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Tuesday, February 28, 2006

Business Know-How

According to BizStats.com, there are 25 million businesses that file income tax returns in the U.S. About 25 percent have receipts of less than $25,000 per year, but whatever their size, businesses succeed or fail based in part on the quality of information they can gather -– about competitors, best practices, marketing, etc.

The Fairfax County Public Library helps business owners and managers increase the bottom line through free business resources you can access from our Web site.

All you need is a library card to access information that you’d ordinarily have to pay for, such as articles, profiles, rankings and other "business intelligence" on more than 300,000 companies. The library also gives you access to independent investment research, plus information from regional business journals and newspapers. Here in Fairfax County, you can choose from such business resources as Proquest’s ABI/Global, Gale’s Business and Company Resource Center, EbscoHost’s Business Source Elite and Regional Business News, as well as Morningstar and Reference U.S.A.

Additional resources are available in our library branches: STAT-USA, which offers U.S. government information on business, trade and the economy, and the Value Line Research Center, which gives you access to Value Line’s leading publications.

Our information professionals have also found the most useful Web sites for banking and economics, business and investment information. Feel free to contact us to help find the business facts you need. Call your nearest branch or use our Ask-a-Librarian service.

Friday, February 17, 2006

Car Talk

The number of its viewers has risen 60 percent in the last 10 years. Advertisers now pay almost half a million dollars to have their commercials aired while it’s on. “It,” of course, is the Daytona 500.

This Sunday marks the kickoff of NASCAR’s 36-race season. The sport has evolved far beyond the days when bootleggers built stock cars to outrun “the law.” Today NASCAR races are broadcast in more than 150 nations; 75 percent of its U.S. fans have attended college, and 40 percent are women.

Marketers noticed the growing female fan base and got a bright idea. NASCAR fans buy $2 billion in licensed products each year, and romance novels generate more than $1 billion in sales each year. The January 31 USA Today reported that Harlequin has teamed with NASCAR on a line of romance novels.

“It’s a very good fit,” Harlequin’s Marleah Stout told USA Today. Check out:

In the Groove and Dangerous Curves by Pamela Britton.

Sunday Money: Speed! Lust! Madness! Death! A Hot Lap Around America With NASCAR by Jeff Macgregor.

Real Men Work in the Pits: A Life in NASCAR Racing by Jeff Hammond.

Chicken Soup for the NASCAR Soul: Inspirational Stories of Courage, Speed, and Overcoming Adversity by Jack Canfield.

From Moonshine to Madison Avenue: A Cultural History of the NASCAR Winston Cup Series by Mark D. Howell.

What do you think about the NASCAR-Harlequin mash-up?

Tuesday, February 14, 2006

When Is a Birthday Not a Birthday?

It’s a great day for sales, but Presidents’ Day still seems to confuse many. Are we celebrating George Washington's birthday, Abraham Lincoln's, both or all presidents’?

Prior to 1968 when the Uniform Holidays Act was passed, Washington’s birthday was celebrated as a holiday on February 22 (even though he was born on February 11 on the Julian calendar used in 1732 when he was born). Abraham Lincoln’s was commemorated on February 12.

The 1968 law created a Monday holiday, Presidents’ Day, to occur the third Monday in February. While Washington’s birthday was officially moved to the third Monday in February, there is no evidence that Lincoln’s was ever declared a federal holiday, so it’s still celebrated separately by some states.

Interestingly, one goal of the Uniform Holidays Act was to create more three-day weekends for federal employees. What do you think about that?

Friday, February 10, 2006

Face Your Fear

One time a friend of mine was thinking about going to college, so I suggested she go to the library to research ways to pay for school. Tina was afraid to use the library because she hadn’t returned the library books she’d borrowed while still in high school. She hadn’t returned the books because she was afraid of how much she might owe in overdue fines.

If Tina lived Down Under, she might have cause to fear. Tuesday’s Washington Post reported that New Zealander Marie Sushames had never returned a library book she’d checked out in 1945, and this month the Rotorua Public Library presented her with a bill for $6,114.

Too bad Marie and Tina didn’t live in Fairfax County. Our library system has a limit on how much borrowers can owe in overdue fines. “The maximum fine for children’s books is $5; the maximum fine for adult items is $10,” explains Circulation Manager Elaine Price.

This means that if you’re cleaning out the basement and find a couple of overdue John Grisham novels, the most you’ll owe is $10 per book.

“It’s better to bring things back,” says Associate Director Marianne Gearhart. Returning books allows others to enjoy them; having a cap on fines helps make coming clean a less scary idea.

All up to date and looking for something new to read? Here are some recommendations.

-- Lois Kirkpatrick, Marketing & PR Manager

Wednesday, February 08, 2006

Celebrating African American History

For 80 years, the month that contains both Abraham Lincoln's birthday (February 12) and the presumed birthday of Frederick Douglass (February 14) has also honored the contributions and achievements of African Americans throughout U.S. history.

The celebration was the brainchild of historian, writer and journalist
Dr. Carter G. Woodson. The Harvard graduate is considered the father of black history. In 1926, he proposed that Negro History Week be celebrated during the second week in February. Fifty years later it expanded to become the entire month.

For more on the rich heritage of African Americans, check out the library’s African American history research guide. Also, join us for a full month of African American History Month activities at our library branches. For a schedule, click here.

Want to test your knowledge of African American history trivia? Do you know which African American inventor also published a farmer’s almanac? We’ll give you the answer next time.

Friday, February 03, 2006