Reference Tools


February 22, 2011

20 Things I Learned

You've got to see it for yourself! This eBook created by the Google Chrome Team explains and illustrates 20 different "things" about the Internet and web browsers that you may have always been curious about but didn't ask. Each "Thing" as well as the entire book is shareable via Facebook, Twitter, Google Buzz and is also printable.

Check out 20 Things I Learned About Browsers and the Web

MDL Recognized in Rochester Post Bulletin

Rochester Post Bulletin's Greg Sellnow discusses the importance of preservation and the Minnesota Digital Library - read for yourself:

I'm Just Sayin': Letters recall life during Civil War - by Greg Sellnow

December 16, 2010

Goodbye Delicious, Hello Diigo?

If the uproar is true, Yahoo! will "sunset" its Delicious bookmarking tool sometime soon. Although Delicious is, by anecdotal accounts, a popular and well-loved tool, Yahoo's "organizational streamlining" seems not to leave room for it on the product shelf. From a Yahoo! press release, posted by Tech Crunch:

"Part of our organizational streamlining involves cutting our investment in underperforming or off-strategy products to put better focus on our core strengths and fund new innovation in the next year and beyond.
We continuously evaluate and prioritize our portfolio of products and services, and do plan to shut down some products in the coming months such as Yahoo! Buzz, our Traffic APIs, and others. We will communicate specific plans when appropriate."

If those specific plans do indeed involve Delicious, you'll be happy to know that you can export Delicious bookmarks to other online bookmarking applications. Our friend @lovelyleann recommends Diigo.

December 14, 2010

QR Code Generator

Check out the ELM Portal's QR Code!

ELM QR Code.png

Generate your own QR Code:

Or perhaps you have a QR Code Generator you'd recommend!

September 23, 2010

Answer the Unanswerable

Give it a shot - try answering's top 10 unanswerable questions. However, be forewarned many of those questions are going to be tough to answer - some of them are "What is the secret to happiness?" and "Who is the most famous person in the world?" You can find these questions at Jeeves' Unanswerables.

Don't forget! Minnesota has it's own 24/7 Q&A chat service staffed by librarians - ask your questions at AskMN!

September 13, 2010

Bloglines to no longer exist

According to, owner of Bloglines, their RSS reader will no longer exist in a few weeks citing tough competition from Google Reader, increasing use of microblogging services such as Twitter, and refocusing their company on the Q&A service as reasons. Read more.

If you use Bloglines, check their homepage on instructions to export your RSS feeds to another reader.

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:
  • 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

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:

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 or elm at

July 1, 2010

The Portable Reference Library

If you're interested in learning more about mobile reference services in libraries, consider spending a little time with Alec Sonsteby of Metro State. Alec knows a lot about mobile and he is mid-way through a set of Minitex-hosted webinars on the topic. Those sessions are all full, but if you weren't able to secure a spot you can view a recorded version of the show right here: The Portable Reference Library: Accessing Reference Resources and Services on Mobile Devices. As with all of our recorded webinars made via the Live Meeting software, this webinar is best viewed using the Internet Explorer browser.

April 28, 2010

Government Data: Open, Accessible, and Interesting?

Yes, absolutely interesting! Anyone who's used the American FactFinder to research their neighborhood can attest to that. And, according to a new Pew Research report called Government Online, the number of people who've conducted such research is fairly staggering. 40% of adult users have gone online to research some aspect of government spending or activity.

  • 23% of Internet users have visited sites like to track how stimulus money is being spent.

  • 22% have read or download the text of legislation, perhaps from sites like Thomas. (Brave souls.)

  • 16% have used sites like to find governmental datasets. (Also brave.)

In a turn of happy coincidence or bleeding edge thinking, depending on your viewpoint, Minitex Reference is on top of this curve. We've recently offered several very popular webinars on Census Bureau data, an archived version of which can be viewed here. And we have an upcoming series of sold-out webinars on using government data from the MN Department of Employment and Economic Development to help job-seekers. Sign up for the waiting list and watch for an archived version of that one here.

Update: We just added two more sessions of Census 2010: Power, Money, Data. Sign up now!

March 9, 2010

February Reference Notes

The February issue of Reference Notes is now available online.

Articles in this month's issue investigate the migration of textbooks to electronic format, a divisive study related to the effectiveness of teaching to different learning styles, and a socially-acceptable library-related shanty, along with much more.

  • Libraries, Trust, and Diversity of Information
  • Technology in the Classroom: Migrating to e-Textbooks
  • Cognitive Psychologists Test the Validity of Learning Styles
  • Real Learning for the Real World
  • ELM Spotlight: CAMIO®
  • ELM Training
  • Online Resources to Add to Your Toolbox
  • Twitter and Blogging is for Old People
  • TED: Ideas of Things to Come
  • Library Shanty
  • Announcements from the Field
  • Tutorials and Archived Webinars

Thanks for reading!

December 4, 2009

Real-Time Communication - Rising Trend for 2010

CNN released an article yesterday, 10 Web trends to watch in 2010, that lists the top trends for the coming year. First on the list was the importance of real-time communcations:

Real-time ramps up

Sparked by Twitter, Facebook and FriendFeed, the real-time trend has been to the latter part of 2009 what "Web 2.0" was to 2007. The term represents the growing demand for immediacy in our interactions. Immediacy is compelling, engaging, highly addictive ... it's a sense of living in the now.

This is a perfect time for libraries with online reference services to promote the skills they have and how it is useful/helpful to users. Most useful and beneficial exposure to a library's online reference service may come from outside the library through partnerships with community organizations, news reports or articles, social networking and web 2.0 skills such as blogging, twittering, facebook and much more.

Other trends on the list from the article include "Content Curation" (I like this term. We librarians are Content Curators!):

The Web's biggest challenge of recent years is that content creation is outpacing our ability to consume it: "Information overload" has become an increasingly common complaint.

Another on the list, "Convergence conundrum". What devices will win out and what devices will be deemed unnecessary. Mobile technology will continue to drive the market and device that claim to do/be everything including a Pez dispenser will win out. Well, maybe not a Pez dispenser. Devices whose purpose is singular in nature such at the e-reader, GPS devices, and even hand-held video camera will be shed for multipurpose tools.

Another interesting trend talked about is "Augmented reality" where we will be able to overlay pictures with information. One product talked about was Layer which allows you to take a picture from your video camera and then it will take information from various other tools such as Wikipedia, Yelp and Twitter and overlay it with information about the images being viewed. I see so many opportunities for use with libraries for something like this from location tools, video maps of the library, to identifying a credible resource.

Library 2.0 has started to take foot in many libraries and librarians have found a lot of ways to connect and engage with users. I think this will continue through 2010 and there will more tools to allow us to connect and engage.

November 20, 2009

Free Flu Information Resources

Both Gale and EBSCO have begun offering free, authoritative information on the H1N1 and seasonal flu for both health practitioners and the public. This content is pulled from each vendor's proprietary resources, but is available to all at no cost.

Thanks to both EBSCO and Gale for their quick response to this need. Please share these links with colleagues, family, and friends (and consider plugging Gale's widget into your library's website).

September 24, 2009

Have You Tried Bing?

According to Nielsen, 10% of web searchers have. That doesn't sound notable, but in the world of search engines, cracking into the double digits in market share is quite a feat.

I haven't really given Bing a shot, or at least that was true up until I downloaded Internet Explorer 8. That version of IE integrates Bing a little more into the web experience. One nifty thing about that integration is the ability to search for a highlighted term. Just highlight something on any web page, as though you were going to copy and paste it into Google, and a little blue box appears. If you click it, you get the option of mapping the thing you just highlighted, translating it, or running a web search on it in Bing. Pretty slick, pretty intuitive, pretty surprising that isn't something that's been available for years.

With the large number of people using IE, Bing's chances of continued growth seem strong. Having a fallback from Google isn't a bad idea either, especially for those of us involved in web research. Have you tried Bing? My favorite thing about it is the results page preview pop-ups, which tell you more about a page before you click into it. Do you have a favorite thing about Bing?

September 10, 2009

50 Things the Internet Killed

The UK's Telegraph has a funny and unnervingly spot-on look at 50 things the Internet has done away with. In addition to

31) Privacy
35) Concentration
32) Chuck Norris's reputation
50) Your lunchbreak

...the library-minded among us might be interested to know that the following are now dead:

47) Footnotes
18) Authoritative reference works

Good to know. Thanks, Internet.

July 29, 2009

Federal Reserve Book Offers Economic Insight despite Drab Color

The Federal Reserve's Beige Book is published eight times per year and offers very current economic insight gathered from banks, businesses, and market analysts from across the country. Use the Beige Book to learn how an industry is operating in a specific area of the country, or to learn about trends in consumer spending, employment, and prices. The much-awaited new issue is released today, and many hope it will offer confirmation that our faltering economy is stabilizing.

July 16, 2009

June Issue of Reference Notes is on the Web!

And actually has been for quite some time. Sorry! Forgot to post it here before heading to the ALA annual conference.

In the June issue of Reference Notes, you'll find:

- A new catalog option from OCLC
- An update on new AskMN member libraries
- A note about a former Minnesota librarian turned ASCLA RUSA executive director
- An innovative tool to pre-limit catalog searches
- Examples of information literacy and college readiness programs across the P-20 spectrum
- Guidance in creating DIY maps
- Yahoo!Pipes in 2.0 minutes
- A re-cap of the MN Digital Library annual meeting
- A call for applications for digitization projects through the MN Digital Library
- A story about new literacy skills and the Scratch software
- A recorded conversation between five MN library directors about dealing with budget shortfalls, and...
- A model for successful customer service from online shoe retailer Zappos.

Find the June issue, along with past issues, at:

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 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:

Via ResourceShelf

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.

Continue reading "New Statewide Databases Announced" »

May 27, 2009

2.0 Tools in 2.0 Minutes: Yahoo!Pipes

The most recent addition to our ongoing series, "2.0 Tools in 2.0 Minutes," is now live. It provides an introduction to Yahoo!Pipes, which may help lessen your information load. Yahoo!Pipes can monitor multiple online sources automatically and will just deliver content from those sources according to filters that you set up ahead of time. This filtering functionality is just one of the many possibilities of Yahoo!Pipes. Check out several pipes that we've created here: or try a keyword search of the Pipes site for "library" for more examples.

