“Which bridge did Muhammed Ali throw his medal off of?” and other interesting questions answered by the Research Assistance & Instruction Department

By Anna Marie Johnson

Imagine a job where you were able to learn about all kinds of different and fascinating topics in the process of helping someone answer a burning question that they have. That is part of the work of the Research Assistance and Instruction (RAI) office. Librarians, professional staff, and peer research assistants answer questions like these (and much more prosaic ones such as “Why can’t I access this journal article I need?”)  via e-mail, chat, phone, or face-to-face:

  • How many buildings are there on Belknap Campus?
  • How did St. Paul come to be a Roman citizen?
  • What is the childhood address of Hunter S. Thompson?
  • What was the roll call vote for the Kentucky senators and House members for the Civil Rights Act of 1964?
  • Can you help me research design for justifying the excavation of a privy?
  • What are the cultural reactions regarding American Indians during the Gilded Age and Progressive Era (1870-1929)—particularly in how American Indians and the related federal policies were represented in the media?
  • Where can I find industry and consumer data for Gillette Fusion?
  • What are the general prosodic characteristics of English and Spanish?

Over the years, we have helped with questions that ranged from the esoteric (journal articles on the dead Sabaean language, from someone wanting to piece together the language and write a book about it) to the downright impossible, such as the patron who wanted a copy of the WHAS Radio broadcast license from 1927, or the patron researching obscure magicians and street performers from Europe.

“What’s the best book you’ve ever read?”

While we go to great lengths to track down an answer, sometimes there’s a little luck involved. One day, a call came in to Rob Detmering, the librarian responsible for Film Studies. The caller was looking for one of the original copies of a 1972 film called Asylum of Satan. The film had reportedly been shot here in Louisville and the out-of-state caller thought that the university might have a copy. Rob asked around to the Archives, the Art Department, and a few other campus contacts that he thought might know something,

“How many theaters exist in the Palestinian territories occupied by Israel?”

but to no avail. Rob did some digging in the online database for the Courier-Journal that the library subscribes to and discovered the film had been shown at a film festival in 2008 at Baxter Avenue Theatre. Rob called the theater and spoke with someone who not only knew the film but knew the location of the copy that they had used in the showing.

We often learn a lot as we’re helping.  Our former Libraries Diversity Resident George Martinez received a question from a faculty member asking about the history of the African American Theater program at UofL. He looked through some microfilm and consulted with our colleagues in the Archives & Special Collections to find articles that traced the history of a controversy over how money generated by the Fiesta Bowl was being used for scholarships. The results of that controversy was the increase in hiring and scholarship distribution to increase the diversity at UofL.

Got Questions? Ekstrom’s RAI Department can help you track down your answer! Oh, and there is some doubt as to whether Ali ever threw his medal off any bridge, but the closest answer is the Clark Memorial.

 


Getting Real About Fake News

By Anna Marie Johnson

Many of us have had this experience recently: You read something odd, exaggerated or outrageous on social media and think, “Could something this odd/exaggerated/outrageous be true?” But have you taken time to investigate?  Most people don’t.

Sometimes the consequences are minor. For example, an ad appeared on social media recently for a Fisher-Price Miniature Bar Play Set, complete with tiny beer bottles and bar stools. Posts immediately disparaged and urged boycotts of the toy company Fisher-Price, which subsequently issued a press release saying the ad was fake.

noun_881233_cc


Image: Louis Prado, Noun Project. Creative Commons.

Sometimes, however, the consequences can be severe. A conspiracy theory story about a child sex ring run by Hillary Clinton first appeared on a white supremacists’ Twitter account and went viral, ultimately leading Edgar Welch to take a gun to a pizza parlor and attempt to shoot people (See “Pizzagate” on Wikipedia: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pizzagate_conspiracy_theory).

How can you tell if something is fake or even just misleading? There is no easy formula, and we must first fight our own propensity to believe things we want to be true. However, here are three important ways to avoid spreading fake or misleading news:

  1. Keep a skeptical mindset about any news.

Being skeptical means being a critical thinker and examining your own thinking. When you read story that makes you think, “Wow, that’s unbelievable,” stop and examine that idea. What about the story seems unbelievable? What about your own feelings on the topic make you want to believe the story? What pieces of the story seem to lead you to see the story from the author’s perspective? Often reading beyond the headline is important because headlines are designed to memorable and catch your attention, the details of the story are often far more mundane.

