Promoting Literacy in School Libraries in Sierra Leone

INTRODUCTION

The heart of information literacy is contained within definitions used to describe it. Traditionally librarians have given ‘library induction’ or ‘library skills training’ in a limited role. Library users need to know where the catalogue is, what the services are, and most importantly where the enquiry desk is. This is not to reduce the value of traditional library induction, but libraries and information are also changing. The provision of information through a library in a traditional form has gone through radical alterations. Already in most library and information organisations staffs are adjusting their services with the provision of new media and access to information provision within these organisations. Thus librarians are talking about social inclusion, opportunity, life-long learning, information society and self development.

A plethora of definitions for information literacy abound in books, journal papers and the web. Some of these definitions centre on the activities of information literacy i.e. identifying the skills needed for successful literate functioning. Other definitions are based on the perspective of an information literate person i.e. trying to outline the concept of information literacy. Deriving therefore a single definition is a complex process of collecting together a set of ideas as to what might be, should be, or may be considered a part of information literacy. For example Weber and Johnson (2002) defined information literacy as the adoption of appropriate information behaviour to obtain, through whatever channel or medium, information well fitted to information needs, together with critical awareness of the importance of wise and ethical use of information in society. The American Library Association (2003) defined information literacy as a set of skills needed to find, retrieve, analyze, and use information. While CLIP (2004) defined information literacy as knowing when and why one needs information, where to find it, and how to evaluate, use and communicate it in an ethical manner. Succinctly these definitions imply that information literacy requires not only knowledge but also skills in:

• recognising when information is needed;

• resources available

• locating information;

• evaluating information;

• using information;

• ethics and responsibility of use of information;

• how to communicate or share information;

• how to manage information

Given therefore the variety of definitions and implied explanation information literacy is a cluster of abilities that an individual can employ to cope with, and to take advantage of the unprecedented amount of information which surrounds us in our daily life and work.

STRUCTURE OF THE EDUCATION SYSTEM

Sierra Leone’s current educational system is composed of six years of formal primary education, three years of Junior Secondary School (JSS), three years Senior Secondary School (SSS) and four years of tertiary education-6-3-3-4. (The Professor Gbamanja Commission’s Report of 2010 recommended an additional year for SSS to become 6-3-4-4). The official age for primary school pupils is between six and eleven years. All pupils at the end of class six are required to take and pass the National Primary School Examinations designed by the West African Examinations Council (WAEC) to enable them proceed to the secondary school divided into Junior Secondary School(JSS) and Senior Secondary School (SSS). Each part has a final examination: the Basic Education Certificate Examinations (BECE) for the JSS, and the West African Senior Secondary School Certificate Examinations (WASSCE) for SSS, both conducted by WAEC. Successful candidates of WASSCE are admitted to tertiary institutions based on a number of subjects passed (GoSL,1995)

The curriculum of primary schools emphasizes communication competence and the ability to understand and manipulate numbers. At the JSS level, the curriculum is general and comprehensive, encompassing the whole range of knowledge, attitudes and skills in cognitive, affective, and psychomotor domains. The core subjects of English, Mathematics, Science and Social studies are compulsory for all pupils. At the SSS level, the curriculum is determined by its nature (general or specialist), or its particular objectives. Pupils are offered a set of core (compulsory) subjects with optional subjects based on their specialization. Teaching is guided by the teaching syllabuses and influenced by the external examinations that pupils are required to take at the 3/ 4-year course. English is the language of instruction (GoSL,1995).

The countries two universities, three polytechnics, and two teacher training colleges are responsible for the training of teachers in Sierra Leone. The Universities Act of 2004 provides for private universities so that these institutions too could help in the training of teachers. Programs range from the Teacher Certificate offered by the teacher training colleges to the Masters in Education offered by universities. Pre-service certification of teachers is the responsibility of the National Council for Technical, Vocational and Other Academic Awards (NCTVA). There is also an In-service Teacher Training program (Distance Education Program) conducted for teachers in part to reduce the number of untrained and unqualified teachers especially in the rural areas.

LITERACY IN SIERRA LEONE

In Sierra Leone as it is in most parts of the developing world literacy involves one’s ability to read, write and numeracy. It is the ability to function effectively in life contexts. A literate person is associated with the possession of skills and knowledge and how these could be applied within his local environment. For instance a literate person is believed to be able to apply chemical fertilizer to his crops, fill in a loans form, determine proper dosage of medicine, calculate cash cropping cost and profits, glean information from a newspaper, make out a bank deposit slip and understanding instructions and basic human rights.

Literacy is at the heart of the country’s development goals and human rights (World Bank, 2007). Wherever practised literacy activities are part of national and international strategies for improved education, human development and well-being. According to the 2013 United Nations Human Development Index Sierra Leone has a literacy rate of 34 %.Implicitly Sierra Leone is an oral society. And oral societies rely heavily on memory to transmit their values, laws, history, music, and culture whereas the written word allows infinite possibilities for transmission and therefore of active participation in communication. These possibilities are what make the goal of literacy crucial in society.

