday, January 26, 2015

We're all a little mad at the Wonderland Tea Party

Alice reads her story to the children during the Wonderland Tea Party at Mentor Library's Headlands Branch.
Want to visit Wonderland?

That's impossible, you say. Wonderland is a nonsense place.

Nonsense? Impossible? Why we do six impossible things before breakfast over at the Mentor Headlands Library.

And a trip to Wonderland—that's as easy as opening as book. In fact, we didn't just go to Wonderland on Saturday; we threw a tea party there.
Kylie enjoys a cup of tea during the Wonderland Tea Party.
Kids decorated their own tea cups and top hats—in deference to the Mad Hatter—played games, listened to stories (read by Alice, herself) and, of course, enjoyed tea and cookies.

After all, there are few things we love more than a good tea party at Mentor Library. And, sure, we may get a little crazy sometimes; but that's all right. All the best people (and parties) are a little mad.
Lilly paints her top hat (and even the Mad Hatter would be impressed.)
For more photos from our Wonderland Tea Party and other programs at our Headland's Branch, visit Mentor Library's Facebook page.

Sunday, January 25, 2015

Paws to Read: The Difference a Dog Makes

Taylor reads to a pair of therapy dogs—Honey (on the left) and Hannah—during Paws to Read at Mentor Library.
Taylor didn't like reading in front of people. She could read the words as well as any kindergartener, but it made her nervous when someone listened, her mother Donna explained.

Then Donna found the least judgmental audience in the world —the therapy dogs at Mentor Library's Paws to Read.

So Taylor started reading to the dogs, and they never corrected her pronunciation or narrowed their eyes if she didn't know a word. They just rested their heads next to her and occasionally angled for a belly scratch.

Soon Taylor enjoyed reading so much that she didn't care who listened.

Taylor's in second grade now and reads at a 3.4 Level. She still goes to Paws to Read, but now it's just for the fun of it.

Her mother Donna was so impressed that she got her dog, Jazzy, registered as a therapy dog; and now Jazzy helps young readers get over their worries, just like other canines did for Taylor.
Elizabeth multitasks, scratching Jazzy's ear without losing her page.
Elizabeth multitasks, scratching Jazzy's ear without losing her page.

Paws to Read is for readers between the ages of six and 12 years old. Mentor Library hosts it on the third Wednesday of the month at either its Main or Mentor-on-the-Lake Branch.

If your child can read independently but doesn’t like to do it in front of other people, you might try signing them up for Paws to Read. The program works well for dog lovers, but it’s also helped some kids who are scared of dogs get over their phobia.

The next session is scheduled for Wednesday, Feb. 18, at Mentor Library’s Main Branch.

Registration fills up quickly, so contact the children’s department at Mentor Public Library soon if you think you child could benefit from Paws to Read. (There is often a waiting list for the program once registration begins.)

For more information on Paws to Read and other children’s programs at Mentor Public Library call (440) 255-8811 ext. 221.
Between books, Nathan scratches behind Fragg's ear.
For more photos from Paws to Read, visit Mentor Library’s Facebook page.

Saturday, January 24, 2015

Teen Project gives teens a place to be themselves at our Lake Branch

Roast your friends during the first meeting of The Teen Project on Feb. 9 at Mentor Library's Lake Branch.
Ready to get messy? Get busy? Get wired? Then you’re ready for The Teen Project at our Lake Branch.

The Teen Project has one mission: to give teens a fun place where they can be themselves at the library.

It starts at 6:30 p.m. on Monday, Feb. 9 with a Super Smash Bros tournament. (Register for it here.) Any teen who wants to play is invited. There will also be pizza and pop.

After that, The Teen Project will meet the second Monday of every month at our Lake Branch.

Video game tournaments are just the beginning. Teens will paint, compete in trivia contests, customize coffee mugs and more. The teens will be able to suggest their own ideas for The Teen Project, as well.

"In the digital age, ‘hanging out’ can mean four teens talking over Twitter or Snapchat—each from their own homes," said Ariel Johnson, the manager at our Lake Branch. "We want to bring the hangout back with video games and pizza and people actually in the same room."

For more information on The Teen Project or to register for the Super Smash Bros tournament call the Lake Branch at 440-257-2512.

Mentor Library also has book and writing clubs specifically for teens. The Teen Book Club meets at 2 p.m. on the first Saturday of every month at the Lake Branch. Their discussion book on Feb. 7 is Ketchup Clouds by Annabel Pitcher. Any teen who wants to join the club can pick up a copy of Ketchup Clouds at the Lake Branch.

Meanwhile, the Teen Writing Club meets 4:30 p.m. on the third Monday of the month at our Main Branch. During each meeting, they hone their writing by using a different story prompt. On Feb. 16, the story prompt will be "from a rock's perspective..."

Teens can register for either or both clubs by calling Mentor Library or signing up on our online event calendar.

Friday, January 23, 2015

Studio MPL makes cartouches and you can too

Help your kid turn his or her name into a cartouche like Ruthie did.
Studio MPL—our art club for kids in first through fifth grade—turned their names into colorful cartouches on Monday.

A cartouche was a designation for a royal name written in hieroglyphics in ancient Egypt. Some pharaohs would even have their names inscribed into amulets and wear them. (So cartouches are sort of like those bracelets with names on them—except for Egyptian rulers, and in hieroglyphics.)

Even if you missed Monday's Studio MPL get-together, you and your kids (or grandkids or nieces or nephews or whatever) can still make your own cartouches.

