Sharing new ideas, resources, knowledge and technology to keep abreast of new development in reference service field

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Share this!

Share This Blog

Sunday, September 27, 2009, Brad Stone wrote in the New York Times about how sharing has gone amuk over the Internet:

What was interesting to me was his graphic (shown left) that tapped into this sharing frenzy. I think a number are tongue-in-cheek. My question to you is: how many of these do you know? and can we use these links to our advantage?

The "links":

Tweet this / Share on Facebook / Share on AOL Mail / Share on Backflip / Share on Linkninja / Share on Evernote / Share on / Share on Arto / Share on LinkaGoGo / Share on Designmoo / Mixx this / YiGG this / Share on Jumptags / Share on Polladium / Share on Virb / Share on Wordpress / Share on Bleetbox / Share on MyLinkVault / Share on BlinkList / Share on Amazon / Share on Brainify / Share on Diigo / Share on FriendFeed / Share on Yardbarker / Share on Gacetilla / Save to Delicious / Tell Obama / Share on Fresqui / Tumblr this / Share on Viadeo / Share on Plaxo / Save on StumbleUpon / Share on Meneame / Send to Gmail / Share on BallHype / Share on bizSugar / Share on Blogmarks / Share on CiteULike / Share on SodaHead / Share on BuddyMarks / Multiply this / Share on Hyves / Share on Posterous / Send to Y!Mail / Share on Care2 / Share on Fark / Share on Connotea / Yoolink this / Share on AmenMe / Share on Gravee

I know I've got my homework cut out for me!

Keepin' it real


Monday, September 28, 2009

Digital Bookmobile

In March I wrote about the Special Library Association’s 23 Things Initiative proposing you spend 15 minutes a day or an hour a week exploring and learning about new technologies. While I haven’t quite done that, I have made an effort to pay attention to mentions of various, relevant, technologies in order to keep current. The recent visit of the Overdrive Digital Bookmobile to the Auburn Public Library was a great opportunity for librarians and the public to learn more about some of the digital resources available to CWMARs cardholders. The digital collection of e-books, e-audiobook and videos is a great resource, but difficult to market due to its abstract nature and variety of formats. While actually downloading materials at the Digital Bookmobile was not an option, there were a variety of electronic devices on display with helpful staff available to answer questions. I recommend visiting the Digital Bookmobile if it comes around again. In the meantime, according to this article you can link to, it looks as if we might be able to go to the nearest Best Buy to experiment with a few of these devices.

The Green Guide

It's not easy being green.
That goes for frogs as well as humans.
That is why I choose The Green Guide for the reference book of the month.
It is published by National Geographic. With the current price of $21.95 retail, it's worth purchasing a circulating copy for the collection also.
Check their website for an online guide.

Cushing Academy's decision to make the transition to a completely digital library...

Cushing Academy's decision to make the transition to a completely digital library has created quite a stir in the school library world. The following are two letters in response to that decision and an article on whether school libraries are needed at all...what do you think?