In academic parlance literacy hinges on the printed word. Most pupils are formally introduced to print when they encounter schoolbook. School teachers in Sierra Leone continue to use textbooks in their teaching activities to convey content area information to pupils. It is no gainsaying that pupils neither maximise their learning potential nor read at levels necessary for understanding the type of materials teachers would like them to use. Thus the performance of pupils at internal and public examinations is disappointing. Further pupils’ continued queries in the library demonstrate that they do not only lack basic awareness of resources available in their different school libraries but also do not understand basic rudiments of how to source information and materials from these institutions. What is more worrisome is that pupils do not use appropriate reading skills and study strategies in learning. There is a dearth of reading culture in schools and this situation cuts across the fabric of society. In view of the current support the Ministry of Education, Science and Technology (MEST) to establish literacy standards in school this situation has proved frustrating as teachers do not know how to better help pupils to achieve this goal. Thus they look up to the school librarians to play a more proactive role.

LITERACY DEMANDS ON SECONDARY SCHOOL PUPILS

In everyday situations school pupils are expected to be able to identify and seek information they need. Providing a variety of reading and writing experiences using varied materials in the school library can help develop pupils’ literacy ability (Roe, Stoodt-Hill and Burns, 2004). The mode of assessment in schools in Sierra Leone includes class exercises, tests, written and practical assignments, as well as written examinations to see pupils through to their next levels. These pupils, for example, need to read content books and supplementary materials in school for homework. Pupils have even more literacy needs in their activities outside school. They need to read signs found in their communities, job applications, road maps and signs, labels on food and medicine, newspapers, public notices, bank statements, bills and many other functional materials. Failure to read and understand these materials can result in their committing traffic violations, having unpleasant reactions to food or medicine, becoming lost, losing employment opportunities and missing desirable programs. Equally so pupils need to write to their relatives and loved ones, instructions to people who are doing things for them, notes to themselves about tasks to be completed, phone messages for colleagues and many other items. Mistakes in these activities can have negative effects on them. Good literacy skills are especially important to pupils who plan to pursue higher education studies. The job market in the country calls for pupils to be literate. For instance most jobs advertised these days require people who have completed their JSS. The fact is that workers need to be able to understand graphic aids, categorized information and skim and scan to locate information. Also the nature of reading in the workplace generally involves locating information for immediate use and inferring information for problem solving. The reading and writing of a variety of documents like memos, manuals, letters, reports and instructions are necessary literacy skills in the workplace.

SCHOOL LIBRARIES IN SIERRA LEONE

School libraries in Sierra Leone are perceived as integral aspect of the county’s educational system. These institutions bring together four major components of the school community: the materials, pupils, teacher and library staff. The main purpose for the establishment of these institutions in schools is to complement the teaching/learning process, if not to support the curriculum. This purpose is achieved in two ways: by providing pupils with the means of finding whatever information they need; and by developing in pupils the habit of using books both for information and for pleasure. Pupils need information to help them with the subjects they learn in school. The textbooks they use and the notes they take in class can be an excellent foundation. They may also be sufficient for revision purposes. But these could not be enough to enable pupils to write good essays of their own or to carry out group projects. School libraries then are expected to complement this effort and therefore are perceived as learning centres.

Pupils need information on subjects not taught in school. School libraries are looked upon as places pupils find information to help them in their school studies and personal development. Through these institutions pupils’ habit of using libraries for life-long education is not only developed but also school libraries could be used to improve pupils’ reading skills. In the school community both pupils and teachers use school libraries for leisure and recreational purpose and for career advancement. The culture of society is also transmitted through use of school libraries. Because of the important role school libraries play in the country’s educational system they are organised in such way that pupils as well as teachers can rely upon them for support in the teaching/learning process. Most of these institutions are managed by either a full-time staff often supervised by a senior teacher. Staffs use varied methods to promote their use including user education.

JUSTIFYING THE LIBRARIAN’S INVOLVEMENT IN PROMOTING LITERACY IN SCHOOL

A pre-requisite for the development of autonomous pupils through flexible resource-based learning approaches is that pupils master a set of skills which gradually enable them to take control of their own learning. Current emphasis in teaching in schools in Sierra Leone has shifted from “teacher-centred” to “pupil-centred” approach thereby making pupils to “learn how to learn” for themselves so that the integration of process skills into the design of the school curriculum becomes crucial (GoSL,1995). It is in this area of “learning” or “information literacy” skills that one can most clearly see the inter-relationship between the school curriculum and the school library. For pupils to become independent users of information and for this to occur it is vital that they are given the skills to learn how to find information, how to select what is relevant, and how to use it in the best way possible for their own particular needs and take responsibility for their own learning. As information literate, pupils will be able to manage information skilfully and efficiently in a variety of contexts. They will be capable of weighing information carefully and wisely to determine its quality (Marcum2002). Pupils do recognise that having good information is central to meeting the opportunity and challenges of day-to-day living. They are also aware of the importance of how researching across a variety of sources and formats to locate the best information to meet particular needs.

