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Minnesota, United States

Sunday, December 26, 2010

Using Subscription Databases to Locate Videos

Are you looking for a video on a particular topic that your library doesn't carry or all of their copies are checked out? If you need the video for an assignment, you may not wish to wait for the video to arrive. Subscription databases often provide videos. Some examples of databases that allow for video searching include:

*Consumer Health Complete
*Educator's Reference Complete
*Encyclopedia Brittanica
*Expanded Academic ASAP
*Points of View Reference Center
*Student Resources in Context

Consumer Health Complete:
To search for videos, click on the Videos and Animations link on the main page. Over 3,300 medical animations can be searched. These animated are physician-generated with the assistance of major medical institutions. They provide information about diagnostics, diseases, and surgical procedures.

Educator's Reference Complete:
To search for videos, select Advanced Search and limit the document type to video file. There are over 2,600 videos in the database, which come from AP Videos and PBS.org The videos can be embedded and shared. The text and audio comoponents can be downloaded (but not the videos themselves).

Encyclopedia Britannica:
To search for videos, click on the Video Collection link (found under Research Tools). Videos are sorted into two categories: Video clips and Extended Play. Video clips range from 0-5 minutes and provide a quick topic overview. Extended play videos average around 10-15 minutes but can last up to one hour. Both the video clips and the extended play videos are arranged by subject. Downloads of videos are allowed and videos can be embedded. There is also the option to obtain the citations for the videos in APA and MLA styles.

Expanded Academic ASAP:
To search for videos, select Advanced Search and limit the document type to video file. There are over 23,000 videos in this database. The videos come from numerous sources, mostly news oriented. Videos can be embedded.

Points of View Reference Center:
To search for videos, select Advanced Search and limit the document type to video. You can also search for videos by clicking on "View All Topics", then selecting your topic of choice, and clicking on the Videos tab. Only some topics will have videos available. Videos come from the Video Encyclopedia of the 20th Century. Videos are not downloadable.

Student Resources in Context:
To search for videos, click on Advanced Search and limit the content type to video file. There are over 89,000 videos available. Only the text component of the video can be downloaded.

Picture Books on the Decline?

See this New York Times article. Thoughts?

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

The Online Bookstore Wars: Google vs. Amazon

This article gives some thoughts as to the future of the online bookstore industry.


Google has now launched an online bookstore, putting it in competition with Amazon. It claims to have more books than any other online bookstore, over 3 million. The majority (2.8 million) are no longer under copyright. The remaining 200,000 are books licensed from publishers.

Unlike Amazon, the books will be able to be read on a wide variety of devices, including the Nook, Sony's E Reader, iPhones, and iPads. Google's books will not be compatible with Kindles, however.

Monday, November 29, 2010

Young Adult Historical Fiction by Time Period

I stumbled upon Post Civil War Historical Books for Young Adult Readers. The unique thing about this site is that it presents the books in a timeline format, starting with 1865 and ending with 2010. It's very helpful for those who are seeking historical fiction that takes place within a certain time period.

Friday, November 12, 2010

Oh where oh where have the white pages gone?

Oh the times, they are a changin'

This article Companies Yank cord on residential phone books explains the demise of the white pages.

While its true that the majority of Americans are now relying on the Internet for phone number information, there is still a sizeable part of the population who do not have Internet access. I help many of these people every day I work in the library.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Web 2.0- The Online Landscape

This post from Stephen's Lighthouse blog made me laugh.

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Personalized Reading Recommendations

I was reading this article posted by Sarah Statz-Cords from the Reader's Advisor Online blog about personalized reading recommendations.

Several libraries are taking part, including the Edmonton Public Library and the Multnomah County Library. Patrons fill out a short questionnaire online about their likes and dislikes in reading. The forms get submitted to a librarian who reviews it and follows up with personalized recommendations.

Is this something your library is currently doing or considering? If so, how well used is it by your patrons? How satisfied are the patrons with the service? How much staff time is involved?

