Friday, December 19, 2008

The Beginner's Guide to Internet Research

We've all been there, whether you're a student, a parent, a patient or an enthusiast, there have been (and will be) many points in our lives when we needed a question (or many) answered that isn't common knowledge. So we set out to find the answer - or do research. When it comes to research, the first question on most peoples' minds is "Where do I begin?" This guide is meant to help you understand the basics to find your answers.

STEP 1: Define your research topic.

- Write down the simplest question that needs to be answered. "Do cats see in color?" "Who are the Louisiana Tigers?" "What is the difference between Alzheimer's and forgetfulness?" "Did Spanish Conquistadors have canteens to carry water?" "What is the real cause of inflated gas prices?"

- Determine the scope of the answer you need. If you type the questions above into an internet search engine like Google, you are going to get varying results. You might find answers, You might find that you have more questions to answer. You might get no answers whatsoever.

- Quick answers to easy questions can often be found using an internet search engine."Do cats see in color?" is a question that can be researched using a broad internet search engine.

- Some questions seem like they have easy answers, but are too broad in scope. "Who are the Louisiana Tigers?" If you use an internet search engine to ask this question, your answer could be a sports team or a Civil War regiment. Are you answering the question for a history assignment? Or for a different reason? This is a question that would better be answered after learning about subject headings. (See Step 2)

- Some questions need more than a quick answer. "What is the difference between Alzheimer's and forgetfulness?" My first guess is that the person asking this question might have more concerns than just answering the question. A quick answer from the world wide web might not have enough information - or even the correct information. This is a question that would better be answered from a reliable source. (See Step 2)

- Some questions may be simple, but they're so obscure that the answer requires doing deeper research. "Did Spanish Conquistadors use canteens to carry water?" This is the type of question I would ask myself while writing a period correct story. Google doesn't know how to approach a question like this, because as simple as it is, it's not a commonly asked question. Finding other ways to ask this question might be useful, defining subject headings and keywords, and locating books about the history of the canteen, or the era of the Conquistadors might be useful. Finding a reliable source is also important. This is a question that might best be answered using a subscription database, or the help of a professional (See Step 2)

- Some questions don't have an answer, as opposed to having a broad range of opinions. "What is the cause of inflated gas prices?" If you ask this question of a search engine, you'll get answers. But each article that is found is likely to have a different answer according to the person who wrote it. This is the kind of question that needs comparable answers from reliable sources so that you can decide on your own answer. Knowing how to choose a reliable database is important here (See Step 2).

STEP 2: Find reliable sources for your answers. is a fantastic source for quick answers. And I recommend it "AS A STARTING POINT." But go to, and check out the definition of the word "wikiality," and you'll understand why I only recommend it as a starting point. Anyone can post anything on the World Wide Web and claim that it's true. So it's important to find sources of information that are more likely to be true than are others.

-How do you find reliable information?
-If you Google "Do cats see color," you will com up with a list of websites that attempt to answer the question. Your first hits are, in theory, the most relevant. Does the first site answer your question? Does the second site give you the same answer? Check out two or three sites to help confirm you have a correct answer.
-Look for a website's 'resume.' A reliable website will have indicators to help you determine its authority on the topics it represents. Is the site represented by a reliable author, a noted university or a recognized organization? does the website have a list of reference material or links to other websites that corroborate the information given? If you can't find any of this information, choose another site.
-If you google a question, and come up with a wide range of answers, try limiting you answers by using subject headings. Library and subscription databases are built around researching by subject headings, and are beginning to better utilize keywords in their search mechanisms. What are Subject Headings? They are terms recognized by most libraries that help organize a broad range of subjects by category. Key word searching is different. If you do a key word search, you are allowing whatever search engine you are using to search documents and websites for the actual words mentioned in the document. For a more detailed explanation, check out
-Check out subscription databases. If you are a student, or if you are a member of a public library, there are many online subscription databases available to you for free. Most of these databases are reliable sources of information, and many are designed to offer information on specific subjects, such as Medical information, databases specific to science, history or the arts, and databases that access educational journals from sources who are recognized for their field of expertise. There are also databases that specialize in "point, counterpoint" perspectives that might be useful for questions like "What is the cause of inflated gas prices?" One of these databases is "Opposing Viewpoints," which can only be accessed with a subscription, or by using a a library that subscribes to the service.

