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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