What 2.0 tool do you use on a daily or weekly basis? How does it help you manage information or do your job more efficiently? Drop a note to tell your story and we may use your submission as our next "2.0 Tools in 2.0 Minutes" video.

May 18, 2009

New Search Engine - WolframAlpha


The new WolframAlpha Search Engine was finally unveiled this weekend after many months of talk. From the creator of Mathematica, a computational software program used by thousands of engineers and mathematicians.

There has been a lot of talk about what the site has been claiming to do. No so much a replacement for current search engines out there such as Google, Yahoo, or, but a compliment to them. It is a computational search engine that is suppose to take your query and bring back an answer on a results page and then to make that data useable in one of many formats. TechCrunch provides some links to sites with reviews and descriptions.

So I have been trying it out this morning. At first I was using querries directly from real chat sessions to see how it compared to information provided from the librarians in the chat sessions. So far, Wolfram Alpha hasn't really provided anything useful, much less specific to information I was seeking. Take, for instance, the example above. I tried to find information about "floating docks" (the kind used on lakes and ponds). The phrase was not even recognizable. Neither was "dock" when I tried to search for that on its own. Another example was looking for information about the type of government for the country Tanzania. It was able to give me all types of information about Tanzania except about the government. The data components provided in the search results are a bit confusing at the moment as well. I'm going to need to read more one their capabilities and functions.

Right now, this is making me appreciate the other search engines more because of the multiple options they provide in their search results. As a librarian, I like having many options I can review, weigh and disseminate. My vote is not cast yet on Wolfram Alpha. This is just my initial reaction and attempts at playing around with it. I'll play some more!

May 14, 2009

Historical Newspapers from the Library of Congress

The Library of Congress and the National Endowment for the Humanities have a joint venture that may be of interest to researchers and history enthusiasts. Chronicling America provides information on newspapers published since 1690 from across the U.S.

Use the Newspaper Directory to locate titles by location, date, or even ethnic or labor group focus. Once you've found one or more newspapers of interest, the site can help connect you with libraries in your area that own them. A search for Minnesota newspapers yielded some 3,000 title entries (though some entries were duplicates).

The site also includes digitized images of a set of newspapers, including the St. Paul Daily Globe from the late 1800s. Search for these on the Search Newspapers page.

This topic begs mention of several other resources. WorldCat, for instance, can help you locate and request newspapers via interlibrary loan. WorldCat is one of the ELM databases. Another excellent source is Minnesota Reflections. This site from the MN Digital Library provides online access to historical primary source materials including plat maps, diaries, letters, and photos.

May 4, 2009

Will These New Search Tools Make Us Worse Searchers?

Internet search providers are doing some innovative things these days. Recently, two examples surfaced: Wolfram/Alpha, which returns answers rather than sources; and Netbase, which looks at the language surrounding a search term to expand on a topic's context.

Web Tool "as Important as Google" [Wolfram/Alpha], BBC News
A Smarter Search for What Ails You [Netbase], Technology Review

Many of these new search technologies promise to analyze the context of data and return specific answers to our questions, as opposed to current search engines that bring us to sources where we can find the answers. It's a fine point, but an important one. Current search technologies require us to know of or at least analyze the source for an answer. New tech does more of this legwork for us in terms of sifting through a source to find data. But what does this mean, besides allowing us to type in "population Rhode Island" and being shown a number, rather than the Census Bureau web page where that number comes from?

It means that the source is hidden or at least obfuscated, which begs a couple of questions: First, commercial vendors are presenting data rather than sources. Who says they have the principle of good information as a primary motive? Second, such services further remove searchers from the process of search and make us less responsible for checking the sources for found information. We'll potentially be more reliant on the search tool, and less reliant on our own critical thinking skills.

I'm not saying that the Internet should be a place that requires a higher education to use, but I do think a higher level of skepticism can't hurt. Some aspects of these technologies are easily lovable (quicker reference-type answers, making the Internet more practical for everyone, automatic relationship-building between topics) but some other aspects make me nervous. What do you think?

April 29, 2009

Staying Current with Academic Journals

Have you seen the new issue of the International Journal of Data Mining and Bioinformatics? How about SIMILE (Studies in Media Information & Literacy Education)? The Journal of Informetics? No? Well, surely you've seen the latest Knowledge and Information Systems, right?

Right? ...Anybody?

If you're in academia (or of that mindset) and find yourself in the horrifically shameful position of not knowing what's currently being discussed in your field's academic publications, consider TicTocs. This free site indexes the tables of contents from thousands of academic publications, and delivers whichever of those TOCs you select directly to your RSS feed reader. So you can stay current with the most recent findings from the International Journal of Web Engineering and Technology.

Or whichever publications you're genuinely, or contractually-obligated to be, interested in.

I might also add that many of the ELM databases, such as Academic Search Premier, offer the option of setting up automatic alerts. These alerts let you know (by email or RSS feed) when new articles are added that match your interests - not just from specific publications but also on specific topics from specific publications. Just run your search and look for the "Alert/Save/Share" link in the upper-right corner of your results listing.

April 20, 2009

Streaming Video of 4/16/09 "An Ounce of Prevention" Teleconference

Minitex is pleased to announce that availability of the Soaring to Excellence teleconference, "An Ounce of Prevention: Health Reference Basics."

The following streaming video link is available for teleconference. It will be active for approximately 30 days after the broadcast.

Don't miss out on this great professional development and enrichment opportunity!

MnKnows - Spread the Word!

Help us spread the word about MnKnows - Dig Deeper @ Your Library (, the new portal that gives Minnesota students and library patrons one-stop access to five statewide library services: MnLINK Gateway, Electronic Library for Minnesota (ELM), Minnesota Reflections, AskMN, and the Research Project Calculator. We've established a website where you can retrieve the MnKnows logos to add to your library's website and use for other publicity purposes.

• See: "About" page on the MnKnows website: ("Help Us Promote MnKnows")

Minnesota academic and state government libraries are receiving a packet of MnKnows bookmarks (100 per packet) in the Delivery System. If you want more packets, please see the contact information at the end of this message.

Minnesota public libraries are receiving bookmarks through their regional public library systems.

Minnesota media centers - please contact us directly to let us know how many bookmarks you need for your schools.

Continue reading "MnKnows - Spread the Word!" »

April 17, 2009

OCLC's Catalog of the Future

Goodness knows I don’t know much about cataloging, but OCLC and the University of California are helping me picture what the catalog of the future will look like with their pilot Melvyl Catalog. Turns out it’ll look pretty much like a website. But - and here’s the revolutionary part - a website created this decade. Unlike some catalogs I could name…

Sorry, that was snarky. Check out the catalog for yourself, and learn more about the joint effort here.

(via ResourceShelf)

March 9, 2009

100 Useful Tips...Research on the Web

I haven't completely scoured through this post but so far I like what I'm seeing. This will come in handy when I'm in a chat session and need to pull up a website fast:

100 Useful Tips and Tools to Research the Deep Web

March 4, 2009

2.0 Tools in 2.0 Minutes

What do you think of when you think of “2.0”? For some, the term brings to mind time-wasting websites and misplaced library efforts. Others fully embrace 2.0 and spread themselves - and their libraries - successfully throughout the social web. Many of us are likely somewhere in the middle: interested in new tools, but not sure how to efficiently incorporate them into our professional duties.

Today we’d like to open up a new series of videos that speak to people in all of these scenarios: “2.0 Tools in 2.0 Minutes.” This ongoing series will profile a 2.0 tool and highlight its value to you, the busy library professional, in almost no time flat. You’ll find no 2.0 for the sake of 2.0 here, though; nothing bleeding edge just because it’s bleeding edge. Instead, we’ll only highlight tools that can help you do your everyday job more efficiently. We’ll answer the question, how can 2.0 tools help me be more productive, not less?

The series begins with what we believe to be the most essential element of the 2.0 revolution, and arguably the tool that can add the most productivity to your work day by bringing valuable information to you: RSS Feeds (2:00). Then we’ll take a look at how Greasemonkey (2:17) can help you customize and optimize specific websites. And we’ll end with a tour of a tool that grants free access to office products like word processors, spreadsheets, and presentation software from anywhere with an Internet connection: Zoho (1:59).

These videos are the first three in an ongoing series. To determine which tools to cover next, we’d like to hear from you. What single 2.0 tool has been most effective in making your work more efficient? Drop a comment and we’ll consider your favorite site for the dubious honor of being the next “2.0 Tools in 2.0 Minutes” video.

February 22, 2009

Jewish Women: A Comprehensive Historical Encyclopedia

From Joyce Antler, Jewish Women's Archive Advisory Committee Chair

On March 1, 2009, the Jewish Women's Archive will launch the free, online version of Jewish Women: A Comprehensive Historical Encyclopedia, edited by Professors Paula Hyman of Yale University and Dalia Ofer of Hebrew University of Jerusalem.

Previously available only on CD-ROM, the Encyclopedia is the first comprehensive source on the history of Jewish women and includes more than 1,700 biographies, 300 thematic essays, and 1,400 photographs and illustrations. The Encyclopedia nearly doubles the content available on and gives Internet users all over the world free and easy access to a wealth of information.

To keep the Encyclopedia current, we hope to add new entries from time to time and to update published pieces as necessary.

February 13, 2009

Reference Backgrounders Galore

Here’s one for your reference bookmarks: Times Topics, from the New York Times. The site is organized by topic – there are 14,000 of them covered – and provides prepared background reports (on many topics) and archived news stories (on all). Topics range from economic stimulus to global warming; from the peanut butter recall to Hamas; and far beyond. If all of that seems too heavy for a Friday, don’t worry, there’s something for everyone, including Neil Diamond fans.

(Found via FMI)

February 12, 2009

Have You Seen this Citation Tool?

Many library databases (including a number of the ELM databases) help students and researchers create source citations to be included in their project or report bibliographies. For those that don’t, and for other types of research sources, from books to periodicals to multimedia, consider KnightCite. This excellent interactive tool from the Hekman Library of Calvin College takes basic information on each source and formats citations according to MLA, APA, or Chicago citation styles. If you haven’t seen it, check it out. Your students just might thank you.