STEP 3: Ask a Librarian!

Librarians are trained to help people find answers, so if you get stuck in your research process, visit a library. Most libraries are connected to the world wide web, and if you have a library card, you are more than likely able to ask your question through their website. They can help you find the right path to finding answers to your questions.


1. Wikipedia.
2. Bolner, Myrtle S., and Gayle A. Poirer. The Research Process. 4th ed. Iowa: Kendall/Hunt Publishing, 2007
3. "Library Catalog Subject Search", Cornell University, copyright 2008 accessed December 18, 2008.

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Blog Reflection #9 - The Future of Libraries

I have to admit that I have mixed emotions about this being my last blog for this class. I have enjoyed it on the level of considering myself a writer. The saying says, "Writers write," and this blog challenges me to keep in practice. But the frustration that stems from "What do I say," and "How do I begin," is about to give me a break. I welcome the break. But deep down, I will miss the challenge.

Will I continue to blog on my own? Maybe... If this class parlays itself into a future employed in the librarian industry, then there's a good chance that blogging will play a part in it. As our week's readings pointed out, the internet, and the future of libraries are intertwined. The two factions have a symbiotic relationship, as opposed to a sometimes seemingly parasitic one. Internet technology will not kill the library. It will challenge it to grow and become more useful to a broader community. Because the internet is far from an infallible source of information, and some of our libraries could use a technology facelift.

Thank Christmas for a short blog this week. I'm off to finish my Holiday shopping!

Friday, November 28, 2008

Blog Reflection 8 - Library Instruction, (and how to use it)

It’s funny that the instructor’s choice for a blog reflection deals with what it deals with this week – library instruction, and how it currently factors into our overall experiences with it. I think that the library classes I have taken have proven to be very useful in teaching me how to utilize the full spectrum of resources at my fingertips. But there are still moments when all that I’ve learned seems to fail me.

Take this past week. We recently learned and used online databases for class research, and I navigated it pretty well. So, when one of my kids had an elementary school biome project due, I thought I had it made when it came to helping him find adaptations for three plants and three animals within an ocean biome – by helping him use the resources at his fingertips.

Getting an 8 year old to ‘come to the conclusion’ that certain elements of a plant or animal are adaptations to their environment without spelling it out can be a challenge in and of itself. But I tried to use online databases – science encyclopias and websites that were supposed to be designed for kids – to help him find his answers. I got answers, but at a level written to be understood by high school students. Finding information about red algae and its adaptations on a level that an 8 year old would understand – and find fun and interesting - proved to be far more difficult than some of our own class projects. And my teenager was of no help when he sensed my frustration and said, “just use Wikipedia, mom!”

But this is the nature of any reasearch, and especially with online databases, in my experience. It can be hit and miss. Personally, I felt frustrated, because this seemingly easy task of helping my 8 year old ‘find the information,’ did not end with satisfying results – and certainly not in the timeframe that his generation is ready to sit still for. Maybe that will develop as he grows, but my hunch is that, as a generation, it won’t.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Blog Reflection #7

This week we are supposed to reflect on the following questions: "What electronic/internet sources from the list below would you recommend a patron to use in their research process, and in what order? What value would each resource be in the process?"

Our choices are : Wikipedia, a favorite search engine, ProQuest (or other electronic journal/newspaper index),,, Encyclopedia subscription, subscription research databases (such as Facts on File or the Gale Group), or government sponsored websites.

That makes 8 choices total. And in considering the question, I can only come to the conclusion that it depends... The choice to make would depend on the specific information needs of the patron. I wouldn't be able to choose the best resource to begin with until I knew some specifics about the patron's information needs. It's too bad that "reference interview" isn't considered an electronic resource. I suppose it could be, if the patron was online asking the librarian for help via email or an RSS feed, but that isn't always the case.

So, if the patron is searching for general information on a broad range of topics, I might suggest Wikipedia. But I would emphasize that this source isn't entirely reliable, and that followup research should be done to verify any information found there. I would highly recommend the information found on ProQuest, Facts on File, or any of the encyclopedia databases available through the library's service. If the patron was looking for government info, or statistics, then I would immediately point them toward government websites.

