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Improve the search tools!

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Google-Trained Minds Can't Deal with Terrible Research Database UI from the Atlantic by Alan Jacobs is the Clyde S. Kilby Professor of English at Wheaton College

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"Not long ago I was using a research database to try to get a PDF of an article published in a journal to which my college's library has a digital subscription. I knew the title of the article, the author's name, the title of the journal, and the issue date. I plugged all those in to the appropriate text boxes, clicked "search" . . . and got hundreds of results. But the one that I wanted wasn't on the first several pages.

I sent an email to a reference librarian describing this event, and he wrote back saying, "Oh, see, you should have entered the journal's ISSN." Really? Exact title of article and journal, exact name of author, exact date of publication -- that's not enough?"


"There's no question that students' search skills are generally quite poor, and need to get better, but to some extent we've all had our search habits trained by Google's algorithms, which in most cases -- though by no means all -- are quite effective."


"So maybe our greater emphasis shouldn't be on training users to work with bad search tools, but to improve the search tools. Especially since serious research questions aren't as afflicted by spammy
SEO as many other queries, by this point in the development of online life we ought to be doing a lot better than we are."
I was just helping out a colleague in Google Books, when I noticed that Google Books is now offering exports to EndNote, RefMan, and Bibtex!

It prompted this tweet

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I may well be super late to this Google Book records exporting party (which would be a change of pace because I'm somewhat notorious among my friends for actually being obsessively punctual about my party attendance--if the invitation says the party starts at 8, why would I not show up until 9...or 10!--oh well they needed help setting out the relish tray anyway)...but I figure better late than never.

Anyway, if like me, this is news to you here's how you can export...

1.  Do your search in Google Books.
2.  Click on a title that looks interesting.
3.  Look at the top left corner of the Item Record page and click on the About This Book link

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4.  Scroll all the way to the bottom of the About This Book page and you should see some export options:

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As you can see RefWorks is not an option...but there is a work around!  You can select the RefMan option which will save the citation in an RIS Format file to your computer.  You can then go into RefWorks and import the file using the RIS Format as your import filter (and database).

So if your users are using Google Books...this may be of interest!

Note:  If the book you're looking at has no preview you get taken automatically to the About This Book page...so you can just scroll to the bottom there to find the export buttons.

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Jakob Nielsen's Alertbox, April 11, 2011  

Very interesting, short article about strategies in web searching and its effect on problem solving. How does this apply to library searching? How can we help students search/problem solve better?

Here are a few quotes:

  • the rough estimate from our available data is obvious: users change search strategy only 1% of the time; 99% of the time they plod along a single unwavering path. Whether the true number is 2% or 0.5%, the big-picture conclusion is the same: users have extraordinarily inadequate research skills when it comes to solving problems on the Web.It also highlights a big problem with search today: it doesn't facilitate any conceptual knowledge because it relies on quick in-out dips into websites.
  • In general, we almost never see people use advanced search. And when they do, they typically use it incorrectly -- partly because they use it so rarely that they never really learn how it works.
  • For today's Web design projects, we must design for the way the world is, not the way we wish it were. This means accepting search dominance, and trying to help users with poor research skills.

An Interview with Robert Darnton on the Digital Public Library of America 

A podcast I listen to, Digital Campus, recently talked about another meeting of a group working on the idea of the Digital Public Library of America. It sounds like some version of this is going to be moving into development possibly in 2011. Potential game changer? Pipe Dream? What do you think? Here is some more information: 

 Part 1:


Part 2:

Marriage of Art and Science-Qwiki

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One of our colleagues shared a video with a preview of Qwiki--for "information experiences"

Qwiki at TechCrunch Disrupt from Qwiki on Vimeo.


It claims to be a "platform" for any content on any device....seems to me like a talking wikipedia with more images... 

What do you think?

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