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Doomsday for print?

With the onslaught of new forms of media ushered in by fast-evolving technologies and the growth of the internet, the world of print is changing rapidly.  Magazines are discussing the doomsday prophesies of the book industry, as smaller publishers get gobbled up by large conglomerate companies interested mostly in the bottom line (this article from the magazine New York lays out the tumultuous road the book industry faces).  Newspapers are commenting on the demise of the magazine (check out this cool graphic from the New York Times that shows the number of ad pages plummeting for some mags), and bloggers are announcing that the age of the newspaper is drawing to a close (this blog entry is one among many).   As publishing drastically changes in the new information economy, libraries do try and keep up, and it is no stretch to say that the libraries of the future will look drastically different than the ones of the past.   Yet, as of now, we need to remember that projections and predictions aren’t the same as reality — we’ll continue to collect print materials as long as there are important print materials published.  And let’s hope that the really quality materials will be skillful enough to adapt to new markets and new readers!

Thanks to Cynthia Slater for the New York Times graphic!

SF.

You Suggest, We Respond

Here are the suggestions for the Library that we received between November 20, 2008 through January 30, 2009, along with the Library’s responses.

Please note that due to the variety of demands on the Library we will not necessarily be able to act on all suggestions.

More frequent cleaning of the bathrooms was requested by 1 patron
Assistant to the Library Director, Marian Courtney, replies:  The housekeeping staff has been contacted about these concerns. 

Too much heat was commented on by 2 patrons
Assistant to the Library Director, Marian Courtney, replies:    We have been working diligently with Facilities Management to resolve uncomfortable temperatures in the library in a timely fashion.   Our HVAC system is complex, requiring investigation and adjustment by the mechanics to resolve any problems.  We will continue to monitor the temperature and work on keeping it within relatively comfortable levels. 

The cold water in the faucets was commented on by 1 patron
Assistant to the Library Director, Marian Courtney, replies:    When there is no heat, the library does not have hot water.  When the weather is cold and the heat is on the hot water can run out quickly. 

Noisy reading lights were commented on by 1 patron
Assistant to the Library Director, Marian Courtney, replies:  Facilities management has been notified. 

For the above building issues, please contact Marian Courtney (mcourtne@sju.edu) if the problems persist.

Light “on top” in some places was requested by 1 patron
Assistant to the Library Director, Marian Courtney, replies:  It is not clear exactly what location needs more light.  We are aware of two dim areas on the third floor.  Replacing some of the opaque glass (Kalwall) along the back wall with clear glass would let in more light, but is costly.   This comment is being passed on Associate Director for Public Services and Programming, Anne Krakow (akrakow@sju.edu).

The inconvenience of the Café hours for University College students was commented on by 1 patron
Assistant to the Library Director, Marian Courtney, replies:  The hours of the café are determined by Aramark, which plans to keep the same hours for the foreseeable future.  I will pass your comment on to Associate Director for Public Services and Programming, Anne Krakow (akrakow@sju.edu).   To see about lobbying for better services for UC students in general at Saint Joseph’s University, you should contact University College directly.

More headphones were requested by 1 patron
Associate Director for Public Services and Programming, Anne Krakow replies:  We are looking into purchasing a few more good substantial headphones.

One request was made for the newest flash player to be installed in all computers
Information Systems Librarian, Marvin Weaver, replies:  We have requested this from the IT Department.

Low wireless connectivity in some spots was commented on by 1 patron
Information Systems Librarian, Marvin Weaver, replies:  Upgrading our wireless is a project that we are working on with the IT Department.  While we hope to have better service soon, we are unsure as to an exact timetable for the project.

More care of students was requested by 1 patron
Library Director, Evelyn Minick, replies:  I hope to get more information from this individual so we could address their concern.

Thanks to all who took the time to give us your input regarding Drexel Library resources and services.

And thanks to Sarah B. and Dan H. for monitoring the Suggestion Box and collecting the responses.

Welcome to Research Toolkits!

Welcome back to campus!  The semester is getting underway rapidly, and while most of you probably aren’t yet thinking of those final research projects that seem so far away, remember that they’ll sneak up on you more quickly than you think!  When you do start to browse through those subject web pages for good research material, you might notice some that have a different look, due to our migration over to a new content management system called Research Toolkits.  We’ll be working through the semester to embed material onto this site, including brand new class-specific pages, like our Business Policy page or our Organizational Psychology page.  These customizable pages make it easier for you to get to the sources most valuable for a specific course.  Browse our Research by Subject page to see if there’s a course-specific page for one of your courses, and tune in for our official unveiling of Research Toolkits later in the semester!

SF.

An Alternative to Wikipedia

I am sometimes shocked and dismayed by how much I see Wikipedia open on computers within the library.  Okay, we know why you go to Wikipedia: it comes up within the top 10 results list of just about any Google search; it provides you with quick background information; it’s just so easy.  But, we also know that Wikipedia is written and edited by anybody and everybody who feels a hankering to share information of any kind about things they don’t necessarily know a whole lot about.  And, we know that citing Wikipedia on a paper or using it for studying just might be academic suicide.  If you need proof, check out this article from The New York Times discussing an error students consistently made on a history exam, due to the notorious Wikipedia.