If the patron was looking for the latest gossip on Lindsay Lohan, well, then just Google her name. Government sponsored sites and general encyclopedias would not be useful here. But ProQuest and other newspaper databases might, if you want to find out if any of that juicy gossip has a sliver of truth to it. I personally don't have much interest in the gossip about Lindsay Lohan... But maybe I should. She is an actress. I am a screenwriter. It might be good to know if that screenplay I sell in the future with Lindsay Lohan attached will be fraught with production woes because of tantrums and "creative differences" and what-not. But those are just rumors... Right?

Saturday, November 1, 2008

Blog Reflection #6

Well, here it is, week #11 for library class 204. We're supposed to reflect on the readings and the resources that we have been exposed to as part of this class. Unfortunately, we're a little behind on the readings because of those nasty little unforeseen circumstances that life can throw at us. A lot of students would see this as an opportunity to take a break. I, however, am eager to get the readings done because I tend to think in a linear way (This is even true when I'm writing).

Not being able to access those last couple of readings makes me feel like the work I am trying to do is incomplete because I don't have a lesson to reference... An interesting point, those last three words. Maybe the inability to access the readings of the last two weeks is a clever ploy by our instructor to get us to think about that.

Am I overwhelmed by the resources we've been exposed to in this class? A little bit. But I think I've managed to find and utilize them fairly efficiently. Am I excited about the newly found wealth of information at my fingertips? Absolutely! Although, having access to all of that information still poses the challenge of how to decipher it. This was the case with Google Finance. There is so much information available at this website hub, but if you don't know much about the stock market, it can be overwhelming. Still, I guess like any new situation we find ourselves in, we learn with repeated exposure and time.

Our teacher posed the question, "How do you resist the urge to google instead of finding a reputable reference source?" I guess my answer to that is, "I don't." An example I can use is having to find information on Galen Clark. I tried two or three biographical and general encyclopedias with no information found. So I reverted to Google, and Wikipedia. Wikipedia had information about Galen Clark, and it led me to avenues to verify the information I found using more reputable sites. Google can be a very useful tool as long as you back up the information you find using reputable sources. The two can form a symbiotic relationship, given the right circumstances.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Library Project 2 - Proposal for a New Reference Library

Below is a fictitious proposal for a new series of libraries to service a real location - Montgomery County, NY. I chose a county as opposed to a city. Hope that's okay...

Dear Grant Organization Members,

I would like you to consider providing funds for the Outpost Library Project for Montgomery County, New York. The project would create small neighborhood storefronts in the outlying regions of the county for the purpose of free public access to the online reference databases that the current free library system provides.

There are six public libraries, part of the Mohawk Valley Library System, that serve the county. All six fall along the spine of the county, in communities that border the I-90 Thruway.

Inclusive list of MVLS libraries within Montgomery County:
• The Amsterdam Free Library (
• The Canajoharie Library and Art Gallery (
• The Frothingham Free Library (
• The Fort Hunter Free Library ( )
• The Fort Plain Free Library ( )
• The Margaret Reaney Memorial Library (http://www2.telenet/community/mvla/stjo)

These are fine institutions that provide a wide range of services for an equally wide county demographic. The majority of these libraries are housed in historic buildings that double as museums for local and American history. Membership to this library system allows patrons online access to a broad range of subscription databases provided by EBSCO and NOVEL (The New York Online Virtual Electronic Library) that include scholarly periodicals and journals on art, humanities, science, environmental issues, and education. They also provide links to general encyclopedias, other New York state library system catalogs, the Library of Congress, information on local history and genealogy, health, education and career sites.

So why are outpost libraries necessary? The answer lies within some startling area statistics.

• The county population has been steadily declining over the past thirty years. In 1980, U.S. government census data reported Montgomery County population at 53, 439 people (information found at The 2006 U.S. Census Bureau report has further indicated that the county population has decreased to 49,112 people.

• The median household income for the county, as of the year 2,000, was $32,128, with 53% of those households making a living on incomes less than $35,000 per year. 2004 U.S. Census information indicates that the median income has gone up to $35,800, not a significant increase over a four year span of time.

