December 17, 2004

Happy Chrismakkuh

I don't expect to post much (if at all) until I get back to work the first week in January. Enjoy!

December 15, 2004

From recent Dlibs

December 14, 2004

U of M FAQ on Google scanning project + musings

This page from the University of Michigan's news service gives some nitty gritty detail on how copyright will be handled in Google's new collaborative project with various libraries. My take? It's really breathtaking. Access to many thousands of public domain titles will be an amazing resource for students & researchers of all stripes. As well, a window into the copyrighted titles will make it a lot easier for people to identify books they want to track down (buy or borrow). It's interesting to note that Google could almost replace the catalogue for these institutions...hmmm, I wonder if Google's thought of that? I wonder, though, does this kind of thing make the actual collections of academic libraries more likely to be used, or less. Will Google users just not use anything that's more than a click away?

One thing I always wonder about: how often do students buy articles from publishers that they could get access to for free if they only knew about how to access them (online or print) through the library? How often will students buy a copy of a Google book (print or online) because they neither know nor care that they could borrow it for free from their library? (via JoAnn Sears on PAMNET)

York U space research

This is a nice little story about my institiution's space science & engineering researchers and the work they're doing. The York Centre For Research in Earth & Space Science is here.

December 10, 2004

So, you think you know something about IL?

Then take the Christmas Quiz 2004 from the Information Literacy Weblog.

Welcome to our world

Online Research Worries Many Educators is a story that will be familiar to all academic librarians. A few choice quotes (via Lisnews.):

Georgia Tech professor Amy Bruckman tried to force students to leave their computers by requiring at least one book for a September class project. She wasn't prepared for the response: "Someone raised their hand and asked, "Excuse me, where would I get a book?'"

Alex Halavais, professor of informatics at the University at Buffalo, said students are so accustomed to instant information that 'the idea of spending an hour or two to find that good source is foreign to them.'

"If I'm going to go to the library, chances are somebody hasn't paid a librarian 100 bucks to point me to a particular book," said Beau Brendler, director of the Consumer Reports WebWatch.

December 8, 2004

Catching up on some EEVL news

A few recent (and not so recent) notes from EEVL:

Tech cheating turns professors into sleuths

Another interesting article on plagiarism, this one via Lisnews.

Péter Jacsó on Google Scholar

Check here for Jacsó's very detailed (and highly critical) review of Google Scholar. His main points are:

Google, Inc. has the intellectual and financial resources (and the largest group of cheerleaders) to create a superb resource discovery tool of scholarly publications. It needs to:

  • exploit the highly structured and tagged Web pages with rich metadata readily available in the digital archives of most of the scholarly publishers
  • create field-specific indexes for many distinct data elements
  • offer an advanced menu with pull-down menus for limiting the search by publisher, journal, document type, publication year, etc.
  • consolidate cited references through the ever increasing DOI registry
  • collect information of all the relevant materials from the publishers' archive
  • develop utilities that enable libraries to launch a known-item federated search in the full-text aggregators' databases licensed by the library in order to check if any have the document from a journal that is not licensed digitally from the publisher.

All valid points, and I hope the fine folk at Google are paying attention to all the free R&D the library community is contributing to their cause. On the other hand, they're probably wishing they were a little less Beta and a bit more Alpha in terms of their content, interface and help files. I find it interesting that there's so much negative commentary, with an almost mean-spirited glee in the product's obvious short comings. It's not perfect, there are glaring shortcomings that will have to be fixed before it can compete with other, more polished, services. But, on the other hand, it is only Beta. The potential is enormous and I think we need to be realistic about what our patrons want to use. They want one search fits all with instant access to free full text. Google Scholar is going to be part of that mix. Services that can't add enough value to their data will find it hard to justify charging the big bucks to libraries and other clients. Publishers that are slow to collaborate with Google will find that they're journals aren't used as much. Is there a tremendous amount if information in the huge datafiles built lovingly over the decades by organizations like Biosis and INSPEC (to name two at random)? No question. That needs to be preserved. We should be especially concerned about the indexing of publications like conferences, defunct journals and mountains of grey literature. But, we also need to recognize that it won't be librarians that will spell the success or failure of Google Scholar. It will be our patrons: faculty, staff, students and the general public. (via OAN.)

December 6, 2004

The web is a very strange place

Like most bloggers, I keep an eye on the hit stats. Not obsessively, but every day or two I check to see what's happening. I'm particularly interested by the referer stats that I get. In any case, the hits have really jumped the last week or two -- all thanks to Noah Wiley and his new movie The Librarian. As you may recall, I mentioned the existence of the flick a while back, not reviewing it or anything. So, you can imagine my amusement to see all the hits coming in. Bizarrely, as of this morning, I'm in the top ten google hits on Noah Wiley and number 1 for Noah Wiley librarian and "noah wiley" librarian. This post will no doubt only make it worse.

December 2, 2004

Big Cheats on Campus

On a considerably less cheerful note, this ABC News story on cheating at universities is eye-opening.

Another couple from SciAm this time

A couple from the Grauniad...

...that I've been meaning to post for quite some time: (via Locusmag)

November 30, 2004

SciTechies on the Greatest Canadian list

See the CBC Story here. Father of medicare Tommy Douglas is certainly a worthy winner in this somewhat controversial exercise. I just thought I'd mention the scitech types who also made the top ten: Frederick Banting, Alexander Graham Bell and David Suzuki. See some of the news coverage here and the rest of the top 100 here. My choice? Well, never mind. The only comment I'd like to make is that I think it's too bad that the only hockey player in the top 10 had to be Gretzky. He is arguably the best hockey player of all time, but I think you can also make a case that the most important hockey player in Canadian history is Maurice Richard.

Bad Astronomy

From the same issue of Sci Fi Weekly, here's a review of a site about Bad Astronomy, mostly in the movies and on TV. It's pretty amusing -- the biggest offender is Armageddon, a flick I personally haven't seen. And probably never will.

Movie Review: The Librarian

Sounds like an interesting movie, so check out the review here. The movie stars Noah Wiley of ER fame.

Movie Review: The Librarian

Sounds like an interesting movie, so check out the review here. The movie stars Noah Wiley of ER fame.

November 24, 2004

Jay Bhatt on Google Scholar

Jay Bhatt, Information Services Librarian (Engineering) of Drexel University's Hagerty Library recently posted a long meditation on Google Scholar on the eldnet-l listserv. Jay makes a lot of very valid points about the limitation of Google Scholar, ones we should all pay close attention to when trying to steer our patrons to other resources that are, at least for the time being, more relevant to their needs. The only sneaking suspicions I have are that the deficiencies Jay mentions are only temporary....

