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Introducing: Jessica Flaherty

Jessica FlahertyI am Jessica Flaherty. I started at Curtis in June, 2014 as the Voluneer Coordinator. I am joining the Making it in Maine programming as the Financial Literacy Grant Manager. This role is in addition to my volunteer coordination responsibilities. I will be involved in all areas of grant preparation and implementation. I will be seen both around the library as well as out at our partner sites when we take the show on the road.

I grew up in Brunswick, Maine, so being here at Curtis feels familiar. Like coming home. I completed my Bachelors of Arts in Environmental Studies at Mount Holyoke College and continued my education at the University of Maine School of Law. After several years of practicing, I discovered that being a traditional lawyer was not something I wanted to continue in the long term. Back to the drawing board!

I soon discovered that all the positions that interested me required a certain skill set that I just didn’t have. In order to develop those skills, I began pursuing a Certificate in Nonprofit Management from Northeastern University. I adore the non-profit realm and truly believe I have found my calling. I jumped at the opportunity to join the Curtis Memorial Library team.

When I am not balancing all these responsibilities, I spend time playing tennis and doing pilates. I also enjoy training my Portuguese Water Dog, Graeme in obedience and water work.

If you ever have any questions about the programming, resources or how we can help, please do not hesitate to contact me! You can reach me at or 207-725-5242 x237.

Together, we can make it in Maine. You can do it! We can help.

25 Best Personal Finance Books for Your Summer Reading List

We have these books from the Huffington Post’s 25 Best Personal Finance Books for Your Summer Reading List in the Curtis Money collection!

(The other books on this list are currently on order.)

Please click on each title to see current availability.

From the Huffington Post, by Laura Woods, Contributor:

While you relax in the sun by the pool this summer, make the most of your free time by checking out 25 of the hottest, newest and best-selling personal finance books. Learn how to catapult yourself to success and better manage your funds so that you can have even more time in the future to unwind and enjoy yourself.

Rich Dad, Poor Dad: What the Rich Teach Their Kids About Money That the Poor and Middle Class Do Not!

Make it your summer goal to read this wildly successful book if you haven’t already done so. Robert T. Kiyosaki explains what you need to teach your kids about money to help them achieve future success. The book dispels popular beliefs about earning and spending money and teaches lessons on handling assets and liabilities.


Nasty Gal Founder, CEO and Creative Director Sophia Amoruso details her rise from wild teenager to the head of an online fashion retailer worth more than $100 million. Read about how trusting her instincts and following her gut led to massive success.

The Richest Man in Babylon

George S. Clason’s classic book shares the secrets to overcoming your personal financial problems. Read and absorb the inspirational and informative “Babylonian parables” containing stories on thriftiness, financial planning and personal wealth.

lessEssentialism: The Disciplined Pursuit of Less

If you frequently find there’s not enough time in your day, you’ll want to read this book by Greg McKeown. Learn how to allocate your time wisely so that you’re able to accomplish high-priority tasks. Rather than focusing on doing it all, McKeown explains why it’s best to reclaim your time and focus on the goals and activities that matter most.

Living Well, Spending Less: 12 Secrets of the Good Life

If you feel like you need to get a grip on both your life and your budget, you’ll want to read this Ruth Soukup book. Soukup provides personal accounts of living an unorganized life and how biblical truths and practical action plans can help you make lasting changes to improve your finances and home.

When-to-Rob-a-Bank-200GalleyCatWhen to Rob a Bank … and 131 More Warped Suggestions and Well-Intended Rants

The authors of “Freakonomics,” Steven D. Levitt and Stephen J. Dubner, have put together a collection of their best and most outlandish blog posts, covering everything from when to rob a bank and why flight attendants don’t get tipped to what people lie about and why KFC runs out of fried chicken.

Rich Bitch: A Simple 12-Step Plan for Getting Your Financial Life Together … Finally

Money expert and financial journalist Nicole Lapin shares her easy-to-follow, 12-step plan for getting your finances in order and learning to invest in yourself. She breaks down the language of money and how to break bad financial habits.

Get What’s Yours: The Secrets to Maxing Out Your Social Security

Think your monthly Social Security check should be bigger? Laurence J. Kotlikoff, Philip Moeller and Paul Solman share the secrets of getting thousands of dollars more each year from Social Security benefits and walk you through options such as “start stop start” and “file and suspend.”

