Tuesday, December 16, 2008

What bloggers can learn from journalists

I listened to the commencement speech given at WSU on Saturday by Frank Blethen, publisher and CEO of the Seattle Times. I admire Blethen's defense of journalism, but I think that, by attributing so much of the blame for the newspaper industry's current dilemmas on the internet, (Google and Craigslist, particularly) he missed a chance to talk about how newspapers, online news sites, blogs, and search engines can work together.

Also, it seems clear to me that newspapers, while they have provided and do provide invaluable services to the public, need to think innovatively and creatively if they're going to survive. We're trying to ask our auto industry to do this, the faculty and administration at my university and universities around the country are being asked to do this, and it seems reasonable to expect new ideas and business plans in other industries as well. Blaming Google seems like a real avoidance of the kind of creative thinking that could lead to survival.

Blethen was very dismissive about blogging, and this is understandable. There are plenty of tensions between professional journalism and blogging, and how these tensions play out in the next several years is going to be fascinating. But bloggers, many of whom are interested in driving traffic to their blogs and in cultivating audiences, and some of whom consider themselves citizen journalists, can learn a lot from journalists. Anita Bruzzese, writing a guest post on Chris Brogan's Community and Social Media blog, has a brief and sensible post about this: What Bloggers Can Learn from Journalists.

Journalists may already be learning from bloggers as well - that would make an interesting post, too.

And, if you want to watch the commencement and hear Blethen's speech for yourself, you can take a look at the streaming video.

Edited to add: Stephen Abram lists some good additions to ways bloggers can learn from journalists: Bloggers as Journalists.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Current economics, and many reasons why Libraries are especially important now

Just a nice clip showing how valuable libraries are to their communities when things get tough economically:

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Friday, November 14, 2008

New Summit catalog for WSU

From our Library News feed (http://www.wsulibs.wsu.edu/general/News-Events.htm), here's some information on the upcoming new iteration of the Summit catalog used by WSU Libraries and by cooperating Washington and Oregon Libraries. We keep trying to make interlibrary loan easier and better, and hopefully this new version of Summit will help us in doing that.

New Summit Catalog Coming Dec 1
Post Time: 11/12/2008 1:02:11 PM
Posted By: coreyj@wsu.edu (Corey Johnson)
Category: News

WSU Libraries, in cooperation with the 35 other WA/OR academic libraries of the Orbis Cascade Alliance, will be launching a new version of the Summit Catalog on December 1. We will be offering enhancements to the catalog while supporting Summit borrowing without interruption. New features include:

  • The addition of the 110 million book/media records from OCLCs WorldCat to those discoverable through Summit.

  • Access to about 50 million articles from OCLC databases such as ArticleFirst, British Library Serials, PubMed, and ERIC, through Summit.

  • An improved user interface with spelling assistance; book covers; post-search filters such as author, format, date, audience, language and topic; improved relevance ranking, syndication/tagging with online services like Google, Amazon and Facebook; citation creation tools and book reviews.

You can learn more about the new version of Summit at: http://orbiscascade.org/index/communication-kit

You can test a beta version of the new catalog at:
(You cannot order materials through this test instance of the new catalog.)

Monday, November 10, 2008

When librarians build a search engine...

I'm very curious to see what will come of Reference Extract, a web search engine "built for maximum credibility" that will weight results toward sites used heavily by libraries.

According to the article on Reference Extract in the Chronicle of Higher Education's Wired Campus, "The idea is to cull and promote recommendations from tens of thousands of librarians around the world."

I think this could be phenomenally cool, or a complete disaster. It would be nice to see a good marriage of search engine algorithms and librarian knowledge, something that would leverage the abilities librarians have developed as we evaluate information and attempt to teach others to do the same. It would be nice to have access to a search engine that was not so easily leveraged to bring up results corporations want us to see.

On the other hand, it often seems to me that librarians are really excellent at gathering and organizing information but not always so good at making it easily accessible to non-librarians.

Good luck, Research Exchange. I hope you do very, very well.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

I'd like to think this is true

News about Google's $125 million settlement over Google Book Search can be found here:

The money information is interesting, but what I really loved was the last paragraph of the article:

"All public libraries in the United States will be offered a free online portal to Google's digitized collection, said Aiken, and patrons will be able to print an unlimited number of pages for a per page fee. Google will also be offering institutional subscriptions to colleges and universities. Google Book Search services available outside the United States will remain the same, Drummond said."