Literacy activities in schools in Sierra Leone are the responsibility of content area teachers, reading consultants and school librarians. Of these the role of the school librarian is paramount. As specialist the school librarian is expected to provide assistance to pupils and teachers alike by locating materials in different subjects, and at different reading levels by making available materials that can be used for motivation and background reading. The school librarian is also expected to provide pupils with instructions in locating strategies related to the library such as doing online searches and skimming through printed reference materials. The librarian is expected to display printed materials within his purview, write specialised bibliographies and lists of addresses on specific subjects at the request of teachers. He should be able to provide pupils with direct assistance in finding and using appropriate materials; recreational reading can be fostered by the librarian’s book talks or attractive book displays on high-interest topics like HIV/AIDS, child abuse, child rights, human rights and poverty alleviation. In view of this the fundamental qualities expected of the good school librarian include knowledge of his collection and how to access it; ability to understand the needs of his users more so those of pupils; ability to communicate with pupils and adult users; and knowledge of information skills and how to use information.

ROLE OF THE SCHOOL LIBRARIAN

Pupils’ success in school depends to a large extent upon their ability to access, evaluate and use information. Providing access to information and resources is a long-standing responsibility of the school librarian. The school librarian should provide the leadership and expertise necessary to ensure that the library becomes integral in the instructional program of the school. In school the librarian is the information specialist, teacher and instructional consultant. He is the interface responsible for guiding pupils and teachers through the complex information resources housed in his library (Lenox and Walker, 1993). He is looked up to assist and guide numerous users in seeking to use and understand the resources and services of the library. In this respect the school librarian should inculcate in these users such skills as manual and online searching of information; use of equipment; developing critical skills for the organization, evaluation and use of information and ideas as integral part of the curriculum (Lonsdale, 2003). The school librarian should be aware of the range of available information retrieval systems, identify that most suitable to the needs of pupils and provide expertise in helping them become knowledgeable, if not comfortable, in their use. Since no library is self-sufficient the school librarian can network with information agencies, lending/renting materials and/or using electronic devises to transmit information (Tilke, 1998; 2002).

As information specialist the school librarian should be able to share his expertise with those who may wish to know what information sources and/or learning materials are available to support a program of work. Such consultation should be offered to the whole school through the curriculum development committee or to individual subject teachers. The school librarian should take the lead in developing pupils’ information literacy skills by being involved with the school curriculum planning and providing a base of resources to meet its needs. He should be aware of key educational initiatives and their impact in teaching and learning; he should be familiar with teaching methods and learning styles in school; over all he should maintain an overview of information literacy programmes within the school (Herring, 1996; Kuhlthau, 2004).

Kuhlthau (2004) opined that information seeking is a primary activity of life and that pupils seek information to deepen and broaden their understanding of the world around them. When therefore, information in school libraries is placed in a larger context of learning, pupils’ perspective becomes an essential component in information provision. The school librarian should ensure that skills, knowledge and attitude concerning information access, use and communication, are integral part of the school curriculum. Information skills are crucial in the life-long learning process of pupils. As short term objective the school librarian should provide a means of achieving learning objectives within the curriculum; as long term information skills have a direct impact on individual pupils’ ability to deal effectively with a changing environment. Therefore the school librarian should work in concert with teachers and administrators to define the scope and sequence of the information relevant to the school curriculum and ensure its integration throughout the instructional programs (Tilke, 2002; Birks and Hunt, 2003). Pupils should be encouraged to realise their potential as informed citizens who critically think and solve problems. In view of the relationship between the curriculum and school library, the librarian should serve on the curriculum committee ensuring that information access skills are incorporated into subject areas. The school librarian’s involvement in the curriculum development will permit him to provide advice on the use of a variety of instructional strategies such as learning centres and problem-solving software, effective in communicating content to pupils (Herring, 1996; Birks and Hunt, 2003).

Literacy could be actively developed as pupils need access to specific resources, demonstrate understanding of their functionality and effective searching skills. In this regard pupils should be given basic instruction to the library, its facilities and services and subsequent use. Interactive teaching methods aimed at information literacy education should be conducted for the benefit of pupils. Teaching methods could include an outline of a variety of aides like quizzes and worksheets of differing complexity level to actively engage pupils in learning library skills and improving their information literacy. Classes should be divided into small groups so that pupils could have hands-on-experience using library resources. Where Internet services are available in the library online tutorials should be provided. Post session follow-up action will ensure that pupils receive hands-on-experience using library resources. Teaching methods should be constantly evaluated to identify flaws and improve on them.

