Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Apollo vs. Dionysus

Since I started using Google Analytics, I have noticed trends over time. One trend seems to perfectly match a phenomenon my humanities teacher at Ricks College (now BYU-Idaho) brought to my class's attention. He commented that Apollo ruled the college campus on Tuesday night (perhaps even Monday and Wednesday nights), while Dionysus reigned over the weekend.

Apollo, the god of reason, guides humans to intellectual endeavors and contributing to society. Dionysus, on the other hand, was the god of wine and revelry. This blog, with its focus on finding information (particularly in an academic/education) setting, seems to be accessed most during the middle of the week, notably on Tuesdays, while it is not uncommon for it to go unnoticed on the weekends.

Information behavior of the population at large is probably rather predictable. No doubt, there are probably articles written about this and that marketers and advertisers understand this phenomenon.

Useful Websites for Beginners, Computer Problems, and & Everyone

As I librarian, I frequently receive library-focused magazines and journals. Like other librarians across the country/world, I am expected to keep up on library trends, research, events, etc. There are several periodicals that get routed in my direction. Ideally, I should look at them promptly to allow my colleagues an opportunity to peruse them as well, though I am not as successful in this department as I ought to be. Anyway, I recently read a little article by Jessamyn West titled "Tips: tech tips for every librarian," published in the March 2009 issue of Computers in Libraries (30-31).

I recommend that librarians look at this article, because it provides some ideas for computer-lab policies, tells about some basic websites to help novice computer users, identifies other sites that can answer questions about websites and computer problems, and introduces personally useful and amusing websites. If you want to browse some of these websites, take a look at some of my recent Delicious bookmarks, particularly the computer and humor bookmarks.

The newer "humor," "funny," and "fun" bookmarks tag websites known as single-serving sites, meaning that these sites typically include just one solitary webpage. Ryan Greenberg explains in better detail than I can what a single-serving site is: Be forewarned that if you start taking a look at his list of single-serving sites you might fall into a time sink-hole.

For info-lit gurus, West makes known a website that reveals the author of any given website: Knowing who the author of a website is can be rather illuminating, since it helps you begin to understand their level of expertise and bias. Check it out.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Working with Faculty on Library Assignments

Today I was made aware of an excellent post on the "In the Library with the Lead Pipe" blog. It talks about librarians working with faculty in a positive way. I'm glad that Ellie Collier wrote this very helpful post on communicating with campus faculty about library assignments. I particularly appreciate the possible responses that one could send to a faculty member; they are very diplomatic and respectful.

Our First Year Seminar program directors believe that a library scavenger hunt would be a great tool for introducing the freshmen to the campus library. I think that a well-crafted scavenger hunt might be a good experience for freshmen who have never entered a larger library in their lives, such as our campus library.

Of course, capitalizing on what the Library has would be optimal. For example, some students may not be aware of the student lounge, location/availability of study rooms, computer usage, how to find a book on the shelf, etc. They may not consider the Library as a relaxing place where they may read popular magazines or check their email.

My experience has been that all students do not appreciate the library tour very much, so they might learn more from a scavenger hunt that they work on with a small group of their peers, especially peers they did not know previously. A First Year Seminar program ought to facilitate networking among students. Perhaps I am digressing, but a (library) scavenger hunt done as a group could help new freshmen get to know someone they might not have. Their instructors know who they pal up with in the class, so they can assign students to groups with individuals other than their pals.

I appreciate how Ellie mentioned why some library assignments are bad. Sometimes I hear people disparage scavenger hunts in blanket statements, and it makes me hesitate to ask why, as if it should be intrinsically known already. If we can talk about the reasons why they are taboo/bad, then maybe we can find solutions for improving them.

While library tours are not the most enthralling events for freshmen, many of them do appreciate learning about the existence of computers, study rooms, and reference librarians. If nothing else, they seem to enjoy the rare books in our Special Collections: pop-up books, art books [they think the shoe book is cool], the 16th-century book of sermons by John Calvin, and ISU maps.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Finding Dissertations & Theses

In the last two months I have been working on a tutorial that incorporates an audio component. The Instructional Technology Resource Center or ITRC helped me download Adobe Presenter software, which allows me to add audio to a PowerPoint Presentation. They allow faculty and staff on campus to publish these audio presentations to their servers.

It really was not as difficult as I feared that it would be. I created a tutorial on finding dissertations and theses at Idaho State University: It begins with a brief overview of the the ProQuest database, Dissertations and Theses--A&I, which can really be a useful source for finding graduate studies on all kinds of subjects. Abstracts and full citations appear with other information, such as the names of committee members. They also provide options for purchasing a copy in various formats, beginning at $34.00. It is a good place to start when doing graduate research and discovering research that has already been done, so you do not duplicate your efforts.

Then I go through the steps of securing a dissertation via Interlibrary Loan. Colleagues in the Interlibrary Loan (ILL) department like to emphasize that a thesis or dissertation is considered a book, and requestors need to remember this.

Not all institutions allow their theses and dissertations to be borrowed; however, researchers do have the opportunity to purchase a copy through the Dissertation Service. They just need to fill out a Purchase a Thesis/Dissertation Form. A photocopy of the book will be made and sent to the proper persons; their university account will be billed $29.00.

Finally, I conclude the tutorial with tips on how to found in-house theses and dissertations at ISU's Oboler Library. The Library's catalog still serves as a great tool (and probably the only tool) for browsing ISU's theses and dissertations online. Using keywords such as "thesis 'idaho state'" will allow anyone to browse all the theses and dissertations. It so happens that even for the dissertations the keyword "thesis" works, since the bibliographic record contains a note, saying it is a "Thesis" for a doctoral degree, or a doctoral thesis.

If grad students or faculty want to limit the results to a specific department, then they can just add the name of that department to the Keyword Boolean or Quick search: "thesis 'idaho state' anthropology." This will retrieve more results than a search on the subject heading. For example, "Dissertations, Academic--Idaho State University. Dept. of Political Science" will only retrieve 21 results, yet a Keyword Boolean search for "thesis and 'idaho state' and 'political science'" will yield 60 results. The subject headings are still relatively new, so if you also want the older titles written by former students I recommend this second search.

The tutorial, "How Can I Find Dissertations: Using ISU's Resources to Conduct More Exhaustive Research" lasts for twelve minutes and thirty-two seconds (12:32). Take a look at it and let me know what you think.

Monday, March 2, 2009

Evaluating E-mails, Urban Myths, and Legends

Not too long ago I received a forwarded email that warned me about solicitors being able to contact me via my cell phone. It said that I should contact the Do Not Call Registry to place my cell phone number on the list before a specific date, so telemarketers would not call on my cell phone. From experience I decided to double-check this information on, and I learned that the claim made in the email was "false."

The website even provided examples of the false email, how it originated, and information about cell phone directories. It mentions that cell-phone providers must gain permission from their customers before they can list their cell-phone numbers in a directory. Cell phone users may still choose to put their phone numbers on the Do Not Call Registry; however, this may not be necessary, because Federal Communications Commission (FCC) regulations already block nearly all telemarketers' phone calls.

New legislation was passed in 2007 that made it so your phone number on the Do Not Call Registry will not expire after 5 years; this according to the Federal Trade Commission.

How can we trust This site includes hyperlinks to other sites that verify their information, and they also include a list of references with each entry. If you receive emails that detail dire situations and call you to act immediately, then you might consider verifying that information to find out if it is true or false. It might be a rumor.

Of course, it is also important to check out the sources, or the authors of a site to look at its authoritative nature. Barbara and David P. Mikkelson created the website, and you can learn more about them through this Wikipedia article.