Berkeleywstlibrary’s Blog

June 19, 2015

Getting full-text from an article citation

Filed under: Uncategorized — berkeleywstlibrary @ 3:39 pm

A good part of effective research involves locating citations to pertinent scholarly publications.  Getting the actual article takes a little bit of effort.  Through the “Journal and ebook Finder” (sometimes called TDNet) interface on the Berkeley library website, you are usually only a few clicks away from your desired article.

Make sure you have selected the “Journal” tab, plug the publication name from the citation into the search box and change the drop down menu from “Partial Words” to “Exact Phrase”.  If your next screen is blank the publication is not indexed in any of Berkeley’s online databases and you need to consider a plan B.  More often than not you will see often multiple databases listed.  Pay close attention and compare the column “Online Coverage” to the date of your article  to make sure that the database has your article and make sure it is the full text by checking the “Full Text Access” column.

Next you should choose which database to search.  Each database has a different interface but all should allow you the option to “search within the publication” or to browse through specific issues.  Usually if you plug into that search box the title of the article (you don’t really need the entire title just a fair amount of the primary words in it) your article will appear with the option to view it in full-text.

If the article you are looking for is not available in one of Berkeley’s online databases not all is lost.  Consult with a Berkeley librarian and he/she can institute an OCLC loan from another partnering institution.

Crawling through bibliographies for furthering research is an excellent strategy.  Also keep in mind most articles abstracted on Google Scholar can also be found full-text via TDNet.  The world of information is literally at your fingertips.  Take advantage of Berkeley’s online databases.

June 16, 2015

The Duality of New Technology

Filed under: Uncategorized — berkeleywstlibrary @ 1:42 am

In this rapidly changing technological world it is important to preserve a sense of wonder.  I sometimes find that difficult, particularly when it comes to the Internet.  Before I was a librarian I worked in a rare book shop.  My tenure there coincided with a nascent World Wide Web.  I witnessed much of the mystery and joy of discovery evaporate as book shops began listing their entire inventory online.  Before the Web to find that special volume involved tapping a vast network of individuals, visiting shops and exhibiting patience.  Pricing was mysterious and subjective.  Now only the rarest of volumes will a collector struggle to find immediately and at reasonable prices.  So is there wonder in enabling such connections or is there something lost when the hunt no longer provides an adventure. I’m torn.

The Internet completely transformed my line of work.  Librarians are no longer the “gatekeepers” of information.  There was a day when research necessitated visiting the library and more often than not employing the wisdom of a librarian to find the proper resources.  Now our role is more akin to that of the sherpa–you can scale the proverbial mountain alone or you can seek guidance on reaching the summit.  Part of me excites as new products and innovations allow me to improve the service I offer but I also do miss a day when the easy answers of the Internet weren’t an option.  In library school I took an entire course on print reference sources.  I can say in my tenure as library director I can count on one hand the number of such reference sources I have purchased.  Again the wonder of the Internet does not consistently excite and I look upon the past somewhat wistfully.

This brings me to what got me thinking about this topic. Today’s students don’t really have a perspective on this duality.  They were born with life changing technology and rapid change has always been the norm.  So when I recently escorted a group of students to the local public library for a demo of their 3-D printing machine I wasn’t sure what to expect. As we arrived we observed the machine creating a plastic bracelet.  Not earth-shattering stuff but as we learned more for the embedded librarian our initial skepticism gave way to wonderment.  It turns out we were all mesmerized–not with the machine’s current capability but for its potential.  We were witnessing the ground floor of a revolutionary technology.  Our guide likened it to the silent film era.  What really struck me though was that our collective sense of wonder was so great.  We all delighted in theorizing where this technology might lead us and how it will change industry, libraries and our daily lives.  For me it tapped into my speculative mind the way science fiction once did.  The fact that I could share my sense of wonderment with a different generation may have softened my reluctance to engage with new technology.  Anticipating the future without reservation will make me a better librarian and a better person.

March 24, 2010

You need to have the “write” stuff

Filed under: Uncategorized — berkeleywstlibrary @ 6:07 pm

Good writing skills are essential to success in today’s business world.  The ability to communicate clearly, precisely and with style conveys a professional image.  For those hiring, writing ability is a top priority.  A few misspelled words or poor punctuation can doom your resume to the slush pile in seconds.  Once on the job, poor writing inhibits the odds of promotion and can make you expendable.  The business world is so interconnected that communication skills are more important now than they ever have been.  In fact it’s estimated that professionals spend 30% of their day writing in some fashion.