  1. Rely on respected news sources.

Relying on respected news sources is an important piece of the puzzle. Respected news sources follow standards of practice or ethical codes of conduct. They will provide evidence for their claims. The New York Times, Washington Post, Wall Street Journal, Time magazine, are all legitimate and respected sources of news. That doesn’t mean they never get anything wrong, it simply means they have a long history of accurately and fairly reporting the stories they cover. Often checking several of them is a good way to get the full perspective on a particular story.

  1. Refuse to share anything you haven’t checked for truth.

When news that is fake or misleading is shared on social media, the problem is compounded, because more hits mean that search engines will surface the news item more readily, more people will see it, and it will seem to attain greater legitimacy.

While there is no surefire formula for detecting fake or misleading news, help is available! The librarians in Ekstrom Library’s Research Assistance and Instruction Department are available to help you decide the quality and legitimacy of news sources. Come by and see us on the first floor in Ekstrom Library’s east wing, call us at (502) 852-0433, or use our chat service to reach us!

 

 

 

 


Be a Search Ninja in WorldCat Local

By Anna Marie Johnson, 01/07/2015

What we have labeled “Library Catalog” on the University Library’s webpage http://louisville.edu/library is really far more than a catalog of books or even books UofL owns. If you have used it, you probably have discovered all kinds of other materials: videos, government documents, archival documents, magazine and journal articles, and more. You probably have also realized that your search results may also include items not available at UofL but at other libraries around the world which show up in the WorldCat Local database.

In addition, the database changes daily due to additions from libraries around the world as well as updates from database providers such as Medline. So, your search results today won’t necessarily match your search results from yesterday.

While you may have searched the Library Catalog/WorldCat Local, you may not have had time to really play with it. Below are some search tips that will allow you to dig deeper into the contents of the database and have more precision with your searches. If you would like more information on searching WorldCat Local, please contact a librarian!

Having trouble looking for the title of something? Try adding ti: to the beginning of your search.

Example ti: Immunology

This is especially helpful for one-word titles or titles which have lots of words in common with other titles.

If you know the author, you can create an even more powerful search by adding au: author’s name

Example ti: Shiver au:stiefvater

Just like in Google, quotation marks can be used to search adjoining words as a phrase.

Example “The Sun Also Rises”

Want to search for variations on words?

You can use the * to find variations of a word ending or # to replace a specific character.

Example parent*

Example wom#n

There are MANY more fields you can search specifically such as Library of Congress subject headings (hl:) or MESH (hm:). See the full list here: http://www.oclc.org/support/services/worldcat-local/documentation/expert_examples_WorldCat_Local.en.html

 

Are you a real library geek who enjoys using Boolean operators? You can use them in WCL too, but keep in mind there are still other factors that affect the results set such as whether we own the item. Generally, the Boolean logic seems to apply well in some cases but not others due to the complexity of the search algorithm.

The default operator is AND, so any words you enter will be joined using AND unless you use one of the other two operators OR and NOT. You can also use the | or – signs if you prefer.

Example moon OR stars

Example moon | stars

Example moon NOT stars

Example moon -stars

Use of the facets on the lefthand side can be used to sift through the abundance of results when your search returns more than you anticipated. So for example, if you are looking for a book, often book reviews of the book will show up in your results. You can remove these by using the Book facet on the left.

Some limits can be added to the search before you complete it by using the Advanced Search link.

In this area, you can add or remove additional databases to broaden or narrow your search. Unfortunately, some databases such as Medline, ERIC, GPO, and British Library Serials cannot be removed. They are a part of the OCLC WorldCat Local database.

In the Advanced Search, you can search for a date range, something you cannot do post-search with the date facets.

For a step-by-step tutorial on Advanced Search in WCL, see http://www5.oclc.org/downloads/tutorials/worldcatlocal/advnsrch/default.htm


Today’s Headlines are Déjà Vu

By Anna Marie Johnson, 10/22/2014

“The New Flood Tide of Immigration”: You’d guess that was a headline from USA Today last month? Actually, it is a headline from 1921 which appeared in the Annals of the American Academy of Political Science. How about the headline “How good are cold and flu shots?” It’s from Science Digest, 1960. “New Hopes for Syria” is an article from 1937. All of these articles and many more that can provide students with a better perspective on today’s headlines can be found in the Reader’s Guide Retrospective database. Comparing coverage of a news story from the past and today can be illuminating to students in many disciplines: history, English, sociology, biology, psychology to name a few. This kind of exercise could be a great class discussion starter or an opportunity for a short paper or project.

