Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Lion's Mail (i.e. RVCC Gmail)

Information about how to set up an account and FAQ's regarding the new Lion's Mail system are available at the links below:
Faculty and staff will still use Outlook as their primary RVCC email account, but will also have Lion's Mail accounts if you wish to set one up.
Students will only be using Lion's Mail, which will probably generate lots of reference questions at the beginning of the spring semester! As more information comes out that might be pertinent to our work there, I will post it here on the blog.
Bookmark and Share

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

OpenOffice and other free software

I can never remember the free software that replicates a lot of Microsoft Office tools, but found it again today in a Lifehacker blogpost, so I'm reposting it here to never lose it again! describes itself as, "the leading open-source office software suite for word processing, spreadsheets, presentations, graphics, databases and more. It is available in many languages and works on all common computers. It stores all your data in an international open standard format and can also read and write files from other common office software packages. It can be downloaded and used completely free of charge for any purpose."

This software is one of Lifehacker's "61 Free Apps We're Most Thankful For", which is a good read in itself.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

National Council of Teachers of Mathematics Journals

From an email from Julie on Nov. 20, 2009:

Students enrolled in a math course have been instructed to come to the Library and look for articles in the National Council of Teachers of Mathematics journals. Those journals are:
  • Teaching Children Mathematics (available in Proquest 1997-2003)
  • Mathematics Teacher (available in Proquest 1992-2003)
  • Journal for Research in Mathematics Education (available in Proquest and JSTOR 1970-2003)
  • On Math (not available)
  • Mathematics Teaching in the Middle School (Available in print at the Circulation Desk)

Bookmark and Share

Friday, November 13, 2009

Using WEST key numbers

A student asked how to look up a legal topic using a West Key Number and I realized I didn't know how! I found this great, simple explanation of the West Key Number System and how to understand/use it. West Key Number System

If you're not familiar with it already, you'll recognize a key number by the little symbol of a key that appears before a number.

There's also a Wikipedia entry about the West American Digest System, which is what the Topic and Key Numbers refer to.

Bookmark and Share

Monday, October 12, 2009

Time's 50 Best Websites of 2009

Some you know, some you might not, but an interesting list.

50 Best Websites

Bookmark and Share

Monday, October 5, 2009

Roving Reference

At a recent Adult Services Forum, I listened to the keynote speaker provide tips for coming out from behind the "beaurocratic" reference desk to create a more comfortable environment for our students. His big finish included a video you might find amusing:
Bookmark and Share

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

DOI's and URL's in APA

Wow that's a lot of acronyms!

If you're following any academic library listserv, you've seen a lot of discussion and frustration regarding the APA 6th edition's treatment of electronic articles, DOI's, URL's and the like. A recent post to ILI-L linked to the APA Style Blog, which I plan on adding to my Google Reader. Today's post provides a flowchart (I kid you not, this is what citation has come to!!) for when to use a DOI and/or URL. I haven't pored over it, but it will probably be a useful resource to have on hand at some point.
Bookmark and Share

Monday, September 21, 2009

Google Fast Flip

Like many of Google's products, I'm not sure of the value in this...but it seems like there would be some value somehow in some future circumstance that I just can not imagine at this point in time....

Google Fast Flip

"Google has partnered with three dozen diverse publications including the Atlantic, New York Times, Cosmopolitan, Christian Science Monitor, Washington Post, Slate, Seventeen and Good Housekeeping . The publications will get revenue from ads on the site which will hopefully help the struggling industry. Searching by key word, publication, topic or those most viewed you can browse the beginning of recent aricles, literally flipping page by page with instant loading. " (Points of Reference blog, 9/16/09)

Bookmark and Share

Update to opening ZIP files in Lion's Den

I just tried the instructions for opening files in Lion's Den that want to open as ZIP files. (I posted here last week and that process did not work this time, of course!). I did find another work-around however, and will try to describe that process.

In Lion's Den, click the file and select to SAVE it. Save to Desktop or My Documents.

Go to the Start menu on the computer, and select Search, then "For files of folders". Search for the name of the file you just saved.