Jay has kindly allowed me to quote his email here. I've decided to include it in it's entirety. Without further ado:

There are five areas that the present version of Google Scholar does not cover:

1. It does not index online electronic books and handbooks such as those from engnetbase, neurosciencenetbase, environetbase, infosecuritynetbase, materialsnetbase, and knovel, etc. It becomes even more important to educate our students especially those working on Freshman and Senior Design Projects, to use electronic books and the books available in print when they need to develop sufficient background in their project areas before using Google Scholar. We want them not to carried away by Google Scholar so much that they ignore other important resources. Especially for design projects, scholarly interature is just a component of their research; not the only component.

2. Conference papers indexed in Ei village (engineering village) appears toe not yet available in Google Scholar. I did a search for 'Biomaterials' limiting to only conference articles in Engineering Village2. I found 507 articles in Engineering Village. I tried a few in Google Scholar but could not find.

3. We may not be able to download citations to Refworks to create your bibliography. Students will need to add them manually if they want to add them in Refworks.This will be time consuming.

4. Advanced features such as searching within just Abstract rather than Full Text may not be available. Limiting search using advanced features avilable tends to increase relevancy of articles.

5. Google Scholar does not provide what is being covered, what journals are indexed, what other databases are covered, so just relying on Google Scholar may not be helpful.

6. Searching online codes (MAD CAD) is not available in Google Scholar. MAD CAD is very heavily used by our Senior Design students.

"Subscription based MAD-CAD contains the building codes and knowledge based solutions and guidelines to meet the codes. MAD-CAD provides access to a comprehensive cross-referenced collection of building, electrical, mechanical, plumbing, fire, maintenance codes from BOCA, SBCCI, ICBO, ICC, and NFPA; and state and local codes. This comprehensive set of codes in conjunction with the search engine and organizational tools provide an intelligent and efficient system for architectural, engineering and educational solutions.".

7. Computer Science/IST - Books24x7, Safari, Lecture Notes in Computer Science - are important not yet available in Google Scholar. As the name implies ('Scholar'), they will not be available in future, too.

8. One can not browse among diferent volumes/issues of a particular journal.

No doubt Google Scholar appears to be a great product, but we need to consider
these limitations and promote them during our classes so that students will try to use other resources and simply not carried away by Google Scholar. I do like Google Scholar but I wanted to bring these issues. Lastly, there is a human component that Google Scholar can not provide.

Recently, I had our meeting with Freshman engineering faculty members to discuss planning for our Freshman engineering library sessions during the winter term.. I am including some important points that we discussed from the instructional perspectives.

They liked our ideas of the multidisciplinary subject headings to address searching for biomedical engineering related information in several databases. Based on our discussion during the meeting, we are going to develop a one page hand out on examples of citations from variety of sources (one from handbook, one from a library book found using the catalog (print), one from encyclopdedia, one from website, one from journal article, and one from conference proceedings). This page will be used as a reference for students as they develop their bibliography.

Discussion on Refworks was extremely well received. Infact, they all loved it. One faculty member suggested that we point out during the class that last year some students received poor grades because they did not co-ordinate well with their team members. Collaborating using Refworks in building a 'Group Bibliography' with each member of the team contributing, will be one way to improve co-ordination and
co-operation among others. This suggestion was applauded by all faculty members present including us.

They are going to ask their students to follow the sample reference page and write their bibliography in that style. Either APA or MLA style will be used but students can use IEEE/ASCE style in Refworks. No decision has been made as yet if they are going to require students to use one style.

Interestingly, they all knew about Google Scholar; we argued and tried to convince them that it is NOT the only tool and that students need to look at other resources, ebooks, handbooks, library books, and conference papers for a complete search. They all agreed wholeheartedly. Importance of building codes and specific material properties also came up (google scholar will not find them). They all agreed that we spend a few minutes in our talk to highlight our library resources, and in what situations Google Scholar is good, when it can be used, and when library subscribed other resources should be used. We will add one slide in our Powerpoint to address them. Importance of library consultations by students with librarians was again stressed by many faculty members. Two instructors are using webCT; we will plan to link our tutorial in those two faculty member's sections. This will be app. 8 sections out of the 27 sections.

November 23, 2004

Science Library Pad

A very new scitech librarian blog, this one's called Science Library Pad. It's by yet another Canuck, this one at CISTI in Ottawa. As yet the blogger is nameless. The first post is from November 20. Welcome. UPDATE: As noted in the comments, I should have read the About page for SPL. SPL is by Richard Akerman.

November 22, 2004

Ask and you shall receive

It seems Art Rhyno has already thought about some of the proxy issues I brought up: here and here. Thanks Lisa.

Google Scholar

It had to happen. I've touched on it before in postings on the way Google was sucking up metadata from various publishers. I expected it. Google, as we all know by now, has entered the bibliographic database industry with a new beta test product. Google Scholar it's called and it's pretty interesting. A few sample searches indicate that most of the content there is links to actual journal content rather than the random signal/noise ratio usually associated with search engines. I urge everyone to read their About file very carefully. I think that they understand scholarly content, are serious about making sure that their product is mostly about high quality scholarly resources. They obviously want as many publishers as possible to contribute. This is potentially THE significant development in the academic library/scholarly publishing field of the last year or so. Winners & losers:

  • Loser: the A&I industry. Big time. Google Scholar is free, their products are definately not. Can they add enough value to the data they have to make it worth our (ie. libraries) while to subscribe to their services? No one's cancelling all those indexes this year, or even next, but what about five years from now? The key here is adding value. Google's product will be one-size-fits-all, always a bit overwhelming. Also, it will be probably be limiting itself to stuff online-only. Will Google get the metadata for journal backruns that aren't online and refer users to their local academic library?
  • Winner: students. Big time. Students want to use simple interfaces, easy searches with highly relevant results. If Google can deliver that with this product like with their regular search engine, this will be a hugely popular tool amongst students.
  • Loser: non-OA journals. More and more, if a journal's content is not online for free, it will not exist for the new generation of scholars. Why use journal A behind some weird pay-money-or-else screen when journal B has their articles right here. I know that you can get to A via your friendly neighbourhood proxy server/academic library, but really, at 3 am with the paper due tomorrow and the student doesn't even know where the library is on campus, that's not going to happen. Also, anyone not afiliated with a subscribing institution will automatically choose B. It's only a matter of time before Google puts a "Free full text only" check box on the screen. Open Access will mean survival for journals in the Google world. Not this year, not next year, but maybe in five or ten.
  • Winner: academic libraries & librarians. Yes. We're winners. Think of what this could do for our budgets! Finally we can demo tools in the classroom that the students will think are relevant! No more blank stares & sneers! But seriously, the advantages of basically using one interface are huge in terms of teaching students how to get the most out of their search experience. Google will continue to be overwhelming for many and confusing to some, so we will still have the role of helping students navigate. Oh yeah, we'll actually be able to spend more time on concepts like critical thinking, scholarly communication and all those information literacy standards we talk about but rarely have time to actually teach.
  • Loser: vendors of federated searching products. One search is here. This is it. The real challenge, of course, will be figuring out how to get link resolver products like SFX to work with Google Academic. Also, for us Ontario universities, all our content is on a central server. How do we get our students using Google Scholar to find the content on our platform rather than automatically going to the publisher's site. An interesting challenge.
  • Winner: the general public all over the world. Obviously, this will bring together a lot of information and make it accessible to everyone. As more and more stuff becomes OA, more and more scholarly content will become easily accessible to everyone. This is a good thing.