Adherence to rules of grammar, employing a good vocabulary and writing with rhythm and style are some of the most important skills a Berkeley student needs to sharpen while in school.  Be sure to take a Business Communication course.  While writing is traditionally taught in an English class, students should take advantage of every writing opportunity regardless of academic subject.  That paper you need to write for a management course is as much about the writing process as it is business analysis.  Your teachers know this.  You should too.

Part of the problem is how technology has transformed us.  We’ve learned to communicate in snippets.  This new generation deemed “millenials” want things right now, fast and easy.  No one puts a pen to paper or hammers on a manual typewriter anymore.  We write electronically and that doesn’t tend to foster the attention to detail that breeds good writing.

Millenials are now approaching adulthood.  In fact starting college is in itself an act embracing the responsibility and maturity of adulthood.  The way students communicate should reflect this new era in life.  The way we write inevitably reflects the way we speak.  Excessive use of slang is inappropriate in the business landscape.  The student who uses proper English on a regular basis is more likely to develop the writing skills that the marketplace craves.

Success at Berkeley and beyond is highly contingent on a student developing good writing skills.  Consider these facts:

  • Two-thirds of salaried workers in large U.S. companies have jobs that require writing
  • More than 71% of employees have complained about lost productivity and wasted time due to poorly written communications
  • U.S. employers say that one-third of their workers fail to meet the writing requirements of their positions
  • States spend a quarter of a billion dollars on remedial writing instruction for their employees
  • More than 80% of corporations with the greatest employment growth potential—real estate, finance, and insurance companies—test writing skills as part of the hiring process

Take advantage of these deficits.  Make yourself stand out because you do know how to express yourself—in speech and in writing.  In this globalized world of outsourced jobs, good English (the universal language of business—at least for now) will always be an advantage when compared to an overseas worker.

Writing can be learned.  It takes practice and effort.  Take advantage of every writing opportunity and assess the quality of your work.  Share your work with others—a friend, an ASC tutor, your professor.  Read good writing in all its forms and try to absorb it.  Change some of your behavior and the way you speak as this will always affect your writing.  Keep your eye on the prize and realize the importance to your future to give full effort in developing professional writing skills.

October 30, 2009

Now is the time to get involved

Filed under: Uncategorized — berkeleywstlibrary @ 4:00 pm

I remember in high school the buzz was all about ‘extracurriculur activities” and how you needed them to get into good colleges.  Once I got to college I kind of assumed that imperative was behind me and I wouldn’t need “artificial” things for me to get ahead.  When I hit the job world and polished my first resume I realized that those kind of “extras” were now more important than ever.  Employers want to hire people that go beyond the minimum and build interpersonal skills through involvement.  Not only a resume builder, getting involved prepares you for the challenges of a career and enriches your personal life.

There’s an expression that “C” students rule the world.  While I wouldn’t recommend folks to go out and get as many “C”s as possible there is some truth to this statement.  Generally there is a good portion of highly successful people that rely less on “brain skills” and more on personality and “people skills”.  The “Apprentice” had a season that pitted “book smarts” against “street smarts” and the street smart folks won.  Getting involved in group activities can build these people skills better than acing exams can.

Two years ago a friend roped me into being Vice President of the Westchester Library Association.  It sounded inoccuous enough I mean what does Joe Biden ever have to really do.  It turns out my task was to plan and execute an annual conference.  I panicked.  Yet I worked at it and it worked out pretty well.  I felt good about myself and I learned some valuable lessons.  The next year I became the President.  At our first meeting I stated “like Barack Obama I lack executive experience.”  Truth be told I hadn’t been president of anything before.  I learned how to run a meeting and how to  motivate people to work collaboratively.  At the next years conference I had to emcee the event.  I came away not only comfortable speaking in front of a group of 200 but eager for another opportunity.  I also enjoyed the political aspects of shaking people’s hands and hobnobbing– feeling important.

For Berkeley students now is the time to experiment and try new things.  Stretch your limits.  Don’t be afraid to fail.   Once you pass on to the real world people (i.e., employers) are not as patient and nurturing.  Leadership qualities can be learned you just have to participate in group activities.  Berkeley has several clubs to join and student development always encourages new ideas.  Your local community has scores of charities and religious groups that can broaden your horizons and offer you the satisfaction of giving something back and helping others.   They also offer opportunities for you to try new things.

Having these “extra” experiences may just give your resume that bump over the next applicant.  It also might make that first business presentation less stressful.  In addition to all the tangible benefits it can also make you a better more giving person.  Now is the time to try new things.

