Category Archives: Library Hacks

Connotea — another look

In Ted’s recent comments on connotea, he said he enjoyed it, but found that connotea was not such a great citation manager; it doesn’t always gather the metadata needed. On the connotea site, it explains that it is “specially designed for scientists and clinicians,” so it gathers bibliographic data better for some sites than others.

I agree, connotea is no substitute for a bibliographic reference manager like Endnote (to which Duke subscribes) or Refworks. I also agree that it’s “downright fun!” As a librarian, I use it as an academic networking tool, to find, track and tag resources as I come across them. It’s very handy for retrieving items on a particular topic, and for creating feeds for specific classes–I tag resources with the course name.

Ted was also concerned about messy tags. The “related tags” on the right belong to other users, who may create them however they’d like.

That’s both the beauty and the chaos of a Web 2.0 tool–everyone gets to play, and you can follow their leads, or not.

So, the short answer is: the value of connotea depends on your purpose. For a free web-based citation manager, you might like to try zotero (from an earlier LibraryHacks post):

The open-source Zotero (part 1 / part 2) is [a] Firefox extension that allows you to store, retrieve and organize your reference sources for a more streamlined citation process.

Has anyone out there done more than a first foray into zotero? Please send us your comments.

Save time! Learn EndNote!

Start your summer research with a bang by learning to use EndNote, a reference management tool that is sure to save you time and frustration. Duke faculty, students and staff may download EndNote to personal or work computers, free of charge.

Perkins Library is offering a free introductory EndNote session on Tuesday, May 27 from 3:30 PM – 4:30 PM in Bostock Library, Room 023. We’ll provide an orientation to the software, show you how to set up your personal EndNote library and then teach you to format a bibliography in a couple of keystrokes.

Interested? Register today! And stay tuned for more Intro and Advanced EndNote sessions this summer!

Search TRLN: Facets for Refining Searches

We have already highlighted a couple of features of the Search TRLN Catalog, which allows users to search the combined library catalogs of Duke, UNC, NCCU and NCSU. If you missed them, see our posts on spelling correction and quotes.

Probably Search TRLN’s most innovative and powerful feature is that is it a “faceted browser” interface. After you perform an initial keyword search, you can narrow your result set by choosing one or more ‘facets’ from the menu on the left side of the screen.

Here’s an example. I am interested in Pylos, a Bronze Age archaeological site in Greece, which was also the site of a famous Classical Greek naval battle, and is today a small city that occasionally hosts academic symposia.

A keyword search for “pylos” pulls up books relevant to all of the above, but I am particularly interested in the Linear B tablets from Pylos, so I click the relevant facet under Subject:

pylos1.jpg

Many of the hits are in languages I don’t read, so I open the Language facet to narrow my search to only items in English:

pylos2.jpg

Search TRLN keeps track of the facets I have chosen, and I can broaden my search again by clicking the x to stop using one of the facets:

pylos3.jpg

Other facets available include format (book, dissertation, map…), location (at Duke?), author, year of publication, and call number range. Happy faceting!

Written by Phoebe Acheson

Search TRLN Tip 2: Quotes!

Another great new feature of the Search TRLN interface for searching across the Duke, NCCU, NCSU and UNC libraries is that you can use quotation marks in the search box.

Quotes are a great tool when you know the item you want and are trying to find it. Sometimes a Keyword or Title Keyword search returns irrelevant hits – though honestly, the Search TRLN algorithm is really good: in my experimenting, I found that usually the title I want is on the first page of hits. If you have trouble finding your title, putting quotation marks around it will usually help the item you want rise to the top of the results list.

You can also use quotes to link together keywords into a phrase. Instead of searching for ‘social activism’, which gets you 1746 results, try ‘”social activism”‘, which results in only 164 hits – much easier to browse through.
quotes.jpg

Written by Phoebe Acheson

What happens when an item is overdue?

Before heading home for the summer, you may want to check whether you have any books out on loan… and when they’re due. Here’s how to find out:

  • Click on “My Account” on the library homepage searchbox
  • Enter your Net ID/password
  • The number next to “Loans” will indicate the number of items you have out. Click on the link for the full details.

Once an item is overdue, you should receive an email. Charges can vary depending on the type of material (book, laptop, video) and the lending library. Here are some quick links:

Written by Kathi Matsura

What if the article I need isn’t full-text online?

Unfortunately, not all databases or online searches will lead to full-text articles, but there is always a chance that we have a print copy of the journal. In order to check whether the library has copies of the journal, check the online catalog:

  • You can either search by “Journal title keywords” or “Title begins with…” from the library homepage search box
  • Be sure to type the name of the journal in the search box (not the article title)

We also maintain a handy guide of helpful tips and instructions for finding journals. If you’ve ever been confused about journal abbreviations or how to find journals on your topic – it’s a great place to look!

Written by Kathi Matsura

CIT Showcase Features Research Tips & Tools

This year’s annual Instructional Technology Showcase, on April 24 in the Bryan Center, features a number of presentations about using technology tools in teaching. Come hear about:

Duke Digital Initiative 2008-2009
Tips and Tricks for Incorporating Web 2.0 in Your Class
Duke’s New Teaching and Learning Spaces
Second Life in Undergraduate Education at Duke
New Tools for Library Research and Teaching
Google Earth for Teaching and Learning

Of special interest to readers of the Library Hacks blog will be the 10:20 am program on New Tools for Library Research and Teaching, facilitated by Tom Crichlow. We’ll be highlighting some of the tools on the library’s Research Tools page, with tips on how to make them work for your needs, and will be fielding audience questions.

Register, see these tools in action, and meet some of the people behind their use at Duke!

Written by Phoebe Acheson

What should I do if the book isn’t on the shelf?

Yes… I guess it’s happened to all of us. You make a trip all the way to the library, and then realize that the book you want is nowhere to be found.

Before leaving in frustration, try one of these steps:

  • Look around the surrounding shelves a bit. It’s possible that the book was inadvertently misplaced. Nearby copy machines and tables are also possible spots to quickly look.
  • Check the catalog record again, and make sure that both the call number and location are correct. Bound journals, for example, are not shelved with the other books, and you might be looking in the wrong area (maybe even the wrong library). Here’s a quick glance at our book location chart.
  • When double-checking the catalog record, make sure that the book hasn’t already been checked out. Take a look at the “Library (Owned/Out)” column in the catalog record. The first number indicates how many copies the library owns, and the second number will let you know how many are checked out. If all the books are available, the second number should read “0”.
  • Is the book still missing? Try checking the re-shelving area in Perkins. Before going back to the shelves, the books are organized in a room behind the circulation area – Level A. Follow the pathway with the library lockers, e-print stations and copy machines. The re-shelving area is the first door on the left.
  • Finally, you can request a search for the book. Submit this missing book form electronically, and library staff will try to locate the book for you. This request form includes both Perkins and Lilly (plus a few other branch libraries). You would be contacted by email regarding the status of the book. If the book is found, it will be held for you. Otherwise, an inter-library loan might be suggested.

Additional information about the shelf maintenance at Perkins Library can be found here.

Written by Kathi Matsura

iGoogle and Duke Libraries

We’ve heard of several faculty and library staff members who are converts to iGoogle, which is sort of a customizable universal home page. If you use iGoogle and the Duke Libraries, you should certainly add our Google Gadget, which lets you put the tabbed search box from the library home page right into iGoogle. Here’s how it looks:

igoogle.jpg

You’ll notice that Catherine also has her Gmail account, Facebook account, Google Reader (for subscribing to blogs, like Duke’s Library Hacks!), Google Docs, and a news feed (plus other stuff you can’t see like weather and Youtube) all feeding in to her iGoogle page.

You can also create your own free-form “gadget” with links to, for example, e-journals or databases that you search all the time, creating a series of research shortcuts for yourself. Give the Duke Library Google Gadget a try and see if other iGoogle tools work for you. If you have a library or research-related iGoogle Hack, leave us a note in comments!

Written by Phoebe Acheson

Save time! Learn EndNote!

Jump start your research and writing by using EndNote, a reference management tool that is sure to save you time and frustration. Duke faculty, students and staff may download EndNote to personal or work computers, free of charge.

Perkins Library is offering four free EndNote sessions:

Interested? Register today — space is limited!

Want $1000?

Want $1000?

Then enter your research paper or project into competition for the Libraries’ Durden Prize or Middlesworth Award.

Undergraduates who make exceptional use of library collections (databases count and e-journals count!) are eligible for the Durden Prize.

Undergraduates OR graduate students who incorporate materials from the Rare Books, Manuscript and Special Collections Library are invited to submit papers for consideration for the Middlesworth Award.

All winners will be recognized at a reception at Parents and Family Weekend 2008 and will receive $1000.

Submissions for both awards are due to the library by 5:00 p.m. on Thursday, May 15.

Note: Both awards require a faculty member’s signature, and the Durden Prize requires a short essay on your research process, so you may not want to wait till May 15 to decide to apply!

Find an Open Computer

As the semester gets endy and the library gets FULL, remember we have a handy online system that allows you to see where there are unused computers in Perkins, Bostock, Vesic, Music, and Lilly.

Another school (Georgia Tech) set up a system like this, and a student cartoonist in their paper replied with the following:

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If you are uncomfortable asking someone to give up a computer even though she is hanging out on Facebook and you really need the statistical software because your paper is due at 5pm, ask a librarian at the desk. We can find you an open computer or help remind others that people using the library computers for academic work should have priority.

Written by Phoebe Acheson

Search TRLN Feature 1: Spelling Correction

Search TRLN (introduced here) has some great features that make the search experience more like familiar online searches (cough*google*cough) than like more traditional library catalogs.

Search TRLN will try to suggest corrections for your spelling errors or typos. I did an Author search on “milosAvic”, deliberately, but plausibly, spelling this name wrong. Search TRLN realized I might have meant “milosEvic” and included search results for that spelling in my list. As it turns out, the first 5 items in the list have authors named Milosevic associated with them. Nice!

milosevic.jpg

Written by Phoebe Acheson

Iron Maiden in the library

No, not this kind of iron maiden. The other kind.

Playing Rock Band in the library - photo by Cristin M. R. PaulLast night about 50 students took a study break and came down to the computer classroom in the basement of Bostock Library to play video games. If was the first of what we hope will become a series of game nights in the library.

