November 2009

Exercise 8 is centered around learning about RSS feeds and setting up an RSS feed reader.  I already had an understanding of RSS feeds, but now I have a much better understanding of how they work.  I went ahead and set up MyYahoo as my RSS feed reader.  I now can go to that one location and get daily weather (in several locations), news from the New York Times, news about local events, and much more!

Exercise 7 is do a blog posting about technology.  So, here goes:  In terms of library research, it’s amazing how technolgy has made it so much easier than it used to be.  For example, journal articles that used to be available only by plowing through paper indexes and trudging to the photocopier, can now be found electronically in minutes and printed out, saved in a folder, or sent to an email address with a few key strokes.  So why do students complain about not being able to find any information on their paper topics?  Kids these days . . . .

Exercise 6 is centered around discovering “mashups” on Flickr. According to Wikipedia, a mashup is “a web page or application that combines data or functionality from two or more external sources to create a new service.” It’s very interesting technology. My favorite mashup application is montager. It allows you to create a photo or mosaic from photos found on Flickr!

We’re considering opening up our library staff lounge for student use which would make our library more inviting for students. Check out this classic Sesame Street video that humorously portrays the age-old policy of “no food in the library”. I remember when I worked at Dartmouth College, students would sometimes have Chinese take-out food that you could smell all over the entire building.

winter leavesExercises 3 and 4 are centered around setting up and registering a blog. And, since this is a blog, I will move on to Exercise 5: Explore flickr. Here’s my flickr photo that I edited using “picnik“, a photo editor on Flickr that enables you to make amazing changes to a photo with the click of a button or two.

I would like to learn all I can about Web 2.0 technology, so I have decided to do the “23 Things”. These are 23 exercises designed by The Public Library of Charlotte & Mecklenburg County. Exercise 1 is simply reading their blog to learn more about the program. Exercise 2 is a podcast outlining the 7 1/2 habilts of highly successful lifelong learners. It’s a wonderful introductory podcast to the program that emphasizes that lifelong learning is the individual’s responsibility. I just signed my “learning contract”, and I will continue to post my progress as I go through the 23 exercises. This is a great find!

If you use EBSCO databases you have probably noticed a new feature: SmartText Searching. I have despised this feature ever since it appeared about 6 months ago, but thought that I simply had to live with it. Here’s a quote from a Clarkson University Reference blog where I discovered that it can be turned off: “Yes, the automatic switch to SmartText Searching is a new feature in the EBSCOHost databases. Some of us at Clarkston have concerns about this more Google-like search which may retrieve hundreds of thousands of results. The automatic switch occurs when a boolean search retrieves zero results. Our students have enough trouble selecting good articles without having the results multiplied and diluted. I’ve confirmed with Tessa that this feature can be turned off at individual institutions . . . . ” I wholeheartedly agree with this quote, so I got together with the Serials/Systems Librarian at Elms College and asked her to turn it off. If a user isn’t finding good results with a Boolean search, then they need to be taught to alter their search by using synonyms and broader terms–perhaps even truncation. They may also need to alter their topic and try other databases. Now that’s “smart text” searching.

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