iCONN News

Friday, December 30, 2005

Thomson Gale * Thomson Gale Product Update Bulletin * December, 2005

Thomson Gale * Thomson Gale Product Update Bulletin * December, 2005 has a couple of exciting new features to report, particularly for the InfoTrac Onefile (in the new tabbed version of the Gale interface known as the "PowerSearch" interface). For example:

  • Search within this Publication/Work — Search within a publication from the "About this Publication" option or when viewing a given article... when you've conducted a Publication Search and pulled up results, you'll see the Quick Search box on the left-hand side of the page & below that, you'll now find checkboxes for searching either the whole publication run or the specific issue you're already looking at... This is a great feature, adds easy sophistication to searching within a given magazine, such as Consumer Reports, for example

  • On-demand content translation — Automatically translate any eBook or periodical article into Spanish, French, German, Japanese, Chinese, Korean, Italian and Portuguese... once you've pulled up an article, you can choose to translate into any of these languages... be aware that it's machine-based translation, such as the automatic translators you'll find on many of today's search engines

  • On-demand interface translation — View the interface in English, Spanish, French or Portuguese... choose Preferences and then set the language as desired from the drop-down menu of choices

Tuesday, December 27, 2005

Talk to the hand

...so, it's the size of a book of matches and it hangs off a keychain -- it's a tiny digital camera that Steve here at iCONN got for an Xmas present. How fun - as long as it's not pointed at me, that is!

For more on mobile electronics, don't forget to check out iCONN for articles, such as this buyers guide in December's Popular Science:
Brown, Joe, Morgan Clendaniel, Jenny Everett, and Suzane Kantra Kirschner. "Gadgets: A QUICK-CHARGING MP3 PLAYER, PRINTABLE PICS FROM A CAMERA PHONE, SATELLITE RADIO TO GO.(Best Of What's New 2005)(Review)(Buyers Guide)." Popular Science 267.6 (Dec 1, 2005): 30. . Thomson Gale. Connecticut State Library. 27 December 2005 < http://find.galegroup.com/itx/infomark.do?&contentSet=IAC-Documents&type=retrieve&tabID=T002&prodId=ITOF&docId=A138054555&source=gale&userGroupName=20231&version=1.0>.

Thursday, December 22, 2005

Holiday reminders & wishes

A reminder on holiday closings:
In observance of the Christmas and New Year's Day holidays,
Auto-Graphics will be closed Monday, December 26, 2005 and will also be
closed on Monday, January 02, 2006.
The State Library, including offices at the Middletown Library Service Center (such as iCONN's) will also be closed on those dates.

I'm posting a few great seasonal photos from iCONN's Associated Press Photo Archives, for your enjoyment! Our best wishes to you for happy & healthy holidays! - iCONN staff

Thursday, December 15, 2005

Wiki's wild world - Researchers should read Wikipedia cautiously and amend it enthusiastically.

News @ Nature.com- Wiki's wild world -Researchers should read Wikipedia cautiously and amend it enthusiastically.

A recent article from Nature shows that the number of errors found in Wikipedia science articles is not significantly higher than the number of errors found in articles in Encyclopedia Brittanica. An editorial that went along with it encouraged scientists to get more involved in the creation and review of Wikipedia entries. What does the comparative accuracy of Wikipedia vs. EB tell us? Perhaps it doesn't tell us so much about Wikipedia, but about the encyclopedias that we hold up as the "gold standard". Not to be flip, but the postmodernist in me says that - just because something is written in a book does not make it the truth. I know it sounds heretical coming from a librarian, but researchers should always question - regardless of how "authoritative" a resource may seem. Go to iCONN databases to double-check something you've found on the web. Verification and confirmation are among the researcher's best friends (along with a willingness to question the "facts").

Collaborative work can be a key to high reliability (hence, the importance of peer-review to scholarly publications), strong arguments, and powerful ideas. But we should not downplay the reality that an open forum without a mechanism for accountability built into it does not lend itself to the provision of authoritative information. Certainly, if the scientists and experts in academic fields would heed the message that Nature is sending and take the time to get involved with Wikipedia's efforts, it would be a positive for everyone.

Try this out - a personal search engine!

It's true - I am such a web geek! Honestly... but what else do you expect from an information professional? I've been looking at some of the latest developments in web technology, particularly those related to social networking - basically putting bookmarks and other things of interest to you personally online (& sharing them with others). For example, here's Rollyo, a tool that is billed as your own "personal search engine". I've added it to the blog for you to see how it works. I made a "searchroll" for www.iconn.org and if you actually type in something like "Connecticut history", you'll get links to our free resources relating to the topic (no, not the databases yet, which are behind the walls of our vendors - proprietary and closed unless you make it in via the strict authentication required by those vendors' licensing agreements).

We still have a lot to offer on our website that this Rollyo search will reveal, hidden though it may seem (since implementation of the federated search interface and the use of that interface as the default homepage for iCONN, it's been harder to know how to get to this info - all linked, BTW, from www.iconn.org/SiteIndex.aspx). Using this little tool, which took less than two minutes to create, can reveal such hidden information on our site. And yes, I believe one day we'll have to find a better way of getting our databases' content to our users - and when that day comes, I hope that we'll all be able to create personal search engines that include the great subscription iCONN resources.

Directions for using Rollyo - enter search term(s) in search box, choose iCONN from pull-down menu, hit GO!

Tuesday, December 13, 2005

MercuryNews.com | 12/12/2005 | Wikipedia needs safeguards that work

Wikipedia faces information reliability problems. Not surprisingly, the open-source encyclopedia has been repeatedly vandalized by anonymous posters. The credibility of information on the site has hit an all-time low with the recent discovery of a "hatchet-job" biography of retired newspaper editor and civil-rights crusader John Seigenthaler Sr. posted anonymously.

