Monday, April 27, 2009

Best Study Strategy: "Close the Book. Recall. Write It Down"

Excepted from
The Chronicle of Higher Education: The Faculty
From the issue dated May 1, 2009

That old study method still works, researchers say. So why don't professors preach it?

The scene: A rigorous intro-level survey course in biology, history, or economics. You're the instructor, and students are crowding the lectern, pleading for study advice for the midterm.

If you're like many professors, you'll tell them something like this: Read carefully. Write down unfamiliar terms and look up their meanings. Make an outline. Reread each chapter.

That's not terrible advice. But some scientists would say that you've left out the most important step: Put the book aside and hide your notes. Then recall everything you can. Write it down, or, if you're uninhibited, say it out loud.

Two psychology journals have recently published papers showing that this strategy works, the latest findings from a decades-old body of research. When students study on their own, "active recall" — recitation, for instance, or flashcards and other self-quizzing — is the most effective way to inscribe something in long-term memory.
. . . .

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Ain't No Such Thing as a Free Lunch!

I've just read a synopsis of Google's settlement with the book publishers and the librarians concerning Google Books ( See below.

For the past few years I've been showing relevant upper-division classes the value of Google Book Search. Google has been digitizing the books from a couple of dozen of big libraries for several years now. Till now (and I really don't know the date when this will change) anyone anywhere could search this website and pull up records of the books already digitized in three different possible formats: full view for out-of-copyright items (generally 1925 and earlier), limited preview (several pages) for copyrighted with no active publisher-prohibition, and snippet for publisher-restricted viewing.

Publishers didn't like the fact they they had to ask Google to restrict their books to limited preview,and they claimed copyright violation, and sued (of course). Below is the gist of the settlement. What it seems to say is that no longer will out-of-copyright books be available full-text from any computer anytime as it is now. Only authorized computers in libraries will have this ability. [I'm sure the librarians fought hard to get this one so full-view access of copyright-free books remains available, but also so libraries don't become completely irrelevant as providers of classic and historical sources of information.]

Google and the publishers will also LET YOU personally and We, libraries, BUY access to copyrighted books. You could buy individual titles. Libraries would buy subscriptions (To Collections? How much? Will libraries will be able to afford the price publishers deem reasonable. Will access be restricted to the University community or can anyone come in and use it? Will libraries ever need to buy another print monograph? Is licensing the same as owning? Will we be able to interlibrary loan electronic items?)

The two research center idea is interesting, but I'm not really sure of any broadly useful value, other than archival. Where will they be? Will access be free at these sites?

There are so many more questions about the ramifications of this settlement that we don't even know how to pose them yet, much less what the answers will be. ANSTAAFL. I guess we always knew that Google wasn't doing all this scanning because of their generosity and their love of knowledge. Sometime the stockholders would seek a profit. We also know that publishers are not easily adjusting to this electronic world. This is another attempt at control. Will it work? How will it affect libraries?

Here's an excerpt of what Google just sent out:[ Note the enthusiastically positive spin.]

Increasing access to books: the Google Book Search settlement agreement

by Daniel Clancy, Engineering Director for Google Book Search

. . .  The <>agreement, which settles two lawsuits brought against the <>Google Books Library Project, proposes to dramatically increase access to millions of books in the U.S., while at the same time expanding the opportunities for authors and publishers to earn money from their works.  The agreement also provides a wealth of new opportunities for libraries, academics, and researchers, a few of which we'd like to share with you:

Expanded access to millions of in-copyright books:
 Librarians have been providing access to books for thousands of years, and over time they have increased the size of their collections and broadened their reach into the community. The agreement dramatically expands the reach of <>Book Search Library Partners by enabling readers across the U.S. to <>preview millions of in-copyright out-of-print books preserved in their collections. Readers will be able to search these books through Google Book Search and where previously they have only been able to view bibliographic information and a few snippets of text from the book, they will be able to view a limited preview (up to 20%) of the book to find out if it suits their needs.  From there, they can click through to a list of libraries which hold that book, to online bookstores (which carry used books) or to purchase instant online access to the rest of the book so that they may read the book in its entirety. 

Free online viewing of books at U.S. public and university libraries: In most communities, your local library is one of your primary access points to information. Through this agreement, public libraries, community colleges, and universities across the U.S. will be able to provide free full-text reading to books housed in great libraries of the world like Stanford, California, Wisconsin-Madison and Michigan. A newly-created Public Access Service license will allow full-text viewing of millions of out-of-print books to readers who visit library facilities. Public libraries will be eligible to receive one free Public Access Service license for a computer located on-site at each of their library buildings in the United States. Non-profit, higher education institutions will be eligible to receive free Public Access Service licenses for on-site computers, the exact number of which will depend on the number of students enrolled. 

