Tuesday, November 29, 2005

Image Resources

The end of the semester is fast approaching, and therefore it is presentation season again. Finding images to use in presentations is tricky on the web, at least if you want to stay legal. Here is a brief guide to just a few sites.

First of all, always start with the assumption that any image you find on the web is copyrighted. Any digital image will have been created in the last few decades at most. There will be some that are simply copies of public domain materials, and so might not have the originality necessary for a separate copyright. However, it is best to start with the assumption of copyright protection.

Just because something is copyrighted (when did that become a verb, anyway?) doesn't mean that you can't use it. There are lots of sites that specialize in providing images for personal and educational use, for free. Also, fair use covers a lot of educational usages. However, starting with the more permissive sites may be simpler, and lays the groundwork for future use when you may not be covered by fair use (for instance, a job-related presentation or commercial website.)

While Google Images and Yahoo! Images are great search engines for images, they are not the best place to start for images that you want to use. There is no distinction between material that you can use and material you can't.

One of the first places I'd start would be the Creative Commons search page. Creative Commons is a "copyleft" organization, dedicated to providing a method for creators to retain ownership of their copyrights while still providing easy terms of usage. Sort of a clearinghouse for those who believe that "imitation is the sincerest form of flattery" is more true than "time is money". On the search page, you can limit your search to images if you use the Nutch search. Remember that, like most image searches, you are actually searching the words on the page that contains an image and so will likely have a lot of irrelevant results. For instance, a search for "librarian" limited to images, turns up every picture on a blog with links to the Filipino Librarian blog, despite the fact that none of the pictures (or posts) on the first blog have anything to do with librarians.

That's the first lesson for image searching--there is a fundamental mismatch between looking for images but having to search with words. Creative Commons does have a lot more than images, including video, text, audio (including music), and educational materials, and is a great resource in general.

Luckily, some sites that specialize in images have integrated some form of indexing into their search capabilities. One such site is Flickr. Flickr is a photo sharing site that allows users to assign a Creative Commons license to their images, and add keyword tags describing each photo. You can search by CC license type, then by keyword tag from the Flickr/CC page. Note: there is no obvious way of getting to this search page from the main Flickr page without logging in. However, you do not have to have an account in order to search. Searching can be a little awkward, since you first pick the license (click on See More under each license type), then enter the keyword(s).

There are also a number of sites that are dedicated to providing images.
  • YotoPhoto is a search engine for photos licensed under a variety of permissive licenses. They claim over 100,000 images.
  • The Stock.XCHNG is a service for photographers to share their work, and also has over 100,000 photos. Be sure to check the license terms, though most will be fine for educational use. You can search by keyword or browse by category. It is sometimes hard to search because of high traffic.
  • The Morgue File is a somewhat smaller site (55,000 images) named after the traditional storage collections from newspapers.
  • Gimp-Savvy has a photo archive taken mostly from 3 U.S. government collections, NASA, NOAA, and the Fish and Wildlife Service. Most U.S. federal government materials are in the public domain by law, so finding a likely agency (try FirstGov) and looking for images is also a good bet. For instance, the USGS has great maps. And don't forget...
  • The Library of Congress' American Memory Project with thousands of images, videos, and audio from the LOC's collections. I especially love the historical maps.
  • Free Biomedical Images has over 22,000 images in the biomedical fields, gleaned from open access articles, posted under Creative Commons licenses.
  • FromOldBooks warms this librarian's heart, having scanned over 800 images from public domain works. There are even images of old books.
  • OurMedia is an interesting new experiment in grassroots media production. OurMedia contains text, images, audio, and video. Unfortunately, the searching is still somewhat primitive. You can search all formats by keyword or browse by media type, but not limit a search by media type. Given the plethora of photo sharing sites on the web these days, I suspect that the static image selection is a little slim, but it does have a nice collection of the more memory intensive audio and video.
There are many, many more sites. A good guide to image sites is Where to Find Free Images and Visuals for My Blog by Robin Good. Not only are there a couple dozen sites mentioned in the original article, but more sites were added by the commenters. Another nice guide mentioned in Robin Good's article is Paula Bernstein's Finding Images Online. (Be sure to check the usage agreements on each site, most will be free for educational use, but may not be available for other uses.)

On a related note, I've had a couple of requests for video recently. I've been experimenting with Blinkx.tv, a search engine for video. It covers many news organizations, repositories (including OurMedia mentioned above), and video blogs (vlogs). The search is a little funky (I still can't figure out how the refining works) but it looks promising. Google Video and Yahoo Video are also good search engines. Be aware, however, that many video sites only allow streaming not downloads. It may be difficult to incorporate a video clip into a presentation unless you have a live internet connection available.

Have fun!

Update (12/1/05): Someone pointed out that I had missed a subscribed database, the AP Photo Archive, SCSU access link here. NOTE: The subscriber agreement is for strictly educational use. We are also in the process of finalizing a contract for ARTstor, a wonderful database of art and architecture images from museums and slide collections all over the world, produced by the makers of JSTOR. I'll post to this blog when everything is ready to go with ARTstor.

