Thursday, December 16, 2010

Origin of the Term "Call Numbers"

My supervisor received the following question from someone who has recently taken a position as a media specialist at a local elementary school and forwarded the question to me and my colleagues:
Somewhere I was reading about the origin of the phrase "Call Numbers".  I didn't know if the idea of a librarian "calling" out for books in closed stacks was a real story or not.  But if it is, it may help the students grasp the idea of call numbers a little better.
This seemed like quite an interesting question, so I Googled it, Asked Jeeves (okay just went to, searched in the Oxford Reference Online, and looked in the Encyclopedia Britannica.  None of them mentioned anything about the origin of the term "call numbers."  Many results provided explanations on using call numbers to find books.  "Origin of call numbers" returned lots of results that had nothing to do with libraries. 

On a whim I thought to look in the index of Arlene G. Taylor's Introduction to Cataloging and Classification, Tenth Edition.  It referred me to page 528, where it included the following definition:
"Call number: A notation on an information package that matches the same notation in the surrogate/metadata record and is used to identify and locate a particular item; it often consists of a classification notation and a cutter number, and it may also include a work mark and/or a date.  It is the number used to 'call' for an item in a closed stack library--thus the source of the name 'call number.'  See also Cutter number; Work mark."
Bingo!  Eureka!  Ah hah!

I just love it.  Here's a time when the print source bested the online sources.  Of course it makes sense in retrospect that a book about cataloging and classification, which happens to be intended for library science students, would have such an answer.  Gotta love it.

If you are looking for ideas to teach students about Library of Congress call numbers, consider showing them the  following page on call numbers from our SearchPath Tutorial.  On the possible chance that you might be interested, here's a tutorial designed and hosted by the University of Pittsburgh on learning how to use LC call numbers, including an interactive component that allows users to put call numbers in their proper order.  The creators explain how others can link or use this tutorial for themselves. This could definitely be used in classrooms with computers. 

Though I have not checked it out yet, chances are that there is a game/tutorial freely available online that lets people practice putting Dewey call numbers in order.  This would be good for middle and high school students.

Here's a brief visual explanation from the University of Maryland's site "Finding Library Items Using Call Numbers."

Friday, December 10, 2010

Multimedia Tutorials with Adobe Presenter

Today I received word that an article I helped to co-author has been published.  InformaWorld's Journal of Library & Information Services in Distance Learning published "Staying on Top of Your Game and Scoring Big with Adobe Presenter Multimedia Tutorials."  Adobe Presenter works with Microsoft PowerPoint and allows users to record and edit audio on each slide of a presentation.

Take a look at it and let me know what you think.

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Cool YouTube Video on Visual Data/Statistics

"Hans Rosling's 200 Countries, 200 Years, 4 Minutes - The Joy of Stats - BBC Four"

This short video by Hans Rosling rocks! Statistics can be dull, cumbersome, and complex, but he succeeds in making them interesting, relatively simple, and relevant.  Indeed, he infuses a large dosage of hope regarding the future of our world with his concluding remarks.

Information literacy involves knowing when you need information, knowing how to access it, and applying the information ethically and effectively.  Sometimes we need statistics.  Each country gathers demographic data differently.  In a recent trip to Canada I learned that Canadian statistics can be aggravating to find and interpret.  In fact, one individual lamented that some of the census data did not continue from one iteration to another.  They changed the questions, so graduate students looking for longitudinal information in a particular area could not be extracted.

My sense is that U.S. statistics may include some of these same frustrating flaws as far as research goes.  In case you may be interested in finding U.S. statistics, take a look at our resource page.  Find links to the Census Bureau, FedStats, the Bureau of Justice Statistics, the Bureau of Labor Statistics.  The Bureau of Labor Statistics includes the Occupational Outlook Handbook and a site with career information for high school students.  I have always like the Statistical Abstract of the United States when looking for quick statistics.