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?