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 www.ccsa.cc. 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! http://www.spreeder.com/ 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 (http://www.southalabama.edu/univlib/govdocs/hotdocs.htm). 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?" http://epic.makingithappen.co.uk/

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 Pollster.com. 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 Del.icio.us.

Writely.com An online word processor which can be used by multiple co-authors. Register and add group members emails.

Del.icio.us 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.

Wednesday, August 30, 2006

Katrina Aniversary and Hot Docs for the Month

Yesterday's event, a sharing of Katrina experiences, went well. I even have 15 seconds of fame captured on the FOX 10 website today. Missed it last night. In bed by 9:30. Nice clip, but who is that old lady in the turquoise jacket? js

Vickey Baggott, Government Documents Librarian, has sent her monthly "Hot Docs."


Welcome to the Fall Semester at USA. These new government publications and video are available in the Government Documents Department located on the 2nd floor, South of the University Library. Come check us out and have a great year!

Funding Education Beyond High School : the Guide to Federal Student Aid. Dept. of Education, Federal Student Aid, 2006. ED1.45/7:2006/07. A comprehensive resource on student financial aid, through grants, loans, and work-study, available from the U.S. Department of Education's Federal Student Aid office. http://purl.access.gpo.gov/GPO/LPS69761

Youth Helping America : Educating for Active Citizenship : Service-Learning, School-Based Service and Youth Civic Engagement / authors, Kimberly Spring, Nathan Dietz, Robert Grimm, Jr. Corporation for National & Community Service, 2006. Y3.N21/29:2Y8. Takes a look at the 38 percent of students nationwide who have participated in school-based service as part of school activity or requirement and constructs a Service Quality Index that rates school-based service based on the level of high-quality service-learning elements that are incorporated into it. http://purl.access.gpo.gov/GPO/LPS71713

When your brain begins to frazzle from course work and other college pressures, check out this DVD and unwind. Lifelines : Your National Forest Roads / produced by the USDA Forest Service in partnership with the USDOT FHWA Federal Lands Highway Program. Dept. of Agriculture, Forest Service, San Dimas Technology and Development Center, 2006.
A13.140:L62/DVD. Explores the relationship between people (the USDA Forest Service, Federal Lands Highway Administration, and state and local communities) and the land (our national forests) past, present and future. vb

Tuesday, August 29, 2006

Where Were You on August 29th 2005

We're running a DVD created by the Meteorology Dept about the storm and its aftermath, a video about Katrina [I haven't looked at yet], and about 140 photos donated by students, faculty and staff --in the Library Auditorium today. About 80 photos are from Keith Helton who flew his ultralight plane over Dauphin Island and Bayou La Batre on August 30th, 2005.

From 2:00 till 5:00 there will be an open mike for anyone who would like to talk about their experience during Katrina and after. A good time to vent about whatever you want. Or come and listen to how Katrina changed the lives of a lot of those around you everyday. One year later--often no house, families scattered, no insurance check and a wholly different landscape to see everyday. Don't think that this is minor inconvenience--it's life-altering, and needs to be acknowledged by the members of this academic community, if we are to be called a community at all!

Friday, August 25, 2006

Where Were You on August 29, 2005?

Tuesday, Library Auditorium, 2:00 till 5:00. Come. Tell your stories. Listen to other's stories. These are our history and need to be recorded in our memories.

And just for weekend fun try: Time Magazine's 2006 Coolest Websites. The Time Wasters are aptly named. But just play with them between class readings and assignments!

Thursday, August 24, 2006

Katrina Anniversary

Two of the three tech problems from yesterday have been solved and the third one is not our problem it's our vendor, TDNet's, problem. Yeah!

The most frequently asked question at the Ref Desk the past few days is, "Where can I find a computer to print out my paper, or print powerpoint slides, or do my psychology online homework." We have to tell these students that we don't have any of the software they need on our Library computers--only browsers and a couple of readers--Acrobat, Quicktime, Flash--but no speakers. Students, please check out the computer labs in your major departments. SOUTHpaw lab is on the 1st floor of the Student Center and if you have paid any kind of computer fee, check out the labs in the Computer Center which are open when there are no classes scheduled in them. We are so sorry we can't help you here.

