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.