I'm sure I'll be posting more on this as time goes by. Let's start a thread here with your comments -- what we really think about this. It's good to be back.

Top 10s in the ACM

Also interesting in a weird sort of way is the following Top 10 items downloaded from the DL in September 2004 lists from the same issue of the CACM as my last post. Weird because the list of top 10 refereed articles are quite uninteresting to me. None of them were even from Sept 2004, which is kinda odd, when you think about it. Also, the month rank and year rank are out of whack, leading me to believe that the results are highly influenced by random course offerings at large schools. Some topics I expected: mobile communications, curricular issues but the list didn't really strike me in an "Aha" kind of way I would have expected.

On the other hand, the list of top courses & ebooks downloaded was quite interesting, something I know is relevant for my own collection development: Java, UML, c/C++/C#, Data Modeling, Project Management and SQL. It solidifies in my mind the enduring (for now) interest among CS types for this type of information and why we can't keep the books on the shelves. What I'd like to see? How about something really good on Matlab, numerical analysis and scientific computing.

The third top ten was the list of most downloaded articles from the ACM's magazines. Again, not much from 2004, some of the year rankings and month rankings out of whack, but still very interesting. Business aspects, professional development concerns, wireless, data modeling but also a bunch of survey type articles that people are obviously using to get up to speed on certain topics.

Thanks for the info, ACM. Could we do this more often?

The Blogosphere in the CACM

Marking my return after a long hiatus, I'd like to refer everyone to the lastest issue of the communications of the AMC, v47i12. I can't emphasize enough how interesting this issue is. The relevant bits of the TOC:

November 2, 2004

Job posting for Steacie Science & Engineering Library, York University

Please note here the details of a 28 month posting at my library. Good luck.

October 5, 2004

SciAm Science & Technology Web Awards 2004

Every year the editors at Scientific American give their best-of-the-web awards. Here they are for this year; 50 different sites in the areas/fields of anthopology & paleontology, astronomy, biology, chemistry, earth & environment, engineering & technology, great minds, health & medicine, physics and science for kids. I particularly liked the Rube Goldberg and the IEEE Virtual Museum sites in the eng & tech area. By the way, I hate it when math & computing get short shrift in these things. Math and computer science are distinct from both the physical & life sciences and from engineering and technology. With this kind of subject classification scheme, they just get left out.

October 4, 2004

2004 Ig Nobel Prize winners

There're here! My fave this year is medicine to Steven Stack and James Gundlach for "The Effect of Country Music on Suicide." in Social Forces, vol. 71, no. 1, September 1992, pp. 211-8. There's a bizarely strong Canadian connection this year, with two prizes going to canuckleheads (via Bob Michaelson on SLAPAM-L):

  • "PHYSICS: Ramesh Balasubramaniam of the University of Ottawa, and Michael Turvey of the University of Connecticut and Haskins Laboratory, for exploring and explaining the dynamics of hula-hooping.
  • "BIOLOGY: Ben Wilson of the University of British Columbia, Lawrence Dill of Simon Fraser University [Canada], Robert Batty of the Scottish Association for Marine Science, Magnus Whalberg of the University of Aarhus [Denmark], and Hakan Westerberg of Sweden's National Board of Fisheries, for showing that herrings apparently communicate by farting."

September 16, 2004

And speaking of Ginsparg...

Here's a bit of a quote from the Data Science Journal article I mentioned above:

Successive generations of students have increasingly adopted the attitude that “if it isn’t online, then it may as well not exist.” Something qualitative frequently happens at critical threshholds, known colloquially as “tipping points.” People formerly accustomed to regular library usage first move to a mix of library and online desktop usage, but eventually enough of what they need is online that they abandon library usage altogether, forcibly ignoring those materials available only in paper as no longer worth the effort for so small a percentage of potential research materials. Moreover, recent generations of undergraduates have increasingly come to visualize campus libraries as much as a place to buy expresso and connect laptops to a wireless network as a place to find archival resources, and they do not acquire a conventional library habit in the first place.

It's called "Scholarly information architecture, 1989-2015." I guess his alma mater isn't trying to solicit him for the library building fund.

Recent highlights from Open Access News

Some recent posts related to math & physics literature:

Beer Has Same Benefits As Red Wine

Personally, I can't imagine any better news than this. Or, to quote Ian Gillespie of the London Free Press, "I love scientists. I really do." via Google News.

September 14, 2004

A bunch of sf writers thinking about the future

From Locus Online, John Shirley's seminar Global to Local.

Insultingly Stupid Movie Physics

The Insultingly Stupid Movie Physics site is a real pleasure to peruse. All those action movies, they've got it wrong. My fave: you know when the bad guy/hero uses a cigarette to light a puddle of gasoline? Doesn't work. The tip of the cigarette just isn't hot enough to ignite the fumes -- of course it's the fumes not the liquid that burns. The liquid gas actually puts the cigarette out! via Now Magazine.

September 10, 2004

The walrus was paul

Beloit College's famous Mindset List for 2007 is out. Thanks Brent.

Annals of the History of Computing, IEEE

The latest IEEE Annals of the History of Computing is up and has three extensive articles on the history of the IBM Beoblingen Laboratory. I can't read those article without thinking about the darker side of IBM's involvement in Germany in the middle of the last century. For more information on this controversial (and by no means settled) bit of history, try the IBM and the Holocaust home page. On an unrelated note, there's also a think piece in the issue entitled "The Circulation of Knowledge, Institutional Ecologies, and the History of Computing" by Atsushe Akera. A little postmodern-y for my tastes, but still interesting.

Cooking For Engineers

From Blogger's Blogs of Note list, I couldn't resist highlighting Cooking For Engineers. He has these weird/beautiful/brilliant flowchart/circuit diagram thingies to map out the recipees. Not to be missed! All cook books should be written by engineers!

Checkmate XML

The Checkmate XML article by John Simpson from the O'Reilly site is sort of from the "Who knew?" file. Who knew that somebody out there was working on XML applications for the chess world?

August 26, 2004

Here and there

A couple of interesting bits:

  • A great academic integrity/plagiarism tutorial from Acadia University here. You can even choose to be a science student when you do the tutorial! This has to be one of the best I've seen. via IL Weblog.
  • From ISI, a report on the effect of journal self-citation on the impact factors reported in the Journal Citation Reports product. Interestingly, it seems that the practice of journal articles citing other articles in the same journal isn't generally prevalent enough to have an effect on the validity of impact factors. Not surprising that ISI would "discover" this. via ISI Newsletter.