Right click the file when it appears in your search results, and mouse over Open With. From the next sub-menu that appears, select "Choose Program," then select the program the file was made in (MS Word, MS Powerpoint, etc.). The file should open properly in that program.

Bookmark and Share

Friday, September 18, 2009

Free foreign language resource

BBC Languages offers lessons in a number of foreign languages for free for beginners. The lessons appear to be mostly video based and to help beginners learn things like how to order in a restaurant and such. This could be a great resource to point users to, and they offer free "12 week courses" online as well. I found about it from, who said this:

I was astounded by the amount of language learning material available on their website for free. The full beginner’s courses (12 weeks long) are available in 4 languages. The site also provides audio & video courses for learning Spanish, French, Chinese, German, Italian, Portuguese, Greek, Gaelic (!), and so on. And, finally, the site covers essential phrases in 36 languages. It is easy to use and the language materials are practical, rather than esoteric. Congrats BBC on yet another top notch resource.

Bookmark and Share

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

The Medieval Help Desk

I know you won't be able to get the sound at the reference desk, but it's subtitled. Very amusing! Fun stuff for a quick break.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Computer Labs - Fall '09

MIS indicated that there are currently (2) labs on campus -- S129 and W212. Vista software is loaded in the W212 lab.
Bookmark and Share

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Opening ZIP files from Lion's Den

We came across an interesting issue today with students trying to open files that their instructors uploaded to Lion's Den. You'll recognize this problem because when the student clicks the link for the file, a WinZip dialog box opens listing the parts of the zipped file. Below are the steps that need to be taken to properly open this document:

SAVE the file to the computer - save to My Documents or the Desktop
Open the PROGRAM the file was created in - Powerpoint, Word, or Excel
Click the FILE button, and select OPEN

From the bottom of the Open File dialog box, click the drop down menu and select ALL FILES

Navigate to the location the file was saved and you should see the zip file. Open the zip file and the document will open as a Word doc, Powerpoint, or Excel spreadsheet.

If you have problems, Alex should be able to help!

Evidence based research on swine flu

Just received this message from Ebsco:

Dear EBSCO Customer,
As public concern about Pandemic H1N1 and the upcoming flu season continues to grow, the medical and nursing editors from EBSCO Publishing (EBSCO) respond by offering the latest evidence-based flu-related information available for free.

This free flu information resource is located at and will provide continually updated, evidence-based clinical information from DynaMed™ and Nursing Reference Center™, EBSCO’s clinical and nursing point-of-care databases, along with patient education information in 17 languages from Patient Education Reference Center™. Please visit this site often and feel free to share, post, and email this link to your colleagues, patrons, family and friends.

Bookmark and Share

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Test post

I added a new feature that should allow us to save posts to Delicious, Google bookmarks, and other services. There should be a "Share" button at the bottom of this post.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Economic Recovery Wiki & Virtual Career Center

NJLA has published the Economic Recovery Wiki and Virtual Career Center, available at They are allowing NJ libraries to activate accounts and contribute, but limiting accounts to one per institution. If anyone would like to contribute to the wiki, feel free to contact them about establishing an account, but please make it a generic log-on/password that all of us will be able to use.

Thursday, July 23, 2009

New York Times Video site

The New York Times video page hosts a decent collection of news video clips. It can be accessed from NY Times homepage using the Video tab, or directly at There is a category listing, a search box, and a "Most Watched" feature to find and select videos.

It looks like there is some good content here relevant to typical English I research topics. Introducing a topic through video is a great attention grabber, and can be used to start a discussion about how one might go about further researching the issue presented in the video.

The Future of Libraries

In June I attended a discussion of "The Future of Libraries" at FDU. Anne Ciliberti of William Paterson University and Richard Sweeney of NJIT shared their top 5 issues concerning the future of libraries. Participants also shared what they felt were pressing issues in academic librarianship and we tried to reach a consensus of the most important issues we will continue to deal with.

Anne's top 5 focused on user services and the academic library's public face, while Rich's tended towards technology and access concerns.

Here are Anne Ciliberti's top 5 issues:
#1 Academic Engagement - how is the library adapting to new pedagogies and technologies that require fewer information resources and different information seeking behaviors.