Further the school librarian should demonstrate willingness to support and value pupils in their use of the library through: provision of readers’ guides; brochures; book marks; library handbooks/guides; computerization of collection; helpful guiding throughout the library; and regular holding of book exhibitions and book fairs. Since there are community radio stations in the country the school librarian could buy air time to report library activities, resources and services. He can also communicate to pupils through update newspapers. Pupils could be encouraged to contribute articles on library development, book reviews and information about opening times and services. The school librarian could help pupils to form book and reading clubs, organize book weeks and book talks using visiting speakers and renowned writers to address pupils. Classes could also be allowed to visit the library to facilitate use. More importantly the school librarian should provide assistance to pupils in the use of technology to access information outside the library. He should offer pupils opportunities related to new technology, use and production of varied media formats, and laws and polices regarding information. In order to build a relevant resource base for the school community the librarian should constantly carry out needs assessment, comparing changing demands to available resources.

The Internet is a vital source for promoting literacy in the school library. The school librarian should ensure that the library has a website that will serve as guide to relevant and authoritative sources and as a tool for learning whereby pupils and teachers are given opportunity to share ideas and solutions (Herring, 2003). Through the Internet pupils can browse the library website to learn how to search and develop information literacy skills. In order for pupils to tap up-to-date sources from the Net the school librarian should constantly update the home page, say on a daily basis, if necessary. Simultaneously the school librarian should avail to pupils and teachers sheets/guides to assist them in carrying out their own independent researches. He should give hands-on-experience training to users to share ideas with others through the formation of “lunch time” or “after school support groups”. Such activities could help pupils to develop ideas and searching information for a class topic and assignment.

Even the location of the library has an impact in promoting literacy in school. The library should be centrally located, close to the maximum number of teaching areas. It should be able to seat at least ten per cent of school pupils at any given time, having a wide range of resources vital for teaching and learning programs offered in school. The library should be characterised by good signage for the benefit of pupil and teacher users with up-to-date displays to enhance the literacy skills of pupils and stimulating their intellectual curiosity.

CONCLUSION

Indeed the promotion of literacy should be integral in the school curriculum and that the librarian should be able to play a leading role to ensure that the skills, knowledge and attitudes related to information access are inculcated in pupils and teachers alike as paramount users of the school library. But the attainment of this goal is dependent on a supportive school administration, always willing and ready to assist the library and its programs financially. To make the librarian more effective he should be given capacity building to meeting the challenges of changing times.

REFERENCES

American Library Association (2003). ‘Introduction to information literacy.’

Birks, J. & Hunt, F. (2003). Hands-on information literacy activities. London: Neal-Schumann.

CLIP (2004).’Information Literacy: definition.’

GoSL (2010). Report of the Professor Gbamanja Commission of Inquiry into the Poor Performance of Pupils in the 2008 BECE and WASSCE Examinations (Unpublished).

___________(1995). New Education policy for Sierra Leone. Freetown: Department of Education.

Herring, James E. (1996). Teaching information skills in schools. London: Library Association Publishing.

__________________ (2003).The Internet and information skills: a guide for teachers and librarians. London: Facet Publishing.

Kahlthau, C. C. (2004). Seeking meaning: a process approach to library and information services. 2nd. ed. London: Libraries Unlimited.

Lenox, M. F. & Walker, M. L.(1993). ‘Information Literacy in the education process.’ The Educational Forum, 52 (2): 312-324.

Lonsdale, Michael (2003). Impact of school libraries on student achievement: a review of research. Camberwell: Australian Council of Educational Research.

Marcum, J. W. (2002). ‘ Rethinking Information Literacy,’ Library Quarterly, 72:1-26.

Roe, Betty D., Stoodt-Hill & Burns, Paul C. (2004).Secondary School Literacy instruction: the content areas. Boston: Houghton Mifflin Company.

Tilke, A. (1998). On-the-job sourcebook for school librarians. London: Library Association.

_________ (2002). Managing your school library and information service: a practical handbook. London: Facet Publishing.

Weber, S. & Johnston, B. ( 2002). ‘Assessment in the Information Literate University.’ Conference: Workshop 1st International Conference on IT and Information Literacy, 20th- 22nd. March 2002, Glasgow, Scotland. Parallel Session 3, Thursday 21st March,2002.

World Bank (2007). Education in Sierra Leone; present challenges, future opportunities. Washington,DC: World Bank.

In-Dependence – Some Thoughts on Meta Relationships

You are not independent. You are “in-dependence.” Independence is an illusion; it does not exist, anywhere. As an individual, as a society, as a nation, we like to view ourselves are independent. Especially in the United States which was founded on the principle of independence. But, think about it, what are you not dependent upon? Who are you not dependent upon? Dependence is not a bad thing; it has earned a bad rap due to issues of “co-dependence” which refers to a dysfunctional relationship between two or more people. We like to think of independence as freedom. But, freedom is a mental concept that has become distorted to mean no responsibilities, which is a fallacy. Freedom has more to do with our capacity to make choices and decisions for which there are consequences to which we are bound. The natural world, of which we are a part, is a complex web of dependence. We use our freedom to make choices and decisions within the confines of our dependence upon the natural world, which does include Let’s take a look at some of the ways in which we are integrally dependent upon the natural world and other people.