My library does not currently provide this service although we do have bookspace as part of our website, which features booklists for numerous genres as well as reader's advisory related links. I imagine that many libraries would like to provide this wonderful service but find staff time and funding to be barriers. For libraries that have implemented personalized reading recommendations, how have you worked around this?

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Android and Smartphones

I have to admit I'm a bit behind on the smartphone revolution. I don't own one and haven't used one myself but I got to thinking about the role that smartphones like Android and the iPhone can play in libraries.

For example, one of the many applications available on the Android model is Overdrive Media Console. Many libraries, including where I work, provide the Overdrive downloadable audiobooks service. Nowdays, the Android can also serve as an eBook reader. There is even an application for scanning barcodes. Once the barcode is scanned, it will look up prices and reviews, and any other available associated information.

I have gotten questions from patrons regarding smartphones and I expect the number of questions to increase in the future as they become more commonplace. So its good to be aware of what this up-and-coming technology can do.

Monday, September 27, 2010

National History Day Contest

Is your library prepared for the National History Day contest? Every year, over half a million students from elementary to high school participate. Students can submit a project in one of five categories: a paper, an exbhit, a website, a documentary, or a performance on a historical topic of their choice in relation to the year's theme. The theme for 2011 will be Debate and Diplomacy in History. Regardless of what option students choose, they are required to submit an annotated bibliography of sources used for the project, including both primary and secondary sources. All categories except for the paper can be done individually or in groups. Papers must be done by individuals only.

There are different levels of competition, beginning with the classroom. Winners at the classroom advance to the regional competition, then to the state level, and finally to the national level. Typically the classroom competitions take place in February, and the regional competitions take place in March. The state of Minnesota will have their event held on May 1, 2011 at the University of Minnesota. The National competition will be held at the University of Maryland, College Park from June 12-16, 2011. Students are judged on historical quality (60%), relationship to the year's theme (20%), and clarity of presentation (20%). Students do receive feedback on work from the judges.

Since such a large number of students participate each year, librarians should be prepared to handle questions regarding history day projects. One of the most common questions is "What is the difference between a primary source and a secondary source?" Primary sources are written or produced in the time period of the event that students are investigating. Examples of primary sources include news articles, autobiographies, pictures, memoirs, letters, and interviews with participants or witnesses. Secondary sources are created by those who are not witnesses or participants in the events of the time period being researched. Examples of secondary sources include textbooks, bibliographies, and interviews with experts (unless the expert actually witnessed the event).

The next questions, you'll likely be asked as a librarian is, "Where do I start collecting information?" For Minnesota students, this video serves as a good starting point. Also check out, MnKnows, a suite of free resources available to all Minnesota residents with a library card. The University of Minnesota Libraries has a page devoted to history day. The Minnesota Historical Society website is also worth checking out.

For residents outside of Minnesota, many libraries will subscribe to the following databases, which are good for historical research:

*Academic Search Premier (Includes images)
*American Periodicals Series Online (A primary source containing digitized images)
*Biography in Context (Includes images)
*Discovering Collection (Includes information from primary sources and images)
*Encyclopedia Britannica (Includes information from primary sources and images)
*General Reference Center Gold (Includes images)
*Historical New York Times (A primary source with searchable full text from the first issue. Includes digitized images of the newspaper pages themselves.)
*Junior Reference Collection (Includes information from primary sources and images)
*MAS Ultra- School Edition (Includes information from primary sources and images)
*MasterFILE Premier (Includes information from primary sources and images)
*Student Research Center (Includes information from primary sources and images)
*Student Resources in Context (Includes information from primary sources and images)
*U.S. History in Context (Includes over 1,000 primary source documents and also contains images)
*World History in Context (Includes information from primary sources and images)

These sources provided by the Library of Congress are available for free online:
*American Memory (A primary source including digitized documents, images, audio recordings, motion pictures, sheet music, posters, and maps.)

*Chronicling America (A primary source including pages from U.S. Newspapers from 1880-1922.)

*American Folklife Center (A primary source that illustrates daily life from various cultures in American history. Includes images and audio.)

