Monday, November 3, 2008

Displaying Personal Collections

Just thought of a display idea ... we could display our own personal collections - I would think to be viewed in the library only, or not. I know I have a Tsarist Russia collection, a zombie collection, a weather collection. We could put a call out to faculty and students and make it a community display. Just an idea...

Friday, October 24, 2008

Check out our gadgets!

See our new gadgets on the right side of the screen? There are 2 customized Google searches: The ALA Best of Reference gadget searches only sites that ALA has designated as quality free reference sites, while the Librarian's E-Library searches ALA's selected resources on libraries and librarians. Try them out! We can also create our own customized Google search if we are feeling really ambitious some day...

Living Library hits US

I first blogged about the "Living Library" event that was held in the U.K. back in May of this year. Library Journal just posted to an article about the Living Library concept being carried out in U.S. Public Libraries. Living Library events allow a patron to "check out" a person for a half hour chat about more or less whatever they want. The "book" (i.e. person being checked out) is someone of interest (a relative term, I know) that the patron would want to get to know more about. Hmm, the way I'm describing this it sounds like a dating service. Wrong message. For example, the "books" at recent events included an ex-gang member, an activist for homelessness, a nudist, a person of Oaxacan (a group in Mexico) background, and so on. The idea is for the patrons to expose themselves to someone outside their comfort zone or normal range of contact and pursue a conversation that opens their minds to new ideas. Personally, I loved this idea when I first read about it, and am excited to see that there has been 1 successful event and another in the works in our litigious society! Does anyone else think this could be a really interesting program to offer our college community?

Friday, September 26, 2008

How about this for a personal library?

Just for fun - you've got to check out Jay Walker's personal, 3,600 sq foot library.

Beyond Google

American Libraries Direct featured the search engine Hakia that uses semantic searches to find "credibility stamped" search results. They've already partnered with the Medical Library Association to index vetted websites in that field, and are now seeking librarian input for credible and reliable websites in other topic areas. This may be a good search tool to keep in mind for those nursing students! To view their approved websites and selection processes, and to contribute websites, visit They're also giving away monthly prizes to contributors! :o)

Monday, September 15, 2008

Fun election website!

The Museum of the Moving Image has a website called The Living Room Candidate, which features campaign television ads throughout history. There are more than 300 ads dating back to the first election to air tv campaign ads, 1952. The website is also being updated throughout this year's election to include Obama's and McCain's ads. You can search by type of ad, election year, or issue. There are also commentaries, historical backgrounds, and election results. Almost makes me wish I was teaching middle school social studies! (Almost....)

Friday, September 12, 2008

ProQuest teams with Google

Google's done it again! They are now partnering with ProQuest to digitize newspapers from ProQuest's print archives. Read the full article from LJ Academic Newswire. When completed, this will be an interesting - and hopefully useful - resource to find articles in smaller newspapers that are not available in electronic databases elsewhere. ProQuest plans to maintain a strong distinction between its Historical Newspapers database, which includes the NY Times, and this free, web-based digital archive. Hopefully Google won't pull out of this one like it's been doing with a lot of the book-digitization partners...


Monday, September 8, 2008

CQ Researcher explores Internet Accuracy

Have you been on CQ Researcher lately? While exploring the site for some lesson planning ideas I noticed the August 1st article is titled "Internet Accuracy." It explores topics like the authenticity of Wikipedia, how information literacy is important in today's world, and the future of information control (and cataloging) regarding the Internet. The Short Features sections provides some interesting tips for Google and alternative search engines to try. Ever heard of This search engine claims to promote "serendipitous surfing" by pairing your search term with a randomly generated word (from a category you select) to lead you to sites that would be overlooked by Google. Practical? Not sure yet. Fun? Yup! A search for "librarian" and a random word from the "urban dictionary" category (word generated: Song Binging) brought me to the Rabid Librarian's Ravings in the Wind blog. Interesting.....


Thursday, August 7, 2008

Put yourself in someone else's...eyes

Ever wonder what our library homepage looks like to someone who is color-blind? Me neither! However, this website allows you to do just that - look at any webpage through colorblind eyes. It's an interesting sight to see, and a small example of how we really need to consider our unique users when designing tools!