February 5, 2009

PennSound - Poetry You Can Download

While researching for a poem by Elizabeth Alexander, I learned of a terrific web resource created by collaborative entities at the University of Pennsylvania.

"PennSound (, launched January 1, 2005, is a Web-based archive for noncommercial distribution of the largest collection of poetry sound files on the Internet. PennSound offers a large variety of digital recordings of poems..." (

PennSound is sponsored by Penn's Center for Programs in Contemporary Writing and co-directed by Al Filreis, English professor and director of Penn's Center for Programs in Contemporary Writing, and Charles Bernstein, Penn English professor.

"The poetry sound files are retrievable both from a library catalog by authors' names and via Web search engines. PennSound combines aspects of a library archive and a Web music-download site. Basic bibliographic information is incorporated in each file so that a user downloads not only the sound but also key facts about the recording, including author, title, place and date of the recording, series, as well as copyright information." (

Give it a spin!

February 4, 2009

Your Students' New Favorite Online Learning Tool

An article from Technology Horizons in Education Journal, called “Top 10 Web 2.0 Tools for Young Learners” lists some intriguing free and cheap technology tools to help the young folks among us get their learn on. I bet school and youth services librarians are already getting some good mileage out of tools like these.

One online learning site that I’ve been intrigued with, but never used, is called Cramberry (review from Read Write Web). You can use it to make free online flash cards for studying and can then access those cards from anywhere you’ve got an Internet connection. 
What are some favorite online learning aids of the young people in your life/worklife?

February 2, 2009

Let's Talk About the Catalog

When you talk to your non-library friends about libraries, is there one thing that seems to come up again and again? It’s the catalog, isn’t it? My friends always joke about the Dewey Decimal system; it’s like comic gold. And it makes me think that when most non-library people think about libraries, they think about library catalogs. So what do you think about your library’s catalog?

A recent survey (“Perceptions 2008: an International Survey of Library Automation”) looks at librarians’ satisfaction levels with library catalog systems, and provides insight into different vendors. Is your library automation system mentioned? Do you agree with the general drift of the feedback?

I think we can all agree that improvements can always be made in how our catalogs work. So, going forward, what are some things that can be done to make library catalogs easier for our patrons to use?

Continue reading "Let's Talk About the Catalog" »

January 27, 2009

getSTEM Web Portal

February 2 is the launch of the getSTEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) web portal, which is designed to connect Minnesota educators with science and technology businesses, in order to better prepare students for post-secondary education programs and careers in STEM.  getSTEM is supported by a grant from the National Governors Association along with sponsoring businesses including: Thomson Reuters, Microsoft, 3M, Inetium, and Ecolab.  Last fall, the project passed a major milestone when it was launched as a beta site at  Over the last four months, the getSTEM beta site has had over 8,000 visits and successfully partnered schools with businesses for guest speakers, school materials, business tours and more!  Successes like these identify the need for the getSTEM web portal and the desire of schools and businesses to create meaningful partnerships.  These successes have assisted in the progress to getSTEM 2.2...    getSTEM will transition from beta to an official site on February 2, 2009.  There is also a getSTEM for Teachers site at

The future success of Minnesota’s economy depends on a well-prepared pipeline of students with the education and skills to help keep Minnesota business and industry competitive. Please join us in our continued work to partner schools with businesses and higher education to create the talent needed for a highly skilled and plentiful technology workforce in Minnesota. 

January 21, 2009

Online Research Goes Video

Where are students turning with increasing frequency for research help? According to a recent article in the International Herald Tribune, they’re turning to YouTube. The article, titled “Is YouTube the next Google?,” relays new search statistics that put YouTube ahead of Yahoo! Search in terms of popularity and tells the story of one nine-year-old who starts his homework research with YouTube.

Has your library ever put videos online as a way to reach out to your students, no matter their age? If so, drop a link in the comments, because we’d love to see examples.

And don’t think it’s just students embracing online video. A site called TeacherTube aggregates instructional videos and lesson plans from all grade levels and curriculum areas. Teachers, librarians, and other educators - as well as students - can browse through thousands of videos by broad topic channel and can keyword search for videos on specific subjects.    

It’s important for libraries to stake a claim where people are looking for information. In the case of students and teachers, from grade school to college, the next frontier seems to be online video.

January 20, 2009

More Things On a Stick Program To Launch in January

More Things On a Stick Program To Launch in January

ST.PAUL, Minnesota (January 15, 2009) --Minnesota's seven multicounty, multitype library systems (multitypes) will launch the More Things On a Stick: A Library Learning 2.0 Program on January 20, 2009.. This program is the new version of the very popular 23 Things On a Stick Program sponsored the Minnesota Multitypes last year. Staff in academic, school, public and special libraries, as well as members of library Governing and Advisory Boards are invited to participate in this fun, self-paced program that encourages participants to experiment with various Web 2.0 tools. Mashups, more organizational and productivity tools, and deeper uses of RSS and Delicious are just a few of the new offerings in 2009.

All details about how to participate and suggestions for getting ready are now available online at Registration will begin on January 20th at this same address (as part of Thing 1). Those who complete all 23 Things plus the evaluation within 17 weeks will win a completion prize.

Continue reading "More Things On a Stick Program To Launch in January" »

January 14, 2009

Resources for Libraries in Hard Economic Times

ALA released a resource for libraries in hard economic times.

The "Advocating in a Tough Economy Toolkit" is available at

Additional resources:
Media coverage of libraries' role during the current economic crisis.

A relevant past article by ALA:
ALA: Library Funding to Help Get America Back on Track

Minnesota media coverage of libraries' role in hard economic times can be found at:

WebJunction pathfinder: Focus on Libraries in Tough Economic Times

January 12, 2009

Teaching & Learning in Second Life - Conference

Alliance Library System and LearningTimes are pleased to announce an exciting conference featuring science and virtual worlds. On January 30th we are "Stepping Into Science" and taking the day to explore the possibilities of using virtual worlds to learn about and teach science. The conference will be taking place entirely in Second Life and will feature a keynote and panel discussion as well as small breakout sessions, field trips and an opportunity participate in "Science Friday", NPR's live broadcast from Second Life.

For more information and to register, click here:

Speakers and field trips will include:

- Troy McConaghy (Scientist and Educator who has been involved with Second Life for over three years)
- Dr. George Djorgovski (Caltech and Meta Institute for Computational Astrophysics (MICA))
- Joanna Scott (Writer for Nature and manages Second Nature on Second Life)
- Adrienne J. Gauthier, M.Ed. (Instructional Technology Specialist, Steward Observatory)
- Tony Crider (Elon University)

This online conference provides a great opportunity for anyone interested in exploring the latest in science education using 3D, immersive, virtual worlds.

It is ideal for anyone who might be at any stage of implementing education projects using virtual worlds.

There will be many opportunities to ask questions and discuss ideas with our speakers and guides as well as others attending the conference.

Those new to Second Life are encouraged to attend! We'll even be offering Second Life orientations before the 30th so if you've been meaning to check out Second Life, but haven't quite gotten around to it this is a great and structured opportunity to learn about some fantastic projects and also take Second Life for a spin.

The conference will be held live online in Second Life on January 30th. The registration fee is $65 per person. (Group rates are available.)

For more information on the conference, please visit:

Please freely distribute this invitation to those you might thing would interested in attending!

January 9, 2009

Digital Natives in the Library

To edit a phrase: the medium changes the message. Accessing information through different types of technologies has a profound impact on how that information is internalized and used. The ways in which students access information are changing at a rapid pace (fueled by mobile technologies and social online tools) and as information providers, it's important for us to keep up. A good source for learning more about how students use technology is a series of studies from Educause Center for Applied Research (ECAR). Every year, ECAR surveys tens of thousands of college students at dozens of institutions to learn more about what technology they own, how they use it, and how it affects their learning activities. The most recent report is freely available here: 2008 ECAR Study of Undergraduate Students and Information Technology.

Here in the MINITEX Reference Services unit, we spend quite a bit of time talking about ELM databases. A note from one of these database providers, EBSCO, caught my eye the other day (in the Nov/Dec issue of Reference Notes, no less). EBSCO's new design version, called EBSCOhost 2.0, is apparently fully compatible with mobile devices. And, according to the update, "a brand new product for accessing EBSCOhost using handheld devices is currently in development and targeted for release in the spring." Could you see your high school or college students using a library database on their iPhone? Would you use one this way? Drop a note in the comments to let us know what you think.

And in case you're not quite convinced that new technologies are ubiquitous and are changing how students live their everyday lives, try to guess which day was Facebook's busiest day ever. Christmas eve.

December 30, 2008

Pew's Future of the Internet III

The Pew Internet and American Life Project has released a new report that should be of interest to all libraries: The Future of the Internet III.  In this third installment of Pew's survey of internet experts and analysts about where the web is going, many topics are covered.  A lot of the report has to do with changing devices and our changing interaction with them: voice recognition, mobile devices, touch screens, etc.  It makes for very interesting lunchtime reading.  You can read the report here (with links to sub-sections of the report), or Pew's press release here for the really brief version.

October 29, 2008

Britannica to add Primary Sources to Collection

MarketWatch has an article from yesterday talking about the addition of primary sources to Encyclopaedia Britannica. "eBooks From Project Gutenberg Including Literature, History and Philosophy Provide a New Dimension to Research." Project Gutenberg, the digitatization project started by Michael Hart in 1971, will add richness to Online Britannica allowing individuals to get a well-rounded research experience from one place. Visit Encyclopedia Britannica for more information.

October 22, 2008

10 Ways to Help You Drive Usage

From Gale:
Gale offers ten ideas that we can implement together to ensure that your database and eBook usage shoots through the roof. These suggestions illustrate initiatives Gale is taking to help you double usage of your Gale databases in the coming months, bringing more value to your library.

By focusing on the needs of your patrons and bringing more power to users, Gale helps you increase the value of each resource you receive from them.

Please peruse the PowerPoint and let Gale know what you think. Gale is also very interested in hearing about the best practices you have already used in your library to drive usage. Check out Rule #9 about ways to download audio!

Here's the direct link: Download rules_that_drive_usage.pdf

October 9, 2008

Technology Tips

I am sure many of you have seen this blog post already, but just in case you haven’t check out David Pogue’s entry “Tech Tips for the Basic Computer User.” It has some easy-to-use technology tips that everyone should be familiar with, and will save you a lot of time. I am sure you will learn at least one new thing!