Septembr 21, 2009

A school without books is one in which fewer students will be reading, andthose of us who work with students every day in the libraries of ournation’s schools have no doubt that access to the traditionally printedword is an essential component of a successful education. Urban planning theorist Jane Jacobs postulated that a healthycommunity—one that is economically, socially, politically, andenvironmentally vibrant—is designed and built based on the activities,values, and concerns of the full range of its constituents. Diversity isits hallmark. The same can be said of libraries: if they are monolithic,adherents to a single format and inflexible, they outlive theirusefulness. The library that James Tracy envisions for Cushing Academy,the independent school that he leads in Ashburnham, Massachusetts, willunfortunately be such a place after the planned removal of its entireprinted book collection, and his actions are cause for great concern inour profession.Dr. Tracy has argued the opposite; he believes that by discarding 20,000books and choosing to deliver information to all his students in digitalformat he is a trailblazer who has placed Cushing "in the forefront of apedagogical and technological shift" (“Letter to Cushing Academy Alumni,”September 2009). However, his drastic act ignores certain fundamentaltruths.First of all, individual libraries are built intentionally, over time, bytrained professionals, and resources are selected with the needs of thecommunity that the library serves in mind. Such collections are vibrantentities that continually expand and contract. Many resources areavailable electronically but many are not and may never be. In addition,books go out of print quickly, databases stop archiving material withoutnotice, and e-book collections are compiled by corporations that do notdifferentiate one school from another. Once a library has purchased andhas on its shelf a book that perfectly meets the need of a group of usersand has the potential for continued relevance, what does an institutiongain by discarding that book? More to the point, what does it lose? Secondly, a school library's most important goals are to support theacademic curriculum, to teach information literacy and to foster a love ofreading. None of these goals can be reached completely without theinclusion of printed books. The last 500 years have proven that printedbooks are a uniquely successful information-delivery system and, when theyare organized in a library and used in conjunction with information in avariety of other media, offer multiple and repeated opportunities forlearning. The removal of printed books impoverishes an entire learningmodality and dismisses outright the value of books' physical attributes,in and of themselves and as conduits for browsing and serendipity, and thecontributions of that physicality to a student’s reading experience.Finally, consider the facts. Years of research on reading have provenconclusively that students who read improve not only their vocabulariesbut also their abilities to reason and discriminate. However, as JohnAustin points out in his excellent review of Marc Bauerlein’s book TheDumbest Generation Ever (Independent School, Winter 2009), in spite of theexponential increase in the amount of information being digitized, youngpeople are reading less and less of it. In addition, reading online, bothbecause of the physical demands of the medium and because of multipleopportunities for distraction, does not result in the same focusedengagement with the text that is possible with a printed book. Commonsense suggests that we should be doing everything in our power toencourage students to read and engage with the printed page more, notless. We also do our students a disservice if we do not teach them how touse all the sources of information which they will encounter at thecollege and university level. Not surprisingly, the use of printed booksis still very much in vogue in higher education.Every librarian we know is in the vanguard of technology use at his or herschool and a passionate reader and user of printed books. To suggest thatthe two are mutually exclusive is regressive and reveals a lack ofknowledge both of the way digital information is created, sold and used,and of the value of appropriate printed materials to many users.Responsible collection development is not driven by a one-size-fits-allmentality or by access to unlimited funds. Between us, we have 73 years of experience as librarians in bothindependent and public schools. Though many of the skills we teach are thesame as they were when we first began working in the field, our 2009toolkit is vastly different from the one with which we started out, and weare glad of it. However, that is no reason for us to jettison our richcollections of printed books.

Sincerely,Liz GrayPresidentAssociation of Independent School Librarians

As a possible corrective to his grave error in judgment regarding the jettisoning of the Cushing Library, I would strongly suggest that Dr. Tracy do the heretical and spend some time reading Chris Hedges' new book, EMPIRE OF ILLUSION: THE END OF LITERACY AND THE TRIUMPH OF SPECTACLE. As a former independent school library director of many years (who fondly recalls his visit to the Cushing library) and as a classroom teacher, and now as a college instructor as well as a public librarian, I know firsthand the decline in reading skills we are witnessing as a society. It is dangerous in all political settings, and no less so in a democracy, that the people who are the recipients of their government's actions, know how to discern and to judge. An avalanche of data, often half-digested at best by those who post it, and far too often skewed by ideologies, is no substitute for the more focused experience of a book or a good journal. Nor can one find the removal from the world's frenzy and the repair that is often needed, emotionally and spiritually, that a good book -- and a good library -- can offer. I suspect that if Dr. Tracy does not realize his mistake during the years that remain to him at Cushing, his successor will. The error should become evident within a short time.

Ralph Melnick,
PhDAssistant Director
Westfield Atheneaum
Westfield, MA

Article link:

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

1953 Tornado Slideshow

Tucked away in an obscure corner of the City of Worcester home page you will find a collection of 108 slides of the damage caused by the 1953 tornado in Worcester. To find the slides go first to the City Clerk's link and then look under History, Trivia, Vital Stats and more.
The slides were taken by former City Assessor Howard T. Rourke and his wife Dorothy. While some of the slides are a bit blurry and there sometimes seem to be a great many views of a single house, you come away from the presentation with a greater appreciation of how this horrendous storm disrupted the lives of ordinary people.

OCLC and

Most of us are now familiar with the FirstSearch database WorldCat. This is a powerful database that includes over 100 million records from libraries across the United States. You can search for books, music CDs, videos, journals, digital content and more. These resources are also available in many languages.

While FirstSearch is a subscription database there is also a web based version that can be accessed at You can use the database without creating a user name and password. However, doing so allows you to create a profile, make lists, and receive email updates. In addition, has some distinct advantages over FirstSearch. The initial search in both databases is exactly the same: either a basic or advanced query with all the same choices in fields to help narrow the search.