Institutional subscriptions to millions of additional books:
 Imagine never having to ask a patron to wait until a book is returned or arrives through interlibrary loan. Beyond the free license described above, libraries will also be able to purchase an institutional subscription to millions of books covered by the settlement agreement.  Once purchased, this subscription will allow a library to offer patrons access to the incredible collections of Google's library partner when they are in the library itself as well as when they access it remotely.

Services for People with Print Disabilities:
 One of the advantages digitization presents is the opportunity to enable greater accessibility to books.  Through the agreement, the visually impaired and print disability community will be able to access millions of in-copyright books through screen enlargement, reader, and Braille display technologies.

New Research Opportunities with the Creation a Research Corpus: The vast database of books that Google is digitizing is not just a resource for readers, but also a one-of-a-kind research tool. The agreement allows for the creation of two research centers that will include a copy of almost all of the books digitized by Google. These research centers will enable people to conduct research that utilizes computers to process or analyze the text of the books. Examples of the types of research they will facilitate include automatic translation, analysis of how language has evolved over time, next generation search technology, image processing research and others.

This agreement would not have been possible without the work of librarians who have preserved and maintained books for years, and <>Google Book Search's library partners, who worked with Google to make so many of them discoverable online.  To learn more about what they have to say about the agreement, check out our <>thoughts and opinions page.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Staff Appreciation Awards Go To . . .

Brenda Hunter and Nancy Trant received this year's National Library Week "Staff Appreciation Awards" in the University Library during a luncheon on Wednesday.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

This Year's Excellence in Librarianship Award goes to . . .

Deborah Lynn Harrington, the Mitchell College of Business Librarian. Congratulations Deborah for doing excellent work in setting up and running the "Business" Library.

Monday, April 13, 2009

Celebrate National Library Week--April 12-18

World Connect @ USA Libraries

Monday Thru Thursday--Roving Reference, Student Center Breezeway, 11:30-1:00. Need help with your assignments? Face-to-face with a reference librarian--what could be better!

Thursday-- 7 P.M., Library Auditorium, "Ruben's Mobile." Dr. Sue Brannan Walker and Ms Kathryn Seawell.

Kids & Teens Book Drive for USA Chidren's and Women's Hospital--Drop any new or gently-used children's or young adult books at one of our libraries.

Twitter a Book Review--share your bookish experiences @usabaldwin.

Rare Books at the USA Archives on Springhill Ave.

Prize Drawing--draw a quote at any of our Circulation Desks for a chance to win a prize.

Thursday, April 09, 2009

Twenty-First Century Literacy Skills

by Henry Jenkins, Director of Media Studies, MIT, excerpted:

"We have also identified a set of core social skills and cultural competencies that young people should acquire if they are to be full, active, creative, and ethical participants in this emerging participatory culture:

Play — the capacity to experiment with your surroundings as a form of problem-solving

Performance — the ability to adopt alternative identities for the purpose of improvisation and discovery

Simulation — the ability to interpret and construct dynamic models of real world processes

Appropriation — the ability to meaningfully sample and remix media content

Multitasking — the ability to scan one’s environment and shift focus as needed to salient details.

Distributed Cognition — the ability to interact meaningfully with tools that expand mental capacities

Collective Intelligence — the ability to pool knowledge and compare notes with others toward a common goal

Judgment — the ability to evaluate the reliability and credibility of different information sources

Transmedia Navigation — the ability to follow the flow of stories and information across multiple modalities

Networking — the ability to search for, synthesize, and disseminate information

Negotiation — the ability to travel across diverse communities, discerning and respecting multiple perspectives, and grasping and following alternative norms."

Friday, April 03, 2009

Bodleian 19th Century Collection Online

Just got this from Google Book Search Blog:

"In 2004, Google began a partnership with Oxford University Library to scan mostly 19th century public domain books from its Bodleian library. Five years on, we're delighted to announce the end of this phase of our scanning with Oxford, our first European partner. Together, we have digitized and made available on Google Book Search many hundreds of thousands of public domain books from the Bodleian and other Oxford libraries, representing the bulk of their available public domain content.

From English to German, to Spanish and French, most of the digitized works date from the 19th century and range from classic literature to more scientific volumes in fields including Geography, Philosophy or Anthropology. Among some of the works now available through Book Search, you can find the first English translation of Newton's Mathematical principles of natural philosophy from 1729, the first edition of Jane Austen's Emma, and John Cassell's Illustrated History of England. You can search and read the full text of these works on Google Book Search, and download and print a pdf if you wish to.