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September 24, 2008

Print v Online: The Home Knockdown Edition

Yes, the great debate. Fred Shapiro in NYTimes Freakonomics blog has an interesting post from last Thursday (sorry so late - I'm still on partial leave) about print v online reference sources for the library - the home library. Three of the five on his list I have at home: 1. World Almanac; 4. Merck Manual of Medical Information; 5. American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language

The first, I received as a "gift" for attending a workshop on interactive tools for instruction (with a concentration on reference). The second I bought about ten years ago because I felt guilty for not having it in the house. The third was my going away gift to college (twenty years ago) coupled with the American Heritage Thesaurus. I keep it because it has all my markings and notations from those great years of intellectual expansion. The last time I looked in my print dictionary was when I was searching for a 10+ word that started with 'E' in my daily cryptogram puzzle about three years ago. I can't remember the word right now but it's marked on the page I where I found it!

Even though the medical reference book is about 10 years old, I use it quite regularly, meaning about once a quarter. Every time I look something up in that book I thank myself for subsiding to my guilt on that purchase. I have no plans to replace it with a newer version at the moment.

The World Almanac - I think my husband looked in it once since we've had it to look up a bit of fleeting trivia.

I should also mention that while I don't have # 3. Oxford Atlas of the World specifically, I do keep a "Map Drawer" in my built-in buffet of all maps and various atlases I have picked up through the years. I love maps. I'm fascinated with them. I could go on, but that's about all you need to know in this posting.

So, reading through the comments section of Shapiro's post (92 at the time of this post). I found it interesting the range of resources listed, but more interestingly by the librarians promoting reference sources (yea "New York Public Library Desk Reference", fun read and a good research project for those that want to see what types of questions are being asked in a library, but it's not part of my personal financial budget).

Most interestly, are the posts of the lovers and haters of print and online reading. I liked the one comment saying "Does a desktop with an internet connection count?" as a reference source. I think that's how most people view their computers these days. Then there are the ones that are adamant that online never ever replace print sources because reading online text for any length of time gives them headaches. But the lovers and the haters never really answered the question of if they even have any reference books in their home library. And here are the haters reading the blog and posting about how they can't stand the small font. It makes me wonder if they actually have any reference books in their home library at all or where they actually go to find resources/sources of information. It's a tangent off the initial argument but that's where the comments were taking my thoughts.

So regarding my own home library reference collection - I don't have any plans for purchasing or replacing the ones I currently have. I will, and have been for a while now, default to online sources - especially those accessible via my online public/academic library. Sorry publishers.

September 17, 2008

Gale Resources in ELM

Gale is pleased to announce a major enhancement to the Electronic Library for Minnesota (ELM) suite of K-12 resources for the coming year!

In addition to Kids InfoBits, InfoTrac Junior Edition, InfoTrac Student Edition, Junior Reference Collection, Discovering Collection, and Professional Collection, you now have access to 4 additional resources effective immediately:

- Student Resource Center Gold
- Expanded Academic ASAP
- Educator's Reference Complete
- General Science Collection

Minnesota libraries with current subscriptions to these resources will receive a pro-rated credit for the remainder of their subscription. Robin Sabbath of Gale's Customer Center will be contacting you about the amount of your credit. If you have questions now, please call her at 800/347-4253 extension 1884 or email her at robin.sabbath@cengage.com.

You can call Gale's Large Account Technical Specialist Andrew Soifer at 800/347-4253 extension 8890 for any technical assistance with these resources.

If you have other questions regarding this enhancement, please contact MINITEX at http://elm4you.org/contact/ or 612-624-4150 or 800-462-5348 and ask for Reference Services.

More information on these resources follows.

