September 2008 Archives

Literature in the Digital Age...

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books.jpgCan Intelligent Literature survive in the Digital Age? Is the paper-and-ink book heading the way of the papyrus scroll? Can serious literature survive in the brave new world of web downloads, e-books and ever-shortening attention spans? John Walsh introduces our special section

Sunday, 14 September 2008--The Independent

"A transatlantic debate is currently raging about whether a decade of staring at computer screens, sending emails and text messages, and having our research needs serviced instantly by Google and Wikipedia, has taken a terrible toll on our attention, until our brains have been reconfigurated and can no longer adjust the tempo of our mental word-processing to let us read a book all the way through."

"We haven't enough time to read as we used to. We have less and less inclination to tackle the kind of "classics" (Don Quixote, Bleak House, Moby Dick, In Search of Lost Time) that teenage readers once confidently approached."

What do you think?

Critical Thinking, health and TV

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A new report from the Kaiser Family foundation looked at how they were able to include a specific storyline into an episode of Grey's Anatomy and then measured the changes in knowledge after watching the show. With 20 million viewers the idea of embedded deliberate messages into shows is quite powerful.

Rideout, V. (2008) Television as a health educator: a case study of Grey's anatomy. Kaiser Family Foundation.

What do you think?

Book printing machine in the Library?

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The University of Michigan Libraries debut a new book machine to print out-of-copyright books in 5-7 minutes for about 10 bucks. Imagine!

"With the installation of a state-of-the-art book-printing machine at one of its libraries, the University of Michigan stands at the new frontier of 21st-century publishing, offering printed and bound reprints of out-of-copyright books from its digitized collection of nearly 2 million books, as well as thousands of books from the Open Content Alliance and other digital sources."

"The Espresso Book Machine, from On Demand Books of New York, produces perfect-bound, high-quality paperback books on demand."

Read more

Would you use this service?

Focusing on the First-Year Conference will be held on October 22, 2008 in Coffman Memorial Union on the Twin Cities Campus from 8:00AM until 4:30PM.

"This biannual conference provides University of Minnesota faculty, staff, and administrators the opportunity to exchange ideas, highlight best practices and strengthen collaborative efforts to enhance the freshman experience."

Students can register to vote @ the Libraries

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Voter registration forms and information guides are now available at 16 library circulation and/or reference desks around campus. "Register to Vote at University Libraries" posters will soon be displayed around campus directing users to our libraries.

To further support the voting effort, we have designed "how do I vote/why should I vote" bookmarks for wide distribution and has developed websites that bring together first time voter information, as well as candidate and library resource information.

Please visit the website at: and also check out Election Insite:

Trailers...for Books?

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I just heard an interesting story on National Public Radio's All Things Considered about book trailers--just like movie trailers except for books. "Long a staple of the film industry, book trailers are now standard operating procedure in the world of publishing." NPR story

Some are created by students in a variety of competitions and projects, some are created by authors, some are posted on YouTube and others are professionally produced.

Here is a winner of student project:

Real life Information Literacy-or lack there off

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Here is a great blog post from the Association of College and Research Libraries blog about the old story on United Airlines that caused its stock price to lose 75% of its value:

Information is Power-Even When it's Wrong/

Here are 4 take aways from the incident:
1.) Proper metadata is important
2.) There is no substitute for critical thinking about sources
3.) Sometimes aggregators are misleading
4.) Google is even more important than we realize

Connection between writing and science literacy?

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A recent blog posted entitled, "The Importance of Science Literacy" includes the following quotes:

--"We are provided greater amounts of increasingly complex information that ever before. However, our society’s collective sense of science literacy is outdated; many people still think of science literacy as simply being informed about new advances, for example in medicine and technology. This definition of scientific literacy will not longer suffice in this new Information Age."

--"In this new century science literacy is the occupational capacity to apply information in an appropriate contest, to analyze information, to synthesize information from various sources or on various topics, and evaluate information to determine the best course of action"

--"By studying and doing science, an individual is transformed from a passive recipient of information to an active and discerning consumer of information. In other words, scientific literacy is valuable because it prepares and empowers us to become more actively engaged in the decisions we make in out lives."