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!

July 10, 2008

Do-It-Yourself Projects Enhance Learning

Do-It-Yourself Projects Enhance Learning by Geoff Butterfield has several inexpensive tech tricks that yield big classroom dividends.  A sample of some, include a $15 steady cam and the Soda Bottle Rocket (from Make).  The author suggests several websites that give step-by-step instructions for hands-on projects.  The websites include: Howtoons, Instructables, Tech Savvy Teachers, and many others. 

To read the entire article, visit: 



July 8, 2008

100 Unbelievably Useful Reference Sites

From LIS News- 100 Unbelievably Useful Reference Sites You’ve Never Heard Of: Beyond Google, Wikipedia and other generic reference sites, the Internet boasts a multitude of search engines, dictionaries, reference desks and databases that have organized and archived information for quick and easy searches. In this list, we’ve compiled just 100 of our favorites, for teachers, students, hypochondriacs, procrastinators, bookworms, sports nuts and more.

Read more, at:


July 7, 2008

OCLC WorldMap

From OCLC:

The OCLC WorldMap is a prototype system that provides an interactive visual tool for selecting and displaying international library holdings represented in WorldCat, and publishing, library, cultural heritage, and collection data.

The OCLC WorldMap allows users to select countries of interest, then to compare various library and cultural heritage data by country.

WorldMap will generate interactive graphs that compare several different kinds of data for up to four countries at a time. The data includes the number of:

* Holdings in WorldCat for titles published in each country,
* Languages represented in WorldCat for titles published in each country,
* Titles in WorldCat published in each country; or
* Libraries in each country (broken down by type of library),
* Library volumes in each country (broken down by type of library),
* Certified/degreed librarians in each country (broken down by type of library),
* Registered library users in each country (broken down by type of library),
* Library expenditures (in US $), for each country (broken down type of library),
* Cultural heritage institutions (museums and archives) in each country, and
* Publishers in each country.

Results are displayed on a new screen. In addition, the tabs for each country on the new screen allow viewing of the complete dataset for each country, and the sources for the data (N/A indicates no data are available). A key to the display (.pdf: 607K/6 pp.) is available.

The data for the map were generated from WorldCat and more than forty other sources. The non-WorldCat data in the prototype, however, may not be complete. OCLC is not responsible for incomplete or inaccurate data. If you know of other data sources that can be used to update our data, please let us know.

For more information on OCLC WorldMap

June 23, 2008

50 Best Websites

Time just released its list of the best 50 websites for 2008.  With oil prices climbing, it is no surprise that a website used to locate the cheapest gas in town made the top of the list!  For the complete listings, visit:,28804,1809858_1809957,00.html?xid=site-cnn-partner

June 6, 2008

Google Managing Your Health?

“Google's newly-launched Google Health provides consumers with a facility for storing their personal health record, via a combination of blog posting, webcast and what it terms a "factory tour" - a press briefing in all but name.” – Outsell (June 6, 2008). 

To read more about this initiative and the pilot program that Cleveland, Ohio is doing with health care providers using Google Health to manage patients' records, visit: or

May 8, 2008

Surf the Web in Spanish

From “LisNews” for 5/01/08:
Want to Surf the Web in Spanish? Here's a Guide

PR Newswire announced today ( that Finding Dulcinea has launched a Spanish-language version of its Web Guides which includes: "How to Search the Web," "Health," "U.S. Politics," "Immigration," "Cinco de Mayo" and "Survival Guide to New York City." FindingDulcinea ( ) (Librarian of the Internet) plans to add more Spanish-language Web Guides in the future, based on user feedback.

The AOL Latino 2006 Hispanic Cyberstudy revealed that only 15 percent of U.S. Hispanic Internet users read online content in Spanish only, with most users switching back and forth between English and Spanish.

Finding Dulcinea is a division of Dulcinea Media, Inc. "a Silicon Alley team of savvy Internet users" according to their website ( . Their mission is to "untangle the Web, freeing it of clutter and spotlighting only the sites that matter."

May 7, 2008


From MCTC:

The Minneapolis Community and Technical College Library has launched a
half-hour long radio show on BlogTalkRadio. Listen to our inaugural
show at:

We discuss incorporating humor in teaching and learning with Craig
Hergert, MCTC English faculty member and part-time stand-up comedian.

Our show "airs" live every two weeks from 11-11:30 a.m. on Friday
mornings. Our next live show is Friday May 16. Or,
you can listen to the archived shows at the above link anytime after the
live show ends.

April 28, 2008

Creativity Break with Amy Tan

Novelist Amy Tan digs deep into the creative process, journeying through her childhood and family history and into the worlds of physics and chance, looking for hints of where her own creativity comes from. It's a wild ride with a surprise ending.

View the discussion at:

April 22, 2008

Party photo phenomenon

On the MINITEX Reference Blog, Kristen Mastel talks about a recent article in C&RL News about a photo campaign UVM Libraries held with students engaging them in a contest that also highlighted the library services, specifically the Ask A library service.
Here are some links to more information about the project:
Link to the article online:
Link to podcast discussion with the authors and UVM student:
Link to the UVM Flickr photos:

Free Comic Book Day

Saturday May 3rd, 2008
What is Free Comic Book Day?
Free Comic Book Day is a single day when participating comic book shops across North America and around the world give away comic books absolutely free* to anyone who comes into their stores.   This is a great opportunity for library staff to learn more about comics and graphic novels, along with building partnerships with local comic lovers and retailers. 

11 days until the next
Free Comic Book Day!


For more information, visit:

April 17, 2008

Future of Blogging

There's a couple of interesting posts I ran across today I thought I'd share. One from Chronicle of Higher Ed talks about Blogs May Be Obsolete by New Technology. It cites:

New sites are cropping up, such as the recently-opened beta of Shyfter, which allow users to not only share their feeds, but also discuss specific posts in one place.

These new sites may bring the discussion and comment thread piece currently available with individual blog posts out of the main website and into a new forum, taking away stats and moving a bloggers community to another location. I'm interested in seeing how this trend progresses. I don't think bloggers can control this environment. Communities prosper and flounder based on interest and room for growth/change. As I mentioned in a post yesterday, mnspeak is another one of these types of community sites, not as much of an automated aggregator, but still bringing together information from various sources and giving space for community interact. Mnspeak, itself, has seen it's own ebb and flow in this environment but has still managed to chug along.

Another post I ran across today I wanted to share is from TechSurfBlog. I today's post the author talks about Blogging Less, Twittering More. An interesting look at what may be a larger trend as people find blogging to take up a lot of time and twittering to, maybe, fill in the holes.

April 7, 2008

State Library example of using emerging technologies

The Transparent Library column (LJ, March 15, 2008, vol. 133, no. 5) mentioned the State Library of South Carolina as one that is good with emerging technologies.  I went to their website, and was VERY impressed.  They have a personalized web portal with Joomla.  They also have direct links to their facebook page, YouTube videos created by the organization, Flickr pages of events and many other innovative ideas. 

March 27, 2008

Free Online Version of Photoshop

It's been over a year in development but Adobe has finally released a long anticipated free, web-based version of it's popular software, Photoshop called Photoshop Express: Sill in beta, it's a one-click editing tool that let's the user resize, crop, red eye correction, touch up, and more. They offer users storage of up to 2GB free with a maximum pixel size per photo of 4000. Plus, it integrated with many photo-sharing websites such as Photobucket, Facebook, and Google's Picasa, but not (yet) Flickr.

Other free, web-based online image editors are Picnik and FotoFlexer.

These are all great tools to help libraries using social networking sites where they can upload photos for sharing among other many other benefits including online publishing, printing, brochures, and event promotions.

March 16, 2008

Download: The True Story of the Internet

Last night I watched the series “Download: The True Story of the Internet,” which I recorded from the Discovery Science channel. This four-part series was a nice overview of the browser wars (Google versus Yahoo, etc.), the evolution of Search, the .com Bubble, and finally (and my favorite episode) a discussion of the social side of the Web. The series is an introduction to the topic if you do not know much on the history of the Web, but is not comprehensive at all- many stories are not told. Also, the People Power episode on social software might be good for those that are involved in 23 things on a Stick to watch. It is next airing April 5 at 10pm on the Science channel.
For more information and a complete listing of air times, visit:

March 14, 2008

Free Resources

From Library Hotline / February 25, 2008

Gale, part of Cengage Learning, in recognition of Women's History Month in March, is offering free resources on its Women's History Month Web site, accessible at

They include biographies, quizzes, activities, time lines, and more to complement classroom topics.


February 28, 2008

EBSCO's New Interface - Coming Soon!

EBSCO Publishing is pleased to announce plans to update the EBSCOhost interface in the summer of 2008. Since the last EBSCOhost major interface redesign in 2002, there have been many technological advancements, many of which we will incorporate into EBSCOhost 2.0. We are pleased to provide you with an early preview of the key features of EBSCOhost 2.0.

Some of the key updates will include:

• A cleaner, simpler user interface
• Related Images readily available beside the Result List
• Results directly from NewsBank
• Instant article previews from mouse-over action
• Expand/Collapse side panels
• Search history displayed above Result list
• SmartText Searching to provide full results from partial Find field terms
• Multi-database access to Authority files
• URLs that can be bookmarked
• A convenient, streamlined Cite process for all citation styles

We have also created an EBSCOhost 2.0 Flash overview, available here, and additional detailed information that describes all of the above features, here. (If you cannot open this link, please copy and paste this URL into your browser to see the details on EBSCO's Support Site:

In early March, additional support information regarding EBSCOhost 2.0 will be available on the EBSCO Support Site, including FAQ's, help sheets, user guides, online training sessions, and more.

February 27, 2008

Evaluating Web Content

Trudi Jacobson and Laura Cohen of the University Libraries University at Albany, SUNY have recently rewritten their mid-90s guide to helping students and others evaluate Web sites. The new version of this document reflects the impact of Web 2.0. It can be found at They still consider it as a work in progress. Check it out - it looks great and quite useful!