*Prints, Photographs Reading Room (A primary source with over 4 million images)

Government documents may also be helpful in conducting research. Some possible resources, include:
*Lexis Nexis (A subscription-based electronic resource, which indexes U.S. Congressional publications from 1789 to the present.)

*Google Uncle Sam (Using the Google search algorithm, it limits results to websites containing .gov or .mil domains.)

*Catalog of U.S. Government Pulications (Contains electronic documents from 1976 to the present)

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Readability and Instapaper

Ever wished the text you find the Internet would be easier to read? Readability may be the solution. It removes clutter such as advertisements and works with most browsers. You select one of five layout styles, your font size (ranging from extra small to extra large), and your margin width (ranging from extra narrow to extra wide) that you want your text to appear as. Installation is very simple. Just right click on the readability icon and add it to your favorites. When you see an article worth reading, select the "readability" bookmark. The article will then appear according to your preferred selections regarding layout, font size, and margin width.

Ever find an article of interest on the Internet that you wish to read later? Instapaper is an application that saves articles to be read later from any computer you own, including smartphones and Kindle e-book readers. Registration is free and once you've registered, you'll see a "read later" bookmarklet. Right click on this bookmarklet to add to your favorites. When you see an article you want to read later, select the "read later" bookmarklet and the article will be saved in your instapaper account.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Recommended reading for kids reading well above or below their grade level

A question I often get is something along the lines of "What are some good books for a ________ grader?" The question is pretty straightforward if the child is an average reader for his or her grade. You can refer to booklists on the library's website or elsewhere on the Internet geared specifically for certain grades.

Things get a little more challenging when the child is reading well above or well below his or her grade level. The recommended reading lists for a particular grade are generally geared towards average readers so they may not meet the needs of these readers.

For advanced readers, the challenge is finding books that are age appropriate that are not too easy or boring for the child. Although these kids may be capable of reading several grades above their grade level, parents may be concerned that the content in these books is inappropriate.

For children reading below their grade level, the challenge is finding books that the kids can read without overwhelming them, that also appeal to their age. Such kids may also be embarrassed to read anything they see as 'babyish'.

http://www.lexile.com/findabook makes it easy to search for books for children reading well above or well below their grade level. This site allows you to search by lexile level if you know it but if you don't that's okay. There is also an option to input the child's grade and whether or not the child finds the books he or she reads for school difficult, challenging, or easy. From that information, an approximate lexile range will be given.

Once you enter the lexile level or grade, you will then be asked which types of books the child is interested in reading. You then receive a list of books that are targeted to a specific reading level as well as reading interests. There are several options for narrowing down search results. One that I've found particularly helpful is limiting by lexile code.

The NC (nonconforming) lexile code is assigned to books that have a lexile level marked higher than the publisher's intended audience or developmental level. This is useful for matching high-ability readers with vooks that are still at an appropriate developmental level.

Conversely, the HL (high-low) lexile code is assigned to books that have a lexile level marked lower than the publisher's intended audience or developmental level. This is useful for matching struggling or reluctant readers with books that still have age appeal to them.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Reading Rewards

Did you know that your child can participate in a summer reading program online? Reading Rewards makes this possible. Kids set up an account, which must be approved by a parent. There is no charge. The family then determines together what rewards should be set for a given amount of reading.
Certificates can be printed out upon completion of reading goals.

Kids can earn RR Miles for their reading. These miles can then be traded in for prizes such as Club Penguin or Webkinz trading cards. These miles must be approved by a parent.

Groups can also be created through Reading Rewards, enabling teachers or school librarians to manage several kids reading records through a single account.

Reading Rewards has a social component too. Kids can invite friends to join. Kids can share what they're reading and can see what their friends are reading. Kids can write their own reviews, and get recommendations from friends and outside sources like NEA, Parents Choice Foundation, or American Library Association. Kids can play games with friends or individually. For every 10 minutes of reading, kids get a guess at cracking the code or an attempt to aim at a Battleship.

Reading Rewards is particularly great for families who aren't always able to make it to the library in the summer or just want an additional program to supplement their library's summer reading program.

