Ramblings, citations and "brainwaves" of a college librarian in Toronto. 475 square feet refers to the size of my home, not the size of my office or library.


Zuula.com. A new search engine with promise.

Google Patents

Google Patents is Out! Amen.

"Google Patent Search covers the entire collection of patents made available
by the USPTO-from patents issued in the 1790s through those issued in the
middle of 2006. We don't currently include patent applications,
international patents, or U.S. patents issued over the last few months, but
we look forward to expanding our coverage in the future."

Literature Karaoke style

Shanghai Daily reports on a Chinese "mini novel" contest where writers submit bite-sized narratives (350 words or less) by text message.

Commenting on the contest, well-known writer Yu Hua says: "To hold the competition is like bringing 'karaoke' to literature. Before the invention of karaoke, there were only few people who could or would sing in public. Thanks to karaoke, anyone and everyone can sing in public whenever they feel like it. Now, thanks to the mobile phone, the same is true with writing."

More on cellphone books...

Seems the Europeans are experimenting with Bluetooth cellphone downloads. I'm intrigued. Maybe we'll see something similar in 10 years here.

MIT's iFind

Location aware computing is finally coming to North America. Cell phone companies have services where you can see on a map where your buddies are, or their phones are in the city! MIT is letting students see where their buddies are via wireless network connections, C|NEt reports.

"The software, called iFind, looks at first like any typical instant-messaging program. But iFind's buddy list is augmented by a map showing where on MIT's campus those buddies are in real time. The map plots buddies who are logged on to the MIT network via Wi-Fi, allowing users to create unique mini avatars for each friend. Users can see who is hanging out on the banks of the Charles River and who is one floor up from them in the library."

Now if only we could use RFID to know where the book we want is in the library...

Home Swap Services

With Cellphone Video, Little Brother is Always Watching

Over the last few weeks, comedians (Kramer!), professors and others have been publicly stoned (via blogging, the media, etc.) by footage recorded by cellphones and disseminated online. In Canada, we can't be recorded without consent. Better keep my lawyer's number nearby, never know when I have to sue someone into bankruptcy...

Tom Hayesargues:

"As I have asserted before, the Bubble Generation consumer prefers "discovery" over searching. When you've been raised on hyperlinks, that's understandable. And, the best part of discovering a cool new product or service is sharing that find with buddies. Empowering this friend-to-friend hand-off is the underlying value of shopcasting, which I see as the next social media space with the potential to blow up."

The problem is spam, how do we keep things clean?

Stephen continues to prod us. Although I don't always agree with him, he makes some good points. I especially like:

"Putting the “Personal” into Reference

How do you market your services? Do you market the service brand? What are you called? Is it clear, understood, and engaging? Do you market your staff and colleagues, or just the collections? Is there a personal touch? As professionals, do you market yourself and your services in a manner similar to that of other professionals? Check out Web sites for private practice lawyers, accountants, nutritionists, etc. Ask yourself how do you “rate” on the following questions:

· Can users see pictures of the reference staff on the Web site? Is there a personal connection?

· Are reference staff profiles available on the Web site or Intranet, or linked to special personal Web pages or Facebook/MySpace profiles?

· Can users easily contact the library reference services in the mode of their choice (IM, email, phone, VR, Skype, mail, fax, etc.)? Do you have virtual “hours” or 24/7 service?

· Can these contacts be made from every page and within e-learning lessons, or is it just a homepage feature?

· Can users quickly determine who has special expertise in a specific topic area (local history, homework, etc.) or a special skill (genealogy) or talent (storytelling, dissertation support, etc.)? Are all other staff prepared to step in for low-level questions like address, directions, hours, etc., that seem to show up regularly, even in virtual reference environments?

· Is your identity clear and your Web site’s look and feel, library signage, name badges, etc. fresh – and are they consistently applied and noticeable so that your end user positioning is readily recognized by your users?

The goal is to place the librarian back into the center of service. With the majority of your questions happening in the virtual space, the data and information need to be balanced with full service; and then personal touch. In most library services today, this is not nearly in balance. It needs to be. In my opinion, information services without librarians are just not true libraries, but warehouses."

