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November 28, 2006

Is Co-Browsing Dead?

Recently there has been a discusion of the value/use of co-browsing in digital reference services on the DigRef listserv. Some of the comments talked about are patrons finding value when co-browsed is used in a session. The answer resoundingly has been "yes... when it works!" This seems to have been the concluding thought for many librarians for years. We want to use co-browse and patrons find it extremely beneficial when it is used to share/edit documents and to guide patrons through searches, resources, and websites.

However, because of the instability of the application and its limited browser function many librarians have abandoned digital reference products for simpler and more commonly used (among patrons) IM programs. Using a multiplatform IM program such as Trillion or GAIM or the web-based service Meebo. Since many patrons already use IM it has not been difficult for libraries to tell patrons to "Add us to your buddy list!" We are still communicating to our patrons and communicating to them on their terms using the software they are familiar with. Privacy is rarely an issue because most libraries don't save IM transcripts and patrons don't have to use their real names. IM also creates an environment where you can't get too in-depth with the type of questions that can be answered. No need to worry about whether a patron is suppose to have access to a certain resource or not because you don't co-browse with IM.

There are many great advantages to IM as there are to using co-browse. Can we have the best of both worlds? Maybe. As Caleb Tucker-Raymond points out in a recent response on the DigRef listserv, ideally what we need is to be able to share and interact with resources and documents using any digital reference medium. Currently, that is not possible using one application. However, there are tools out there that can help with this. As Caleb explains:

You have probably heard of OpenURL, the standard for linking to
electronic documents no matter who is asking for them or who owns them.
This is great. Now you can send a patron a link/citation to an article
from the New York Times and he can open it even though you are logged
into Big U's subscription through Lexis/Nexis and he is logged in
through Little PL's subscription through NewsBank. Or, that's the idea.

You may not have heard of SRU, which stands for Search and Retrieve via
URL. It is "a standard search protocol for Internet search queries". Do
you know how you can copy your Google Search and bookmark it and save it
and e-mail it to a patron? SRU would let us do that with library
catalogs and databases. It would obviate the need for co-browsing (at
least the part where we are using co-browsing to share and review
searches), and it would work over IM, too.

So while co-browsing is not dead, we do have more than one option for guiding and pointing patrons to resources and websites and sharing documents. I suspect more options like these and transformations of IM/digital reference software will start forming as the use of mashups increases to create these specialized and useful tools.

November 27, 2006

Drafted: I Want You to Deliver E-Government

If you have not read this Library Journal article I suggest you take a moment to read through it.

Drafted: I Want You to Deliver E-Government
By John Carlo Bertot, Paul T. Jaeger, Lesley A. Langa, & Charles R. McClure — August 15, 2006
Public access computing grows, but libraries need more funding to serve as the first refuge and last resort for e-government support, public computing, and Internet access.

TIES Conference

TIES Conference Presentations:

ELM, MDL and MnLINK: the Express Tour - Tuesday, Dec 5 11:20-12:10pm

Minnesota's Virtual Library: Hands-on ELM Overview - Saturday, December 2, 8:30am-11:30am

November 16, 2006

The "Second Wave" and Beyond: Primary Sources of the Women's Movement, 1960-Present

The "Second Wave" and Beyond scholarly community, launced in April 2006, is an innovative form of electronic communication and research that brings together feminist thinkers, both scholars and activists, to create a stimulating and supportive environment in which to pose and analyze compelling questions about feminist activism and theories, define new directions for historical research on this period, and provide a new venue for publishing traditional articles but also for writing and recording this history in ways made possible by the medium of online publication.

More specifically, look here to find dicussions, chronologies, oral histories and memoirs, images, reviews, bibliographies, resource links, teaching and research resources, and more.

Minnesota Historical Society Library

A resource that we use frequently is the Minnesota Historical Society (MHS) Library. Often times we will go there to look up news articles in various papers or retrieve copies of documents from the Minnesota State Archives. Recently, I fielded a reference request for divorce documents written up in 1882. The MHS Library and State Archives is a treasure trove of exciting materials and documents. In addition to their amazing newspaper collection, you may also find birth records, death records, a federal census for Minnesota, marriage records, military records, naturalization records, obituaries, and much more. Check out their library services.

Bureau of Land Management

A tool I've used recently to locate mining maps in various states throughout the U.S. is called the GeoCommunicator. Click on the Land & Mineral Use Records link and you will be able to search, locate, and map the BLM's land and mineral use records including:oil & gas, geothermal, solid minerals, agreements, unpatented mining claims, rights-of-way, mineral material disposal, miscellaneous uses, oil & gas lease sales, stipulations, and cases that affect the status of the land.

November 15, 2006

ELM training

To view the complete list of upcoming training sessions and register at no charge please visit:http://www.minitex.umn.edu/train-conf/webinars/.

eBooks & NetLibrary
Tuesday, November 21, 2006 1:00PM (Central Time)
Thursday, November 30, 2006 1:00 PM (Central Time)

ELM - What's that?
Monday, November 20, 2006 10:00AM (Central Time)
Thursday, December 07, 2006 2:00 PM (Central Time)

November 14, 2006


Blinkx is the world's largest and most advanced video search engine. Fed by automatic spiders that crawl the web for audio video content and content partnerships with over 60 leading content and media companies, blinkx uses visual analysis and speech recognition to better understand rich media content. Users can search for content, create personal TV channels that automatically splice relevant content together and even use our download feature to automatically download content to mobile devices. Blinkx is a privately-held firm, based in San Francisco and London and was founded in early 2004 by Suranga Chandratillake.


Retrievr is an experimental service which lets you search and explore in a selection of Flickr images by drawing a rough sketch. http://labs.systemone.at/retrievr/ VERY interesting! How many of us have at one time or another seen something on the Web and you wish you bookmarked or tagged it, and now you can't locate it again? Well, this site allows you to search Flickr images by trying to be an artist and taking your hand at sketching the image, then it pulls back results based on your sketch! This has a lot of potential to reach the greater Web itself. I think in the near future you will see this type of feature fine tuned, so not everyone has to be a Da Vinci to use it, and it will search a broader area. Stay tuned to this concept as the Web is more and more for visual learners and users!

November 3, 2006

Best New Technologies: Keeping Up with the Storm

MINITEX is pleased to announce the following College of DuPage teleconference is available via streaming video.

Soaring to Excellence 2007: Library 2.0 and Beyond

Best New Technologies: Keeping Up with the Storm

This video will be available via video streaming until December 27, 2006. After this date MINITEX will have a copy of the program that may be borrowed.

Here is the link for video streaming The Best New Technologies teleconference.

November 1, 2006

Check out Zotero

Forgetting what information you need from sites for bibliographies, and just keep track of your favorite and needed resources? Check out Zotero!

Zotero is a free, easy-to-use research tool that helps you gather and organize resources (whether bibliography or the full text of articles), and then lets you to annotate, organize, and share the results of your research.


So, my question is, a lot of schools, colleges and universities have purchased licenses to EndNote or RefWorks, will you start encouraging patrons to use this FREE citation manager instead? What are the prons and cons of this resource?