Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Identity Theft...Computer Security...oh my!

There is a day to 'celebrate' or 'recognize' everything now. Today is national Computer Security Day 2016. And as we approach the holidays with all the buying and traveling so many of us do, it is a good time to review some of the best practices to keep the holidays safe and secure, at least digitally.

1. Change your password. Hackers will try 123456 first. Using the first or last letter of each word in a sentence is more secure. Take the sentence "my dog is so cute." First letters are m-d-i-s-c; now add a number and some symbol on the keyboard. That can make your password mdB!14isc (my dog Buster is so cute--hint: you got Buster in 2014.) Make sense?

 2. Don't use the same password for everything. Yes, different accounts should have different passwords. You can use a similar sentence for different accounts. My cat or kid instead of dog. The number can be the year you established the account. Just make it simple enough to remember and individual enough that even your spouse might have trouble figuring it out.

3. Update your software. Update all your software, but especially any that deals with security, viruses, malware, or spyware. Do this on all your devices--laptop, tablet, phone, etc. Don't forget the kids' devices or your parents'.

4. Back up your files. Back them up on another device (portable hard drive or USB drive) or to the cloud (online web services available from companies like Google.) Encrypt them if you want real security. 

5. Be careful where & when you click.  Lots of nasty software is buried in enticing looking stories and 'great deals.' Spyware may be in the ads on reputable sites and many bogus sites closely mimic reputable sites. 

More information can be found on reputable sites like PC Magazine and Stay Safe Online

Thursday, June 9, 2016


As the parent of any preschooler knows, kids are always learning. They watch you and model the behaviors they see and hear. That's why we learn to eliminate certain words from our vocabulary--so we won't hear them come out of the mouth of a toddler!

The same is true for older kids, teens, and adults. So this summer, help your kids keep learning.

Come to the library!

This summer, RCPL has plans to keep kids, teens, and adults healthy and active. The summer reading program theme is Read for the Win so we are stressing healthy activities--any activity that gets you moving! We'll have a few healthy eating programs, and programs to introduce you to activities you may have heard about and not tried, like yoga and zumba.

For all ages, there will be bingo-like sheets available with ideas on keeping your mind and body active this summer. 

Keep moving, learning, and having fun this summer. We'll help!

Wednesday, April 13, 2016

Libraries Transform

It’s National Library Week and the theme this year is Libraries Transform. And libraries do transform lives and people in so many ways.

If you aren’t a library user-–wait… 

You are reading this and you aren’t a library user? Really? Well, clearly you need to remedy that and come visit! Get up now and just do it! If the library isn’t open, explore our website (

How do libraries transform? Children explore the things they love at libraries, things like dinosaurs and Junie B. Jones. They design and build things (Legos), perform simple science experiments, and create art in many media. The silent one is now comfortable talking about a personal creation; the chatter-box goes suddenly quiet in concentration.

For teens, the library can be the third place…it’s neutral territory where they can just be. They read, create, and organize programs for themselves.

Adults use the library to apply for a job and create a resume. They may also find a recipe or a set of plans for a new creation. They may also be taking an online test for a college course. They may just be checking their email, Facebook, and the news.

Music, movie, magazine, or book…all are available for borrowing. Look online for a calendar of library events or pick up a printed copy at the front desk in either branch library.

Spend time in your library. Your view of a library may just be what's transformed.

Tuesday, March 1, 2016

Voting, History, and Women

Today is March 1st. It's Primary Day in Virginia.      
What if you didn't have the right to vote?

In many states in the union, you needed to be a property owner and pay a poll tax to be allowed to vote. This was true until well into the 20th century. In Russell County, that means that in 1860 of the 10,280 residents, less than half of them were eligible to vote. Neither could the white women; there were 4,514 white females in the county, of which maybe half were of an age to vote. The Supreme Court case that overturned the collection of the poll tax from voters in presidential elections originated here in Virginia...and was only overturned in 1964.

The nearly 1,000 black people who were slaves in Russell County in 1860 could not vote. The 15th Amendment (1870) prohibited denying any citizen the right to vote because of race, color or previous condition of servitude. But it was nearly 100 years before that amendment became a reality, for black men or women.

Almost every woman now alive in the United States was born with the right to vote. Oddly enough, many New England states did allow women to vote until the early 1800s. In the late 1800s four western states gave full voting rights to women. It wasn't until 1920, when the 19th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution was passed, that women were allowed to vote in federal elections.In 1920, the Russell County population was 26,786. The population of females over 21 was 5,562, while the male population over 21 was 6,347. 

Today in Russell County, only 18,500 people are registered to vote. (Of the approximately 28,897 people in Russell County, over 22,000 are old enough to vote.) If you are not registered, you can register and vote in the presidential election in November. Just get registered by September, and don't forget that photo ID when you head to the polls in November.

Are you registered to vote?       Will you vote today?      

Monday, February 8, 2016

February is Black History Month

According to census data, in 1860 there were about 490,887 slaves in the state of Virginia. About 26% of Virginia families owned slaves at that time, including several Russell County families. To see the names of Russell County slaves and slaveholders in 1860, just prior to the Civil War, you can view the slave schedules on The library has a subscription, so you can view them here if you can’t access Ancestry at home.
     Few personal accounts of slaves from Russell County exist now. An interesting story appeared in The Lebanon News, January 11, 1951 paper, about a West Virginia man named Henry Jones, who reported he was born a slave in Russell County in about 1855. He was 96 at the time the story was published in 1951, but he stated that he clearly remembered the day he was almost sold when he was 10 years old. He recalled that the mistress of the farm he lived on did not want him sold, but that a woman had no authority at that time to stop it. However, when she began to cry, the men conducting the auction relented and did not sell him. He returned and worked on the farm for her years later, after emancipation, until he married and moved to West Virginia. There, a mine injury temporarily left him unable to work, and he was able to convince a local school teacher to teach him to read as he recovered.
     Other brief mentions of former slaves appear in obituaries, names such as Hence Browning, who died in 1938, Johnson Alexander, who died in 1961 at the age of 104. Another, John Duff, was still living in 1958 at the age of 103, and could remember watching boys and young men sign up for Confederate service at the old Russell County courthouse.
     To learn more about Black History in Russell County during the 20th century, stop by the library and take a look at Memories from Dante by Kathy Shearer, which contains memoirs from students of the Straight Hollow School and the Arty Lee School in Dante. You can also visit the H. Lee Waters film collection at to see films of some of the students and teachers at these schools.