This project has received support from the U.S. Institute of Museum and Library Services under the provisions of the Library Services and Technology Act, administered in California by the State Librarian, and from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, under the provisions of the Staying Connected Program.

Live Homework Help

The Library has offered on-line tutoring for three years with partial funding from a California State Library grant.
Since the Library is no longer part of the State Grant program, tutor.com is pricing their service according to usage and population and raised the Library’s cost 400%. Like most public agencies, the Library is experiencing deep budget cuts and we have no funds for this service. We have explored other vendors and other avenues for funding but conclude that we will not be able to continue on-line homework assistance.

Free2 @ Your Library

A new marketing campaign for libraries kicked off during National Library Week, April 13 – 19. The Free2 campaign celebrates how libraries give us the freedom to connect, create, imagine, explore and succeed. What are you Free2 do in your local public library? Visit wearefree2.org and tell us how you are Free2. You should see ads in local newspapers, on buses, and more. This is an 18-month effort to promote the value of local public libraries.

Rock Concert Video

View some videos shot at the March 23 Library rock concert.

Teen Rock Concert Photos

Link to our library’s Flickr page to view photos of the March 20, 2008 concert . Ecoreus, Vintage Prose, Goodnight Gracie performed.

10 Crucial Skin Care Don’ts

Skin care is important to keep your skin healthy and glowing. It is more than the kind of soap you use and encompasses, your diet, bath products, lotions, makeup, habits, stress, and the environment. All these components affect your skin and how fast it ages. Radical molecules can go on and affect your skin through oxidation. Air pollution, smoke, sun, and a poor diet can speed the production of radicals.

As such it is important to care for skin, not just by using care products but also by maintaining a healthy lifestyle. We have heard of skin care Do’s, but there are also some Don’ts that you need to be aware of.

Skin Care Don’ts

  • Usage after expiration date:

You must avoid using old skin care products. Using any skin care products have crossed their date of expiry can cause skin irritation or lead to breakouts. An organic or natural product that has expired can attract germs and bacteria onto your face. The expiration date tells you when the product will start degrading and losing its potency. Using old products until you exhaust all of them isn’t worth the risk.

  • Incorrect exfoliation:

Too much exfoliation is not goodSometimes people either don’t exfoliate at all or over-exfoliate. Both these actions are bad for your skin. If you don’t scrub your face, then you must start immediately. Gently exfoliating skin can remove dead skin cells, promote skin cell turnover and remove rough skin. If you over-exfoliate or scrub more than 3 to 4 times a week, then it can cause tears and micro rips on delicate skin. Try scrubs that are made for gentle exfoliation, instead of sugar or walnut shell that can be abrasive.

  • Using a PM product during day time:

Are you one of those who applies a night time cream in the morning? Products are used in night time routines as they are designed for such a purpose. A PM skin formula uses anti-aging and brightening agents like Coq10 or Retinol, that rely on darkness to work on the skin. These agents, when exposed to sunlight can increase the vulnerability and sensitivity of your skin. As such they are advised to be used at night.

  • Using a body cream on the face:

Sometimes people think that it is ok to use a body cream or lotion everywhere, even on the face. It does save time and money when you do that, but it is not right. Natural body lotion or cream is specifically formulated for the skin on the body. They are formulated with super hydrating ingredients that may be too thick for the delicate and thinner facial skin.

The skin on the hands and feet is very thick when compared to the area near our eyes. To penetrate thick skin, the moisturizers have to be aggressive, which is too sharp for facial skin. Treat your skin with the right formula based on the correct body part.

  • Hot or scalding water for cleansing:

Avoid using scalding water to wash your face. Use lukewarm or warm water and not very hot water. If it is too hot for your hand, it’s hot for your face. It strips the skin of natural oils and can also cause burns. Lukewarm water opens pores to allow you to clean the excess oil and dirt. But using extremely hot water will be bad for your skin.

