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One New Thing
Monday, November 29, 2004
One New Thing: Plagiarism debates.

Found via the Kept-Up Academic Librarian (this is one of my favourite blogs, by the way) was a story about two Harvard academics: one who in a “rush to meet a final deadline” accidentally plagiarised large chunks of someone else’s work, and one, the article suggests, whose previously published work put under scrutiny after he spoke out in defense of the first professor. The issue is not that plagiarism occurred, (because accidents can happen and it is easy to lose track of sources, particularly if there are multiple people involved in producing a work). The article questions how lenient the college is on students who plagiarise accidentally in their work (rather than deliberately) compared to staff. It’s an interesting question to think about in any university context where teaching staff are publishing. With the introduction of so many plagiarism detection tools to check student’s assignments, shouldn’t the same procedures apply to staff when they submit work for publication? Should the penalties for confirmed plagiarism be similar for both staff and students? And can it really be determined if plagiarism is deliberate or accidental?
The story is online, When Plagiarism's Shadow Falls on Admired Scholars, but is via the NY Times so a login is required.

(By the way, Google Search seems to have stopped wanting to tell me when I have already blogged about a topic before: so please excuse me for any duplication. Normally I do a quick search of the blog before I post, but I’m getting no hits on anything I search for right now.)

Friday, November 26, 2004
One New Thing: Wiki, and information wanting to be ‘free’.

This article was discussed on Libref-L this week: The Faith-Based Encyclopedia. It’s a review of Wikipedia, by a former Encyclopedia Britannica editor. What makes it interesting is that is from someone with a professional standpoint on encyclopedias – it’s very, very critical, but interestingly enough, he doesn’t discount it completely – just finishes with basic librarian advice: use it, but be aware that the source may not be reliable.

I’ll make Friday’s links relevant to this post: first, how about this page at Wikipedia of Errors in the Encyclopædia Britannica which have been corrected in Wikipedia http://meta.wikimedia.org/wiki/Errors_in_the_Encyclop%C3%A6dia_Britannica_which_have_been_corrected_in_Wikipedia. Also there have been a few experiments done by people testing the integrity of Wikipedia – some errors stayed in Wikipedia, other errors were fixed straight off (but the errors were more prominent).

Wednesday, November 24, 2004
One New Thing: Interactions between library systems and Learning Management Systems.

I found this article from Library Journal: Learning Systems & Us. It’s an overview of what kinds of interactions are possible between a library system and online teaching software (such as Blackboard or WebCT). Beyond just making better links from students’ course material to journal articles, there are suggestions such as having the teaching staff design a search strategy specific to a course, which can then be run automatically using a federated search product, straight from a link in a course site.

The librarian in me has two thoughts on this. One is, great, very easy for students to find higher quality resources than they might if they used a plain old search engine. The other is, when no such link exists, or they want to write an essay or a thesis about a different topic later in their academic career…do we have to wait until then to teach them plain database searching skills?

Monday, November 22, 2004
One New Thing: How to write support material.

By checking with the people who are going to be using it, to find out what is actually difficult for them, and why: in addition to trawling through previous questions and identifying current trends.

I also see the irony in confusing people further with the way the support material is set up. It might be worth running new material past unsuspecting colleagues beforehand, to see if they can understand what you are intending to explain. :)

Friday, November 19, 2004
One New Thing: Google Scholar.

Google releases a beta version of something all reference and systems librarians should keep an eye on. Google Scholar searches for articles from “scholarly” sources, including those from within subscription databases (although you will need to authenticate or pay in order to get hold of those ones – you can see the abstracts). The beta search seems to work well enough based on my brief experiments, I wish I was still doing reference so I could test it further! It could certainly has the possibility to make life interesting for companies producing link resolvers. One to watch! Read the Resourceshelf post about it, Big News: "Google Scholar" is Born.

I almost forgot it was Friday today – that’s a first! :) Take a look at what artist Chris Cobb did to a bookstore, now imagine it in your library!

Wednesday, November 17, 2004
One New Thing: Changes to domain transfer procedures?

Without really reading anything online today I came across this link on my first visit to a blog called Caveat Lector. Domain Transfers (and Hijackings) to Become Easier - read it and you’ll get the idea.

Monday, November 15, 2004
One New Thing: OCLC Top 1000.

Top 100 book lists always disagree, as they depend on who constructed them and how: but now, OCLC’s Top 1000 lists the 1000 books that are most owned by libraries worldwide. I know 1000 items means there are lots of choices, but there are still some surprising items in there. Garfield makes it into the top 20!

Friday, November 12, 2004
One New Thing: Free culture!

