Tuesday, September 29, 2009

ProQuest Example Video from Mike Johnson

Mike Johnson is an Assistant Librarian at Bloomquest College in New Jersey. He created an easy to understand demonstration video on using ProQuest to find a specific topic in a specific journal article.

Mike is using a free online program called ScreenToaster. One of the features of that service is that it makes it easier to add subtitles and captions to videos.

Anyway, this is a really clear, quick instruction on how to get the most of ProQuest.

Friday, September 25, 2009

Dispatches From A Public Librarian At McSweeney's

McSweeney's is a literary publisher. Kinda. McSweeney's is a seeker of crafted literary voices. Sort of. McSweeney's is a word lovers warm fuzzy blanket with threads that can take you anywhere. Ok, McSweeney's is very hard to describe. It is a wonderful place for people who love language.

In this case you should check out Scott Douglass and Dispatches from A Public Library. Real librarian with a literary twist. In his dispatches sometimes Scott uses a Twitter format to report the doings in the library.

Here is an example from Dispatch #32
Patron wants to know why our computer won't let him log into e-mail. Ask what his e-mail address is. He can't remember.
Sometimes it is a narrative on the Patron on the Week:
Some patrons you can just tell are going to be crazy. Clemens, a homeless man in drag who came into the library this week, saved me from guessing and told me right when he walked in: "My name's Clemens. I'm crazy and want to use a computer." To seal the deal, he extended his hand to shake.
It is the stories, the challenges and how he sees his patrons as a source of never ending material defining the human experience. He doesn't necessarily make fun of these folks but the humor of the situations he faces is amazing.

For me there is Ms. Haskell. I can think of several older patrons I get a kick out of, but I knew Ms. Haskell was special the first day I met her; she asked for the dictionary ... on audiotape. Not an abridged version, or a "500 Power Words Everyone Should Know"—not even a collegiate dictionary would do. She had it all scribbled out on a stained napkin, which she proudly dangled in front of my eyes: "OED Dictionary on audiotape." When I said no, we did not have that, she said, "Well, compact disc will have to do then." That was my first encounter with her, and all the encounters that followed were also about audiotapes.
When you finish with Scott make a little time to visit the rest of McSweeney's.

Reminder - Flex Day next Tuesday

This is a reminder that next Tuesday, September 29, 2009 the entire PCC campus will be closed including student services and the library for Flex Day.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Bringing Shakespeare to Life

Check out the front page of this week's edition of the PCC Courier (Thursday, September 24, 2009) for the "Shakespeare in the street" article. Currently, this article is not online so you'll have to pick up an actual copy of the Courier to read it. I'm still including a link in case it is put online at a later date. While it may not be library related, I was told it is literary and PCC related. And as a current student at PCC and participant in this performance, I should share my experience.

While my main focus of study is library science at the moment, I've been indulging in my love of theatre arts since last spring. It was hard to pass up the chance to be involved in this unique performance of Shakespeare short scenes done in the intersection of Raymond Avenue and Colorado Boulevard in Old Town Pasadena last Saturday evening. (This was in conjunction with the Armory Center for the Arts' 20th Anniversary Celebration-Installations Inside/Out (Jane Mulfinger: Autonomony is No Longer Possible or Interesting.) In the middle of the street, I'm sure you asking yourself. Yes, in the middle of the street! Though we rehearsed for a few weeks at PCC in the Little Theater and the parking structures, nothing could really prepare us for performing in the crosswalk as we never rehearsed there. I was nervous and excited all at the same time. One of the reasons I was excited about doing this is I was able to incorporate American Sign Language while saying my lines as well most of the time. Being a part of an innovative theater performance doing Shakespeare was definitely a chance of a lifetime. Originally, I figured it was great that it was just a one time deal since it wouldn't take up a lot of time but after our performance was done, I was saddened that we probably wouldn't be doing it again. Keeping fingers crossed since there may be a chance that we do it again in the future as our main organizer is hoping we will.

We did two runs (a full one and a shortened version) of our program which consisted of 21 shorts from short scenes of Hamlet, Macbeth, Romeo & Juliet and A Midsummer's Night Dream along with sililoquies and phone monologues. It was fun getting to play different parts from Adriana of The Comedy of Errors, a witch from Macbeth, Gwendolyn from Hamlet and more all in one evening.

