Friday, December 29, 2006

New Google Patent Search

Official Google Blog about it:

Thursday, December 28, 2006

Annoying new ReferenceUSA interface

Anyone notice the new interface for ReferenceUSA? My guess is that they want our patrons to see the other databases that are available and pester us to buy them. :) I see there's a new "executive gender" search and a new "US business address search" (I didn't think that one was new--?). I thought the new "family tree" feature would be cool, but it kept giving me a 'page not found' error. Finally got Circuit City to work. A little underwhelming, but I guess it could be useful.

Tuesday, December 26, 2006

Ms. Dewey, our new competition

Have you seen this? Microsoft's new virtual librarian, "Ms. Dewey," who gives you feedback and sometimes attitude about your questions: You need speakers or headphones to hear her.
There was a segment on public radio's Marketplace a couple of weeks ago: (you'll need Realplayer to hear, but you can read the transcript). Pretty silly, IMHO.

Some computer info/updates

Okay, here are some things that came up in the last couple days:

1) We've had a few people asking if they can add songs to their iPods or download iTunes at the library. (Now we know what people got for xmas.) The answer is no. iPods require you to download and run iTunes on your computer, and you use iTunes to add songs to the iPod. Like all outside programs, you cannot download and run iTunes on the library computers. You can download and save a file, any file, but if it's an executable program you cannot run it.

2) Youth called to report that two different kids were using two different computers on the same library card. I checked the history on PC Res and sure enough, there were two active sessions on the same card number. Jeff said the immediate fix for any anomaly like this is to reboot the PC Res computer. We should report the problem to him anyway, because it also suggests that the database needs to be "pruned," which he'll do as soon as he can.

3) We think we've found the secret key to bypass PC Res! We've long suspected that the kids are bumping the computers offline intentionally, and Lynne even heard one kid telling another about the secret keystroke that bypasses PC Res. We think we've discovered it now [see your email]. Jeff is testing a fix for it on the computers in the lab, but there's a possibility the fix will introduce some new anomalies. So keep an eye on the computers in the lab and let me or Jeff know if they start acting strange. We'll test it for a week or two and if there are no problems, we'll do the same to the rest of the public computers.

4) The public firewall went down this weekend, and we're using a dinky little temporary replacement. This is causing some funny firewall errors. For instance, people using Hotmail cannot download their attachments, because they can't come through the firewall. (The fix, if the patron has a Yahoo or some other email, is to foward the attachment to their other account. If not, it's up to us if we want to let them log in on a staff computer to retrieve the attachment or foward it to to retrieve it.) Also, people are getting firewall error messages when they try to log into MySpace, although this seems to clear itself up eventually. Getting a replacement firewall is going to be a little tricky and it might not come soon -- long story -- but Jeff will keep us informed.

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

Wrong jacket image in Sirsi?

This is from an email Dan sent me when I asked about a wrong book cover image showing up in the public catalog. Something that's fairly easily fixed, apparently.
This thing with the wrong jacket cover (or review or table of contents or whatever) in iBistro happens sometimes. There are two reasons this might happen:
1) The bib record has the incorrect ISBN in it
2) Syndetics Solutions (the source of our enhanced content) has associated the wrong ISBN with the cover or other enhanced content.
In this case, the problem was #1, which is easy to fix. I simply searched Amazon to get the correct ISBN for the book, then edited the bib record in Workflows so it had the right ISBN. VoilĂ ! Now the record has the correct book jacket.
If the problem had been #2 above, I could report the problem to Syndetics, but I don't know how long it would take to get fixed.
You can call or email Myron future #1 problems, and he can fix them. For Problem #2, you can send them to me. How do you know which type of problem it is? Simple. If you copy the ISBN from iBistro and search it in Amazon, and a different book comes up, then it is problem #1. If the same book comes up in Amazon that shows in iBistro, then it is problem #2.

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Government Resource directory

We got a new publication from Arizona Capitol Times (must have come in the mail along with the paper). It's a nifty directory of various state government resources: state agencies and their duties, a directory of boards that do licensing and certification for various professions, information on where to go for information on issues such as unemployment and trademark registration, and more.