Our friends in ISIS and the Dean of Students Office brought over a couple of XBox 360 consoles, a Wii, a Playstation2, and a Playstation3, along with some high end desktop computers for gaming. Most importantly, though, they also brought a complete set of instruments for the game Rock Band. We rearranged some of the tables in the classroom, projected the game consoles onto big screens, turned up the volume, and transformed the room into a concert hall and gaming room for one night.

Boxing on Wii SportsStudents “rocked the ‘stock” for about 3 hours to the tunes of Iron Maiden, R.E.M., Soundgarden, Boston, Bang Camaro, and more. Others played Halo3, FIFA 06, Atari Anthology, Brawl, Wii Sports, and other video games, while snacking on pizza and soft drinks courtesy of the game night’s three sponsors, the ISIS Program, Duke Libraries, and the Dean of Students Office.

Check out these photo sets in Flickr and a set of short videos in YouTube for a better taste of the evening.

We hope you’ll come out and join the fun too next time…

Search TRLN: unified catalog for Duke, UNC, NCSU and NCCU

Did you know that these local universities have cooperative agreements between their libraries ? Duke students, faculty and staff can use their Duke ID cards to check out books at UNC, NC State, or NCCU, and vice versa, for example.

Now TRLN (the Triangle Research Libraries Network) has launched a new catalog that has a unified search for the collections of all the schools’ libraries. You can request delivery between the schools, which is expected to take 48 hours.

searchtrln.jpg

Search TRLN has a number of exciting new features:

    Browse by call number
    Look at books recently added to the collections
    Limit to types of libraries (i.e. law only)
    Refine your search by format, subject, etc.

It still has the support you’re used to:

    Ask a Librarian
    Live chat help

We’ll be posting some more detailed suggestions and web tutorials for how best to use this new catalog in the coming weeks. Right now, give it a try! Leave a question or a tip in comments.

Written by Phoebe Acheson

How do I access databases from off-campus?

To get to databases or e-journals from off-campus, be sure to go through the library website in order to be recognized as a Duke user. Going directly to a bookmarked e-resource will not work.

Try logging in using any one of these methods:

  • Start at the database or e-journal interface, or follow a “GetIt@Duke” link. When you click on a link, a new window will pop up, and you just need to fill in your NetID and password to connect to EZProxy. You should be good to go until you end your browser session or log out!
  • When entering the library website from off-campus, you might also notice that there is a Yellow box located to the right of the titled database link(s) saying “Your web browser is reporting an IP address that is not within range of authorized AP addresses”. Just click on the link for signing in with your Net ID/password. Once you’re signed in, you can access any number of databases.
  • If you’re still not being recognized as a Duke user, download and install the Duke Virtual Private Network (VPN). Some resources exclusive to Law, Business, or Medical Center affiliates cannot be accessed via EZProxy. Make sure that the the VPN is open when you access the database or e-journal.

If you’re having any trouble Ask a Librarian, or check through some of the connection issues that might cause difficulties with the VPN.

Written by Kathi Matsura

Watch Your Laptop

Yesterday there were two laptop thefts reported in Perkins-Bostock in the course of the morning. The police officer who responded walked around the building and noted that he could have taken three more laptops that he saw unattended. Please do not leave your laptop alone, even if you just plan to run to the Perk or to the stacks for 2 minutes!

Laptop thefts are a financial blow to students, but they often cause academic harm as well. Many students do not regularly back up their files, so the loss of a laptop can mean the loss of projects and papers you haven’t turned in yet.

Sometimes it feels like we’ve seen it all at the Reference Desk (there was the squirrel living in a trash can on Perkins 4 one spring), but we never get used to the heartbreak of seeing students who have lost significant work. I’d estimate that laptop theft is the number 2 cause of loss of student work; the number one cause we see is saving to the desktop of a public computer, then getting logged out (which wipes the desktop of all files). Take the time to back up your files, and keep your belongings with you. It’s worth it.

Written by Phoebe Acheson

How do I cite sources?

There is a citation help guide available through the library website.

The section on the left explains how to cite sources within your paper. The section on the right explains how to compile a list of references at the end of your paper. Styles covered in this guide include: MLA, APA, Turabian, Chicago, and CSE. If this source does not include what you are looking for – try a Google search. Many libraries create similar citation guides, and one of them just might have what you need. Complete style manuals can also be borrowed from the library. Check the online catalog for availability.

For keeping track of citations and managing your references, be sure to consider some of the bibliographic software options available to Duke students:

  • EndNote, for example, will import references into a document as you write, and papers can be automatically formatted according to many different bibliographic styles.
  • The open-source Zotero (part 1 / part 2) is also an exciting new Firefox extension that allows you to store, retrieve and organize your reference sources for a more streamlined citation process.

Any of these can be fabulous time-saving options, and worth taking the effort to learn and explore!

Written by Kathi Matsura

Search Duke Library Resources from Facebook

Hang out in Facebook a lot? Do you think you might want to search the Duke library catalog and other library databases directly from there some times? You can now using the Duke Libraries Facebook application.

duke-library-facebook-app.jpg

To install it, go to http://apps.facebook.com/dukelibraries/ and follow the usual method for installing Facebook applications, checking or unchecking the settings you want for this application. Then look for it on your profile page. The box should be able to be moved around on your page and fit in either column. With this app, you should be able to do any of the searches that you can do on the library home page.

Try it out, and let us know what you think!

Written by Phoebe Acheson

Working over Spring Break? We are.

For those of you who are working hard instead of (or in addition to) playing hard this spring break, here are some tips for using the library remotely:

You have automatic access to all the library’s article databases and other resources while you are home (or in Myrtle Beach.) Use the “database search” box on the library home page to find the resource you need, and when you click through to it you will be prompted for your NetID and password. More information on remote access is here.

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We’re here for questions via email, IM, and phone. We’ll be keeping short hours during the week, but if you email overnight we’ll get back to you first thing in the morning.

For those staying in town, come on by! We’re only open days, but we’d love to see you.

(Photo of Myrtle Beach taken by Curtis and Eric, found at Flickr, and used under a Creative Commons license.)

Written by Phoebe Acheson

The shelves in Perkins LL2 are stuck. What do I do?

  • Check whether a footstool or any other object (sleeping student?) is obstructing one of the aisles
  • Press the reset button
  • If that doesn’t help, either IM a Librarian or call the Circulation desk at (919) 660-5870 to let us know which shelf is stuck (we’ll need the call number area). A phone is located on the wall near the shelf labeled AC to AG by the rear elevator. Someone will be sent down with a key.

Written by Kathi Matsura

More Study Seating in Perkins-Bostock

In response to student requests, we are adding temporary tables and chairs to provide more seating for study on the first floors of Perkins and Bostock. As midterms are upon us and spring semester starts to rush to its end, we know that demand is at its greatest.

Can’t find a seat in the Carpenter Reading Room or The Perk at the Pavilion? Try one of these more out-of-the-way study spots:

    Lower Level 2 Perkins, with soft seating and wooden tables
    Lower Level 1, the connector between Perkins and Bostock, has a computer cluster and a few tables
    Bostock 4 has open carrels along the windows facing the Fitzpatrick center and some of the less-used group study rooms
    The Old Perk, located outside the Gothic Reading Room, is a great space for groups to meet and talk
    Tower Room 201 on Perkins 2 opens to evening student use towards the end of the semester, and is available during the day if not booked for library meetings

When the upper floors of Perkins open this coming summer, there will be an increase in study seating and group study rooms. If you’ll be here next fall, come by and stretch out.

Written by Phoebe Acheson

Documentary Films for Research

Documentary films can be a great resource for academic work, and Duke is a great place to find documentaries. The Center for Documentary Studies offers undergraduate classes, workshops, and public programs and events; Lilly Library has an excellent film collection including many documentaries; and Durham is home to the world-famous Full Frame Documentary Film Festival.

DocumentaryFilms.net has a useful directory of documentaries by broad categories like Biography and Nature and Wildlife, and includes a search box. You can also search for documentaries, and often find free streaming video of the trailer or even the entire film, at YouTube or Google Video.

This is a trailer for Born Into Brothels, which won the Academy Award for Best Documentary Film. Duke has this film at Lilly Library; it’s DVD 5317.

You can search the library’s online catalog for films relevant to your research using the search tips provided by Lilly. While most films are in the Lilly collection, we have government videos, medical training videos, and other valuable items in libraries across campus. Lilly has stations where you can watch video cassettes, and most DVDs can be checked out.

Written by Phoebe Acheson

Where are the books?

I guess you have the Call Number and Title, but now you’re wondering where to go? Given the ongoing construction at Perkins, this is a very common question – and fortunately easy to answer!

* For Perkins/Bostock Libraries:

  • Most books are located either on Perkins Lower Level 2 or Bostock 4
  • Some exceptions include: current periodicals or newspapers, microfiche, East Asian collection, Reference sources and government documents. Locations are indicated in the “Find Books” link near the center of the homepage (under the How Do I… heading)

* For materials at the Library Service Center:

  • Use the GetIt@Duke “Request” link for retrieval and delivery to a library location convenient to you. Email notification will be sent when it arrives.

* For “In-Process LC” books:

  • These sources can still be retrieved with the GetIt@Duke “Request” link, and an email will be sent to you when it is available for pick-up.
  • These materials have Dewey call numbers (notice they begin with numbers- not letters), and haven’t completed reclassification into the Library of Congress (LC) system.

* For materials at other libraries:

  • Includes information for locating books at both Lilly and the Divinity Library

You can also check with the Circulation or Reference desks if you are unable to locate a book on the shelf, or request a search for the missing book.

Written by Kathi Matsura

Lectures on Academic Citation

The Citing Sources pages are some of the most popular on the library web site (Google “citing sources” and you’ll know why!).

If you’re addicted to citing sources, or wondering about the deeper relationships between MLA style and scholarly discourse, come to two lectures featuring David Kellogg, the Director of Advanced Writing in the Disciplines at Northeastern University, on Wednesday February 20:

10:15-11:30 ART 116
“Citationality across the Disciplines”
Differences in citation practices across fields reflect different intellectual and rhetorical commitments. Understanding these differences has ramifications for teaching academic writing.

