Thursday, December 16, 2004

We're in intersession, but we keep the reference desk open for a few hours to catch stragglers. So far:
  • Where can I find more about women writers? (Actually via email, from a non-UO address. The patron had just started reading Virginia Woolf, and wanted to find out more about women writers. I'm a little charmed, a little bemused.)
  • Where can I find sheet music for traditional Romany songs and dances?
  • How can I, as a faculty member, deal with my suspicions of 3 cases of academic plagiarism by my students?
  • Where can I find information about how food nutritional values are affected by light?
  • How can I print a 200-page document from EEBO without having to print each page separately and manually?

That last one freaks me out. I think I've printed documents of more than one page with a single click in EEBO before, but maybe not. Surely they didn't design an interface where you have to click through each individual scanned page image and print it separately? Investigation forthwith.

Friday, December 10, 2004

The Friday of finals week...possibly the slowest day of the year. But still, we get questions. Tough ones, too.
  • Where can I find statistics on the number of adoptions and abortions in the US, as well as on the number of people in government-assisted care programs?
  • Where can I find an article titled "Technics and Embodiment" by Don Ida? (Both title and author incorrect.)
  • Where can I find articles about token economies? (Patron left before I could explain how to actually locate articles using FindText. This is a pretty common problem, actually--patron impatience with the research process. I have no idea what to do about it.)

Thursday, December 09, 2004

The reference desk is slow; I bring you ruminations and links.


I'm not sure how to feel about the way this country is tending on gay rights, except sad. The recent hoo-haw in Alabama over so-called "gay books," which, if you haven't seen it yet, is written up in the Guardian here, is just stupefyingly scary. Not only from the perspective of a gay person who would very much like to see her full human rights accorded to her during her lifetime, but from the perspective of a reader, a librarian, an educated person, and a believer in intellectual freedom.

It's frightening to me that the president of this country draws his most staunch support from a demographic that thinks the play is called "Hammet." Not to mention the brain-melting disregard for personal freedoms and the Constitution, not to mention the staggering ugly-mindedness of the whole stupid scheme. When this story was carried in the University of Alabama's newspaper, The Crimson White, a UA law professor noted drily that Alabama has a history of spending its public monies on indefensible affronts to the Constitution (cf. the Ten Commandments in the courthouse lobby.) Too true. I know ALA is taking this case up, and presumably other civil liberties groups will get involved as it proceeds--but all the way along, we're wasting resources debating something that never should have made it to the table. Call it family value, morals, or whatever you like--it's hatred, it's ugly, and it's diminishing to everyone who supports it.

[Afterthought addition: It's not just books, either, and it's not just gay rights. It's apparently any medium or message that threatens the beliefs of conservative Christian groups in the US. See, for example, this comment on self-censorship in the upcoming film of His Dark Materials. Which I had not read or heard of before, but which now intrigues me.]

In the meantime, the Supreme Court in Canada has approved the government's right to legalize gay marriage. Strange; I thought they did that years ago.


There's an interesting review of a review of Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell, and the fantasy genre in general, here.

***** notes that appearing on Jon Stewart's The Daily Show can bump your book sales on Amazon by...a whole lot. Mental math was never my strong suit. But it's intriguing to see the direct corollation between a TV appearance and book sales. Food for thought, NEA.


Google Scholar is usefully reviewed here.


And speaking of the NEA, and by extension, of Reading at Risk, a bookstore manager in Tempe, AZ is working to make reading cool again. More power to her. Yay!


And, last but not least, Boris Charles Karpinski is one year old today. Happy birthday, sweet baby boy! What a year it's been...

Monday, December 06, 2004

Short shift on the desk today, but a few interesting things came up:
  • What database indexes Choice reviews from the 1970s or 1980s? (This is interesting, because a search in Library Literature on articles from Choice only finds fifty-odd hits. What's going on here? We ended up using Book Review Index.)
  • How do I find old UO yearbooks?
  • Where can I get hold of a copy of the Adoption and Safe Families Act of 1997?
  • Where can I find information about Native Americans and the environment? (After further questioning: where can I find information about the conflict between Native Americans and the federal parks system over land tenure in Hell's Canyon, Oregon?)*
  • Where can I find information about sexuality and morality? (Asked by a creative writing student researching the relationship between these two concepts to inform his own writing.)

* This one's interesting to me because it's almost an exact reiteration of a question I made up to use as an example for a presentation on diversity-based research at the 2004 Oregon Library Association conference. Relevance! Yay!

Thursday, December 02, 2004

Reference questions of the day:
  • How do I find these articles I'm looking for in Psychological Science, from 1999 and 1998?
  • Is the expression "call the shots" a popular idiom, and if so, is it polite, and also, what does it mean? (Asked by an ESL student.)
  • How can I find a reference book on the Bill of Rights?
  • Where can I find the New Grove Dictionary of Music and Musicians? (Take note, Leslie, if you're reading this: they use it!)

There's an interesting blog entry on libraries and the homeless here, in Library Dust. We see some homeless and/or itinerant users here in our library, because we allow community members to borrow books for virtually no cost, and because we're right in the middle of town. Still, it's nothing like the situation in major urban systems. When I worked in the Vancouver Public Library, the main downtown branch, I got more of a sense of how homeless person v. library plays out on a daily basis.

It's a major drag to think of banning people from the library because of how they look or smell, or because of how many possessions they're carrying with them. But on the other hand, Nancy Pearl and Michael McGrorty make some good points about what libraries are intended to do, and what happens when their services are stretched beyond those intentions. Essentially, what we need is a more civil and humane society, the sort of society that spawns things like the Housing Works Used Book Cafe like mushrooms after rain. And not just from the mushroom level up, either. We need a society where the government funds this sort of thing, where there's a general political will to get rid of poverty and treat illness and care for each other, instead of trying to legislate each other out of the stacks. But that's just me, and I'm hopelessly Canadian.

Wednesday, December 01, 2004

Questions of the day:
  • Where can I find a history of the word "occult," to see whether it had any associations with Catholicism circa 1901?
  • Where can I find a history of the word "chill," as it was used in place of the contraction "I'll"?
  • Where can I find articles that talk about the size of companies' board of directors relative to their earnings or profits?
  • Where can I find books that discuss extinction theories of the dinosaurs?
  • Can you point me to a source that will give me information about various drugs, i.e., lidocaine?
  • Where can I find information about my first cousin four times removed, who died in Coos County in 1908, and who was written about in Covered Wagon Women, published by Bison Press?
  • Where can I find case studies about teenage sex?
  • I returned a book a week ago about child development, which was in the RJs and had a black binding--how can I find it again if I don't remember anything else about it?

Interesting: two OED questions, one right after the other, unrelated. Some days are like that.