Summer is coming…

When the days begin to get longer, the temperature starts to rise, and June begins to peek at you from just around the corner, you know what that means: Summer is coming! Summer:  that delightful season of sun and fun! And for public libraries, summer is also the start of Summer Reading. What is that? It can be many things: It can be that pile of delicious books you’ve been saving to read on the beach; it can be the list of required reading students are given to tackle before the fall semester; and it can be, as is the case for many public libraries across the country, a season-long celebration of our love of reading.

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The little joys of playing a Google a day

by Carrie Dunham-LaGree

Last week, Mary Pagliero Popp wrote about the changing search processes of users and the implications for libraries. As an academic librarian focused on instruction and user education, I spend a lot of time talking to students (and faculty) about how they search and why. In the few years I’ve been working in libraries, I’ve learned that I often search differently than patrons do.

The earliest and most memorable example of being baffled by a user’s search strategy came in the first few weeks of library school. I was working as a graduate assistant at the university library’s reference desk. A young woman came to the reference desk and said she needed help finding journal articles for a research paper. As I conducted a reference interview to figure out exactly what sources she needed and where in the process she got stuck, she delivered the single most flabbergasting line I’ve heard at the reference desk: “I typed the title in the search box but nothing came up.” I asked, “what title? I thought you hadn’t found any sources yet?” “The title of my paper,” she responded. I managed to steer the conversation to a good place and she left with better search skills and several articles on her topic.

Since then, I’ve remained fascinated by where our users search and why. Personally, I’m a fan of Google. I use it many times a day. It isn’t always the first place I turn for information, but often it is. Each morning as I drink coffee, I take time to play A Google a Day, Google’s search game. Typically the questions require the user to make more than one search to discover an answer. While I’m usually able to find the answer in two or three searches, there is a rush to those rare questions I can answer in a single, complex search. As fun as it is to find the answer, the more fascinating aspect is seeing how Google would solve the question, as it’s often quite different than my approach. I’ve learned many useful Google skills through their tips. There are also hints for user who get stuck. Often what I take from the few minutes I spend playing a Google a Day is better insight into how people search.

Now tell me: what’s the best Google tip you know?

Curiouser and Curiouser: What caught our eyes online this week

“Curiouser and Curiouser!” cried Alice…
Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland by Lewis Carroll

Welcome to Chasing Reference’s weekly roundup of the curious articles and links that have caught our eye this week!

Stars — They really are just like US!

by Amy Barlow

Don’t hate them because they’re beautiful. Hate them because they’re beautiful and smart. Such is the burden of the actor/rock star/scholar, of which there are only a handful. On this rainy day, let’s resist the urge to think about embedded librarianship and learning assessment, to instead contemplate the all-important matter of researchers on the red carpet.

You are probably familiar with the academic achievements of Mayim Bialik (“Blossom” and “The Big Bang Theory”) and Danica McKellar (“The Wonder Years”) in the fields of and neuroscience and mathematics, respectively. Who isn’t? But have you read Colin Firth’s co-authored Current Biology paper, “Political Orientations Are Correlated with Brain Structure in Young Adults”? According to the BBC, Firth “commissioned” the research during a stint as a guest editor of Radio 4’s Today program. Continue reading

Guest Post: The Search and I (and You and Our Patrons)

by Mary Pagliero Popp, Indiana University Libraries, Vice-President/President-Elect, RUSA

I have been working on issues related to “search” for several years.  We have implemented two resource discovery tools here at Indiana in the last few years, bringing users search results that include books, video and other materials from our catalog, journal articles, and information from the broader web.  We are now hard at work developing a Blacklight open source version of our library catalog.  In each case, it was important to look at the way our users interact with our online resources and at the way they do their research.

A March 2012 Pew Internet and American Life study entitled Search Engine Use 2012 caused me to think about this more specifically.  In their overview, the authors note that “Though they generally do not support targeted search or ads, these users report very positive outcomes when it comes to the quality of information search provides, and more positive than negative experiences using search.”  Search experiences are more positive than negative and users report that they are confident about their results. Continue reading

Curiouser and Curiouser: What caught our eyes online this week

“Curiouser and Curiouser!” cried Alice…
Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland by Lewis Carroll

Welcome to Chasing Reference’s weekly roundup of the curious articles and links that have caught our eye this week!

  • Want to read Pepys’ diary one day at a time? You’re in luck: it’s now online.
  • Finally: Shakespeare’s insults are now available animated.

Recommended Reading for College-Bound and College Students

by Amelia Mowry and Emily Hamstra

Since the late 1960s, the University of Michigan Undergraduate Library has been publishing a list of recommended reading in a variety of disciplines. The list, entitled Read Read Read, was sent to admitted students to provide them with good books that would broaden their horizons and introduce them to college-level reading. We no longer send the list to incoming students, but we do provide a copy on our website.

