Library Resource Highlight: UniversalClass

January is a great time to learn something new! Check out UniversalClass for over 500 online courses that you can access with just your JMRL library card.


Go to JMRL Databases– Encyclopedias and General Information- UniversalClass to get started. You’ll need to sign up with your library card number and create a username and password.

There are classes on a wide range of topics, including computers, crafts, pet care, and spiritual studies. You can take a class on women who have changed American history, or a class on retirement planning. Most courses take 10-20 hours to complete, but some are as little as 4 hours long. You can access all the courses you are taking at UniversalClass under “My Classes.”

You’ll need to complete the course within 6 months once you sign up for it. Most of the coursework, exams, assignments, activities, and class participation is recorded and assessed by an instructor. Based on the grading guidelines that your instructor uses, all of your coursework grades and final assessment are displayed in the “Report Card” area. But, there are some classes that also offer a “video audit” option (for example, knitting), where you do not have to submit assignments or take exams, but you won’t receive a certificate at the end of the course. So take a class and learn a new skill!


You can Fax at the Library

Did you know that you can fax papers at the library? It only costs $1 per page and is available at each branch (international faxes are priced differently). You can also receive faxes at the library- incoming faxes are also just $1 per page.

Fax is short for facsimile and faxes work by sending an image over a phone network.

Here’s a short history of the fax machine:

The fax machine was invented before the telephone. Alexander Bain, a clockmaker, was most likely the first person to invent this technology. He managed to send an image over a wire, however, the quality was not great. He patented his idea on May 27, 1843.

Other forms of the fax machine were invented starting around 1865. But the Xerox Corporation is credited with inventing the modern fax machine. Today’s fax machines work by using a photo sensor to look at the paper it’s copying and sending. The photo sensor is able to see the difference between the light and dark areas. It then tells a computer processor how to reproduce the image at a distance location by encoding the information. The encoding is what enables the machine to send the information along by phone line or over the internet (JMRL uses dedicated phone lines to send a fax). At the receiving fax machine, the machine reads the encoded information and remakes the image.

In 1989 there were over 10 million fax machines in the world, today there aren’t quite that many, but they are still in heavy use. Here’s an article  from the BBC about why the fax machine is still used today, even with all of our technology.

Visit your local library branch the next time you need to send a fax!


JMRL staffer sending a fax

Discover a Scientist

Still working on your June Summer Challenge sheet? Here are some titles to help you “Discover a Scientist:”

Rosalind Franklin: The Dark Lady of DNA by Brenda Maddox – In 1962, Maurice Wilkins, Francis Crick, and James Watson received the Nobel Prize, but it was Rosalind Franklin’s data and photographs of DNA that led to their discovery. This is the powerful story of a remarkably single-minded, forthright, and strong young woman who was erased from the greatest scientific discovery of the twentieth century.

A Crack in Creation by Jennifer Doudna – Doudna helped create a new technology, CRISPR, that can make changes to human embryos. CRISPR may provide the cure to HIV, genetic diseases, and some cancers, and will help address the world’s hunger crisis. However, even the tiniest changes to DNA could have unforeseeable consequences. This is the thrilling story of her discovery.

Doudna is a Professor of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology at the University of California, Berkley. Her lab focuses on obtaining a mechanistic understanding of biological processes involving RNA.

Unnatural Selection: How We are Changing Life, Gene by Gene by Emily Monosson – When our powerful chemicals put the pressure on to evolve or die, beneficial traits can sweep rapidly through a population, or a species could die out.

Monosson is an environmental toxicologist and writer. She currently holds an adjunct faculty position in the Department of Environmental Conservation at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst.

The Emperor of All Maladies: A Biography of Cancer by Siddhartha Mukherjee – Take a look into the future of cancer treatments and discover a different perspective on the way doctors, scientists, philosophers, and lay people have observed and understood the human body for millennia.

Mukherjee is an oncologist and his research focuses on the links between normal stem cells and cancer cells.