If we consider some of our basic needs, such as food, shelter and clothing, we readily see that without the soil, the rain, the sun and a conducive atmosphere, we would have no food. And, you will certainly agree that we are dependent upon food! Shelter too is based on utilizing natural resources: wood mainly, which comes from trees, which grows in soil, which needs sunlight and rain…and a conducive atmosphere. Clothing comes from natural fibers such as cotton and silk. Or, it is made from synthetic materials which are petroleum based and again part of the natural world’s resources.

One of our more basic needs is physical safety, security and protection. These needs too are dependent upon the resources of our natural environment. Whether it is a fortress built of stone, a spear of wood, a sword of metal, a gun, a cannon, a bomb….they are all built from materials outside of our individual existence, meaning we cannot simply materialize these things from within ourselves. We can imagine tools such as these, and so many others, from within ourselves…but, we cannot materialize them without the aid of natural resources. It has been suggested that “home sapien”, the knowing animal, ought to be renamed “homo faber” the fabricating animal. All of the tools and technology which surrounds us today is a fabrication utilizing the materials available to us…and without which, we would have nothing. We are dependent!

Higher needs have to do with social interaction…belongingness and connection to others. The complex division of labor in society requires that we interact with others; systems of exchange are devised of which money is only one. We are not so much dependent upon money as we are dependent upon exchange. We could not exist in society alone as a solitary individual. We are dependent upon others, and they upon us. The complexity of our dependence can be mind boggling. Just having food to buy at the market, or gas to buy for the car, involves a vast array of people doing varying different jobs. As you sit at your computer reading this article, you are reaping the benefits of your dependence upon a system of manufacturing, production and distribution of goods that dwarfs individual efforts. We are dependent upon the collective activities of society. And, in today’s world of globalization, we are fast becoming aware of our dependence upon the global marketplace, of which we are all a part.

Beyond our needs for belonging and connection with others, we have needs for knowledge. And, here again, we are dependent upon others…specifically, the mind of others, the mind of humanity, if you will. In that regard, we are dependent upon our ancestors, our history…our collective history. Knowledge grows, expands and becomes increasingly complex. We become dependent upon systems of data as well as the storage and   transmission  of that data. No one person can do this alone. And, in fact, any one person, you for example, is really composed of millions of component parts all intricately connected and dependent upon each other. The cells and organs of the body, the nervous system and it’s subsidiary systems of circulation, respiration, digestion, elimination, immunity….Where is there any independence?

We need a Declaration of Dependence. We need an awareness of systems and how they interact for it is within systems that we exist and it is within systems where dependence is an absolutely necessary functionality. We need a recognition and acknowledgment of Complexity. Complexity Theory states that “Complex Systems is a new approach to science that studies how relationships between parts give rise to the collective behaviors of a system and how the system interacts and forms relationships with its environment.” (Wikipedia).

As an individual, we interact within systems; and the way we do that is through communication. Communication is a means of relationship and exchange, it is a means of understanding and knowledge. In a system of dependence, communication is critically important for without accurate and effective communication we would not be able to function. Our body is a striking example of complex communication in action. Just the mere act of walking requires sophisticated communication between cells, nerves, ligaments and muscles ranging from the tips of our toes to our eyes. Without that communication, we would easily and quickly fumble. Communication is THE critical ingredient in healthy dependence.

So, the next time you hear somebody expounding their independence, think about the complex systems upon which they are dependent to even vocalize their illusory perception and belief of their own independence. In fact, when you hear yourself falling into this trap…catch yourself and recall the truth: we are all in-dependence.

Hands-Only CPR: When and How to Do It

I’m frequently asked if giving breaths has been eliminated from CPR now that the CPR guidelines have been updated. The simple answer is no, the breaths are still instructed in traditional CPR classes. However, there has been a big push, especially by the American Heart Association, to teach a version of CPR without breaths. This approach is often called “hands-only CPR”.

In short, hands-only CPR is fast, deep compressions on a victim’s chest. If someone doesn’t respond to your efforts to wake them, and their breathing is irregular or they aren’t breathing, you push straight down on an adult’s chest at least 2 inches at a rate of at least 100 compressions a minute. This is a skill you need to practice with an instructor on a manikin, so I’m not going to go into further detail on how to perform this skill.

Hands-only CPR has many advantages over traditional CPR: it’s simple to do, it reduces the risk of disease   transmission  while doing CPR, and research shows it’s as effective or more effective when used appropriately.

Hands-only CPR is an acceptable approach when you witness someone suddenly collapse. If this is an adult, it’s probably because of cardiac arrest (a heart attack). The victim still has several minutes of oxygen in their blood because they were breathing moments before they collapsed. The goal of hands-only CPR is to circulate that oxygenated blood throughout their body. By continually compressing their chest, you are literally squeezing blood through their heart so it reaches the brain and organs. Those compressions will buy the victim valuable minutes until emergency medical personnel arrive.