See the Rest:

25 Best Personal Finance Books for Your Summer Reading List

Curtis Has Professionally Maintained PCs

Marian Dalton installing virus protection on one of the Library's Public PCs

Marian Dalton installing virus protection on one of the Library’s Public PCs

I had to put on my Tech Wizard cap the other day when a gentleman needed some help getting his laptop computer to work.

Frankly, there was nothing I could do with it.

The Dell laptop was not old (even by computer standards) but it was so riddled with viruses, it was basically inoperable — a high-tech paperweight at it were.

The Curtis Tech Wizards cannot, unfortunately, perform real magic and that’s what it would have taken to make that laptop functional again.

To make matters worse, the “virus protection” the gentleman had installed on the laptop on the advice of a friend was actually “spyware” masquerading as virus protection.

The gentleman was understandably frustrated because he wanted to get on with his work.

I suggested he used one of the Library’s Public PCs but he seemed a bit apprehensive.

He had security concerns about using a public computer

I explained that the Library’s public computers are professionally maintained and have up-to-date virus protection — real virus protection — installed on them.

After you log out of a Curtis Public PC, the computer automatically resets itself and anything you may have accidentally saved on it will vanish into the ether.

(So you need to make gosh darn sure you have saved your data to a Flash Drive or some form of cloud storage like Google Drive.)

You simply don’t have to worry about “spyware” and other forms of computer viruses while using the Library’s public PCs because my co-Curtis Tech Wizard Marian Dalton has you covered.

You can focus on getting your work done instead of trying (sometimes in vain) to get your computer to do anything at all.

TIME is money. Wasted TIME means wasted money means trouble.
~ Shirley Temple

5 Ways to Sharpen Your Computer Skills @ Curtis

CPU-Graph-17Computer Skills are essential for many of today’s jobs.

If you want to sharpen your existing computer skills so that you can carry out your present job duties more efficiently, or if you want to learn some new computer skills to make yourself more marketable in the job market, here are some suggestions for you:

1. Use library computers to practice basic computer skills

Basic computer skills include:

– start, restart and shut down a computer
– copy and paste text
– move files between folders
– start and exit applications
– switch between open applications
– create a document and save it
– find the document that you saved
– navigate around the computer

TIP: Get one of the Library’s basic computer skills books and then sit down in front of one of the library’s public computers and practice.

2. Learn to type

The “hunt and peck” to computer keyboarding will not impress anybody.

You don’t have to learn how to type 60 words per minute but you should be able to use both hands and all ten fingers and look at the computer screen as you are using the keyboard.

TIP: Get one of the Library’s How to Type books and practice the exercises on a computer keyboard.

3. Learn and practice keyboard shortcuts

Once you get the hang of them, you will be a more efficient computer user.

You can, for example, close a window with the “ctrl-w” keyboard shortcut faster than using the mouse to click the window’s “close” button.

Microsoft Keyboard Shortcuts

4. Use the Learning Express Library

The Learning Express Library features more than 770 practice tests, tutorials, and e-books on job searches, workplace skills enhancement, GED exam preparation, certification and licensing exam preparation, and college and graduate school admissions exam preparation.

The Learning Express Library includes popular video-based tutorials on Microsoft Office, Adobe products, and other software used in the workplace today.

You can access these resources from our public computers or from home (with your Curtis Library card).

TIP: If you need assistance, just ask a Curtis Librarian.

datavar_img0015. Talk to a Curtis Library “Tech Wizard.”

Thursday mornings from 10 a.m. to noon, Technology and Digital Services Librarians Marian and Michael (aka the Tech Wizards) hold office hours near the reference desk.

If you have any tech topic you’d like to ask questions about, stop on by.

If you send an email ahead of time to, we can do some research before you get here.

Anything from e-readers and tablets or smart phones up to Windows & MAC computers is fair game, though we don’t promise to fix or be able to answer everything.

If you are just getting started and want to be pointed in the right direction, that’s OK, too.

Marketing Opportunity for Self-Published Authors

We here at Curtis are very excited to be offering SELF-e (powered by Library Journal) to our local writers.

SubmitTodayThis, we feel, is an exciting marketing opportunity for self-published authors who want to get the word out about themselves and their works.

And it’s free.

And self-published authors retain the rights to their works.

And, if selected by Library Journal, a submitted book may reach a national audience.

Being a self-published author myself, I can emphatically state that writing can be hard but getting the word out about your book can be nigh on impossible.

What is Self-Publishing?

Wikipedia defines Self-Publishing as “…the publication of any book or other media by the author of the work, without the involvement of an established third-party publisher.”

