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August 27, 2010

EBSCO Text-to-Speech Feature

It's still like 90 degrees outside, but you can tell Fall is approaching because database vendors are gearing up for the start of school. Read on for news of an extended text-to-speech feature in EBSCO databases in the EBSCOhost interface.

From EBSCO:

"EBSCO has added text-to-speech (read aloud) support to EBSCOhost®databases, including its major school and public library databases, by embedding Texthelp Systems' SpeechStream toolbar--a valuable benefit provided at no additional cost to the user. Users will be able to take advantage of this new feature with any full-text articles available in HTML.

Text-to-speech support ... allows users to read along while a human-sounding voice speaks the text on the screen. The support toolbar provides significant assistance to those for whom text-to-speech capabilities are highly valued such as English Language Learners, users with low vision, slight physical and/or learning disabilities, as well as eBook and PDA users.

...

Users have the ability to read-aloud by selected text, sentence, paragraph, or continuous reading with dual color synchronous highlighting (highlighting of the passage being read with a second color highlighting the specific word being read aloud at that moment). User control of read-aloud personalizes the learning experience for each user. Users can control reading speed as well as select between three different high-quality voices--American, British, or Australian. These options also enable teachers and professionals to incorporate the features as a tool for teaching English and reading. "

Read the full press release

Test it out by having the human-sounding voice read you this story about robots from MasterFILE Premier

August 12, 2010

Information-Seeking Behavior in the Big Lebowski

This paper helps me truly appreciate Library Science. "'New Shit Has Come to Light': Information-Seeking Behavior in the Big Lebowski" takes a close look at the 1998 Coen Brother's movie and aligns movie characters to successful (and unsuccessful) research behavior. The paper illustrates "the intricate, self-defined nature of information seeking behavior and the ways in which personal characteristics contribute to the success or failure of an information search."

If you've seen the movie, I bet you've seen it many times. If you haven't, you should (as long as your tolerance for surrealism and depictions of near-constant drug use is high). The movie, in conjunction with this article, may change the way you talk about research to students, hipsters, and library users of all most types.

August 9, 2010

July Reference Notes

The July issue of Reference Notes is now available.

This month's issue provides a recap of the 2010 ALA Annual Conference, does a bit of gentle boasting about our department's accomplishments over the past year, and provides an easy-to-use recipe for following, analyzing, and implementing trends in your library - all before taking a Tourettes-like turn with decrees to Eat Your Books! And Smell Like a Man!

Plus, all the other great articles represented in the TOC:

Less Train, More Gain: Using Technology to Train, Maintain, and Retain Part-time and Student Employees
Librarians Just Need to Have Fun: Utilizing Fun and Humor in the Library Workplace to Enhance Employee Performance
The Open Access Debate: A Conversation
It's All About e-Books
E-Resource Usage Statistics: So Many Numbers, So Many Issues
Discovery Systems: Solutions a User Could Love?
Hennepin County Library Now Offering Downloadable E-books
Keeping Current with Technology: Things on a Stick News
Minitex Reference Services Instruction: A Year in Review
ELM Spotlight: MAS Ultra--School Edition and InfoTrac Student Edition
Dropbox
Eat Your Books
Smell Like a Man, Study Like a Scholar
Follow that Trend!
Baiting the Hook

August 5, 2010

EBSCOhost Enhancements

If our link on the ELM portal is any indication, it looks like the enhancements mentioned below as impending are now live. Peruse the bullet points and then kick the tires of Academic Search Premier to see the enhancements yourself.

Announcement from EBSCO:

As promised, this message signifies that the impending release of new EBSCOhost features and functionality, (announced in June) is about to be implemented. We expect that you will see the updates over the course of Thursday and Friday this week. The following information summarizes the most significant changes on EBSCOhost:

  • The limiter and the date slider column will move from the right to the left of the Result List, a more intuitive position that consolidates the ways users can refine and work with their results in one area. For a look at the updated Result List, you can copy and paste this URL into your browser: http://support.epnet.com/uploads/CustSupport/Images/communication_images/resultlist1.gif.
  • Detailed record pages will be more streamlined, and links to full text, your link resolvers, ILL, etc. will be more prominently displayed on the left.
  • Users will be able to select multiple clusters and source types when managing results.
  • There will be an enhanced PDF Viewer, Content Viewer, HTML Full Text, etc.
  • A "breadbox" will show users which limiters, expanders and source types have already been selected, and enable easy removal of these refinements.
  • The Hierarchical Subject Authority File in certain databases will be adjusted to align with the style already in use in our academic databases (screen shots included in this Top Story).
  • Simpler overall interface elements will increase the intuitiveness of the user experience.

For more information on these and other features, visit http://support.ebsco.com.

August 4, 2010

Big Change to Student Resource Center Gold

What you need to know: Student Resource Center Gold has a new interface called Student Resources In Context.

What you need to do: Nothing. If you link to Student Resource Center Gold from your library website, the change has been automatically applied and you are now linking to Student Resources In Context. Your library users have seamless access to database content. You might consider familiarizing yourself with the interface, though. To do so, read on. [Note: The ELM portal also now points to the new interface.]

Student Resource Center Gold is now Student Resources In Context. Along with this name change comes a change to the look, feel, and navigation of this database interface. The new design centers on browsing to topic pages. Gale editors and hired experts have created some 450+ topic pages that provide introductions to popular topics and organize the reference, journal, magazine, and newspaper content included in the database around those topics. The intended effect is more web page and less library database.

Database content remains largely the same (though some duplicative content has been removed) and advanced searching is still available. In fact, a search assist feature added to search boxes should help guide researchers to effective keyword searching. The Read Speaker tool, which reads every article aloud and allows for downloading of .mp3 audio files, has also been enhanced to include adjustable speed and word highlighting settings. There are many more enhancements to the site, both small and large. Kick the tires to learn more, and/or sign up for the Minitex webinar "In Context (Student Resource Center Gold)" on our Upcoming Training Sessions page. The Gale/Cengage website also has some information about the "In Context" interface: http://www.gale.cengage.com/InContext/.

Still to come from Gale/Cengage in Student Resources In Context: a user log-in feature will allow students and researchers to create accounts and save material indefinitely. And a library administrative module will help libraries to customize the display of content for their users. Both features are scheduled to be released this fall.

If you have any questions about Student Resources In Context, or if your interface didn't automatically change, please drop us a line any time at http://elm4you.org/contact/ or elm at umn.edu.