Posts filed under ‘Research’

Complimentary Downloads from Salem Press Concerning Osama bin Laden & Terrorism

Posted by Robert J. Lackie

Milestone Documents in American History

Milestone Documents in American History

In an RSS feed I received today, Peter W. Tobey at Salem Press (ptobey@salempress.come) wrote that they were now providing free articles or chapters from published Salem reference books dealing with Osama bin Laden and terrorism. After reviewing them tonight while working the Reference Desk at Rider University Libraries (and missing the awards ceremony at the NJLA 2011 Conference for the first time in years!), I agree that many may find these free, quality resources of interest combined with other current resources within our databases, especially in light of current events. Mr. Tobey writes:

Milestone Documents in World History

Milestone Documents in World History

“Osama bin Laden’s death returns us to the subject of September 11, 2001 in a number of ways. But the events of that day, the personalities, frustrations, and cultural clashes involved are far from straightforward. And the repercussions are, of course, far-reaching. Salem Press has published a great deal on the history, biographies, religious and cultural backgrounds of terrorism. Perhaps most significantly, Salem has brought libraries two critical works by the Schlager Group covering the original source documents (plus analysis) of works by both George W. Bush and Osama bin Laden. We’ve selected these and two other articles on this subject (from four different reference works) because we feel your patrons and students may find them informative. You may download them freely, print as many copies of these articles as you need, and distribute them any way you’d like:”

Salem Press logo

George W. Bush’s Address to the Nation on September 11, 2001: The Full Text & Analysis” (1,186 and 4,920 words) from Milestone Documents in American History

Osama bin Laden’s Declaration of Jihad against Americans: The Full Text & Analysis” (2,322 and 5,048 words) from Milestone Documents in World History

Great Lives from History: The 20th Century

Great Lives from History: The 20th Century

Salem also has published a brief, helpful biography of Osama bin Laden and an overview of the war on terrorism. See links to these articles below:

Osama bin Laden” (1,682 words) from Great Lives from History: The 20th Century

The War on Terror” (4,656 words) from Weapons & Warfare

Weapons and Warfare

Weapons and Warfare

By the way, these four reference book resources (PDFs) from 2008 and 2010, listed above, can also be downloaded from Salem Press’ Issues Today site, under the subheading: “May 3, 2011 – Osama bin Laden and the War on Terror” and are part of a new effort Salem is beginning where they will post free, relevant articles from their reference works on current topics in the news. I noticed on their Issues Today site that they also have four resources (PDFs) under the subheading of “March 30, 2011 – Nuclear Power” listed below the above items on their Issues Today site.

I thought this information and Salem Press’ new site might also be of use to others, and complete information on the reference books containing the articles above are provided at the end of each PDF.  Now, off to the NJLA 2011 Conference tomorrow, one of my favorite conferences of the year!

-Robert

Robert J. Lackie

Robert J. Lackie

May 3, 2011 at 8:32 pm 1 comment

When in doubt, visit a library (or ask a librarian)

When in doubt, visit a library

When in doubt, visit a library

The message here is a simple one — if you need a clear answer, a library is a great place to start. Made in Inkscape, the premier open source design tool.

Thanks to Marie Radford’s suggestion, I’ve created another version that has a larger worldview. Thanks, Marie!

Ask a librarian

Ask a librarian

Posted by John LeMasney

May 25, 2010 at 7:02 pm 10 comments

5 great tools and techniques for developing presentations

Hi, everyone! One of my favorite librarians and open source advocates (Nicole Engard) just Tweet DMed me and asked if I ever shared officially the tools I mentioned in a discussion session on Presentation Tools and Techniques at Pres4Lib at Princeton Public Library. I replied no, with regrets. I figured if she’s wondering about it, maybe you are too!

By the way, if you like our articles, please share them on Twitter, Facebook, and anywhere else you like.

I use a pretty well structured, personally vetted workflow for developing presentations and blog posts that involves developing an outline, collecting images, preparing images, research and citations. Let me share some of the tools that I use to accomplish these tasks just about every time.

Google Docs
Image via Wikipedia

Google Docs Presentations

I stopped using Microsoft PowerPoint a few years ago and have not looked back. While I would consider using the open source alternative of OpenOffice.org’s presentation tool, by instead choosing a presentation tool in the cloud, I get the ability to edit and present anywhere where I’m connected, the ability to edit offline with Google Gears installed on Firefox, the common ability to add images, draw pictures, embed my slideshows (!), allow people to automatically see the latest greatest embedded versions of my presentations up to the second after I’ve updated them, allow for collaboration and co-viewing and if I absolutely must, export to a PDF for offline sharing and presentation disaster backup. I can even make a PPT for someone who insists on it.

