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June 25, 2009

The Importance of Citing Your Sources

It's not just schoolkids that get in trouble for not citing their sources. The editor of Wired, Chris Anderson, has recently come under fire for not attributing several quotes used in his book to the source: Wikipedia. Read more from an LA Times Blog article: "Chris Anderson's 'Free' Appears to Borrow Freely from Wikipedia and Other Sources." Mr. Anderson's excuse? "[I]nability to find a good citation format for web resources." I guess one could find fault with the MLA, APA, Turabian, or Chicago styles of website citation - if one was looking - but it seems like you'd want to use something to cite your source. Especially as an editor of a widely-read publication.

June 16, 2009

Search Engine Visibility and the Future of Libraries

Steve Rubel, over at the Micro Persuasion blog, evocatively writes that Google is every brand's homepage. For the purposes of today's post, let's substitute "library" for "brand." Google is every library's homepage. Let's face that fact. We know that information-seeking students, business people, and citizens go to Google first, and may turn to a library if they can't find what they're looking for there. So how can we capitalize on that?

Rubel highlights several ways that brands [libraries] can become more visible to Google searchers in his company's "Search Engine Visibility" position paper. A lot of this is focused on public relations professionals, and trots out baleful expressions like "search engine marketing" (as important as, okay, I'll grudgingly admit that is), but the broad concept of this position paper is highly relevant to the future of libraries. The content that libraries make available has to be visible to search engines, because that is where people look for information. Articles, books, programming... all of it has to be findable via Google.

In some ways, libraries have relied on our vendors to move content into the search sphere - and rightfully so. It is, after all, our vendor's content we're talking about. A relatively long-standing service like Access My Library from Gale/Cengage, which gives article abstracts to search engines and directs searchers to their local library websites, is a good example. A newer effort like WorldCat Local, which connects searchers to books owned at their nearest library, is an example of a vendor helping to make libraries' content more findable.

But libraries have also gotten a head-start on a different search engine visibility strategy by embracing social media in inspiringly high numbers. One of Rubel's two "search engine visibility disciplines" is Social Search. As Rubel notes, "With Google and competitors increasingly prioritizing social content from Flickr, blogs, Twitter and others in result pages, it is imperative that brands build out 'embassies' in all relevant networks." Libraries have done this admirably well so far. Many institutions have created blogs, Flickr accounts, Twitter profiles, and more to tell their stories. As search engines continue to prioritize this content, our stories will be better found online.

Here's an important point: I don't think this move is entirely about sheepishly following the crowds to Google. In a larger way, I think it can be helpful to think about making all of our content more broadly findable as preparing to deal with the rising tide of information overload. Right now, the best available piece of technology useful in dealing with a huge amount of information is search. Search allows you to find instances of keywords regardless of metadata completeness, variations in taxonomy, incompatible standard language, and all of the other issues that arise from content generated from multiple sources without a unified plan (uh, Internet, we're looking at you). It may not be pretty, but it works. And I'd guess that the next online innovations are going to be built around search - be those Google's innovations or someone else's.

Making our content visible to search is practical now and will help us drive traffic to our libraries in the years to come.

June 12, 2009

Libraries in the news again!

The Today Show ran a segment on how libraries are helping during the economic downturn yesterday morning. To view the segment, click here. It almost seems like old news now, libraries being featured in media stories about how people are flocking to them for the "free" resources and extraordinary services from highly qualified and experienced staff. I say, "Keep it coming!" We need to keep flooding media outlets with these types of stories showing the value we add to our communities. The more opportunities for people to hear these stories the better for all aspects.

In an email sent out to the Minitex listservs yesterday, Bruce Pomerantz also reminds us about resources we have from ALA to stay on top of recession issues:

Advocating in a Tough Economy Toolkit

Get tips, tools and messages that work.

Get the word out!

Thanks Bruce!

June 10, 2009

World FactBook: Same Facts, Different Look

The World FactBook, excellent source for country statistics, maps, and flags, has gotten a face-lift. The redesigned site is much more interactive and visual than the previous iteration, but the content is as useful for student projects, background on international news stories, or ready reference questions as ever. Check it out at: https://www.cia.gov/library/publications/the-world-factbook/index.html

Via ResourceShelf

June 5, 2009

May Issue of Reference Notes is on the Web!

The May issue of MINITEX Reference Notes is up on the web and ready for viewing!

This month's stories include:

- Guiding as a Reference Tool
- Update on RFP for Statewide Electronic Resources
- Minnesota Reflections Update
- Reference in the Electronic Age
- Civility in the Workplace... Civility Everywhere
- Researching Undergrads
- Collaborations and Partnerships
- Library Journal's Best Sources of 2008
- Libraryman Makes the List!
- AskMN is now on WebJunction Minnesota!
- Promoting "Promoting Your Media Center to Teachers"
- Genealogy E-Resources
- The Semantic Web
- Newly Recorded Webinars
- And more!

Also, see our Special Announcement: New Statewide Electronic Resources!

Find the May issue and past issues here: http://minitex.umn.edu/publications/refnotes/.

June 3, 2009

New Statewide Databases Announced

From the announcement:

On behalf of Minnesota's State Library Services, Online Dakota Information Network (ODIN), the North Dakota State Library, South Dakota Library Network (SDLN), the South Dakota State Library, and itself, Minitex is pleased to announce our joint, 3-state participation in licensing the databases and database packages recommended by the Minitex Electronic Information Resources (MEIR) Task Force as a result of the Request for Proposal (RFP) that was issued in 2008-2009. These partners realize the importance of statewide access to a common suite of databases to the libraries and school media centers within and among the three states.

In coordination with Elaine Kelash, Buyer, University of Minnesota Purchasing, Minitex will finalize license agreements with the following vendors for access to the following statewide electronic resources. These resources will be available beginning July 1, 2009 - June 30, 2012.