• Approximately 61% of the adult population (age 25 and over) has an education at, or below high school level. And 57% of the entire population of the county falls in the age demographics of 35 and over (with an additional 16% in the 20-34 age range category).

• The unemployment rate for the county has steadily increased, as the population density has decreased. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics ( indicates a gradual unemployment increase from 5.4% to 7.2% between the years of 2005 and 2008 (as of August, 2008).

These libraries service a decreasing population of less than 50,000 people, the majority of who have no more than a high school education. And the libraries have an extensive selection of reference sources both in online databases and in-house reference material. Ideally, each library services less than 10,000 patrons.

The 2006 U.S. Census Bureau’s American Community Survey indicates that the higher an individual’s level of education, the higher his or her annual salary; a median average of $26,000 for a high school graduate versus almost $60,000 for a masters or professional degree.

So, why doesn’t access to this free public resource reflect itself in the general prosperity of the Montgomery County population? I believe that part of the problem lies, ironically, in library inaccessibility.

• The six libraries are located along the highest populated, main corridor of the county but are not as easily accessible to outlying communities in a widely rural geographic. When you factor in harsh weather conditions (winter snow/spring floods, reaching the closest libraries can be even harder.

• The high percentage of low level income families might not be able to afford the cost of at home internet access. Food and heat are far more important.

There is also an increasing population of Amish people in the county. The state of New York has been sited as the top state for Amish family migration since the year 2002 (according to a study done by Elizabethtown College in Pennsylvania – Their presence in Montgomery County is strongly prevalent. The Amish people choose to live in areas of rural isolation so that they can live and worship based on the simple ‘back to the basics’ lifestyle they have chosen. The government has determined that the Amish are within their rights to consider the completion of their children’s formal education by the age of 14. And the Amish are not known for embracing technology.

My conclusion is that having small storefront library centers that branch into the outlying communities would provide access to valuable resources that the county’s main demographic - low income level, high school educated adults – don’t seem to have.

• The proposed outposts would be located in central community areas, and would consist mainly of a bank of computers that could access the library system’s online databases.

• One or two information technology specialists could manage each outpost and assist patrons in utilizing existing web and database resources.

• These specialists might also serve as an outreach to members of the Amish community, who regularly seek current information, but who are ethically opposed to using internet technology. Therefore, each outpost could also be stocked with daily newspapers from the local communities, and a few general reference books such as Encyclopedia Brittanica, an Almanac and a few occupational handbooks for the Do-It-Yourself members of the community.

• Each outpost could be equipped with two or three study rooms for school age students to gather to do group internet researches. And reference books pertaining to college entrance procedures and careers should also be made available.

• The county is approximately 405 square miles of rural land with approximately 122 people living within a square mile. These branch library outposts could be placed strategically within 15 mile radiuses of each other to be able to effectively serve the scattered population in the outlying communities.

• The outposts could also be utilized in providing close to home workshops to assist the unemployed in finding and developing new career paths.

The main asset of having these Library Outposts in place is increased accessibility for the patrons who don’t have a lot of resources at their fingertips. Please review this need for an outpost program closely, and get back to me with your own thoughts. I believe the program would be an enormous asset to the Montgomery County community.

Friday, October 17, 2008

Blog Reflection #5 - The importance of evaluation

The topic posed for this particular blog was to find a resource that would help others learn the importance of evaluating websites for accuracy. I gave it some thought, and decided to do a little experiment. I decided to use Google itself to challenge website accuracy. 

I googled conspiracies, and came up with a site that listed popular conspiracies. One of them involved the Jewish plan for world domination. Hmmmm. So I went back to Google and typed in 4 words that didn't necessarily have to do with this conspiracy - Jews in the world. Those words could generally reference a lot of topics, right? They could reference history, demographics, current events, etc. etc...

Here are a few of the hits I got: (the URL alone sounds fishy to me...) (the man is selling books about the threat of the Jews...) (I liked this one) (looks quite informative)

The first two websites had disclaimers about the information posted there, and how the website administrators were not responsible for the information they collect, which seemed to be designed to strike fear in the hearts of the Gentile population.