I typically log in to Google Docs, create a title slide for my topic, and then immediately develop an agenda slide, which I then begin to outline with the topics (and slides) that I want to cover in my talk. My style emphasizes simple broad topics which I elaborate on in spontaneous ways. I try to keep the number of words on slides to an absolute minimum. I usually make a slide for each of my topics, and I then try to look for stories, photos, and illustrations that lead the people in the audience to start thinking about my topics before I introduce them verbally or textually.

Image representing Google Images as depicted i...

Image via CrunchBase

Creative Commons vetting via Google Image Search

Google Image Search is far and away the best image search tool I’ve come across (with the ability to search for line art, faces, and by color, etc.), especially now, since the recent addition of the license search feature in the advanced image search tool, which allows me to search according to Creative Commons licenses applied by designers and photographers to their images all over the web. This is especially important for me because I don’t just want to just use other peoples’ images in my work without their consent. I want to respect the wishes of image creators. By using the license restrictions, I can quickly find images available for commercial use, images allowed to be modified, images that simply require attribution, and even images in the public domain.

When we respect the rights of creators and innovators, and celebrate others’ work properly, I believe we engage in modeling important aspects of information literacy, if not common humanity.

I’ll search for a topic keyword, often choosing CC-attribution licensing, which allows me the greatest flexibility with which to use the images, to modify them, use them in commercial situations, and promote creative commons licensing, while simply being required to include attributive references to the original image author. I will very often name the file locally with the name of the author of the image, in the format “by username.jpg” or “from nameofwebsitedotcom.jpg” so that I have a built in back-reference.

Image representing Picasa as depicted in Crunc...
Image via CrunchBase

Picasa

Once I have the images I want to use in my presentation saved to my local hard drive in a project folder, I often need to tweak, categorize, combine, title, tag, and integrate the images. While I can do this in a myriad of different utilities, tools, and applications, none of them have quite the combination of speed, comprehensive toolset, ease of use, functions, smoothness, or slickness of Google’s Picasa. Once you have downloaded and installed this free tool, you can use a Google account to store images in free named online galleries and keep them synchronized for free. With the number and variety of images I work with in my design and presentation work, I am thrilled that I have Picasa to help me wrangle them all.

I use it to tag, group, move, geocode, describe, upload, tweak, collage, print, and watermark my images for presentations, design work, papers, and everything else. It is a free, versatile, and irreplaceable tool in my personal tool set.

An example of both Zotero and OpenURL referrer...

Image via Wikipedia

Zotero

Zotero is a Firefox extension that allows for the single click based collection, categorization, tagging, editing, and even full text storage of web based database entries, books, articles, presentations, images and other standard citable sources. The amazing thing it that it automatically recognizes and collects metadata when it is present in a form that Zotero understands. This might sound like a difficult thing for content providers to implement, but all I had to do to make my WordPress blogs compliant was to install a single metadata-providing plugin (COinS) that offers my name, the title of posts, the publication date and other automatically generated metadata in blogging to Zotero users. Other sources who provide the relevant metadata to Zotero include major scholarly databases like Ebsco, newspapers like the New York Times, online booksellers like Amazon, and blogs and wikis around the world.

If I haven’t hooked you in to using Zotero yet, did I mention that with two clicks, you get properly formatted bibliographies in APA, MLA, and other citation styles? After I’ve visited books on Amazon and collected their data, or after I’ve found articles on Google Scholar and collected their data, or after I’ve grabbed creative commons licensed images from Flickr and collected their data, I can simply select all of them in my Zotero database, right click, and choose “Make bibliography from selected sources” which I then choose to send to clipboard, then paste right into my final slide, reference area of my paper, or wherever else I need to respect copyright or usage license. It is also a phenomenal way to meet the requirements of CC Attribution.

QuoteURLText

Number 5, QuoteURLtext (https://addons.mozilla.org/en-US/firefox/addon/4292) is another Firefox Extension that does one thing, but does it exceptionally well. It copies the highlighted text on a page along with the date and time, URL, and page title to the clipboard so that you can easily paste some casual piece of information (such as a tasty tech tip, a quick statistic, a delicious quotation, or a little known fact) into a slide, paper, or post without having to go so far as to reference it in APA style. It’s like a casual little sister utility to the powerhouse that is Zotero.