September 2, 2009

Start now for your post-grad life

Filed under: Uncategorized — berkeleywstlibrary @ 3:17 pm

                The college experience is a bridge to adulthood and adulthood implies maturity and sacrifice.  To succeed independently in the world requires changing many behaviors of youth.  College is difficult and so is the workaday world.  There are behaviors you can establish now that will position you for success in the world beyond college.  I will list some of them here:

                Respect your elders and respect your professors.  Odds are your professor has a PhD degree and/or extensive success in the field you wish to enter.  That didn’t come easy.  If you aren’t paying attention in class or completing assignments you are doing yourself a disservice.  Berkeley prides itself in the personal touch.  Professors love to entertain questions outside of class.  Sit down with one of your professors ask him questions about the job world or about his career.  Professors are a greater resource than any textbook.

                A good idea is to establish good habits now.  Start dressing for success.  Choose a nice business suit instead of a midriff and short shorts.  Be consistently on time for class.  Thank the librarian when he/she finds the perfect book source for your project.  Start reading just for fun.

                Make sure your email address is appropriate for the business world.   I recommend using a completely separate email for your business correspondence.  Do not create an addy with inappropriate language or slang.  CutiePatootie69@aol.com doesn’t cut it.  How about fashionjobseeker222@aol.com  instead.

                Just about everyone in college has a profile on Myspace and Facebook.  Don’ t think that employers won’t try to screen you by checking your profile.  There’s a saying “don’t put anything on those sites you wouldn’t want your mother knowing.”  If you imply any kind of illegal activity, use profane language, exemplify discriminatory attitudes or behavior it could mean a quick toss of your resume.   Keep in mind that Google archives information.  You may remove offending material or even close the account but it still might be cached on Google’s servers.  I hear that most employers now do background checks like this.

                Start networking now.  Take your internship VERY seriously.  Shake hands, ask questions, collect business cards and show seriousness and commitment.  Attend job fairs.  Seek out mentors.

                The last suggestion I have concerns a shift in attitude.  Inevitably, the idle dreams of youth need to be tempered and brought in line to reality (heck I always wanted to be an astronaut).  If you are a criminal justice major odds are you will not be a CSI straight out of school.  You need to climb the ladder.  If you are a fashion major you aren’t going to have your own clothing line straight out of the box.  Life is hard.  Life is struggle.  Put in the effort to put yourself in the best position possible.  Competition for jobs is fierce–especially in today’s economy.  Enjoy the process of acquiring an education and entering the job world.  Odds are you will start small and have to work your way up the ladder.  Use your dreams to motivate.

                Never forget why you are in college—to get the best job and career possible.  Be proactive in achieving your goals.  Take steps now to put yourself in a better position for your post-grad life.  Life offers few guarantees other than that hard work and a positive attitude breeds success.

August 11, 2009

The Value of an Education

Filed under: Uncategorized — berkeleywstlibrary @ 8:21 pm

Ben Franklin in the 18th century once said, “An investment in knowledge always pays the best interest.” In today’s world, getting a college degree is for many people the most important investment they will make in their lives. Studies are published regularly that attempt to monetize the benefit over the course of a person’s lifetime. The results tend to vary from $300,000 to around $1,000,000. The College Board published findings in 2005 that showed over a working life, the typical full-time year-round worker with a four year degree earns more than 60 percent more than a worker with only a high school diploma. Start factoring in advanced degrees and the numbers jump considerably. The U.S. Labor Department posted statistics from 2008 that shed much light on the benefits of a college diploma (the stats are pre-2009 recession bear in mind). Unemployment rates for no HS diploma 9%; HS grad 5.7%; Associate degree 3.7%; Bachelor’s degree 2.8%. You are more than twice as likely to be unemployed without the bachelor’s degree. The Labor Department also posted figures on median weekly earnings in 2008: high school grad $591; Associate degree $736; Bachelor’s degree $978. A substantial difference.

These numbers are well and good but what makes college an even more essential investment in today’s job climate? There are several factors to consider.

Outsourcing. Recently I went to a freelance site to hire someone to do some web design for me. As the bids came in I was astonished to see the difference between what American programmers charge compared to other countries. Americans were in the $30 -50 per hour range. I found an established firm in India to do the job for $8 per hour. India is massive (over a billion people), they generally speak good English, they churn out large numbers of talented workers and they offer a cost of living a fraction of what we have here in the USA. And it’s not just India. In an inter-connected world (thanks to the Internet revolution) it is inevitable that jobs will be siphoned overseas.

