At the Ref Desk (1/22/20): Student came over this evening and thanked us for all the help we gave him. Nice. [more...]
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Library Literature

Tell Me Something I Don't Know

Submitted by Leo Klein on Mon, 11/28/11 (3:43pm)


Can it be called research when these are the results?

The analysis revealed that Facebook offers a dynamic environment for academic libraries to cultivate relationships with students. Libraries present information through status messages which suggest who they are and what they do. In addition to being informational, libraries attempt to engage and establish rapport with students through Facebook. The university setting not only creates a context for messages, but also offers a mutual set of experiences and values shared by libraries and students.

Search Box Syndrome

Submitted by Leo Klein on Fri, 9/30/11 (10:41am)

We've been here before -- from a usability study looking at how students use (or don't use as the case may be) various library database pages:

In 2006, Steve Krug said internet users were mostly looking for something clickable to click on; BGSU students, by contrast, often looked for a search box to search in. When a search was unsuccessful, instead of retooling it, the student looked for a different search box and tried the same search again. The students in the study tried to change the subset of information they were searching, not the search they had already decided was the best one.

Okay, so the next logical question might be, is this a student preference or is there something about the design of the website that drives them to it? Maybe yes, maybe no but considering the effort we put into all of this, it's certainly worth testing.

But hark! A bit further down in the same study -- apparently vendor consolidation will save the day:

Therefore, if we want students to use a wider range of our resources, it is crucial that we teach them to recognize the resources that will be useful for them. As the brand diversity of our resources narrows, vendors and publishers merge, and vendors market more and more to end users, this strategy may become easier to adopt.

Current Cites for August 2011

Submitted by Leo Klein on Wed, 8/31/11 (7:19pm)

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Current Cites for August 2011 is out! You can find the issue here...

I wrote about an issue of Libraries & the Cultural Record that looked at libraries during the Depression and contains this rather depressing report on the state of the Chicago Public Library by its Chief Librarian at the time:

We are afflicted by the worst financial hardship we have ever suffered.... We have bought no books for eight months, the magazine subscriptions for 1932 were cancelled."

Current Cites for July 2011

Submitted by Leo Klein on Fri, 7/29/11 (1:58pm)

go to Current Cites

Current Cites for July 2011 is out! You can find the issue here...

IM Widgets More Effective Than Crummy Old Links for Library Chat Reference

Submitted by Leo Klein on Mon, 5/16/11 (8:04pm)

First, I like this study of Chat Reference at S.I.U.-C. because it stresses the need to take its results in context. Maybe you're getting more questions about holdings because you've now got your IM widget on all the database pages listing articles your users are looking for, etc. In any case, the fact that they now have their IM Widget on those pages instead of a simple link seems to have significantly increased virtual traffic:

"The number of SVR ['Synchronous virtual reference' -- i.e. IM] questions increased by another 1,000 in the year when the library embedded a widget into the SFX link resolver menu and EBSCOhost databases. Even though the Ask A Librarian link had been included in the SFX menu and the EBSCOhost banner for many years, an increase was recorded only after the widget was embedded. The increase in SVR questions supports the notion that placement of a widget can influence use."

Julie Arendt, Stephanie J. Graves, (2011) "Virtual question changes: reference in evolving environments", Reference Services Review, Vol. 39 Iss: 2, pp.187 - 205.

Current Cites for April 2011

Submitted by Leo Klein on Sat, 4/30/11 (7:17pm)

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Current Cites for April 2011 is out! You can find the issue here...

My selection this month was a short but witty intro to the wonderful world of academic publishing written by Stephen K. Donovan called "The Sign of Four".

We Were All Librarians and All Human Beings

Submitted by Leo Klein on Fri, 4/1/11 (2:29pm)

From an article written in 1944 about the Good Old Days of librarians in Chicago in the 1890s:

William Warner Bishop (1944): "As I look back on these formative years I am struck most of all by the sense of fellowship and solidarity among librarians. It was a new profession in our American conception of its possibilities; there was no little of the "missionary" spirit among its members, and there was much kindly feeling and much sharing of information and experience. A newcomer was made to feel at home. One instinctively felt he could rely on and trust his colleagues. I had a beautiful illustration of these solidarity ten years later, during my first summer at the Library of Congress. One of our messenger boys went swimming in the Potomac and was unfortunately drowned. His people came from a village near Milwaukee. They were too poor to come on to Washington, and the body was sent to Milwaukee to be transferred to their home. I telegraphed to Agnes Van Valkenburgh in the Milwaukee Public Library without any hesitation, and that great-hearted woman not only met the train bearing the corpse but went, provided with flowers, to the small town and to the funeral. It was a perfectly natural action on her part and on mine. We were all librarians and all human beings in distress at the sudden death of a very minor member of our calling. The incident is typical, and I like to recall it. We all felt not only pride in our work but a sense of responsibility toward our fellow librarians. It is a great thing to have been a member of such a profession."

Current Cites for March 2011

Submitted by Leo Klein on Thu, 3/31/11 (4:09pm)

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Current Cites for March 2011 is out! You can find the issue here...

I wrote about two articles, first about a Library 2.0 postmortem written by Walt Crawford, and second, about an excellent study of library databases evaluated for accessibility which concluded, to universal embarrassment, "no database included in the study was rated as largely accessible".

Reference Fail

Submitted by Leo Klein on Wed, 11/24/10 (9:31am)

Library-Journal-logoLibrary Journal's got an article getting a lot of attention by Jean Costello with the provocative title, "Why I Don't Use Libraries for Reference Anymore".

Current Cites for October 2010

Submitted by Leo Klein on Sun, 11/7/10 (3:49pm)

go to Current Cites

Current Cites for October 2010 is out! You can find the issue here...