Curriki.org is an open source educational resources and curricula initiative. I'm watching this to se where it goes.

Jon Pareles writes that "It’s on Web sites like YouTube, MySpace, Dailymotion, PureVolume, GarageBand and Metacafe. It’s homemade art independently distributed and inventively promoted. It’s borrowed art that has been warped, wrecked, mocked and sometimes improved. It’s blogs and open-source software and collaborative wikis and personal Web pages. It’s word of mouth that can reach the entire world."

"Low-budget recording and the Internet have handed production and distribution back to artists, and one-stop collections of user-generated content give audiences a chance to find their works. With gatekeepers out of the way, it’s possible to realize the do-it-yourself dreams of punk and hip-hop, to circle back to the kind of homemade art that existed long before media conglomerates and mass distribution. But that art doesn’t stay close to home. Online it moves breathtakingly fast and far.

Folk cultures often work incrementally, adding bits of individuality to a well-established tradition, with time and memory determining what will last. In the user-generated realm, tradition is anything prerecorded, and all existing works seem to be there for the taking, copyrights aside.

In the process, another thing users generate is back talk. Surfing YouTube can be a survey of individual reactions to pop culture: movie and television characters transplanted out of their original plots or synched to improbable songs, pop hits revamped as comedy or attached to new, unauthorized imagery. "

Read the piece...

Biggest Wiki List

Pamela Bolan compiled this information.

As requested, I am forwarding to you the Word document I distributed at the Librarian's meeting, listing some of the many other institutions who have decided to include Wikipedia in their listing of Library's Quick Reference Tools.

To recap, some of the reasons in favour of keeping this resource include the fact that it is:

* incredibly current (articles can show up within hours of a major world event taking place)
* on average, quite accurate (as is evidenced by the Nature study noted in Alana's report)
* what people will use anyway (the 17th most popular site on the internet), so we should take this opportunity to educate our users about it's strengths and weaknesses (to put it into the correct context)
* a resource with an amazing breadth of coverage (covers 1000s of topics not even touched upon in Britannica)
* a resource with a depth of coverage that is often better than Britannica's
* included in numerous other institutions' Library Quick Reference Page sites (see attached list)
* multi-lingual (includes articles in more than 200 languages)
* gaining more and more acceptance with librarians (was included in Reference & User Services Quarterly's 7th annual Best Free Web Sites list and when 'tested' by three librarians in a recent Library Journal article ("I want my Wikipedia"), the conclusion was: "While there are still many reasons to proceed with caution when using a resource that takes pride in limited professional management, many encouraging signs suggest that (at least for now) Wikipedia may be granted the librarian's seal of approval".
* it is our reponsibility to educate not only our students, but also our faculty, who may not have as sophisticated a view of the role of new information technologies and the entire wiki phenomenon as we do as information professionals



For each of the following institutions, the URL for the library’s Quick Reference Tools page is included (note: sometimes the page is referred to as Ready Reference Tools, Virtual Reference Shelf, Online Reference Resources, etc.), as well as any annotation information that accompanied the Wikipedia listing.

While the following list presents more than 40 other institutions that include Wikipedia in their Quick Reference Tools page, it does not represent a comprehensive listing.


Cape Breton University

“A free content, multilingual encyclopedia written collaboratively by contributors around the world. The site is a Wiki - anybody can edit and add to an article. Offers quick understanding on controversial issues. Strong in current affairs.”


Kwantlen University College

No annotation


Lambton College

No annotation


McGill University

"Allows for general public authorship and editing of any page," i.e. not peer-reviewed, but gaining more acceptance”


Mount Royal College

No annotation


Ryerson University

“Wikipedia is a multilingual online encyclopedia consisting of over 470,000 articles in English created by more than 16,000 contributors. This is a good source to use for very recent topics.”


Trent University

“Multilingual online encyclopedia.”


University College of the Frasier Valley

No annotation


University of Lethbridge

Note that anyone can edit information”


University of Toronto

“This is a free-content encyclopedia with over 2,000,000 articles in around 200 languages (over 800,000 in English). Anyone can contribute and edit articles. Safeguards are in place to manage accuracy, but it is always good to check other sources to confirm. It is a good source of current topics.”