4:15-5:30 Lilly Library Training Room
“Following the Citation Thread: Citation-Based Literature Searching”
Students are traditionally taught to find sources for research projects through keyword or subject searching. But research databases increasingly provide links to cited and citing articles. Compared with keyword or subject searches, citation-based search strategies identify a narrower and more relevant set of sources and more effectively model the practices of
working researchers.

Written by Phoebe Acheson

How do I look for specific books, journals or movies in the catalog?

It may sound like a lot of questions rolled into one, but the process for locating resources in various formats is fairly consistent.

* Basic Search:

  1. From the library homepage, type the title into the search box under the catalog tab.
  2. Choose “Title begins with” from the drop down menu, and click “Go”. This will search the entire library catalog and retrieve the results.
  3. Because the search included all formats of the title, you may need to scroll a bit to find what you need.

* Advanced Search: (Limiting to specific types of materials)

  1. Click on “Advanced Search” from the library homepage search box.
  2. Under “Format” in the blue box on the right of the screen, select “Film/Video”, “Audio Books” or another type of resource from the drop down menu
  3. Select “Title Keywords” from the drop down menu
  4. Enter Title keywords and click “Go”

*“How Do I…?” Feature Box:

The feature box linked above offers numerous helpful hints and guides when searching for specific types of materials.

Some of the helpful links include searches for books, journals, movies and lots more. Explore it a bit. You might learn a useful thing or two!

Written by Kathi Matsura

Introducing Zotero (part 2)

(Since my first post introducing the research tool Zotero, its development continues apace. Several new features have been added, and over 60 institutions, according to the Zotero blog, now recommend Zotero, including MIT and Rice University–both having published their own tutorials on using it.)

Zotero Tour ThumbnailIn my initial post I promised to explain why I thought Zotero was something worth writing home about, not just yet-another-piece-of-software. In case you’re still wondering if Zotero is worth the hype, I’ll make good on the promise. First, since Zotero is an open-source extension to the Firefox browser, anyone can modify it to support their needs—for example, by adding new citation styles or integration with word processors like OpenOffice.org. Of course, being open-source software, Zotero doesn’t cost a dime, making it an even more attractive alternative to expensive proprietary options like EndNote. Second, Zotero makes use of the evolving Firefox extension platform (also open-source) which will, I think, become ever more useful and functional development platform, as software proliferates that lives in the space between the internet and your computer. Lastly, Zotero is a modest coup for open access. As Zotero not only creates a citation to the material you’re reading in your browser—a journal article from PLOS Biology, for example—but also a copy (Zotero calls it a “snapshot”), when you need to refer or share the material later, you’ll be able to provide not only the citation but also the content itself. No trip back to the database or journal’s website is required (“Research, not re-search” is among Zotero’s mottos). Imagine thousands of researchers making use of this feature and you can imagine how this might constitute a modest push toward faster, easier access to research material for those who need it.

If any of this interests you and you’re not already a user, the Zotero folks have a short video introducing the extention.

Live @ the RefDesk

Today in Perkins we are testing some software for keeping Reference statistics. Why? It’s helpful to plan for staffing–how many questions, from which kinds of patrons, what types of questions (from staplerology to ‘jumpstart my thesis’).

But what I really want to get at is the human element. There is talk of the future irrelevance of a Reference Desk, if not the actual Reference librarians, whose minds presumably will be accessible in other modes and places. Here’s an excerpt from the TAIGA Forum Provocative Statements:

Within the next five years…There will no longer be reference desks or reference offices in the library. Instead, public services staff offices will be located outside the physical library.

Or, to expand on this line of reasoning:

If the truth be known, as a place to get help in finding information, the reference desk was never a good idea. A reference librarian standing behind a desk waiting for someone to say, “I can’t find what I’m looking for; can you help?” might be justifiable if, as is the case with other service professionals, that librarian was the reason the person came to the building to begin with. But reference librarians have not served so central a function. They have stood ready to help “just in case”-just in case navigating the building isn’t clear, just in case the catalog doesn’t produce wanted results, just in case the collections seem not to contain the desired material or information. In short, reference service-in particular point-of-need reference service-has been an afterthought, something to be considered after the building’s signage or the finding aids or the collections fail the user.
(Anne G. Lipow, “Point of Need Reference Service: no longer an afterthought,” in ALA-RUSA The Future of Reference Services Papers)

Do you come to the Reference Desk for f2f consultation with a librarian? Why or why not?

Where is the best place to find information on a specific subject?

There are a number of ways to approach a subject search, and I’d recommend exploring all of these options:

  • Subject guides: These guides can be found through the library website, and introduce multiple resources which are particularly useful for specific subject areas. They have been created by our own subject librarians, and can provide an excellent starting point for your research.
  • Databases: For step-by-step instructions, watch this brief tutorial (1 min, 5 sec) on choosing a database for your topic. In addition to a database search, both the article tab and advanced search e-journal tabs offer pull down subject headings which can help narrow the field.
  • Print Resources: When searching the library catalog for books, it might be useful to try a subject search using the Library of Congress subject headings. Find a book that is relevant to your topic using a keyword search, and then explore the topic by either displaying other records that match your topic or browse other subject headings that may be related to it.
  • Research Consultation: Still having difficulty or unable to find what you need? Individual research consultations can be arranged by appointment with one of our reference or subject librarians. Consultations can be arranged within a week, but feel free to email, IM, call or stop by the reference desk if you need some pointers to get you headed in the right direction.

Written by Kathi Matsura

New Look and Feel for Web of Science

Web of Science is probably the most important database for the sciences, and it’s very powerful for humanities and social sciences as well. Yesterday it debuted a new user interface, so don’t be startled when you see its new GREEN look!

A newer Web of Science feature you should try is the Author Finder, which makes it much easier to find papers by a known author, especially one with a common name. To use Author Finder, use the Web of Science tab and click the link under the Author line. There are a number of simple, self-explanatory steps to follow.

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Another vital Web of Science tool is the Cited Reference Search. This hasn’t changed in the upgrade. You still need to enter an author, journal title (using the long list of journal title abbreviations) and year – and then you can access a wealth of articles that refer to the initial article you entered.

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One down side of the upgrade we’ve noted in the library is that you can no longer limit your search to include only the Science, Social Science, or Humanities subsections of Web of Science – you have to search the entire thing.

Have you discovered any new features of this database? Leave us a note and share!

Written by Phoebe Acheson

Online Encylopedias for Specific Subjects

We recently wrote about some all-encompassing online encyclopedias. But there are also some very useful encyclopedias on specific scholarly topics. Increasingly the standard print reference works in any given field are becoming available in keyword-searchable full text online. Here are some great ones:

Oxford Reference Online
has excellent encyclopedias and dictionaries for fields from Art and Architecture to Science, and also includes foreign language and quotation dictionaries. Titles include The Oxford Classical Dictionary, A Dictionary of Food and Nutrition, and The Concise Oxford Dictionary of Politics. They even have a browser toolbar you can download and install allowing you to search their products.

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AccessScience @ McGraw-Hill gives you keyword searchability of the McGraw-Hill Encyclopedia of Science and Technology as well as science biographies, yearbooks, and some news articles.

Blackwell Reference Online has especially strong collections in Business, History, Linguistics, Literature, and Philosophy.

Next in our tour of online reference works we’ll look at some specific titles. If you want an overview of the things we subscribe to, look in the Resource Finder under the subject heading Reference, and look for Encyclopedias and Dictionaries.

Written by Phoebe Acheson

I need a specific article. How do I get it?

Not a problem… we get asked this question a lot!

If you already have the citation (author, title, journal name, etc.) , you can look up the journal title in the E-Journal Finder.

  • If we have no online full text, click the link to search the catalog for print or microfilm.
  • Need help figuring out what words are the journal title? See Understanding Citations.
  • Have a mystery abbreviation for the journal title? See the book Periodical Title Abbreviations at the Perkins Reference Desk or Ask a Librarian.

On occasion, the library may not have the particular journal either in print or online for the year needed. As long as your paper isn’t due in the next few days, you can always request the article through our interlibrary loan service.

Still having trouble? Maybe you’ve already found the article in a database, but can’t figure out how to access it? The answer is in the “get it at Duke” button. Take a look at our “get it at Duke” tutorial (2 min 12 sec). It could save you a lot of time and confusion in the end.

Happy hunting!

Written by Kathi Matsura

Plagiarism Prevention Tips

Plagiarism is in the news again, most recently when a romance novel writer was found to have copied from an article on (no kidding) endangered black-footed ferrets. Here’s Paul Tolme, the freelance wildlife journalist, on being plagiarized:

In the Internet age, every freelance writer fears that his or her words will be appropriated without compensation. First I was angry. Then I had to laugh. To see my textbook descriptions of ferrets in a bodice-ripper, as dialogue between a hunky American Indian and a lustful pioneer woman who several pages later have sex on a mossy riverbank, is the height of absurdity.

The romance novelist is claiming ignorance as a cause of her plagiarism. Unfortunately, ignorance is no excuse. Most students who plagiarize didn’t mean to: they either are careless in cutting and pasting from multiple sources and forget to attribute their sources, are genuinely confused about whether or how to cite something, or are working at the last minute and get desperate and sloppy.

How can you avoid plagiarism? The library has a tutorial that helps explain the dangers, sets out the rules of appropriate citation, and sends you to writing tutors or counselors if you need more help. A sample:

Chances are that you understand the difference between creating incomplete citations and passing off someone else’s work as your own. Still, you … may occasionally find yourself in confusing situations. Do Internet sources need to be cited the same way as books? How do you cite something from the Web if there’s no indication who wrote it? What if you rewrite someone else’s ideas, putting them all into your own words — do you still need to cite? If you are in doubt, you run the risk of unintentionally plagiarizing.

In the end, it all worked out for the ferrets. The romance novel reader’s community that broke the story has donated $5,000 to protect the black-footed ferret.

Written by Phoebe Acheson

Using the library just got easier

Let’s face it: Navigating Duke library’s online resources can be a challenge — even frustrating — at times. We librarians are trying to cut out some of the guesswork by developing short (2 minutes, tops!) animated tutorials with step-by-step directions designed to illuminate some of the murkier aspects of library research.