The third site, by Jeff Weintraub, was a blog. And guess what? He was willing to post his credentials as a university professor and... a Jew.

The fourth site was posted by an organization that had a vested interest in preserving Jewish culture and history.

These four sites had wildly different agendas with information "skewed" to fit those agendas. So, this experiment alone, I think, shows why it's important to evaluate the resources you are using. It also shows how the information that you find on Google is not always reliable.

In our class discussion about finding reliable web resources, I had selected Harry Houdini to research using the websites recommended by the Librarian's Internet Index. The information I found on Houdini seemed reliable enough, but the website was run by a magic shop owner promoting his store and his magic act. Not necessarily a fully reliable source. But since the Lii is such a reputable organization that screens and verifies the authenticity of its sources, I felt much more comfortable with the information I found through its links.

Yes, evaluating the information we find is essential in this day and age, which is why using reputable reference sources is also essential.

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Blog Reflection #4 Print Vs. Electronic Resources

Our teacher has posed the question, "If you were given $5,000.00 to enhance a library reference collection, where would you spend the money? On print material or on electronic access?"

Hmmm. After giving it a little bit of thought, I don't think I would necessarily choose one over the other. I think I would divide the money, although I'm not sure if it would be equally. Our last homework assignment was interesting in this regard...  Go to a library and review specific reference material there. The library I chose to visit had all three reference books in question available, but one of them was only accessible on the web. I didn't have a problem with this, but the computerized library catalog I was using wasn't connected to the internet, and all of the internet computers were being used. That meant that I had to go home to access the material online even though I was already there at the library.

So, my first purchase would probably be more online access for patrons at the library itself. My second purchase would probably be online subscriptions, whether accessible at home or only at the library. Online subscriptions to valid information sources can get expensive, and to have them publicly accessible would be a wonderful draw to use the public library system more often (IMHO).

Of course, as a writer, I have found that my information needs can't always be fulfilled by the quick hits on the internet. And to sit down and enjoy a good book on a computer screen just doesn't work for me. Long term reading from the computer tires my eyes, personally. I would spend some money on fiction and bestsellers to fill my library shelves.

I think that quick ready reference is suitable for the internet. If I wanted to know what a train brakeman did (for example), I might first check out Wikipedia. But if I were to write about a character whose life was about working in a train yard during the Great Depression, then I would need far more information than the quick easy reference the internet provides. That's why investing in books and newspapers about that kind of detailed history would be important. 

I don't think print resources are becoming obsolete. I think they are being utilized more effectively because of the introduction of electronic resources. The internet and computers allow us to pinpoint the information we need faster. They allow us to find the right direction in seeking out our reference needs.  But I think that if we tried to cram all of the information that we have in books and periodicals onto the internet, the information would become abbreviated. We would lose a lot of the detail that we sometimes need, and that would be a sad loss. Again, IMHO. 

Friday, September 26, 2008

Colbert Report Touches on Class Discussions

Since we're discussing the internet and google as useful tools in our modern times, I found a recent episode of the Colbert Report both relevant and interesting - even if it is tongue in cheek. If anyone wants to check it out, just click on the link in my sidebar - The Colbert Report.

Then choose the episode on Thursday, Sept 25. - the interview with author Nick Carr. You can click on segments of the episode if you don't want to see the whole thing. The interview with Nick Carr is segment 3.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Blog Reflection #3

This week's blog reflection is primarily about reference resources and how to use them effectively - not just one resource, but all tools and resources in conjunction with one another.

As our instructor has pointed out, today's generation is more apt to go straight to the internet - straight to Wikipedia, for all of their information needs. Wikipedia is a great information tool, right? So what's the problem? I'm going to quote a favorite political comedian of mine, Stephen Colbert, who coined a new word - "Wikiality." The concept of "wikiality" is that "any user can change an entry, and if enough users agree with them, it becomes true." (quote found at - Sept 18, 2008). This is just one problem with using the internet as a sole resource for information. Too many cooks can spoil the soup with their own versions of the facts.

Don't get me wrong. I think Wikipedia (and the internet in general) is a fantastic research tool. But Colbert's experiment with the idea of wikiality is an example where the information available might not be as reliable as we think.

