Friday, September 29, 2006

Weekend Brain Activities

Serendip's Brain and Behavior Page

I haven't explored this site very much, but I did try some of the experiments on this page. This is a website worthy of more explorations. But at least try some of the Psychology experiments on this page.

"Born in the summer of 1994, Serendip was conceived as an interacting and developing system, not unlike a living organism.In the fall of 1996, Serendip had organized itself into ten main subject areas (Brain and Behavior, Complex Systems, Genes and Behavior, Science and Culture, Science Education, among others). Each of these contains interactive exhibits, articles, links to other resources, and a forum area for comments and discussion." js

Thursday, September 28, 2006

Top 25 Censored Stories of 2007

Another website commemorating Banned Books Week--it indicts the news media for self-censorship, shortsightedness, and smoke and mirror reporting--the natural outcome of a culture of censorship. This is via Marylaine Block's September 29th, Neat New Stuff.
"Project Censored is 'a media research group out of Sonoma State
University which tracks the news published in independent journals and
newsletters' and 'compiles an annual list of 25 news stories of social
significance that have been overlooked, under-reported or self-censored
by the country's major national news media.'..."

Tuesday, September 26, 2006

Election 2006

This link is from Vicki Tate, Head of Documents and Serials.

Every two years the University of Michigan docs librarian creates a thorough guide to the Elections. Elections 2006, the UMich biennial guide, is up and running at:

"It has links to the usual suspects: candidates, public opinion polls, Michigan ballot proposals, national issues, voter registration, prior election results. We sneaked in some campus-licensed web products. What's new is a little section on election forecasting (i.e. soothsayers) and free Presidential election results by Congressional District. Sorry it took so long this time." Grace York, Coordinator, Documents Center

You might not be able to get a direct link to the Michigan-licensed articles, but check with us to see if USA also has a license to the same databases.


Monday, September 25, 2006

Banned Books Week --Sept 23-30th

It has always been a great American tradition to try and control the thoughts, bodies and readings of other citizens--totally unconstitutional, but a tradition nevertheless.
This is Banned Book Week. Here are some websites that give the history and current attempts to restrict our freedom to explore far and wide by entering into the fictional, and sometimes real, lives of others.
ALA Banned Books Page
ALA's Page on Censorship and Challenges
Google's Banned Books Page
The Online Books Page's Banned Books
Come to the University Library this week to participate in a drawing celebrating our Freedom to Read whatever we want. js

Thursday, September 21, 2006

Shakespeare Searched

I got this one from Peter Scott's Library Blog, a blog well worth watching. This is truly cool. Put in a word/topic. Select a play or character. And the search engine will return all quotes within that play or said by that character containing that word. It can be done using html versions of the plays and Control/Command F, but it isn't nearly as cool as this. Now I don't have to go to the Concordance to Shakespeare to find the perfect quote to put in a birthday or wedding card! What? Everyone doesn't do this? js

Shakespeare Searched "is a search engine designed to provide quick access to passages from Shakespeare's plays and sonnets. We cluster search results by topic, work, and character to make it easy to find exactly what you're looking for. From something as simple as identifying the speaker of a particular quote to discovering underlying thematic elements across works, Shakespeare Searched has you covered. This website is not a replacement for a copy of the text. It provides no analysis or footnotes. It is meant to supplement a traditional reading of a work"

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

Foggy London for Christmas Break? Oct. 2nd Deadline

Earn 3 credits and have a great adventure in London, all while staying in a four-star hotel from Dec. 26th to Jan. 8th. The University is part of a consortium of schools that offer classes in English-speaking countries. It's called CCSA. Australia, Hong Kong, India, London, Belize, Canada, Ghana, Jamaica and Scotland are the countries listed for this year.

Both London and Australia have Winterims. [Actually summer in Australia in Dec.] The deadlines for applying for these two is October 2nd. The costs, details and all the other programs can be found at Adults, parents and families have actually been known to join this program just for fun--to have the joy of learning about a place while actually living there--in luxury, I might add. I got to spend 2 nights in the program's hotel a few years ago and thought it the nicest hotel and breakfast I've ever encountered. The summer program involves dorm living but is among the most reasonable programs around.

Even if you can't go this winter or this year, check out the CCSA website and think about next summer or in a few years. An international adventure should be part of every undergraduate's experience. See Ana Burgamy in Alpha Hall East 320 if you are interested now or even just thinking about it down the road. Financial aid may be available too. js

Monday, September 18, 2006

Speed Reader

So much to read; so little time. Are you starting to fall behind in your reading for classes? I remember in high school using a mechanical tool to learn how to read faster. Here's a little online program that might help you speed it up. You have to play around with the settings, like left justified, chunks of 7-10 words and set the speed a bit higher than you are now comfortable with. But first find yourself an reading assignment or article that you need to read for class that's online. Click in the text; Control-A to capture the article; Control-C to copy it; Control-V to paste it into Spreeder. [Command key for Macs] Change your settings and GO! js

Friday, September 15, 2006

Constitution Day--September 17th

By Vickey Baggott
In celebration of Citizenship Day and Constitution Week, we have received some new government publications which serve to remind us of the ideals set forth by our Founding Fathers. Click here to see this month's Hot Docs at USA ( You can find these pubs in the Government Documents Department located on the 2nd floor, South of the University Library. Also, check out our Constitution Week display table near our maps area and our wall display case located on the 3rd floor, South by the west stairwell.