Here’s what you’ll find…

  • Choosing the right database — Ever tried to get into a database to find an article for your econ paper but just couldn’t figure out which database to use (there are nearly 500 to choose from, after all!)? This tutorial will help you make sense of those categories and never-ending lists.
  • Requesting books that are checked out — Yes, there is a way to get your hands on that book that’s checked out till May 15. Take a look at this tutorial to find out.
  • Using “get it @ duke” — That little blue button can do oh-so-much good but not without a little confusion when you’re first figuring it out. This tutorial will help shorten the learning curve.

There are more tutorials in the works, and we’d love your input on possible topics or ways we can these guides even more user-friendly. Here’s the place for your thoughts and suggestions!

Do serif fonts get you better grades?

Last week I saw a documentary called Helvetica, which explored the history and culture of typefaces, and the sans-serif Helvetica font in particular. It got me thinking more about the almost sub-conscious power of the fonts used in the writing all around us, and the ones I use myself. (It’s a fun and elegant documentary by the way, and not at all as boring or geeky as it might sound.)

Coincidentally, a couple of days later I came across a blog posting called The Secret Lives of Fonts, in which the author reviewed 52 papers he wrote for university courses and found that on average he got better grades on the ones where he used serif fonts than on the ones where he used sans-serif fonts. He writes:

Well, would you believe it? My essays written in Georgia did the best overall. This got me thinking as to why that might be: maybe fonts speak a lot louder than we think they do. Especially to a professor who has to wade through a collection of them; Times seems to be the norm, so it really doesn’t set off any subconcious triggers. Georgia is enough like Times to retain its academic feel, and is different enough to be something of a relief for the grader. Trebuchet seems to set off a negative trigger, maybe just based on the fact that it’s not as easy to read in print, maybe on the fact that it looks like something off a blog rather than an academic journal. Who knows.

What fonts do you use, and have you noticed patterns like these? Professors and TAs, do you have typeface preferences for the papers you need to grade? Is there something to this?

Myself, I like Verdana, but I’m mostly reading my own words on screens now. Maybe I should think again and change the font just before I print it out…

Bookish Applications for Facebook

If you spend all your time in Facebook, branch out from Scrabulous and movie trivia quizzes to take a look at some applications related to the library and books.

So far we’ve found:

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WorldCat, the closest thing there is to a universal library catalog (for US users, anyway), now lets you search their public site directly from Facebook.

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MiniLibrary, which does sort of the same thing except searching European National Libraries.

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Books iRead, which allows you to add your books and rate them, and compare them to what your friends have. It’s sort of a simplified LibraryThing for Facebook, basically.

We hear that an application that will allow you to search the Duke Library catalog from Facebook is in the works; we’ll announce it here when it’s ready.

Have you found any useful and/or fun library, research, or book-related applications on Facebook? Give us a link!

Written by Phoebe Acheson

Webcast on Zotero: Online Citation Manager

Innovate, Journal of Online Education, is hosting a webcast that looks like a good introduction to Zotero, the free online citation management system that Allen raved about here. It’s Thursday Jan. 10 at 2:00 pm EST. [edited to correct date: Thanks, Brandi!]

It looks like you have to register for the webcast, but it’s free. A good way to get your feet wet if you’ve been thinking about Zotero. And how often do you get to hear from an official Technology Evangelist?

Written by Phoebe Acheson

Online Encyclopedias: Wikipedia Alternatives

Why an encyclopedia?

    Fast overview of a topic
    Historical timeline & basic facts
    Find out the right keywords for article searches
    Find out the main issues in the field
    Check for a list of suggested readings to start your real research

Which Encyclopedia?

Wikipedia has quickly become a go-to internet source when you need an encyclopedia. But there have been some concerns about its authority and objectivity, so it should be used cautiously. Use your critical thinking skills – if the article has footnotes, a list of further readings, and feels balanced, it is more likely to be comparable to what you would find in a more traditional encyclopedia. And Wikipedia can be a wonderful source of arcane information: when you really need a list of original air dates for episodes of The Brady Bunch, Wikipedia is the right source!

When your needs are less Florence Henderson-centric, there are other excellent encyclopedias available online. This post will cover the big general ones:

Encyclopedia Britannica online (available by Duke subscription) replicates the authoritative print version but adds web-only tools, including historical timelines and country comparisons.

Enciclopedia Universal en Espanol is also produced by Britannica, but in Spanish and with a focus on Spain and Latin America.

The Columbia Encyclopedia (6th Edition) is available via InfoPlease.com and Bartelby.com; this is a shorter, one-volume encyclopedia in its print version. Both sites also have various other dictionaries, thesauruses, and almanacs – as well as ads (InfoPlease’s interface is far more busy and annoying, IMO).

Browse the list of Reference resources here for more useful starting places for research – and watch this space for highlights of some excellent subject-specific encyclopedias online.

Written by Phoebe Acheson

Cell Phones for Citation

A colleague in the library recently observed a student using a cell phone camera to make a quick “note” of the title page of a book, and the call number label. What a great idea! Very useful for people who are in a big hurry, but want to make sure they capture the full bibliographic citation of something they checked, and also want a reminder of the call number so they can come back for it. Much better than a scribbled post-it note that can be lost or undecipherable.

Plays, and More Plays.

Photo by absent.canadian from the Photo Scavenger Hunt – any interest in doing a new hunt in the new semester?

By Phoebe Acheson

Duke Library Website Under Creative Commons License

Most of the Duke Libraries’ web pages are now licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution Non-Commercial Share-Alike License. What that means in non-lawyer speak is that everyone is welcome to use, share or remix the pages so licensed, under certain conditions.

Look for the logo below the footer on every relevant page. A few pages are not licensed, because of various copyright or other legal issues; they will explicitly say so.

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The conditions for use are: you give credit to the Duke Libraries for the used material, you don’t use our material to make money, and whatever you make from our material must also be available for sharing and remixing.

Do you have a web site that you host or contribute to? Consider Creative Commons licensing for your site.

Written by Phoebe Acheson

New Soda Machine in Bostock for 3 AM Caffeine

In response to student interest, the library has installed a Pepsi machine in Bostock, on the Lower Level across from the elevators. Now you can get a caffeinated beverage without leaving the building after The Perk at the Pavilion by Saladelia closes!

The new machine sells Pepsi products in 20 ounce bottles for $1.25. Right now it only takes cash; there is a change machine on Bostock 1 across from the elevators. The Card Office will install a card reader so the machine will take flex, but this probably won’t happen until exams are over.

Written by Phoebe Acheson

End-of-Semester Crunch Time Tips

It’s that time of year when we find people asleep at the computers (some with head back and snoring loudly). Here are some tips for taking care of yourself and fellow Dukies in the library as the semester comes to a close:

1. Take care of your computer & files. Back up often. Don’t walk away from a library computer without saving your files to a thumb drive, your AFS space, or emailing them to yourself (or all three); when you log out of a library computer the files saved to the desktop disappear (and they auto-log out after 15 minutes of inactivity, so be careful if you tend to fall asleep!) If you’re on your laptop, take it with you to the bathroom – laptops are stolen every exam period, even those with half-done not-saved papers on them.

librarian

2. Ask a librarian for help. We can save you time and frustration at the best of times, and we’ve probably had more sleep this week than you have. Walk up, IM, email, or call. At Perkins and Lilly you can get Reference help from 8am to 2am.

3. Take care of yourself and your fellow students. Get sleep, take walk-in-the-garden breaks, hit the Perk for a salad instead of McDonald’s. If you move into the library, try to put your trash in the trash cans to make life easier for the housekeeping staff. Consider ceding the group study rooms to actual groups who want to study. Keep the headphones low enough so they don’t drive the next person crazy.

By Phoebe Acheson

LibX browser add-on – take the library with you

Last summer we posted the first version of the Duke Libraries LibX browser add-on. A new version is out now, with some fixes, updates, and new functionality. If you already have LibX, Firefox should have notified you that there was an update available (if not, in Firefox go to Tools -> Add-ons and click “Find Updates”). If you haven’t heard about it yet, please read on.

What is LibX? It’s an add-on (or extension) to your web browser that puts library services wherever you go on the web. It has a toolbar (which you can choose to show or hide as needed) that lets you do several different kinds of library searches (catalog, journals, databases, Google Scholar, etc.) directly from your browser. There are also quick links to frequently used library services (My Account, Ask a Librarian, and more) and a Scholar “magic button” – drag and drop text on it, and it will search for that text in Google Scholar.

LibX toolbar

But some of the coolest functionality is what’s hidden behind the scenes, and only shows up when appropriate. Go to Amazon or Google or other places where a book’s unique ISBN number is encoded (including many book reviews) and a Duke Libraries icon (the “reading Blue Devil”: Reading Blue Devil icon) will appear as a cue that there’s a library connection there. Click on the icon, and it will link you to a search of the item in Duke’s library catalog. The same thing works for many journal articles – look for the embedded Get It @ Duke cue Get it @ Duke logo in Google Scholar, CiteULike, and elsewhere. Clicking the link will take you to it via Duke Library’s subscription.

LibX cue

More hidden functionality is revealed when you right click on a web page. If you’re off-campus and a site that requires a Duke subscription doesn’t recognize you as being from Duke, right click and look for the item that reads “Reload [name of web site] via Duke University EZProxy”. Clicking on this will send you through the library’s EZProxy system, which will authenticate you as a member of the Duke community and then direct you back to the page you were on. Not all sites work with this, but many do, and it might save you a trip to the library catalog or VPN.

LibX right-click

The right-click menu also gives you lots of search options if you highlight some text before right-clicking. Highlight a word or phrase, and the right-click menu will give you lots of places where you can search on that word or phrase. For the “Author” field, it will even flip the terms, so if you highlighted Joe Smith it will turn your Author search into Smith Joe, which the library catalog likes better.

Give it a try – it’s available for Firefox (Windows, Mac, and Linux – yes Linux users, we love you too) and for Internet Explorer on Windows. Note that while the Firefox version is stable and well-tested, the IE version is still in beta, and requires recent versions of the browser and .Net framework.

See Duke Library’s LibX page for download links and instructions, and please let us know what you think.

Take EndNote on the road with EndNote Web

Interested in accessing your EndNote library even when you’re not in front of your personal computer? Take your research on the road by setting up an EndNote Web account, and enjoy the freedom to consult or add citations to your EndNote library from any computer with an internet connection.