Each result displays basic bibliographic data: author,title, publisher, standard numbers, and so forth. Each record also has a link for all editions and formats plus book jackets when available. The libraries that own the item are arranged by state with those closest to your zip code appearing first. While FirstSearch only shows those states closest to your zip code has a comprehensive list (this feature is useful for practitioners of 24/7 reference). Both databases have hot links that will bring you directly to a particular library catalog for holdings information.

Other unique features of are the hot links to booksellers if don't wish to ILL the item or travel to the library, the option or reading or writing reviews, and a link to information about the author that also includes audience level and book classification numbers. If you happen to be using Google Books to find an item the reverse is also true. Google has a hot link to if you do not wish to purchase (though there are links for that as well).

Another great advantage in using is the option of searching for journal articles (the FirstSearch version only allows a search for journals and not articles). The results list for journal articles includes a full bibliographic record. Attached to the record is a list of those libraries that own that particular journal. For those patrons that are members of libraries that subscribe to journal databases has a second feature. By clicking on "Check for Electronic Resources" you are linked directly to your libraries journal databases.

Statistics have shown that most patrons do not know how to go from the local catalog to wider and wider resources. This is made even more difficult when the catalog is not linked to those wider resources. alleviates some of the pain.

Monday, September 21, 2009

Hispanic Heritage Month Books

Celebrate Hispanic Heritage Month from mid-September through mid-October commemorating the anniversary of the independence of various Latin American and South American nations. Appreciate the unique literary contribution of the following works written by and about Hispanic Americans. Selected by the librarians of the Worcester Public Library. Click here to see the books.

Saturday, September 19, 2009

Learning Commons...should we move in that direction?

Hi, I'm sure you have all heard about Valerie Diggs and the Chelmsford High Learning Commons. I am actively trying to promote that concept at my high school, Uxbridge High, and am hoping to get some practical dialog going with people who might be interested in moving in this direction with their facility or even some aspects of the Learning Commons concept. I have created a wiki whose link is and hope that we can create some ideas for each other to help promote the concept to administrators, staff, students, and the educational communities in which we all work.

If you have questions email me at or
Thank you!

Thursday, September 17, 2009

TXT 4 Answers offered by WPL

Worcester Public Library has just started to offer TXT 4 Answers service, as a participant of InfoQuest TXT 4 Answers cooperative.

Please encourage your patrons to use the service. Here are the instructions:

Text 309-222-7740
Step 1: Enter WPL
Step 2: TXT your question

The service is free of charge, but standard text messaging rates do apply. Staffed by librarians from around the country, answers are sent to cell phones by librarians in 320 characters or less, or the equivalent of two 160-character text messages.

Feel fee to contact Ping at if you have any question.

Tuesday, September 08, 2009

Central Register

For those of you who have questions about The Central Register and Goods & Services Bulletin now being available only online; we here at Worcester have been printing out copies of each as they are released. We have made access available on our "job search" computers; staff need to enter user name and password each time someone uses one of them.
The State Bookstore is working on IP authentication for libraries. There is no definite time when this will be available.
If you are trying to obtain access for your library, your library director has to send a e-mail request to for a user name and password to be e-mailed to your library.

Wednesday, September 02, 2009

Hospital Compare

As the name suggests, this website provides information on level of patient care provided by different hospitals. It allows people to compare some of the most common conditions (heart attacks, pneumonia, etc.), surgical procedures, mortality rates, and the quality of medical care that hospital patients receive. You can review the performance of hospitals in your state, gather information about other hospitals or compare the services of hospitals near you.

Created through the efforts of the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS), along with the Hospital Quality Alliance (HQA), this website is intended to make things easier for the consumer while making informed health care decisions. The Hospital Compare website is updated on a quarterly basis and covers information obtained from over 4,000 U.S hospitals.

It is recommended that consumers use multiple sources when choosing a hospital and Hospital Compare can be one such tool to gather information. Patients can then discuss with their health care provider about what this information means and how it can be used to make informed health care decisions.

Tuesday, September 01, 2009

Wikipedia to Color Code Untrustworthy Text

Wired, August 30th, 2009

Starting this fall, you’ll have a new reason to trust the information you find on Wikipedia: An optional feature called “WikiTrust” will color code every word of the encyclopedia based on the reliability of its author and the length of time it has persisted on the page.


CMRLS Regional Reference Center, Worcester Public Library, 3 Salem Sq, Worcester MA 01608