Physical libraries, on the other hand pose different sets of barriers to accessing information - we might call it a language barrier of sorts. That language barrier involves knowing the right terminology (subject headings, call numbers, broad topics as opposed to narrow topics, etc.) to convey your research needs to the librarians - and to the computers that access the information.

I think that the research interview is essential to learn for both the librarian and the researcher/patron. The example I used in my project posted below - the search for information on chain letters - is perfect to point out here. As a patron, I couldn't find the specific information I was looking for - The chain letter in a historical context. The key words and subject headings I chose weren't pointing me in the direction I was looking for, and the librarian - who accessed did find some books on the material, but under a subject heading that didn't help me - mail fraud.

Here is an example where the tools available to me the researcher, failed individually, but succeeded when used together. My own search on supplied me with a narrower list of book choices, where I could find a title that I could look up at But I couldn't access the book online. I could, however view relevant subject headings - occultism (not religion, but related), and I could see that the book itself could be accessed at the library whose catalog didn't recognize it from a key word. Now I don't have to buy the book. I can go back to the library and read the sections I wanted.

This is also an example of where a librarian's research interview initially failed. Not from a lack of trying. She did ask questions, and I supplied her with answers, but she didn't register specific information I had told her - that I was looking for chain letters in a historical or religious context. She pointed out the subject heading of the first entry found on her worldcat search - mail fraud. Then she handed me the printout for that particular book.

I guess, in conclusion, we need to recognize that language barriers come in many forms when it comes to the research process, and that patience and the access of ALL the tools and resources at are fingertips is the best way to navigate toward our answers.

Library 204 project 1 Reference Library review Cerritos Public Library

Project 1 - Week 5 - Lib 204

Task: Visit a library and review the reference services.

The library I chose to visit for this project was the Cerritos Public Library. It is aesthetically pleasing both inside and out, and its purpose is to serve the public at large. That means that it needs to be widely accessible and must have a broad range of material to meet general public needs. The library attempts to achieve this goal by offering books and media housed in separate sections for specific types of patrons.

The first floor has a room specific to children’s interests, a periodical area complete with easy chairs for comfortable reading, and a fiction and biography area with decor to appeal to teens and older students. The second floor is the reference area designed entirely around reference needs.

When you ride the escalator to the second floor, you are deposited right in front of the reference desk. Above it reads a sign: INFORMATION AND REFERENCE, and while I haven’t gone to the Cerritos Library often, I’ve gone often enough to note that the reference desk always has someone there. Of course, in keeping with my self proclaimed MO, I quickly surpassed the reference desk and looked for a computer - my preferred gateway to finding information I need.

The reference area is truly laid out with the computer savvy researcher in mind. There is a bank of approximately 100 computer stations available along one designated wall of the reference floor. There is a line of private rooms along another wall that you can reserve for group research or meetings. And there are actual reference and non-fiction books that you can page through as well.

Using the computers at the library allows you access to a number of online databases that you would have to pay for if you tried to access them from your home computer - or, if you are a library card holder, you can access them from home using your library ID. That privilege comes with an annual fee if you are not a Cerritos resident. The list of databases that you can access is admirable. Included is the Auto Repair Reference Center,, a number of recognized general encyclopedias such as Brittanica and Grolier, and academic online databases like Newsbank, Opposing Viewpoints and SIRs Researcher.

The library has a special digital archive for local history, and it offers special services and equipment to benefit the disabled. “Access Plus” is an orientation class offered to disabled patrons to help them learn how to use the special equipment available to them. And there is a “Tech help” desk available during certain hours for any of us who are not internet savvy.

The online catalog system, e-catalog, is accessible at any of the computer stations in the reference area or throughout the library. After typing in a few searches, I was a little disappointed with my results though. The library uses LOC subject headings to categorize its resources, and while this isn’t a bad thing, I’m finding that this - and other libraries aren’t always as “keyword” friendly as I’ve become used to on the internet. I picked a topic to search - “Chain Letters.” and came up with nothing. But this library sort of compensates for the shortcomings of the ecatalog because it gives you access to, a database that searches for books and key words in libraries worldwide.