However, hands-only CPR isn’t always the best approach. If the victim has become unconscious and isn’t breathing normally because of an airway emergency, they need CPR with breaths. Asthma, severe allergies, choking, drowning and suffocation are all examples of airway emergencies that can lead to a victim who is unconscious and not breathing normally. Because these victims are lacking oxygen, they need rescue breaths, along with chest compressions.

Children and infants usually have healthy, strong hearts so if they become unconscious, the cause is usually not cardiac related. Most likely they are suffering from an airway emergency. This is why every parent who takes a CPR class should learn to do CPR with breaths. Unless a CPR class says it’s a hand-only class, all American Red Cross and American Heart Association CPR classes will teach you how to give rescue breaths along with compressions.

Four Different Types of Roofing Materials

A home can never be complete without a roof. Roofing is obviously the very first line of defense against any harsh weather, as well as other types of elements which could affect a certain home’s quality, appearance and value. Therefore, it is significant to put some thought into choosing the right type of materials for your roof. The good news is that there is always a wide variety of choices in materials and manufacturers to choose from for quality roofing.

To begin with, an asphalt material shingle is a very common type of product, especially with American homes. It will work great for a wide range of styles of roofs and may be a perfect choice for your home. Asphalt shingles do not cost that much and run from around 1 to 5 dollars for every square foot depending on your provider, as well as the kind of home that you have.

Asphalt roofing shingles come with a lot of advantages for your home. Usually the most important factor to a home owner, it is affordable. Secondly, this kind of roofing is a lot easier to repair compared to others. It can work well on just about any style of roof and is manufactured in various colors, shapes, depths of dimensions. This kind of roofing material is also resistant to any effect that great heat from the sun and inclement weathers conditions could cause.

Now, let’s move on to the second type of roof which is rubberized materials. This is an eco-friendly choice that can assure durability, cost-effectiveness and also proven to be leak proof even when it’s made from various recycled materials. Also, it does no require heavy maintenance due to the light weight and flexibility it carries. Rubber roofing comes in two types: shingled and whole roof. The shingled ones are made from synthetic materials and are better for simple structured homes while the whole roofs are great for a more detailed architectural design.

The third kind would be the tile roofing which is considered as an internationally recognized type of roofing. Just like the above types, this one can ensure durability. As a matter of fact, it is proven to be invulnerable from fire. Also, its longevity could last for up to 100 years and can highly improve air ventilation. Tile roofing comes in various patterns, textures, colors and shapes which can make things more fun upon the process of choosing the right ones in order to bring true elegance out of your home through the roofing.

Last but not the least, wood roofing is popular for homes that need to undergo major renovations. This roofing material usually runs anywhere from 4 to 8 dollars for every square foot. The price also depends on the way of cutting. Wood roofing is essential if you want to give your home a warmer look. It also has the great ability to prevent the occurrence of heat transmission.

Any of these types of roofs can be a great choice for you to make. However, it is still best to consider getting consultation from an expert in order to know what’s best for the type of home that you have in terms of safety, design and efficiency.

Do I Really Need a Lawyer to Get a Trademark?

As an experienced Trademark Lawyer, I am frequently asked if individuals or small companies need an attorney to register for a federal trademark. The short answer is no — just as one doesn’t technically need a mechanic to change a car transmission or perform a major engine overhaul. Nonetheless, in both cases, hiring a professional is still advisable.

First, it is essential to conduct a thorough search of all available public records to determine if your proposed name and/or logo are confusingly similar to names or logos that are already being used in commerce by others.

The United States Patent and Trademark Office’s website allows one to search public records online for free. However, smart businesses hire a third party research firm to conduct this exhaustive research for them. If you attempt to do such a search yourself, you will probably miss something, and that could create significant problems for you down the line. Further, there are multiple sources of information about unregistered, but still relevant “common law” uses that must be considered.

This voluminous research will undoubtedly reveal third-party uses that are somewhat similar in some way, shape or form to your proposed use. For example, if you are interested in using the mark “COMPUTER” in connection with jeans, there will be other marks with “computer” in them. Are they confusingly similar? That is the key question, and like most nuanced issues in law, it is often a matter of degree and professional opinion.

Once you are comfortable with the knowledge that your proposed brand name and logo are clear of any major, conflicting third party uses, there are a number of questions to still ask: Is the mark “generic”, that is, the name of the class of goods for which you intend to use it?

For example, one cannot trademark the brand name “computer” for use in connection with computers. However, “computer” could theoretically become the brand name of a pair of jeans, because in that context, it is actually “arbitrary” or “fanciful.” Other categories of marks are “merely descriptive,” that is, does it merely describe an attribute of the product you are branding? Is the term “suggestive,” that is, does it not describe but suggest a feature of the goods? A legal professional can evaluate this issue based on how similar cases were handled on the past.

If you are still comfortable with the mark as proposed, you would then file a formal application in the United States Patent and Trademark Office. This application costs a fee of several hundred dollars all the way up to thousands of dollars, based on the number of “classes” of goods or services that you intend to use the trademark in connection with.