Friday, July 9, 2010

Chat Reference: AskMN

You're at home, you have an urgent need for certain information which you're not sure how to find, and the library is closed. AskMN comes to the rescue. AskMN is a chat reference service with a librarian in real time. It is available for free to Minnesota residents and students 24/7. When you're done with your session, you'll be sent a transcript to your email for future reference. AskMN also welcomes class visits. Just fill out a special form, notifying AskMN of the visit.

AskMN is an invaluable resource and one I have recommended to many of my library users. One example that comes to mind is when I have had students come into the library near closing time with an assignment due the next day.

Monday, June 28, 2010

ChaCha: Mobile Answer Service

Looking for a quick answer to a question while you're on the go and don't have immediate Internet access? If you have a mobile phone, you might be interested in ChaCha. ChaCha is useable through most mobile phone devices and providers. To ask a question, you can either send a text message to 242242 or call 1-800-2ChaCha. Responses are quick, usually within a few minutes and often in less than 30 seconds in the form of a text message. ChaCha is free of charge (but you will be sent ads to your phone). Sounds great, but how well does it work in actual practice?

To find out, I submitted two questions to ChaCha. The first question was "What was the warmest temperature ever recorded in Minnesota?" The second question was "How many miles of Lake Superior shoreline are in the state of Minnesota?" Unfortunately, the answer to the first question was completely off the mark. Instead of telling me the warmest temperature ever recorded in Minnesota, it just gave me today's weather forecast including the high temperature for the day. The answer to the second question gave me the total miles of shoreline for the whole Lake Superior when I asked for just the miles of shoreline in Minnesota. ChaCha also told me that Lake Superior could contain the whole volume of all of the other Great Lakes plus two lake Eries combined. Interesting fact but not relevant to the answer I was seeking. Supposedly, when a question is submitted, there is a human being that answers the question. ChaCha employs over 50,000. The harder questions are answered by real librarians. However, after getting the responses I did, I had to wonder if either the questions were just being answered by a computer or the ChaCha employees were not properly trained. Until a better system is in place for answering questions, I won't be using this service.

Monday, June 7, 2010

Top 10 Literary Works

Listverse has a list of the 10 Most Difficult Literary works. Rather interesting list, I think. How many of these have you read?

Friday, June 4, 2010

Free Webinars

Looking for a free professional development opportunity? Check out webinarlistings.com for a listing of webinars, the majority which are free. There are numerous webinars of potential interest for librarians including those related to social media, computers, and job searching.

Sunday, May 23, 2010

Enhancing Your YouTube Experience, again

The Swiss Army Librarian provides a useful tip for linking right to a specific spot in a YouTube video that I thought I'd share. Here's what he has to say:

I am by no means a YouTuber, so the tips I just figured out might be common knowledge, but I thought I’d share anyway.

Do you ever want to link right to a specific spot in a YouTube video? Say a video is five minutes long, but the part you want to highlight starts at 3:14 - I knew there must be a way to start the video right at 3:14 so people didn’t have to sit through the beginning portion.

After a bit of web searching, I found two ways to do this - one for a link, and one for an embedded video. And to give my examples some context, here’s our situation: You have a video of ten book reviews, and the review you wanted to link to (for Neil Gaiman’s Interworld) starts 1 minute and 11 second into the video.

Link to Video
To create a link to start at a specific spot in a video, just add #t=0m0s to the end of the regular link url. Then, change the 0’s to the minute and second you want to link to.

■Original link:
■Link right to 1:11:
Embed a Video
Starting a video embedded in your webpage at a specific spot is a little more work.