This database is the electronic version of the old, green books that comprised the Reader’s Guide, stalwart source for most beginning research. The database covers magazines from 1890-1982. Many of the articles are available via full-text links and others are available in microfilm or even in bound print form in Ekstrom Library. For more ideas about how to incorporate material from this database or any of the other 200+ databases to which the library subscribes, contact an Ekstrom Library reference librarian in your discipline: http://louisville.edu/library/ekstrom/reference/


Minerva, the Traditional Library Catalog to be Sunsetted

By Anna Marie Johnson, 04/11/2014

On May 1, 2014, the Online Public Access Catalog (OPAC), fondly known as Minerva will no longer be available via links on most University Library web pages. This piece of software has served us well for 15 years, but the time has come to retire her. You may have already noticed the change to our new default search of the WorldCat Local (WCL) database on the University Libraries webpage and also on the Ekstrom, Kornhauser, Music, and Art Library webpages. WorldCat Local will be used as our publicly accessible catalog, although we will continue to use the Voyager system behind the scenes to process and circulate materials. The Archives and Special Collections will continue to use the Minerva interface due to the specialized materials that they have.

When you say “no longer be available via links”, what exactly do you mean?

We won’t link to minerva.louisville.edu from our webpages, but if you type in that URL, it will continue to work for the foreseeable future. It will not be customized, and more importantly, the records will not be corrected or maintained and thus will not be as accurate as the ones in WorldCat Local. Some pieces of the system will, however, continue to be used such as “My Account” where you can log in to renew your materials and the piece used to request an item from the Robotic Retrieval and Storage (RRS) system.

Why is the library catalog changing from Minerva to WorldCat Local?

WorldCat Local searches for books, e-books, articles, videos, and other items from UofL Libraries and many other libraries, all in a single search. In addition to library holdings it includes over 70 million citations to articles from JSTOR, ERIC (education), ScienceDirect, ArticleFirst, GPO (U.S. government publications), and more databases. With its intuitive interface researchers can then narrow results by location, format and full-text availability. Minerva, on the other hand, only contains what UofL owns and cannot search articles at all which has been a source of confusion to students and other researchers.

Book records in WorldCat Local include an image of the book as well as the standard information that Minerva provided: call number, availability, subject headings, citation and description. WorldCat Local will also indicate libraries nearby that have the item if we don’t have it here at UofL. Articles can be limited to peer-reviewed and/or full-text availability. Overall, the contents and functionality of the WorldCat Local tool far exceed the Minerva catalog.

Why now?

It comes down to time and money. Reductions in budget and staff have made us look for ways to provide the same level of service with fewer hours of staff time. For the last several years our staff has been doing double duty updating both versions of the catalog. This has meant many staff hours creating and updating records in the two systems and managing changes to the Minerva interface. Officially going with WorldCat Local as our library catalog will eliminate the duplication of effort and help provide our patrons with a single interface for finding the up-to-date information they need.

Why didn’t we do this sooner?

We introduced WorldCat Local on a pilot basis a few years ago. We wanted to make sure that it would meet the needs of our researchers as well as fulfill the University Libraries’ needs for a catalog. While WorldCat Local has improved its functionality consistently, the software that runs Minerva is no longer being upgraded or developed. Another inhibiting factor has been that we have materials that are available through Minerva, such as University records, manuscripts, and some other archival materials, that have been problematic to access through WorldCat Local. The benefits of moving to WorldCat Local, however, far outweigh these difficulties.

Questions?

Obviously, as with any change of this magnitude, there will be bumps along the way. Nothing is perfect, and there are still a number of issues to be resolved. WorldCat Local has interoperability with some library systems and processes. If you have questions about this changeover or what it will mean for your research, please contact the library at UofL that you use the most often.

If you’d like to familiarize yourself more with the WorldCat Local catalog, please visit our help page: http://louisville.libguides.com/help for more information.