August 25, 2004

NSF Materials Digital Library

An article from the most recent JoDI, MatDL: Integrating Digital Libraries into Scientific Practice by Bartolo et al., describes in pretty good detail the NSF's MatDL materials digital library. via The ResourceShelf.

August 24, 2004

IT Professional

The latest IT Professional has a couple of interesting articles:

  • CIOs: The Only Competent University Administrators by S. Reisman has a very interesting and controversial premise. Since the people who end up as university presidents usually have an academic background rather than a professional/managerial background, they usually seriously suck at management. The one exception to that in the university setting is often the head of computing, who probably has a professional or managerial background and thus knows how to run a organization properly. Not sure if I agree with this article (on bad days I do, but the rest of the time I'm not sure), but it sure gets the neurons firing.
  • Java's Future: Challenge and Opportunity by Nan Chen & Kai-Kuang Ma
  • Improving Web Access for Visually Impaired Users by Liu et al.
  • CE2IT: Continuous Ethics Enhancement for IT Professionals by Agresti is quite good. It also includes a bunch of ethics resources from Aristotle to journals and a couple of professional codes of ethics. Only CS people could come up with a concept like "real time ethics."


I realize I've been quiet here lately. That'll likely continue for the next week or two. I've not forgotten my mission, with some commentary bubbling up related to the latest ISTL, C&I and others.

Intellectual Honesty in the Electronic Age

Intellectual Honesty in the Electronic Age is an interesting article by John Iliff and Judy Xiao. Basically, their idea is that there are many reasons that students cheat but that it's still better to try and prevent it than focus on catching and punishing offenders. At he same time, one of the reasons they cite for students plagiarizing is lack of deterrence. This paper is not remarkably original, but it does function as a good overview. via The ResourceShelf.

August 13, 2004

Cites & Insights

Walt Crawford has created an updates blog & rss feed for his zine. Crawford is one of the most reasoned and sensible commentators on library & information issues out there and I make it a point of reading every issue. As such, I would highly recommend putting C&I on everyone's must read list. The most recent issue has some very sensible commentary about the recent report on the deline of fiction reading in the states. Crawford's response: get a grip, lots of people are still reading lots of books on lots of subjects. Also sensible is his follow up on ebooks from the previous issue, in this case including feedback from various people about their experiences with ebooks. I sent in some fairly extensive information about York's experience with Safari, which he is kind enough to include in the section.

ChessBase: The science of chess

According to a recent news article in Nature, what separates grandmasters and other good players from the rest of us is their scientific attitude towards their individual moves. These players try to disprove the accuracy of each move before playing it, rather than the more optimistic attitude of us weaker players. This sounds like Dan Heisman's idea of real chess vs. hope chess. Here's an eprint of the actual paper by Michelle Cowly and Ruth Byrne, "Chess master's hypothesis testing." via ChessBase

August 11, 2004

The Expos

My first (and probably only) baseball posting is this depressing little story about the team-that-might-have-been, the 1994 Montreal Expos. They were the best in baseball before the strike ended the season, cancelled the World Series and signaled the decline of baseball in Montreal.

Open Source and NASA's Mars Rover

And speaking of Open Source, here's an article from one of O'Reilly's sites by Ann Barcomb about Open Source and NASA's Mars Rover. It's not often I get to make a posting combining my various areas of interest!

Previously, in the IEEE

A bunch of recent articles in various IEEE magazines:

10 Thoughts about Innovations

This brief article by Jim Jindrick is from IEEE-USA Today's Engineer. One of my faves is "Innovation is rooted in value." While these 10 ideas are aimed at engineers, they are really applicable to any organization. Aren't we librarians concerned with delivering new and *innovative* services to our users? The themes that run through this article are ones we should pay attention to: value, evolution, creativity, imagination.

August 3, 2004

Web portals of every sort

The Toronto Star's reliable tech reporter Rachel Ross had an article Monday on Google alternatives here. She highlights product-of-the-evil-empire Scirus for us science types.

Remembering September 11th

One of my absolute favourite magazines, The New York Review of Science Fiction, put out a wonderful September 11th commemorative issue. It is now available online here. Kathryn Cramer's post about the issue is here.

July 23, 2004

MathForge has a feed

Just couldn't resist one more post -- the Mathforge feed is here.

On vacation

I'll be away visiting Kingston & Montreal until August 3rd.  I hope to be out of email/blog/whatever reach until then.   Reading trashy Harry Turtledove & Tom Clancy novels.

Sometimes I wonder why I actually buy stuff

Eric Weisssteins' ScienceWorld (or World of Science) is a pretty darn good general resource in math, physics, astronomy, chemistry and scientific biography. All the leaf level entries have citation in the literature, the coverage seems pretty complete, the entries are concise and to the point. Thank god we used to have a literature we could use to build tools sites like this. via The Scout Report.

The Spam Letters

Haven't read it, haven't seen it, but The Spam Letters by Jonathan Land looks to be a hoot. Not sure I could justify getting it for the library, though...  UPDATE: Of course, there's a website The Spam Letters.  It give a good feel for the kind of stuff that is no doubt in the book.

July 22, 2004

Using weblogs as educational tools

Althought mainly geared for the K-12 set, Will Richardson's presentation from the Building Learning Communities conference has a solid conceptual approach to blogs as educational tools. I like that he didn't get too bogged down in concrete examples, especially since it gave the presentation a universal feel, rather than just being tools for teens. Richardson's site is a valuable resource about using blogs in education.

July 21, 2004

JoDI: Better (scientific) communication through hypertext

The latest JoDI: Journal of Digital Information (v5i1) presents a utopian ideal of sorts for scientific (and other kinds) communication: hypertext. If everything is linked it's obviously much richer in connections and hopefully easier to understand. I'm not sure I understand (or agree with what I do understand) a lot of what's in these various papers, but they sure are stimulating -- kind of science fiction about science writing in a weird way.   It's interesting that a good number of the authors are from science or computer science departments.

July 19, 2004

Weblogg-ed - Using Weblogs and RSS in Education

Via the Information Literacy Weblog, a newish blog on Using Weblogs and RSS in Education. Lots of good stuff.

Huge new discussion paper on peer review

Peer review and the acceptance of new scientific ideas over at Sense About Science is a long piece about every aspect of peer review. The publisher's annoucement hits a few of the high points.via Open Access News.

July 16, 2004

Communications of the ACM: Volume 47, Issue 7

A couple of articles well worth reading in the latest CACM:

  • The field of programmers myth by Peter J. Denning is in particular worth noting. The basic premise is that the public has it all wrong: CS isn't about programming, it's about problem solving. If that misunderstanding could be corrected, a lot of the problems with recruitment and public perception could be solved, as well as the fears about off-shoring.
  • Has the Internet become indispensable? by Hoffman, Novak & Venkatesh is equally indispensable reading. Their answer is that, yes, it is indeed indispensable to a significant segment of the population.

