Archive for May, 2016
By Annice Sevett
Many libraries subscribe to excellent paid databases, however unfortunately some libraries cannot afford these databases or help patrons who may not have access to these resources. Thankfully, there are a number of free reference resources that work just as well, and sometimes better, than the paid databases for many questions you may face while answering reference questions. This article will mention a number of those resources you may want to bookmark so you are prepared the next time someone asks you a question.
Before we get into topic specific resources, there are some great general websites that will help with a variety of questions. The government of the United States puts out arguably the most information of any organization in this country and they have a number of websites that are helpful when looking for reliable information. The main site is known as USA.gov and has a search engine that locates information from all government agencies and related organizations. They maintain topic pages on a number of hot issues with links to places to go for further information. While most government agencies have their own websites, usa.gov is a wonderful place to start a search. The U.S. Census Bureau is one agency that has an excellent website that provides government statistical data. This is useful when looking for statistics on people and households or business and industry facts. The last government agency website I’ll mention specifically is the Central Intelligence Agency. The most useful part of their website is a link to the World Factbook, helpful for ready reference and more in-depth questions you might face.
Many librarians admit to using Wikipedia for basic information. We all know the information may not be accurate and should proceed with caution when using this site, however for ready reference questions it is a great place to start. When questions about the weather arise, either current or historical, turn to Weather Underground. The data for this site comes from personal weather stations and uses innovation models to provide highly localized weather. Oftentimes, questions about translation come up in reference work. A favorite resource is Google Translate, allowing for the quick translation of words in many languages. The final resource mentioned in the general category is ResearchBuzz, a website that provides news and resources on social media, search engines, databases, archives and more. Although not as useful for reference work, it is a wonderful site to read every day to get information relating to libraries and, because the topics are newsworthy, patrons may come in with questions about the stories featured.
The most common questions may come in the form of what we will call entertainment questions, including those relating to books. For basic questions about books, authors, what to read next, and for user posted book reviews, GoodReads is an excellent place to look. Another resource for information on books and authors is Fantastic Fiction. Questions about what book is next in a series are common, and we’re in luck because the Kent District Library has a great database called What’s Next that allows you to search by author, series title and even an individual book title. Movies, another form of entertainment that most libraries lend out, have their own set of unique properties and reference questions that come with it. IMBD is a resource you may be familiar with and is great to use when answering questions about movies and tv shows. Another useful site is RerunCentury, which has free public domain videos of 20th century TV shows along with historical information of network channel lineups.
Medical questions can be tricky due to legal implications, however the National Library of Medicine has a number of resources that you can get basic information from and point patrons to for reliable, accurate information. MedlinePlus is the general consumer health resource of the National Library of Medicine, providing trusted health information on diseases, drugs, procedures and more in terms that consumers will understand. For drug related questions, turn to DailyMed or PillBox. DailyMed contains drug listing information while PillBox is a drug search engine that helps identify medication by properties. Lastly, LactMed is a resource to point expecting and breastfeeding mothers to when questions arise about drugs and chemicals that may be harmful.
Academic libraries and large library systems subscribe to databases for scholarly journal articles and other documents to help with research. These databases are wonderful but sometimes students from smaller colleges or those in high school from rural areas need access to scholarly articles that may be unavailable to them. A good place to start is Google Scholar, the Google search engine from scholarly articles that links to full-text versions when available. A second website for scholarly articles is the Digital Commons Network, a database that brings together free, full-text scholarly articles from colleges and universities around the world. In addition to a regular search engine, they have a unique interface that allows individuals to narrow their search by topic until they find the section they are interested in. You can point patrons to Community Commons when they are in the beginning stages of research about topic. This site compiles information about specific community issues together and includes data, tools and stories. For law related questions, Cornell University Law School hosts the Legal Information Institute, a resource for finding laws, materials that help people understand the law and law related facts and information. Patrons needing information on American history can turn to the American Memory Project, a project from the Library of Congress that offers free and open access to text, sound recordings, images, prints, maps and music that document the American experience.
Finally, if you are looking for a one stop shop for free reference resources, the Florida Atlantic University Libraries has an excellent LibGuide that contains links to free resources in a variety of categories. This LibGuide is, as of the writing of this article, updated and reviewed on a regular basis.
Keep these free reference resources in mind when you are on the reference desk. They are sure to help your patrons and yourself find the information they need.
Online Discussion Forum Recap
By Aisha Conner-Gaten
Is there truly anything more stressful than working a full time job while trying to apply to another full time job? It all starts with an endless parade of cover letters, resumes, and curricula vitae only to be followed by high anxiety phone, Skype, and in person interviews. These processes can take a long time. During that period, it can be difficult to stay positive about our future and feel accomplished while we wait to hear back. All of this, the mental, emotional, and physical states while you wait, can be folded into what we call self-care. According to the University of Kentucky site, self-care is any intentional action that you take to care for your physical, mental, and emotional health. Very often this includes things that you would never consider part of healing. In our March live chat, we divided many of these actions into two categories: things that you can do to sustain or improve your mind and those actions that can improve or sustain your body. Of course, many actions, like yoga, technically affect both. Also, an important thing to note is that self-care is completely unique to an individual. Do not think that you must do anything based on what others find helpful. You can mix and match any of these actions and build your own plan. These are just ideas to consider as you wait to finally exhale, get that job, and get paid!