January 31, 2008

Facebook application now available at

From OCLC Abstracts - January 21, 2008, Vol. 11, No. 3

"The new WorldCat Facebook application provides access to WorldCat searches and user-created lists from personalized pages within a Facebook account. The application includes a home screen with the WorldCat search box, as well as quick links to WorldCat searches based on topics listed in a Facebook profile as personal interests. The application also includes:

-- a built-in, advanced WorldCat search;

-- a panel that allows users to invite other Facebook friends to install WorldCat;

-- a "Something to Read" panel that displays books recently added to WorldCat lists; and

-- a "Favorite WorldCat Lists" panel where users track their own lists or those of other WorldCat users."

To read more click here.

January 28, 2008

Reference Game Online


Carnegie Mellon Libraries has created two library games. The "I'll Get It" game features you as the librarian helping students with electronic and print materials to answer their questions.  A good game to brush up on reference skills.

January 9, 2008

Google Tricks

In today's issue of American Libraries Direct (1-9-08) they cite an excellent article with Google Tricks & Tips.  below is the excerpt: Gina Trapani writes: “When it comes to the Google search box, you already know the tricks: finding exact phrases using quotes like ‘so say we all’ or searching a single site using But there are many more oblique, clever, and lesser-known search recipes and operators that work from that unassuming little input box. Dozens of Google search guides detail the tips you already know, but today we’re skipping the obvious and highlighting our favorite obscure Google web search tricks.” Don’t forget to look at the comments for more tips.  The full article can be read at: 

December 27, 2007

Get Ready for 23 Things on a Stick!

Sponsored by the 7 multitype library organizations in Minnesota, "23 Things on a Stick: A Library Learning 2.0 Program" will be launched on January 20, 2008. Staff, trustees, and Friends in all types of libraries across the entire state of Minnesota are invited to participate. This is a 12 week self-paced, self-directed program designed to get staff involved in learning and using web 2.0 tools such as Flickr, blogs, RSS, wikis, and other useful, interesting, and intriquing tools. Anyone that registers for the program by Feb. 15 and completes all 23 Things by April 13 will receive a gift for completion and be eligible to win other cool prizes.

If you want to read more about this learning program check out the news post on SELCO/SELS website and look for a more indepth article in the January issue of MINITEX Reference Notes.

December 14, 2007

Web Layers Explained

On the ili-l listserv a great graphic to help illustrate the various layers of web visibility was discussed.  Janet Moelzer suggested the following article and graphic:

December 11, 2007


Have you checked out Minnesota's latest newspaper?  MinnPost is completely online and a non-profit organization.  Check out the thoughtful journalism at:

December 3, 2007

Metronet Information Literacy Initiative, Round 2

Metronet, a Minnesota Multitype Library Cooperation System servicing all library types in the 7 county metropolitan area, has embarked on a new project for their second year in collaboration with the St. Paul Public Schools on integrating information literacy skills. This year's project or initiative is incorporating the concept of "23 Things" which helps teachers and media specialists become more familiar with technology and how it can be applied to libraries and the K-12 classroom.

Read more to learn how the Metronet Information Literacy Project is incorporating the "23 Things" model into their initiative at:

November 20, 2007

Cool Free Online Tools

Thanks to the October Issue of Information Today I am aware of two tools, that I love!

-  Image ( which has hundreds of free customizable graphics and clipart.  Easy way to make simple new signs, logos, etc. 

-  ePassportPhoto ( - This website lets you upload photos taken with a digital camera and then validates them with passport photo regulations.  What a time saver and cheaper than any instore price!  The basic photos are FREE! 

October 16, 2007

Chronicling America: Historic American Newspapers (BETA)


"This site allows you to search and read newspaper pages from 1900-1910 and find information about American newspapers published between 1690-present. Chronicling America is sponsored jointly by the National Endowment for the Humanities and the Library of Congress as part of the National Digital Newspaper Program (NDNP)." (from the website)

October 10, 2007

Google: Leader of the Pack

In a USA Today article in the technology section yesterday there is an interesting article on Google (image that!). Google leads the way by a land slide of gobal searches with 27 billion searches for the month of August 2007. Yahoo was a distant second with 8.5 billion searches. Interestingly, there were 2 foreign-based search engines that made the top 5 list, one from China and one from South Korea. Also, interesting ComScore, the company that conducted the research, "estimates that about 750 million people worldwide used Internet search in August, each person averaging about 80 searches." The web is an ever-growing world. It's good that people identify with search engines as vehicles for information results. It's also good for libraries to continue their growing relationship with Google on projects such as Google Scholar and Google Book to increase their presence on the web and with the information-seeking population.

October 2, 2007

iPods and Educational Software Together at Last!

Pioneer Press has an article out today about educational software maker Innovative Knowledge that is now making their material available for use with iPods. As a learning supplement the sessions are now made transferable from disc/computer to iPods for learning-on-the-go.

September 19, 2007

eBooks Spark Interest in Reading

From eSchool News, a study at Ball State's Center for Information and Communications Sciences, graduate student researchers worker with a group of third- and fourth-grade students uninterested in reading to see if how eBooks might influence their desire for reading. They found that 75% of the students enjoyed reading from the eBooks more than the print version and 65% prefered reading from a handheld device than the print counterpart.

The group is only half way through their research study and will continue to gather more data throughout the program length. For more information about the story, read it online here:

Smiley Celebrates 25 Years

Carnegie Mellon professor Scott E. Fahlman is credited with creating the first typographic emoticon, Smiley, as it is affectionately referred 25 years ago :-) "Fahlman posted the emoticon in a message to an online electronic bulletin board at 11:44 a.m. on Sept. 19, 1982, during a discussion about the limits of online humor and how to denote comments meant to be taken lightly." In honor of the aniversary Fahlman and collegues will begin a new annual award for students to encourage the further expansion of innovative technology-assisted communication.

For more information read the articles from the StarTribune and NY Times.

September 17, 2007

Keyword Research

Over at E-Strategy, they put together a fascinating video about keyword research. "Sound keyword research reveals not just the phrases people are using to search for your products, services, or information but also their state of mind, location, and point within the purchase cycle, among other things."

August 31, 2007

Twin Cities News Start-Up Breaks New Ground

Twin Cities News Start-Up Breaks New Ground
by Ken Doctor, Affiliate Analyst - San Jose, California
MinnPost, an online news launch, was announced by former big city publisher and editor and has quickly collected a couple dozen well-known former daily bylines known to readers.
Important Details: When long-time Star Tribune editor and publisher Joel Kramer exited the newspaper business in 1998, he hadn't a glimmer of what he is now doing one decade later: launching an online news start-up. But the peculiar times journalism lives in has driven him in back into publishing, and not on newsprint.
From Outsell.

August 30, 2007

Scratch-n-Sniff eBooks

How do you include the experience of 'smell' into a techy world? From The Shifted Librarian (Jenny Levine), apparently CafeScribe has figured out how to give people that all-around sensation of reading an ebook. According to CafeScribe (via Engadget "43 percent of students identified smell as the thing they most liked about their favorite books...." To this end, CafeScribe is "shipping "musty-smelling" scratch-and-sniff stickers with every ebook order." Hmmm... I don't know how this would work for library orders.

August 17, 2007

Professional Collection


If you try to access the Professional Collection from Thomson-Gale (Statewide Databases) and get InfoTrac Custom Newspapers, please don't be alarmed. Gale has informed us that the image is incorrect but the data you search is from Professional Collection - they are working on a patch to fix the image.

August 8, 2007

Wikipedia Reaches 2 Million Articles

From the New York Times:

At the Wikimania conference in Taipei, this weekend there was a group of volunteers active in editing the online encyclopedia who started calling themselves "The Old-Codgers Coalition." Like many at the conference, they were trying to cope with the impact of the site's popularity.
These days, Wikipedia editors bandy various guidelines and rules of thumb for assessing the merit of articles. The old codgers have proudly followed the credo "Ignore All Rules."
Success has also meant that there is less so-called "low-hanging fruit," articles to write from scratch about important subjects. And finally, success means that Wikipedia has become too big for states around the world to ignore.

July 30, 2007

Development and Future of Digital Tools

This 8-minute video developed by the Museum of Media History charts the development of digital tools and news up to 2015.

July 23, 2007

Search engine website

A participant in today's MORE webinar series discussed the following website.  The site breaks down search engines and resources depending on if the patron needs to refine their topic, find quality results, research a specific discipline, etc.  It is a great resource for the K-12 educators and beyond.  Noodle Tools Information Need:

July 20, 2007

Gale PowerSearch Cutover

Gale has been sending out updates regarding their NEW PowerSearch interface and cutover the past few weeks. As part of the national migration date to the PowerSearch interface scheduled for Tuesday, July 17 at 8pm (EST), four Electronic Library for Minnesota (ELM) resources will be migrated from the old interface to the new PowerSearch interface on July 17:
·        Discovering Collection
·        Junior Reference Collection
·        Professional Collection
·        ¡Informe!
These four databases will be moved to the new interface automatically.
The following two ELM resources will not be moved to the new interface on July 17: InfoTrac Junior Edition and InfoTrac Student Edition. Kids InfoBits will also retain its graphic interface; so, it will not be migrated to the new interface. MINITEX will be working with Gale and our Minnesota school media centers and libraries over the next few months for Gale PowerSearch options of InfoTrac Junior Edition and InfoTrac Student Edition. Watch ELM and MINITEX listservs for future news.
Exciting new interface. Great new features.
So, what's driving the new delivery platform? A super-powered search engine called Gale PowerSearch™ that features innovative cross-searching capabilities! Users can access all the Thomson Gale content in your library's collection by exploring one, several, or all available databases simultaneously.
Have questions? A guided tour, handouts, and more information are available at 
Keep your eye out for training sessions available this fall through MINITEX. 
PowerSearch is just in time to start the school year with a fresh look! 