At this point I thought it a good idea to talk to a reference librarian directly. There was a separate bank of 6 computers that were reserved for research purposes only, so I asked the librarian what the difference was between those and the 100+ online computers. She said that they could only access the online reference services of the library, where the other computers could access both the library databases and the internet.

I thought that was odd, to have 6 computers with less capability than the 100+. But beyond that, I found the librarian to be friendly and helpful. I asked her about the narrow topic I was researching, and told her that I couldn’t find anything in their e-catalog. She made mention of subject headings. I told her I had no idea what subject heading to begin with, even after she gave me a list to refer to - one of the library’s handouts. She went to and pulled up a possible book that I could find in another library.

The librarian also gave me another handout - a list of the online databases the library had access to, with brief descriptions about each database. And I came to my ultimate conclusion about the Cerritos Public Library. It’s a beautiful library designed for the internet savvy patron. But if you’re not internet savvy, it may seem a little daunting to search here. I checked out a couple of online databases, and found them easy to use. I’m impressed with their choice of including among their selections. This decision gives people the option to find information about their lineage without having to pay a monthly fee, among other benefits. I also utilized SIRs researcher in looking up the topic of chain letters. I didn’t get the results I was hoping for. If I had been smarter, I would have accessed while I was there. When I typed in the terms chain letter from home, and narrowed my search to books - it brought me to the exact kind of book I was looking for - and it was located at the Cerritos Publc Library.

So, having access to at the library you happen to be in is a tremendous asset. I haven’t noticed this as being the case at other libraries. Cerritos Public lists access to Worldcat as a feature. I’m not sure if other libraries with internet access promote as a tool to utilizing their own libraries. They should.

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Blog Reflection #2 for Lib 204

Barely three weeks have gone by, and it's time for another post to my blog. What to say, what to say...

I guess I'll start with commenting on Dena's points made on her blog - about the beneficial uses of it. She mentioned, or travel sites as an example of ways to benefit from the posts of other users. Book reviews and ratings from other people have been very useful to me on sites like Amazon. So, going back to those famous last words from my previous post, maybe this library class will prove me wrong...

I have to admit that in the past couple of weeks I have become a closet poster on a screenwriting site called The site is for writers who are looking for feedback and words of advice on their writing endeavors. I am currently in writing limbo, having finished a draft of one script and not sure what to tackle for my next, so I've been alleviating the writer's block by reading other work and posting what I hope is constructive criticism.

The site has its benefits as a sort of new writers support group, but... There are enough opinionated and confrontational posts among members to remind me of my blogging reservations.

Anyway, I think I'm a little off topic. This post is supposed to reflect on the readings for the week, and our own experiences with reference librarians. I'm one of those people who has wandered the library for hours, digging for information longer than I think I should without the help of a reference librarian.  I'm not apt to readily seek out the help of a reference librarian for several reasons:
A - there's no one at the help desk.
B- there's people at a desk, but I'm not sure if it's the help desk.
C- the person at the help desk doesn't seem to see me.
D- I don't know how to explain the information I'm looking for.

I also think that some librarians see me using the online catalog somewhat efficiently (because I will go straight to the catalog if I can find it), and therefore assume I don't need help. To some degree, I understand this - helping the people who ask first may be a way to prioritize the work load. But, if I were a reference librarian, I think (hope) I might understand this aspect of patron frustration and therefore make myself more available.

I like the ideals of the reference interview, and hope one day that I would be able to put it into good practice.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

My first blog for LIB

Gee, I'm blogging. 

As a writer, you would think that blogging would come as second nature to me. It doesn't.

I've recently watched episodes of the series "Californication" (via Netflix), and I think I'm in tandem with the way the character Hank Moody feels about blogging. He considers it to be an abhorrence to the written word. 

I've visited blogs, even contributed to some public opinion polls on occasion. There are a few writers sites where I've added my thoughts (Zhura, Netfilm, to name a couple). But ultimately, as I have read down lists of publicly posted comments, I've gotten bored with the opinionated banter that serves no useful purpose.

I suppose there are blog sites out there that can be useful in finding and analyzing information. I just haven't been inspired to search for them. Maybe this library course will teach me why I'm wrong.