EndNote Web is designed to complement the more robust desktop version of the citation management tool, but it’s possible to use it even if you’ve never used EndNote (by the way, EndNote may be downloaded for free by Duke students, staff and faculty).

Simply set up an Endnote Web account, and then add up to 10,000 citations to your Web library. Format bibliographies and in-text citations in over 2300 publishing styles (MLA, APA, etc.), or use the Cite While You Write plug-in and Microsoft Word to format papers and insert references instantly. You may also share citations with others who use the web application and search PubMed, Web of Science and hundreds of libraries for relevant resources, all within the EndNote Web interface.

RefWorks

And if you choose to use the two programs together (as they were intended), it’s easy to transfer citations between EndNote and EndNote Web.

Give it a try, and let us know what you think about EndNote’s latest innovation for researchers who don’t want to be tied to their offices or dorm rooms.

Library Help over Thanksgiving Break

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Thanksgiving falls at a busy time in the semester, and many students take papers or research projects home with them to work on over the break.

You can take the library’s resources home, too. Almost all of our databases are accessible remotely with your NetID and password. For more details see our off-campus access page.

If you have a question for a librarian, Perkins/Bostock Reference will be available by IM, email, or phone on Tuesday until midnight, Wednesday from 9-5, Saturday from 1-5, and Sunday starting at 1pm. If you’re in town, see the full library hours here.

(Photo from http://www.nyctourist.com/macys_history1.htm)

By Phoebe Acheson

The Sad Saga of Library Staplers

Most of the campus libraries provide staplers, hole punches, and other basic office tools for students to use. We also regularly have to replace these items because of theft – accidental due to absentmindedness, or intentional – and breakage.

So, think of the poor librarian (that would be me) who spends all her time buying new staplers and hunting for that magical, heavy-duty stapler that staples up to 60 pages and doesn’t break (our current standby is the Swingline 77701, but it breaks a lot). Please don’t try to force the staplers or hole punches to do jobs they are not made to do. Banging on the stapler never helps, and as for the person who did this:

hole punch

You are very strong – this is an all-metal handle that has been broken in two. Wow. I am impressed, and also a little afraid.

If any of our readers are stapler afficionadoes (or have just watched Office Space too many times), please leave us a comment suggesting the miraculous stapler that will solve all our problems and never break!

By Phoebe Acheson

Literary Style by the Numbers

Have you ever noticed the link on Amazon.com’s book record pages called “Text Stats“? (it’s in the “Inside this Book” section – you have to scroll down a bit). Since Amazon has the full text of many books in electronic format, they can tally up some fun (and revealing) statistics about each book. Stuff like the number of characters, words, and sentences in the book, the complexity and readability of the text (using various metrics, like average words per sentence and syllables per word), and even words per dollar and words per ounce!

Author Steven Berlin Johnson (The Ghost Map, Everything Bad is Good For You, etc.) blogged recently about exploring this feature, comparing the statistics on his books with those of other authors, including Duke professor Fredric Jameson, and plotting them on a graph.

Read Johnson’s blog post for his observations on what these statistics reveal about different authors’ literary styles, and the comments below his blog post for other interpretations of this data, as well as how you can get these statistics on your own writing using word processing software.

Holocaust Survivors Tell Their Stories

The Shoah Foundation Visual History Archive is a remarkable database that contains full-length digital videos of Holocaust survivors and witnesses. This resource that Duke Libraries just recently purchased contains over 50,000 video testimonies.

To get to this database, just click on the database tab on the Duke Library homepage and type “Shoah” in the search box. Once at the site, you will be asked to create a free username and password in order to log-in.

Shoah screen shot

Once you are logged in, you can search for interviews by keyword, a specific person, or by an experience group.

What will you find inside, you may ask?

  • Extraordinary primary source material to use in your research.
  • Full-length video interviews taken in 56 countries, in 32 languages!
  • At the end of many interviews, personal photographs, documents, and artifacts from the interviewee’s family are displayed.

Have questions? Save time, Ask a Librarian!

Written by Jennifer Castaldo

Podcasts: Audio Primary Sources

As we at iPod – I mean, Duke – University know, podcasts have proliferated in the past 5 years. They aren’t just for fun, however – major radio news sources and government agencies are making podcasts available that can be used in research or academic presentations. Radio podcasts can provide in-depth interviews with politicians, medical researchers, legal scholars, and much more. Here’s an NPR podcast in Spanish on youth culture:

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Have a look at our podcasts page to see links to sources for academic and primary source content via podcast.

Got another favorite podcast? Leave us a link in comments!

By Phoebe Acheson

Subscribe to the Census by RSS

The United States Census Bureau now allows you to receive updates via RSS, with subscriptions available for web site changes, tip sheets, population estimates (PopClocks!) and even daily podcasts, among others.

Most useful for researchers may be the set of RSS feeds for news releases on a wide variety of topics, including Aging Population, Housing, and Retail Industries. Sign up and whenever the Census has news on your topic, you’ll know.

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More ideas about using RSS feed subscriptions in your research are here.

Written by Phoebe Acheson

Perks for honors thesis writers

Facing the exciting (albeit daunting) task of completing your honors thesis or project? To help make the process a bit easier, the library offers these perks to undergraduates planning to graduate with distinction:

What else can we do to make your months of writing and research easier? Post your suggestions, and we’ll try to make them happen.

Web Browser Search Plug-Ins

One of the comments on the LibX toolbar post asked about ways we could customize that toolbar to allow searches of specific databases, like JStor.

There is a way to search a database right from your web browser toolbar, using a customized search plugin. Most browsers come with options for searching Google, Yahoo or Amazon, but you can add options like WorldCat, the Oxford English Dictionary, and ProQuest.

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We’ve set up a page collecting the plug-ins we’ve found or created here. If you don’t see a search plug-in for the database you want, contact Phoebe Acheson and ask for it. Not every database works with the plug-in generator we’re using, but many do.

Written by Phoebe Acheson

Lost files? Don’t lose hope!

We’ve all been there. After working for hours, we hit the wrong key or forget to save a file opened from email, and before we know it, lose it all.

To save yourself the headache of these maddening situations, consider ways that you can prevent them from happening in the first place…

Before you make edits to a doc that you email to yourself to work on from another machine, click Save As, and Save it to the desktop or a flash drive (remember, though, that the desktop gets cleared as soon as you log off).

Better yet, bypass emailing yourself altogether by using Duke’s WebFiles, which provide all Duke students, faculty and staff with 5GB of personal file space and web space. Questions? See How to Use WebFiles.

And, believe it or not, there are ways to retrieve those files that appear to be lost in the Ether:

Strategy One: Check the Recycle Bin on your computer.

Strategy Two: Click Start, Search, and use Windows’ “When was it modified?” option under All Files and Folders (in Vista, click Start, Search and then click the down arrow to the right of Advanced Search, and select Date Modified in the Date dropdown menu at left). See your file? Be sure to save it in another location before continuing to work!

Strategy Three: Try a free undelete utility.

Strategy Four: Buy a file-recovery program (File Scavenger goes for $49, while Easy Recovery Professional will cost you $500).

Still no luck? For tips on how to recover anything from Excel files to a lost password, check out PC World’s How to Recover (Almost) Anything.

Have horror stories to tell about work you’ve lost? Have brilliant tips for recovering precious files? Do share!

Introducing Zotero (part one)

zotero logo smallZotero describes itself as a Firefox extension that helps you “collect, manage, and cite your research sources.” Since I’m as technologically trail-weary as the next person, I’ll try to make clear what it is about Zotero that should rouse you out of bed and why I’ve been an enthusiastic user for the last six months.

At its most basic, Zotero streamlines the process of creating citations. Instead of making an extra trip back to the library catalog or a book’s front matter when you need to fill in the required fields (publication year, editor, etc.) in your bibliographic software (EndNote, BibTex), you let Zotero do it for you the first time, when you’re looking at the book’s record in your browser (in Duke’s catalog, Worldcat, Amazon, Google Books, etc.). It’ll grab the relevant details and more from the catalog record at the click of an icon (see image below). Zotero gets much sweeter if you’re viewing the item-to-be-cited itself in your browser, rather than its catalog entry–for example, an article on Le Monde or the New York Times. Not only will Zotero pull out all the information you’ll need to cite the article later, it will make a local copy of the page you’re looking at, so if you or the article is ever off-line, you’ll still have a copy. Once the item is saved, creating a citation or a bibliography in whatever style you’d like (MLA, APA, Chicago) is easy.

using zotero with nytimes

If you’re already using Firefox, treat yourself to Zotero. It’ll save you typing and time. The extension is open-source as well, over a year in development by a crack team at George Mason University. Still have doubts? Zotero recently won an award for best instructional technology software from the American Political Science Association.

All this said, I’ve hardly touched on the features of Zotero that make it well-nigh revolutionary as a piece of software. I’ll save that for part two.

[update 2007-10-12: If you’re eager to read more about Zotero, I recommend Scott Mclemee’s review from a few weeks ago on Inside Higher Ed.]

New Articles and Databases Search Interface: First Tips

The new look of the search interface for articles and databases went live this morning.

The functionality of the interface is almost exactly the same as the old site:

    1. a quick keyword search for articles (searching top article databases including ProQuest and Academic OneFile)
    2. an advanced article search that allows author and title keywords and allows you to choose a list of top databases for your subject (Arts and Humanities, Government, Life Sciences, etc.)
    3. search for an article database by name, or browse an A-Z list of all our databases
    4. browse for a database by your subject or discipline

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The E-journals interface is unchanged; the new look debuted this summer.

Our first tip:
Why log in? I asked the developers and they explained that there’s no real need to log in if you are using the interface from a campus computer, but if you are off-campus, logging in gives you the full access to the databases through EZ-Proxy.

How do you like the new look and feel? Have you discovered any tips or time-savers to make this interface work for you? We’re just getting comfortable with it ourselves, so we’d love a chance to learn from you!

Written by Phoebe Acheson

Free Streaming Music!

Smithsonian Global Sound for Libraries is a large collection of international music with full-length audio streams. This database is brand new and was recently acquired by Duke Libraries. It covers voices from people all around the world. Listen to old time country music, blues, recordings from African tribes, Broadway hits and much more!