Eventually, you would receive a response from an Examiner working at the Trademark Office. That Examiner would probably ask a number of questions about your proposed mark, and often will seek further clarifications about your application. BE CAREFUL. Whatever you say in response to these questions will become public knowledge as part of the government file.

Further, whatever you do in response to these Office Actions can limit or affect your rights later. For example, disclaiming a portion of the mark, or narrowing the classes of goods for which you are seeking a trademark, can come back to haunt you later. It is easy to give away your rights, but much harder (and sometimes impossible) to ever get them back.

So, to answer the recurring question, one does not technically need an attorney to apply for a US Federal Trademark on a new brand name that one intends to use in commerce. However, it is a long and complicated process, especially if you are unfamiliar with it. And like replacing a car transmission, it requires skill and experience.

Google Redirect Virus Fix – How to Get Rid of Google Virus

Infecting users via internet exposure and nooks and crannies found in unsecured browsers are the main causes of the redirect virus. So where does one inject the use of Google redirect virus fix? In order to properly employ its use first it is essential to understand what this threat is and what it does. The redirect malware lives up to its name, the infection causes a hijacking of any search or website visit a user plans to make. Instead of finding their site of choice the virus redirects them to fake websites containing ads and even corrupted pages.

The following fake errors are displayed by the vius

  • Internet explorer cannot open web page
  • filename.exe is not a valid win32 application
  • Setup files are corrupted Please obtain new copy of program

Being a browser hijacking utility it manages to infect browsers like IE and Firefox and then redirects internet users to the following malicious sites.

  • clearask.com
  • brittaniasearch.com
  • go.Google.com
  • web-analytics.Google.com

The redirect threat is capable of disabling activated firewalls and security software which can then lead to a remotely accessible system. This allows hackers to have access over personal information such as login names, passwords, financial records etc.

What are the symptoms to consider when one wants to implement a Google redirect virus fix?

· An unknown change of desktop background

· Changes homepage

· Browsers such as IE and Firefox slows down noticeably

· Corruption of registry files thus resulting to the dreaded “Blue Screen of Death”

· Contamination of messengers, freeware and email attachments are also sure signs.

How does Google redirect virus fix work?

1. Select Show Hidden Devices under Hardware Device Manager in your Windows Control Panel.

2. Search for “TDSSserv.sys” right click Disable. Do not select Uninstall otherwise the infection will reappear once the computer is restarted.

3. Reboot the pc.

4. Immediately update antivirus software and the Google redirect virus will cease to exist in your workstation.

It pays to be vigilant and alert when using the internet. Avoid malicious sites and constantly scan your system and update your security tool to avoid contaminations. It is also best not to rely on one antivirus software alone having another reliable application can help sift through the threats that the other was incapable of detecting.

Staying Healthy: HIPAA Training

The Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996 is fondly known as HIPAA. It is a law that was enacted to provide protection and safeguard against the issuance of confidential medical information of individual patients. HIPAA specifies that those who work in the medical industry receive training in the laws and procedures of patient information security. Hospitals, physicians, nurses, researchers, and insurance companies are required to understand and be certified in HIPAA rules and regulations. There are those who work as medical staff, clerks and records clerks who must also be trained. HIPAA training teaches policies, organization, and protections as well as the procedures involved in maintaining patient security and privacy rights.

HIPAA Training

If an organization is deemed a covered entity by the medical community that organization is required to provide HIPAA training to all employees, agents, volunteers, trainees and contractors. As a definition, a covered entity handles, stores, and uses private medical information.

HIPAA training can be obtained in several different ways. Generally HIPAA training is completed at the time of first employment with training sessions conducted throughout the employee’s career. Training can be conducted between the execution of agreements, though educational conferences, classes and seminars, on the job training, in newsletter updates, online or several other methods. Whatever way you choose to administer HIPAA training, you will be required to provide employees with certification and keep copies of these certificates on file.

It is possible to incorporate HIPAA training using an agreement entitled a privacy, confidentiality and information security document. This instrument is used at the time employment begins and throughout the employee’s career. Policies of the HIPAA laws and of the clinic will be included and the employee will be tested on HIPAA privacy issues. There should also be signatures from both the employee and the employer stating that training has been offered and the employee is certified. If there is a problem with HIPAA policies or a breach of confidentially and security these documents are the proof that the employee and the employer were trained and signed off on the HIPAA laws.

HIPAA educational courses are dependent on how the employer will handle protected health information and how the employees will use this information. The classes discuss procedures and policies for handling information to be in compliance with HIPAA laws. Written procedures are required to be available in the office, and these written documents describe how patient data is handled, what the policies are in case of a breach, and how a security breach will be documented.

