Thursday, April 30, 2009

This Week in Reference

Here are some happenings from this past week. They are presented to inform and amuse. The names of the people are changed to protect their privacy.

LD = Library Director FM = Faculty member ST = Student

1. The library was co-operating with the history department's Civil War re-enactment. The library had a film festival of films dealing with the Civil War era, books displayed connected to the era, and some realia on display. There was a quiz for patrons. If they answered all the questions correctly they could win prizes. FM-1 came in and asked for a quiz sheet FM-1 has a very rough temperament. FM-1 wanted to know if the answers could be looked up. We said go ahead and look them up. Two hours later she returned in a huff. "Where's LD?" she demanded. When I said in a very calm voice that he had left for the day and asked if I could help her. FM-1 answered gruffly, "I just wanted to turn this quiz in. I want to make sure it gets into the right place." I said that I would be happy to take care of that. Now-- any of the student library helpers could have placed the quiz in the right envelope. It was not a job for LD.

When I told LD about the incident without mentioning FM-1's name, he guessed immediatly the name. He said that other people have pointed out anomolies in FM-1's behavior.

2. A faculty member FM-2 asked for help determining if a student paper contained sentences that were not original i.e. was part of the paper plagerized? First I checked the bibliography. The book listed did not exist as listed. There was a similar title by the same author. In my opinion this is a serious error, but FM-2 didn't agree with my strong opinion. I found with GoogleBooks the listed item. I checked for copying of sentences and I didn't find any. While I don't know the student, the sentences on the paper just did not seem to come from a contemporary college student. However, we did not find any evidence of plagerism.

3. ST-1 came in with a question about murder statistics for Illinois. The FBI keeps such statistics. We found a web site with historical statistics for Illinois cities with the latest date of 2006. We also found that Illinois reports every single homicide on a web site. With this information ST-1 could synthecize the information that she wanted for her paper.

4. ST-2 wanted help looking up CFRs for something her father wanted to know. First I had to learn that CFR is the Code of Federal Regulations. We found all of the CFR online at: After further questions I determined that ST-2 wanted Title 21. I gave her the links and told her that I hoped this is what her father wanted. ST-2 couldn't believe how easy it was to find the answer on line. She said that her father (aged three years older than me) was not very skilled at using the computer because he was "older." I said that age is not the reason. I was using personal computers for 12 years before my first child was born. (For those of you who are counting-- that is 2 years before IBM started selling the PC.)

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