ELM Renewal

MINITEX Library Information Network and Minnesota Department of Education’s State Library Services, our state library agency, are pleased to announce that we have elected to exercise our option to renew the following resources available to Minnesota residents through ELM: Electronic Library for Minnesota:  EBSCO Publishing’s suite of general and scholarly databases aimed primarily at academic, public, and government library users; Gale’s K-12 and Spanish-language electronic resources; OCLC’s WorldCat; and ProQuest’s Newsstand Complete for two additional years (July 1, 2007 – June 30, 2009).   In addition, we had indicated to the Minnesota higher education committees our desire to add a health and science database to ELM in FY08 with additional funds. We probably will only be able to add one database with the existing additional funding and no final decision yet has been made.  
Resources currently available through ELM



 Academic Search Premier

Business Source Premier

Regional Business News

MasterFILE Premier





Kids InfoBits

InfoTrac Junior Edition

infoTrac Student Edition

Junior Reference Collection

Discovering Collection

Professional Collection






ProQuest Newsstand Complete


ELM is available online all the time from school, home, work, or @ your library.  Visit for access and more information.

July 2, 2007

Wikis Explained

Here's a great video that talks about what a wiki is and how it can be used by a group from David Erickson with

June 27, 2007

Blogs to Watch

Wondering what blogs to read?  PC World just announced their list of top 100 blogs to watch.  Among which are three of my personal favorites: Slashdot, Engadget and ReadWriteWeb.  To read the complete list with descriptions and links, click:

June 23, 2007

Libraries2Go: Library Services for Handhelds

I was a little late getting to this session (as I will be for the next). I've found internet connection outside of the convention center to be very spotty. The convention center has slick wi-fi but everywhere else is not so good. All my sessions today are at hotels and I haven't found one to work yet! Ack!

Anyway, Mobile Sites for Libraries:
came in half way for Bradley Faust's presentation from Ball State U.
-sites to check out:
mobile site:
project info site: (project info link available on this page)
Mobile sites - what works best:
-short pages
-easy to read fonts
-easy to navigate
-minimal images
-anywhere access
-offering BSU webmail client (through MicroSoft)

Card Cat Mobile - phase 1:
-custom gateway to card cat system designed for mobile devices
phase 2:
-going with z39.50
-developed using MicroSoft visual studio development
-adding mobile journals - make them searchable
-want to add mobile video - provide access to low bandwidth versions of library promotional videos
-found their mobile site works best with Pocket PC devices w wi-fi connection (2006)
-videos streamed in Windows Media format only - not compat. w Macs
-Google Co-op site search - added to mobile site - replaced mobile site map on the mobile site homepage (found it works better)

Future work:
-build out card cat mobile product
-build out mobile journals product
-build out library services - such as text messaging
-add blogs, rss, wikis, & other 2.0 solutions for mobile devices

North Carolina State U. w Markus Wust
-more info:

Why Mobile?
-growth of mobile phone industry
-spread of mobile phones - 2.7 billion mobile phones world wide
-educational institutions experiementing - ball state u & u. texas
-commercial content providers - yahoo/google/msn... - facebook, flickr, myspace
-Eric Schmidt, google ceo - "biggest growth area is in mobile"

No. Carolina State U doesn't have any data right now but going off of feedback in their libraries
-started w small set of services
-looked at what would be useful in mobile environment

- variety of browsers/platforms
-small screens & input devices
-need for precise language (stay small)
-different usage scenarios

tech issues:
-access keys for easiest navigation
-phone numbers for keys

7 services focused on:
1.) catalog search
-basic search interface for the NCSU libraries online catalog
-default is keyword search, but users can also search by title, author, or isbn
-users can limit search to available items
2.) computers - availability of public access library computers
-shows pc's, macs or "web only" computers currently open for use in the library
3.) library hours
-today's and tomorrow's opening hours for all library locations and major service departments w/in library
4.) campus directory
-mobile version of the main ncsu campus directory
-searches whole campus or limits to students or faculty/staff
5.) contact us
-contact information for branch libraries and selected services at library
6.) links
-links to external mobile content providers
7.) wolfline status
-links to text-only version of transloc inc.'s transit visualization system map
-shows current location of buses in the university's transit system

found images and visual elements just didn't work - all text based
-very concise information provided and layed out well

Next steps:
-usability testing/focus groups
-implementation of feedback on current new services
-My MobiLIB - place holds, renew items
-exploring use of text messaging for lib. applications
-faceted browsing for catalog

Michelle Jacobs, U Cal - Merced
The Library in Your Pocket
-text messaging/SMS - short message service
-mobile applications
-mobile pages for your site

What to use
-smart phones & pocket pc's
-lib has cell phones only - no desk phones

How it was advertised:
-link on website
-mentioned in instruction classes
-word of mouth
Total transactions for spr. 07
-70 on a campus of 1300 fts - 2 faculty used the service!

simple steps:
-add text messaging to your plan (cell phone plan)
-list hours staffed
-add "My Text" for commonly asked questions - scripts

Favorites w students:
-facebook mobile
-social networking is going mobile - LIBRARIES SHOULD GO MOBILE

watch this:
-youtube vid:

June 20, 2007

Wikis in plain English

Check out this YouTube video on creating wikis!

June 13, 2007

AL Focus

Check out AL Focus - the video home of ALA's American Libraries!

First, enjoy their video, WHEEL OF CONFUSION

June 11, 2007

BookSwim the new library competition?

I heard about this new company called BookSwim, which advertises itself as an online book rental library.  Similar to or Netflix, you build a cue of books you want to read and they send them to you!  They offer no late fees, free shipping both ways and a selection of over 150,000 titles.  What are the possible implications of companies like this on libraries?  Do we need to rethink how and where we serve our customers?  Thoughts? 

June 7, 2007


As I mentioned in a previous post. I was going to talk about LibraryThing. LibraryThing is a (another) social site designed to let people share information about the books they love! You can add books to your list that your reading, read, want to read, look for suggestions and upcoming publications. You can make any and every part of your list public and view by anyone or just a select list of people. You can create book groups to meet and talk about books and view other talks to find out more information about specific books and authors.

Also, you can write your own reviews and make the accessible only on LibraryThing, allow LibraryThing to give your review to non-commercial entities (mosty libraries) or to both non-commercial and commercial entities (such as booksellers, publishers, authors, street gangs).

Who doesn't keep their own book list? I do and it has gotten a bit unwieldy as of late. So now I've just loaded it up on LibraryThing and manage it from there. Another neat factor: you can choose from 78 different sources to search from, most of which being libraries. I just searched the University of Chicago's catalog on LibraryThing for Charles Bukowski and found a new book published in Germany about him I had never heard of before, "The Germans love me for some reason - " : Charles Bukowski und Deutschland by Horst Schmidt. What a find!

June 6, 2007


Do you tag "stuff"? Do you have tags in many different places such as, Flickr, Gmail, Squirl, LibraryThing and Connotea? Who doesn't! Which reminds me, I haven't written about LibraryThing yet. I'll have to do a little write up on that next.

Anyway, TagsAhoy! "lets you search all your tags, across different sites, from one location". Sweet! They plan to add more sites to the list soon as well.

June 5, 2007

The Next Step in Social Bookmarking

Social Poster is the latest evolution in social bookmarking. It's very easy to use also. Go to the Social Poster website and add the Social Poster button to your bookmarks toolbar by clicking and dragging, there's nothing to download. Then visit any site you wish to bookmark. Highlight some text and click on the Social Poster button. You'll come to a new page with your highlighted text, URL, and title of the page you were just at in the top right. All information there can be edited before posting. Social Poster will even create tags based on the content of the page.

Also, on the page are 34 social sites including, Digg,, Stumbleupon, and Technorati. You can submit the site to all or any of these sites by clicking the Post button. However, you do need to have an account with each of these social sites to post. For those that are sending lots of links of sites to friends and social sites this will definitely save you a lot of time and some wear and tear on your clicking finger!

May 30, 2007

NYPL Best of Reference 2007

New York Public Library has released its' list of Best of Reference 2007: Big Top Reference.  Some of the items on the list include WorldCat, Pew Hispanic Center, Technorati, Wayback Machine, Google Patent Search along with recently published encyclopedias and other reference resources.  To see the complete list, visit:

May 24, 2007

Digg this, Tag that!

Have you ever dugg an article, blog or profile before? Digg is a social networking site that allows users (you, me and everyone we know) to submit and "digg" a story - vote on it's popularity or bury it based on a yay/nay, like/dislike attitude. If a story gets enough diggs it get promoted to the front page showing the number of diggs (votes) next to the title. Stories can also be posted to a user's blog as soon as they digg it. If you blog or write stories online (for your library or for personal enjoyment or necessity) posting your story to Digg will help give your site and writing more exposure and bring more traffic to your site.

Why do I care? You may ask. Well, as one librarian, the Connecting Librarian states,

For [stories] to get a lot of diggs, either the people posting the stories have to know a lot of people who they encourage to digg their entry, or it is an entry of great interest to a wide variety of people. Either way, its something that's of interest to a lot of people and therefore I think that I, as a public librarian, should be aware of.

Digg is not the only site out there that does this kind of thing. Another site that works on the same concept, stumbleupon actually has more registered users than (the popular) Digg. However, stumbleupon not only uses categories (mediated source) to separate and organize stories, like Digg, they also use tags (social networking) to organize stories. This form of filtering actually gives stumbleupon a leg up on Digg as far as user contributed content control.

Again, you may say, what do I care? You should, because as librarians, as organizers of content, we need to be looking at how users of the world wide web are not only categorizing and organizing content on the web, but also, how they perceive the information - important/not important. That's what these types of user-driven social content ranking sites are doing. They are letting us know what information people deem important and popular. Our role as filter for finding/suggesting best sources comes into play here as well as a good scrutinizing eye.

btw, if you would like more info about these sites and others like them, TechCrunch has a good article with summaries of major players.

May 16, 2007



From Calisphere:

"Calisphere is the University of California's free public gateway to a world of primary sources. More than 150,000 digitized items -- including photographs, documents, newspaper pages, political cartoons, works of art, diaries, transcribed oral histories, advertising, and other unique cultural artifacts -- reveal the diverse history and culture of California and its role in national and world history. Calisphere's content has been selected from the libraries and museums of the UC campuses, and from a variety of cultural heritage organizations.

Calisphere is a public service project of the California Digital Library (CDL). Through the use of technology and innovation, the CDL supports the assembly and creative use of scholarship for the UC libraries and the communities they serve. Learn more about the CDL."

May 15, 2007

The Web: 2012

May 7, 2007 A panel on the future of commerce, journalism, and community on the Internet, featuring Barry Diller, Arianna Huffington, and Craig Newmark. Moderated by Ken Auletta. From "2012: Stories from the Near Future," the 2007 New Yorker Conference.