Student Resource Center Gold, http://www.gale.cengage.com/SRC/

Student Resource Center offers easy access to award-winning content based on national curriculum standards. Covering the major subject areas, including history, literature, science, social studies and more, Student Resource Center provides a premium selection of reference, thousands of full-text periodicals and newspapers, primary documents, creative works, and multimedia, including hours of video and audio clips and podcasts. Users are able to access a variety of resources that will help them conduct research, complete assignments, create presentations and more, with content and curriculum-focused tools that include but are not limited to: Read Speaker auditory articles, more than eight million full-text articles from one thousand periodicals and newspapers, more than 4,000 proprietary primary documents, hundreds of plays and poems, more than 63,000 topic overviews, biographies, and pieces of literary criticism, and more 1,700 study guide questions.

Expanded Academic ASAP, http://www.gale.cengage.com/ExpandedAcademic/

This premier database offers balanced coverage of every academic concentration -- from advertising and microbiology to history and women's studies. Combining indexing, abstracts, full text and images, Expanded Academic ASAP delivers answers for both the novice and the experienced researcher -- all in one seamless search. The scope and depth of coverage in Expanded Academic ASAP will satisfy the broad spectrum of students, faculty and graduate researchers who depend on your library for answers every day. Balanced coverage is available through more than 4,200 indexed and more than 2,500 full-text titles in a wide variety of disciplines including: social science journals, humanities journals, science and technology journals, national news periodicals, general interest magazines, newswires, The New York Times and many others. More than 2,800 journals are refereed, and more than 20 years of backfile coverage are included with your subscription.

Educator's Reference Complete, http://www.gale.cengage.com/pdf/facts/ERC.pdf

K-12 teachers, administrators and undergraduate or graduate students in education will appreciate the focused and timely resources available within Educator's Reference Complete. This powerful database covers multiple levels of education from preschool to college and includes every educational specialty, such as bilingual studies, health, technology and testing. Also included are resources on issues related to administration, funding and policy in education. Educator's Reference Complete has more than 1,100 periodicals that cover a wide variety of subjects and 200 reports from the United States Department of Education. The Educator's Reference Complete is an important tool for today's educator. In addition, Educator's Reference Complete is the perfect complement for any library that subscribes to ERIC, a citation only database, because it provides full-text results for nearly half of the titles found in ERIC.

General Science Collection

General Science Collection consists of over 200 journals encompassing the most popular scientific titles available today. Titles include Scientific American, Archeology, Physics Today, Info Today, Mathematics Magazine and many more. This resource provides researchers with the information needed to stay current on the latest scientific developments -- including such topics as particle physics, advanced mathematics, and nanotechnology. A well rounded science collection offers your patrons in-depth information for their scientific research needs.

September 15, 2008

Doors Open at New St. Cloud Public Library

St. Cloud Public Library has a new location! St. Cloud Times talks about the new building here and here (with video tour of the new library). Congratulations St. Cloud!

September 5, 2008

The Desk and Beyond: Next Generation Reference Services

ACRL Podcast: The Desk and Beyond

In this podcast, College & Research Libraries News editor-in-chief David Free talks with Sarah Steiner and Leslie Madden of Georgia State University, editors of the ACRL publication The Desk and Beyond: Next Generation Reference Services. They are joined by chapter authors Meredith Farkas of Norwich University, Ross LaBaugh of California State University - Fresno, and Jerilyn Veldoff of the University of Minnesota to discuss the book along with current and future trends in reference services.    To listen, visit: http://acrl.ala.org/media/desk.mp3 

- From ACRL Insider

September 4, 2008

ELM in the Star Tribune

From the blog Technobabble, by Randy Salas, for the Star Tribune. 

“When I wrote about websites to help kids with their homework, I overlooked perhaps one of the best options. And, as reader Leslie Yoder points out, it’s a free resource created especially for Minnesotans.   