Smithsonian Global Sound for Libraries

Reasons to check it out, besides that it is now free to Duke students and staff:

  • includes complete audio and video selections, media, educational resources and detailed liner notes.
  • Search by country, culture group, genre, language or even instrument.
  • Develop your own playlists.
  • Create a user name and log-in to store favorites in a “My Playlists” folder.
  • One stop shopping! You can buy albums you like directly from this site.

Enjoy! Browse all different types of music and put off writing that paper for a little while…

Click here for a sample track! Duke Only

Can’t find exactly what you want? Save time, Ask A Librarian!

Written by Jennifer Castaldo

Real-time info on workstation availability in the libraries

Want to know whether there are computer workstations available in the library before you head over? Check out our new Computer Workstations web page, which links to live data about how many workstations are in use or available in various libraries around campus (like in the chart shown here). Some of them even include floor plans that show you which particular computers are available right now, so you can find them easily when you get there.

See the Computers, Copies, & More web page for more information on technology available in the libraries and how to set up your own laptop to connect to library resources when you’re in a library building, or how to access library resources online when you’re off campus.

Browser toolbar for medical library resources

If you use the Medical Center Library a lot, you’ll like this. The library has recently released a browser toolbar that lets you search the library catalog, PubMed, the Medical Center Library website and more right from your browser. It also includes links to frequently used resources and a quick way to get help with your research. Read more and download the toolbar (for both Firefox and Internet Explorer) on the Medical Center Library’s web site.

If medical research is not your thing, check out the Duke LibX add-on for Firefox (announced in LibraryHacks over the summer) that provides quick access to Duke University Libraries resources and services wherever you are on the web, through a browser toolbar and embedded “cues” on sites like Amazon. It’s currently only available for Firefox, but a version for Internet Explorer will be available soon (we’ll announce it on LibraryHacks when it’s ready).

RSS Feeds for Research: Speedy Delivery

I hope many of you are reading my words right now thanks to an RSS feed – you’ve subscribed to this blog through Bloglines or Google Reader or your choice of aggregator. We make the RSS feed of the blog available in DukePass and it may soon be appearing on the Duke Libraries home page. You can add it to your Facebook page using the application FlogBlog.

RSS feeds can do a lot more than just allow you to spend hours procrastinating from your research by reading blogs that other people write as a form of procrastination. Many providers of article databases now allow you to set up repeated searches (often called “alerts”) that will deliver articles relevant to your work via an RSS feed. You can set up a search that sends all new articles from the most relevant journals in your field (a do-it-yourself table of contents service), or all new articles written on a topic, using a keyword search or subject heading.

The University of Wisconsin Library has set up a guide to databases that offer alert services – some of them only have traditional email alerts, which generally require you to register, but RSS feeds are noted when available, and they seem to be an increasingly popular offering. If you’re not sure what vendor provides your favorite database, look up the database in our finder, and click the “i” link for information. The vendor will be noted.

For an example, The Shifted Librarian raves about EBSCO databases’ newly revised RSS feed services – one click of a bright orange link gets you a url for the search that you can drop into your RSS feed tool. EBSCO databases at Duke include Academic Search Premiere, ATLA, ERIC, MLA, PsycINFO, and many others.
mlarss

Some Gale databases have recently added the same feature: see the RSS4lib blog post for a screenshot. Academic Onefile (until recently called InfoTrac Onefile) is the biggest Gale database at Duke that has this enabled.

Automating searches for new articles in your field is a great way to keep up with what’s new – and RSS delivers it directly to you. Do you have another RSS feed research tip to share? Leave a comment!

Written by Phoebe Acheson

What’s new in Lexis?

If you’re a fan of LexisNexis, you’ve probably noticed some changes in the last few weeks. The interface is more appealing and easier to navigate; its search box is larger and allows for “natural language” searches (the types of searches you do in Google); and you no longer get those annoying error messages when Lexis decides your search is too broad.

lexisscreenshot.gif

If you were put off by the old interface or haven’t used Lexis before, now’s the time to give it a shot. Why bother familiarizing yourself with such a GIANT research tool, you ask? Well, to start with…

  • Search over 300 newspapers from around the world by date, headline, photo caption, keyword and more. Many are updated continuously, so you’ll never be behind!
  • It’s not just about news–click “Legal” at the top of the page to access law review articles, legislation, and Supreme Court decisions from 1790
  • Pull up SEC filings and company profiles, including Standard & Poor’s reports–just click on the “Business” button at the top of the screen.
  • Find out how the public responds to Gallup Polls (and other public opinion polls)–go to “News” and click on “Roper Center for Public Opinion Research.” You can search polls back to 1935.
  • Search blogs and web publications–just check those boxes on the “Easy Search” screen.
  • Track down broadcast transcripts from NPR, CNN, and other major networks by checking the box by “TV and Radio Broadcast Transcripts” on the “Easy Search” screen.

So, next time you need the full-text of a Supreme Court decision for poli sci, a futures report for finance or are just curious how Americans weigh in on their favorite soft drinks, run a search through LexisNexis Academic.

Find a source or discover a trick worth sharing? Post a comment!
Find yourself discouraged and frustrated? Save time, Ask a Librarian!

Learning, lattes cohabit at Duke library

Laptops and lattes in the library - photo by Mark Zupan

The News & Observer has discovered Bostock.

This morning’s edition of the Raleigh-based newspaper describes Bostock Library as a place where research meshes successfully with technology, socializing and group learning. And yes, lots of coffee. The article begins like this:

Feel free to raise your voice a little in Duke’s Bostock Library. You won’t get shushed.

And that steaming cup o’ java isn’t a problem, either. Just don’t spill it on the Ralph Waldo Emerson anthology.

Bostock, a bright, airy two-year-old addition to Duke’s Perkins Library complex, is now where the cool kids hang out. It is, in a way, what you would get by crossing a traditional university library with a modern student union. Macbeth, it appears, is more easily digested when chased with a latte.

Read the rest of the article here.

[ The following was added a few days after originally posting this entry. ]

The Durham News, the N&O‘s weekly Durham-specific paper, published a longer version of this article over the weekend. This one expands on the theme, and describes the increasing emphasis on collaborative and social learning at Duke and elsewhere. The new title is “Students check out trendy library, give it an A“.

Taking notes that work

The awesome LifeHack blog has an article today with advice for students on how to take good notes. They write

Note-taking is one of those skills that rarely gets taught. Teachers and professors assume either that taking good notes comes naturally or that someone else must have already taught students how to take notes.

and continue

Not only do good notes help us recall facts and ideas we may have forgotten, the act of writing things down helps many of us to remember them better in the first place.

The short article provides advice on how to take good notes and describes several different note-taking techniques you might want to try.

Check it out here: Advice for Students: Taking Notes that Work.

The Sober Librarian: Google Book Search

Google Book Search – a project that has Google working with major US and international libraries to digitize out-of-copyright (and many still-under-copyright) books and make them freely accessible on the internet (and keyword-searchable!) has been an exciting, and controversial, development for libraries. (More about Google Book Search).

One the one hand, if you believe the hype it’s the greatest thing since sliced bread. Here’s a promotional video from Google (full disclosure: Erin McKean, the dress blogger/lexicographer, is a friend of mine).

On the other hand, there are basic concerns about the quality of Google Books’ scans, a topic addressed recently by Duke’s own Scholarly Communications Officer, as well as ongoing debates about corporate vs. academic control of content and access to it, and all sorts of other library & scholarship philosophy issues (a starting place, if you’re interested in reading about these issues, is the Wikipedia article on Google Book Search.)

Where do I come down? Let me leave the philosophical discussions aside for the moment, since this is a blog about library tools and tips. Google Book Search is a currently available tool that scholars and readers should be aware of. Like any other tool, it works well for some things and not for others. It can be very valuable if you are an archaeologist in Crete and want to check a description or illustration of some pottery in the 1912 volume “Explorations in the Island of Mochlos,” which no self-respecting library would allow you to check out and stow in your luggage for a transatlantic flight (it’s out of print, and a reprint edition is selling, used, for $295!). It’s not useful if you want to read a novel – it’s much easier to purchase a five-dollar copy of Jane Austen’s Persuasion to read on the plane. Give it a try and see if it works for your needs. I wish you happy serendipitous discoveries!

Written by Phoebe Acheson

Library Hacks Photo Scavenger Hunt

It’s back to school, you have a digital or cellphone camera – come take pictures in the Duke Libraries and join our Flickr-based photo scavenger hunt.

new.jpg

Here’s how:
1. If you don’t have one already, get a free account at www.flickr.com (all you need to sign up is an email address.)
2. Take pictures.
3. Upload your pictures to Flickr and add them to the group DukeLibraryScavengerHunt.
4. Receive fame, acclaim, and maybe a prize!

Here are your prompts: be creative!
1. blue book
2. librarian
3. light
4. stairs
5. new
6. play

There will be two prizes: one given at random to someone who completed the scavenger hunt, and one given to the taker of the photo judged most artistic and/or representative of the libraries by a team of experts (i.e., us.). We may ask you if we can showcase your photos on this blog, or even on the library website.

Written by Phoebe Acheson

The Sober Librarian: What’s in a DOI?

Library staff often learn as much from our patrons – i.e. you – as they teach. My husband, who is a PhD student in engineering at another local institution of higher learning, said to me, “Why don’t you do a post on your blog about DOIs?” I had never heard of a DOI. So I had to look it up, of course.

What? A DOI – Digital Object Identifier – is a number attached to a piece of online content (Wikipedia has a much more technical definition). In practical terms, it is a unique number attached to a full-text online article, much in the same way every book has a unique ISBN.

krill

Why? Well, suppose your article was published in the journal ‘Nitpicky Things About Oceanography’ by Small Academic Press and appeared on their web site. Six years later, Small Academic Press was purchased by Big International Conglomerate. Obviously they are going to change the (previously stable) url of your journal article. But you can find the new online location of the article easily by putting the DOI into a DOI resolver or the global handle resolver. DOIs can also be easily hotlinked, and some article databases are starting to do this. DOIs are starting to be included as an integral part of bibliographic citations in some fields – instead of searching for the journal title to find an article, just enter the DOI into a resolver and there you are.

reference.jpg

Who? DOIs are the result of cooperation between commercial publishers and non-commercial organizations (like libraries, universities, and academic presses). The main site explaining all this is at doi.org, but you may find the information available at CrossRef.org, which is focused on scholarly research applications of DOIs, to be more useful.

