Thursday, May 31, 2007

Web 2.0

The reference department is starting on an excursion to explore Web 2.0 sites today. I thought maybe some readers might want to try them too. I will adapt the instructions a bit for this open forum. You are welcome to make comments on this blog about your experiences. Here's the first place we are exploring:

First Stop: LibraryThing

Let’s start our adventure in a library catalog–your own library catalog–the one you are going to create in LibraryThing.

1. Go to Create an account with any user name and password you like. [Think about using the same log in and password for all of these expeditions so you won’t have to worry about remembering different ones for different applications.]

1a. If you must, you may read the short introduction to LibraryThing at:

2. Once you have an account your first entry box will pop up. Enter the title or author of your favorite book or just grab a book from your desk and type in the title or author.

<>3. Add 2 or 3 tags that describe it – fairly generic words that might fit other favorites of yours, e.g. mystery, female detective, Chicago.

4. You can change the search to Library of Congress below the entry box if you think your book may be out of print. Amazon’s good because it will retrieve cover images too. Click on the link below the Library of Congress to see the other 78 catalogs possibly containing the book. [Mary can even search the National Library of Norway if she has a favorite Norwegian author!]

5. Click the retrieved book that you wish to save to your library, then go to “Your Library” to see the beginning of your personal collection.

6. Hover over some of the icons and numbers to see what clicking through will take you to. Try some like the “Zeitgeist” tab at the top. Check out the tag "cloud."

7. Add a few more books. You can have access to your catalog from any computer on the web [if you can remember your log in and password of course.]

Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Smithsonian Photo Contest Winners

The Smithsonian Magazine 4th Annual Photo Contest winners have been published on the web. And they are glorious!

Thursday, May 24, 2007

Rainiest and Ideas

Guess who ranks as the rainiest city in the United States?

and from marylaine block:

TED - Ideas Worth Spreading
"Inspired talks by the world's greatest thinkers and doers." Among them:
Peter Gabriel on fighting injustice with a videocamera, Jane Goodall on
what separates us from the apes, Nicholas Negroponte on the vision behind
One Laptop per Child, Michael Shermer on why people believe strange
things, Jimmy Wales on the creation of Wikipedia, and many more.

Friday, May 18, 2007

Boating Info

Perfect weekend to be on a boat. It's best if you don't actually own one, but have friends who do. Then they have to pay to keep it up, store it, fuel it, and learn all the rules as well as run the thing. Here's a link to the Librarians' Internet Index listing for boating safety. Maybe you should brush up on some safety tips in case your hosts get tired of your mooching ways!

Have a great weekend!

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

Watching the Government

Things are popping in Washington D.C. these days. Here's a website that will keep you up to date if you can't watch CSPAN all day everyday. It's a project of SourceWatch which describes itself this way:

Welcome to SourceWatch, a collaborative project of the Center for Media and Democracy to produce a directory of the people, organizations and issues shaping the public agenda. A primary purpose of SourceWatch is documenting the PR and propaganda activities of public relations firms and public relations professionals engaged in managing and manipulating public perception, opinion and policy. SourceWatch also includes profiles on think tanks, industry-funded organizations and industry-friendly experts that work to influence public opinion and public policy on behalf of corporations, governments and special interests. Over time, SourceWatch has broadened to include others involved in public debates including media outlets, journalists and government agencies. Unlike some other wikis, SourceWatch has a policy of strict referencing, and is overseen by a paid editor.

Monday, May 14, 2007

Haunted Love [in Closed Reserve]

Dennis Guion, our Circulation/Reserve librarian just sent me this YouTube video. I might just ask the Freshman Seminar instructors to have their new students watch it in the Fall to "scare them straight" about library etiquette.
Haunted Love.

Friday, May 11, 2007

Is Nothing Sacred?

Academics are taking teaching to YouTube.
Just got this video from the Chronicle of Higher Education about a professor who is using YouTube to teach cultural anthropology from the inside out.

This video references his [Michael Wesch, ass. prof at Kansas State] brilliant YouTube video. In it he raises questions that we will all need to address soon, if we are to make any sense of the phenomenon called Web 2.0--those applications that allow us to collaborate, personalize and create ourselves and our world in cyberspace.

Web 2.0 ... The Machine is Us/ing Us

I've just activated the "comments" feature of Blogger. Use it!

Thursday, May 10, 2007


Kathy Jones just sent me this website: StateMaster

"Welcome to StateMaster, a unique statistical database which allows you to
research and compare a multitude of different data on US states. We have
compiled information from various primary sources such as the US Census
Bureau, the FBI, and the National Center for Educational Statistics."

Try this one under lifestyles and this one under crime---vvverrry iiinnnteresting.

Wednesday, May 09, 2007

HotDocs and Hollywood Librarians

Vickey Baggott, government documents librarian, has a new Hot Docs guaranteed to induce FUTURE SHOCK. These new hearings cover topics being discussed in Congress these days.


Check out the trailer for a new documentary on YouTube called the Hollywood Librarian, coming soon.

Thursday, May 03, 2007

For Language Lovers and Others

One of the big problems information seekers have is trying to figure out what words to use to describe a concept, topic, subject. English is messy; unlike some other languages which are more precise, we have many words to express a single idea.

I have been a great fan of the visual search in the EBSCO databases. If you haven't tried it, do so. Click on visual search; search a topic; see the articles categorized graphically by subject heading. Marylaine Block offered this site today which will be useful for novice searchers--it gives definitions and establishes connections between words and their use in the real world. It could be a great first step for students (and the rest of us) to learn both the denotation and connotations of topics/words they want to explore. Here's how Visuwords describes itself:

"Visuwords™ online graphical dictionary — Look up words to find their meanings and associations with other words and concepts. Produce diagrams reminiscent of a neural net. Learn how words associate.<>

<>Enter words into the search box to look them up or double-click a node to expand the tree. Click and drag the background to pan around and use the mouse wheel to zoom. Hover over nodes to see the definition and click and drag individual nodes to move them around to help clarify connections."

Tuesday, May 01, 2007

The Price of Textbooks

Textbook publishers are two of the dirtiest words ever spoken by college students. Costs have tripled in 20 years.* Sometimes the bookstores get blamed. Sometimes instructors get blamed. Sometimes the authors get blamed. There is certainly enough blame to spread around. Sue Medina, the guru and leading light of the Network of Alabama Academic Libraries (NAAL), sent out a link to this article today. Washington State is trying to make the costs more transparent with a new law. Check out this editorial* in the NYTs today.<>

The article mentions a program Rice University is using to provide students with custom written textbooks online for no cost. Called Connexions, it describes itself this way:
". . . an environment for collaboratively developing, freely sharing, and rapidly publishing scholarly content on the Web. Our Content Commons contains educational materials for everyone — from children to college students to professionals — organized in small modules that are easily connected into larger courses. All content is free to use and reuse under the Creative Commons "attribution" license."

Hmmmm. Free texts. What an idea. js