I hope it's true.

And I wonder if land grant institutions like mine couldn't get in there with the public libraries somehow...

Friday, October 24, 2008

CFP for graduate students

This call for papers was sent to one of my many library listservs today, and I thought it might be of interest to graduate students in Anthropology.

October 16, 2008


Public Writing: A Cultural Studies Journal for Undergraduate Writers provides a lively and provocative online forum for undergraduate writers who are engaged in critique of contemporary, historical, public ideas.

Student writers from across the humanities and social sciences and around the world are invited to submit to Public Writing. A Public Writing submission may combine any of the following fields in an interdisciplinary manner: cultural theory, social theory, literary theory, cultural anthropology, linguistics, rhetoric studies, historical analysis, sociology, queer studies, disability studies, gender studies, philosophy or any other applicable field.

Public Writing’s open-access format allows writers to be exposed to a larger readership. The open-access movement in scholarly publishing provides a model whose essence is unlimited availability and use. As such, authors themselves—not publishers—retain copyright. Work published in Public Writing will be freely available on the Internet.

Submissions to this journal should be approximately 15-25 double-spaced pages in length. Please use MLA format only.

Please submit an electronic copy at http://scholarlyexchange.org/ojs/index.php/PW/index, or e-mail to public.writing@gmail.com. E-mailed submissions should also contain a separate document containing:

    • Author’s name
    • Title of manuscript
    • Mailing address
    • Affiliated institution
    • E-mail address
    • Phone number

All manuscripts that wish to be considered for Volume 1 must be submitted no later than January 1, 2009. Any manuscript received after this date will be considered for later volumes.

Public Writing is being published with the support of both the George Washington University and Gelman Library. The editorial group consists of students, faculty, and librarians from a number of universities and colleges. It is lead by Andrew Noel, junior major in American Studies from GWU, and Rachel Riedner, Assistant Professor of University Writing at GWU with the assistance of Cathy Eisenhower and Dolsy Smith from GW’s Gelman Library.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

If Peeps can do it, so can we.

You've seen them use the library, now see them vote!

Go look at Real Peeps Vote. You have to scroll down a bit to get to the images, but it's brilliant.

I am thinking of setting up tiny little Peeps polling places on my kitchen table this November and wondering about issues important to Peeps (anti-torture laws that include the prohibition of microwaving?). Also, who handles Peep voter registration...

And if Peeps can vote, you can, too.

Sunday, October 12, 2008

A bit of Colbert for you

Blatantly stolen from The Shifted Librarian because it is very funny.

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Spin doctors

As we approach November, politics are everywhere. I try not to use this site to espouse my own political views, but I believe strongly that voting is important, and informed voting is very important. So here is a brief post on some sites and resources that I use to keep informed during this season of spin.

LexisNexis Congressional: available to WSU students, staff, and faculty. This is a fantastically useful database for finding information on government information of all kinds. It will let you look up the history of bills and check voting records of individual members of congress.

FactCheck.org: A nonpartisan group that keeps an eye on what the major political figures are saying. They point out when candidates (Democrats and Republicans) provide inaccurate or misleading information. A handy resource if you are trying to process and understand candidate debates or if you're wondering about the truthfulness of a campaign ad.

Project Vote Smart: A group devoted to providing impartial information to voters. They provide a plethora of information on issues and candidates including voting records, interest group ratings, campaign finance information, and "political courage tests" where candidates share (or decide not to share) their positions on important issues. Also available is information by state.

Smart Voter: Provided by the League of Women Voters, this site offers nonpartisan information on federal, state, and local elections and contests. The site allows you to find information relevant to you by zip code or state, can help you find your polling place and provides information on how to register to vote. And it's not just for women, though more women should vote. Seriously.

Thursday, October 2, 2008


Since I wrote here about the beginning, I'll write a bit about the end, too. Our little boy was born on Friday, August 15th and died on Saturday, August 16th. We've never seen anything so beautiful. He had my nose and his father's chin, and will be missed to the end of our days.

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

June on the Palouse

Here are some photos of today's surprising weather in Pullman, WA. Keep in mind that it is June 10.

Northwest Public Radio was playing "White Christmas" on my way to work this morning, which is a better commentary on this weather than any I could make.