(* denotes a database added to the suite of eresources for the coming contract period.)

EBSCO databases (Minnesota, North Dakota, and South Dakota)

o Academic Search Premier

o Alt HealthWatch*

o Business Source Premier

o Consumer Health Complete*


o Health Source: Consumer Edition*

o Health Source: Nursing/Academic Edition*

o MAS Ultra - School Edition*

o MasterFILE Premier

o Middle Search Plus*

o Points of View Reference Center*

o Primary Search*

o Professional Development Collection*

o Regional Business News

o Science Reference Center*

Gale Group for K-12 electronic resources (Minnesota, North Dakota, and South Dakota)

o Discovering Collection

o Expanded Academic ASAP*

o Educator's Reference Complete*

o General Science Collection*

o InfoTrac Student Edition

o InfoTrac Junior Edition

o Junior Reference Collection

o Kids InfoBits

o Student Resource Center Gold*

Gale's Spanish-language database ¬°Informe! (Minnesota and North Dakota only) (North Dakota's funding provided by the North Dakota State Library)

ProQuest for Newsstand Complete, our current package, PLUS two Gannett papers, the St. Cloud Times and the Sioux Falls Argus Leader (Minnesota only)

ProQuest Newsstand Complete, the current package (North Dakota only)

OCLC for the FirstSearch Base Package (Minnesota, North Dakota, and South Dakota) (North Dakota's funding provided by the North Dakota State Library)

o OCLC WorldCat

o ArchiveGrid*


o OAISter*

o OCLC ArticleFirst*

o OCLC Electronic Collections Online A&I*

o OCLC PapersFirst*

o OCLC ProceedingsFirst*

o Clase/Periodica*


o GPO Monthly Catalog*


o World Almanac/Book of Facts*

o OCLC Electronic Books*

o OCLC WorldCat Dissertations and Theses*

Encyclopaedia Britannica's General Reference for K-12, public, and academic libraries (Minnesota and North Dakota only) (North Dakota's funding provided by the North Dakota State Library)

o Britannica Online School Edition*

o Britannica Online Public Library Edition*

o Britannica Online Academic Edition*

These databases/resources were available at the RFP Trials website during February - April. Access will begin July 1, 2009.

Additional information will follow over the next few weeks as we work with the vendors to set up links and so on. We understand the work and time these changes may take to implement in your libraries and schools and will provide needed information as quickly as possible.

The Minitex CPERS staff, Rita Baladad, Tim Peters, and Anne Hatinen, and the vendors' sales teams will work closely with you as some of you transition between vendor products. If you are a current subscriber to any of these resources, they will work with you to prorate your subscriptions and credit your accounts. Similarly, the Minitex Reference Services staff, Jennifer Hootman, Matt Lee, Carla Steinberg Pfahl, and Beth Staats, and vendors' staff will work to provide training for you and your colleagues on the resources we license.

On behalf of Minitex and the libraries and school media centers in Minnesota, North Dakota, and South Dakota, thank you to the MEIR Task Force members and their institutions for participating in the RFP process. Their dedication and commitment to the process and their expertise in writing and evaluating the RFP responses were awesome!


Mary Parker, Associate Director

June 1, 2009

New Webinar Produced by MLA's Public Library Division

The WebJunction Minnesota Team (State Library Services, Metronet, & Minitex) is pleased to sponsor and announce the following upcoming webinar produced by the Public Library Division of the Minnesota Library Association.

Please register today!

To get more information and to register go to http://minitex.umn.edu/events/training/webinars.asp#228

Minnesota Public Library Budget Shortfalls: A Conversation
Monday, June 08, 2009 - 10:00 AM - 11:30 AM (Central Time)

Register Here!

The Public Library Division (PLD) of the Minnesota Library Association is excited to announce their first statewide webinar, "Minnesota Public Library Budget Shortfalls: A Conversation."

There are many in the Minnesota public library community who are struggling with budget shortfalls during these challenging economic times. PLD has invited library directors from various types of public libraries -- large and small, from the metropolitan area and from greater Minnesota to share their ideas.

Featured guest speakers are:

- Audrey Betcher, Rochester Public Library
- Pat Conley, Washington County Library
- Jennifer Jepsen, Martin County Library
- Mary Lukkarila, Cloquet Public Library
- Marian Ridge, Kitchigami Regional Library
- Kim Edson, Chair of PLD to moderate

Each presenter will be addressing the following three questions:

1) What is your organization doing to address shrinking budgets - especially at a time when library use is growing?

2) How have you developed strategic priorities for using the available funding - what to keep/strengthen, what do you let go?

3) Political Capital - How do/did you develop it, when do you spend it? (i.e., How have you established your library's value to the community at a time when there is fierce competition for funding from all of your sources?)

MLA's Public Library Division believes this webinar is just the start to an ongoing conversation and a way for our library community to share its collective wisdom. PLD has created an online group to continue and expand the conversation via WebJunction Minnesota at: http://mn.webjunction.org/738. Please join the group, participate, and share with your Minnesota public library community. [To join the group be sure that you have created an account with WebJunction Minnesota and have affiliated with Minnesota].

Who should attend?: Anyone interested in hearing from a panel of Minnesota public library directors and participating in a statewide conversation about public library budget shortfalls.

Sponsors: The Public Library Division of the Minnesota Library Association and the WebJunction Minnesota Team (State Library Services, Metronet, & Minitex).

Questions? Please contact:
Kimberly Edson, Head of Readers Services, Rochester Public Library

Register Here!
Ann Walker Smalley, Metronet
Deanna Sylte, Metronet
Mary Ann Van Cura, State Library Services
Jennifer Hootman, Minitex