1.Grab the embed code from the video’s YouTube page and paste it into your webpage where you want the video to appear. The code will look something like this:

2.Put &start=71 at the end of both URLs shown in the code:

■You have to translate the start time into just seconds - so 1 minute and 11 seconds becomes 71 seconds
■A lot can happen in 1 second, so the content you want might actually start in between 1:11 and 1:12 - I don’t think you can fine-tune any more than seconds. Another hiccup could be the way video files are encoded, so the start point might not always be exactly split-second precise every time


The next logical step for this example is to also set a stop time. YouTube doesn’t seem to have a native way to do that, but both Splicd.com and Apture.com’s Builder provide this feature. Neat.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010


LinkedIn is a social networking site geared to working professionals. It's a great tool for building up your professional network and enhancing your professinal development. Just as you add friends in Facebook and people you follow in Twitter, in LinkedIn you add connections. Once you establish a connection with someone, you can view each others profiles. A LinkedIn profile can provide users with information about someone's work history, LinkedIn groups they have joined, and a list of their LinkedIn connections.

LinkedIn groups are a great way of enhancing professional development. Members of groups can discuss professional related topics of interest. Some LinkedIn groups I'm involved with include: American Library Association, College of St. Catherine Alumni, and Hennepin County Library Employees. Its also easy to start your own LinkedIn group if you wish.

LinkedIn also posts job listings and lists upcoming events within your industry. You can even set up reading lists and share what books you are currently reading with your connections.


If you haven't checked out the search engine Bing yet, you may want to do so. One of the cool features of Bing is that you can view a snapshot of a search result before clicking on it. To do so, just click on the arrow on the right hand side of the search result you wish to preview. Search results are conveniently grouped. For example, if you search your favorite author, you will see results grouped in categories such as biography, book titles, etc. Another neat thing with bing is the visual search feature. For example, if you are seeking more information a cool gadget you saw, you can use the visual search to find the picture of the gadget that matches the one you're interested in and then click on the picture to find more information about it. Google and Bing share alot of similiar features like shopping, maps, news, and searching by images and videos. However there are some differences in the interface between the two. You can also compare Google and Bing searching side by side here.

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Hyperlocal Sites

How would you like to receive news and information, not just for your city but for a certain block in the city? EveryBlock does just that. EveryBlock provides civic information, news articles, blog entries, fun stuff, and announcements. Right now data is only available for a limited number of cities and the Minneapolis-St. Paul area where I live is not available yet.

Patch is another hyperlocal website but rather than focusing on neighborhoods like EveryBlock, it focuses on the entire small town or city. I was disappointed to find that the list of cities is quite limited and none are in Minnesota.

Placeblogger is a site that helps you find blogs based on their location. You can then gather the news feeds from all of the places you're interested in. Unlike the previous two sites, I was able to find information for Minneapolis.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Location-Based Social Networks

After reading about location-based social networks such as Foursquare and Brightkite I've decided I'm personally too concerned with my privacy to take part. I don't want people to know where I am all the time and I worry about potential stalkers. If I chose to use such networks, I'd limit it to very close friends. But most likely, I'd just tell them where I was through traditional methods like phone or email. So I guess I'm old fashioned that way. Still, its good to be aware of what these sites are and what they can do as they are gaining in popularity.

Location-based social networks can be used to post tips and reviews on places. For example, if you're at a restaurant, you can recommend certain dishes. Then again, you can do this on just about any social networking website.

If you visit a site frequently and check in, you can earn "Mayor" status which can qualify you for free stuff. This part of foursquare I find appealing. Too bad Foursquare is only accessible through a mobile device.

Book Talks

Here are the links to two booktalks I did for Hennepin County Library's youth services readers advisory meeting a few weeks ago. I did the booktalks for The Worst Case Scenario Survival Handbook: Middle School by David Borgenicht and Brutal by Michael Harmon. There are plenty of young adult booktalks on here as well as booktalks geared for children here including readalikes for the immensely popular Percy Jackson and the Olympians series.

The lighter side of librarianship

Most of the time us librarians love our jobs but there are times when we have too much to do in too little time, trying to answer reference questions on really obscure topics we know absolutely nothing about, have difficult or demanding patrons we have to handle, etc.

Here are some librarian humor websites you can de-stress with.

A Librarian's Guide to Etiquette The do's and dont's of being a librarian they didn't tell you about in library school.

Awful Library Books Why is that old and decrepit book still on the shelf? It needs to be weeded!

Love the Liberry Hilarious encounters at the reference desk

Ref Grunt "Some days I love working the reference desk, some days I hate it, and it's often the same day."