#2 Information Literacy - Can we convince faculty that information literacy skills are as important as critical thinking skills?

#3 The Culture of Assessment - How are we going to adapt to this culture and assess what we do on a daily basis.

#4 Redesigning physical and virtual spaces - It's not about us anymore! Physically, provide furniture that can be easily rearranged for patron needs; have noisy places and quiet places. Virtually, redesign web pages to make them more attractive and valuable for users. (See Stephen Bell's blog Designing Better Libraries)

#5 Stimulate Staff & Exceed User Expectations
- Develop a culture of customer service by stimulating your staff to try new things and be challenged. Go beyond user expectations with a culture of customer service.

Here are Rich's top 5 issues: (his Powerpoint can be downloaded here, select "Five Strategic Areas of Academic Library Focus" from the bottom of the page)

#1 Web 2.0 & Learning Innovations - tools allow us to reach out to users "where they happen to be, and in association with the task that they happen to be undertaking." NJIT has done this with a natural language knowledge based search box on their homepage. Try it here.

#2 Promote and Expand Information Literacy - we need to understand millenials's learning strategies and teach to them. Rich suggests things like increased experiential learning (gaming, simulations, etc), more peer-to-peer learning, and offering web based learning options that teach a skill at point of need.

#3 Outsource feasible resources & services to consortia alternatives - collaboration can and will stretch across many facets of libraries: open source software, open access publishing, information literacy, networking, social networking, etc.

#4 Support & Promote Open Access Publishing - Rich quotes Kate Wittenberg, "It will be important for publishers and librarians together to engage in experiments that test various models for creating and disseminating content."

#5 Support, Staff & Implement an Open Library Environment - Rich discussed the OLE project and how it can create a "common open infrastructure and standards to collaborate and accelerate academic library innovation and student learning."

Additional suggestions of pressing issues in academic librarianship included:
  • The impact of Google's book digitization and expanded digitization of resources
  • Retention and recruitment of librarians
  • Managing polar opposite skill sets among library staff
  • Compatibility of access tools; having equipment that is compatible with current and past/future technology
  • Disruptive intermediation making our jobs obsolete by eliminating libraries as a link between user and information
  • The greying of the profession - What is a librarian? How are we training future librarians?
  • How do we do more with less; can we become more productive with technology
  • Collaboration with IT and other departments
  • The role of reference - how is it changing, how should we be changing the way we offer reference services - roaming, chat, text message, etc.
I volunteered that last one and it was voted as one of the top 5 additional concerns. I also discovered at this presentation that our concerns as a community college are markedly different from those of a research university. What do you think our some of the biggest issues we are facing?

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Ordering Official Transcripts

This message was posted to Lion's Den on 7/21/09, in case you missed it:

Summer visiting students who wish to obtain an official transcript to be sent to their home College must place an order from the RVCC home page.Click the drop down arrow marked Quik Links and scroll to TRANSCRIPTS. Follow the instructions listed on the link.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Enhancements to Lexis Nexis Academic

Lexis Nexis Academic will be releasing enhancements on August 15, 2009. The enhancements primarily impact the Easy Search form and navigation menus and (as they always say) are designed to make the database less confusing. There is an FAQ about the enhancements here. You can test the Alpha release here. I strongly recommend trying it out soon, because it looks like the main search page has changed significantly!

I particularly like the way all of the search forms are available on the homepage. The tabs to get to specific functions were often missed by students, which led me to pull out the separate search forms on our database page. Good to know the folks at LN are listening to their users!

One thing I noticed is that the Navigation menu is lost when you are taken to a specific search form, like Shepards Citations. The current search forms maintain the tabs at the top of the page, which makes it easier to jump from one search form to another.

Better presentations

An ALA preconference focused on using images and visuals to enhance presentations. Instead of slide after slide of text and bulleted lists, visuals are memorable ways to get your message across. The conference materials are accessible here. I've also saved two of their presentations and a list of related resources to the Reference drive under Instructional Materials. Look for these files:

Power of Image - ALA conference presentation
Get the Picture - ALA conference presentation
Resources for effective presentations - ALA conference presentation

Although the Power Points utilize the presenters' philosophy to tell a story using images, not text, you can still gain a lot of valuable information from their slides (and the notes that are visible if you do not view it as a slideshow).