The simply named Electronic Library for Minnesotanewspaper articles, eBooks and other information to help anyone with research.” (ELM) offers a huge electronic cache of databases, magazine and

To read the full entry, visit: http://ww3.startribune.com/blogs/technobabble/


Evolution to Revolution to chaos? Reference in transition

Another excellent reading appeared in our RSS readers this week about the future of reference by Steven Abram, in Info Today, "Evolution to Revolution to chaos? Reference in transition." Some of the 12 scenarios for the future of reference include: information commons, embedded librarians, partners in action, and emergency reference. View the article, at:   http://www.infotoday.com/searcher/sep08/Abram.shtml  

September 3, 2008

The world according to Google

I am just starting to explore the new (beta) Google Chrome. Of course, I like to dive in to (most) new tools, gadgets, and digi toys w/o reading the instructions. I want to explore and discover and see how intuitive the ease of use is first and then I'll read more about it to understand full capability and extras I wasn't able to discover on my own.

Remember in the 5th grade when everyone was given a piece of paper with instructions on it and the teacher told you to read the whole thing first and then go back and begin doing what the instructions said? Shortly after distributing the paper, you heard people clapping, barking, and basically making fools of themselves as they read through the instructions and did what it said. Then you got to the end and it said something like, "Don't do any of the above, this was just a test". I think it's just human nature to do first and then read instructions.

So this is what I'm doing with Google Chrome but I've already got questions and am trying to go back and find the answers and not finding them. Before I get into my questions, I'll go over my initial discoveries and likes:

-Hey! They've combined the search field and the url field in one box!!! Wow! that's so cool. I can search for something or enter a url and it will begin adding search string suggestions as I go along for either.

-It automatically imports my bookmarks and favorites upon download. Very convenient.

-Like the new font look. Different, refreshing (but I'm such this will fade soon enough).

-Be like spy! I can click on "New Incognito Window" which will open a new window that I can search/view pages and it won't appear in my browser history or search history and it won't leave cookies or other traces of me behind. Sweet!

-Pages load super fast! Not sure if this is Google Chrome or the fact that I'm playing around with this at 7am and there's not much traffic at this hour. But Google does say in their cartoonized About section (Note: we should all take a lesson from Google on how to put together an engaging About section!) that it is suppose to increase speed of pages.

Now some questions:

-Where is the home button? How do I add a home button to the tool bar?

-For that matter how do I customize my tool bar? Arrange bookmarks, add plugins and tool bar buttons as well as much more? Google Chrome has really streamlined their tool bar section, I think I'm too spoiled with Firefox in this regard. I like playing with my tool bar and adding/deleting things that are conveniently one click away like my Delicious tags. Haven't found where I can add this yet.

-Why do tabs of pages I'm viewing have to go away when I create a an application shortcut? Note: need to read more about why creating application shortcuts are useful and what they all can do.

That's all for now. I still need to explore this further but I like having the option of another browser like this. It's definitely a step forward in design, architecture, and usability.

Hey, if you're interested in more info about Google Tools, Little Green Bar has a great write up on Amazing Google Tools that is well worth the time to read - even before you dive into them w/o reading the instructions!

September 2, 2008

Happy Birthday My Health Minnesota

My Health Minnesota -> Go Local at: http://medlineplus.gov, a free database of health services throughout Minnesota, recently celebrated its first birthday!  The project is sponsored by the University of Minnesota Health Sciences Libraries, the Mayo Clinic Libraries, and the MINITEX Library and Information Network, in collaboration with the National Library of Medicine.  This project joined others across the country to link the trusted health information from MedlinePlus (http://medlineplus.gov) with information about local health services.  People can use Go Local to find hospitals, nursing homes, physicians, support groups, pharmacists, libraries, rehabilitation programs, and other health services in the Land of 10,000 Lakes, plus reliable health information about a multitude of diseases and conditions.  My Health Minnesota -> Go Local continues to grow daily as we add resources throughout the state.

In its first year, My Health Minnesota -> Go Local has been used by people all over Minnesota, plus across the United States and in other parts of the world.  You’re invited to check out this resource for yourself at: http://medlineplus.gov, and to submit feedback or suggest resources to be included.  The database is searchable by location, diseases/health issues, and providers/facilities/health services.  Give it a try and let us know what you think!

-Announcement from Lisa McGuire in University of Minnesota's Libraies Monday Memo