Local Happenings….The Courier-Journal

By Anna Marie Johnson, 01/29/2014

If you are a UofL faculty, staff, or student, you have access to articles from Louisville’s local newspaper, The Courier-Journal. Access is provided through the Gannett Newstand database, available from either the “C” or “G” pages of the All Databases List. The Gannett database includes a number of other papers published by Gannett such as the Cincinnati Enquirer, so if you want to limit your search to just the Courier-Journal, you’ll need to use the Advanced Search, and search for the Courier-Journal in the Publication Title. See the picture below.

GannettNewstandscreenshot

The database contains articles from 1999-the present. If you do not find an article you remember seeing in the online or print edition of the paper, it may be that the article was from a news service such as Reuters or reprinted from another paper such as the New York Times and you’ll need to look elsewhere for it.  Contact a librarian if you need help!

Articles from before 1999 are likely not available online, or even on the computer! UofL has microfilm of the Courier-Journal dating back to 1868, and from the two proceeding newspapers Louisville Courier (1851) and the Louisville Journal (1833). Here is an example of the index (also on microfilm) to the CJ from 1918.

Courier-Journal_index

The earliest years of the Courier-Journal are being digitized, but currently, UofL does not have a subscription to that database; it is however, available from the Louisville Free Public Library.

There are many treasures to be found in the historical Courier-Journal. It would be an interesting assignment for students who want to trace the history of a local story, event, or famous person.

UofL also has several other newspapers of local historical interest on microfilm such as the Louisville Defender, the local African-American paper from 1951-2009; the Louisville Anzeiger, the local German language newspaper from 1849-1937; and the Louisville Leader, another African American newspaper currently being transcribed via crowdsourcing.


Some Helpful Features of the Library Catalog aka WorldCat Local

By Anna Marie Johnson, 9/11/2013

So, that big search box on many of the University Libraries webapges… you’ve used it to find stuff, but did you know that it can help you cite what you find? Just click the Cite/Export link in the top right corner as you’re looking at the record for a book, article, or other material you’ve found. Then choose the citation style that you’re using.

wclpicblog2013-09-11

If you find an item of interest, you can share it with others using the Share button. Items can be shared via Facebook, Google, Twitter, Pinterest, and any number of other social media sites. This button is located to the right of the Cite/Export link mentioned above.

With WorldCat Local, you can also create a personal account and create lists for yourself. For example, I have created a list for myself of items that I’d like to read someday but don’t have time to get to right now. Lists can be public or private. In addition, you can track other people’s lists, save searches of your own, add tags to items of interest, and create a profile that can be either private or public as well. If you are a researcher who uses more than one library, you can add these institutions to your favorite libraries list. The sign in feature is located in the far upper right corner of the screen.

wclrefineyoursearchWhat if you need a children’s book in Spanish? Start with a keyword search, say for “girls” because you want a book about a little girl.  Once you have the list of results, you can narrow using what are called “facets” or Refine Your Search options on the left side of the search screen. Click on the facet for “Spanish” under language and then click on the facet for “juvenile”.  Voila!  You find 3 books about girls in Spanish that UofL owns!


Saying Good-bye to Minerva, the traditional library catalog

By Anna Marie Johnson, 07/24/2013

“The times, they are a changin’” sang Bob Dylan and while it’s a bit cliché now, we really do sometimes have to change with them. On May 1, 2014, the Online Public Access Catalog (OPAC), fondly known as Minerva will no longer be available. This piece of software has served us well for 15 years, but the time has come to retire her. You may have already noticed the change to our new default search of the WorldCat Local (WCL) database on the University Libraries webpage and also on the Ekstrom, Kornhauser, Music, and Art Library webpages. WorldCat Local will be used as our publicly accessible catalog, although we will continue to use the Voyager system behind-the-scenes to process and circulate materials.

Why is the library catalog changing from Minerva to WorldCat Local?

WorldCat Local searches for books, e-books, articles, videos, and other items from UofL Libraries and many other libraries, all in a single search. In addition to library holdings it includes over 70 million citations to articles from JSTOR, ERIC (education), ScienceDirect, ArticleFirst, GPO (U.S. government publications), and more databases. With its intuitive interface researchers can then narrow results by location, format and full-text availability. Minerva, on the other hand, only contains materials owned by UofL and cannot search articles at all which has been a source of confusion to students and other researchers.