The list of resources includes links for finding free creative commons images. I've also tagged some sites for this purpose which you can access at

Friday, July 10, 2009

Proquest Unified Content Platform

In 2010, Proquest plans on launching a unified content platform with a single sign-on and improved searching capability. While I'm not sure how this will impact our current Proquest subscriptions, there is more information available in this LJ Academic article. Given the recent enhancements Ebsco and JSTOR have made, it seems like Proquest is a little slow to jump on-board. But hopefully the new platform will update and add more useful features and make it easier for us to move away from "tool" instruction and towards concept instruction.

Monday, June 29, 2009

LC Call Number game

This is fun.

The Library of Congress Call Number Game
, by someone at the University of Pittsburgh

Using tags for Reference

Using web-based tags has made organizing websites I like SO much easier! I've been using Delicious, but there are a number of other tagging sites available. Here's a fun video on how tagging - also known as social bookmarking - works:

Nan and I have been discussing creating a Delicious account for Reference, where we can all access a number of bookmarks that might be useful. Currently there are many bookmarks saved in Internet Explorer and Mozilla on the Reference computer, but as the video points out, these bookmarks are only available on THAT computer. Tagging them with a service like Delicious makes them accessible from anywhere. There are further uses for these bookmarks as well, like incorporating links to them in Research Guides or other places on our website.

The main drawback to social bookmarking is that your bookmarks are saved elsewhere, so you are dependent on that service for retrieving them. In January of this year, tagging site Ma.gnolia lost all of its users data. Oops.

Technorati is the other most popular tagging site. According to Wikipedia, Faves "has a wider range of functionality that encourages interaction with 'friends' in rating the content of linked webpages." This might be more group friendly and worth considering for something like Reference tags.

Diigo allows you to also highlight parts of a webpage and attach sticky notes! I'm going to have to try this one out.

Leave comments and let me know if you prefer a particular service or have other thoughts on creating common tags for Reference-related websites. Oh, and the other great thing is we can assign as many tags as we want to a site. So if I would call something "instruction" and Nan would call it "infolit", we give the site both tags and then can both access it intuitively. No more need to be mindreaders!

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Finding Marketing Plans

I feel like this is the kind of thing that comes up now and then: students needing sample Marketing plans. There is a guide on the Lexis Nexis wiki that describes how magazine articles from the database can be used to piece together the information that would be contained in a proprietary marketing plan for a specific company.

There's also some other great guides to Lexis Nexis created by users on the wiki.

The New Invisible Web

In this article in School Library Journal, Joyce Valenza recommends a number of search engines to get to what she calls, the "new" invisible web: blogs, wikis, and other web2.0 areas that might get lost in the Google shuffle. Some suggestions:

Google Wiki Search
IPL Blogs

The new search engine Zuula that Nan discussed earlier also searches many of these less common areas of the internet.

Monday, May 11, 2009

New Search Engines

Check out Zuula --

The benefits:

1. It is much quicker than Dogpile
2. You don't have to retype the query over and over
3. It has tabbed results for Google, Yahoo, Ask and Live, as well as several other smaller engines that you can select from available list.

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Google map of nearby libraries

Check out my Google Map! This custom map marks all of the Somerset County Libraries (I think) in blue tacks, and other nearby libraries that are not part of the county system in red tacks. If you click on a location an information box with the library hours and (hopefully) a link to their homepage will appear. The tiny url for this map is (for Somerset County Library System map).

By the way, if you haven't played with yet, I highly recommend it, although apparently there are many websites with similar functions. At tinyurl, you can take any long url and have it translated into a shorter one that is easy to copy/paste, send in an email, stick in a blog post, or put in a tweet. You can allow tinyurl to generate a short but generic url, or you can try to create a customized one, as long as someone hasn't already used it. Besides the map url, I've made a tinyurl to my Creating a Works Cited in Word 2007 document, which I published through Googledocs - It's not THAT tiny, but it's more memorable than the URL Googledocs assigned.