May 10, 2007

Learning 2.0

Recently on the ILI-listerv (ACRL's Instruction Section Information Literacy Instruction Discussion List) a discussion thread has been started on ways to deliver staff training for libraries on topics such as Web 2.0.

One of the members responded by pointing to an online resource called "Learning 2.0." It is a resource that can be customized and tailored to your own institution. The right-hand column provides links to other libraries doing the Learning 2.0 program.

May 9, 2007


Wow! This is a terrific video "starring" Vermont librarian, Jessamyn West. It shows her installing "Ubuntu" to two computers that were donated to The Calef Library in Washington, Vermont. Ubuntu comes bundled with Open Source software such as OpenOffice, Gimp (like Photoshop), Firefox, and Gaim (Instant Messenger). This is a great work-around for those who do not want to or cannot purchase various software programs. Check it out!

Encyclopedia of Life

Recently launced is a new "Wikipedia-like" website for biology enthusiasts, Encyclopedia of Life. The goal of the project is to create a free online resource that catalogs and describes all the planet's known species.

Exploring the Intersection of Gaming and Libraries

From American Libraries Direct:

Researchers from the Syracuse University School of Information Studies, the American Library Association (ALA), and the University of Illinois at Champaign-Urbana, are working together to research games in libraries through a project called Game Lab. Researchers will tackle the development of a classification structure for games and determine the public good served by the library that provides gaming programs. To read the entire article

To follow the work of this project check out the Game Lab blog

Wild Music - Experience the Sounds & Songs of Life

If you haven't yet visited the traveling exhibition, "Wild Music," at the Science Museum of Minnesota, St. Paul, you may want to as it moves on to Raleigh, NC on May 14th. The final day is this Sunday, May 13th.

It's a large exhibition at 4,000 square feet and is a production of the Science Museum of Minnesota, the Association of Science-Technology Centers, and the University of North Carolina at Greensboro School of Music. Additionally, major support has also come from the National Science Foundation. Harman International, Inc. and the NEC Foundation of America are supporters as well. For more on the exhibition

However, if you won't be visiting the Science Museum of Minnesota this week or weekend, check out the "Wild Music" website - this can be a great source for student activities and/or personal enjoyment long after the exhibit has traveled far from Minnesota. The site can be viewed in English or Spanish.

Experience "Wild Music" online!

May 4, 2007

More Tutorials!

These two tutorials are at the top of my list for content and delivery. Check it out!

Plagiarism tutorial from Paul Robeson Library of Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey:

CLUE - from the University of Wisconsin-Madison Libraries (a tutorial to orient the student to UW-Madison Libraries and college level research tools and strategies):

Outstanding Tutorial on Business Research

Check out this outstanding tutorial!!

From the ILI-L listserv:

The Peer-Reviewed Instructional Materials Online (PRIMO) Committee of
the Instruction Section of ACRL announces its site of the month for February 2007.

To read the full interview and browse the archive of previous profiles, please see

*** PRIMO Site of the Month Interview, February 2007 ***

A Beginner's Guide to Business Research

Author: Louise Klusek
Institution: Baruch College, The City University of New York

Interviewer: Britt Fagerheim

Description: A Beginner's Guide to Business Research is an e-learning
module designed specifically for students doing company research for the
first time. This module is a required information literacy component of
Introduction to Business, a 1000-level course required of all students
intending to major in business at Baruch College. The Guide covers two
major sources of information: company websites (including annual
reports, 10-K filings, webcasts and press releases) and business
databases for news, company profiles, histories and up-to-date stock

April 17, 2007

Book Burro

Book Burro is a very simple and easy to install tool that will sense when you are viewing or searching for a book. A "Book Burro" tab will appear and when you click on it, it will queary for lowest book prices on other sites. It is synced up with so it can also indicate library locations nearest your IP address. Very cool.

April 16, 2007

Marking Up Webpages Like a Whiteboard

Firedoodle is a Firefox add-on that let's you mark up webpages like a whiteboard. Just like when you make a screen print of a page and bring it in photoshop, snag-it, or powerpoint to point out things on a page, you can do the same with this tool. You can save your work and also mark your spot on a page that you're reading so you don't lose your place. It's pretty neat, check it out for yourself.

April 9, 2007

National Archives Films on Google Video

Over 70 years ago, the National Archives,, was founded to preserve American historical documents, as well as the moments and events that could be saved in still photos, films, and audio recordings. Today the Archives is home to everything from rare historical footage (newsreels and government documentaries from the 1930s) to the 1969 moon landing. Now Google is launching a pilot program to digitize its video content and offer it to everyone in the world for free, and you can watch a growing selection on Google Video.

March 13, 2007

Promoting Your Digital Reference Service

Lately, I've been looking at the sites and They offer FREE! tools that allow you to create an ever-present toolbar for your digital reference service. You can also use it for other services such as your catalog. Patrons can download the toolbar onto their own browser (I've found that it works best with Firefox) and connect to a librarian (when the service is available) at any given whim. Ask a question without even going to the library's website. What a great way to promote your service!

March 7, 2007

Research Project Calculator

Helping students jump-start their research! The latest Cool Tool @ Your Library for Minnesota secondary school students and their teachers is here. The Research Project Calculator,, is a great way to introduce students to the research process.

The calculator gives students the option of choosing between three different format types for their project: essay, powerpoint, or video. Once a student enters an end date for their project and format type the calculator will show them the process broken down into 5 steps: Question, Gather, Conclude, Communication, and Evaluate with completion dates for each step. Each step offers information about what that step entails and how to go about completing it. For instance, Step 2, Gather, gives information about what the step is about, where to look for information, forming search techniques, how to identify best sources, how to record information, and how to cite sources. Students can then either print out the steps or have the steps emailed to themselves.

Look for more information about the Research Calculator and other interesting articles coming in the March issue of Reference Notes.

March 1, 2007

Google patents

Google launched a patent database that includes US patents from the 1790's through mid 2006, with plans to add patents that are more recent. Google Patents can search US and international patent classes, assignees, inventors and patent numbers. It can limit by issue and filing date. However, older scanned patents include many optical character recognition errors and the database does not include patent applications.
Taken from Online magazine, March/April 2007,pg 14.

February 28, 2007

WorldCat Registry offers management of organizational data

DUBLIN, Ohio, USA, 26 February 2007—OCLC has launched the WorldCat Registry, a comprehensive directory for libraries and consortia, and the services they provide. The WorldCat Registry will help libraries and consortia manage and share data that define their organizations--such as institution type, location, URLs for electronic services, circulation statistics, and population served--through a single, authoritative Web platform.

Continue reading "WorldCat Registry offers management of organizational data" »

February 23, 2007

An Inconvenient Truth

A documentary not only worth seeing but also a must have for your collections!


An Inconvenient Truth (2006)
with Al Gore, directed by Davis Guggenheim

From IMDB:
A documentary on Al Gore's campaign to make the issue of global warming a recognized problem worldwide.

"In 39 years, I have never written these words in a movie review, but here they are: You owe it to yourself to see this film. If you do not, and you have grandchildren, you should explain to them why you decided not to." - Roger Ebert, Chicago Sun-Times

"In the movie he is merely excellent. But in person...he presents a combination of intellectual force, emotional vibrancy and moral urgency that has hardly been seen in American public life in recent years." - David Denby, The New Yorker

"one of the most important films ever." - Larry King

"[Al Gore] he is not only forcing us to confront the problem, he is also looking for realistic solutions ... [Gore] firmly believes that environmental responsibility and economic prosperity are not mutually exclusive." - Amanda Gefter, New Scientist

"I was skeptical that Al Gore was really going to change how I thought about global warming. I was wrong. I now believe that An Inconvenient Truth is the most important film that anyone will see this year. We have become accustomed to hearing about global warming in a muted, disconnected way ... but at last someone has marshalled all the fragments of information and woven it into a single, breathtaking whole. ... we can only comprehend global warming if we take the widest possible view, and we can't access that viewpoint while wearing party-political blinders."
- Dave Hoskin, Metro

Minnesota Population Center

Check out this public resource!

From the MPC:

The Minnesota Population Center (MPC) is a University-wide interdisciplinary cooperative for demographic research. The MPC serves sixty faculty members and research associates from ten colleges and nineteen departments at the University of Minnesota, and employs nearly a hundred research support staff, including computer programmers and technicians, administrative staff, research assistants, and data-entry staff. As a leading developer and disseminator of demographic data, we also serve a broader audience of some 6,000 demographic researchers worldwide.

February 13, 2007

The Inspired Librarian

Another blog to check out: The Inspired Librarian by Sally Daniels. Daniels is a school library media specialist in New York. She has blogged on some interesting topics and links to helpful sites and resources.

The Blue Skunk Blog

Check out Doug Johnson's The Blue Skunk Blog

From his bio: Doug Johnson has been the Director of Media and Technology for the Mankato Public Schools since 1991 and has served as an adjunct faculty member of Minnesota State University, Mankato since 1990.


At a recent conference I had the pleasure of meeting two representatives from ISEEK. Check out their site!

This description from their website:

ISEEK, the Internet System for Education and Employment Knowledge, is a web-based gateway to Minnesota career, employment, education, and business development information and services. The Internet system helps you make smart choices about careers, employment, education, and business growth.

ISEEK provides information in four main areas:

  • explore careers

  • plan your education

  • find a job

  • grow your business
  • To learn more about ISEEK visit: What is ISEEK?

    School Library 2.0

    Check out the School Library Journal 2006 Webcast series on blogs, podcasts, and wikis and how these can be used in the classroom at:

    Scroll to the bottom of the page and you will find links to the following webcasts:

  • Blogs - Host: Will Richardson, well-known presenter on the ed-tech circuit and author of the popular blog weblogg-ed. (posted October 15, 2006)
  • Podcasts - Host: Sarah Chauncey, library media specialist, Grandview Elementary School, East Ramapo, NY. (posted November 15, 2006)
  • Wikis - Host: Wendy Stephens, librarian, Buckhorn High School, New Market, AL. (posted December 15, 2006)
  • NASA

    The National Aeronautics and Space Administration provides some terrific resources for kids, students, educators, and researchers. Check out their homepage and the left navigation bar for these resources. Some of these resources include homework help, Internet and multimedia resources, learning and student opportunities, contacts for students and educators, career information, research assistance, and professional development. You can also find these resources at NASA Education.