  • Not using SPF, post a retinol treatment:

Night time retinol treatments have to be followed up with the usage of SPF cream the next day. Night time treatments remove damaged layers, and you have new skin in the morning. This “new” skin is sensitive and delicate; as such, it is important to protect it from harsh elements like the sun.

  • Skin type and incorrect products:

It is essential to know your skin type so you can use products that are most suited to it. Not knowing your skin type and using the wrong products is the worst thing you can do to your skin.

  • Overloading products:

There is no need to use a cupboard full of products every time and daily. The skin will tap out when it feels overloaded. There may be excess dryness, breakouts or even excessive oiliness if you use too many products. Switch products in and out of your routine for best results. For those who follow the Korean skincare routine can take a look at the products for KBeauty by Peach & Lily.

  • Applying product in incorrect order:

After getting to know your skin type, the next step is to apply the right products, in the right order. The correct layering of skin products is important as each formula has molecules of different sizes and nutrients have to be delivered in the correct order to the skin. Start with a cleanser and exfoliator, followed by a toner, serum and sheet mask. End with eye cream, moisturizer and night balm or sunscreen.

  • Do not trust everything on the internet:

Don’t trust everything you read on the internet on skin care. All beauty blogs may not have the right experience and expertise in skin care. Be careful about whose advice you take and tread carefully.

The above given Don’ts are very important to keep your skin healthy and safe. Avoid chemical sprays on the face and cleanse your face of makeup before going to bed. Drink plenty of water while following a good diet. Get a good night’s sleep daily, exercise and don’t stress too much. Taking care of skin isn’t a tedious process, but you must be careful and take good care of it.

Learning Diaphragmatic Control for a Stronger Singing Voice

It is a lifelong dream for many people to learn how to sing better and stronger. Who has not watched American Idol and yearned for a powerful singing voice like the contestants on television? By learning and practicing proper diaphragmatic breath control, singers can sing strongly and clearly – just like the pros.

Singers use their diaphragms to generate sound from the body. The stronger the diaphragmatic use, the higher the volume. Diaphragmatic control primarily affects singing and public speaking volume (though incidentally, it also helps with pitch and quality of sound as well). The source of the singer’s greatest strength is breath management and diaphragmatic control. It is the most crucial component to singing technique and the genesis of sound. This will make all the difference in whether the singer sounds like a little mouse or an American Idol.

Singers Make Sounds With Their Bodies

Singing from the gut gives you more vocal powerSo, what exactly is the singer’s sound? Of course, any elementary science coursework will say that sound is a traveling wave, an oscillation of pressure composed of frequencies capable of being heard by the organs which sense these vibrations. How does the body create these traveling waves? Simply put: the sound waves are pushed out of the body and passed through the vibrating vocal cords.

More specifically, by breathing in deeply and then pushing the air back through the vibrating vocal folds, the singer creates sound waves which travel outside the body through the throat. As the stomach moves down and out with the diaphragm, the lungs are pulled down as well, creating a vacuum that air rushes into during inhalation. This is the correct way to breathe just before singing an extended note because proper diaphragmatic breathing powers the force of air pushed through the voice box. Thus, giving the singer’s voice more strength.

The Power of the Singer’s Diaphragm

The powerful muscle just under the rib cage called the diaphragm is also the singer’s protection against the vocal strain. While the vocal folds (also called the voice box, larynx, and vocal cords) are delicate folds of tissue that are easily injured, the diaphragm is a muscle which can regularly be exercised and trained during vocal lessons. Breathing exercises can be used as essential tools towards protecting the voice box from developing vocal nodes, polyps, or cysts – conditions the American Academy of Otolaryngology calls benign vocal cord lesions.

To isolate the diaphragm muscle, touch the bottom of the rib cage with the fingertips. Feeling where the center of the rib cage dips upward and inward into a point; the muscle just under the rib bones is the diaphragm. To become familiar with the diaphragm, practice the following movement 2-3 times without breathing; then begin to add inhalation and exhalation to the exercise.

