Why Google Isn't the Be-All-End-All

(but you can still use it and like it!)

Okay, so I was thinking about some of the major comments that kept popping up in my reference class this past semester. I think everyone agreed that we could all find the answers to our professor's questions using Google. (yes, he prepared some really challenging ones for us to seek out our answers in the reference dept. "NO GOOGLE. Get OVER IT"..his words, not mine.)

However, what I began to realize is that Google doesn't provide you with a direct source in terms of:
a publisher
an author
a publication date
an authoritative resource or subject matter expert

While Google is great at culling a massive amount of information, it doesn't really help a novice pin point the EXACT reference that will constantly be the right source for repeat searches.

Fact books and almanacs are wonderful gems in your library's reference section! Most provide a brief overview of topical information, but can provide resources for more in depth study and research. I used these when I was researching my bibliography topic, "Reality TV". I found them to be helpful in forming my direction for research.

Here are some general resources I used in my Reference course that were helpful and informative:

The New Encyclopaedia Britannica
World Almanac
Encyclopedia of Associations

A fun resource is the Guinness Book of World Records. The libraries I used had a huge collection of these - from 1960's to present. It was fun to look through these and reads some of the wild records!

(Oh, yeah - it's okay to have fun doing research!!)

Okay, enjoy using some other resources other than Google...I'll talk more about subject specific resources next time.




Recap: Why I'm Doing This

I've been posting information on pretty dull topics: dictionaries, atlases, gazetteers, etc. I know, not the stuff of legendary or memorable posts. So I wanted to stop and remind myself why all of this is important and why I need to keep going with this blog.

  1. At some point, I will be asked to recap my experience in my LIS program. It's called the "Capstone" project. It will include a personal statement, a portfolio and, overall what-have-you-learned-and-what-do-you-plan-on-doing-with-it-when-you-leave. This is my online memory of the various things I have learned and why they are important (to me).
  2. I think librarians get slack for not being creative, innovative or tech-friendly. I want to debunk this myth. TECHNOLOGY IS IMPORTANT. It's good. It helps us do incredible things. As Librarians, we need to embrace it and figure out ways to make it work for our information seekers. We need to test it, fiddle with it, break it, and come back to it with a fresh perspective each time it changes or evolves.
  3. While #3 is important, I think it needs to be noted that BOOKS ARE IMPORTANT. (Hmmm...who does that sound like?) We still need them in addition to all the very cool and wonderful pieces of technology out there. Both are necessary and useful, so let's not start throwing out the baby w/ the bath water, okay?
  4. I love library school, but I know there will be days when I don't love library school. These are the days I will need to remind myself why I'm here doing all of this.
  5. I like to write and I like having a blog. It's fun!
So that's my recap...I guess it would be nice to have some altruistic goals for this blog. Such as:
  • It would be great if I could create a more user-friendly library resource blog
  • Create book lists for different reading levels
  • Encourage support of local public libraries
I'll try and work on this as I go along..hey! I have 3 more years of classes so who knows what will happen!




Who was the guy in the movie....????

The older I get, the more I realize I need to do those Mensa puzzles or start doing crosswords so my brain doesn't turn to mush. I'm smacked awake at night trying to figure out what the name of some actor was in some movie (that I probably didn't even like) or I'm in the middle of a conversation w/ friends and I completely forget the name of the main character....

This ever happen to you??? I don't blame you if you don't want to admit to it, either. ; )

So here's my helpful resource for today: (drum roll) Biographical Resources! Yep...some will help you (or me, rather) with the above issues.

Most reference areas have these books....and I have to say....looking at the content in the book is sometimes more rewarding than looking these up online. Of course, if you are in a hurry and can't get to the library, online is great.

In my opinion, these were the best overall (not subject specific) biography online resources:
  • Oxford Dictionary of National Biography (DNB)
  • American National Biography (ANB)
If you prefer an essay format, a picture and an author, these two databases are exceptional. They both provide advanced search features, but also, searchable themes. Students searching for info on the American Revolution or the "Bluestocking Circle" can find people associated w/ the topics, bibliography resources (in some cases) and links to related or similar themes.

Some subject dictionaries that are exceptional are:
  • The Grove Dictionary of Music and Musicians
  • The Grove Dictionary of Art
Both of these are accessible online and in print, however, I found the music dictionary in print much more user-friendly than the online version. I'm sure this is just a matter of familiarity, but newbies might want to check out the print version.

Actors, writers, political figures, notable and infamous...most are here in these dictionaries! Some libraries specialize in regional and theme-specific dictionaries, depending on their clientele. So ask the Reference Librarian if you are looking for someone special....

Other Resources:
Marquis Who's Who
Current Biography




\ˈdik-shə-ˌner-ē, -ˌne-rē\

That would be the pronunciation of Dictionary for all of those who are wondering about the title of this post.

I know...this probably sounds like the most boring topic in the world. But it's not...trust me....

Most of us just go online to Merriam-Webster's online dictionary (and thesaurus) to find our definitions, right? Well, that's me at any rate...if I can find it online, I use it. However, guess what I found? It's not always the most authoritative source! There are better dictionaries out there ... I know you are speechless at this point. ; )

I'm not knocking M-W - it's a good one. Let's just say you are looking for a little more than just the definition. Maybe you want a more historical perspective, variations in spelling - that sort of thing. The Oxford English Dictionary is your new best friend! The fully online version is only available through a subscription service so you may want to go see the reference librarian at the local college or university.

As a side note...Dictionaries are either general, general abridged or etymological, like OED. However, they can use descriptive language to explain a word or they can be prescriptive. Webster's or American Heritage are examples of dictionaries that use prescriptive language.

Below are some comparisons that I hope help you the next time you are in need of a good dictionary:

Oxford English Dictionary - descriptive, historical in order of word's development and usage
American Heritage - prescriptive, gives most accepted meaning first
Webster' New World College Dictionary - prescriptive, gives some historical order of the word's development and usage
Webster's Third new International Dictionary of the English Language (unabridged) - descriptive and historical

Of course, these are general dictionaries...there are also more subject specific dictionaries in art, music, biographies, etc. That's my next post....

Peace out - A

http://www.askoxford.com/ (OED compact - not full subscriber version)

Ps...A good dictionary will run anywhere from $60 (Amer. Heritage) to $1000 (for 20 vols. of OED!) ; )


A brief vacation...

Classes ended back in early May and I have been having a great time keeping up w/ my summer reading list and knitting. : ) So much for my library blog....

So, over the next few months, before everything gets crazy AGAIN (isn't it always crazy), I'm going to try and recap my experience from 620. (Which was a great class!).

I have lots to share about the info I learned in this class, and one very important lesson - we still need books! More on that as I work through the recap.