How do writing and scientific communication relate to these ideas of science literacy? Do you agree with the need for science literacy?

Free Webinar on Free Speech in Cyberspace

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Wednesday, September 17 at 12-1 Central
Learn more and free registration at:

"This webcast provides a brief overview of several novel and emerging dimensions of free expression in digital communications: how the Supreme Court has dealt with Internet speech under the First Amendment, problems posed by the content of web pages on university servers, the emerging challenge of "invasive" sites like, the largely fruitless quest for legal relief by victims of cyberattacks (including the challenge of "unmasking" anonymous critics), and the status of "sexually explicit" material on college and university servers."

Assingment Calculator

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Get your students on track for their research and writing assignments with the Assignment Calculator (

The Calculator breaks down the research and writing process into 12 steps and gives students a date by which they should complete that step. It also provides help with each step and sign-up for email reminders.

We are working on enhancing the Assignment Calculator so expect to see a link to a new "beta" version coming soon.

How do you view the Library?

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A new article in the Chronicle of Higher Education by Jennifer Howard (view article) talks about a new research report which discusses, "a growing ambivalence about the campus library" among faculty members as more and more knowledge goes digital.

"Since 2003, faculty members across the disciplines have shown a marked decline in how devoted they are to libraries as information portals. Eighty percent of humanities scholars are still devoted to library research—although that may be not because they're traditionalists but because they can't yet get what they need in digital form. But only 48 percent of economists and 50 percent of scientists value libraries as gateways."

What do you think? How do you view the Library?

My Bookmarks

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Do you have a social bookmark site set up? It is a the same as the bookmarks on your web browser except it is web based so it travels with you.

If you want to learn more about my professional interests (Information Literacy) and site I have saved, please take a look:

I am happy to help you set up your own social bookmarking site (it doesn't have to be social, either). To learn more take a look at the Social Bookmarking in Plain English.

Great Article for FYW

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Leckie, G. (1996, May). Desperately seeking citations: Uncovering faculty assumptions about the undergraduate research... Journal of Academic Librarianship, 22(3), 201. Link to article:

"Overworked reference librarians in college and university libraries have all too often described the following scenario: A first year student timidly approaches the reference desk with a question--where would you find information about abortion? Further probing by the librarian reveals (thankfully) that this question has nothing to do with the student's personal situation, but is a topic the student has chosen for a research paper in a first year sociology course.

The librarian asks what particular aspects of abortion the student is interested in, and in response, the student silently shows the librarian the handout she received in class about the research paper. For their paper, the students must choose any controversial topic of current interest to society, discuss why the topic is controversial, and consider the societal implications of different courses of action with respect to the issue. On the handout, examples of controversial topics are suggested, including gay rights, abortion, ordination of women, and banning the seal hunt. The paper is due by the end of term, and must demonstrate the use of both books and journals.

By the end of the day, several more students have approached the desk about their topics for this paper. By the end of the week, about 200 students have asked for help on this assignment. More are still likely to come, many with only days left until the paper is due. All are desperately seeking citations. "

Resources for First Year Writing Instructors

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I have created a page specifically for instructors of FYW with activity suggestions, tools and resources. Please take a look: I will be adding more content over time. If you have any suggestions please let me know and I will add them as well.

Welcome and Hello from your Liaison Librarian

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Although I have only been here at the University of Minnesota for three months in my new position of Information Literacy Librarian I bring experience from many other academic institutions. I have worked at the University of Wisconsin-Madison (where I got my library degree), California State University, Long Beach, St. Cloud State University and Capella University (all online).

I am the liaison librarian to Writing Studies which means I am here to help you with any question you have about the library, any books you would like the library to purchase and much more. I enjoyed meeting many of you during Orientation and I look forward to meeting more. Please contact me with any questions at or 612-626-3746 or Walter Library 239.