A Diaphragm Isolation Exercise

Diaphragm when breathing pPush the belly (and with it the diaphragm) down and out, then back in and up. Repeat. Next, inhale and exhale during the same movement. Be careful: most beginning students do this exercise in the reverse or opposite direction than they should. Inhalation should occur when the diaphragm is pushed down and out; exhalation should occur as the diaphragm pushes back into the torso. Looking in a mirror during this exercise is an excellent way to make sure it is done correctly.

This style of diaphragmatic breathing will feel awkward at first, but with practice will soon feel more familiar and prove to be a more efficient way of breathing for singing. It is essential to practice this method of proper diaphragmatic breathing daily.

The diaphragm is the singer’s source of volume. Lung capacity is greater when the diaphragm is used during inhalation, thereby allowing for greater singing strength. Expanded lung capacity through proper diaphragmatic breathing will make longer, stronger notes possible – the goal of any singer on stage.

Reader Leader Peer Tutoring Program


The Reader Leader Program is a peer tutoring program that matches elementary school children entering 1st to 5th grades (READERS) with middle or high school students (LEADERS) for one-on-one reading sessions.

The program takes place during a six week period in the summer at both the the Main Library and the Grand Avenue Branch Library.
Readers are children who are below grade level in their reading skills.

Reader leader programReaders come to the program through the suggestion of their teachers or their parents. The library distributes flyers about the program to teachers at the local public and parochial schools. Teachers can refer children to the program who need extra practice with reading skills. Many parents become aware of the program through visits to the library or by word of mouth.

Leaders are recruited through flyers sent to the local middle and high schools. Leaders might also find out about the program through a visit to the library or from a friend.


The Reader Leader Coordinators train the Leaders in a two hour training session. The Leaders are asked to commit to six hours of working with a younger student. This is usually done once a week for six weeks. The reading partners meet one hour weekly.

The Leader selects a child to work with (a READER) from the file of Reader applications. The Leader will call the Reader’s parent to arrange a meeting at the Main or Grand Avenue Library during designated time periods.

A Children’s Librarian and a Learning Specialist are the Reader Leader coordinators and oversee the meetings and check on the progress of the Reader Leader pair.


Readers: Parents are asked to complete a registration form. They may be asked to attend a Parent Information Evening to learn more about the program. The Parent Information Evenings are offered at both libraries in late May or early June.

Leaders: First time Leaders must attend a training session at the Main Library or Grand Avenue Branch Library in June. Returning Leaders may fill out an application available at either library in June.

Review of Born Under a Lucky Moon by Dana Precious

Debut novels are often semi-autobiographical and Dana Precious’ first book, Born Under a Lucky Moon, is no exception. The phrases semi-autobiographical and debut novel are commonly used to describe morbidly self-centered books with weak, meandering plots and poor writing. Fortunately, this is not the case with Born Under a Lucky Moon.

Lucky MoonBrilliant Characters

First-time writers often fail to create good characters. Perhaps it is because they know the characters so well that they forget that the reader is clueless.  Precious could have promoted her book through online marketing, under the tutelage of a San Diego search engine optimization company. Book promotion through new media channels, as Jason Berkowitz emphasized, will do wonders in terms of sales and customer engagement. However, it probably has more to do with the fact that they are so wrapped up in telling their own story that they could care less about the characters or the readers.

This is not the case with Precious’ characters. While Precious spends a fair amount of time on Jeannie’s emotional status, Jeannie’s emotional status doesn’t drive the plot of the novel. The novel’s plot is centered on the dynamics of relationships. It moves between Jeannie’s relationship with her would be husband Aidan and the eccentric personalities and antics of her boisterous family.

Precious’ characters are well drawn. She uses a deft touch to describe her character’s appearance, allowing the reader plenty of room to imagine how they look but providing enough information that the reader can tell them apart.