Friday, May 1, 2009

Popculture Multi-Media and Library Instruction

CyberZed Shed: “Popculture Multi-Media and Library Instruction”
Nedra Peterson, Director, Library, Woodbury University

Nedra Peterson demonstrated film clips related to information literacy concepts that she uses to capture students’ attention, illustrate the concepts, and encourage discussion in a library instruction class. Film clips are good for visually oriented learners, but they also trigger emotions which stimulate brain activity, thus enhancing memory and learning. She suggests using the captioning feature so if the sound is not great, students can read the dialogue. For ACRL Standard I (organization of information), Nedra shows a clip from High Fidelity where the main character is organizing his record album collection. This humorous clip spurs discussion about the many possible ways of organizing information, and how it is important for an organization system to be useful to many users. For Standard II, a scene from The Ring shows the research process in action, including a keyword that becomes a clue to find more information, appropriate research methods, related terms. The protagonist even has to go to PRINT RESOURCES to find what she needs! For Standard I & IV, a scene from School of Rock is used to explain how research builds upon previous research, the same way musicians “sample” earlier pieces of music and build upon them (always giving credit to the original source!). Other media Nedra uses include a tv episode of Buffy the Vampire Slayer, “I Robot – You Jane”, which questions this issue of quality control on the internet. The song American Idiot by Green Day includes the lyric “one nation controlled by the media” which can also spur discussion about evaluating sources. Nedra says she just notices these things in her normal television and movie viewing and they make for great lesson components.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

This website was just added to Librarian's Internet Index and looks like a fantastic resource! They provide streaming video of over 600 documentaries apparently for free. It seems quite legitimate and LII is supposed to put a lot of effort into their review process, as far as I know. Supersize Me is on there and some other recognizable titles, and a lot of Nova and PBS documentaries. It's

YouTube and Info Lit

There has been a lot more talk about bringing videos and other multi-media into the information literacy classroom. Here is a description of a presentation from the LOEX conference describing a lesson that starts with a news clip and has the students find additional information using the research techniques we model.

Problem Based Learning meets Web 2.0: Using a YouTube video to teach information literacy in a Problem Based Learning format
Frances A. May (University of North Texas)

Most of the available knowledge about NetGen or Millennial students indicates they are visual and kinesthetic learners, who like to work in groups. In addition, they get their information primarily from news media on the web. To capitalize on these trends, a powerful way of teaching information literacy was developed, combining Problem-Based Learning techniques with a 3-minute BBC news clip on YouTube. They were asked to list facts, define the problem, determine what other information they needed, and then shown how to find books and articles on the topic. They were then asked to propose a solution based on what they had learned. The librarian acts as a guide on the side, asking questions of the students to draw their knowledge and experience into the class, thus creating more interest and buy-in on their part. The skills thus learned are transferable. And it can be done in a 50 minute session.

The widespread lack of knowledge of media and visual literacy are limiting the ability of our students to think critically. It is a broad generalization to say that most people get their information from news broadcasts via television or web; however, it is probably an accurate observation. Therefore, incorporating visual media into an information literacy instruction session helps students of any age to be better informed citizens and more critical information consumers.

Friday, April 10, 2009

Libraries and Millenials

A recent article from LJAN discussed the popular topic of our millenial students and the expectations they bring to college. This article mentioned Richard Sweeney from NJIT who performs a lot of research on millenial students and how they view/use libraries. There is also an interview of Sweeney by Marie Radford (of Rutgers) and Robert Lackie on Marie's blog, Library Garden. Throughout the interview, Richard discusses many advances and changes academic libraries will need to make in order to best serve our incoming millenial students. It's interesting to me that this article is from 2006 and change is clearly slow in coming. I think these resources all point to changes many people are still resisting and illuminate a growing disconnect between what we wish our students would do and what they actually do. Just some food for thought.