ARL Stats for 2003

Here's the interactive stats application for 2003. York, of course, is 113 of 114 in student/librarian ratio at 588 students per librarian. The highest ranked Canadian school is UofT at 45th place, ratio of 240-1. Lots of other stats to have fun with including reference queries, presentation participants and a host of budgetary & collection-related categories.

Feed of newly published technical books

Via ResearchBuzz, San Diego Technical Books Inc. has a bunch of feeds of their newly received books. The also have feeds of announced-but-not-yet-published books. It would be interesting to know how many libraries have feeds of new acquisitions. It's certainly something we're thinking about at York as a longer term project. We spend so much money on books, yet we spend all our time promoting eresources -- shouldn't we spend some effort on books too? Maybe that's why circ stats are going down in a lot of places...if we don't think books are important, why should our patrons?

July 15, 2004

FreePint Newsletter 163 -- Usability

I've always been a big FreePint fan (although I guess some of my favourite pints aren't free: here and here). The most recent issue has a good overview article on usability: Usability -- Ignore it at your peril by Sarah Agarwal. I like her simple, plain-spoken definition: "it's basically about spending time with the intended users of a website or application to make sure it does what they need it to, in a way they find reasonably easy."

July 14, 2004

Junior new World Computer Chess Champion

An article here from the New Scientist on the latest victory for the Chessbase crew. It's interesting because it talks a little about how different chess engines end up with different "personalities."

July 13, 2004


A nice Physics Blog from the Department of Physics at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. Be nice if it had a feed.

So, what exactly is software engineering anyway?

An illuminating article from the latest IEEE Software, "How Higher-Education Systems Influence Software Engineering Degree Programs" by Dieste, Juristo and Moreno. The premise is that there are different kinds of software engineering programs that try and teach the same kinds of things: computing, science/math & engineering. The institutional culture of a particular country and reflect the way the software engineering programs end up being organized and, therefore, the mix of those three elements in a particular program.

July 12, 2004

Who knew?

Courtesy of BoingBoing, it seems that Laurie Anderson is NASA's artist-in-residence. The MSNBC story is here. I found a few bits on the NASA site here.

July 8, 2004

History of Programming Languages poster from O'Reilly

This great poster is available in pdf. It's a great chronology of programming languages. The poster is based on work done by Éric Lévénez here, including files to print his version of the poster on different size paper. Lévénez has also extensive links on his page for other resources in the history of programming languages.

Concept Inventories for engineering

The Foundation Coalition is a great source of engineering educational information. Over the last few years they have created a bunch of what they call concept inventories: mini exams to test students' knowledge of core concepts in a particular area. This site gives a list of the current inventories. Of course, the exams aren't directly available online (duh): you have to ask one of the developers to send it to you. Here's a quick list of the inventories that are available or under development: Waves, Thermodynamics, Stength of Materials, Signals and Systems, Electromagnetics, Circuits, Fluid Mechanics, Materials, Chemistry, Dynamics, Heat Transfer, Computer Engineering and Electronics. And they even include references to articles about the creation of various of the inventories. via FC Newsletter.

Astronomical image format now accessible to all

FITS format liberation is a press release from EurekaAlert about how the European Space Agency & NASA have released a Photoshop plugin that will allow anyone to make use of the FITS file format to create their own colour images. More information here.

July 7, 2004

So, what do these search engine companies do?

If you're interested in how the wizards do their work, check out Behind the Scenes at Yahoo Labs parts 1, 2 and 3. There's lots here on the Philosophy of Search (if I can call it that) as well as what's coming from Yahoo in the future. In the articles, Gary Price interviews Dr. Gary Flake who is Principal Scientist & Head of Yahoo Research Labs.

July 5, 2004

Copyleft & Creative Commons

A pretty good overview called Freeing enterprise in today's Toronto Star. It's by Raju Mudhar.

June 29, 2004

How free software won

How Free Became Open and Everything Else Under the Sun is an article in the lastest M/C Journal. It's by Biella Coleman and Mako Hill. via BoingBoing.

June 25, 2004


From, Cheminfostream is a blog highlighting chemistry information, modeling and informatics.

From Wired News: An Arsenal to Combat Spyware

Article about free and commercial products to help you rid yourself of the scourge of spyware here.

June 23, 2004

From STLQ: Thoughts on Mastering the Chemical Literature

Randy quotes a post from Dana Roth on the CHEMINF-L here. The source is an interview with Nicholas J. Turro called "How to skate on the edge of the paradigm and keep from falling off." My favourite quote in the original article: "Three months in the lab can save a couple of hours in the library." Of course, these wise words really apply to all disciplines, not just chemistry.

Cites & Insights: July 2004

Walt Crawford's Cites & Insights is always a great source of information and stimulating commentary. This time around I would like to note his stinging commentary on the whole ebook phenomenon. He certainly deflates a lot of the techno-utopian BS about ebooks from a few years ago that still seems to hanging around. Cory Doctorow in particular comes in for a bit of a reality-check, probably not-altogether-deserved, but amusing nonetheless.

Open Access Overview

Peter Suber has put up this Open Access Overview on his Open Access site. I can't imagine that there is anyone out there, no matter how knowledgable about OA they might be, that couldn't learn something from Peter's overview. Definately recommended, especially for passing around to skeptics at your institution.

Lunar Physics Blog

Check out this brand new Lunar Physics Lab blog by Karen Cramer Shea. It has an interesting discussion of why we might want to do some science on the moon as well as tons of links to Lunar Physics sites. via Kathryn Cramer.

June 21, 2004

Future of Sci-Tech E-Books

William A. Woishnis, co-founder of the Knovel ebooks publisher, gave a very interesting (and very droll) presentation on the Future of Sci-Tech E-Books at the recent SLA conference. The emphasis was on the value that the online format can add to technical information, through graphics and interactivity, and how ebooks can be integrated into the engineering process.

D-Lib Magazine

An extremely interesting issue of D-Lib Magazine (v10i6) this time around. Highlights:

STS Proposed standard for IL in the Sciences

An extensive proposal for information literacy standards by The ALA SciTech Section. I posted this a while back, but I'm not sure if the online document has changed since then. In any case, this serves as a reminder to us all to submit our comments on the proposals. via Virginia Baldwin on ELD-ILIT.

Open Access and Scholarly Societies

Will learned societies signal the change? by Vanessa Spedding in the most recent Research Information talks about the uncertain and ambiguous role scholarly societies play in the whole open access movement. They need the money from subscriptions desperately, but on the other hand, what they are really about should spreading the word, not making a buck. Very interesting, a good stimulus for a Monday morning. via Open Access News.

June 18, 2004

ELD Conference Program, Salt Lake City, 2004

This page has the conference program and selected PPTs for the presentations at the captioned conference. Topics include collection development, engineering ethics and library instruction for engineers. I went to the conference in Montreal a couple of years ago, and I have to say it was well worth it. I hope to go again next year in Portland; since SLA is in Toronto, I will be a lot easier to make two conferences in the same year. ELD is the Engineering Library Division of the American Society for Engineering Education (ASEE).