Precious doesn’t tell her reader about the personalities of her characters; she shows the reader. Precious knows better than to tell the reader that Walker is hooked on appearances. She shows the reader that appearance matters more than anything to Jeannie’s ex-husband.

Well-Handled Structure

For a first-time novelist, Precious uses a complicated plot structure. She introduces the central plot of the novel (the crazy antics of a loving but eccentric family that enfolds and cares for its members even when they want to be free of the family) through the marriage proposal of Jeannie’s long-time boyfriend, Aidan. She then goes on to tell both stories in parallel moving back and forth between two years, 1986 and 2006, that are two decades apart.

Fantastic Plot Twists

The plot twists and turns that occur during the story are so fantastic that the reader is forced to conclude that either they are completely contrived or that they are so absurd they must be true. Because Precious can make her eccentric characters real to the reader, the reader can only conclude that the plot twists would happen to these people and therefore must be true. Because the plot is so eccentric and outlandish, the book is hard to put down. Readers find themselves laughing at the absurd situations.

Plot twists in the bookSpotty Writing

The writing is a bit spotty. Sometimes the writing falls flat, but for the most part, it is fair. Occasionally, Precious rises above the moment and writes a line that is quietly lovely.

Mildly Graphic

For those who have morality or modesty boundaries, Precious’ novel does have some graphic scenes and a few moments of swearing. However, given the subject matter that lies at the heart of the story, she keeps the tone low-key and relatively inoffensive.

A Worthwhile First Novel

Dana Precious has written a first novel that is a fun interlude for her readers who can hope that she will continue writing and refine her craft. Born Under a Lucky Moon is a worthwhile choice for someone who wants to escape the day-to-day tediousness of life into a world that is unpredictable and a bit zany.

Precious, Dana. Born Under a Lucky Moon. Avon A. 2011. ISBN 0061876879 ISBN13: 9780061876875

Free Public Library Services for Homeschoolers

Seventy-eight percent of U.S. homeschooling families use the library as their main source of educational materials.

Monitoring the lessons of a homeschoolerWhen considering the homeschool option, parents may worry about the potential cost of supplies and learning materials. It’s true–Books, videos, software, Internet access, and classes are often expensive. However, an oft-overlooked source of these learning materials, free to everyone, is the public library system.

According to a 2003 study conducted by the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES), 78 percent of U.S. homeschooling families use the free public library as their main source of learning materials.

A 2009 study conducted by the National Home Education Research Institute (NHERI) found that homeschooling families spend dramatically less money per student than public schools with significantly better test results. Widespread use of the public library system by homeschoolers may account for the difference in cost.

Homeschooling mother April Higgins of West Seattle, “figured as a very rough and low estimate, we check out [from the public library] approximately $18,000 worth of books, CDs and audiotapes annually.”

According to the NHERI study, homeschoolers spend an average of $600 per year on educational costs while U.S. taxpayers spend an average of $10,000 per public school student each year.

Public Library Resources and Services Beyond Books

Libraries are known for their borrowable books, but they provide much more. Public library patrons can check out:

  • books and magazines
  • audio books
  • videos (entertainment and educational)
  • audio CDs (music and audio courses)
  • software DVDs (games and curriculum programs)

Public library services and events may include:

  • tutors
  • homework help
  • study groups
  • book clubs
  • classes and workshops
  • free Internet Access
  • computer use
  • book sharing between libraries
  • meeting space
  • exhibit space
  • knowledgeable librarians
  • story times, puppet shows, and musical performances
  • author readings
  • craft workshops

Resources on library websites may include:

  • online catalog search
  • remote book renewal and tracking
  • children’s pages
  • listen to stories or music
  • homework help reference links
  • instant messaging with librarians

Free Internet Access and Online Learning

Frugal homeschoolers need not even pay for Internet access because most public libraries provide complimentary wireless Internet access as well as some computers for use. Homeschoolers can take their computers and use the library’s wireless Internet access, or they can use the library’s computers to access free online learning resources.

