Thursday, March 18, 2010

Translation of Shofar

I finished the article, "The Translation of Shofar" for my Librarian's Lobby column. It may be downloaded from : Enjoy.

Comment received from Alan Corre, emeritus professor of Hebrew Studies, University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee.

Thank you for the article on the shofar which I found very interesting.
It is quite delightful the way the Web spurs this kind of activity.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

This week in Reference -- It's only Wednesday

It's only Wednesday and already we had some questions that are worthy of a "special award." Some teachers still do not understand the nature of scholarly research in today's libraries. While I won over one holdout last semester, today a fellow librarian reports that one teacher told his students that not only can't they use the Internet, they can only use books published by professional associations. Doesn't the teacher know that many publishers including commercial publishers and university presses publish scholarly materials? In my introduction to the library I make a point of telling students part of scholarly research is learning to judge a source critically. The fact that it appears on a personal web site does not mean it is good or not good. The fact that ABC Publisher publishes the book does not mean all the facts and conclusion are correct. The students using multiple sources and their
sehel (common sense) need to figure out what is realizable.

A staff member (call her L) from the computer support group came to the circulation desk. L went to high school with the head of circulation (HC). L asked in a very raspy demanding tone of voice, "Would you get me a drink of water? I don't think I have enough energy to walk to the drinking fountain. I don't want to die in the library." After HC gave L the water L said, "I feel much better. I think the flowers at my desk are making me sick. I told my department to drag me outside if I collapse so I won't die at my desk."

A student came and asked for help finding issues of National Geographic. She thought NG would have information about "black smokers." In the course of the interview she said the information was her 7th grade daughter. I was puzzled as to why she thought NG would have articles on smokers. I went to ProQuest and searched "black smokers" and found too many hits. I thought she was looking for Afro-Americans who smoke tobacco because I know the rate of smokers is higher among Afro-Americans and whites. Since this was for a 7th grader I suggested first looking in an encyclopedia for a general article. We tried Wikipedia and got an immediate hit. The article, "black smoker" is about hydro -thermal vents. The student said, "Great! That is exactly what we needed." I guess I was lucky. I found the right answer by dumb luck.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Bibliographic Citations

Much of the work of reference librarians involves bibliographic citations. We instruct student how to create them and we use them to find books and articles. Quite accidentally I came across some articles that quoted me. I am flattered by the fact they learned something about knowledge from me, but I want the correct citation. The quotes were appropriate and in context, however, they got the citation wrong. The authors did not copy the correct title to the article.

Here is one example that occurred 9 times in one document.
Stuhlman Management Consultants. Knowledge management terms.
The correct citation should have been
Stuhlman, Daniel. Knowledge management terms. Chicago, Stuhlman Management Consultants, c2009. Retrieved from March xx, 2010.
I will change the heading of that web page and include a sample citation to make this more clear.

Friday, March 5, 2010

This week in reference

We are close to the half-way point for this semester. Teachers are asking for class orientations. Mostly this is done for English 101 or 102 classes, but any teacher may ask for help. Next week is orientation for legal literature. Sometimes teachers frustrate us and never ask for help. They give mis-information or confusing information to their students about what is available in the library and we have to figure out how to best help their students.

Three years ago one of these teachers told her classes, "Don't use the Internet!!!" We had to tell the students that use of the periodical data bases gives the same articles as found in the print versions. I am pleased to report that after three years, this teacher finally came to the library in the fall of 2009 and asked for help. In the past two weeks I have done 4 orientations for her English 102 classes. She is now working with the librarians to get the students the information they need for their class. The English classes teach the students about research and analysis that transfers to the other subjects.

There are a few questions that I have about students. These questions are for your amusement; they are half-serious. 1) In the computer lab the temperature gets warm even in the winter. At times I remove my suit coat because of the heat. Why do some students keep on their coats while others dress as if it is summer? 2) Common courtesy should indicate to the students to put away their phones and turn them off. Why did one student need two requests to turn off her phone? The phone rang twice within a five minute period. 3) Why does the student I asked to help with presenting sites on the big screen need to send text messages during the presentation? 4) Why is one person so willing to pay the cost of a text message and another complains about losing 10 cents because of a printing error on their part? (The printer did what the student requested, but not what was wanted.) 5) Why can students standing 10 feet from a sign written in 4 inch letters still not notice?

We are asking students to fill out surveys about the library experience. One student thanked me by name for helping her understand how to do the research for her paper. At least one person listened this week and documented it.