Book records in WorldCat Local include an image of the book as well as the standard information that Minerva provided: call number, availability, subject headings, citation and description. WorldCat Local will also indicate libraries nearby that have the item if we don’t have it here at UofL. Articles can be limited to peer-reviewed and/or full-text availability. Overall, the contents and functionality of the WorldCat Local tool far exceed the Minerva catalog.

Why now?

It comes down to time and money. Reductions in budget and staff have made us look for ways to provide the same level of service with less hours of staff time. For the last few years our staff has been doing double duty updating both versions of the catalog. This has meant many staff hours creating and updating records in the two systems and managing changes to the Minerva interface. Officially going with WorldCat Local as our library catalog will eliminate the duplication of effort and help provide our patrons with a single interface for finding the up-to-date information they need.

Why didn’t we do this sooner?

We introduced WorldCat Local on a pilot basis a few years ago. We wanted to make sure that it would meet the needs of our researchers as well as fulfill the University Libraries’ needs for a catalog. While WorldCat Local has improved its functionality consistently, the software that runs Minerva has not grown to meet users’ expectations. Another inhibiting factor has been that we have materials that are available through Minerva, such as University records, manuscripts, and some other archival materials, that have been problematic to access through WorldCat Local.  The benefits of moving to WorldCat Local, however, far outweigh these difficulties. During the changeover our staff will work out methods to keep these materials available and some units in the University Libraries system may choose other access software for their materials.

Questions?

Obviously, as with any change of this magnitude, there will be bumps along the way. Nothing is perfect, and there are still a number of issues to be resolved. WorldCat Local has interoperability with some library systems and processes. If you have questions about this changeover or what it will mean for your research, please contact the library at UofL that you use the most often.

If you’d like to familiarize yourself more with the WorldCat Local catalog, please visit our help page: http://louisville.libguides.com/help for more information.


The Chicago Manual of Style Online

By Anna Marie Johnson, 04/23/2013

Are you writing a final paper this week? Do you have questions about grammar and punctuation? Is the Writing Center closed? The University Libraries subscribes to the online version of both the 15th and 16th editions of the Chicago Manual of Style, an often used source for questions such as…

There is a search box in the upper right hand corner of the screen where you can search for your specific question of interest. Using fewer search terms works better.

The Manual can also be enjoyed by grammar-junkies who find it fascinating to read about the use of more esoteric aspects of the written word such as when nouns followed by gerunds may take the possessive form or when it might be appropriate to intensify an uncomparable adjective. Or perhaps one of your colleagues has a particular grammar or punctuation proclivity that you would like to address such as is it summer or Summer?

Also fun is to peruse the Q&A section of the website where the editors of the Style Manual provide witty and informative responses to even the most trivial questions of grammar and style.

For more information about this resource or another resource provided by the University Libraries, contact the Ekstrom Library Reference and Information Literacy Department at 852-6747 or use the reference question form.


Oxford Language Dictionaries Online vs Google Translate

By Anna Marie Johnson, 03/19/2013

Do you use Google Translate?  The Oxford Language Dictionaries Online, available from the University Libraries Databases A-Z list offers some advantages over Google Translate, especially for beginning language learners.

  1. The Oxford dictionaries are authoritative. No “voting” on whether the translation is good or not.  They are compiled by language experts.
  2. Phrases!  It’s fine to know the meaning of a single word.  Google translate works decently for that.  When you’re learning a language though, it is super helpful to know the phrases that often accompany a particular word, especially when they color the meaning of that word or when the word is not used literally.  For example, Google will tell you that “gesicht” in German means “face.”  The Oxford Language Dictionary will tell you that “solche Unhöflichkeit steht dir nicht zu Gesicht[e]” or “such impoliteness ill becomes you.”  The translation of that phrase in Google: “Such rudeness does not become you to face.”
  3. Need to cite the word you translated?  Oxford Language Dictionaries Online help you do that with the click of a button!
  4. The dictionaries contain important grammatical information for each language.
  5. Lists of useful phrases to use when you’re traveling!

The dictionaries also briefly summarize the history and current state of the  language. U of L Libraries subscribes to Chinese, German, French, Italian, Russian, and Spanish dictionaries through this service.

Have questions about this resource or any other library resource?  Call 852-6747 or chat with us at Ask-a-Librarian.