Written by Phoebe Acheson

Very Important Library Tip for Undergrads

Kristin Butler, in her Duke Chronicle column “Duke: A freshman’s guide” has a very good piece of advice for library users:

Oh, and one aside on having sex in the stacks: As a former library employee, I promise that Perkins Level D is not a “sneaky” place to go for it, even at 4 a.m. The security guards know the lights are not supposed to be turned off, and if they catch you they may post your name and photo for all to see. How embarrassing.

I can tell you, she is so not kidding about this.

Written by Phoebe Acheson

Linking to Full-text Articles: Stable URLs

It’s back to school time, and that means faculty and instructors all over campus (and sometimes all over the world) are putting books on reserve, setting up e-reserves through the library, and linking from their Blackboard sites to online articles that we have access to through our subscription databases. Perkins Reference and CIT staff have been getting a lot of questions about how to find stable URLs for these articles, so we made up a web page to help: http://library.duke.edu/research/help/databases/stableurl.html

Please Ask a Librarian if your question isn’t answered there!

Written by Phoebe Acheson

The Sober Librarian: WorldCat and bad citations

I was reading the Thingology Blog (by Tim Spaulding, creator of Librarything) and ran across this aside

***I particularly recall how one of my professors tended never to know the *titles* of books she’d recommended to me. She’d say “that new book on Athenian demes by so-and-so.” The authors were all colleagues and friends of hers. … It didn’t help that the titles in academics are often bland affairs, “aiming higher” than their obscure topic in the hope of appealing to a broader audience—”Art, Difference and Culture” subtitled, “16th-century non-guild stonemasons in Malta,” etc.

I recall so vividly the same sensation from my days as an undergraduate and beginning graduate student. You end up with half-remembered titles, badly-spelled (or no) names, and a vague idea that this is all VERY IMPORTANT. Many of us are too shy to simply email the professor and ask for clarification. So where do you go from there?

For books, the place to start is WorldCat. WorldCat is a database – look for it under Popular Databases or search our database finder. It’s the world’s online catalog – it has everything in Duke’s catalog, and everything in UNC’s, and everything in the Charlotte Public Library’s, and everything in Harvard’s – you get the idea. It’s by no means perfect as a universal catalog, but it’s pretty good. Among its many uses:

1. Checking to see that you have a good citation. If searching in Duke’s catalog doesn’t find you a book, maybe it’s not that we don’t have it; maybe you’ve got it a little bit wrong. Check on it by checking WorldCat. If nobody has it, well, maybe that author’s name isn’t really Gnarl after all.

2. Starting to look for books on a topic when you don’t want to limit yourself to just what Duke owns. If your research project is a big one, and you have time to request materials through Interlibrary Loan, why not cast the net wide as you begin? Do a keyword or subject search in WorldCat, not just Duke’s catalog. We can’t own everything! If we do own it, WorldCat will tell you so, and provide the Get It @ Duke link.

Written by Phoebe Acheson

IRB approval for research using interviews

Sarah Wallace has some interesting comments on the process of getting IRB approval for using (interviewing) human subjects for her Ukraine project. Here’s an excerpt:

All week, I’ve been working hard on my application for Institutional Review Board (IRB) approval of my project in Ukraine. …Procedures for protecting the rights and welfare of human subjects are the same, no matter who conducts the research; thus, student researchers like myself are held to the same standards as faculty researchers. If an undergraduate at Duke wants to conduct research that involves human subjects in any capacity, he or she must fill out a long, complicated application and send it to the Duke IRB before beginning the study.
..there is a chance that I won’t gain approval until after I arrive in Ukraine. …
Although the form took a lot of time and effort to complete, I’m very glad I did it. It really made me think through my research approach at a level of detail that I hadn’t before.

 

See her full post here, or check out her Notes from YkpaïHa feed on the right.

And here’s her update:

The Duke IRB liked my protocol a lot. Flattery aside, however, they had “a number” (read – “a million”) suggestions for ways to improve my consent forms and other documents.

..[I must] also prepare a separate consent protocol for the interviewees that are Ark workers/ICARR participants. As the IRB pointed out to me, these people shoulder the most risk by talking to me, so I must take extra precaution to ensure that their interviews are kept confidential.

Duke LibX: Add Duke Libraries to your web browser

We are happy to announce the publication of the Duke version of the LibX plug-in for Firefox web browsers. Duke LibX allows you to install a toolbar in your browser with a search box that connects directly to Duke’s library catalog, e-journals, databases, or library web pages, as well as Google Scholar. You can highlight citations and drag-and-drop them to the toolbar, or right-click to have the same search options. LibX also puts a Duke Gothic window (called a ‘cue’) in web sites like Amazon – click it and automatically search the catalog to see if we own the book.

libx

Find out more and get the install link at our LibX page (http://library.duke.edu/research/tools/libx.html) If there is one hack you take from this blog, this should be the one. (And if you’re not using Firefox yet, this is your reason to switch.)

The Duke LibX tool was originally developed by Sean Chen (Law Library) and recently updated by Paolo Mangiafico (Perkins Digital Projects). Thanks, guys!

Written by Phoebe Acheson

Web apps for students, researchers, and any library user

If you live your life on the net and in the library, check out these two blog posts, with descriptions and links of lots of tools that might make your life easier:

They cover note-taking tools, “mind-mappers,” collaboration tools, bibliographic software, bookmarking tools, online office software, online calendars, and more. Check them out, and let us know what you think. We’ll write up more details on your and our favorites here in the future.

Staying Alert in Ukraine

 From our Duke researcher in Ukraine, Sarah Wallace: Sarah Wallace

 

“I recently discovered a great feature of Google called Google Alerts. The program allows you to closely monitor specific topics in the news without having to do a manual search. I have it set up so that any news or blog posts containing the words Ukraine, Chernobyl, or Duke will be consolidated and sent to my email account at the end of the day, every day.”

“Although I’ve only been receiving alerts for a few days, I’ve already learned so much about Ukrainian politics, economics, and culture. For example, …my favorite news alert of the week:

‘PepsiAmericas, Inc., the world’s second largest manufacturer, seller and distributor of PepsiCo beverages, and PepsiCo itself, announced a landmark agreement on June 7 to jointly acquire 80 percent of Sandora LLC, Ukraine’s number one juice maker… Home to some 46 million consumers, Ukraine is considered to be one of the fastest growing beverage markets in Europe.’

“I definitely recommend Google’s alert system to anyone who wants to track a topic in the news. But be warned – Google alerts are a big distraction. I really should be studying Ukrainian at the moment, but my mind can only handle so much in one day.”

How about you? Do you have any cool tools to share?

31 Duke Sophomores Blogging on Summer Research

This recent Duke News item sparked my interest: 31 Duke students, all sophomores doing laboratory research as part of the Howard Hughes Medical Institute fellows program, are writing blogs as part of their summer experiences.

All the blogs are listed, by student name, in the right column on the Student Research at Duke page; the main part of the page has highlights of recent entries.

These students describe their hands-on research – here’s a teaser on tomato frog DNA from Samantha Perlman:

FINALLY, the moment I have been waiting for…the tomato frog samples came in today!!

Alas, they are packaged in a giant cardboard box with hundreds of other reptile and amphibian samples. Maybe “packaged” isn’t quite the best word…apparently throwing all the little tubes in a box and taping it up is adequate for shipping rare frog samples halfway across the world. Shockingly, the box opened mid-trip, and an undetermined number of little tubes may/may not have spilled out.

Here’s hoping some of them keep up the blogging process as they turn to library research on their topics, or when they are in classes next fall. We’ll be browsing their posts and looking for library hacks to highlight!

Written by Phoebe Acheson

Gather, collect, share, and network

A few weeks ago we wrote about Connotea, a “social bookmarking” tool for academics, and in the comments Duke Professor Gary Feng reminded us of CiteULike, a similar tool that is currently more widely used in the sciences. Around the same time, the spring issue of the UK journal Ariadne came out with an article on CiteULike, titled “Citeulike: A Researcher’s Social Bookmarking Service“. The introduction reads

This article describes Citeulike, a fusion of Web-based social bookmarking services and traditional bibliographic management tools. It discusses how Citeulike turns the linear ‘gather, collect, share’ process inherent in academic research into a circular ‘gather, collect, share and network’ process, enabling the sharing and discovery of academic literature and research papers.

The article provides a brief overview of the principles behind tools like CiteULike and Connotea, and gives examples of how these tools can be useful for academics. It explains how to use CiteULike to build networks of citations shared among colleagues, in addition to using it for managing one’s own citations. As the authors write,

The fact that two users read similar literature probably indicates that they will potentially have a professional interest in each other. The bibliographic data forms a fabric binding people together.

This fabric is a major reason why we come together in universities, so it makes sense that the digital tools we use should help to strengthen these ties, and do so even across institutions and geographical boundaries. Might tools like this eventually become the platform for a different kind of peer review? Dario Taraborelli muses on this in his blog posting “Soft peer review? Social software and distributed scientific evaluation” in the Academic Productivity blog.

The Sober Librarian: Buffy la cazavampiros

We had a flurry of questions at the Reference Desk this spring when members of a Spanish class were asked to write a paper on a pop culture topic of their choosing, using sources in Spanish. How do you find books, scholarly articles, newspaper and magazine articles, or web pages in languages other than English?

As a sample topic, let’s take the (late, lamented) TV show “Buffy the Vampire Slayer.” (Note: as far as we know, nobody in the class was actually researching this topic.)

Google has an Advanced Search feature that allows you to search for pages in any one of a vast number of languages.

Google Advanced Search

This is how we learned that in Spanish, Buffy is ‘la cazavampiros.’ The (351,000!!) search hits include a lot of fan sites, so would be a great place to look if we were interested in, for example, Spanish-language fans’ reactions to this show, or how the vampire mythology played in Spanish-speaking cultures.

What about the opinions of television reviewers in Mexican newspapers? How about the database Latin American Newsstand – 326 articles mentioning ‘Buffy la cazavampiros’, from papers from Rio to Monterrey to San Juan!