Shelf Check The humourous and ironic side of librarianship in comic strip format.

Unshelved Another librarianship comic strip site I enjoy. There are also some good book reviews here.

Know of any other humorous librarianship sites I missed? Send me a response and I'll add it to the list!

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Building and Sharing Your iGoogle Page

I'm enjoying the process of playing around with iGoogle and exploring what cool new widgets I can add to my iGoogle page. (Some of these are also available on mobile devices). I added a few more games, a to-do list, book of the day, and some more book related feeds. I also set up tabs to better organize my widgets. I have a tab for social networking related stuff, a tab for fun stuff, a tab for news related, a tab for library related things, and a miscellaneous tab. Did you know that you can even share the contents of your tabs with others?

I also had fun looking through the iGoogle Showcase, which shows iGoogle pages of celebrities. If you want, you can even set your iGoogle page to match the style used by your favorite celebrity.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Reliable Consumer Health Information on the Internet

Did you know that on a typical day, 10 million adults look for health information online and that 75% do not consistently check the source and the date of the information?

Did you know that according to the National Assessment of Health Literacy study that 14% have below basic health literacy skills? Another 22% fare only slightly better, with just the bare-bones basics of health literacy?

These were some of the statistics presented in the MINITEX webinar, Consumer Health Information on the Internet.

With so many people searching the Internet for medical information, how can librarians and information professionals steer them towards accurate and current information? Good places to start include MedlinePlus Guide to Healthy Web Surfing and Top 100 Websites You Can Trust.

You can also check to see if a website has the HONCode. The HONCode is an indication that the website has been evaluated for authoritative and trustworthy information.

MedlinePlus is a free online health website from the National Library of Medicine and the National Institutes of Health. It provides the layperson reliable, comprehensive, and current information on over 750 medical topics. The information on the website is gathered from over 1350 government agencies and health-related organizations. On MedlinePlus, one can find a medical encyclopedia, medical dictionary, drug and herbal supplement information, 165 interactive tutorials, directories, and surgery videos. Information is available in multiple languages.

Drugs and herbal supplement information can be browsed by the generic name or the brand name. For herbal supplements, there is an evidence table which gives a grade to the effectiveness of said uses based on research.

Searchable directories include doctors and dentists, hospitals and clinics, and medical libraries. Local information can also be found.

Another nice feature of MedLine Plus is it opens external websites in a new tab or window so you don't have to worry about using the browser's back button

Other good consumer health websites presented in the webinar include:

National Library of Medicine Household Products Database. Here you can find links to over 9000 consumer brands and their chemical ingredients and the effects of those ingredients.

Minnesota Health Information

National Library of Medicine Drug Portal. Over 17,000 drugs ranging from clinical trial usage to FDA approval to use in the marketplace.

Managing Your PLN Via a Customizable Homepage

I previously used Netvibes for my customizable homepage but decided to switch back to iGoogle since I thought that would be easier. After all, I'm already using many of Googles features including Email, Google Reader, and Google Calendar. I like having easy accessibility to the websites I use frequently for my personal learning network all in one place.

I also added a Gmail gadget, a weather gadget, a couple of news gadgets, and some fun ones like Puzzles and Riddles and Places to See.

I found it easy to change the background theme and to move gadgets around so the page is organized the way I want.

Friday, March 5, 2010

NoveList is getting a makeover!

EBSCO's readers advisory database, NoveList is undergoing some changes to improve usability. You can get a sneak preview of the changes, which will be effective in summer 2010.

One exciting change will be the addition of appeal factors (pace, tone, storyline, and writing style) to the title records. These appeal factors can be used to narrow search results. For recommended titles, there is a short paragraph explaining why that title is recommended, incorporating appeal factors.

A search bar will appear on every page, not just the home page.

Search results will be more customizable. You will have more control as to how much detail to view and print.

All Novelist Content will appear in a single tab rather than multiple ones.

Libraries will have the option of incorporating reader ratings of books.

