Pass It On

Tidbits and treats from the Sunnyvale Public Library Reference Division

Ace Your Homework at Home! August 30, 2007

Filed under: homework,reports,research — svref @ 4:18 pm

Research Databases


Did you know that you can do most of the research for a term paper or report from your home computer?   I‘m not talking about the questionable information pulled up from an ordinary web search, but bona fide articles from respected journals and reference books. 

How do you do this?  You use the databases available through the Sunnyvale Public Library’s website on the internet.  You’ll need your library card number to login, but that’s all!  Click on the link below to see the resources, everything from The World Book Encyclopedia to academic journals.

Ace Your Homework! 







Reader’s Advisory–Ask a Librarian! August 24, 2007

Filed under: reader's advisory — svref @ 11:34 am

reader's advisoryWhile many people come to the library looking for a particular book, others come hoping to find anything they would enjoy reading.  The question is how to find it.  You might scan our new book area, look at some displays, or search out whether one of your favorite authors has written a new title recently.  Alternatively, you can come to the Adult Reference Desk and ask the librarians.  We have gathered material together including best books lists from various sources each year, have put together many booklists for specific genres (e.g. chick lit, westerns, thrillers, California authors, etc.) and also have many personal favorite titles as well as websites which we can share. So…. Ask a librarian!!! Here are some of the sources I like to use: In the reference area, we keep a shelf of books we have called BEST BOOKS to help with various reading genres.  This is just a small sampling of what’s on that shelf: 

Blood, bedlam, bullets, and bad guys :

Blood, bedlam

 A reader’s guide to adventure/suspense fiction  

Nonfiction readers’ advisory / edited by Robert Burgin. 

      Non Fiction Reader’s advisory                Horror Reader’s Advisory        Historical Fiction

Horror Readers’ Advisory: the librarian’s guide to vampires, killer tomatoes, and haunted houses 

Read on– historical fiction : reading lists for every taste  

Sunnyvale Public Library subscribes to a database called What Do I Read Next? From which you can search for a particular book or browse for books based on any criteria you wish to list.  Some great information, as well as many booklists for those who like a particular genre (e.g. historical fiction, mystery, romance, etc.)  This site includes “hotlists” of upcoming titles, starred review lists which include annotated reviews from many respected journals, and new book lists included if they have received good reviews, as well as themed booklists.  Also have lists of “If you like a particular author, you might like ……” 

For new book information and reading lists:


“Before Elvis, there was nothing.” – John Lennon August 16, 2007

Filed under: Biography,Books,Music,Nonfiction — svref @ 1:07 pm


Today marks the 30th anniversary of the death of rock and roll legend Elvis Presley. Larger than life, even in death, thousands of Elvis fans and music lovers around the world will pay respects today to one of true innovators in music history.

Elvis Aaron Presley (read about his middle name controversy) was born on January 8, 1935, in Tupelo, Mississippi and moved with his family to Memphis, Tennessee, in 1948. Elvis began singing with Sun Records in 1954 and was a household name by 1956. Among his unmatched credits are global sales of over one billion records, and 150 albums or singles that went gold, platinum, or multi-platinum. He was nominated for 14 Grammy awards and won three. He starred in 33 films, numerous television specials, and is remembered as one of the greatest live concert performers ever.

Handsome, talented, and controversial, Elvis has been a subject of public interest ever since his death on August 16, 1977, at the Graceland mansion in Memphis. As his legend has grown through the years, numerous books have been written about his life and influence on the music industry and popular culture. Elvis’ music has not gone out of style and has even experienced a surge in popularity among the younger generation after being featured prominently in hit movies like Disney’s Lilo & Stitch and the Ocean’s Eleven series of feature films.

Rocker Bruce Springsteen said, “There have been a lotta tough guys. There have been pretenders. And there have been contenders. But there is only one king.” Music legend John Lennon may have summed it up best when he said, “Before Elvis, there was nothing.”