Tuesday, July 29, 2008

New Google Rival

A new search engine recently launched, attempting to rival Google. (apparently pronounced "cool" and Gaelic for knowledge or wisdom) claims it will index more deeply than Google and rank its results more strongly on content, rather than site rankings. For more information, check out's summary of the new site. I tried a search for "facial expressions and lying", which someone in my English I was researching, in both Cuil and Google. True to form, Google returned term-paper mills and blogs in the first page of results. Although Cuil's results organization takes some getting used to, it returned a few more .orgs, UK sites, and other interesting hits that you don't typically see on Google. Try it out!

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Results of the Academic Libraries Survey

Curious about the current state of US Academic libraries? The US Department of Education’s National Center for Education Statistics (NCES) released this week the results of its biannual Academic Libraries Survey. You can view the entire report here, but it's 55 pages long. To check out Library Journal's highlights from the report, read their article here.

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Ebsco 2.0

Test-drive the beta version of Ebsco 2.0! Go to any Ebsco database, select New Features! and click Test Drive. Try the scroll over abstract feature: do a search, then hover your mouse over the magnifying glass icon next to any search result. A pop-up appears with article citation information and the abstract. Great feature! Notice that the Academic Journals limiter is on the left side of the search results now, not above the results. This is scheduled to release sometime in July 2008, but Ebsco has not confirmed a date as far as I know.


Focusing on student research habits

Binghamton University Libraries conducted a study to determine the research habits of students by surveying faculty and graduate TA's and tallying information at the reference desk. Through these tools, the researchers found 2 areas in which the library could most stongly impact the quality of student research. "The two main problem areas in student research...were access to information and evaluation of information" (C&RL News, Vol. 69 No. 7). The study found "access to information" to be an area for concentration because the majority of faculty respondents indicated a concern that students use unreliable Internet sources more frequently than licensed library databases. It was also determined that most students rely on the first page of full-text results when conducting searches, rather than critically evaluating sources to determine which results best meet their research needs. In response to the study results, the library created web-based tutorials that could be easily incorporated into Blackboard. Instructors can select which tutorials to add to their course management.

We currently have a library tutorial and quiz that serves as an overall lesson in library research, similar to what is taught in English I and II. I'd like to create a series of short, engaging, interactive tutorials with the ability for instructors to incorporate them into Blackboard. Tutorials can also be used as mini-lessons for frequent questions at the reference desk. This is a project I foresee working on throughout the upcoming year. If anyone has suggestions (or is well-versed in creating tutorials!), let me know.


Wednesday, June 18, 2008

There is a website that has compiled IL lesson plans for all age groups. There a few well designed lessons for first year college students that offer interesting ideas for making lessons more student-centered. One in particular uses playing cards to demonstrate how using AND or OR will change your search results - it sounds kind of fun!

There is also a tool called BuILder - to create web-based lessons which in my undergrad days were called "webquests". I created a short lesson to teach the Periodical Locator just to see how it works. Click here if you want to check it out. The program is a bit clunky to use and it took me about 3 hours to develop this one lesson, but I like the idea behind it. It's the kind of thing you could use to break up a long lesson of lecture by giving the students something to learn on their own. There is probably opportunity to create similar lessons using NetOp features - I just haven't figured them all out yet! I'll keep you posted.

The site also has a section of Teaching Ideas, which are not fully developed lessons but brief ideas for instruction.


YouTube videos for instruction

Below are some links to videos on YouTube that offer instruction for information literacy related topics. I will continue to add posts with more links like these as I find more videos and instruction tools. You'll notice the labels for this post - future posts will use the same labels so you will be able to search for all posts related to these topics.

Research Minutes - Cornell U. - this is the video I have used. (0:90)

Scholarly vs. Popular Journals - University of Tennessee at Chattanooga (3:09)

Scholarly vs. Popular Periodicals - Vanderbilt University (3:11)

How to search JSTOR - posted by JSTORSupport - how to search for articles and print or download them - a bit slow moving. (3:49)

How to browse JSTOR - posted by JSTORSupport - demonstrates how to find a known article in JSTOR when you have an article citation or journal name. (2:39)


Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Britannica succumbing to Wiki-pressure?

This will be something to keep our eye on...apparently Britannica is discussing bringing its online content into the Web 2.0 realm, although not quite to the extent of something like Wikipedia. Not many details have surfaced yet, but it looks like there will be some new features added to the Britannica website (not necessarily the database).

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

More Microsoft Word Tips

Check here for 8 tools in Microsoft Word that you may not have known about including shrinking documents and a translating tool.

