Wednesday, May 20, 2009

I've Moved!

Hey all (one) of my regular followers!

I've changed addresses!

Come find me at my new home... Shameless Book Addict (again)!

Thanks and see you there!

Wolfram Alpha... and other searches

The big tech/library news lately, it seems, has been asking one basic question: Can anyone beat Google?

My answer: Nope... wait, should I have sugar-coated that one? I'm just confused about why anyone would try, let alone claim that it has been done!

Until you can give the public a search engine that works as well, that builds a niche as well, that fulfills a need as well, you are not going to upset Google.

The latest to try, Wolfram Alpha, is an interesting concept and a nice try, though, ultimately, it does not live up to all the hype. Google gives you everything you could possibly need/want/never want in a link providing search. Wolfram Alpha, on the other hand, sets out to interpret the data and give you only the information you need - often creating a page that never existed before you did the search.

This is great when you have a calculation to make or need some background information. However, I share Farhad Manjoo's concern that Wolfram Alpha is too bug-laden and too narrowly defined to work well as a Google replacement. Some searches work well - like my birthday search (who knew I was born during a full moon?) - but too many others - like my search for the closest QFC to Northwest University - fail.

What does this mean for Librarians?
~ Yet another tool in our arsenal! Though some of the random searches I did failed, I am very refreshed by the ones that worked. The first thing I thought of when I saw its interface was how similar it was to an encyclopedia or a world fact book. If you are looking for specific, concrete data, this is where you should go - hands down. Like Wikipedia, it would be a great electronic resource to use in identifying search terms, figuring out general statistics, or planning a research survey.

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Cleaning out my Bookmarks

Anyone who has seen my work computer knows how clean and tidy I keep it. I have very few shortcuts, everything is in thematic rows, and that is the way I like it.

However... I have a very dark secret. There is one part of my computer that gets messier by the day - my Firefox toolbar. Anytime I come across an article or site that I want to come back to, I just dump it in that friendly spot... so much so that it overflows into a drop down menu that takes the whole length of my screen.

My personal bookmarks are organized well at home - in tidy folders in my favorites menu, but work is a different story.

What do you use? Delicious does not really fit the bill, and CiteULike is for reference work. Any thoughts?

RESOLVED: To clean out my taskbar... next week! Good plan!

Monday, March 2, 2009

Teaching How to Get the Information

The next article in the "Future of Reading" series, from the New York Times, is out and it is even more applicable than the last: The Digital Librarian.

What role will librarians have in the technological-centered library? That is a question many people, especially people like me, who are just starting out in this field, keep asking ourselves.

The whole article is worth a look, but there are two main points that I am going to take away from it:

1) Librarians have to be the technology pioneers - the first to use, experiment, and learn.
2) Teaching the Internet (including copyright, site evaluation, databases, etc) is one of our most important jobs.

The Librarian is no longer just the gatekeeper of the books (though we have not been just that for a long time), but a tool to guide patrons through the maze of available resources - finding, evaluating, and using book-based and web-based resources.

Sunday, February 22, 2009

Have you Heard of This Thing Called Google?

This comes from my favorite Technology Blog - Pogues Post.

I think that would be a big help to the lazy students who seem to think it is easier to have you do their work than to do it themselves... alright, so I would never use it, but it sure sounds like it would be fun! Good for a laugh, at the very least.

Type in your favorite question: mine today was "When was typhoid discovered?" And they get the answer and scolded at the same time... because really, was that so hard?

Monday, February 9, 2009

Check This Out

I am sure that I have tried to help this woman at the bookstore too.

No comment.

Saturday, January 24, 2009

Uhh... can we institute this?

I saw this article on the blog Bibliophile Bullpen:

"Unreturned Library Book Leads to Woman's Arrest"

Now... the author of the blog seems to think that there is something wrong with this. I honestly don't see it - I think this should be implemented at NU.

Please, pretty please?

Saturday, January 17, 2009

Google Blog: Libraries

The most recent Google Blog Post was about libraries and how they are incorporating Google Apps into their searching.

The part about how Illinois State Library has created a searchable course information search was of particular interest. It reminded me of our syllabus project (a project that I still think is a brilliant idea and something that I have not seen before) - if they were more searchable, would more people use them?