Any chance to bring literature to life is wonderful. I think that may be why I'm so drawn to the possibility of becoming a children's librarian. One has a perfect excuse to read or quote outloud and bring wonderful stories to life however you can.

Sunday, September 20, 2009

The Next Step - First Days Part I

Three weeks into the UNT/CSUN MLIS program, I'm feeling more positive. I think a lot of what I was feeling was nervousness and anticipation about how everything would go those first days at the institute when we were in class sessions 8 hours for four days straight. As many predicted, we were all exhausted by the end of that long weekend but one well worth it. I looked at this weekend similar to my first ALA conference last year: jam-packed with information and great experiences.

We started out with an optional pre-institute dinner on Thursday night so we could begin to get acquainted with our fellow classmates or co-horts as the term they use in this program. Friday through Monday, they squeezed in orientation and a semester of lectures which obviously is impossible but nonetheless they tried their best. We did experirence some hands-on as we had homework to complete during that time as well. This semester our two courses are Introduction to Information Professionals which is a bit similar to LIB 101 and Introduction to Information Access and Retrieval which is like a refresher of LIB 102 Reference and more.

I did my best to become acquainted with as many of my classmates as possible over this long weekend. But with 50 people in our class, it was not an easy thing to do. I could probably have made more of a point to be more sociable Thursday night but I find dark, noisy restaurants not an easy situation for having conversations. I did meet at least three people that first night though I didn't really see them the rest of the weekend. I made a point of talking to as many different people every day we were there. Saturday night, there was a dessert social which I did attend and got more of a chance to talk with our professors along with classmates. Over the course of the weekend, I discovered that there are four of us that are alumni of the PCC Library Technology Program. In addition, there's another classmate whose taken a few courses and was debating whether finishing the certificate program or not since she's in this MLIS program now.

I know a lot of students wonder if they could really get through graduate school. I will admit since I'm just beginning I can't really say for sure but I believe if you can get through the Library Technology program at PCC, you can do this. I am amazed at the huge diversity in my class from ethnic, education, work experience and more. For those of you who English is not your first language, a handful of students like you are making their way through this program as well. In addition, one of the professors for our first classes is not a native English user which shows that if one wants to, one can truly achieve great things.

While I will admit that online learning is not my first choice, the reason I like this program is that it gives you a little bit of that face-to-face in addition. It's nice being in a relatively small class where most of your classmates don't live too far from you so it's possible to form study or support groups as needed. It's also nice not having to go to class every week but there is what seems like more homework to make up for that. An example of that are the weekly discussions that go on in both classes which makes sense. One thing that makes this program more personal is we have a class roster where we had to post our picture along with a brief biography about ourselves. One can always look at this roster or use a web tool called SNAP which allows you to view someone's picture simply by clicking on the person's name link while participating in the discussions.

Describing a whole weekend of everything I experienced and learned is impossible in one post so I'll continue later this week.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Son of Citation Machine - Cite Your Sources

I know I used to have rivers of red ink when I created reports in high school. A dropped comma, underline one source but not the other. Mistyping the proper citation format has cost me a grade or two.

Son of Citation Machine
Unfortunately, I have no excuse anymore. Son of Citation Machine has been help folks out of the pain of constructing MLA, APA, Turabian and Chicago styles of proper citation since 2000.

Caution - always check your schools or publication preferred citation format. You might have to make adjustments or adapt what your school requires as the proper format.

Now this might not help you on a pop quiz or the final. You are still responsible for knowing how to cite a newspaper, book, recording or web page. But if it is 3 a.m. and your paper is due at 8 a.m. you are gonna needs a little help.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

111th Annual CLA Conference & Exhibition
It's Time to Register for the 2009 Annual Conference!
The 2009 Annual Conference will be held in Pasadena from October 30 to November 2. As the premiere continuing education event of the year, the 2009 conference will offer dozens of workshops. Notable speakers at this year's conference include Paula Poundstone, Emmy-award winning comedian and spokesperson for Friends of Libraries U.S.A., and Bill Barnes and Gene Ambaum, authors of the Unshelved News comic strip.

To see the current list of Exhibitors, click here.

