Thursday, April 23, 2009

"The New Normal"

Every now and then I check ACRL's blog, ACRLog, to see what's being posted. Recently I read a post entitled, "A Guide to the 'New Normal' for Academic Libraries". What, you ask, is the "new normal"?

"The 'new normal' is a concept that signals that everything we've taken for granted over the last 20 years is being melted down, re-thought and cast into a new reality. The old rules are broken and new ones must replace them."

Can you guess who "the drivers" of the 'new normal' for academic libraries are? Yep, the economy, our students, and technology. No big surprise there.

For those so inclined to look over the complete report, "ACRL's 2009 Strategic Thinking Guide for Academic Librarians in the New Economy" you can read it here. Ok, so you don't want to read a long involved report. Suggestion: skip to the section on "Driver #3- Technology" and "Strategic Questions for Libraries" (toward the end of the report).

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

The Researching Librarian

I may be late on this... I just read about The Researching Librarian in C&RL News (April 2009). It's part of a large article by Laurie Putnam, "Professional writing and publishing". What an interesting site! It's geared for librarians who need to research and publish for tenure or job advancement. The site feels sort of amateurish but it's great to know that resources are out there... other than ACRL's own mentor program.

I looked over this site again. It's nothing new, unfortunately.

Friday, April 17, 2009

Customizing MultiSearch

I ran across a recent article about how University of Wyoming Libraries implemented Serials Solutions federated search engine, the same tool we have renamed Multisearch.

It is not a long article, but I picked up some ideas that I think can help us in further customizing MultiSearch:

Comprehensive Search vs. A Few Good Articles

UW Libraries put a "Find It Fast" box on their homepage with the idea that federated search engines do a better job of providing a few articles to start with, rather than being a comprehensive way to search all of the databases. If you really want the best articles, you really need to use subject headings and the specialized search features available by searching databases individually.

Select a Few Databases and Test

With this in mind, the article points out that it is better to set up MultiSearch by being selective, rather than comprehensive. In deciding which databases to include in each subject category, subject specialists suggested a few databases and then tested to see what kind of results came up in sample searches. Some databases provided only problematic results, so they were eliminated from the list, even though they could technically be searched with MultiSearch. UW has over 200 databases, which was whittled down to 46 databases, and finally after testing, they ended up with a dozen databases that consistently provided good results in sample searches.

Default to Title Searching

Serials Solutions sets the default to TITLE search. This seems odd at first (I remember as a Reference team we changed the default to KEYWORD). But TITLE searching works better than KEYWORD searching with federated search engines for two reasons: 1- Time - it takes forever to search the full-text of so many articles and databases. If we are offering MultiSearch as a fast option for a few articles, KEYWORD searching defeats this goal. 2 - if the idea is to get a few good articles, not be be comprehensive, then title searches will offer up a few good results with fewer outliers. Of course, some articles will be missed, if the topic doesn't appear in the title, but the point is not to be thorough, but to provide a few articles that are on topic.

Monday, April 13, 2009

MLA Guidelines Update: URL's no longer required

Just a heads up about this issue I heard in Twitter-land today. Wonder when this will impact us?... via

Times change: print no longer default MLA citation style

The Modern Language Association's (MLA) new handbook for academic citations does away with the primacy of print, along with the need to include URLs for Web citations. All hail the rise of the Internet.