It's a fun art project and also allows you to teach (and learn) a bit about ancient Egypt.
You can get as creative with your cartouche as you want.
You can use the Virtual-Egypt website to get a translation of your or anyone else's name into hieroglyphs. (No, these aren't exact translations. They're the closest possible phonetic translations for each alphabetic character. It's about as close as you can get without hiring a papyrologist.)

Once you've got your translated name, you can draw and decorate it anyway you want!
Payton favors a psychedelic background.
If your kid enjoys the cartouche craft or has an artistic bent, they may like our Studio MPL art club.

Every month, they try a different art project. They’ve made sun catchers, painted sunsets, weaved and even garnered inspiration from Jackson Pollock.

Studio MPL meets on the third Monday of each month. Our next session is Feb. 16 at our Main Branch. You can register for it here.

For more photos from our Studio MPL session, check out our Facebook page. For more information on programs and events for children, teens and adults at Mentor Public Library, visit www.mentorpl.org.

Thursday, January 22, 2015

9 tips to improve your resume

Make your resume more effective with this advice from Ohio Means Jobs' Alaryce Shea.
Alaryce Shea of Ohio Means Jobs Lake County offered advice to people looking to improve their resumes Wednesday at Mentor Public Library's Main Branch.

If you're job hunting, looking to switch careers or just want to make your resume as effective as possible, you'll want to see what he recommends.

1. There's no such thing as a perfect resume. If you ask 10 people what they think of your resume, you'll get 10 answers and they'll all contradict each other. Shea recommends asking no more than two people to review your resume. (Of course, you want to make sure those two people know what they're talking about.)

2. What is the purpose of a resume? It isn't to get you a job. It doesn't even get you an interview anymore (though it used to.) No, the purpose of the resume is to get you the phone call or email that leads to the interview. (And the interview will hopefully lead to a job.)

So you need to constantly ask yourself this while writing your resume: "Will this make them want to call me?" It's great that you speak Russian, sing in the church choir and play jazz piano, but if it doesn't make them want to call you, then it doesn't merit inclusion. Does the company mention specific skills in the job opening. Do you have those specific skills? Make sure you mention those specific skills, instead!

3. Big companies don't read every resume—not even close. Instead, your resume goes into a database. When a position opens, the company searches through the database for certain keywords. If your resume doesn't have enough of those keywords, your resume doesn't get read. Even if you would've been perfect for that job.

So you need to include those keywords. But how? Do you turn your resume into a Mad Lib where every third word is some phrase you know they want to hear?

Shea recommends adding an extra page to your resume specifically for keywords. Include your name, title it Keywords and simply list your pertinent skills beneath. If you drive a forklift, include keywords like "tow motor" and "forklift." If you work in marketing, "event planning," "advertising," and "graphic design." Management: "hiring," "managing," "budgeted" and so on. (Make sure all of your keywords are true. Don't say "welding" if you have no idea how to weld.)

This way, your resume is more likely to show up in a keyword search, which will actually get it read.

(Only include the Keywords page if your resume is entering a database. Don't add it if you're mailing your resume to someone directly.)

4. There's more than one type of resume. You have your reverse-chronological resume, which lists your work experience from most recent and concludes with your education. This is the most common type, but not necessarily the most effective. The second is the functional resume, which focuses on accomplishments and skills. (This is especially useful when you're making a career change.) The third is combination, which (obviously) combines qualifications and employment history. Shea says the combination resume is usually the most effective.

5. Consider how you phrase things. Don't just list your responsibilities; include accomplishment statements. To phrase it differently—don't just say what you did, tell them what you did well. Don't say "managed the budget;" say "through responsible spending, cut _____ from the budget." Don't say "taught computer classes;" say "trained thousands of people how to use Microsoft Word, Excel and Publisher."

6. Have a Skills and Qualifications section. List 15 or so of your skills, all of which should be pertinent to the job to which you're applying. And what is a skill? According to Shea, "If you did it once, can do it again and want to do it again, it's a skill." Which leads us to...

7. Have different versions of your resume. Not all of your skills are going to be pertinent to every job you apply for. You know how to use Photoshop? Great. That doesn't matter if you want to drive the Zamboni. Tailor your resume to the job for which you're applying.

And, in general, don't feel the need to include everything. Your resume is a brochure, not an autobiography. If they want to know more, they can call you.

8. It's good to include your volunteer experience, especially if you haven't worked in awhile or are changing careers. But you don't need to list the 32 different organizations in which you've participated to show your community-minded. Pick two—the two most pertinent to the job you want. Once again, if they want to know more, they'll call.

9. I haven't mentioned objective statements or references yet. That's because you don't need them—cover letters either. "References available upon request" is sufficient.

Some final thoughts: write in Arial or Times New Roman fonts, 12 pt.; it's OK for your resume to be two (or even three) pages; save your resume as a DOC not as a DOCX, PDF or (so help me) WPS; if they ask for a requested salary, answer "open" or "negotiable." If they demand an actual number, use glassdoor.com as a reference. And, yes, spelling and punctuation matter.

For more help, visit Ohio Means Jobs Lake County at 177 Main Street, Painesville. The phone number is (440) 350-4400.

Mentor Library will continue to team with Ohio Means Jobs for programs throughout the year to help career-seekers. In February,we’re hosting a computer class specifically for job hunters; and, in March, we’ll offer advice on how to ace job interviews.

This is in addition to the computer classes on how to use Facebook, Microsoft Word, Publisher and email we have slated for this February.