Vancouver Community College

No annotation



Appalachian State University

“Wikipedia is a free content encyclopedia that is being written collaboratively by contributors from all around the world."


Brighampton University

“Wikipedia's content is created by its users. Pages are always subject to editing, so no article is ever finished. In addition to standard "encyclopedic" knowledge, Wikipedia includes information more often associated with almanacs and gazetteers, as well as coverage of current events.”


California State Polytechnic University

“A free-content encyclopedia that anyone can edit!”


California State University

“A free online encyclopedia which anyone can edit.”


Howard University

No annotation


Humboldt State University

“Online Encyclopedia offering 810,000 articles that is created and edited by volunteers contributors. Browse by broad category such as Culture, Geography, History, Life, Mathematics, Science, Society, Technology, or search for specific topics.”


MIT’s Whitehead Institute for Biomedical Research

No annotation


Northeastern State University

No annotation


Pennsylvania College of Technology

An open-content encyclopedia in many languages. In this English edition, started in January 2001, there are 1,260,494 articles. Learn how to edit pages, experiment in the sandbox, and visit the Community Portal to find out how you can edit any article right now.


Pennsylvania State University

No annotation


Purdue University

“largest free online encyclopedia”


Rutgers University

“A wiki-based free content multilingual encyclopedia with supporting almanac-like and gazetteer-like information.”


State University of New York

No annotation


Texas Tech University

No annotation


Tufts University

“This encyclopedia cum dictionary with articles in many languages grows with contributions of its readers. It can be searched or browsed by subjects such as Health, Medicine and Public Health, which contain links to yet other articles and web encylopedias.

University of California

This free encyclopedia contains entries and contributions by volunteers that are not referreed and should be verified. Most contain extensive information with references in a short essay format.


University of Iowa

The collective wisdom of the Internet. A great place to start but fact should be checked carefully. In spite of some well publicized hoaxes a study by Naturedetermined that the Wikipedia was more or less as accurate as the Encyclopedia Britannica when it came to scientific topics.


University of Michigan

“Begun on January 15, 2001, Wikipedia uses collaborative software to offer this free-content encyclopedia. As defined by the website, "free" means free to add, free to edit, and free to copy and redistribute. Wikipedia is a multilingual open-content online encyclopedia, continually evolving through collaborative development. It is managed and operated by the non-profit Wikimedia Foundation. In March 2004, it contained over 220,000 articles in English and more than 300,000 in other languages.”


University of Minnesota

“Web-based, self-referential, multi-language, free-content encyclopedia written collaboratively by volunteers. Contains approximately 1.6 million articles.”


University of Missourri

No annotation


University of Nebraska

No annotation


University of North Carolina

“A free content, growing multilingual encyclopedia written collaboratively by contributors around the world. Started in January 2001. Entries can be written and edited by anyone; no one can guarantee the validity of Wikipedia entries. Many entries contain bibliographies with citations to scholarly sources.”


University of North Texas

“A Web-based, free-content encyclopedia written collaboratively by volunteers. The contents can be submitted by anyone regardless of subject specialty or knowledge; therefore, some entries may not be scholarly or accurate. Wikipedia has editions in roughly 200 different languages (about 100 of which are active) and contains entries both on traditional encyclopedic topics and on almanac, gazetteer, and current events topics.”


University of Tennessee

encyclopedia collaborative, nearly 3 million entries in 10 languages”


University of Texas

“This is an experimental open-content encyclopedia produced by volunteers and is not peer reviewed. Contains more than 300,000 articles.”


University of Virginia

"Wikipedia is a Web-based, multi-language, free-content encyclopedia written collaboratively by volunteers and sponsored by the non-profit Wikimedia Foundation.”


Wake Forest University School of Medicine

No annotation



University of Bath

“A large free-content encyclopedia that anyone can edit. It is produced by the Wikimedia Foundation, whose goals are to develop/maintain open content, wiki-based projects & to provide full public access to those projects, free of charge. Variable coverage. Accuracy can not be guaranteed.”