    WebJunction Minnesota has a brand new look!

    Check it out at:

    (C)ollectanea!: Collected Perspectives On Copyright

    From Marvin Stewart, Event Specialist at Center for Intellectual Property, University of Maryland University College -

    The Center for Intellectual Property (CIP) at the University of Maryland University College is excited to announce the launch of a new blog portal addressing the cultural, political and legal context of copyright issues:


    Continue reading "(C)ollectanea!: Collected Perspectives On Copyright" »

    January 24, 2007

    New Journal: Evidence Based Library and Information Practice

    New open access library science journal called "Evidence Based Library and Information Practice." Thought you all
    might want to take a look:

    January 22, 2007

    Scrolling text image generator

    Thought I would show everyone this new sign technology that I read about on the blog, LibrarianInBlack.
    Image Hosted by

    Signbot lets you create your very own LED Scrolling Sign image.

    December 19, 2006

    Perry-Castañeda Library Map Collection

    The Perry-Castañeda Library Map Collection is a general collection of more than 250,000 maps covering all areas of the world. This online collection has been created by the University of Texas at Austin Libraries.

    This amazing collection includes maps of:

  • The World
  • Africa
  • The Americas including United States, Canada and Mexico
  • Asia
  • Australia and the Pacific
  • Europe
  • The Middle East
  • Polar Regions and Oceans
  • Russia and the Former Soviet Republics
  • The United States including National Parks and Monuments

    Furthermore, you can find historical maps, outline maps, and maps of current interest (i.e. Afghanistan, Iraq, Korea, Somalia).

    Explore the Perry-Castañeda Library Map Collection online!!

  • December 18, 2006

    National Resource Center for the First Year Experience and Students in Transition

    "The National Resource Center for The First-Year Experience and Students in Transition has as its mission to support and advance efforts to improve student learning and transitions into and through higher education. We achieve this mission by providing opportunities for the exchange of practical, theory-based information and ideas through the convening of conferences, teleconferences, institutes, and workshops; publishing monographs, a peer-reviewed journal, a newsletter, guides, and books; generating and supporting research and scholarship; hosting visiting scholars; and administering a web site and electronic listservs."

    For a guide to our profession's literature on the First Year Experience and Students in Tranisition see the annotated FYE Bibliography.

    Central Pennsylvania K-16 Information Literacy Network

    The Central Pennsylvania K-16 Information Literacy Network is a website primarily designed to support the K-16 Information Literacy iniatitive of Central Pennsylvania. Their Resources page, however, can be quite helpful to any school library media specialists or academic librarians focusing on instructional programs.

    Family Genealogy and History Internet Education Directory

    Family Genealogy and History Internet Education Directory, a project of V. Chris & Thomas M. Tinney, Sr., established in 1997, offers free coverage of the Genealogy World in a Nutshell. SEARCH This Site, provides updated site search engine access by Google, Pico, and Yahoo!

    "This is a professional worldwide humanities and social sciences mega portal, connected directly to thousands
    of related sub-sets, with billions of primary or secondary family history and genealogy database records. It encompasses all other key worldwide genealogy sites. Our goal is to promote scholarly educational access to all key worldwide Internet genealogical and family history databases and resources. Independent researchers are
    always invited to voluntarily email us, to report any broken, changed, inappropriate, misdirected, new, outdated or undiscovered pertinent genealogy and family history links."

    December 14, 2006

    Strong Ties: 43% of Internet users feel as "strongly" about virtual communities as real ones

    From Darlene Fichter's blog "Blog on the side"...

    The 2007 Digital Future Project annually surveys more than 2,000 people across the USA about the impact of online technology on users and non-users. This year they noted that Internet is finally having a powerful personal and social impact on people's lives.

    Continue reading "Strong Ties: 43% of Internet users feel as "strongly" about virtual communities as real ones" »

    December 12, 2006

    Biographical Database Covering All Minnesota Legislators

    Staff members at the Minnesota Legislative Reference Library are pleased to announce the public availability of a biographical database covering all Minnesota legislators back to territorial times, Legislators Past & Present ( While a handful of states have lists of legislators available electronically, we believe this resource is unique in the nation.

    For more details on the database, see an article published in the St.
    Paul Legal Ledger, scanned with permission and available at:

    Continue reading "Biographical Database Covering All Minnesota Legislators" »

    December 5, 2006

    Finding Quotes

    We regularly get requests for finding information about quotes: the correct wording, its origin, or the author of a quote. Sometimes we find what we're looking for and sometimes we don't. Quotes are a tricky one. While we rely mainly on the resources here at the University of Minnesota Libraries, they too can be limiting. That is why when we come across a good resource, especially for quotes, we bookmark them for future use. We also like to share the knowledge of resources available, especially when they are free!

    Here is one we have come across as an addition to our arsenal of quotation resources: The Literature Network, This is a good resource when you want to locate a particular quotation by searching through a database of the author's works. As I mentioned, it is a free resource so you will have to deal with banner ads and the ocassional pop-up, but still, it's a good resource.

    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 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. 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 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?

    October 31, 2006

    LISZEN: Library Blog Search engine

    LISZEN: Library Blog Search engine

    Ever want a Technorati-esque site that would only search for biblioblogosphere posts? Well, your wait is over! Per an announcement on the Library Zen blog, LIS Student Garrett Hungerford has created LISZEN, a library-blogs-only search engine that trolls 530 different library-related blogs. The site has been up and down today as, I suspect, we have overloaded the server. Many readers have commented with suggestions for improving the engine. Keep an eye on it!!!

    October 2, 2006

    Offender Records

    Wondering what some of our questions are? Recently, I was asked to locate information regarding a historical crime, and confirm whether or not the person was still in prison. During the research process I stumbled upon, with guidance of a warden, the Department of Corrections Offender Search at Here one is able to locate if a person is still under the Commissioner of Corrections jurisdiction.

    September 8, 2006

    WebJunction Minnesota

    Coming Next Week! WebJunction Minnesota!

    WebJunction Minnesota, an online service for the Minnesota library community, launches September 10, 2006. It is a collaborative effort of Minnesota State Library Services, a division of the Minnesota Department of Education; MINITEX Library Information Network; Metronet, a Minnesota Multitype Library Cooperation System; and WebJunction.

    WebJunction is an online community and portal that supports library staff with technology and library development materials; provides courses for online learning and professional development; and brings the library community together in online discussions and programs.

    WebJunction Minnesota offers an online community space where Minnesota libraries and staff can share best practices, policies and procedures, learning opportunities, and expertise to promote high quality library services. Minnesota library staff will have access to all the resources of the global WebJunction site plus local content of interest to the Minnesota library community, free online courses, and local discussion forums. Content will grow and change according to Minnesota library community needs.

    WebJunction Minnesota will be promoted in various venues this fall, including the annual conferences of the Minnesota Library Association and the Minnesota Educational Media Organization. Alert your colleagues in the library community to prepare for the launch by signing up now for a free user account at Stay tuned for more details!

    WebJunction Minnesota is funded in part with federal IMLS Library Services and Technology Act funds, administered by State Library Services in cooperation with MINITEX Library Information Network and Metronet. Minnesota joins nine other states - Arizona, Connecticut, Delaware, Iowa, Kansas, New Hampshire, New Mexico, Vermont, and Washington - in the WebJunction Community Partner program.

    Questions, comments, or suggestions for content? Contact Mary Ann Van Cura, State Library Services and WebJunction Team Lead, at, Jennifer Hootman, MINITEX Library Information Network, at, or Deanna Sylte, Metronet, at

    August 31, 2006

    Free Audio Books

    Below you will find an e-mail from Janet Arth where she has cited an article that ties together numerous free audio book resources.

    Continue reading "Free Audio Books" »

    August 28, 2006

    USDA - Statistics

    The United States Department of Agriculture's National Agricultural Statistics Service provides state and county level data in the "Quick Stats" section for various agricultural goods. Some of the data is available from as early as 1909. For instance, this is a great resource to find out the yield for corn, oats, or wheat in a particular year or stretch of years for any county in Minnesota. Give it a try!

    July 26, 2006

    Linked In

    LinkedIn http://www.linkedin.comis a place to find and leverage professional opportunities, now and throughout your career. LinkedIn enables you to:
    -Present yourself and your professional capabilities
    -Find and reconnect with colleagues and classmates
    -Leverage powerful tools to find and reach the people you need
    -Build a powerful network of trusted professionals
    -Discover professional relationships and opportunities
    -Tap into inside connections and information
    -Get the edge that gives you competitive advantage
    There are already 6 million professionals in the LinkedIn Network, and that number is growing fast. Whether you seek a job, a hire, a reference, a sales lead, an expert, or an inside connection at one of 50,000 companies, LinkedIn is an irreplaceable resource for building your professional relationships and achieving your goals.

    July 21, 2006

    Minnesota Maps Online

    Another project supported by the Minnesota Digital Library, Minnesota Maps Online, is a digital collection of historic maps from the collections of the Minnesota Historical Society and the Office of the Secretary of State.

    This searchable database includes Minnesota's original public land survey plats from 1848-1907. Additionally, you will find General Land Office and Bureau of Land Management maps, up to the year 2001. Another section allows you to search for plat books and atlases.

    USPTO Patent Full-Text and Image Database

    If you are searching for patent applications and images, try the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office Patent Full-Text and Image Database.

    This database includes patents from 1790-present. Please take note of the system requirements to view full-text and images.

    July 11, 2006


    Does the pronunciation key in Webster's not cut it for you at times? Try This website has an audio stream and definition of the desired word.

    July 6, 2006

    Working on a big presentation?

    Want to jazz up your standard PowerPoint presentation? Below you will find some great sites to assist you in creating anything but a ho-hum presentation. Bullets has tip and tricks to PowerPoint more effectively. This is a site that is trying to sell information, but the free resources are great.

    June 22, 2006

    Files too large to e-mail?

    Are your files too large to e-mail? Sick or carrying around or forgetting your USB drive? Check out You Send It, http://yousendit.comIt is a service to send files back and forth for free up to 1 G. For a nominal fee you can send secure and larger files as well.