Monday, November 26, 2007

Ask.com Blog - If A Search Engine Could Talk

Ask.com is a pretty good search engine that get overlook because of you know who. With the recent improvements and new features it is getting stronger as an alternative.

But what if a search engine could talk or better still blog? Ask.com's blog has articles that are worth checking out. Some are educational, some are just for fun but when you can combine the two that is pure edutainment.
  • Hurricane season awareness that provide links to what the duration of the season but also talks about the Smart Answer feature that combines links with reliable resources. It is another step closer to search engines anticipating users searches and providing librarian type answers.
  • Celebration of the Smiley. It gives the definitions, what it looks like, who sent the first smiley and link to the history of emoticons.
  • Elvis may have left the building but he is certainly not forgotten. In this blog post they have links to his biography, his health problems and a great video of Elvis singing a duet with Frank Sinatra.
  • Aye, we missed it this year but you can be ready to talk like a Pirate without having to clime the mizzenmast.

Cyber Ready-Reference Desk Tools

For most of us we may find ourselves sitting at a library desk answering routine questions (We hope!) Many times the answers will be on a sheet of paper or a shelf of books behind us.

But there will be times when we'll need to find the answer and you fingers are already on the keyboard. This is a brief survey of the type of information resources that are available for quick ready-reference type questions.

Library Focus Ready-Reference

The Internet for Librarians has a great page that links to Almanacs, Biographies, Maps and other types of fact based information. The Internet Public Library has a master page of links to similar types of items including calendars systems, links to experts and a link to the Department of Defense list of Military Acronyms and Abbreviations.

Lakewood Public Library (Ohio) has a library vetted list of good links for tech dictionaries, charity evaluations sites like Guidestar and Idealist and a link to the Ramapo Catskill Library system which has its own Best Online Reference sites.

And for the folks up north in Canada there is the Ontario Ready Reference page produced by the Southern Ontario Library Service.

Non Library Ready-Reference

Acronym Finder does what it claims, you type in the acronym or abbreviation or initialisms and it will root out a list of associated concepts.

An oldie but a goodie RefDesk has a little bit of everything such as currency converters, links to online encyclopedias, national and international newspapers and so much more. The design is old school 1998 so it is really important to scroll down to get familiar with all the items it contains.

Kathy Schrock over at Discovery Education has a nice list of items such as Phone Directories, Citation guides, Robert's Rules of Order and the World Time Server.

And if you really want to get a taste of the kind of questions folks ask at the library you should take a look at Ask Meta Filter. It is a good opportunity to practice on the kind of questions you might face at a public library desk. After reading a few of the questions I am rethinking my position on cataloging.

Construction of A Ready Reference Page

For those of you interested in becoming librarians or those on the tech side that would like to know how to structure these kind of sites I found an 1998 article on the value of having library reference web sites. Some of the concepts are still valid, however some of the links have evolved, disappeared or changed.

Monday, November 19, 2007

Howard Hughes Medical Institute Catalog - Free DVDs

The Howard Hughes Medical Institute is a non-profit medical research organization. As part of its education mission it provides free publications, DVD and other education resources to any who would like copy of those materials.

This is an extract from one of the publications:
The Howard Hughes Medical Institute was founded in 1953 by the aviator industrialist Howard R. Hughes. Its charter reads, in part: “The primary purpose and objective of the Howard Hughes Medical Institute shall be the promotion of human knowledge within the field of the basic sciences (principally the field of medical research and medical education) and the effective application thereof for the benefit of mankind.”
Libraries, school teachers and individuals can request a copy of one of the publications, lessons or DVDs. Some of the items include:
To order just fill out the new user form and your mailing address. The materials will be shipped free of charge. Printed materials and DVD/VHS videos will be mailed to your home, school or library.

To learn more about the Institute you can download a copy of their quarterly publication. For those in classroom situations you can order more than one copy, or contact HHMI for more information.

How can they afford to do this? Mr. Hughes left a significant endowment for the institute. A $16.3 Billion dollar endowment.

Educational Video Resources - Not Just YouTube

YouTube may get the attention but there are other sources for online video. There are are variety of videos being produced for educational, instructional and other purposes. This is just a sample.

SciVee videos are created by scientists for scientists. You can video a video that has a paper submitted to a peer review journal or you can view a video such as "Cyber Infrastructure for Humanities, Arts and Social Sciences - Part 2"

This is not Beakman's World or Bill Nye the Science Guy type of videos. This is hard core science communication, education and awareness.

TeachTube has a variety of videos for K-12, college, university level and for those folks that have an interest in educational topics. TeacherTube could be a great resource for home school students, tutorial assistance or if you want to learn about a new topic.



For example this is a video on how to use a wiki.