I'm not sure if it's worth cataloging the book -- we're more likely to use it ourselves to answer a reference question than people are to ask for it and look for it on the shelves. I think the best place for it might be on the ready ref shelf next to the Arizona Blue Book. Take a look!

Thursday, December 14, 2006

Adult Ed page

I took the flyers as graphics and posted them to a page I may make the Adult Ed page. What do you think?

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Reorganized links on right

Per Saren's suggestion, I reorg'd the links to the right. Let me know if you have more suggestions! Thanks!

Website ideas?

I'm making a list of website ideas for the planning meeting with Sirsi in February. Please share ideas of things you think we should add/change/remove on our site. Any new features you would like to see? What things particularly irk you about our own website or others? Any library websites that you particularly like, and why? Thanks!

Thursday, December 07, 2006

Chanwik Reference Fact File

Michelle has been posting lots of good info to the Reference Fact File in Chanwik, if you hadn't noticed: (you'll have to log in to see). Michelle, I guess this question is for you, since you're the only one who's been posting new facts, other than Dan. What do you think about making a dot in the top right corner of anything from our rolodexes that we make into a Reference Fact File page? I just did a page for the City Clerk's Notary Public and did so, just so we will know what's already been done without looking it up. . .

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

New dollar coins

Whaddya know?

The Presidential $1 Coin Program

The United States is honoring our Nation’s Presidents by issuing $1 circulating coins featuring their images in the order that they served, beginning with Presidents Washington, Adams, Jefferson and Madison in 2007. The United States Mint will mint and issue four Presidential $1 coins per year, and each will have a reverse design featuring a striking rendition of the Statue of Liberty. These coins will feature larger, more dramatic artwork, as well as edge-incused inscriptions of the year of minting or issuance, "E Pluribus Unum," "In God We Trust" and the mint mark. Although the size, weight and metal composition of the new Presidential $1 Coin will be identical to that of the Golden Dollar featuring Sacagawea.

Program Overview
Outreach Program
Coin Release Schedule

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

New Business Listings

News from the Chandler business license and tax office: Due to recent bills passed by the Arizona legislature, which tighten confidentiality laws, the new business license report will no longer be produced.

The biz license office did not have any suggestions about where people might find similar listings of new businesses. You can do a custom search in ReferenceUSA for businesses by city and number of years in the database, which will be a rough estimate but not very precise, especially since the shortest time frame for number of years in the database is one year. Does anyone have any other ideas?

Thursday, November 30, 2006

Those Walgreens photo CDs

I remember (vaguely) this going out on an email at one point, but you can't open Walgreens photo CDs on the public computers. Walgreens puts a photo viewing program on their CDs and the program tries to run, and it can't.

You should be able to open the photos in Internet Explorer (go to File - Open - Browse), although the computer I was working on hung up when I tried.

You can also open the photos in Microsoft Office Picture Manager. You should be able to use this to edit photos also, although I don't have experience doing it. Does anyone else? Does anyone have any other tips? Feel free to add a comment, or edit this post and add the info.

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

AzLA conference notes: American FactFinder

This was part one of the presentation by Jerry O’Donnell from the U.S. Census Bureau. He noted that the regional Census office will send someone out to offer hands-on training to anyone who will provide a computer lab and do the publicity. One of the workshops they offer is for grant writing, focusing on doing the demographic research that grant writers must supply as part of their grant request. Information about their workshops is at this page .

While much of this information is familiar, as we have used American FactFinder before, they have added some new features and continue to enrich the data they provide.

The FactFinder homepage offers several ways to get quick information, including Population Finder, Fact Sheet, and the Fast Access to Information box at the top of the page, where you can search by county, city, or Zip code. The Census Bureau now provides official numbers from the 2000 census as well as data from the 2005 Community Survey. The American Community Survey is a new annual survey, which currently includes only communities of 65,000 or larger. Each year the Census Bureau will expand the number of communities they survey, and by 2010 they hope to have accurate estimates for neighborhoods and rural areas.

