Tuesday, July 29, 2008

New Google Rival

A new search engine recently launched, attempting to rival Google. Cuil.com (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 LJ.com'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.