Acquisitions Budget

This Thursday we will be discussing the book budget for the 2009 fiscal year. The total amount that we have to spend is $110,000.

The computer science book collection "Safari" ($7,100) will come out of the Library Automation Budget and so will not affect the book budget. However, there will not be an allocation for CIS this year.

Megan would like to combine some of the business allocations to increase flexibility.
The Reference budget will probably decrease with the elimination of some big-ticket Gale publications.

I will put together a first-draft budget for Thursday's meeting but if you have any suggestions that I can incorporate, please let me know.

Bob 5-10-08

Tuesday, June 3, 2008

Computer Availability Map

The library at Georgia Tech provides a map of available computers "on a screen that is visible to students waiting in line." Imagine working at a library that regularly has a line of students waiting for computers! Of course - doesn't it seem as though they are tying up a usable screen to provide this service? Perhaps there's a detail missing. Anyway, I thought it was quite nifty and if you watch it for a bit you can see people logging on and off as the computers change from green to red. Also imagine never again having to say "there are computers upstairs, and a whole classroom in the back!"

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Electronic Journal of Academic & Special LIbrarianship

This may not be new for some of you but I just came across it and it looks like there are some interesting topics explored. The description states, "We are committed to covering all aspects of academic and special librarianship without regard to region or country," and it is entirely open access. Electronic Journal of Academic and Special Librarianship

Monday, May 19, 2008

Leave your name :o)

When I established the settings I think I set it to not show the name of the person posting (because I put the default as E. Field - clever huh?) and now I can't find that setting option to change it! If you think of it, please add your name to the end of a post so we know whose great ideas we're reading! Also if you want to set up your own username/password, I emailed invitations so you can set up your own name to post under. The blog is set up so only authors can read and post, this way avoiding unwanted readers! -Megan

Friday, May 16, 2008

News from your Friendly Neighborhood Librarian ...

Beginning in the fall semester, I was thinking of sending out emails to my liaison departments with the subject of "News from your Friendly Neighborhood Librarian." The emails would be sent once a month and include information related to their department about interesting websites, new books that have arrived, related articles, and basic library services. They would be short in nature so as not to be overwhelming. Any thoughts or comments?

Thursday, May 15, 2008

"Do you have a fax machine I can use?"

I just learned of an open source application called that operates like a fax machine -- you select the .doc or .pdf you want to send, type in the fax number and poof! It's free, it's fast and it's easy.

Living Library - borrow a person!

Fun article about a program at a library in England called the Living Library! A collection of "interesting" persons is developed and cataloged (in the form a handout describing the people who are available to be checked out). The collection in this case is, of course, made up of real people, everyday citizens. Patrons select who they want to check out and have a 1/2 hour to spend talking to that person. Some of the people who were checked out were "Muslim," "Gay Man," and "Alternative Medicine Therapist." The descriptions were comically stereotypical to highlight the interesting lifestyle choices or ideas each "living book" could offer. What a great idea to inspire open-mindedness, critical thinking, and tolerance through the library! Could this work with students???

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Dealing with "Rogue Assignments"

C&RL News posted this article about dealing with "Rogue Assignments" that come to the reference desk. She's referring to those assignments we see every so often directing students to use a resource that the library does not have, or to research a topic that we simply don't have enough content to support. There are some good ideas, some of which we already use, for dealing with these assignments immediately so the student is not frustrated by a perceived lack of library services. I think the most important part, as is described here, is contacting the instructor and tactfully addressing the issue. This, of course, is one of the fun parts of my job! We definitely get assignments that would benefit from some subtle librarian intervention. Or at the very least, an explanation to the faculty member that using an electronic database is NOT the same as using the Internet, which they have forbidden their students to do. I haven't contacted any faculty yet on an issue like this, but if you see an assignment that could use some tweaking, I'd be happy to approach faculty with suggestions for how the library can benefit their assignment.

This blog would be a good forum for sharing how we deal with such assignments and what we've suggested students try, so we're not each reinventing our own little wheel.

Monday, May 12, 2008


This blog is for the Reference Librarians at RVCC's Evelyn S. Field Library only. It will allow us to communicate with each other as often as needed, comment on each other's thoughts, and keep up to date with what everyone is thinking and experiencing at the reference desk. There is no obligation to post, comment or read, but it might be a useful way for us to all keep in touch. Anything related to your time here at the reference desk can be shared. Happy blogging!