If you need an alternative to Wikipedia, try Credo Reference from the library (in our Resources A-Z list, accessible from the library’s homepage).  It searches across 350 general and subject-specific encyclopedias for any topic you might want to know more about (information on just about all disciplines are included), and they’re reputable, so you don’t have to worry about citing them in a paper.  Just think – a few clicks away from Google and Wikipedia, there’s an information source that you can really trust!

SF.

Season’s Readings 2008

Every year, to help ring in the holiday season and to encourage reading for fun, the staff of the Drexel Library provides personal recommendations for books they read, enjoyed, and would like to recommend to others in a little newsletter cleverly called Season’s Readings.  If you’re looking for a little holiday reading, perhaps something light to wind down from a busy semester, or something to stimulate other areas of your interest that just didn’t get enough attention this year, check out the list and see what might be the perfect thing to help you welcome the holidays and the New Year.

Have an eye for the night's sky?

Living in the city, many of us don’t get to experience the night’s sky in all its true splendor because of light (and other kinds of) pollution unless we head out of town.  If you ever lived under a starry, clear night’s sky and miss it, or if you just are curious about astronomy in all its complex and beautiful forms, you might check out the Astronomy Picture of the Day, brought to you by NASA, the Goddard Space Flight Center’s Astrophysics Science Division.

With images like this, who could resist?

(Taken from the Lick Observatory outside of San Jose, California)

Thanks to Sarah Bolce for suggesting this site for the blog!

SF.

What's a McNaughton?

Sometimes your catalog search will turn up a book with the location “Popular reading –  (1st fl.),” and, you will see “McNaughton” where the call # would be:

The McNaughton Collection is a circulating collection of popular leisure reading materials.  Included in the collection are mysteries, romance, suspense, biographies, non-fiction, and general fiction. This collection is regularly stocked with new releases, so check the new titles list to see what has just arrived.

The books designated McNaughton can be found in on the first floor of the Drexel Library, facing the cafe area.

To locate a title or author  in our McNaughton titles, you can limit your search to “Drexel Popular Reading:

As you head out during the week for a little Thanksgiving rest and relaxation, consider grabbing a popular book for that plane ride, drive, or just for a cozy night at home.

-CS.

Sprucing up the stacks

This summer, the library took the time to revamp its stacks with new, colorful subject banners to more easily direct you to the right resources for your specific subject.   Come browse your subject area, or search for your topic in the library’s Catalog, find the call number in the stacks and browse the area for more treasures on your topic. 

SF.

All those words worth thinking over

Ever think about why the heck we use the words that we do?  Language evolution and word development can tell fascinating stories about how people have communicated throughout history, and the sometimes shocking arbitrariness of our own vocabulary.  The Oxford English Dictionary, a quintessential reference source for linguistics and English and American literature studies alike, tries to trace a word’s nuanced and gradual changes in meaning over time by going back to the word’s earliest textual usage.  For example, did you know that the often-heard ‘good-bye‘ actually morphed from a much longer ‘God be with you’?

Browse through the OED for some interesting finds that just might pump up your paper or revamp your project.  Search for a word, or have the OED choose a random word for you.  And for a more cleverly written, longer explanation of certain words (including good-bye), try Word Histories and Mysteries: From Abracadabra to Zeus, an online book provided through Credo Reference.  There’s something fascinating in every entry!

SF.

Plagiarism

As you rush to get the research for that pre-Thansgiving paper together, take a moment to reflect on this:

A 2003 issue of the newsletter CQ Researcher focused on the subject of combating plagiarism in colleges.  It asks the very pertinent question “Is the Internet causing more students to copy?”

It’s certainly easier than ever to access information, ideas, and interesting writing at the click of a button, and yet this particular discussion compares two studies, one from the early 1960s in which more students admitted to plagiarizing than students surveyed in a more recent, post-Internet-era survey.  What’s more, a survey conducted in the early 2000s found that more students admitted to copying “traditional materials” – from journals, books, etc.

While we’ll never catch everyone who plagiarizes, we do know that the price of getting caught, as laid out by the Academic Honesty Policy, makes the risk not even close to worth it: a failing grade, a lengthy academic trial, and a ruined academic reputation are just some of the possibilities in the mix.  Check out the library’s page on avoiding plagiarism for techniques to ensure you’re not making mistakes, purposeful or not.   And read over these quick do’s and don’ts for an academically honest paper:

Don’t discuss or include in your paper an identifiable phrase or an idea that appears in someone else’s work without acknowledging and documenting your source.

Do not use exactly the same sequence of ideas and organization of argument as your source.  Copying ideas, even if you don’t copy the words directly, is plagiarism too!

Always put an author’s exact words inside quotation marks.  Changing only a few words to those with similar meanings in a passage or a sentence does NOT count as paraphrasing.

Always cite the source of anything, be it a single paragraph or an entire book, that you summarize or paraphrase.

Do not use in your paper long sections that have been rewritten by a friend or a tutor.

Never – but never – buy, find, or receive a paper that you turn in as your own work.

Happy (and honest) writing!

SF.