Exercise, sleep, and eating are key parts of self-care. Very often, being unemployed can depress you or reset your eating habits (more time to munch or more stress to avoid meals). It is important to eat regularly and not substitute snacks for meals. If you find yourself unable to eat due to depression or just feeling overwhelmed, set a schedule. Use Google calendar or a tasker app to remind you to eat. You need the energy!
The CDC suggests exercising for at least 30 minutes a day, which can affect mood and overall health long term. Exercising can include any number of activities: a simple walk, running on a treadmill, or even dancing to some YouTube videos. Once you have done a bit of working out, sleep might be a good idea. A full night’s rest helps you de-stress, decouple, and think about something other than spell check. Even if you aren’t working, you should go to sleep and wake up at the same time each day. Once you get that job, your body (and mind!) will thank you for keeping a regular sleep schedule.
Now that you’ve got your body in check, it’s time to consider the thing that controls it all: your mind. Engage in activities that take your mind off of the waiting and disappointment. Visit an animal shelter or cat café to snuggle someone furry to make you feel better. Try meditation or yoga to relax your mind and soothe your body. For those strapped for cash, meetups (meetup.com, your local library or community center) are usually free and offer low anxiety situations for fun. These opportunities are also a great way to get out of the house for a while and stretch your legs. You might even expand your network or make a new friend!
Other Helpful Hints
- Use Evernote, a spreadsheet, or Google Cal to keep track of documents and application timelines
- Stay up to date on library topics and emerging trends via MOOCS (Coursera, Edx, and OpenCourseWeb) and webinars (Siera Learn, Web Junction)
- Make sure your references can be counted on. Don’t list anyone you don’t trust to share stories of the best you
- Tell your current boss you are seeking new employment. Unless you already have a poor relationship, they will appreciate the heads up. When you speak to them, emphasize the benefits of the new job but don’t say how you hate your current job
- Perk up your search by checking out http://opencoverletters.com/
- Don’t take rejection personally. Some positions desire certain skills, personalities, or end the search completely based on budgets. Most of the time, you aren’t told the reasons why
- Check out year round NMRT’s Resume Service if you need help: http://www.ala.org/nmrt/oversightgroups/comm/resreview/resumereview
On behalf of the New Members Round Table (NMRT) President’s Program Committee, we are pleased to announce this year’s preconference at the American Library Association’s 2016 conference in Orlando, FL: “What’s a Millennial to Do? Learning to Thrive in a Multi-Generational Workplace,” which will be held on Friday, June 24 from 9am to 12pm. The three-hour pre-conference includes breakfast, a panel presentation, and an interactive workshop session with the panelists. The cost for registration is $75. NMRT members are eligible for a discounted rate at $65.
Our dynamic panel of presenters includes Henrietta Verma (Senior Editorial Communications Specialist at the National Information Standards Organization [NISO] and a former reviews editor at Library Journal and School Library Journal), Cynthia Mari Orozco (Student Services Librarian at California Sate Library, creator of LIS Microaggressions), and Sarah Houghton (Director of the San Rafael Public Library [California], Librarian In Black). These knowledgeable librarians will share their expertise as well as practical advice on how you can navigate your position while ensuring that your voice is heard. Each panelist will present her information, host a brief Q&A session, and then work with participants in smaller breakout groups, focusing on developing skills and solving workplace challenges.
To register, visit the ALA Conference page at: http://2016.alaannual.org/ticketed-events#NMRT
Contact: Rachel Gammons, Chair of NMRT Presidential Program Committee, Rachel.firstname.lastname@example.org
When: Wednesday May 25th 2016
Time: 2:00 pm to 3:00 pm, US/Eastern
A growing number of librarians are coming out of library school and can’t find professional work, or full-time work. The promise of “there will be a lot of retirements soon so jobs will open up” has been heard for a long time, and often, when that time comes, full-time jobs become multiple part-time jobs or are eliminated completely. Likewise, many mid-career part-time librarians, as well as people entering the profession from other fields, struggle to find work in an uncertain economy. As the unemployment and underemployment issue worsens, what can organizations like ALA, as well as library graduate programs, do to tackle this issue?
This chat will be happening on Twitter. To join and follow the chat, follow Peter Brunette at @peterwbrunette and/or follow the hashtag #nmrtchat. You can follow the tweets by typing #nmrtchat into the search box or use something like TweetDeck or HootSuite to filter the tweets. Make sure to include #nmrtchat in all of your tweets to make them visible for all participants.
Everyone is welcome to join this conversation, from students, new librarians, or librarians with many years of experience. We look to seeing you all there!