The public library can play a significant role in creating an out-of-the-box or unschooling curriculum or provide access to an online homeschool program. A typical educational program utilizes books, videos, reference materials, peers, and knowledgeable helpers. The library can provide these elements.

The majority of homeschoolers use the library. It has much to offer, from borrowable learning materials to useful services and fun events, and it helps families to save money by providing free access to these materials and services.




These steps are a study/reading method that promotes an active attitude toward learning. When you clear your mind for the task of studying, you are alert and centered. You make yourself ready to learn and remember. Begin with:

1. SURVEY – gather the information necessary to focus and formulate goals.

  • State your purpose for reading the material.
  • Read the title – help your mind prepare to receive the subject at hand.
  • Read the introduction and/or summary – pick out the chapter’s main points.
  • Notice each boldface heading and subheadings – organize your mind before you begin to read and build a structure for the thoughts and details to come.
  • Skim over graphs, tables, charts, etc. to see how they support and explain the text.

2. QUESTION – help your mind engage and concentrate

  • Frame questions – perhaps variations of the headings, sub-headings, or topic sentences, which you make into your personal questions.

3. READ – read actively to answer your questions and to fulfill your purpose

  • Set realistic time goals and number of pages to be read.
  • Try to read in intervals – for example, read for six minutes straight, then take a one minute break, then read for another six minutes.
  • Divide chapter into small sections, rather than trying to read the whole chapter non-stop.
  • Ask yourself a question before each paragraph or section, and then locate the answer in the text.
  • Take breaks when you feel unable to stay with the material due to daydreaming, drowsiness, boredom, hunger, etc.
  • Use your hand and marking pen to pull your eyes down the page, marking only the essential words and phrases.
  • Think, interpret, and analyze the first time you read to avoid unnecessary re-reading.

4. RECITE – retain your mind to concentrate and learn as it reads

  • After each section – stop, look away from the book, recall your questions, and see if you can answer them from memory.
  • If not, look back again, but do not go on to the next section until you can recite the answers.
  • Also, try to visualize what you have just read.
  • Make separate notes or outlines of what you have read.

5. REVIEW – refine your mental organization and begin building memory

Once you have completed the whole chapter:

  • Reread your outline, look away, and recite the outline from memory.
  • Go back over all your questions.
  • Continue this process until you feel that you understand and know the material.
  • Take a short break and reward your success.
  • Decide when you are ready to work again, center your thoughts, take a few minutes to review the information you just learned, and go on to the next chapter or another subject.

Difficulties of Teens in Math & Science

After three years of teaching high school astronomy, I have come to some conclusions regarding why some teens hate science (and by extension mathematics). The realization came after careful observation, wading through mountains of lack-luster exam responses and the administration of two less than an impressive body of evidence activities. The recognition also came from reexamining the nature of science as a profession. The understanding helped my modify my teaching practices to make the science engaging, challenging and ultimately more rewarding for my students.

Science by its very nature is an interactive process by which we observe, ask questions and design methods to test those questions. Oddly enough, the way most students are exposed to science has nothing to do with asking questions, testing ideas or “getting their hands dirty.” Somewhere along the line, teaching science evolved into an instructor standing in front of a classroom full of students presenting a lecture on an obscure scientific topic for an hour. This would go on for a week or two, possibly with multiple choice questions along the way, and would be followed by a comprehensive examination of 100 points to be graded by machine and returned. Students either succeeded or failed. At the end of the year if they had a semester grade of greater than 70% or so they “passed” and could move on to other endeavors.