June 17, 2004

FreePint Newsletter 161

RSS: Less hype, more action by Roddy MacLeod in the latest FreePint is well worth taking a look at. He covers the basics as well as touching on a lot of more interesting topics such as the recently popular topic is journal TOCs using RSS.

June 15, 2004


Yesterday's Astronomy Picture of the Day is the new wallpaper on my desktop. To say the least, it is rather striking. APOD has been the source of all my wallpapers for the last couple of years -- they never disappoint.

IEEE Technology and Society Magazine

Some highlights from v23i1 and v23i2:

SciTech bloggers of the world, unite in Toronto!

Christina also suggests that the lot of us find a way to get together next year in Toronto. Sounds like a great idea, there must be a way. Informal get together at a local watering hole? Perhaps some sort of panel discussion? Time to start planning!

Winner's Circle of Best Science Websites

Every year, the SciTech division of SLA has a session on the newest, best sites out there. Every year, they also highlight different disciplines. I was planning to blog the presentation sites, but Christina has already done it for me, so why reinvent the wheel.

Remind me not to go to work at Drexel

From this ResourceShelf story I get the following quote from Constantine Papadakis, "My understanding when I was first hired was that in three years I did not want any professor or graduate student to walk into the library to find a book, because this is a waste of your time unless you love books and are going to look at them" and that abandoning print books for eresources is "the philosophy that we follow, right or wrong." The ResourceShelf story also points to varios Drexel University student newspaper articles massively rejecting this path.

June 14, 2004

Open Source Special Issue of Queue

The ACM's Queue is generally quite an interesting online journal to follow, particularly for discussions of trends. The current issue (v3i2) focuses on open source software with the following articles as highlights:

Information literacy website

This is a really solid site on IL, including lists of websites, articles, bibliographies and mailing lists. It's by Ola Pilerot, at Skövde University Library, Sweden.via IL Weblog.

June 11, 2004

The Week In Chess 500!

TWIC, the mother of all chess sites, is about to celebrate it's 500th issue. Bravo, with a little history from!

Web Citation Index

This article (Thomson ISI to Track Web-Based Scholarship with NEC's CiteSeer) is about ISI & CiteSeer's collaborative project to do citation search and tracking on the web, combining what CiteSeer does with what Web of Science already does to make something bigger and better. ISI demo'ed a very early version at SLA a few days ago and it was very interesting looking. My only question is what will become of CiteSeer in this collaboration? If the WCI includes all the content and services that CiteSeer includes for free...

Virus-proof your PC in 20 minutes, for free.

A few simple, free things we can all do to make our lives a little more secure and less hassle-free: A Simple Plan - Virus-proof your PC in 20 minutes, for free. By Paul Boutin via BoingBoing (hey, I read'em all!)

Results of a brief survey of PAMnet participants

Christina recently polled PAMnet members. The results and her observations are here. I find it interesting that she received negative comments on blogs and blogging from the members. Hello? Science librarians? Wake up and smell the coffee.

I'm back from SLA

The SLA conference in Nashville was, once again, a great conference. I attended a number of great sessions, particularly the various roundtable discussions for physics, astronomy and math. The computer science roundtable was scheduled too late in the conference for me to attend, Wednesday at 3-4:15 when my flight was at 5pm. Ah well. As it happens, I "volunteered" to moderate the CS RT next year in Toronto...

As usual, one of the best parts was networking/hanging out/having a beer (or three) with colleagues. This year, I was able to see both Catherine and Christina (and here) in an informal scitech library blogging meeting. Unfortunately, I was somehow unable to find myself in the same room with Randy at any time during the conference.

Grey goo probably not a problem

According to the article Safe exponential manufacturing in Nanotechnology v15, Aug 2004 by Chris Pheonix and nanotech guru Eric Drexler, the threat of nanotech turning the world into a indistinguishable mass of grey goo isn't as bad as they had thought, at least by accident. Oh well, there goes the plot of half the SF novels of the past few years...

The conclusion:

Early proposals for manufaturing systems based on molecular nanotechnology inlcuded devices that had some similarity to runaway self-replicating machines, in that they were, at least, self-replicating. It has since become clear that all risk of accidental runaway replication can be avoided, since efficient manufacturing systems can be designed, built, and used without ever making a device with the complex additional capabilities that a hypothetical "grey goo robot" would require. However, this does not mean that molecular nanotechnology is without risks. Problems including weapon systems, radical shifts in economic and political power, and aggregate environmental risks from novel products and large-scale production will require close attention and careful policymaking.

June 10, 2004

Play chess, get better math results

Improved Math Scores Through Chess? is an interesting little article posted on

June 2, 2004


From browsing around Wikipedia, just discovered Tools for Online Mathematics, an extremely cool math blog.

June 1, 2004

Yes, that Springfield

One of the great accomplishments of map making has to be the creation of maps of imaginary places. For example, this Map of Springfield. vis lisnews.

May 31, 2004

Coming Soon: The Death of Search Engines?

This is a great article by Rita Vine from LLRX. It's basically about how search engines are getting harder to use as they get bigger and more comprehensive.

For serious web searchers more interested in search engines as information seeking tools rather than investment vehicles, the current buzz surrounding search engines disguises the fact that, despite persistent attempts by the search engines at promoting their indexes as better than ever, search is getting worse.
via LibraryStuff.

Statistical flaws found in top journal studies

As this CBC story indicates, don't always believe what you read.

May 30, 2004

And on that cheerful note...

It seems that the University of California at Santa Barbara is finding that more and more students are cheating using the Internet. via The Chronicle.

May 29, 2004

Cheaters will never prosper.

So, here's the story. A student at the University of Kent has mostly been cheating for the three years of his degree -- copying material from the Net and passing it off as his own. Finally he is caught and turfed. Fine. Well, it seems, this fine young man is suing the university. What for, you ask? For not catching him soon enough.

May 27, 2004

FreePint article on the Semantic Web

So what is this "semantic web" thing that Tim Berners-Lee is always babbling on about anyway? If you've been wondering, take a look at this article in the latest FreePint (i160). The article, "The Semantic Web is Your Friend," is by Libby Miller and Simon Price.

May 26, 2004

Out with the old, in with the new

The Next Step in Scholarly Communication: Is the Traditional Journal Dead? makes a rather common, almost obvious, case these days: that open-access ejournals are the way to go. In all, it's a very good review article on the state-of-the-art, with a thought-provoking last sentence: "The item of exchange in scholarly communication will become the dynamic idea rather than the static article and impact will become the measure of success." Isn't that sort of what blogs are all about? Maybe blogs will be the future of scholarly communication? via Open Access News

Patent Retrieval

PatentFetcher is a free service to get pdf versions of US Patents. The free service claims to be a bit slow, but it was pretty good when I tried it. They also provide similar access to many European patents. Downside: you have to have the patent number of the document you are looking for. via Carolyne.