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Side Project

You may (or may not) know that librarians engage in several projects besides answering reference questions, ordering books, evaluating collections, and trying to stay on top of the scholarly communication crisis (which really does feel like a crisis when you find yourself having to cancel journals for the second year in a row). My side projects include research on information anxiety and on library employees' attitudes toward technology. And, for the past few months, I've been working on a very special and exciting side project, due in the beginning of September. Here's a sneak preview:

Image and video hosting by TinyPic

Yep, it's a future bibliophile. Or perhaps a future demolitions expert. It's kind of hard to tell from the profile.

Thursday, May 22, 2008

New Books in Women's Studies

Here is a list of the new books in Women's Studies that arrived in the WSU Libraries between January and May of 2008. If you are curious about a title, click on the link to see more details about the book.

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

New Books in Communication

Here is a list of new books in Communication that arrived at the WSU Libraries between March and May 2008. If you are interested in any particular title, clicking on the link will take you to further details about the book.

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

New Books in Anthropology and Archaeology

Here is a list of the new books in Anthropology and Archaeology that arrived in the WSU Libraries between March and May of 2008. If you are curious about a title, click on the link to see more details about the book.

Monday, April 21, 2008

There goes that theory

Over the last few years I've harbored the sneaking suspicion that Canadian librarians are cooler than most of us in the U. S. Stephen Abram, no doubt, is at least partially to blame.

It's nice to be proven wrong:

Thanks to students of the University of Alberta School of Library and Info Studies, who are very brave.

Monday, April 7, 2008

Hurray for Librarians

I like being a librarian, I especially like being one when I read stories like this - Health Database Blocked Searches on 'Abortion' - and see that librarians have improved information access for researchers using the database POPLINE, a database of reproductive health literature from around the world.

For reasons that remain somewhat unclear to me, though it looks like someone was scared, the medical database POPLINE made the decision to set 'abortion' as a stop word sometime in February. A stop word is a term, like 'the,' 'of,' or 'a' that a search engine can be asked to ignore in order (usually) to increase the efficiency of a database search. Librarians took notice of the situation when searching the database and finding that searches on abortion topics brought up few or no results. After finding out about the move to make 'abortion' a stop word, they rallied fellow librarians and the media, and POPLINE subsequently made the decision to reinstate 'abortion' as a search term.

And shouldn't all of this mean that now, more than ever, Grey's Anatomy needs a medical librarian?

Thursday, April 3, 2008

Just for fun

Partly to make sure that I still know how to use a scanner, and partly just for fun, I scanned this old painting of mine. I painted it while studying medieval literature, at a time when I was just beginning to be fascinated by hagiography and virgin martyrs. The subject of the painting turned into a cross between a martyr and a fairy - perhaps confusing, but I like the colors.

Thursday, February 28, 2008

Museum Anthropology Review goes open access

Museum Anthropology Review, edited by Jason Baird Jackson (who is also the editor of the print journal Museum Anthropology) is now available online and through open access. Museum Anthropology Review is not the first scholarly journal to go open access, but because of it's strong peer-review process and experienced editor, its open access launch is the start of an important experiment. Will it turn out that there is a viable publishing model for open access, peer reviewed scholarship? It is probably to early to tell, but Libraries struggling to pay increasingly high subscription fees will be paying attention to this one with fingers crossed. You can read more about the journal's open access move here.

The open access journal looks great so far, with a very clean and attractive WordPress layout. The entire contents of volume 1, issues 1 and 2 are available in both html and pdf formats. Take a look at the journal online and, if you like what you see, consider registering as a reader so that Museum Anthropology Review can count you among its supporters.

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Everyzing's coming up roses!

While at the ALA Midwinter conference in Philadelphia a couple weeks ago, a colleague recommended EveryZing (http://www.everyzing.com) as a useful tool for finding online media. Now that I've finally had some time to look at it (and now that I've heard some happy ravings from other librarians who work with communication studies), I'm very excited to share it with students and faculty. Need to find examples of news coverage on presidential candidates' environmental policies? EveryZing will hook you up. EveryZing can show you clips from major as well as local news channels on hundreds of topics, and it allows you some nice facets - News and Politics, Business, Technology, 2008 Presidential Election, Entertainment, etc. - to help narrow your searches.

Go play with it now. It's fun, useful, and free.

And thanks to Catherine Michael of Ithaca College and to Ken Liss of Boston College for inspiring me to start zinging!