Transmitting Patient Information via Computers

A covered entity stores and exchanges protected medical records through its computer system. HIPAA designates procedures that must be followed. For example computers must be password protected, provide limited access, and have additional back up security procedures. Training regarding the usage of electronic   transmission  of patient data includes computerized exercises developed to create potential HIPAA violations. The tools are given to the employee to resolve the breach. Exercises are documented and graded. This type of training can be very effective when certifying employees in HIPAA security methods.

The True Difference Between Motorcycle Oil and Automotive Oil

To some people, changing the oil in your car is just like changing the oil in your motorcycle. Just drain out the old oil, install a new oil filter, and pour in the desired amount of new oil and your done. So when it comes time to change your motorcycle oil, why can’t you use the same oil that you use in your car? Motorcycle oil and automotive oil look and feel the same so how could there be a difference between the two?

Automotive oil looks pretty enticing at $3 a quart but any experienced motorcycle rider knows that using automotive oil in motorcycles causes serious damage. In automotive vehicles, the engine is always separate from the clutch and   transmission  so they have separate oils for each. In automotive engine oil, there is more of what is called “friction modifiers” to help lessen the amount of friction on engine components and improve fuel economy. Of course, improving fuel economy has always been the main goal of the automotive industry making friction modifiers a necessity for all automotive oils.

These friction modifiers that are added to automotive oils are what cause serious damages when used in motorcycles. The friction modifiers clog the clutch plates in a motorcycle’s  transmission  causing serious clutch slippage and disabling the motorcycle. You see, for motorcycles to be as compact as they are, they have to combine their engine and  transmission  into one casing. This means that everything is lubricated by only one type of oil including the valves, piston,  transmission , and clutch.

Motorcycles require very little and/or no friction modifiers to help improve clutch friction and to prevent clutch slippage. But to make up for this lack of friction modifiers, motorcycle oils use higher levels of anti-wear additives such as ZDDP, also known as phosphorous, to limit engine friction and wear. Since motorcycle oil has extra anti-wear additives and is lubricating so much more than automotive oil, you can expect to pay anywhere from $9 to $15 a quart.

To some people, both oils look and feel the same but now you know the facts of each. So the next time that you decide to change your motorcycle oil, go straight to your local motorcycle dealer and buy only high quality motorcycle oil designed specifically for the type of motorcycle you own. Make sure that you change your oil periodically to keep it fresh and clean to ensure a long life for your engine,  transmission , and clutch.

HIV Education in the Schools Across America

AIDS has devastated the lives of many citizens in the United States. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) indicates that the number of AIDS infections among young Americans between the ages of 13 to 25 rose nearly 20 percent, and approximately 50 percent of new infections are among individuals who are younger than 25 years of age. Therefore, finding better methods to communicate the risk of AIDS transmission are greatly needed to protect our young people and preserve the next generation.

Young people in the United States are at a persistent risk of HIV infection. This risk is especially notable for youth of minority races and ethnicities. Continued HIV prevention outreach and education efforts, including programs on abstinence and delaying initiation of sexual relations, are required as new generations replace the older generations that benefited from earlier prevention strategies.

I believe that there should be more HIV and AIDS education in the school systems across America. I feel that this is an area of education that we could improve to protect and preserve our next generation. There are two reasons that I feel this way. My first reason is to prevent a student from being discriminated against, and the second reason is giving education to the students on preventing the spread of this disease.

My first reason for believing there should be more education about HIV and AIDS in the school system is the way I was treated when I was diagnosed with HIV. I was diagnosed with HIV at 14 years old and due to the lack of education to the teaching staff in the earlier years; I wasn’t permitted to attend class in a regular school setting. Instead I was forced to be home schooled by the board of education, (homebound program) in which I wasn’t taught all the subjects as a regular student would be. I wasn’t taught mathematics at a high school level so when I decided to attend college I had a lot of difficulties in the area of mathematics. On the other hand, English was drilled into my head like a nail, which I am grateful for. The reason for this was that my homebound teacher was an English Professor before she started teaching in the homebound program.

Even though I wasn’t taught as well as those students attending classes in a regular school setting, I have become an excellent student in college despite my difficulties in math. I do believe, however, that the school system has gotten better. I haven’t had any problems with discrimination while attending college. That, at least, is a good thing!

Secondly, I feel that if there had been more education on the prevention and spread of this disease, I might not have contracted it. Had I known about the risks of this disease, I may not be infected today. Even though I contracted HIV through a blood transfusion, maybe if I had been more educated on the ways it is transmitted, I could have somehow prevented myself from becoming infected.

Therefore, I believe that there should be more education for students. The students are our next generation. They should be educated about the risks of HIV infection. I feel it should be a requirement for the schools to inform students about the dangers of the disease as well as the myths of being around someone who is infected.

Even now I feel I have to be careful when I disclose my diagnosis, which prevents me from making friends for fear of being rejected. I feel that if there were more education, I could feel more comfortable talking about my situation of having this disease. Ultimately, I wouldn’t be afraid of causing a panic among my peers. Finally, I believe with more education it would prevent the rise of students becoming infected with this disease. I believe that it is our obligation to protect the next generation.