University of Cantebury

“Wikipedia is a free collaborative encyclopedia. As anyone can edit any article, it is possible for biased, out of date, or incorrect information to be posted on it. However, because there are so many other people reading the articles and monitoring contributions, incorrect information tends to be corrected quickly. Some articles contain references. Wikipedia may provide a useful starting point for learning about a particular topic, but for the purposes of academic study, information from it should be used in conjuction with standard peer-reviewed sources.”


University of Melbourne

No annotation


University of Sheffield

No annotation


University of Technology Sydney

“the free encyclopedia that anyone can edit.”


University of Wales

No annotation


Like every other profession out there, Librarians are experiencing the wrath of bloggers. Virtual Reference Transcripts, detailing bad service, are being posted online for all the world to see. Unfortunately, the postings are quickly taken down, I'm guessing via legal threats.

Read about it at:
Wasted money.

Book Summary Services


FreeTechBooks offers free computer science and engineering eBooks (including full on books and a smattering of lecture summaries).

Are Books Sacred in Tenure?

Young scholars need to publish books to get jobs and tenure. University presses can’t afford to publish books any more and are raising the bar for publication. Libraries don’t have money to buy the books the presses do publish, forcing the presses to make more cuts, making it still more difficult for young scholars to win tenure. The question of whether anyone wants to read these books isn’t even in the formula.

The Modern Languages Association is asking these questions.

Retail Wikibooks

Collaborative book writing is taking off. In a move that could shake up the book industry, Pearson PLC is joining with University of Pennsylvania's Wharton School and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology's Sloan School to create a business book authored and edited by a "wiki" -- an online community dedicated to writing. The wiki book, produced by a community of business experts and managers, will be called "We Are Smarter Than Me." It will explore how businesses can use online communities, consumer-generated media such as blogs, and other Web content to help in their marketing, pricing, research and service. Despite the free labor of the original authors, the list price will be $25.99.

Read more at WSJ.

Library Event Ticket Creator

Library Event Ticket Creator. Well it does all kinds of tickets...

Warning Sign Generator

Warning Sign Generator. Hours of fun!

WPOpac, OPAC 2.0?

WPOpac, which uses Wordpress software to run the OPAC, displays hits you can "comment on". Here is one deployment from Plymouth State Universty Library.

The “My OPAC sucks” movement exploded, after Karen Schneider’s two articles here and here, at ALATechsource.

The Documentary Organization of Canada recentrly released a white paper on the challenges they face due to Canadian Copyright law. Quite an interesting read.

Alot of NFB films are going out of print for this very reason.

Podcasting Remains Small

A growing number of Americans are listening to podcasts, but very few do so every day.

The Pew Internet and American Life Project recently reported that 12 percent of Internet users have downloaded a podcast, an increase from 7 percent earlier in the year.

However, only about 1 percent said they download a podcast on a typical day -- unchanged from the survey earlier this year. The rest do so less frequently, perhaps only once.

Learning from NetFlix

Libraries can do alot to improve how they serve up content to patrons. Books by mail shows promise (like NetFlix does with DVDs), it is being tested by universities and public libraries. Here's a great little piece on delivery 2.0.

Digital Ice Age

Brad Reagan, of Popular Mecahnics writes about culture loss due to the nature of digital objects. I like the buzz of digital ice age...

Citation Machines

Miami-Dade Schools are teaching history without books, they're just using search engines. Bet administrators love that cost savings! Who needs libraries, licensed content, textbooks...

Quoting one student:
"''I can use the skills I learn here in sixth grade and in college,'' said Marissa Seijo, 10."

Sound familiar?

The U.S. Copyright Office granted narrow, three-year exemptions to the(DMCA) that permits professors of film and media studies to circumvent the access-control technology of DVDs in their libraries to use film clips in class.

Amen! Canada, are you listening?

Wikipedia Gets Nervous About Copyright Infringement

Wikipedia has began to remove links to YouTube.com.

The beginning of the end of the pop culture phenom...

Stephen Abram has a great list of citation cheating tools.

Personally, I've never been happy with the results, but they can help newbies..

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