Image representing Zemanta as depicted in Crun...
Image via CrunchBase

<Jeopardy Daily Double Music> Bonus Tool: Zemanta: </Jeopardy Daily Double Music>

Finally, Zemanta (a play on semantic) is another Firefox extension that shows up in a sidebar when you are using supporting applications, such as Gmail, Blogger, WordPress, and other applications (check out their site for more). I desperately wish it worked with Google Docs Presentations, but nothing hints at that yet. Here’s why I care: All of the photos, captions, tags, post story articles, and even some of the links to referential sources were all suggested, generated and placed with a single click each using Zemanta. As I type, Zemanta autoscans sources with CC licensed imagery, content, and resources related semantically to my content. Let me reiterate: As I type.  All I need to do to add it to my post is simply to click. Clickety-clickety.

A pleasure to speak with you as always, I hope you learn to love these great free tools for developing your presentations just as much as I do.

John LeMasney

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November 16, 2009 at 9:00 am 1 comment

How to Reach Gen M(illennials) in the Library and Classroom–A Panel Discussion

Co-editors (Vibiana Bowman Cvetkovic & Robert J. Lackie) of the book Teaching Generation M: A Handbook for Librarians and Educators (Neal-Schuman Publishers, Inc., 2009) and three of the chapter authors (Katie Elson Anderson, Patricia H. Dawson, and Diane K. Campbell) participated in a panel discussion last night. The event, sponsored by the Rutgers University–Camden’s Cappuccino Academy (a series of free public lectures delivered by Rutgers–Camden faculty members) was held at the Barnes & Noble in Marlton, NJ. All five panelists–library faculty members at Rutgers University and Rider University–briefly discussed their findings on this new generational cohort and how technology can and has been enriching the library and classroom experience for them.

Lead editor and chapter author Vibiana Bowman Cvetkovic (Rutgers University) began the discussion by welcoming the audience, introducing the panelists, and talking about why she was so interested in co-editing and writing sections of the book, not to mention having her own personal cohort of Gen M students at home. Vibiana also provided some background on the book, which offers advice on everything from teachers joining Facebook to the pitfalls of Google searches. She mentioned that one of the most significant aspects about Gen M is that they are the first generation raised in an era of personal and real-time information sharing and provided some examples. Last but not least, she made available a discount order form for those who might be interested in purchasing a personal copy, or one for their library or school.

Co-editor and chapter author Robert J. Lackie (Rider University) spoke next, emphasizing that we need to remember, as library faculty members, to strive to satisfy all of our “customers,” and that includes Gen M students, faculty, and staff–those born in the early 1980’s to the mid-to-late 1990’s. He shared research from the book and on the Web about Millennials (aka Gen M), including a few points via presentations by Richard Sweeney, University Librarian at NJIT, to help us all better understand this unique cohort. Richard has stated that Gen M:

  • Expect/demand more choices
  • Want more personalization/customization
  • Want instant gratification
  • Like multitasking, IMing, text messaging, and collaborating online
  • Are experiential learners
  • Are open to change

Note: Library Garden bloggers interviewed Richard Sweeney, who is a recognized expert on understanding and engaging the Millennial Generation, almost three years ago and this post is still available.

Robert finished by sharing some of the witty “cultural touchstones that shape the lives of students entering college” found again in this year’s Beloit College Mindset List for the Class of 2013, such as, “Text has always been hyper” and “Everyone has always known what the evening news was before the Evening News came on,” two of the 75 comments on this year’s list.

Patricia H. Dawson and Diane K. Campbell (Rider University), who co-authored Chapter 2 in the book, entitled, “Driving Fast to Nowhere on the Information Highway: A Look at Shifting Paradigms of Literacy in the Twenty-First Century,” spoke about emergent issues and challenges we face as librarians and educators while working with Gen M. They provided information comparing different types of literacy (i.e., literacy, computer literacy, and information literacy) and provided a handout/table to the audience members explaining this. They discussed how Gen M struggles with judging information for reliability, validity, accuracy, authority, timeliness, and point of view or bias because so much of the information that Gen M students find online, especially the validity of that information, is much more difficult to assess than within most print sources. They noted that there, unfortunately, are fewer “quality cues” with a lot of online information on the free Web.