History of Computing

A few highlights from the most recent IEEE Annals of the History of Computing (v26i2):

May 25, 2004

Engineering Conferences International Symposium Series

The Engineering Conferences International Symposium Series is a site that publishes open access conference proceedings in engineering. Only a few are available so far, including some that are of interest here (via Open Access News.):

GIS Librarians

A brand new blog for GIS Librarians. So new, it only has one post. No name or location information, only the name Mapz. Good luck. via LIS Blogsource.

Joining the modern world

Two new bits on the blog. Finally added titles to the posts. Not sure why I never did before, but I have them now. Also, switched to the newish Blogger comments feature rather than using HaloScan, so all old comments are gone. Coming up, I will be adding an Atom feed a bit later on.

The May/June 2004 b/ITe is available. b/ITe is the newsletter of the IT division of SLA. The table of contents includes:

  • Search engines in an iconic age: Using search engines to find images by Chris Tighe
  • Targeted science searching on the web by Britt Mueller. This article is absolutely fantastic -- it talks about using Scirus, CiteSeer and Google to find real scientific content. Particularly interesting is the section on using Google to find IEEE and ACM publications. When will the day come that we no longer need the traditional A&I services? Sooner than we think, and a real challenge to those providers to keep adding more and more value to their services to compete. I'm still waiting for Google Academic.

Why open source works by Steven Weber from the most recent issue of ACM's Ubiquity (v5i11).

May 21, 2004

MSNBC - Can Star Wars: Episode III be saved? is my "gratuitous SF posting" for the month of May. Priceless quote of the month: "In many ways, Phantom and Clones were the answer to the unasked question “What would the director of Plan 9 From Outer Space have done with a talented effects crew and a $200 million budget?” Ouch. But deserved as, in my opinion, Episodes I & II were two of the dullest movies ever made.

Dictionary of Algorithms and Data Structures from NIST.

Papers are up for the Informing Science + IT Education Joint Conference InSITE 2004. There is quite a wide range of topics at this conference, ranging from philosophy of science, to science & society, to IT educational & curriculum issues. There are five pages of topic & paper listings and I can't imagine that there isn't something for everyone here. A small selection interesting-looking ones (via the Information Literacy Weblog):

The New Journal of Physics from IOP has an RSS feed broadcasting table of contents information. When you think about it, why wouldn't every journal do the same thing? If I follow a bunch of journals, wouldn't the publishers want me to know when new articles come out? Wouldn't I want to know when they come out without having to actively check somewhere (like the library, for example)? BTW, a quick and partial check tells me about half the IOP journals have feeds. via

Wired News: A Scan of the Headline Scanners is exactly what it sounds like: a review of the various RSS readers/aggregators. Here at COASL we use Bloglines.

Peter Morville, information architecture guru and author of IA bible Information Architecture for the World Wide Web: Designing Large-Scale Web Sites with Louis Rosenfeld, has a new website on usabilty/findability/IA/whatever: | links about findability + the design of findable objects. At first glance, this looks pretty good. There's even a section on Libraries & Literacy. On the must-visit-often list. via ResourceShelf.

May 20, 2004, however, bills itself as "A supplement to every library catalogue on the planet!" A decent list of free, online journals. Not sure who created and maintains the list, though. And I couldn't find when it was last updated either. It's interesting that this site claims 7000 items while the Directory of Open Access Journals claims 1096 -- no doubt due to the fact that will list a journal even if it only has one issue available for free! via Good Stuff of interest to a Canadian chemistry engineering corporate librarian, which may need a shorter name.

Research Information seems to be a mouth-piece for the STM publishing industry, so take it for what it's worth. There's probably a nugget or two buried among all the coal.

Some interesting articles in the latestCommunications of the ACM (v47i6):

May 17, 2004

The May 2004 D-Lib Magazine is a special issue on georeferencing and geospatial data, with contents as follows:

This commentary The Crisis In Scholary Communication, by George Porter on STLQ also includes few links on journal prices in math as well as some cogent commentary about the serials crisis in general.

The Information Literacy Weblog has a link to a paper "Integration of information literacy training into engineering and technology education" by Barry Tucker. It's from the Vala 2004: 12th Biennial conference and exhibition in Melbourne, Australia. The rest of the proceedings are here.

May 14, 2004

Good Stuff of interest to a Canadian chemistry engineering corporate librarian is yet another scitech library blog by a Canadian, this time Carolyne Sidey of Xerox in Toronto. I've got to say that I've had a bit of a hand in this one, as Carolyne tells my that the blogging presentation I did at the Sheridan Park Library and Informtation Science Committee a while back inspired her. Good luck Carolyne! Here's the feed.

According to this article from the Online Journalism Review, blogging is a legitimate form of communication. I'll have to remember this article when my next tenure file has to be handed in... In any case, Here it is: Scholars Discover Weblogs Pass Test as Mode of Communicationvia OA News.

The Humbul Humanities Hub is a rather impressive looking directory for online resources in the humanities. Two of the portals that are of interest here are (via

Resources: Assessing student learning by Amy Mark is a good webliography from the most recent C&RL News (v65i5) May 2004.

May 13, 2004

The ALA/ACRL/Science & Technology Section Information Literacy in the Sciences Task Force is looking for input into drafting a set of standards. From the website:

We want this document to describe information literacy in the sciences and technology as completely as possible. We seek the collective knowledge representative of the broad background and experiences of the STS membership. Please look through the proposed standards at the link below and make comments and suggest additions relative to your discipline and experiences.
This quite a good idea. The site comes with a pretty comprehensive bibliography, focusing a lot on engineering. Also, it appears that the domain name has been snapped up by Catherine Woodworth Wong. via Virginia Baldwin on eldnet-l.

May 11, 2004

Yes, there is now a Google Blog. via

May 6, 2004

Thanks to Pat Viele, some audio/video lectures by noted physicist Hans Bethe, given at the age of 93 to his fellow retirees. Enjoy, here.via slapam-l

May 5, 2004

Christina's LIS Rant is Christina Pikas's other blog, about general library issues. Thanks to Christina for reminding me to mention it. Christina's main claim to fame here is On Christina's Radar.

According to the Rowland Institute Library Blog, the Chronicle of Higher Education now has rss feeds! Here! - The complete GIS & Geospatial Resource is, like the name implies, a resource for the GIS/Geomatic community. It looks pretty impressive, especially as a news source. It also has a pretty good data page. via, an increasingly valuable resource.