Teens often have difficulties in science and math subjectsThis method of “teaching” science goes against not only the principles of the scientific method itself but also against our nature as human beings. We are a curious species, and from our earliest beginnings, we tried new things to see what the results would be. Most science curricula are designed to cram the greatest volume of facts into the students and see if they can regurgitate them on an exam. This method rather aptly named the binge and purge method, is not too different from the eating disorder known as bulimia. While a lot goes in, and a lot may come out, not very much is retained; and just as bulimia is ultimately harmful to the body, so is this method ultimately harmful to the mind.

Sadly, I have to confess to using this method the first semester I taught astronomy, at least in some form. I had one small advantage of being able to use the local planetarium as a teaching tool, but I did not use it to the utmost potential. I was dissatisfied with the responses of my students on their final exam.

Improving Your Study Habits for Better Grades

For most students, studying is not a fun prospect. Finding the proper technique to study will lead to better grades and less stress in test taking. Everyone learns a different way. Try these tips to improve study habits.

Everyone’s style of studying is different. Some learn best in absolute silence. Others learn better with background noise. Still, others need interaction to study efficiently. It is imperative to figure out the environment that suits best. Do a little experiment, try each different setting for an hour then do a mock test. The test results should help determine which environment works for the student.

Study habits is the foundation of getting good gradesThe key to memorizing facts is repetition. Repetition by itself can get boring. So mix it up by turning the information into a game. Not only does this repeat the information, but it also breaks the tedium of going over and over the same information.

Flashcards and word association help when associating terms with definitions. However, too much word association may cause the loss of the meaning of words. Anagrams work for short memorization lists. Longer lists may require a different technique because the sentence for the anagram may be forgotten or become twisted.

Another technique to retain information is to teach someone. It does not have to be a person, a dog, cat or fish will do. Teaching the dog Calculus might seem a little silly, but it is effective. Teaching will help with organization and retention. It may help clarify things not understood by saying it out loud. Hearing the information will help reinforce it in mind.

Taking short breaks is a key ingredient to studying. Trying to cram a lot of information at one time does not usually work. Break up studying sessions with a few breaks. Giving time for the brain to assimilate and store the information, will help for longer retention and less repetition. Just do not take too many breaks or make the breaks longer than the study session. This can hurt in the long run as the temptation to procrastinate is very strong.

Studying with others only helps if the focus is on the material and not on social issues. It is fairly easy to get distracted in large groups. Whiteboards and games bring competition to the table. Some thrive under the adrenaline rush of competition and this ideal for them.

Finding the best way to study may take a little experimentation. What works best for one might not work for another. From extreme quiet to loud study groups, the important thing is learning and keeping the material for the next test.

Local History Collection

The South San Francisco Local History Collection is devoted to the historical development and current events of South San Francisco. The Local History Collection was established in 1967 and is located in the basement of the Grand Ave. Library, 306 Walnut Avenue. It was originally located at 840 West Orange Ave., in the main Library, and was moved to its present location around 1980.

Collections and Format

The History Collection can be searched by consulting the subject files. These files include pamphlets, newspaper clippings and other written material about South San Francisco. The South San Francisco Enterprise Journal is available on microfilm from 1895 to present. Other materials that are preserved in the History Room are the South San Francisco Chamber of Commerce business directories, 1964 to present, South San Francisco’s budgets and general plans, photographs, oral history tapes, city government records and maps. The books in the History Room they cannot be borrowed or removed from the library. WPA (Works Progress Administration) paintings as well as works by local artists are displayed in our collection.


There are approximately 2000 photographs, slides from the 1850s to the present. The collection also contains local school photographs and yearbooks from 1917 to present.

Genealogy and Building Research

This part of the History Collection consists of general genealogical reference materials, city directories (1905, 1908, 1929, 1938, and 1940), local telephone books from 1979 to the present, photocopies of the local telephone books (1912, 1915, 1920, 1937, 1942, and 1944), a historic building survey (1986), Sanborn Maps (1910 and 1929), South San Francisco zoning and area maps (1840s to present), Historic Preservation and Old House Journal magazines, and Oral History tapes.

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