Saturday, April 5, 2008

Video Tutorials from Cornell University Libraries

When I have the time I'd like to make some videos like this one which show how to use various library resources. This one comes from the Cornell University Olin Library and is part of their series of 90-second videos called "Research Minutes."
The topic of this video is finding substantive news articles, certainly a topic which high school students need to understand.

I like the way this video just use still pictures and screen shots, a la typical slide presentations, and a little music to convey a sense of movement and urgency. Very easy techniques to make viewing the video much more enjoyable.

Wednesday, April 2, 2008

Yesterday, while the Mock Senate was taking place in the Library's Main Room, I decided to upload some of the MARC cataloging records for magazines and journals from EBSCOhost to our library catalog (home access/school access). It's turned out to be a more exhilarating and complicated process than I had anticipated.

I had already uploaded the records from Opposing Viewpoints Resource Center (a Gale product which we've had for a number of years). There weren't very many of them since I had only downloaded those for periodicals with full text. I was able to quickly check the records to make sure they were compatible with ones already in the catalog.

I had downloaded the records from the Advanced Placement Source database the previous week and they were just waiting on my desktop to be uploaded to the catalog. I knew there were thousands of them because I had looked at the lists which EBSCO makes available from its website. I was concerned that they not overwhelm the approximately 35,000 records in my catalog. About 30,000 of those records are for books, the rest are for audiovisual items, websites, other electronic resources, print periodicals, pamphlet files, maps, etc.

Anyway I decided to take the plunge and went through the fairly simple process of importing the records into the catalog. In the end I believe just over 2,000 record were added to the catalog through this process. In the long run I think this is a great addition to the catalog because each record has a link which lead directly to the particular periodical in the Advanced Placement Source database. In other words, if I want to see Atlantic Monthly, I just click on the link which says "Available on EBSCOhost" and I'm instantly taken to a list of all the issues available (back to 1985).

Now, of course, most of the periodicals imported into the catalog are a good deal more esoteric than Atlantic Monthly. How about the IBM journal of research and development? Or The International journal of African historical studies or APMIS acta pathologica, microbiologica et immunologica Scandinavica?

My next task is to go in a clean up the records, many of which come with multilingual subject headings and other anomalous fields. I started editing an alphabetical list and was able to get through the As, the Bs and most of the Cs, by end of today.

In the long run I think this will really enhance the usefulness of the OPAC by giving access to such resources as seventeen law reviews, scores of scientific and medical research journals, dozens of literary journals, and many other periodicals published all across the world. This access should enhance our application for the International Baccalaureate program and help our Advanced Placement and other students find good, reliable, accessible sources of information for all the creative research projects their teachers challenge them with every day.