Tuesday, November 22, 2005

E-book news

There's been a lot of interesting stuff going on in the electronic book (digital books, online books, etc.) world. Here's a bit of a summary.

Google is re-branding it's Google Print book search project into Google Books. Google is scanning thousands of books from libraries and publishers, which will be searchable online. Public Domain books (example) will be viewable in their entirety. If a book is in copyright you can only view a few pages, but it should be enough to know if you want to track down the book. Links to bookstores are included, which may not be particularly useful for out of print books. Links to libraries are not included, so I'd recommend searching for interesting books in CONSULS, RedLightGreen, or Worldcat (either our database or via Yahoo or Google--add site:worldcatlibraries.org to a Yahoo search or a Google search) before you purchase anything. You can now search Google Books at http://books.google.com/, and book results will also appear in regular Google searches.

Oddly, Google Book results do not seem to appear in Google Scholar, despite the inclusion of materials from several academic libraries and publishers. Google Scholar does include a Library Search link for "normal" book results, which links to the WorldCat search. Oh well, everything is still in beta testing mode. Maybe it will all get linked eventually.

Google Print/Books is still being sued by the Authors Guild for copyright infringement. Several analyses (here's one) have been done supporting Google's claim of fair use, but it may take the courts to decide.

Amazon.com announced a new ebook purchase plan, to be started sometime next year. Customers will have an option to buy a digital copy of print books (assuming the agreement of copyright holders) that they purchase for a small additional fee (10% seems to be the most common number being floated around, but prices will be set in negiotiation with the copyright holders). Or customers can buy portions of a book, like a chapter or just a few pages. These might be interesting options for distance students who buy their textbooks via Amazon. You could get a print copy to have at home, and a digital copy accessible through Amazon's website where ever you go. This is supposed to work in the same way that the Amazon Shorts program works. Shorts are short works of fiction or nonfiction, available for $.49 a piece. You can read online, save (PDF) or print. Hopefully, the save option will stay available for longer works. Look for announcements about this program from Amazon next year (2006).

Random House also has an ebooks program that will include the ability to buy small portions of the books. $.99 for 20 pages was suggested in Barbara Quint's recent article, Online Books: The Fee vs. Free Battle Begins.

The Open Content Alliance has an impressive list of partners/sponsors: the Internet Archive, Microsoft, the Research Libraries Group, the British Library, Adobe, Columbia, Johns Hopkins, UVa, Univ. of California, the Smithsonian, Yahoo!, and more. The Internet Archive is hosting the OpenLibrary site, which will house the online books. There are only a few titles up so far, but the plans include hundreds of thousands of books (starting with contributions from the British Library) readable online for free and available for hardcopy purchase at low prices.

Meanwhile, the Online Books Page, probably the best listing of online books on the Internet right now, has beefed up their technology by including an RSS feed from their newest books listings. These can feed directly into a RSS news reader or a web page (via a conversion program). The latest book listed is shown via the RSS feed on my Open Access Books page under the first entry, the Online Books Page.

On the local front, Buley Library subscribes to NetLibrary, an online book service. We have over 300 books currently available through the subscription. We also have two collections of reference ebooks, Oxford Reference Online (including the Oxford Companion to... series), and XReferPlus, plus the Oxford English Dictionary. The newest addition to our ebook collection is Knovel K-Essentials, a collection of engineering, physics, chemistry, and mathematics texts. All of these ebooks are available directly from the Database Page and are included in CONSULS, and so will come up in your library catalog searches (example). When searching CONSULS, be sure that you are looking at a record for the SCSU copy of an electronic book. Unlike print books, we have no access to ebooks from other CSU libraries.

NOTE: ebooks viewed through the online catalog will come up in a frame. Once you have determined where the book is from (Oxford, NetLibrary, etc.), you can search that database specifically if you want to avoid the frame. Firefox browser users may be able to use the rightclick menu choices under This Frame to display the database page.

It is possible to search the online catalog for online books, but it is a little complicated, due to a quirk of our catalog system. There are several formats for electronic books avaiable from a keyword search, but you can only search one at a time. Try the following from the Material Type drop down menu on the Keyword Search page: either EBOOK/TEXT or NETLIBRARY. You may also want to try INTERNET LINK, which will pick up many government documents available online.

See the Ebooks and Open Access Books pages for more ebook links.
I highly recommend the Barbara Quint article I mentioned above.

Update: I should finish reading my RSS news before posting. The Library of Congress has just announced another effort, the World Digital Library. SearchEngineWatch has a good article.

Thanksgiving schedule for the library

For those who were hoping to use the break to visit the library, please plan carefully. We are closing early, 1 pm, Wednesday, Nov. 23, 2005, and will be closed Thursday (11/24) and Friday (11/25). Saturday and Sunday we will be open normal hours. Most offices on campus will close early on Wednesday.

Of course, the online resources are available 24/7.

Happy Thanksgiving!

