March 2010

I went for my six month dental cleaning the other day and was informed that I have four cavities!  I floss every evening, brush meticuously twice a day, and avoid junk food so “how in the world do I keep getting cavities” I asked the dentist.  He didn’t have a good answer for me, so I decided to do some research and I came across Dr. Ellie Phillips’ blog

I then emailed her with several questions and she was happy to answer any and all of my pesky questions!  Dr. Phillips has been a dentist for 35 years and educates people that “tooth decay and gum disease are preventable disesases.” She is “a member of the American Dental Association, the New York State Dental Association and the American Academy of Pediatric Dentists. A graduate of Eastman Dental Center, Rochester, NY, with qualifications in pediatric and general dentistry, and an honorary member of the Eastman Academy, University of London, England.”

I would highly recommend reading her book, Kiss Your Dentist Goodbye.  Or if you don’t have time to read the book, simply start following her recommended oral health routine.  Eating xylitol mints or chewing xylitol gum is a huge part of this routine.  Xylitol is NOT a synthetic substance.  Click here to find out exactly what xylitol is.  If you don’t want to order xylitol mints or gum from Dr. Phillips’ website, you can find them in health food stores–just make sure that you buy mints or gum with 100% xylitol, not sorbitol.  Follow this routine, and soon you will be saying:  “Look ma, no cavities!”


I have been playing around with xtranormal, and I created a movie introducing myself.  Their slogan is “If you can type, you can make movies”–and it’s true!  This is a really fun and useful site.  If you use LibGuides at your library, you could create a movie and add it to your guide.  Unfortunately, our Content Management System won’t allow me to add the movie under my bio. on the Alumnae Library website.

I attended the fantastic ITIG DigiCamp Unconference yesterday at Wheaton College in Norton, Massachusetts.  It was centered around what libraries are doing with technology.  There were 12 main topics discussed, but I attended the three that were most relevant to my work as a Reference and Instruction Librarian.  The first topic I attended was “Mobile and Virtual Reference”.  I learned about Mosio’s Text a Librarian software which costs around $65 a month, and appears to be a great addition to any library.  The software does not require the librarian to answer questions from a cell phone.  The librarian responds directly from his computer–thank God because my fingers are too big for quick texting!  Google Voice is another (free) option to consider.  There is, however, a bit of a lag time with this service–but hey–it’s free!  Library H3lp is yet another texting service to check into that costs around $250 a year.  One Librarian who is using this service said her library averages about 100 texts a month on it.  “LibraryH3lp combines web-chat, IM (natively Jabber/XMPP, with gateways to other networks such as AIM, Yahoo!, and Google Talk), patron queuing, and message routing into an integrated help desk system.” 

The second topic that I attended was “Technology for Instruction”.  I learned about PollEverywhere, which is a free alternative to using clickers in the classroom.  The librarian displays his questions in multiple choice or open-ended format on the Web, and students respond to the questions via their cell phones.  This is a wonderful tool for interacting with students, and, unlike clickers, it won’t cost them anything–assuming they have a cell phone–and what student doesn’t these days?  I learned about Prezi and Empresser, great alternatives to PowerPoint.  Both are free and simple to use, and allow for much more dynamic presentations than PowerPoint slides.

The third and final topic that I attended was “Cool Web Tools”.  I had already experimented with XtraNormal, but was exposed to this neat and free Web tool in depth.  Their slogan is “If you can type, you can make movies.”  One Librarian showed a movie that he had made and embedded on his LibGuide page.  Now that’s a way to grab your students’ attention!  I lso learned about the libx toolbar which allows a library to set up Federated searching at no cost.  “LibX is a browser plugin for Firefox and Internet Explorer that provides direct access to your library’s resources.”  Wow, now I need to play around with some of these wonderful tools!

I work at a college where there are a lot of ESL students, so I am continually being asked grammar questions at the Reference Desk.  If I can’t answer their questions, I always rely on Grammar Girl’s advice and wonderful examples.  Mignon Fogarty is a grammar guru and a wonderful resource for librarians and teachers.  Check out her top 10 grammar myths.

There’s an interesting article in yesterday’s Washington Post by staff writer Daniel de Vise entitled, “Wide Web of diversions gets laptops evicted from lecture halls”.  Some professors have banned laptops in their classes at George Washington University, American University, College of William and Mary, and the University of Virginia.  Students are encouraged to take notes the old-fashined way:  with pen and paper.  I really don’t think that banning laptops from the classroom is the solution to reclaiming students’ attention in class.  This is only going to entice them to migrate to other distracting–and more concealable–electronic devices  such as iphones and blackberrys that are equally capable of surfing the Web and checking email.  And technology exists to switch off acess to internet and email.  One of my work study students uses her laptop’s tablet cababilities to annotate her instructor’s PowerPoint lectures electronically during class!  This saves a boatload of paper! 

“Plenty of professors still allow laptops. Siva Vaidhyanathan, an associate professor of media studies and law at U-Va., generally permits them in his classes. He remembers his own college diversion: reading newspapers surreptitiously on the floor beneath his desk. He believes that, ultimately, it is a professor’s job to hold the class’s attention.

“If students don’t want to pay attention, the laptop is the least of your problems,” he said.”  In other words, instructors need to rethink their teaching methodology.  Student-centered teaching is key, but not an easy task.

With the latest version (3.6) of Firefox, you can personalize your browser!  Simply download the latest version of Firefox, and then go to to change the background of your browser to suit your mood.  There are over 35,000 themes to choose from created by artists all over the world.  “What will your browser wear today?”

I helped a nursing student track down the full-text of an article this afternoon from a citation she found on the Pubmed database.  The article was from MCN or The American Journal of Maternal/Child Nursing (ISSN 0361-929X).  At Elms College we shelve our bound periodicals by title, so I looked in the As under “American Journal of Maternal . . .” and came up with a dead end.  It turns out that the journal is more commonly known as “MCN” which doesn’t make any sense since the full title doesn’t reflect that acronym, but I finally found the issue shelved in the Ms.

I looked up this journal in Ulrich’s Periodicals Directory, and it hasn’t changed its name over the years which is what I thought I was going to discover.  So be forewarned, if your library has this periodical, you just might find yourself on a wild goose chase before you track it down.  Perhaps this is a good reason to shelve periodicals by call number as I’ve seen at some academic libraries.