Wednesday, October 19, 2005

Focus on the Library

Tell us what you really think. The library will be conducting a focus group this fall to help us evaluate the effectiveness of our website. We would like to invite 5-10 faculty to share their unique perspective on the library and its resources - we would love to hear your thoughts and suggestions. (We will also be talking to students.)

The focus group session will take place in mid-November, on a date based on participants' schedules, and will only require an hour. Lunch will be provided. If interested, please contact Michelle Twait at x7563 or

New courses offered by the library include a January term course to be taught by Michelle Twait exploring the information professions (a natural for the January theme of Vocations) and a .5 credit spring course taught by Barbara Fister for students planning on graduate school. Feel free to contact us for more information. Here are the course descriptions:

NDL124: Vocations and Information Professions. (January term, M-F, 1:30-3:30) This course will introduce students to various information professions (museum studies, librarianship, and archival studies, with some consideration of information technology, publishing, and journalism). Students will explore the notion of vocation through a discussion of ethics, social justice, and service in these professions. In addition, through readings, papers, and projects, students will investigate the legal and political issues confronting today's information professional. Students will also have the opportunity to go on site visits, interview information professionals, and design and implement a service project.
NDL301: Information Fluency for Graduate Studies. (Spring term, Mondays, 2:30-4:20) This course will give students interested in going to graduate or professional school -- or who simply want to know more about research -- an immersion in the structure of the literature of their chosen field and exposure to research tools and collections. Students will keep a research log and develop an extensive literature review for a research question of their choice. Shorter projects will require students to analyze aspects of their discipline's traditions, to compare them to traditions in other fields, and to explore the social and ethical dimensions of research.

New books keep arriving. Here's our latest list for your virtual browsing pleasure.


Friday, October 14, 2005

ERIC update and more

The ERIC education database underwent some major changes last year as it launched a new Website. It was an improvement, especially in the way full text ERIC documents were linked, but the interface wasn't without its problems. We're now getting it through the Cambridge Scientific Abstracts interface. This allows for better advanced searches, easy interlibrary loan requests, the option of downloading records to RefWorks, and the option of running the same search in multiple CSA databases, such as ERIC with PsycInfo or Physical Education Index. We think you'll like the change.

We've also just added a large package of social sciences journals published by Sage, also through the CSA interface. These electronic journals will be of particular interest to students in Sociology and the Criminal Justice program but there are lots of other subjects included too. They can be found quite seamlessly through a number of databases - and we'll add them to our subject guides as well. We couldn't afford this online resource when we checked it out earlier, but this fall the publisher offered libraries in Minnesota a deal too good to refuse.

Coming soon ... we'll be putting the posters created by FTS students in the "Stories from the Source" class (taught by Eric Eliason and Brian Johnson) on display in the library. Each poster presents a variety of ways in which Biblical stories have been reinterpreted in the arts.

US News has discovered podcasts, back channels and "bookless libraries" at work in higher education. Wow, students can use library materials outside the library! Uh, yes, we'd noticed. We also notice that the library still seems to be a popular place to use those resources. (Hey, you try concentrating on a Critical Inquiry article in a dorm room.) Though we've extended hours to 1 p.m. most nights, we still get lobbied for longer hours.


Friday, October 07, 2005

new books and book news

Check out our list of new books added to the library in the second half of September. We make these lists available twice a month. It's one way to see what's new - an armchair (or desktop) version of browsing the new books shelf in the comfy area near the front door.

Also in that comfy area you'll find a display for Banned Books Week. Many of the books in this display were challenged in school and public libraries; you're welcome to check any of them out. While you're at it, take a look at the Nobel exhibit, which includes clocks from the collection of Howard and Tami Cohrt. If you have ideas for displays, let us know.

Yahoo is going head to head with Google to digitize library collections - but with a difference. In their "challenge to Google" (as The New York Times puts it) Yahoo is teaming up with libraries and other partners in the Open Content Alliance. The digital archive will be maintained by the Internet Archive. They are avoiding the copyright issue by only digitizing works that are either not under copyright or for which they have permission. For this group, the object is to make works available through open access. Though not an entirely new project (the Internet Archive has been at work on a "million books project" long before Google entered the fray) this enterprise was able to capture attention through a partnership with Yahoo, a major competitor of Google. Meanwhile, publisher Tim O'Reilly chides authors who have sued Google over their library project, arguing that it's in their own self-interest to let Google help readers find their books - a "search and rescue" mission needed to help rescue books from obscurity.


Sunday, October 02, 2005

Find it!

Our link resolver is working well. You'll find yellow "find it" buttons in most of our online databases that will take you to full text in other databases or to the library catalog. (In many cases, you'll go to the full text article directly, but not in databases such as LexisNexis that don't have persistent links.) Last year, surveys showed students had a hard time knowing how to connect a database reference to a book or article in hand. This fall, the first year students who have been using it seem to be having far less difficulty.

We're still working on the Journal Locator list - currently it only lists online journals, not those that we get in print. (Print journals can be found in the MnPALS catalog or through the Subject Guides.) Thanks to Amy Fry and all the others who have put so many hours in on this project.

Libraries are the subject
of a special supplement to The Chronicle of Higher Education (subscription required; it's in the library in print and online through our LexisNexis subscription). Of particular note: a piece by Scott Carlson on the current interest in the library as place. Carlson wrote an article in 2001 that went down in the annals of How to Push Librarians' Buttons - "The Deserted Library." I suspect we all owe him a debt since the outrage he managed to stir up made librarians think hard about what role libraries play in today's wired world and helped them articulate why these places are still important.

Save the date: November 17th at 7 p.m. in the Interpretive Center, come hear Silha Professor of Media Ethics and Law, Jane Kirtley, talk about the climate for media and the exchange of information since 9/11 - part of our September Project activities. She's a fascinating speaker.