Monday, September 07, 2009

School Library Without Books - A Commentary

First, here is the news story from Boston.com on the Cushing Academy decision. The school gave away the existing library They are planning to replace the traditional paper books with electronic book readers by Amazon and Sony.

Many people have strong opinions about this transition. At the time of this writing there were 440 comments about this news story on the website. There is also a CNN write up about the transition from paper to electronic books. The tech community is also little buzzed about this decision. Check out the comments from the tech blog, Engadget.

The librarian and book bloggers communities are extremely concerned over this switch in book media.

Brian's Book Blog:
Okay, I feel better now. I just don’t understand how they feel that this is a good idea. A print book won’t shut down if it looses battery power. A print book doesn’t get recalled from your shelf like an eBook might from your Kindle.
The Luscious Librarian:
Now, I'm all for technology, especially when you're referring to information that is updated on a daily basis like reference information found in encyclopedias, but that kind of information is not free and requires a subscription. It's also easily controlled or changed depending on who is reviewing and posting the information, the interest groups the information supports or denounces.
Lisa Gold:

This is stupid on so many levels that I forced myself to wait a full day before blogging about it so I wouldn’t rant incoherently. Let me just pose a few questions:

  • Did the librarians of Cushing Academy try to explain to their headmaster that only a small percentage of works are available in digital form, and that most of those aren’t free?
  • Before discarding their 20,000 printed books, did they consider checking to see which ones aren’t available in digital form and keeping those? (In my experience many of the best reference works only exist in print form.)
  • Did they think about the fact that even if the library pays to subscribe to subscription databases and encourages the use of free public domain works (Google Books, Project Gutenberg, etc.), that still means students won’t have access to the vast majority of works published after 1922 and still under copyright?

My Thoughts But More Feelings

I love books. I love the smell of them. I love to hold them and goodness knows I have a few in my bed waiting for me to catch up.

So hearing about a school voluntarily dismantling the library has me at near tears. I don't care if they are rich kids. Every child and teenager needs access to books. I want them to have access to Judy Blume, Malcolm X, and any science fiction book. I'd even put up a scuffle for the sports books and I don't care about sports.

Why? Because books saved my life as a kid. Seriously. Everything from Go Dog Go to Encyclopedia Brown to why do people hate each other? I know how powerful the right book can be in the hands of a person in need.

I would walk the stacks just looking for that book that would call out to me. And if you don't know what the hell I'm talking about then why are you in the library program or reading this post?

This is personal! (and my opinion does not reflect upon PCC or Shatford Library.)

Yes, I like tech and gadgets. Always have and always will. But books are my home. Paper books. When I need to escape and I have no money where do I turn to? A book. When I am searching a past that I have no information on where do I look? I can find an out of print book that has what I need. That out of print book is not going to be in a Amazon Kindle or Sony Reader.

My connection to the pulp is similar to BookishGal on her post about keeping books. I can't throw them out. I pick up stray books if I think they are at risk for disposal.

So to read of someone who is a so-called educator who is proud that they discarded 20,000 books for a $12,000 coffee machine I get teary. And angry. And sad.

Look, I knew the transition was coming. I tried to tell people. But is should be a transition, not a dad gummed purge. This is not the last of it. The state of California is planning to use e-textbooks and will phase them in over time. Textbook publishers are getting read to produce custom content textbooks in electronic form.

Textbooks in electronic form have a places in schools. There is no stopping that process. But literature, philosophy and boatloads of history books cannot effectively be transferred to electronic devices at this time.

This is a loss when even one school library does it. It must not become a trend. If this summer has taught us anything it is that there is no pride in being willfully stupid. It is not a badge of honor.

We can do better than this. We must be informed and, when given the opportunity, speak up.

Thursday, September 03, 2009

Fall Semester 2009 Updates and Reminders

Just received a Breaking News e-mail from the Courier that parking on campus is free through this Saturday, September 5, 2009. For more information, check here.

The campus will be closed this coming Monday, September 7, 2009 for Labor Day.

The last day to add classes will be next Saturday, September 12, 2009. In addition, it's the last day to drop classes without receiving a "W". Applications for refunds need to be done by Friday, September 25, 2009. The latest you can drop a class with a "W" is Friday, November 13, 2009.

Good luck to all of you taking classes this semester from LIB 1 to LIB 105A.