Title, Author, and Series records will have a cleaner look. The author and series pages will be a new feature. From the author page, you will be able to search for similar authors based on appeal factors you select. From the series page, you will also find a list of similar series you may enjoy.

Browsing by genre can be done right from the homepage.

Overall, the new version of NoveList will have a much more intuitive and user-friendly interface. I'm particularly excited about the incorporation of appeal factors and can't wait for the new version to be launched.

Thursday, March 4, 2010

Morningstar Investment Research Center

Intimidated by reference questions involving research of stocks and funds? The Morningstar Investment Research Center (MIRC) database has a user guide that clearly walks you through the basics of researching stocks and funds. Do you want to know how to screen stocks or funds based on a set of desired criteria? How about retrieving in-depth reports of stocks and funds? Perhaps you want to read reviews of industries and sectors. Are you interested in an analysis of your current investment portfolio with suggested ways to better diversify? The user guide shows you how to do all of this.

If you have the time, MIRC also provides 30-minute tutorials for researching fund reports and stock reports.

MIRC provides financial data for over 30,000 stocks, mutual funds, and Exchange-Traded funds (ETFs) in addition to buying and selling guidelines for over 1,900 stocks and 2,100 mutual funds.

MIRC also provides an extensive help section with information on investments for beginners and a catalog to 150 courses ranging in level from basic to advanced.

Friday, February 26, 2010

What You May Not Know About Delicious

Yesterday, I attended SLA's Minnesota Chapter Interesting Things event, where several of the attendees present for approximately 3 minutes on something they find interesting and are passionate about. Some participants chose to present something related to their careers; others presented topics non-work related. Topics ranged from Ultimate Frisbee to traveling by train to a slide show with pictures of Minnesota libraries from 1979. It was a fun event and I enjoyed all of the mini-talks people gave.

My talk was on the social bookmarking tool, Delicious. Delicious is more than just adding bookmarks and tagging them. While Delicious is widely considered to be a social bookmarking website, you can keep selected bookmarks private. The social aspect of Delicious is through networking. You can add people to your Delicious network with similar interests. This is a great way to discover new websites that may be of interest to you. You can also subscribe to certain tags, so you can keep track of whenever someone bookmarks a website having that tag.

If like me, you have alot of tags and bookmarks, you might be interested in finding ways to better organize and manage them. You can create tag bundles, where related tags are grouped together. For example, I have all of my tags related to books and authors in one bundle and the tags related to reference in a separate bundle. In a few cases, a tag will fit into more than one bundle, and you can put a tag in multiple bundles.

I prepared power point slides for my presentation. If interested submit a reply with your email and I'll be happy to send them to you.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010


I just downloaded TweetDeck and I'm finding that it really enhances my Twitter experience. The TweetDeck interface consists of multiple columns such as a column for tweets by people you're following, another column for tweets where you're mentioned, a column for your direct messages, and a column for recommended people to follow. With these columns, you can add new ones, delete unwanted ones, alter the width, move, filter the contents, mark all content as read, and clear seen updates.

I explored the settings on TweetDeck and you can do things such as alter the color scheme and choose which site you want to use for uploading photos and URL shortening. You can also add a Twitter counter and even manage social networking accounts besides Twitter (Facebook, MySpace, and LinkedIn).

I found the interface of TweetDeck to be really slick and I will be using this when checking my Twitter and other social networking accounts.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Business and Company Resource Center

Gale's database, Business and Company Resource Center has added some new features, updated its interface, and expanded its content. One particularly interesting new feature is S.W.O.T. analysis (strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats), which is available for nearly 500 companies, including Microsoft. To access S.W.O.T. analysis, do a company search. Companies with S.W.O.T. analysis available will have a Download S.W.O.T. icon.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Twitter: Not Just for Breakfast Anymore

Some people dismiss Twitter because they think it's just about people posting mundane things like what they ate for breakfast. While there are some people who use Twitter for that purpose, it's certainly not everybody. There are numerous reasons why people use Twitter- to view job postings, news updates, follow favorite celebrities, professional development, and entertainment.