Saturday, March 28, 2009

More fun metaphors

I love the metaphors (or similes) that instructional librarians use to get points across to our students about some of the more complex ideas. Here's another great one recently posted to the CJC-L:

On a related note, I like to tell students Academic Search Complete and Proquest Research Library are like Wal-mart and Target. They have multiple departments and there is overlap between the two but there are some items you can only buy at Wal-mart and some only carried by Target. The subject-specific databases are like the shoe stores, sports stores, bookstores, etc. you find at the mall that cater to consumers looking for a particular item. (-Christina Teasley, Savannah Technical College)

If you have any of these great metaphors, please share them. I think it makes our classes more interesting and understandable when we get away from "library-speak" and make our concepts relevant to students' "prior knowledge" (to get all pedagogical on you!). One of the first ones Julie shared with me was using "hurricane" to explain the lack of context when keywording search (i.e. the word "hurricane" could refer to a storm, a lamp, a boxer, a movie, a Bob Dylan song, an alcoholic bevarage, an NHL hockey team, etc). I still use that in English I classes (thanks Julie!!).



Friday, March 27, 2009

Define a website vs. database

Someone posted to a listserv the question "How do define in one sentence a website, so that students understand the difference between websites and database articles." Here's my favorite response:

Websites are bars that let everyone in.
Databases are like nightclubs that charge a cover. We (the library) are paying your cover charge.

I think I might just have to use that. :o)


Friday, March 6, 2009

Online sample math problems

I just had a student call looking for sample calculus problems and found a pretty good site:

It's a wiki and contains user-generated sample problems (and the solutions!) for tons of math topics, and also optics, physics classical mechanics, and probability and statistics. Looks like a pretty good resource! It looks like you might have to register to access some content.


Saturday, February 7, 2009


Forgot to include the quote I use for the previous post.

“Coursework should inspire more intellectual probing. It won’t hurt their chemistry grades, and outside books may even raise their scores on the GMAT and LSAT, which have reading comprehension sections. Young Americans have everything to gain from reading, more civic and historical knowledge, familiarity with current events and government actions, a larger vocabulary, better writing skills, eloquence, inexpensive recreation, and contact with great thoughts and expressions of the past. And yet even in the intellectual havens of our [colleges], too many of them shield themselves from the very activity that best draws them out of the high school mindset.”

Then I ask - "Do you agree that college students don't read?" And "Why don't college students read?" You get some really interesting answers!


One of the education faculty shared this idea with me, which she uses on the first day of class to engage students and get them talking. I had asked for suggestions because for what we do, it's like it's always the first day of classes - we don't know their names, they don't know or trust us, and we have no rapport with the class. She uses an activity called Think-Pair-Share: she gives the class a question to consider. They think about independently first, pair with another classmate to discuss what they think and then share their ideas together as a class. I did a modified version of this in two English II's this week and was amazed that it actually worked quite well! I posted a quote on a PowerPoint slide, and also handed it out to the students on a slip of paper as they walked in the door. I noticed that this activity immediately engaged me with them because I was able to greet every single student, make eye contact, and start off on the right foot with them. I asked them to think about the quote while they were waiting for class to start. When everyone was settled, I introduced myself, gave a background of where the quote came from (I took it from Mark Bauerlein's book, The Dumbest Generation) and then asked them, do you agree with him? I couldn't believe that I actually got a response and probably half the students in the class were interested in participating. This established a great connection, opened them up to the idea of participating in the session, and set a really good tone for the rest of the class. The quote I used is posted below, and it worked great. I'm also thinking of using audio or video clips to do this, but the quote is convenient because they don't all have to do it at the same time. The stragglers have less time to think, but everyone can just read the quote at their own pace.

Online archives of Holocaust survivor interviews

The British Library has made available online (for free!) a collection of interviews with survivors of the Jewish Holocaust. Actually their Archival Sound Recordings site hosts over 12,000 recordings of "music, spoken word, and human and natural environments." This looks like a really interesting digital resource! I plan on exploring it and seeing if there's anything relevant that we can bring into classes for a little multi-media change-up!


Thursday, January 22, 2009

Facts on File Fun Fact!

I don't know how long this feature has been available but I just noticed it. The Facts on File main page now has a federated search engine. It's on the right side of the screen and called "History Database Search". Using this search tool, you can select to search across America History Online, American Indian H.O., American Women's H.O., African American H.O., Modern World H.O. and Ancient and Medieval H.O. That's pretty helpful! It allows you to perform a basic or advanced search as well.