And finally you might want to take a look at University of California Television (UCTV). These are programs produced by the university system that contain documentaries, performances and symposiums created by the UC colleges and universities. There are multiple ways to view the content.
  • Subscribers to the DISH network can tune in at channel 9412,
  • If you have cable and are in the Los Angeles area you can tune in on channel 36 or,
  • You can watch anytime view the web.
There is 25 hours of original programming in health and medicine, public affairs, sciences and arts and the humanities. Originally the programs were produced for the web in Real Player format. Newer programs will be in the Flash Video format.

USC Norris Medical Library Seeks Student Assistant

The USC Norris Medical Library is seeking a student assistant for the library.

Thanks to Carol Liu for this job tip. The library is located on the USC Health Sciences Campus next to the LA County & USC Medical Center. There is a job opening for student assistant.

Here are the job details:
  • Wage: $9.00/hr., paid weekly
  • Work Schedule: Sun. 1:00-6:00 pm, Mon. 1:00-7:00 pm & Tue. 1:00-7:00 pm
Job Responsibilities:
  • Staff the loan desk including all circulation functions
  • Page, photocopy, ILL processing
  • Miscellaneous tasks as assigned.
For more information or to schedule an interview, call Cathy Hayase at (323) 442-1132.

Saturday, November 17, 2007

Free Book Fix - 2006 Britannica World Data

I've written about Wowio before. It is a free book service that allows you download books in the Adobe .pdf format. I found two books that might be of interest those of us who need to search in a variety of formats.

2006 Britannica World Data: Nations of the World
just popped up on my radar as a good resource to have when you are looking for international data. If you are or will take Library 102 you are definitely going to want to cruise through the reference guide.

Also available is the 2006 Britannica World Data: Comparative National Statistics with a bunch of statistical information. Certainly you want to find current information but when you don't know where to start this might be a good preliminary check.

These are free books with no strings or ad-ware. Yyou do need to sign up with Wowio (just takes a moment) and then you can download the book. This can be addicting so make sure you don't fill your hard drive with books you don't have time to read.

Saturday, November 10, 2007

Multitasking - Just Say No?

I've been so busy I haven't had time to indulge in my LifeHacker fix. They pointed me to an article on WebMD on how to "Multitask without Losing Your Mind".

Short version - Don't drive and talk on your cell phone! Well that would be my number one tip. They go into a bit more detail. It is a short read.

Google For Educators - Oogle The Goods

Google For Educators is designed for Teachers, Librarians, Parents who instruct or anyone that has anything to do with transmitting information from one group of people to another.

You don't have to be in a classroom to appreciate some of the assistance Google is providing. For LT's in Library 10a 101 or 102 you definitely want to check out the poster section where you can download posters on how to perform better searches with Google.

Other Items To Peruse:

Under Tools For Educators there is a collection of Google Apps that educators can use however when you click the link next to "Google Maps" you get an explanation of how it can be use to explain what it does and how it could be incorporated into a lesson.

There is also Google Apps for Education where you as an instructor/facilitator can make use of GMail, Google Talk, Google Calendar, Google Docs and Spreadsheets to collaborate with either team members or with participants. These are free online applications that can be targeted for a variety of purposes.

The Google Custom Search Engine would allow you to create a mini version of the Google Search that you could tailor to students. It is not hard and the do have a .pdf document that tells you how to create and then added it to a web site or blog.

Monday, November 05, 2007

SJSU Colloquia - Video Presentation on Library Topics

San Jose State University have an online version of presentations that address a variety of topics that you can view from the comfort of your home. The topics are diverse and touch on many of the topics that have been introduced to us via our classes.

SJSU Colloquia

The presentations are in Real Player format but they are embedded on a web page. There is a captioned version available as well as an audio .mp3 format and the video mp4 or m4v (iPod format).

I do have to tell you that the video download huge. To download the Community Outreach video was 680MB so you might want to view online. You should have a broadband or cable Internet connection to comfortably view or download the presentations.

You have the option to subscribe to the Colloquia via RSS or iTunes. Most of the presentations are about 30 minutes to an hour. It is a neat way to keep up with topics in the industry.

Librarians for Tomorrow - San Jose State University

If you are trying to decide if you can afford to go to library school to obtain a Masters in Library and Information Sciences degree here is good news. The Librarians for Tomorrow program wants you.

If you qualify you might receive a financial stipend, tuition assistance, a laptop computer and other program goodies. The goal is to increase the numbers of librarians that come from undeserved populations. Do not assume this does not apply to you.

If your are considering applying at San Jose State University you must first apply for admission to the University. Next you apply for the Librarians for Tomorrow program.

For more information you can visit the SJSU Librarians for Tomorrow website.