Latin American Newsstand

How about scholarly articles? A database called HAPI (Hispanic American Periodicals Index) is a great resource for current events, politics and social issues. It covers over 400 journals from the entire Spanish-speaking Americas. Many broader databases of scholarly articles allow you to limit by language as well, for example, MLA, which covers a broad variety of topics in the humanities. (Both have lots on women and television, but nothing on Buffy!)

A search of Duke’s library catalog can be limited to just one language, using a drop-down menu in the Advanced Search.

Duke Catalog Advanced

While we discovered that the Buffy DVDs in Lilly Library have optional tracks dubbed in Spanish, sadly there are no books in Spanish that address Buffy (there are a bunch of English language books!). A broader look at books in Spanish on television or popular culture might have better results: we own 173 books in Spanish that cover aspects of popular culture. Surely one of them must mention Buffy!

Written by Phoebe Acheson

Notes from Україна: a Blue Devil’s Ukrainian experience

Sarah WallaceFollow Duke’s Sarah Wallace, a senior, as she blogs on her Public Policy/Global Health research project in Ukraine. We will be posting excerpts throughout the summer; the feed to the full blog is on the side.Here’s a brief intro to her learning experience:

This will be my first summer away from Duke since beginning college, and the trip to Ukraine will be my first experience traveling overseas. Also, this summer will be my first time doing a real independent, self-structured research project. I have done research before, but always under the strict guidance of a mentor, and always on a suggested topic. This summer I will be largely on my own, although I do have mentors in Durham and Kyiv. My topic is self-designed, this trip is self-designed, and my methods are self-designed.

Best of luck, Sarah, we know this is going to be a fantastic experience!

Do you know of a Blue Devil blogging about their research? Tell us!

Connotea, an Online Research Tool

Connotea logoWe’re currently encouraging faculty and students to test Connotea (www.connotea.org, pronounced con-no-TAY-uh), an online tool that combines the ‘tagging’ features of services such as del.icio.us with an academic research focus.

Anyone can register at the site, create a username, and then begin building a library of resources—online articles, book reviews, web pages, anything with a URL—simply by clicking the “Add to Connotea” button that you add to your Internet browser. Connotea allows you to export your library of resources into other programs (like EndNote, the bibliographic software Duke currently supports) or subscribe to an RSS feed of your own or another user’s library. You can also configure your account so that the Get It @ Duke button will appear next to many Connotea citations, linking you to online full-text resources available through Duke.

Since most users’ libraries of resources are public (though you can choose to make a private library), you can search for tags of interest to you among resources found by other users—fellow Duke students, Duke librarians who are putting useful resources into Connotea, as well as researchers and scholars around the world who are using the site for their own work. Look for the DukeUniversityLibraries group to find resources in Connotea that have been tagged by Duke Librarians.

For directions on getting started and more tips, see the library’s Connotea web page at: http://library.duke.edu/services/instruction/connotea.html.

Written by Phoebe Acheson

Give RefWorks a try

RefWorks is web-based bibliographic management software. Does that make sense? I didn’t think so. So here’s what it really is: an online program that allows you to upload, save, and format article and book citations. Like EndNote (which you can get for free through Duke), RefWorks also formats your bibliography for you.

Right now, Duke has a trial subscription to RefWorks. Through June 30, 2007, any Duke user can use RefWorks for free.

To create an account, follow these steps:

  1. Go to www.refworks.com/refworks from any computer at Duke.
  2. Click on Sign Up for an Individual Account.
  3. Enter the appropriate information and click on Register.

Like instructions? Check out the RefWorks Quick Start Guide or the RefWorks tutorials.

You can use RefWorks off-campus: just enter Duke’s group code RWDukeUniv.

If you have any questions regarding the trial, or feedback on RefWorks, please contact me, Joan Petit.

Written by Joan Petit

Summertime–ask us!

Suddenly Perkins and Bostock are so…quiet…and relatively empty. It’s an abrupt change from last week’s intense activity. Now, don’t get me wrong, we Reference librarians have plenty of projects, conferences, and catchup work to do over the summer. But I kinda miss the frantic end-of-semester questions, the exhilaration of nailing that last citation for the research paper, the sleep-deprived (or sleeping) students in every corner of the library.

So, if you’re out there, help ease our transition from the adrenaline highs of the semester to the easy-livin’ flow of summer. Send us a question, keep us busy! See Ask a Librarian for multiple ways to talk with us.

Thing I like (warning: addictive)

Well, I fell this morning. People at work have been succumbing piecemeal for some time, and then my online community discovered it, and I was finally a goner.

What the heck am I talking about? Librarything (librarything.com). It’s sort of like Facebook, for your books. Basically, you create an online library catalog of your own books, and you tag them, and yes, it sounds really boring and like something only a librarian could love, but honestly, it’s crazy addictive. It’s also super-easy to set up.

Once you’re in, you can see exactly how many books of Doonesbury cartoons or by Maurice Sendak or about archaeological field methods you own (me: many many many of each, tag clouds are frighteningly revealing). Then you can see who else owns them, and what books they own that you don’t (but might like to), and it is sounding boring again, I know.

Just try it; you’ll know right away if it’s for you. But make sure to try when you have some free time (Spring break is a great time). I have at least one friend who was up all night the first time she logged in.

Written by Phoebe Acheson

Book Burro brings your local library into Amazon

Wouldn’t it be cool if while you were looking at books in Amazon’s online store you could see whether Duke Libraries have the book? Well, you can. A tool called Book Burro (bookburro.org) does just this.

It only works with the Firefox browser, so if you’re using Internet Explorer or other browsers you’re out of luck (there are many reasons why you should try out Firefox, but that’s another blog post). You install the browser plugin (or “add-on”, as they’re now called in Firefox 2) and configure it with your zip code and online book stores you like to use.

Then, whenever you’re looking at a book record in Amazon, you’ll see an overlay in the top left corner of your browser that looks like this:

Book Burro in Amazon

When you click on the little triangle on the left, the overlay will expand and look something like this:

Screen capture of Book Burro with Durham localization

What displays here depends on how you’ve configured BookBurro (using the tools icon near the right side of the BookBurro overlay). If you’ve put in your zip code, it will show you which libraries in the vicinity have the book – the search includes all libraries at Duke, UNC, NCCU, and many other universities in the region, as well as local public libraries.

Depending on how you’ve configured it, BookBurro will even show you how much the same item costs at other online stores. So you can quickly decide whether to head to your local library, make a request via Inter Library Loan, or order the book from an online vendor and have the book delivered directly to you.

Duke Libraries does not produce or support BookBurro, so we can’t vouch for how well it will work all the time, but so far it’s been pretty handy for me. Try it out – if you don’t like it, it’s easy to uninstall.

Overheard at The Perk

“I spent seven hours in the library yesterday, researching, and I only found four articles!”

Painful words for any librarian to hear. But wait! Was the subject of research truly something obscure and unknown? Some potentially unexplored but fruitful area of discovery? Sadly, no, the topic of research (further eavesdropping revealed) was a common medical issue well covered by a range of library databases.

A stop at the reference desk could have saved this undergraduate hours of suffering. It can be intimidating to approach a librarian to ask for help, but most librarians are quite friendly, and all of us want to help you do your research better. If you’re not sure what to ask, just tell us about your research, and we’ll be glad to point you in the right direction.

Written by Joan Petit

Catalog tip – search for journals only

Sometimes you’re looking for a journal that has a really common title – the classic is “Time,” the weekly news magazine. If you look it up in the catalog using “title begins with” you get 43 results to wade through. But choose the second tab, labeled “Journals/Serials” and you can cut down the number of extraneous results – a search for “Time” this way gets only 10 hits, most of which are different versions of Time magazine.

The “Journals/Serials” tab also be very helpful when you want to find some titles of journals that cover your topic. For example, a subject keyword search for “neonatology” brings up a list of 16 journals that publish on the topic – very useful for browsing when you’re starting to research a topic.

This tab is also great for when you can’t quite remember the title of a journal – use keywords or subject keywords to try to narrow it down.

Written by Phoebe Acheson

Librarians on Facebook?

In a Writing 20 library session the other day, a student was shocked when I mentioned my Facebook account. “Is that even allowed?!” he asked.

Indeed, like an alien invasion, librarians have descended upon Facebook. Why are we there? Partly for the same reasons you are: to connect with students, you, but also to connect with faculty and other librarians, at Duke and beyond.

Why befriend a librarian in Facebook? Well, why not? You use Facebook to keep track of your friends, so consider using Facebook to keep track of your favorite librarian. Make a librarian a friend, and you’ll never lose track of her (or his!) name and email.

Some librarians currently in Facebook, along with their subject areas, include

  • Margaret Brill, British and Canadian Studies
  • Carson Holloway, Military History
  • Anne Langley, Chemistry
  • Catherine Shreve, Public Policy and Political Science
  • Jean Ferguson, Reference

And, yours truly, Joan Petit: I’m there too.

Written by Joan Petit

Thing I like: Chicago Manual of Style Online

The Chicago Manual of Style – that little red book that’s the bible of citing sources – is testing an online version. Right now they’re offering free 30-day trials, and it’s worth a look. There’s also some stuff that doesn’t require any sign-in – my favorite is the Chicago Style Q&A, where someone with a sense of humor answers nit-picky questions only a grammar nerd (or a professional editor) could love. For example:

Q. Is it prework or pre-work (for work that is to be done before a meeting)?

A. Prework is a pretty silly concept, if you think about it. I mean, is it work or not? It would be like preeating. How about calling it “preparation”?

Written by Phoebe Acheson

The Sober Librarian: An Introduction

Okay, first, go here and read this comic strip: http://catandgirl.com/view.php?loc=282

While we admit to a certain fondness for tipsy librarians, we can certainly see how it might be frustrating to be faced with 43,000 hits, only 0.007% of which might actually contain the piece of data you want, when you do an internet search. When this happens to you, where can you turn?

Welcome to The Sober Librarian. In this occasional column we’ll explore – and, I hope, unravel – some research tangles that Google can’t help you with. You can learn some of the tricks, shortcuts, and special resources that librarians use. Maybe they’ll help you with your research. Maybe you just like a good mystery, or the thrill of the chase. Follow along as we track down the obscure, find the needle in the haystack, and uncover serendipitous gems.

Written by Phoebe Acheson