Michael Gorman, president of the American Library Association and dean of library services at Cal State Fresno, told The San Francisco Chronicle. "The problem with an online encyclopedia created by anybody is that you have no idea whether you are reading an established person in the field or somebody with an ax to grind. For all I know, Wikipedia may contain articles of great scholarly value. The question is, how do you choose between those and the other kind?"
[Good Morning Silicon Valley - December 12]

Of course, with iCONN resources, as with all library resources, Connecticut residents are assured that the information they are getting is reliable! iCONN's recent market survey showed us that for the general public in Connecticut, librarians are more trusted than the internet in providing trustworthy resources.

Friday, December 09, 2005

Survey Results - Libraries and Information Resources & iCONN

Perceptions of Libraries and Information Resources (2005) [OCLC - OCLC Reports]: "The findings indicate that information consumers view libraries as places to borrow print books, but they are unaware of the rich electronic content they can access through libraries. Even though information consumers make limited use of these resources, they continue to trust libraries as reliable sources of information."

I've been noticing that in response to the results of the OCLC survey and iCONN's own market/public awareness and perception survey, some librarians are flagellating themselves over the fact that the library brand (or, to a lesser degree, the iCONN brand) needs considerably more publicity than it has had to remain relevant. These findings - while clearly a "call to action" for librarians - do not indicate that we've failed in doing our jobs. No, in fact, conducting the survey to be able to better respond to changing user needs means that we're doing our jobs!

iCONN is just four years old (will be five this spring), a very new service. And yet, we have 100% user satisfaction rates when it comes to the information we provide. We have tremendous room for growth in public awareness. We hadn't focused on publicizing iCONN to Connecticut's residents in a general way - at least we hadn't done so until the project got the opportunity to have an Outreach Coordinator (this summer). We relied on our already overburdened libraries as our primary means of getting the word out to the public. While that was a good "first wave" strategy, we see a lot of room for growth among Connecticut's residents with more coordinated and targeted public relations emanating from iCONN itself.

I look at these surveys and say, "At last!" Like the 51-year-old U.S. respondent cited in the OCLC survey "I think this survey is right on track. The libraries should look at community spaces like Starbucks and Borders, and should also look at the value of online material like Google, and they should try to be more relevant in the current age." (4-8)

I couldn't have said it better myself. So now I'll return to the work at hand, which is to say, publicizing the service we offer and improving it whenever and however it is possible to do so.

Wednesday, December 07, 2005

Research results: Market research on the information consumer - in CT & internationally - now available

The iCONN Market Survey: Measuring Current Awareness, Usage and Interest is now available online. The final report includes some interesting findings about the general CT information consumer and their attitudes, perceptions, and usage of library services ranging from iCONN to Connecticard. George Pettinico, the Associate Director of UCONN's Center for Survey Research Analysis (CSRA) will present his findings at today's Connecticut Digital Library Advisory Board meeting (meeting at 1 pm, his presentation at 2 pm). We've even invited a couple of the people from other statewide or regional agencies (including the library automation networks) to sit in, if they're so inclined. I think that the findings are of interest to all CT librarians because they give us a much better picture of the average CT resident's perceptions than we have ever had before!

Additionally, on the research front, OCLC's report has finally been released - on perceptions and habits of information consumers. It's got some interesting findings for librarians - findings we have to pay attention to - for example, "the place libraries hold today is no longer as distinct as it once was.
"Libraries, many of their resources and services, and the information experts who work in libraries appeared to be increasingly less visible to today's information consumer." (6-1)

Finally, we - CLC and iCONN - are collecting feedback from librarians about their experience with the Barnes & Noble Love Your Library promotion. I really enjoyed spending time at the Manchester and Waterbury stores. I helped Deb from CLC gift-wrap items at Manchester on Saturday (to benefit the South Windsor Public Library)... though Deb actually did a lot more of the gifts than I did, I think! And she was there all day on Friday gift-wrapping, as well. We haven't gotten the results from B&N yet, but will let people know once we do about the totals.

Friday, December 02, 2005

InfoTrac OneFile Results

Some exciting news - Gale has added podcast feeds to its databases. For example, you can find podcasts of presidential speeches via the Gale Power Search, Multimedia tab. Try "economic policy" to test this new features. Then click on the multimedia tab. If you haven't already switched to Power Search, you might want to think about trying it out...

Thursday, December 01, 2005

Links & excitement

Love Your Library excitement is building! Check out the website for the latest. We've gotten publicity on the WTIC, in the Hartford Courant, the Danbury News-Times, and more! And do NOT forget to go shopping at B&N with your LYL vouchers this weekend. Encourage friends, loved ones, colleagues to join LYL & raise money for Connecticut's libraries...

Next week is the Advisory Board meeting, during which the findings from the UCONN CSRA survey on public awareness of iCONN (and an array of other library-related public perception questions) will be released. George Pettinico, Associate Director of the CSRA, will be presenting the wealth of information gathered in this study.

The Pew Center for the study of Internet & American life announced in a recent report (link to the report in PDF format) that more Americans than ever are using search engines. Increasingly, people are feeling confident and self-sufficient about their ability to procure information...

The iCONN schools' toolkit CD is online for those who are interested in doing a test drive of it - I've asked some school library media specialists to try it out (click here to download it for yourself, it's 99 MB zipped) before we do the en masse pressing of the CD (the Dept. of Education is going to help us with that). Then, you'll have to unzip it. To begin using it, find the intro.htm file and open it up in your web browser. Note: Make sure that you unzip/extract/copy over all of the contents as they were originally zipped up, including subfolders, etc. Without the proper files in the proper order, the intro.htm file will not look normal when you pull it up.