Saturday, November 28, 2009

Google Scholar: Searching court cases

As of November 17, 2009, there's a new radio button to click on Google Scholar: Google Scholar has added the ability to search for legal cases - U.S. federal and state district, appellate and supreme courts via Google Scholar. Handy for sure! See for more information.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Phil Agre

Dr. McCook pointed out the recent story on NPR about Phil Agre's disappearance.  Agre, who is reported to suffer from bipolar disorder, had been at the Department of Information Studies at UCLA. He abandoned his job and apartment last year. (Unlike the artificial experiment reported in Wired "Writer Evan Raliff tried to vanish: Here's what happened" where it appears that Ratliff wasn't able to actually break ties with everyone, Agre seems  to have actually disappeared.)   I was an avid subscriber to Red Rock Eater News Service (RRE) and a fan of Agre's writings.  If you want to read only one of this pieces, read Advice for undergraduates considering graduate school .  Then... don't stop, keep reading.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Parents believe that information literacy is crucial

Good news for all of us who have been touting information literacy! From Project Tomorrow's Learning in the 21st Century: Parents’ Perspectives, Parents’ Priorities - a survey of more than 21,000 parents:  

"Parents believe that information literacy is crucial to their children’s success. Success in the 21st
century will depend on their children’s ability to conduct research, find, organize, and summarize data
and develop media literacy skills and to a large extent, students agree with them, though not quite
at the same level. Students in grades 6th-12th were more likely to believe that they will learn critical
media literacy skills on their own by using technology (40 percent) while parents (68 percent) believe
that students will develop skills by using technology as part of their regular classes."

Parents are also interested in the use of mobile technology, online textbooks, online organizational tools, smart boards in the classroom - and more.  See Education in the 21st Century

Monday, November 23, 2009

Tutors - from India

See Rai, Saritha. (November 20, 2009). Teacher in a box: Outsourcing homework to India. Need help wtih that term paper, young American? Meet Sawate Patnaik. GlobalPost. Retrieved November 23, 2009 from,1. "...For $99 a month, American customers of TutorVista get unlimited coaching in English, math or science from Patnaik or one of her 1,500 fellow tutors. Similar personalized services in the United States charge about $40 an hour..."

Sunday, November 22, 2009

New Zealand Book Council video - Going West

Dr. Kathleen de la Peña McCook blogged this video - - from the New Zealand Book Council. I'm not sure if it'll entice anyone to read more books, but it might inspire some to try some animation!

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Orange Gove Texts Plus - Florida's K-20 open access initiative

I attended a presentation on the USF campus given by Susie Henderson and Meredith Morris-Babb on the Orange Grove and Orange Grove Texts Plus - see more at This open textbook initiative is a partnership between Orange Grove Digital Repository and the University Press of Florida (UPF). Textbooks included in the repository can be downloaded or ordered in hard copy (print-on-demand) at around half the cost of a traditional textbook. What's the incentive for faculty to contribute textbooks?? UPF can ensure that the books are peer-reviewed and that faculty are allowed to collect royalities. There's a possibility that the work may count toward tenure and promotion and there's a potential for some royalties. That seems to take care of some of the issues many faculty have with producing open textbooks! (Interestingly I'm not finding any mention of that a the Orange Grove site.) Some campuses are busy providing faculty with various kinds of incentives to contribute to the open textbook initiative. Some campuses are providing funds to buy-out a course so a faculty member can author a textbook. Some campuses providing a pool of money for a department so that a group of faculty can work together on authoring an open source textbook. The books are indexed according to Florida's common course numbering system as well as other keywords, etc. There are around 100 textbooks at this point...

Monday, November 16, 2009

Kindle for the PC

Uh oh! As a newly-retired librarian trying to adjust to a seriously reduced annual income, I have been resisting toys - including e-book readers - but not there's a beta version of the Kindle reader that could run on a PC - perhaps even on my old, creaky HP tablet PC? This could be trouble(!) I'll do my best to resist and slog it out with print books from bricks n mortar libraries. See Kindle for PC

Good cheer

Kitty Pope, director of the Alliance Library System in Illinois, has been sending out postings "On an A+ Note" ( Her notes are the opposite of the Annoyed Librarian's ( Ms. Pope Note's are positive, upbeat, and hopeful. I would discount her good cheer as a form of denial except that her organization gets so much done!

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Magazine titles on Google Books

ResearchBuzz points out that there's a way to get a list of magazines included in Google Books: Great! That makes Google Books just a little less of a black box.

Revised Google Settlement

Library Journal (November 14, 2009) reports: Revised Google Settlement Offers Minor Changes on Antitrust Issue, No Response on Library Pricing.

Friday, November 13, 2009


I spent last Saturday doing an online defensive driving class and am happy to report that the defensive driving certificate - along with a careful look through the list of potential discounts - has cut my cost for auto insurance significantly! Hurrah for online learning! Make that phone call to your auto insurance company and see if you are entitled to any discounts! Did you librarians know there's a discount for ALA membership with GEICO? Once the dust settles, I'll do some comparisons with other companies and see if I can get the same coverage at a better rate elsewhere. I read a Kiplinger magazine article that said InsWeb at as a good place to go to save some time doing comparisons. The online course I took at was exceedingly bearable. There were learning objectives for each section, some short videos included, some formative assessments within each module - and a quiz at the end of each module. There was a voice-over with the text. I thought that would be annoying since I'm a fast reader, but I decided that it really was helpful. The narration helped me stay focused.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Getting faculty into Second Life

I sat in a real life presentation on educational uses of Second Life for some faculty on the University of South Florida Tampa campus. Bill (Rikki Ninetails on Second Life) from the USF Center for 21st Teaching Excellence ran through some of the features that make Second Life the interesting educational platform that it is - and then got those faculty who already had avatars in-world and toured them around. My colleague Joe and I helped with some questions about getting around, using inventory, changing appearance, etc. Two popular handouts: Quick Start Guide to Second Life and Meg Conklin's 101 Uses for Second Life in the College Classroom. What a great way to spend the afternoon!

Monday, November 9, 2009

Information literacy in Second Life

Sheila Yoshikawa (Second Life name) invited all Second Life to her students' exhibits on information literacy. The students are first year BSc Information Management students at the University of Sheffield The class used the SCONUL Seven Pillars Model for Information Literacy ( ) to look at the way information about the H1N1 flu was conveyed in the British press. (The students had been given a choice of five topics and they themselves selected the topic. ) The class used posters and notecards to display the information at seven stations representing . They developed a mind map , included a list of the newspapers reviewed, posted an analysis of sources quoted in various newspaper articles, assessed whether or not the articles were reliable.

The students started with some metasearch engines, looked at Google searches compared to NHS website searches, etc. They compared government sites noting that some sites had info more fit for physicians and some more fit for consumers. Some sites had basic facts such as the number of people who had gotten the swine flu in a certain amount of time. I was able to talk to a couple of the students: One student had already had the flu. (Original research? ) One student reported their information seeking changed and planned to work harder to find reliable sources of information. They had learning that it is important to review search results and that advanced searching in Google was a help.

The "seven pillars" exhibit is at iSchool/135/213/350/ .
For more on Information Literacy week (November 9 - 15) in Second Life, see

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Recently retired

I retired from my position at the University of South Florida Tampa Library on September 30, 2009 after 35 years. (35 years??? Yep!) Since I never got around to doing any consistent blogging, I thought this would be a great time to go at it. I want to use this as a place to reflect on retirement - especially finances(!) - and save interesting posts I see. I'm going to be keeping up with technology as related to teaching and learning. So there will be a mishmash of topics!