May 3, 2004

Six Steps to LCC@Home by Kendall Grant Clark is the follow-up to his Library of Congress Comes Home from a while back. If we recall, in that article he introduced us to the concept of using XML and the LC classification to organize all of our home libraries. This time he goes into much more depth on the kinds of things we have to do to implement his scheme. His six steps are:

  1. Survey (get an impression of the size and subject distrubution of your collection.
  2. Allocate (the physical space in your home taking into account what you have and expected growth)
  3. Gather (labeling materials)
  4. label (put labels on your stuff, using the LCC in the CIP data)
  5. Punt (fugure out what to do with stuff not found in 4)
  6. Arrange (the labeled stuff in your physical space)

Next time he promises real, implemented code to help us get started.

April 30, 2004

Yet another science librarian blog here. This one's called On Christina's Radar and is by Christina L. Pikas, Technical Librarian at the Johns Hopkins Univesity Applied Physics Laboratory. She's recently published Trends in Blog Searching in the March/April 2004 b/ITE. Not surprisingly, the blog seems to mostly concentrate on physics & astronomy. There is no evidence that she is Canadian ;-) (unlike, of course, Catherine, Randy, Geoff and myself.) via SciencePORT.

April 27, 2004

A long interview with usability guru Jared Spool here at Infomation Design. When asked what he's currently thinking about, Spool replies: "Well, lately, I've been thinking about chocolate chip cookies. I really like them. I probably don't get enough of them." My kinda guru. via CurrentCites.

Character Sets and Character Encoding: A Brief Introduction by Ardie Bausenbach is about Unicode, although why it's not mentioned in the title is a bit of a mystery. This is from the most recent RLG DigiNews (v8i2). via CurrentCites.

Salon's Everyone is an editor by Sam Williams is an interesting look into the world of collaborative content projects, particularly the Wikipedia project. For those that don't know, the Wikipedia is a giant collaborative encyclopedia that basically anyone can contribute to. It's range of entries is shockingly diverse and of surprisingly good (if sometimes uneven) quality. Check out the definitions of computer science, software or computer engineering or electrical engineering to see what I mean. The linking between terms is fantastically useful, definintions practically serving as portal pages to an entire subject area -- and if you see a term that not fleshed out, you can do it yourself. And it's multilingual, both in terms of multiple main entry points for the encyclopedia and each term linking sideways to definitions in other languages. What the heck: Physics, Astronomy, Math,

April 26, 2004 is a scientifically-oriented blog directory site. It covers all the main areas of science (and other fields too) but usually only a handful of blogs listed in each area. It's fairly academic in orientation, also with strong international, non-English content. Well worth checking out, a site that will hopefully grow and evolve. They even have a feed of new sites added here.

Looking for those other kinds of confessions of a librarian? Try Diary of a Librarian for something a little closer than what I traditionally provide. Discovered it via the "recently updated" list on the Blogger home page. BTW, have I ever mentioned that one of the most frequent search engine queries leading here is just "confessions?"

This little pointer to another article from About (If You Haven't Loved Math.....) is interesting. I'm always facinated about the teaching (or not teaching) of math in a mathophobic culture.

If you are of a certain age (or perhaps a historian of technology or culture), you might want to check out the Classic Computer Magazine Archive. via ResourceShelf.

April 23, 2004

If it seems like forever since I last blogged something from the O'Reilly site, it's because it has! In any case, here's an interesting bit from Tim O'Reilly on the State of the Computer Book Market.

April 20, 2004

The British Library's Turning the Pages digitization project brings to life a number of interesting historical works. The quality of digitization, the audio track, the interface, the ability to easily magnify the images are all unbelievable. This is absolutely worth taking a look at. Relevant to us here are (via ResourceShelf.):

  • Leonardo's Notebook
  • Vesalius' Anatomy
  • Blackwell's Herbal

The lastest issue of the INASP Newsletter from the International Network for the Availability of Scientific Publications. This newsletter is a valuable window into the library community in the developing world.

April 15, 2004

A couple of articles from the most recent IEEE Annals of the History of Computing (v26i1):

So, how do we all keep up to date in science and librarianship? A complex question with a lot of different answers. Recently Michael Leach of Harvard surveyed the PAM membership to get a idea. Michael has kindly allowed me to post the results of his informal survey as he emailed them to PAM members:

Below is a summary of the replies I received to my posting on "Keeping
up to date" with our fields. I thank the many of you who provided lists
and comments, which I condensed below.

A few notes:

1) It appears that use of blogs are on the increase, especially those
blogs with aggregate information from a number of resources.

2) Many complained about the signal-to-noise ratio on many lists, and
about email spam in general.

3) Finally, many noted the need to read more, but time constraints and the
ever increasing volume of materials make this difficult. It is clear we
will need better tools and resources in the future to deal with these

Perhaps PAM should examine and then consider the possibility of
creating an information aggregator for the Division membership. RSS feeds
and blogs are certainly two IT mediums to consider for such a project,
after a user needs study is conducted. Although, perhaps, blogs like STLQ
already fulfill this niche for members.

The summary is broken down into two sections: I) LIS Resources, and
II) PAM-SciTech Resources. Within each section, resources are grouped by
medium type. Items with an asterisk (*) indicate a resource recommended
by numerous folks.

If you did not respond originally, but would like to send your
suggestions along to me now, please do so. Thanks.

Michael Leach
Physics Research Library, Harvard University or

I) LIS Resources


commons-blog (
Confessions of a Science Librarian * (
EngLib * (
Information Literacy weblog (
Internet Scout weblog * (
Lessig Blog (
Librarians' Index to the Internet (
LISNews * (
LibraryCog (
Open Access News * (
Peter Scott's Library Blog (
ResearchBuzz * (
ResourceShelf * (
SEPW - Scholarly Electronic Publishing Weblog
Shifted Librarian (
STLQ - The SciTech Library Question * (
TVC Alert - Research News (


Ariadne (
American Libraries
ASEE Prism
D-Lib Magazine * (
High Energy Physics Libraries Webzine (
Information Research: an international electronic journal
Information Outlook
Information Today
Internet Resources Newsletter * (
Issues in Science & Technology Librarianship * (
JoDI: Journal of Digital Information (
Journal of Academic Librarianship
Journal of the American Society for Information Science & Technology
Portal: Libraries and the Academy
Science & Technology Libraries
Scout Report (


CLIS List (University of Maryland College of Library & Information Science
eril-l *
liblicense-l *

II) PAM-SciTech Resources


Annals of Improbably Research (
Chemical & Engineering News
Communications of the ACM
The Engineer
IEEE newsletter
Inspec newsletter
Nature *
New Scientist
Newspapers (a number of different ones, including New York Times)
Physical Review Focus (
Physics Today *
Physics Web
Physics World
ProQuest newsletter
Science *
Scientific American *
Technology Review ( (also has a blog service)


National Academies (US) What's New (


EEVL - Internet Guide to Engineering, Mathematics, and Computing
E4 (
EurekAlert (
ltsn - Learning and Teaching Support Network ( (See
various "Subject Centres" for specific resources)
PSIgate - Physical Sciences Information Gateway
Science Daily ( (Science/Technology News)
Wired News Technology (