It’s worth noting here that Self-Publishing includes physical books and e-books.

You don’t have to be an “e-book writer” to participate in SELF-e.

What’s an e-book?

An e-book is simply a digital version of a printed book that can be read on a computer or handheld device designed specifically for this purpose.

If an author created their book in Microsoft Word (or Apple Pages or Google Docs), he or she may be able to convert it to e-book format simply by saving it into the Portable Document Format (or PDF for short).

Will Curtis Library offer Self-Publishing Tech Meetups?


This is great news for writers who are “technology shy.”

Please watch the Curtis Library homepage, like us on Facebook, or follow us on Twitter to be notified about these and other Tech Meetups and Library events.

Can you make extra money through Self-Publishing?

Based on my personal experiences and research, I can say “Yes” but don’t expect to get rich.

How can I find out more about SELF-e?


Further Reading

Forbes Magazine: How Much Money Do Self-Published Authors Make?

Selling E-Books to Earn Extra Cash

7 Suggested Steps to Financial Freedom

financial-freedom-680x430This is, of course, just a broad outline, as each step has its own steps.

This might seem like a lot of steps, but Curtis has resources that can help you climb all of them.

1. Spend less money by being frugal

2. Set up a budget, track your money

3. Save the money you are no longer spending

4. Pay down your debt

5. Make more money (by starting a home or online business)

6. Review your budget and stay frugal

7. Save and invest more money

Suggested Readings

The debt escape plan : how to free yourself from credit card balances, boost your credit score, and live debt-free by Beverly Harzog.

How to choose, operate and market your home-based business : practical advice for operating a small business on a shoestring budget by Susan E. Barton

The Total Money Makeover : a Proven Plan for Financial Fitness by Dave Ramsey.

Stop Acting Rich and Start Living Like a Real Millionaire by Thomas J. Stanley

Investing for Dummies by Eric Tyson

I believe that through knowledge and discipline, financial peace is possible for all of us.
—Dave Ramsey

Notes from the Data Privacy Tech Meetup

Steven Blanc, Information & Technology Security Officer at Bowdoin College visited the Curtis Library for a tech meetup in May 2015.

Steve discussed what we can do to protect the privacy of our data in today’s increasingly digital world.

These are my “takeaways” from that Data Privacy Tech Meetup.


Opening Statement

Steve began by emphatically stating: “If it’s on the Internet, it isn’t private.”

if its on the internet it isnt private

Our “Digital Identities”

Steve spoke about how we are building “digital identities.”

We should be careful about what we post on our Facebook pages and other social media websites.

This is especially true for job seekers.

Employers shouldn’t look at the Facebook pages of their job applicants but we can assume that they do.

Free Online Services Are Not Free

If you’re not paying for it, you are the product that’s being sold.

Scott cited Gmail and Facebook as prime examples as they both trace your browsing history so they can put targeted ads in front of you.

Both services also make it easy to post data about yourself.

You can of course try to abstain from using any services that collect any data on you but Scott said this is not a practical strategy in this day and age.

Do Not Go “Phishing”

Scott spoke about how we can protect ourselves from fraudulent emails.

– Use common sense, look for red flags. For example, If you weren’t expecting a package from UPS, be vary wary about an email trying to give you information about a “missed delivery.”
– Do not open any attachments if you are not sure about the sender of the email message.
– Check before you click it. If there is a link in an email message, mouseover it and see if the web address in the pop-up window is a match. (screen capture)
– If an email has a phone for you to call, look up the phone number yourself

Further Reading:

Use Good Passwords

Scott gave this password example:


This is an abbreviation for “my daughter Katie is 12 years old!”

Scott advised using distinct passwords for critical accounts. No matter how strong a password is, you should not use that same password for your online bank account, your IRA, your credit card, et al.

Scott spoke about password manager programs such as KeePass which enable you to have multiple passwords for your various online accounts but you only need to have know a single master password in order to access them all.

password manager

Further Reading:

The Wrap-up

Scott concluded this data privacy tech meetup by stating:
“Once digital, it will live forever. Unless you need it.”

So we need to be very careful and discrete about what we post online.