A few library bloggers are linking to freeculture.org, “an international student movement for free culture”. These groups are voicing their concerns about copyright and intellectual property, and raising awareness amongst their fellow students about Creative Commons licensing and similar, e.g. open source. It’s all about making sure that creativity, expression and individual industry doesn’t become swamped by all-encompassing legislation. Take a look!

Friday link: needs no explanation once you go there…Building with Books.

Wednesday, November 10, 2004
One New Thing: Open vs. Closed stacks.

Reading a bunch of things via my Bloglines I saw this link fly by…Will Robots Kill Joy of Browsing? It’s about a library that is automating the retrieval of books in closed stacks.
I hope this idea makes more than a few librarians nervous, and no, not because we might suddenly become less useful! No matter how brilliant cataloguing is, there will always be items that clients and librarians will not pick up in a search of the catalogue but will find on the shelves between two other useful items. Can a robot find those? Automation such as this could do wonders for space problems, I imagine, but I’m wondering how the researchers that use this library will find it. Or not find it, as the case may be!
Also, what happens if technology gremlins strike? “I’m sorry, you can’t have that book…yes, it’s checked in, but the robot is down for maintenance.”
I’d love to see this sort of system in action, actually. Anyone going to be demonstrating this at a tradeshow near me sometime? :)

Monday, November 08, 2004
One New Thing:Thoughts on knowledge uses.

This was actually just a random thought I had today: working as I do now supporting a particular software product, it’s interesting reading about other people using the same software in other institutions and finding out what different ideas they have had about to best apply it to fit the needs of their users. The software I am talking about is Blackboard, and a very cool tool that the author posted to a mailing list today was this Blackboard Browser / Computer Diagnosis tool. This is such a simple idea, which could make solving a multitude of content access problems over the phone so much easier!

Now, just a few administrative notes:
Since working in the support role (for Blackboard) I’ve found that I’m learning less to do strictly with libraries, since I spend my work hours learning other things (except for the mailing lists which I wouldn’t want to give up!). I originally set up this blog to write about and reflect on things I had learnt, but so far I’ve kept it mostly focussed on what I did in a library role. I’ve decided to stretch the boundaries of what I blog about further, to cover more of what I am actually working on, even though it isn’t strict librarian’s business. :) I do hope the librarians among my audience are just as interested in what a librarian venturing outside of the library learns, just as much as one who sits behind the ref desk.

Saturday, November 06, 2004
One New Thing: Wiki ideas.

I discovered a post that was on Catalogablog about possible uses for Wikis in libraries which when you track back seems to have stemmed originally from a post on Advanced Wiki'ing with Library Tools by the Digital Librian. These are wonderful ideas – use a wiki for subject pathfinders, so that local experts in the field who aren’t library staff can add their ideas, experience and search tips. I also think using wiki for the staff procedure manual is a fantastic idea – so much easier to keep updated, and what better time to identify and fix unclear or incomplete info than when the new hires encounter it for the first time?

Just so you know, I think I’ll start calling the Friday link the end-of-week link. ;) I’m picking one that I found some time ago but have recommended to a few people of late because it is very funny. (It’s probably something you want to save for home rather than work, though.) Shakespeare as you’ve never known: Pericles, Prince of Tired Plots.

Wednesday, November 03, 2004
One New Thing: Online Teaching and Learning.

I went to my first non-library-centric conference today: being about online teaching and learning, which is kinda the area I am working in now. What I mostly got out of today was a sense that there are a lot of people out there who are really trying to make online delivery work at its potential, which is of course fantastic. However there were multiple presenters who discussed their attempts at trying and failing to deliver courses in online modes before they were able to make it successful. It seems that pedagogy is still trying to catch up with the technology
I’ll list some of the major topics that came up:

  • an online course is in a broader context than that of just information delivery (i.e. they are more than just a place to keep the Powerpoint slides)

  • students expect interactivity from courses that are delivered online

  • students won’t use online material unless it is clearly tied into course objectives, or even better, forms part of their assessment

  • student access to the technology is still a concern

  • technological skills of teaching staff can be a barrier to the uptake of online teaching (and one would imagine this also can affect the quality of an online course)

  • developing successful online courses requires extra preparation and a lot of time

Monday, November 01, 2004
One New Thing: Job application documents are done differently in different countries.

Once again from the NewGrad list (it isn’t the only list I’m reading: obviously just one of the most memorable!). Someone asked about writing cover letters / selection criteria for the Australian job market, because it seems that it is done quite differently overseas. From a quick and dirty search I’ve found this page on international CV and resume writing from JobERA which outlines what to put on your CV from country to country. Although I’d probably doublecheck the information elsewhere before sending off overseas applications, it’s interesting to note all the small and not-so-small differences.