The detailed data sets for the Decennial Census can be accessed and customized. First you will choose your file. Summary File 1 has basic demographic data; Summary File 2 is best for in-depth research. Then you will be prompted to select a geographic area and desired criteria. These reports can be printed, downloaded in Excel, or saved online to load again later. Comparison tables allow you to choose areas to compare but are not further customizable, and they cannot be manipulated in Excel. Data from the 2000 and 1990 census is available. (Older data is not available because it is stored on tape reels.)

The American FactFinder homepage now offers an address search. Keep in mind that the data you retrieve will not be specific to the address you enter but an average of that census block. You can use a business or library address to find data about the neighborhood surrounding that location, as for new business owners analyzing their service area. Results also show congressional districts, and you can map a chosen district or tract.

Population projections are available at the state level only. City and county projections are best done locally, and can be found at the Arizona DES website.

Some other definitions and remarks:
* CDP means "census designated places." These are unincorporated areas.
* Official counts are done only at the 10-year census. Estimates are done at any other year (in the past; future years' estimates are called projections). The decennial census is done for the purpose of reapportioning seats in congress, but other public services need additional and more frequent data, so estimates are done.
* The homeless are not officially counted, as there is no official definition of the homeless. People in shelters and abandoned buildings are counted.
* Immigrants are counted regardless of their legal status. The census does not ask whether they have proper documentation; they count everyone residing in a household.
* Part-time residents are counted wherever they reside most of the year.

Also at is a help page that offers detailed tutorials, covering topics such as creating tables and maps and finding economic data. The Kids’ Corner has quick facts about states. And there is a page detailing how to cite American FactFinder as a source.

Monday, November 20, 2006

Adult Ed webpage updates 11/20/06

  • New citizenship class for February 6, 2007 - March 6, 2007
  • 2007 GED Test Schedule & Info
  • Change to GED testing fee: Effective January 2007, the fee for the GED test will increase to $65.00. (thanks for helping me wordsmith, Michelle) --this has been changed from $65 to $70 and back to $65, just so you don't think you're crazy.

AzLA conference notes: Library 2.0

A discussion of how the Pima County Public Library implemented "Library 2.0" features. Library 2.0 is the use by libraries of Web 2.0 features, including blogs, wikis, forums, and community networking sites. This "second-generation" web is focused on collaborative and shared information, and it is not so much a new technology as a "new attitude." Library 2.0 can be defined as a new, user-centered paradigm, where the user is in control of how and when they access information. Libraries become organizers of self-expression rather than sole providers of information, and library users become empowered contributors of information, not just consumers.

Librarians who work with young people have noted that this generation is especially receptive of Web 2.0 and Library 2.0. Young people using online services expect to be able to comment on websites, have their own user profiles, and have platforms for their creativity. Pima county’s teen book and poetry forum has been extremely successful. A recent program on MySpace, addressing the use of the service and safety concerns, was also very successful with young people and their parents, especially because they had media coverage.

Some examples of the use of Library 2.0 include podcasts at the Orange County Library System and Denver Library. LibraryThing allows readers to catalog books in their own personal libraries (and potentially at public libraries) and to assign tags, which act as customized subject headings.

Some considerations should be kept in mind before implementing library blogs, wikis, or other Web 2.0 tools:
* Know how staff stand on new technologies. Administration must support this new vision of library service. The new tools should be thoroughly explained to other staff members, with examples of how they are relevant to daily work, so they do not feel threatened by the changes. Technical staff should take part in the implementation to make sure hardware, software, and server requirements are met.
* Work with what you have. Non-technical staff might have to learn to use these tools if a technical department is not available to work on them full-time. Be brave enough to try new things, even if you might have trouble with them, in order to keep up with patrons.
* Evaluate software options. Free software is most affordable, but it is often advertiser-supported, and patrons may think the library is endorsing these advertisers. Open-source software is free and can be edited and customized, if staff knows how. Proprietary software may be customizable, but added options can be very expensive. You should always consider whether the benefit is worth the cost.

AzLA conference notes: Electronic Databases

New databases, which we have seen on our databases page, are available through ASLPR, MCLD, and Pima County Public Library. These databases are now available to the patrons and cardholders of every public library statewide. This is funded in part by a grant, which the state library will try to extend if the databases are well-used.