Thursday, September 14, 2006

Photos: Pictures that Lie

Marylaine Block in her Neat New Stuff I found this Week featured this as one of her websites. Another one from C/Net. It's always great fun to see how photos have been altered for and by the media. Who wouldn't want to look 20 lbs lighter? But this "Pictures that Lie" website is also a lesson in skepticism. If you can't trust your eyes--their eyes--who and what can you trust. There seem to be fewer and fewer honest and objective sources of information in the tech-heavy news universe.

On the other hand what does it mean to be honest and objective. Don't writers always use and manipulate words to gain the effect they desire. And how often is it that effect is not informed by unacknowledged bias. Oops, a little too twisty. I am an avid follower of the Poynter's Institute's "Writing Tools" series by Roy Peter Clark. Every week he discusses a technique journalists can use to, in effect, manipulate the reader's response. Of course I don't use any manipulation. I just like reading about it--a lot. js

Wednesday, September 13, 2006


In cooperation with the Art Dept., the Library now hosts a database of fine art images called ARTstor. Here's the scoop from its FAQ webpage,

"ARTstor is a non-profit organization created by The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation. As part of its ongoing effort to become a community resource, ARTstor is developing a rich digital library that will offer coherent collections of art images and descriptive information as well as the software tools to enable active use of the collections. The ARTstor Library's initial content includes approximately 500,000 images covering art, architecture and archeology. ARTstor's software tools support a wide range of pedagogical and research uses including: viewing and analyzing images through features such as zooming and panning, saving groups of images online for personal or shared uses, and creating and delivering presentations both online and offline. This community resource will be made available solely for educational and scholarly uses that noncommercial in nature."

I really haven't tried it yet--this week I hope! But another interesting development is that the Metropolitan Museum of Art is going to work through ARTstor to allow scholars to use print quality images in scholarly books without charging the prices now extorted because of copyright ownership.
Art monographs have always been the scholarly communication in that field and they were becoming scarce because of publishing costs, many of which, though not all, are related to the price of including excellent color images.

Try Artstor under "Articles, Indexes and Databases" on the Library Homepage. js

Tuesday, September 12, 2006

Wikipedia Warning

C/Net published an article by one of their interns a month ago about the convenience of the Wikipedia for procrastinating students. "Wikipedia is one of the Internet's latest additions to the information revolution. More importantly, it's the reason I was able to finish my massive second-semester AP English research final project in less than 45 minutes." She redeems herself by warning others about its unreliability. Hmmm, is that really enough to stop the slackers?

Advice from this librarian:
Students: OK, use Wikipedia to get initial background info on a topic. Then graduate to reliable published sources like specialized encyclopedias, both to verify and to expand on your understanding. Then move on to books and articles.
Instructors: Encourage your students to use both the Wikipedia (they will anyway) and specialized encyclopedias (expensive under-used gems) to develop a basic understanding of a topic. Maybe even let students cite the "W". But nothing beats a good class discussion about plagiarism, ethics, critical thinking, the real purpose of writing papers and education itself--as well as constant vigilance!

Friday, September 08, 2006

EPIC 2014 & 2015-The Future of News Media

This 8 minute flash animation about the future of the news media in the world of social networking is really worth watching. The original 2014 has been updated to reflect some Web 2.0 developments. I think the original is more effective, but if you haven't viewed either one of these, try one. From my side of the information-distribution game, it sure looks predictive, not just science fiction. js

"In the year 2014 the New York times has gone offline. The Fourth Estate's fortunes have waned. What happened to the news?and what is EPIC?"

Thursday, September 07, 2006

The 2006 Election

The pols and the media are beginning to gear up for this year's big horse race. There will be lots more in the next few months, but these are the most fun so far.

The New York Times has an interactive Election Map for the upcoming Nov. elections. See which states are leaning and other stats by clicking on choices on the right hand side.

Get more info from the Washington Post on this page--drag down till you see Key Races.

Find current polling numbers from Thanks to Marylaine Block for these websites. js

Wednesday, September 06, 2006

Free Collaboration Tools

I've written about these collaboration tools before, but thought I'd do it again because they can be incredibly valuable for students doing group projects. Set up accounts and share the writing with Writely and websites with An online word processor which can be used by multiple co-authors. Register and add group members emails. Share bookmarks with others in your network. Add "tags" as subject headings.

Tuesday, September 05, 2006

Old Film Clips on History Reference Center

Wow, four day weekend in New Orleans--tired, well-fed and superbly entertained! There is no segue from that to this, so I won't even try: Last Thursday I had a class with the Mobile County Public School System High School Library Media Specialists. In preparation I tried to find those things that might grab the interest of high school kids and their teachers. We, librarians, and most academics think that library research is really fun. We find all kinds of things that inspire even more curiosity. But how do you spark the curiosity of current high school students? Video is a great draw.

The History Reference Center under our Articles, Indexes, Databases page [drag down on the page to the Hs] has an image/video search on the green header bar. Search for clothing or automobiles or almost anything you want using this search and you'll get some great video clips, many from the turn of the century. These are primary documents--actual footage from the time and a great way to get students of all ages thinking about the many facets of history. Using the videos with the George Mason University website "Making Sense of Evidence" and students might actually have a good time "doing" history instead of just reading about it. Try the video search in the History Reference Center database.