Many libraries are using Twitter to post library related news and events. Hennepin County Library is one example.

Librarians are using Twitter to tweet about various library-related topics. There is even a directory of Librarians on Twitter and a list of library-related Twitter feeds. I checked these sites out and found some additional people and accounts to follow.

You can also use Twitter to follow book publishers, get book reviews, and follow your favorite authors.

Numerous businesses are on Twitter. By following the Twitter account of a business whose services you frequently use, you get may get access to information about coupons and deals.

I prefer to get my news through RSS feeds, but many of the major news sources, are using Twitter to post headlines. A list of the top 100 is here.

Additional web 2.0-- more things on a stick

The 2010 version of Things on Stick for those like me who can't enough of web 2.0 and what it has to offer. The program is brought to you by Minnesota librarians from the seven multicounty, multitype library systems. The program is self-paced and there is a monthly newsletter.

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

10 Things Not to Buy in 2010

This article gives some food for thought on how just how quickly the consumer world has recently changed.

Monday, February 1, 2010

Follow Changes to Any Website

Google Reader now has a feature that allows you to follow changes to any website, even if that website does not publish an RSS feed. Details are here. For someone like me who follows a large number of websites and subscribes to a large number of RSS feeds, this is great news.

Free Online Classics and Reference Sources

Bartleby is one my favorite websites for free online classic novels and reference materials. Bartleby provides the 70 volume set of Harvard Classics. This consists of the 50 volume "5 foot shelf of books" and the the 20-volume Shelf of Fiction. Together they cover every major literary figure, philosopher, religion, folklore and historical subject through the twentieth century. The fiction set includes classic novels such as Pride and Prejudice, Crime and Punishment, Anna Karenina, and many others.

Reference sources include the World Factbook, Rogets International Thesaurus, Bartlett's Quotations, King James Bible, Oxford Shakespeare, Gray's Anatomy, Strunk's Elements of Style, and more. If you haven't bookmarked this site yet, I strongly encourage you to do so.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Harnessing the power of your library's website

How well do you know your library’s website? There’s a surface knowledge and there is a deeper knowledge. For instance, you are probably aware of the lists of databases and weblinks for various subject areas that your library provides. But do you know which databases are the best to use for which types of reference situations? Have you actually tried out these databases and weblinks to become more aware of the special features and searching capabilities?

Here’s another example. You may know that there are booklists for adults, teens, and children on your library’s website. But have you taken the time to thoroughly look these over, reading the annotations and keeping abreast of current bestsellers and recent award winners in order to enhance your knowledge for readers advisory purposes? (and to find great books to add to your reading list)

Some libraries such as Hennepin County Library post blogs relating to reference and booklists that can be subscribed to via RSS feeds. Does your library system utilize RSS feeds? If you haven’t already, try subscribing to some.

During the quieter periods at the reference desk, I have explored the library’s databases, weblinks, and booklists in depth and found it to be an excellent professional development tool. I have learned a great deal and unlike library conferences, it doesn’t cost you any money and you don’t have to travel anywhere.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

International phone directory: Infobel.com

Infobel.com can be used to locate phone numbers and addresses for people and business throughout the world.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Car Dealer Scams

Find out the latest car dealer scams at http://www.carbuyingtips.com/scams.htm

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Top Genealogy Websites and Blogs for 2009

For those interested in genealogy and those who provide genealogy reference, here's lists of the top 50 genealogy websites and the top 25 genealogy blogs for 2009.

Top 50 Genealogy Websites

Top 25 Genealogy Blogs

Saturday, January 9, 2010

Fonts, Faxes, and Taxes

Here are some useful reference sources I stumbled upon this week:

What the Font Have you seen an unfamiliar font and want to know what it's called? Just upload the photo or enter the URL of the website.

My FAX Did you know you can FAX for free to over 40 countries right at home even if you don't own a FAX machine? All that's required is that you have an email address (to confirm your FAX submission)

Federation of Tax Administrators Provides an easy way to access tax forms for any state in the US. Just click on the state you want and you will have instant access to that state's Department of Revenue website.