This year Amelia Mowry, University Library Associate and School of Information student, updated the list to appeal to college-bound students and current undergraduate students. Amelia updated many of the titles on the list, and changed the format of the list from print to digital. The updated version of the list is a libguide. Creating the list as a libguide allowed us to easily make Read Read Read more visually appealing than the print version, and allowed us to link the titles to Worldcat so the books can be found in local libraries.
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Travel Reading

Back in my very first post, Public Librarian: Day in the Life, I mentioned that my public library has two branches, and I often work and travel between the two. Doing so necessitates the art of traveling light, and therefore, as much as I love my review journals (oh, Kirkus Reviews, Publishers Weekly, Horn Book, Library Journal, and the Bulletin of the Center for Children’s Books, I do love you!), I often have to leave them behind in my office while I am traveling.  What, then, is a librarian to do in order to stay current on all things book and library related? I found the answer in my trusty blog reader, Google Reader. It has become my preferred traveling resource for all things library and book news related. All I need to access it is a computer with internet access (AKA: a reference desk!) to read some of my favorite blogs and stay well informed of what’s going on in the library-world.

Although I follow many different blogs, there are some that have risen to become my favorites, and I consider vital to staying well informed. To begin with, many of ALA’s associations have wonderful informative blogs. ALSC’s blog is a must-read for any librarian working with children. From inventive programs and storytime ideas,  thought-provoking articles on library practices, to fantastic book recommendations, they cover it all. If you are a librarian working with young adults, YALSA’s blog  is full of informative articles on YA services and interesting tech insights and trends.

School Library Journal hosts a variety of blogs, all of them interesting and insightful, but I find myself again and again turning to Elizabeth Bird of the New York Public Library’s blog, A Fuse 8 production. Written with wit and grace, A Fuse 8 covers new books and library news.

100 Scope Notes, written by school librarian Travis Jonker, contains a wealth of interesting reviews and insights into children’s literature. The feature, Morning Notes, collects fascinating news and links of all things book and library related, and is a feature not to be missed.

A fantastic resource, one not to be missed, is Cynsations. Written by author Cynthia Leitich Smith, this blog extensively covers all things in the publishing world regarding children’s and YA literature, focuses on free speech advocacy, provides inspiring author interviews and much more.

With the help of these blogs, and others like them, I am able to stay well-informed and up-to-date, while still traveling light between locations. Yet the wonderful thing about blog readers is that there is always room for one more blog. So tell me, dear readers, what blogs are on your must follow list?

Curiouser and Curiouser: What caught our eyes online this week

“Curiouser and Curiouser!” cried Alice…
Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland by Lewis Carroll

Welcome to Chasing Reference’s weekly roundup of the curious articles and links that have caught our eye this week!

  • Want to get one new tech term a day in your inbox, complete with a “Cocktail Party Fact” for relaying this information to your friends?  Skillcrush has you covered. Recent examples: pseudocode, HTTPS, and AJAX.
  • Canadian federal libraries and archives are being seriously threatened by budget cuts.  Learn more and join the fight to  Save Library & Archives Canada.
  • Behold: the You Tube Time Machine. Pick a year, from 1860 to the present, and select categories, including movies, music, sports, commercials, current events, commercials, tv, and video games. Then you sit back, relax and marvel at how these things once captivated us.
  • Maurice Sendak passed away this week. Watch his uncanny interview with Stephen Colbert and listen to his reflective interview with Terry Gross.
  • “Your 2-year-old can play with an iPad. But the technology behind such marvels is complex and invisible, abstracted away from the human controlling it. Nor do these technologies offer us many ready chances to do basic programming on them. For nearly all of us, code, the language that controls these objects and in a way controls our world, is mysterious and indecipherable.”  A fascinating Slate article on learning to program, Ruby, and _why (not a typo).

Of Mentors and Mentoring

This past week, I had the pleasure of speaking to a group of MLIS students about life as a librarian, what it was like to be out in the field and active in the profession. It was a fantastic experience, and something I love to do. The chance to help future librarians as they set off on their own paths is uniquely rewarding, and offers as much insight for myself as it does for them. As I shared with them what I love and am passionate about in this field, I was reminding myself once more why I chose this profession.

Speaking to the class reminded me as well of when I was the MLIS student, listening to real life librarians talk about their work. Their comments and insights helped to guide me as I found my way to my own library passions. As a MLIS student, I relied on those conversations and talks to help guide me as I made my own path. When I graduated and began working in the field myself, I found that there was still much to learn from those with more experience than me, and I was grateful to all the kind souls who offered help and wisdom as I continued, and continue, to find my way.

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