Katie Elson Anderson (Rutgers University), who authored “Chapter 8: YouTube and YouTube-iness: Educating Gen M Through the Use of Online Video,” may have spoken last, but she definitely caught the attention of the audience as she discussed the extreme popularity and the educational uses of YouTube (including YouTube EDU) and several other video sites for teaching and working with Gen M. Video sites she highlighted during her talk at Barnes & Noble were the following:

As I have recently mentioned to many others, I was especially happy to announce the publication of our book on a Library Garden blog post back in July when it first became available in bookstores online (e.g., Amazon and B&N) because several Library Garden (LG) bloggers wrote chapters for the book, including a very recent new team member of LG, John LeMasney of Rider University, who co-wrote our book’s “Introduction: The Myths, Realities, and Practicalities of Working with Gen M.” OK, I know…, this is such shameless self-promotion, but I really am so proud of the LG contributors, in addition to other experts from around North America, whose hard work and diligence shine throughout our book.

By the way, here is a free PDF of the table of contents now available, listing all contributors and their chapters. We hope you enjoy reading about the above panel discussion/book talk, as well as the book itself, and we welcome your comments.

Sincerely,

-Robert

September 11, 2009 at 8:15 am 5 comments

Clutter Lovers Unite: Don’t stress about the mess!

I was gratified this morning to read this article in the New York Times by Sara Rimer: An orderly office? That’s personal. The article reports on Lisa Whited, an interior designer who specializes in adapting work spaces to the needs, habits, and goals of their users. She’s not your typical “get rid of the clutter now!” organizer. Instead of boilerplate suggestions for getting organized, Whited begins her jobs by interviewing clients to determine their specific work habits and styles.

What particularly caught my attention was that after interviewing her client (the author of the article), Whited surmised that she was the kind of person who needed to see things in front of her or else she forgot she had them, so putting things away in a filing cabinet might not be an effective organizational strategy. Reading those words, I wanted to reach into the paper (well, into the laptop–I read the Times online now) and wrap my arms around Whited and thank her for validating my life.

Out of Sight Out of Mind
See, I’m an out of sight out of mind kind of guy. Just today I came to work without my wallet (it was “put away” in a drawer), and twice last week I came to work without my phone (it was charging in another room.) I pretty much have to organize my morning so that anything that requires my attention (phone, wallet, pants. Well, maybe not pants, I’ve effectively habitualized that one) needs to be visible to me when I’m leaving the house.

Likewise, with work. My whole organizational strategy is about keeping important things in my field of vision. If I’m not looking at it, it may as well not exist. (Note to friends and family: Apologies for being out of touch but I forgot that you existed.)

Since there’s only so much that I can keep on my desk, it’s generally not possible or practical to have too many physical reminders (notes, papers, etc.) in my field of vision. That’s why I rely heavily – VERY heavily – on text message and email reminders which I liberally set for myself using Google Calendar. (Note to Google Calendar: I’m not saying I’d leave my wife for you, but I admit we have something very special.)

Everyone I’ve ever worked with has learned that I will not see a message unless it’s placed on my chair seat. I’ve learned that if I need to do something first thing in the morning, I leave a note on my keyboard where I can’t miss it. Before text message reminders came into my life I relied heavily on taping notes to the doorknob at home (“remember to go to meeting in Trenton this morning!”)

While paper reminders in my field of vision can help, they also have their downside. One piece of paper can be accidentally placed over another piece of paper. Or it can blow away. Or it can have coffee spilled on it. For these reasons, I’ve actually arranged my work life to be as free from paper as possible. There’s probably the equivalent of 20 reams of paper sitting on my desk right now, most of it in colored folders. 98% of it has been generated by someone else and given to me at a meeting or conference. If it’s something I think I may ever want to reference again, I’ve trained myself to scan it into PDF so I have an electronic copy. One great benefit of putting everything into electronic format is that, thanks to Google Desktop Search, I can find anything I ever “touched” on my computer — email, website, pdf, etc. — immediately, and sometimes quicker!

Don’t Judge My Piles!
While these piles on my desk may look like a mess to the outside observer, I like having them visible because they remind me to look through them now and then and pull out little tidbits. A note jotted in the margin a of a Powerpoint handout from a conference presentation or a handout from a workshop I’ve given (and completely forgotten about) can trigger new insights and connections, or give me a new perspective on a problem I’m dealing with. I like the serendipity of it. It’s both relaxing to me and stimulating.

Perhaps one reason most “get organized” books fail to help people like me is that they’re written by people who are not at all like me—they’re written by people who equate neatness with organization, and assume that a neat orderly environment is an a priori good and an end unto itself. I think the authors of these books are people who feel stressed out when they see a lot of stuff, so by gum they’re not only gonna put away their stuff, they’re gonna make sure MY stuff is put away too!

