Wednesday, September 27, 2006

Internet Explorer, Macintosh computers, and EBSCO databases

Does it seem to you like I'm posting a lot about technical problems? Oh well, here's another one.

Internet Explorer on Macintosh computers is no longer being supported by either Microsoft or Apple. Not surprisingly, that means that vendors are no longer supporting the use of IE/Mac for their products. The latest upgrades for the EBSCO databases really breaks IE on a Mac. The links within the database (which are now javascript links) just don't work.

EBSCO technical service recommends Safari 1.1 (Apple's browser; it comes with most Macs--updates from the Apple website) or Firefox 1.5 (

On the sunnier side of the technical street, I hear that Safari is now a supported browser for WebCT Vista, so Mac users should redo the Check Browser function in Vista and make sure that everything is updated.

Monday, September 25, 2006

Library Camp East

I'm attending Library Camp East, today, in Darien CT. The Library Camps are "unconferences", so we will be determining what we are doing today in a few minutes.

more as the day goes on....

Update 10:30
John Blyberg: Mash-ups and Patron oriented development
PatREST - library API to make library content available, circulation data (popular, new), basic searches
mostly for "power users" but not necessarily programmers
based on III system (2006), XML server
Edward Villimetti looking at Z30.50 for content
PatREST Specification (PDF)

Will the vendors answer these demands? Does it meet their business model? Can we (librarians) force the vendors to change their business models?

Mashups: content from 2 or more sources to create something new
Jon Udell's Library Look up scripts
why--bring the users in, bring the content out to the community

COinS - use a simple HTML tag to allow users to install browser scripts to automatically direct them to their own library's resources

Casey Bisson - OPACs
Improve the usability--lead the user to the knowledge they need
keyword to subject heading, "more like this"
enable exploration

enable Findability
linkable content


Interesting discussion of linking and findability
"The OPAC is not the center of the world."

Update: I had some problems updating Blogger yesterday, so here is the report on the afternoon sessions, one of which I led.

Afternoon sessions:
Techie to non-techie
How do you talk to each other?
Sometimes we switch rolls--being the techie librarian on staff, but not being a programmer

"This is crucial to the future of librarianship" doesn't fly.
Be intellectually honest: some projects will fail.
Online access has created a new market. Would you create a new branch library and not staff it?
You need an environment where you can fail successfully (where it is all right to fail).
Find the non-techie whom you can have a conversation with.
Person by person.
Break things down into smaller skill sets.

Selling the idea is a skill.
"Trust factor" with admin.
Managing expectations is crucial.

"Built to Last" and "Good to Great" by Jim Collins are recommended for management culture.

Share the problem--collaborative effort.
IT/Library forums, with bribes!

Practical Web 2.0

OK, I showed off. I showed them my Online Research Toolkit and talked about the tools that students can use.

We talked about categories...
Publishing (blogs, wikis, etc.)
Sharing/Social networks
Media (podcasts, video)

Privacy issues with patrons--are you comfortable showing pictures of your children? It's a matter of personal comfort level, but some people aren't aware of the risks and some people overestimate the risks. (I've seen pictures of children on Flickr that give names, birthdates, and identify the location as a common play area. To me, that is going overboard with pubic information, but I don't have a problem with general pictures without too much identifying info.)

Peter has a great explanation of RSS on the PPL Wiki.

I also showed Feed2JS as a good way to use RSS feeds, especially from Someone commented that the idea of using tags to put specific links on a website was the best reason they had heard so far for why tagging is a good idea.

Resources are beginning to posted on the Library Camp wiki page.

Wednesday, September 20, 2006

Network and Vista outages

Two server shutdowns are scheduled for this weekend:

1) SCSU IT department is replacing equipment this Friday night. The entire network, including email and websites, will be down starting at 10pm (Eastern). They expect to finish by 6am Saturday morning. The databases will still be active, since databases reside on the vendors servers, and the proxy user authentication system should still work, since those servers are housed at Central. However, the library's website, with the database links, will not be available while the Southern web server is down. Here are a few addresses for the most commonly used databases:

EBSCO databases (including Academic Search Premier, ERIC, Business Source Premier, LISTA, etc.)
FirstSearch databases (including ArticleFirst, Library Literature, and WorldCat);FSIP
Proquest databases (including the ABI databases and current and historical newspapers)
iConn databases
Science Direct

If you think you may need other databases, go to the database page before Friday night and copy the link (right click on a PC, ctrl-click on a Mac and Copy link or shortcut). If you have trouble, email me (also before Friday night--Southern email will also be affected.)

2) The WebCT Vista server will be shut down for upgrades between 6am and 2pm on Sunday, September 24th. This will affect both Online CSU and Southern's hybrid WebCT classes.

Wednesday, September 06, 2006

Google News Archive and other news

Welcome to a new semester! First a little housekeeping--I don't think much has changed since the last Passwords post, except that WebCT/Vista now has a new URL:
Most online classes will be in Online CSU; most hybrid (in class and online) will be in Southern. Be sure to choose the right one. Online CSU still has a separate ID and password--if you are newly registered and haven't gotten a Southern ID number yet, contact the Registrar. You will need your Southern ID for library access.

On to the News! Google News, or actually Google News Archive. Residing at and linked off the Google News main search page, the archive search covers 200 years of news archives from a variety of news publishers, including the New York Times and the Washington Post, and news aggregators such as Factiva and Lexis-Nexis. If these sound like our databases, you're right--many of these sources are subscriber based, and have no free access other than the headline and sometimes an abstract. Google mixes free and for-fee sources in the results, with indications of cost or subscription status in the results.

It's also a little unclear when something becomes part of the "archive". I looked up "Iraq", assuming that Iraq has been in the U.S. papers nearly every day, and the most recent result was Sept. 8, 2006--about a week. Google does not give a time span anywhere that I can find, however. (Actually, Google seems to be saying very little, which is not uncommon. There is a single press release, the help file, and nothing on the Google Blog so far.)

Not that I think the Archive Search is useless or redundant if you have access to newspaper archives like our databases. I really like the Timeline feature, which orders the stories by date, and the fact that you can limit the regular display by date range and source. There are also plenty of free and open sources, including Newspaper Archive's free archives, which are a treasure trove in and of themselves. In the advanced search, you can limit to free articles (or at least to articles that Google believes are free.

I also like the fact that the results include Supreme Court cases from FastCase (subscription required--we don't have this one. Court cases can be searched in Lexis-Nexis Academic.) Especially in the Timeline view, seeing the court cases and the news together makes for an interesting view on history that I don't think is represented outside of books.

You will, in general, have to switch back and forth between a Google News Archive Search and our databases to read full text. Hopefully, Google will add the linking service now available through Google Scholar: go into Google Scholar preferences and choose Southern as your library. You will see links into our Journal Locator in your results. I also added OCLC's WorldCat to my Google Scholar results for books. You can also select Refworks as your biblographic manager (reference saver).

Enjoy the semester!