You have zero privacy anyway. Get over it.
— Scott McNealy, Former CEO, Sun Microsystems

7 Things (plus 1) You Can Pay for OR Get at the Curtis Library for Free

IMG_1178In addition to a considerable number of books (including the newest Bestsellers) which you can read in the Library’s beautiful reading garden and a staff of professional Librarians, Curtis offers…

1. CDs and DVDs

2. Internet (free high-speed wi-fi)

3. Magazines (both print and digital versions thru Flipster)

4. Entertainment and activities for children (This week for example, we have “Time for Twos,” “LEGO Club,” “Musical Storytime with Jud” and “Finger Fun with Miss Teresa”)

5. Professionally maintained PCs (with high-speed Internet and Microsoft Office)

6. Programs for adults (In addition to the rotating art exhibit in the Morrell Meeting Room, there are film nights, book clubs, concerts, author readings, Community Health Information Partnership events, Cornerstones of Science lectures and more.)

7. Computer assistance (including Tech Meetups and scheduled appointments with Tech Wizard Marian Dalton)

8. The Curtis Collaboratory (Part interactive mini-classroom, part think tank, part play space, part studio, part museum, part gallery and ALL PARTS LIBRARY — the Collaboratory is a dynamic participatory learning experience for people of all ages and interests in our community.)

A library implies an act of faith which generations, still in darkness hid, sign in their night in witness of the dawn.
— Victor Hugo

Tips for Dealing With Job Loss

If you are starting to get the uneasy feeling that you may be losing your job, here are some things you can do to prepare for the financial strain that comes with job loss.

1. Trim your budget to boost your emergency fund.

2. Write or Update your resume

– In addition to numerous books on how to write a resume, Curtis Library has public PCs with Microsoft Word.


3. Start looking for a new job

– Visit the Job Search Help page for an overview on what Curtis has to offer job seekers.

– Visit the Curtis Library Jobs Neighborhood on the second floor near the Reference Desk


4. Start a home | online business

Curtis has numerous resources to assist small businesses such as free wi-fi, public PCs equipped with Microsoft Office, and numerous print and digital resources.

You can even start and run a library-based business.

5. Be active on social media sites for both personal and professional networking. Communicating through these sites with old friends and former colleagues can help pave the way for career changes and lead to hiring opportunities.

– You can use the Library’s Public PCs to create a Facebook page, a Twitter feed and join LinkedIn (a business-oriented social networking site).

TIP: don’t post anything on a social media site (or anywhere else on the web) that you would not want a prospective employer to see.


Letting Go of Debt – 7 Books to Help You Live Within Your Means

These books are part of the Curtis Money collection. Click each title to check for availability:

book coverZombie Economics: A Guide to Personal Finance Paperback
by Lisa Desjardins

Arm Yourself Against Financial Doom. Zombie Economics imparts the fundamentals of financial stability through the metaphor of a zombie invasion. Through a compelling apocalyptic narrative in which you are one of the few survivors, you build an arsenal of skills and tools to withstand a zombie (financial) invasion and even fight back.

Letting Go of Debt: Growing Richer One Day at a Time
by Karen Casanova

Simple and positive, each days message helps put seemingly unmanageable debt in the proper perspective-and reminds us of our deepest debt to ourselves: to take heart and find strength in the daily struggle.

Financial Recovery: Developing a Healthy Relationship with Money
by Karen McCall

Financial Recovery presents a simple system that enables you to discover your underlying attitudes about money — often the cause of self-defeating money behaviors such as overspending, chronic debt, underearning, and low or no savings — and provides the tools, strategies, and support to achieve financial well-being.

stop-acting-richStop acting rich: and start living like a real millionaire
by Thomas J. Stanley

The author explains that most rich people become wealthy and stay that way by being frugal and by being investment oriented as opposed to consumption oriented. As for wealth and happiness he warns, “those who think that acting rich must be predicated on hyperconsumerism are likely to end up on the short side of both the wealth and happiness scales”

The total money makeover : a proven plan for financial fitness
by Dave Ramsey.

Ramsey is a motivator. He wants to get people fired up about getting out of debt. He says financial freedom is 80% behavior and 20% knowledge.

Money Girl’s Smart Moves to Grow Rich (Quick & Dirty Tips)
by Laura Adams

Adams walks her readers through the ins and outs of money sanity and practical solvency, while helping them create a richer life – both financially and emotionally… (her) peppy tone and highly organized, sensible advice deliver a clear-cut plan for financial literacy.

65 ways to live cheap : your everyday guide to saving money
by Trent Hamm

The book is organized into categories so finding or skipping clusters of ideas is simple (money saving tips for raising kids, vacations, buying a house, etc.). Some of the information is a bit dated, like the advice for modifying cell phone plans. Overall, a pretty good highly readable list of frugal strategies.