Four Reasons to Visit Your Local Library This Summer

When you think about having fun in the summer do you think about the library? There are many things you can do at your local library and you can stay cool. Libraries are everywhere for you. There are about 123,000 libraries in the U.S. to choose from.
Very quickly we can see the benefits of visiting the libraries and they are open during the day. Patrons can save money on books and magazines. Libraries also offer videos that patrons can check out anytime. At many libraries they have art exhibitions that you can enjoy.

In order to get started and receive the full benefits, you should get a library card. You can get one quite easily at your local branch at no cost to you.

If you haven't been to the library in a while, there are some things you might not realize:

1) Digital books.
Libraries are changing with the technology boom; many now offer e-books that you can check out for free. Checking out an electronic book is very similar to a regular book. You're going to need an electronic device called e-reader, but at some library branches they even lend you the e-reader. In some libraries you can download audio books, music and videos. You can find all these by visiting their website at any time from your home.

2) Information in many languages.
Most libraries have materials available in multiple languages. Visit their bookshelves, magazines and music rack for adults and children. A few libraries might offer classes in other languages and might even have tutors for your children. They also have cds to improve your English speaking and writing skills.

3) Program and events for the whole family.
If you want to take a break from reading, you might find events for your entire family. Some of these events might include concerts, photography and film exhibitions etc. Check your local library schedule; they have programs for people of all ages. This might include computer classes, storytelling for children, fun and educational games and other reading activities.

4) Specialized resources.
Some people do have internet access at home because of the cost. Many libraries have computers and WiFi that people can use. If you need help, just ask. The library staff have a lot of experience finding materials for people. They can help you find almost anything.They can tell you about books you might enjoy.

Libraries offer many more services, including bookmobiles, computer classes and job search databases. To find a public library near you use the government's public library locator.

Jose Lamas: University of Minnesota Extension

Shopping for a Home Equity Loan?

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Do you have equity in your home already, planning to borrow against it for a major expense? Start by doing a little research beforehand. Your friends and family are a good resource. You can start by asking about lenders. Many people will have some experiences they are willing to share. Then, do some comparison shopping. We need to do this to get better results. It's best to contact more than two lenders. Don't just talk to the ones you're familiar with, but shop very carefully. Visit your local banks, credit unions or mortgage company. Potential customers can make appointments with them. Start asking questions, especially if you do not understand the terms and conditions. You'll need to know more than the monthly payments. Find out what the total cost of the loan will be. As borrowers need to pay close attention to fees, this might include the following: the application or loan processing fee, underwriting fee, funding fee, appraisal fee etc.

Negotiating is a very important part of the process. Let lenders know you are shopping around for the best possible options. You can ask the lender to lower the interest, fees and points. The last piece of advice is for you to understand everything before you sign. Read the loan closing papers. Ask more questions if there are terms you don't understand. Don't allow anyone to rush you into agreeing. If the loan doesn't seem to meet your criteria, don't sign it. You can renegotiate or you can simply walk away. Often you will also have a right to cancel without penalty, if you do it within three days of signing.


1. You should avoid entering areas that have recently been sprayed with chemicals. Many times you will find flags or postings indicating that the area has been sprayed, usually in a public park, side of the road etc. Some of these chemicals are toxic to humans.
2. Each state uses a different system and laws to notify you of a potential spray that they are planning to do in your community in the near future.
3. You may be able to find some additional information at your local health department about potential spraying for mosquitoes. Take a look at your local newspaper to see if they are doing something major in your area.
4. Make sure to connect with friends and farmers to find out their spraying schedule and the type of pesticide they will be using/working with in advance.
You can always ask to speak to a pesticide specialist by calling the National Pesticide Information Center at 1-800-858-7378

Jose Lamas, University of Minnesota Extension


Things to keep in mind after a flood

If your home has been flooded, your problems may not be over after the water recedes. Often there is a lot of cleaning up to do. Flood waters may contain dirt and other contaminants. This can complicate the process.

The Minnesota Department of Health has some things to consider when you are beginning this task.

The most important way to protect your health is to wash your hands thoroughly after touching any object that may be dirty or contaminated, and also before you eat or drink anything or touch your hands to your face.

If there is no running water, bring clean water to the location in clean plastic containers. If there is no clean water, add a tablespoon of bleach per gallon to the available water before washing with it. However, do not drink this water, either before or after adding bleach.

Open and air out any moist or wet areas of the home. Open up all cavities in walls, floors, and ceilings. You may have to release trapped water or flush out mud from these areas. Try to get it dried out within 24-48 hours. Wall board, paneling, and insulation might have to be thrown away and replaced.

If you think you may have materials containing asbestos in your home, call the Minnesota Department of Health at 651/201-4620.

Pull out wet carpets right away, and discard the pads under the carpets. Allow carpets, clothing and bedding to dry in the outside air before trying to clean them. Mattresses, pillows, and upholstered furniture might have to be thrown away if they have been exposed to contaminated water. Be sure both the carpet and the floor are completely clean and dry before putting carpet back into the home.

Discard food from the refrigerator if it has been held at a temperature above 41° F for four hours or more, and frozen food if it has been thawed for more than two hours. Canned food can be saved if the can is sealed and not rusted or bulging. However, if the outside of the can has been exposed to contaminated water, remove the labels and wash the can thoroughly in warm water with detergent and bleach.

Jose Lamas, University of Minnesota Extension


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