January 25th, 2011

QuickBooks for Small Business Owners

The importance of math has been preached to us our whole life.  But like many of you, I remember sitting in my 12th grade trigonometry class thinking, when am I ever going to use this?  Although I can honestly say knowledge of the unit circle has escaped me, the importance of math is something my teachers were right about, and I see it clearly every day in my job.

As the Small Business Librarian at the Cecil County Public Library, I guide patrons through the process of starting a business.  Part of that process includes writing a business plan.  A business plan is a road map; it ensures that all the necessary research has been done and that a business can be successful.  Part of the business plan includes a section of financial outlooks, and – you guessed it – these financial outlooks require math skills!  Although I try to make it as easy as possible to understand a 12-month profit and loss projection, or how to calculate a break-even analysis, many people cringe at the idea of a calculation or formula.  As Daniel Sitarz clearly states in Small Business Accounting Simplified, “Maintaining a set of clear and understandable financial records is perhaps the single most important factor that separates successful businesses from those that fail.”  So what is a business owner to do?  There is an easy solution for the non-accountant, and that solution is the financial software for small business, QuickBooks.  This software allows you to invoice customers, pay your bills, generate sophisticated financial reports and graphs (like a break-even analysis), and more.

If getting your business finances in order is a top priority, then you should consider attending the library’s free program, QuickBooks Methods and Practices: Invoicing Your Customers, Monday, January 31 at 6:30pm.  This program is geared toward small business owners who want to learn how QuickBooks can help invoice customers and keep track of cash flow.  The program is presented by Certified Public Accountant and Certified QuickBooks Pro Advisor Dawn Rowles.  Call 410-996-5600 ext. 481 to reserve your spot.

If you need a book to guide you through QuickBooks, the library is here to help!

- QuickBooks 2010 QuickSteps: Finance Software for Small Business by Thomas E. Barich

- QuickBooks 2010: The Official Guide by Leslie Capachietti

- Running QuickBooks in Nonprofits by Kathy Ivens

- Small Business Accounting Simplified by Daniel Sitarz


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January 19th, 2011

Sign Up for Spring Kids’ Programs

“Sing a song of sixpence, a pocket full of rye…” and tap some rhythm sticks while you’re singing!  Better yet, give the rhythm sticks to your child and sing together at one of our spring StoryTimes!

We Children’s Librarians love to incorporate singing, rhythm activities and musical instruments into our StoryTimes.  We know that children enjoy music, and we know that music offers countless benefits.  First, music provides a pleasing structure for children to learn.  From the alphabet song that teaches letters, to counting songs (“This Old Man, He Played One”) to songs about body parts (“Head, Shoulders, Knees and Toes”), music enriches a child’s vocabulary.  In turn, this helps to develop pre-reading skills like letter recognition, narrative skills and phonological awareness.  Phonological awareness refers to the specific units of sound in a language, and this is a key skill in learning to read.

Another benefit music brings to children is that music quietly creates structure.  Children learn there is a time to start and a time to stop, a time to play with the instruments and a time to put the instruments away.  Music builds listening skills and makes following directions fun (“Beep your nose!” “Shout hurray!”).  The repetition in music and songs also helps build memory skills.

Music is also a great way to shake the wiggles and sillies out!  Music helps children coordinate their movement and increase their motor skills.  It also helps children learn spatial relationships and teaches them positional terms (“raise your hands high, bring them down low, put them behind your back, where did they go?”).

Research shows that the skills music helps a child learn can also help the child’s brain develop and grow.   One researcher, writing about how music may help a child learn crucial language skills, points out that “Music engages much of the brain and coordinates a wide range of processing mechanisms,” and that language, like music “relies on interpreting complex acoustic sequences that unfold in time,” (Aniruddh D. Patel, 2008).  While that sounds complicated, basically all the researcher is saying is what we already know:  music helps a child learn language and pre-reading skills!

On a simpler level, music unites us.  Many songs sung in our StoryTimes have been sung for generations.  Songs come from many lands, which helps children learn that the world is big and wonderful.  Music connects us all, over land and over time.

Come share in the power of music at one of our StoryTimes.  Registration has started for all branches and we have programs for babies, toddlers and preschoolers.  In addition to music, we’ll introduce your children to excellent books and help you guide your children on the life changing journey of learning to read.  Call or stop by your local branch for more information about our spring kids” programs!


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