The anniversary of Katrina is Tuesday. If you have any really good photos of the hurricane and its aftermath--send them to me. I'm going to try to put together a slide show to be shown in the Library Auditorium, or maybe the plasma screen across from the Circ desk, on Tuesday.

Wednesday, August 23, 2006

Beloit College Mindset List

Every year Beloit (Wisconsin) College puts out a list of of things that they say have shaped the lives of the new Freshman Class, the Class of 2010. It's always fun to read and in many ways an eye-opener for us oldies, but if you think that all Freshman have the same experiences growing up, I think you are more than a bit naive. How many of our Freshmen are 18-year-olds who come from upper-middle class homes with ubiquitous computing gear, watch Law and Order, and prefer text messaging to talking on the phone. But try it--it might make you feel happier that you are older than 18! Drag down on this webpage to find this year's list. http://www.beloit.edu/~pubaff/mindset/

There's a new Chronicle of Higher Education article that disputes many of the items on the list, but you probably need to get it through Lexis [News Category>University News] or at the Library if you don't have a subscription.
23 Aug. 2006. "Annual Mindset List."

Education Department --Access Suspended

Now we are getting reports that no one in Education over in UCOM can get into any databases! Screen says "Account Suspended." Hey guys, we didn't suspend your account. Something fishy is happening and we will do our best to diagnose and fix the problem without causing irreparable harm. Dr. House-where are you?

EBSCO and TDNet--crash and burn

The world of database access is crashing in around us in this first week of classes. Two major sources of information are down.

Actually EBSCO is occasionally available -- if you wait long enough and it doesn't time out at 2 minutes. It has about 15 major databases which contain thousands of journal articles. And not all libraries or locations are affected, which makes it even more frustrating, because the company is less likely to worry about fixing it if it only our little "problem." GGGGRRRR.

TDNet is the company/server that holds the list of journals(Our Journal List) we subscribe to in full text, and where to find them. ALERT, ALERT, ALERT: It's now up and running

Tuesday, August 22, 2006

New Orleans and Libraries

If you watched the Spike Lee documentary on Katrina last night (actually half of it), the other half is tonight, you are probably feeling as depressed as I am this morning. I love New Orleans and to know what it used to be and where it is now is so disheartening. But I checked my email after watching this show and found that my kids, who live in N.O.. sent me this website with the perfect N.O. title. Boozocracy.org. Two guys, academics, have put out a challenge to the world for donations needed to build a public library in mid-city (this is also where my kids live, so I am over-determined, as they say, to contribute.) $1,000,000 by January 1st, 2007. Can they do it? Can you help?

When the Levees Broke: http://www.hbo.com/docs/programs/whentheleveesbroke/index.html
Boozocracy.org: http://boozocracy.org/

For a USA Library note: Kathy Wheeler and I have mounted the SciFinder Scholar, the chemistry database, application and preferences needed to run it on a Macintosh running OS X. (The PC version has been available under SciFinder Scholar on the Articles, Indexes, Databases page under S.) You must login with your usual library login to access the zipped files. They can then be installed on a computer with an IP address on campus. No personal iBooks unless they are attached via an ethernet to a static IP address. Instructor Macs and lab desktop Macs can be configured following the instructions included. Need help? Call the library.

Monday, August 21, 2006

University Library Tours

Happy First Day of the New Semester. Have you vowed to attend all your classes all the time? "80% of success is showing up." Woody Allen

I just set up the schedule for some library tours for students who want a real human tour guide to show them what we have and tell them about the services we offer. Students also have the option of a photo tour of the highlights, of course no elevator rides, no bad library jokes, no question answered, no charming librarian. De gustibus non disputandum est.

Opening EBSCO to get to its popular databases has been incredibly slow for the past several days. We are in touch with them and will try to find out what's going on. It's very annoying to all of us. js