Category Archives: Library Hacks

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