Here are some recent Elvis additions to our collection you may be interested in (also check in Nonfiction at 782.4216 or in the Biography section under ‘PRESLEY’):


Most Elvis music CDs can be found in the Rock section at CD 781.66 PRESLEY.

[some biographical information from, the Official web site for Elvis Presley]


Invention and Innovation August 9, 2007

Filed under: Patents & Trademarks — svref @ 6:25 pm

mast_invention3.jpg and innovation are the norm for Silicon Valley.  In 2005, 11% of all U.S.  patents were granted to Silicon Valley inventors while six of the top 10 U.S. cities for the number of issued patents are located in Silicon Valley, according to the 2007 Index of Silicon Valley by Joint Venture Silicon Valley Network . 

Numerous resources are available for inventors, entrepreneurs and all those interested in patents and inventions.


A good first stop would be the Sunnyvale Public Library, a U.S. Patent and Trademark Depository Library. 


Two computers are available for patent and trademark research and knowledgeable reference librarians provide free reference services.  In addition, a volunteer demonstrates patent searching on weekday mornings at the library.  

The Patent and Trademark page on the Sunnyvale Library Web site links to print and online resources and to patent and trademark programs that are offered at the library. 

San Francisco Public Library is also a Patent and Trademark Depository Library with public computers for patent and trademark research, trained staff, a patent and trademark print collection, and links to resources from their Web site.


There are inventors’ groups, such as the Inventors Alliance, which offers programs and networking for inventors.




The Cisco Systems-San Jose Entrepreneur Center, which includes the local Small Business Administration, is available to inventors and entrepreneurs for programs, events, and more.



uspto_seal.jpegThe U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) Web site offers a Web page devoted to inventor resources.  There are brochures on patents and trademarks, such as, “General Information Concerning Patents;” FAQ’s; transcripts of chats with inventors; tips on how to prevent being scammed; a list of invention promotion companies with complaints against them; and contact information.  The USPTO Web site includes a roster of patent attorneys and agents registered to practice before the USPTO.  There are instructions and databases for starting a preliminary patent search and for conducting a federal trademark search.  Applications may be filed online and tutorials and guides lead 209kids.jpegthe way.  Be sure to look at the fantastic kids’ pages with easy to understand descriptions of intellectual property. 

The PBS series Everyday Edisons highlights the multi-step, complex process of developing an invention idea into a tangible product.  everydayedisons.gif

One of the best known books and a favorite with inventors is Patent it Yourself, by David Pressman.  Look to this book for  guidance on the kinds of choices an inventor faces when embarking on the commercialization of a creation, some helpful advice for making those choices, and step by step by step instructions for filing a patent application. 

 The Inventor’s Bible, by Ronald Louis Docie offers practical advice for marketing and licensing those brilliant ideas.   

hw71.jpg inventors-bible.jpg

20 Questions to Ask if you have a Great Idea,20-questions.jpg by Michael H. Jester answers the novice inventor’s most common general questions in a straightforward style. 



There is also the book What Every Inventor Needs to Know about Business & Taxes, by Stephen Fishman. 

american-inventions.jpgFor the historical minded, there are books such as, American Inventions : a History of Curious, Extraordinary, and Just Plain Useful Patents, by Stephen van Dulken;

They Made America : From the Steam Engine to the Search Engine :  Two Centuries of Innovators,  by Harold Evans, with Gail Buckland and David Lefer; and

The Evolution of Useful Things, How Everyday Artifacts—From Forks and Pins to Paper Clips and Zippers—Came to be as They Are, by Henry Petroski. 



Some fun Web sites that highlight patents for unusual inventions include Delphion’s Gallery of Obscure Patents , Totally Absurd Inventions, Crazy Patents, and Wacky Patent of the Month,  or take a look at the book Totally Absurd Inventions:  America’s Goofiest Patents,  by Ted Vancleave.