But they fail to appreciate that many people (like me) are NOT like them—we don’t function best when everything is “put away”, nor are we particularly stressed by clutter. In fact, I’m generally oblivious to clutter. I don’t even see the piles of paper on my desk.

Organization Is Not an End Unto Itself
This is what I want to tell the neatniks, declutterers, straighteners, and put-awayers of the world: Organization is a tool. It is a means to an end but it is NOT an end unto itself. The end is effectiveness. Happiness. Comfort. Flow. And I need lots of stuff around to achieve those states. So thanks for trying to help, but my brain isn’t wired like yours. So if I need help getting organized I’ll call Lisa Whited because she understands. It’s personal.

Links added April 2:

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March 26, 2009 at 10:59 am 7 comments

A New Year, A New Book on Academic Library Research

Happy New Year to All!

Although it is otherwise a slow news day, as we all await the start of 2009 and look ahead to a new year unfolding. I am so thrilled that “Academic Library Research: Perspectives and Current Trends,” which I co-edited with Pamela Snelson, Director of Franklin & Marshall College Library has just been released. This book has been in the making for over 5 years, and I haven’t actually held a copy in my hands yet, but I’ve been told that my copies are in the mail! We take a look back at academic library research since 1990, showcasing this time of rapid, revolutionary change. I co-wrote the chapter that summarizes research on reference (face-to-face and virtual reference modes) with Lorri Mon and predicts trends in reference over the next few years.

The book is #59 in the ACRL Publications in Librarianship series, edited by Craig Gibson. ACRL/ALA has published the book just in time for it to be showcased at ALA Midwinter in Denver which I’ll be attending. According to the Press Release the book “updates traditional topics that have undergone exceptional, and in some cases unexpected, change since 1990 as well as reaching into new areas. It combines theoretical scholarship with real world research, including case studies and user surveys, designed to inform practice. Part I highlights significant perspectives and trends such as reference service, information literacy, collection management, knowledge organization and leadership. Part II features two chapters on recently developing evaluation methods, including usability testing and measuring library service quality through LibQUAL+.

It is always a joy to see a finished product finally published and out there to add to the library literature. Am now already involved in two more book projects, one of which is an edited volume (co-edited by Dave Lankes) of reports from the field and research papers from the Reference Renaissance conference. Would be amazing if the Ref Ren book, to be published by Neal-Schuman could be out by the end of 2009, will be fun to work towards this goal.

December 31, 2008 at 4:22 pm 5 comments

Wikipedia v. Britannica: This time it’s personal

Get thee over to the Wall Street Journal and read this gloves-off (you know, in a genteel way) debate between Jimmy Wales, founder of Wikipedia, and Dale Hoiberg, editor-in-chief of Britannica. Here’s a taste:

Mr. Hoiberg: No, we don’t publish rough drafts. We want our articles to be correct before they are published. We stand behind our process, based on trained editors and fact-checkers, more than 4,000 experts, and sound writing. Our model works well. Wikipedia is very different, but nothing in their model suggests we should change what we do.

Mr. Wales: Fitting words for an epitaph… …We are open and transparent and eager to help people find criticisms of us. Disconcerting and unusual, I know. But, well, welcome to the Internet.

Personally, it took me a while to get to the point where I feel a fair level of trust in the quality of Wikipedia. I think Wales has done an excellent job of creating a system that maximizes the benefits of open source collaboration, while minimizing the drawback and dangers of having too much openness. I’m reminded of the brilliant article Clay Shirkey wrote a few years ago, “A Group is it’s own worst enemy“. Shirkey, building off of the concepts expressed by psychologist W.R. Bion in his seminal work,”Experiences in Groups“, wrote,

Group structure is necessary to defend the group from itself. Group structure exists to keep a group on target, on track, on message, on charter, whatever. To keep a group focused on its own sophisticated goals and to keep a group from sliding into these basic [destructive] patterns. Group structure defends the group from the action of its own members. (emphasis is mine, pjb)

I remember being struck by Bion’s work when I first read him in a college psych class, but Shirkey really brings it home. Although Shirkey is mostly focusing on social software, the concepts expressed in “Own Worst Enemy” are applicable well beyond that topic, and you might find yourself reflecting on the structure and health of your library (or your Bridge club, or your — um, make that OUR — government). Geek confession: I keep a copy of Shirkey’s article in a “Ponderables” binder on my night table and re-read it regularly.

But I digress. Point is, Wales has done a great job of keeping Wikipedia from being it’s own worst enemy, and I’ve seriously warmed up to Wikipedia as a trusted source.

September 14, 2006 at 9:27 am 4 comments


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