Some new features of these databases include:
EBSCO now has a Visual Search, which allows you to search for published images and photographs. You can access the Image Collection by going to the Basic Search tab, then selecting Images. Newspaper Source now has transcripts from radio and TV news.

Thomson-Gale offers a Power Search that searches across all the Gale databases. Legal Trac is a new database that offers indexing and some full-text articles from law journals, as well as coverage of federal and state laws. Health Reference Center Academic offers articles such as those found on PubMed in full text.

Grolier has Passport for older students. Popular Science includes background information for science experiments.

SIRS also has a portal to search across all their databases: see the Database Features tab. They offer a Citizenship product, Federal Government information, and Discoverer for younger students.

OCLC FirstSearch offers bilingual searching of Latin American journals in the humanities through Clase & Periodica.

WebFeat is also provided by the ASLPR/MCLD/PCPL consortium to all public libraries in Arizona. This aggregate search tool allows you to search across all the databases simultaneously. The Advanced Search feature allows you to set limits such as date range; you can also select several databases to focus the search on rather than searching them all. Each library’s website is responsible for building a link to WebFeat to allow “All-in-one” searching. (See the Cochise County Library for an example.) Some libraries have not yet been able to get this link working, however, including CPL.

Sunday, November 19, 2006

Friends' pages updated

Hannah revamped the Friends webpages, and I uploaded them. The info is current and looks a whole lot better! Official 'word' will go out soon, but they're available now:

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

Election day

The number one question for today: where do I vote? The only way to find this out correctly is to search by the person's address at this page on the county recorder's site.

Number two question for today: do you have sample ballots? Betty brought in a few but, again, you have to search by address to make sure the voter is in the right district. Search here to find congressional and state legislative districts. If the recorder's site is down you can try this one, but make sure to use the "Find & Map Your District" tool on the left.

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

Chandler Police Motorist Assist for jump-starts, tire changes. . .

Did you know that you can call the Chandler police nonemergency number to request a Motorist Assist volunteer (x4130) if you or a patron needs help jump-starting a car, changing a tire, etc? They aren't always available, and even if they are working, they may have other more important jobs to do, but it's worth a try! Make sure to tell them which library, and they'll want the make/model of the car they're looking for.

Here's a description of the program (from the Chandler PD's website)
Good Samaritans... Guardian Angels... Life Savers...
These are just some of the names people are using to describe the volunteer members of Chandler's Motorist Assist Program.
Serving as uniformed civilians, the Motorist Assist Aide (MAA) provides assistance to motorists who have encountered vehicular problems while utilizing Chandler City streets, and to patrol officers while in the field.
They will provide services such as:· Pushing vehicles· Jump-starting vehicles· Providing fuel, water or air· Assisting with changing tires· Or other assistance as is reasonably required
MAAs also work closely with sworn Police Officers and may be called to:· Assist at accident scenes· Conduct traffic control· Handle found property· Assist in searches for missing persons· Register bicycles· Assist Park Rangers· Enforce City Codes involving parking, primarily handicapped and fire lane violations
The MAAs drive marked police cars with "Volunteers In Policing" markings. The uniform consists of a light blue shirt with Chandler Police Department patches on the sleeves and a Motorist Assist badge.

Boston maps around Revolution - Johnny Tremain

A patron wanted a map of Boston around the time of the Revolution, so her son could see the places in the book Johnny Tremain. I didn't find anything big/clear enough in books, but there was a nice map online at the Norman B. Leventhal Map Center at the Boston Public Library: . The reader allows you to zoom in and print what you see (that zoom level). That was what she needed, to be able to see street/place names. I printed the map as several pages, and taped them together for her.

Here's a description of the collection (it's not just Boston): 200,000 historic maps and 5,000 atlases documenting the evolution of the printed map from the woodcuts, copperplate engravings, and lithographs, of centuries past to the latest computer technologies of Geographic Information Systems. The geographical focus of these maps, atlases, and globes is the World, Europe, and America, with a particular attention to New England, Massachusetts, and Boston from the 15th century to the present day.