Saturday, November 19, 2005

Blogs and RSS: Teaching and Collaboration in Academia

As the last couple of blog posts mentioned, this week I did a presentation on using blogs and RSS in the higher education classroom (and beyond). Attendance was slim, but the questions were excellent. Thank you to all who could make it. The network was slow, so we didn't get to explore as many websites as I would have wished.

Here is the online handout for the session:

We didn't get to visit all the sites on the lists. So even those who came may find exploring these sites valuable.

I will occassionally add materials to this site, so check back occasionally, or use the RSS buttons at the end of each list to subscribe to the updates in an RSS reader. (The link lists are all set up using RSS feeds, mostly from the bookmarking service del.icio.us - http://del.icio.us/ ).

I have also set up my homepage to use RSS feeds, http://home.southernct.edu/~hedreenr1/ . All the categories after "What I'm doing..." are set up with RSS or similar technologies. That's the calendar, book list, blogs/articles list, links, and photographs.

There are many new developments and someday we will likely see RSS feeds from databases and more search engines, even the library catalog. Prototypes are popping up all over the place. The newer developments include the ability to filter and mix feeds for inclusion on a web site. I didn't have time to show that sort of thing, but I heard a great idea on an education Internet radio show to use a mixing service to add journal tables of contents, search results, and the professor's lectures (via a blog) into the course website. Even audio or video recordings would be possible. Links to library materials could be included (suggested readings?) by bookmarking the deeplinks, then including the RSS for the bookmark service in the mix. I'll have to try a demo (more on that later...)

Update (12/1/05): It was just announced that EBSCO will be adding RSS feeds for it's databases (Academic Search Premier, MEDLINE, PsycInfo, etc.) next year (Jan. 06). Search results and "Journal Alerts" (tables of contents) will be available. (Thanks to Steven Cohen at Library Stuff.)

Thursday, November 10, 2005

Faculty presentations

Next week is "faculty" week for me. For all of my faculty readers, please join us!

On Monday (11/14) I will be presenting in our Teaching with Technology Roundtable on Blogs and RSS in Academia. It'll be a discussion focusing on a tour of sites using blogs and RSS feeds for either instruction and research. There are some really amazing things being done, such as Barbara Ganley's ArtsWriting 'Zine (2004), Blogging the World, or Writing Workshop 2005. I could probably do the whole session just on her projects! (See My Course Blogs in the left column on bgblogging.) But there's a lot more. Like Gardner Writes' Donne a Day audio postings ("podcasting"). Or Savage Minds, a collaborative blog by anthropology graduate students and faculty. Stay tuned for more...(I'll be putting up a website with links and screenshots.)

On Thursday (11/17), Susan Miller (Instruction Librarian) and I will be talking about integrating library resources into online course pages at the Thursday Morning Discussion, sponsored by Faculty Development. We'll be covering both pedagogy and technology, and little bit about weaning students off doing the bulk of their research in web search engines or Wikipedia. Most of the techniques can be used in WebCT, MySCSU/MyCourse, or on a course or personal webpage. Thursday Morning Discussions start at 8 am in the Student Center's Alumni Room.

For my student readers, I'll be posting the links and handouts. If a couple of graduate students would like to come to Monday's talk, I can probably "sneak" you in, but you have to let faculty have first crack at the food, since it's provided by grant money. Contact me *before* Monday so I can be sure. Thursday is faculty only.

Wednesday, November 02, 2005

Teaching with Technology Roundtable

Next week we are starting an exciting new project in conjunction with Faculty Development: the Teaching with Technology Roundtable. On Mondays at 1 pm for the next 5 weeks, we will cover a variety of topics related to incorporating technology into the classroom. We start off with Nov. 7 with GIS, then Blogs and RSS (that's me), Learning Objects, "A Teaching HomePage", and wrap up with Learning Management Systems on Dec. 5. There are facilitators and/or guest speakers at each one, but the intent is to have a discussion, not a lecture. Come by and see what's possible!

Teaching with Technology Roundtable

  1. Provide a place for faculty to discuss how they are using technology in the classroom as well as in their own work.
  2. Find out how faculty from local Universities are using technology in the classroom.
Time and Place:

Buley Library Connecticut Room, RM 205
Mondays, November 7th through December 5th
1pm to 2pm, Lunch will be available.


Monday November 7

Geographic Information Services aren’t just for Geography
Steve Bischoff – Science Librarian Wesleyan University Library
Eric West - Assistant professor SCSU Geography Department

Monday November 14

Blogs and RSS: Teaching and Collaboration in Academia
Rebecca Hedreen – Distance Education Librarian, SCSU Library

Monday November 21

Learning Objects
Michael Roy - Director of Academic Computing Services & Director of Digital Projects Olin Library, Wesleyan University

Monday November 28

A Teaching Homepage – Making Cyberspace Learning Space
Will Hochman - Associate Professor & Technology Coordinator English Dept., SCSU English Department

Monday December 5

Introduction to Learning Management Systems
John Young – Director Administrative Computing, SCSU IT department
Stan Walonoski - Academic Computing Center, SCSU

Supported by a Faculty Development Grant
For more Information please contact Tim Klassen
Buley Library, 392-5734 or klassent1@southernct.edu