No more manufacturing base. This is related to outsourcing. America’s manufacturing exports have dropped precipitiously over the years. Factory work used to be a ticket to the middle class. The manufacturing jobs that have remained are generally more specialized and often will require the college degree.

Automation. Computers have made several jobs redundant. It is hard to imagine that there was a time when buildings needed to employ elevator operators. In my sphere, libraries used to employ teams of librarians to type up cards for the card catalog. Economist call this efficiency. The truth is it also means fewer jobs.

More jobs require the degree. Police forces across the nation are now requiring applicants to complete college work. Several firehouses are following suit. As mentioned specialized manufacturing requires a degree. The reason goes beyond just acquired skills. A college degree represents persistence, ability to learn, commitment, self-improvement and the ability to think outside the box.

As we nurture and help our Berkeley students achieve, it is important that they also understand the stakes involved.  Part of that responsibility involves real talk that stresses the benefits of finishing a degree.  Failure has repercussions.  College is an opportunity and an investment. Hard work and persistence will be rewarded so that when that Berkeley student walks down the graduation aisle they will know they made the right choice.

June 3, 2009

Dangers of Communication

Filed under: Uncategorized — berkeleywstlibrary @ 4:24 pm

I remember as a child receiving frequent admonishment for sitting too close to the television. This was an age that today’s students could probably never imagine—a world without remote controls. Without a remote I would inevitably crowd the TV. The perceived danger was that sitting too close to the TV would ruin your eyes. While this theory has been thoroughly debunked, there are several other electronic devices we use every day that might pose health problems.

Several scientific studies are investigating a link between a cell phone’s electro-magnetic waves and health problems. A report in the prestigious medical journal The Lancet, considered the most comprehensive and well-referenced report on this topic to date, warns that the potential problems from cell phones can NOT be dismissed. So while there is no scientific certainty about the dangers of cell phone use, there certainly is enough evidence to continue the debate.

Recently two more culprits are being reported in the press: cell phone elbow and over-texting. Orthopedists say when cell phone users bend their arms too tightly for too long, they can overextend nerves which can cause fingers, especially the pinkie and ring finger, to tingle or go numb. Medically comparable to carpal tunnel syndrome, the problem can impinge on the person’s ability to type and write. It will be interesting to see if the issue attracts the attention of scientists and the broader medical community.

Texting among young people is hyperbolic. A recent article in the New York Times reported that teenagers average almost 80 messages a day, more than double the average of a year earlier. That same article states that “the phenomenon is beginning to worry physicians and psychologists, who say it is leading to anxiety, distraction in school, falling grades, repetitive stress injury and sleep deprivation. “ Intensive use of the thumbs can produce similar effects of the so-called cell phone elbow.

Scientific studies take time to develop and execute so nothing to date has been undertaken on the latter two. I suspect that with the amount of attention these potential dangers are receiving in the mainstream press that the medical community will take notice. Would conclusive studies affect behavior? We’ll have to see. I can tell you for sure though that if that TV was found to make my eyes go bad I’d sit across the room.

May 5, 2009

New Competition to Google

Filed under: Uncategorized — berkeleywstlibrary @ 4:52 pm

A Harvard physicist has crafted a new search engine which could tip some of the traffic balance away from King Google.  It’s not the first time pundits have touted Google alternatives but this one has staying power.  Calling itself a “Computational Knowledge Engine”, Wolfram Alpha has an amazing/innovative ability to give answers to your questions directly – instead of directing you to sources where you “might” get the required information.   As such the new engine will also be an attractive alternative to Wikipedia searching (I can hear several faculty oohing and aahing).  No algorithm is perfect so to a large extent online research should not be exclusive one to the other.  However the two are quite complentary.  This is a major change in the online landscape.  The site will be a valuable tool for Berkeley students not only offering more targeted results but generally from more reputable sources than what turns up on a basic Google search.  Once the engine goes online (which should be happening quite soon) Berkeley librarians will be on the frontlines in determining how Wolfram Alpha can help our student research.  This new engine is a game changer.

April 23, 2009

Should you “rent” your textbooks?

Filed under: Uncategorized — berkeleywstlibrary @ 8:04 pm

The Wall Street Journal ran a story April 22, 2009 titled “A Textbook Case for Renting Books” (I’d hyperlink it but it probably wouldn’t stay long) which I’ll summarize here. Students average spending about $1000 per year on textbooks and here’s something alarming–the cost of textbooks has grown twice the rate of inflation.  Several companies now offer textbook rentals including:

Book Renter (www.bookrenter.com), Campus Book Rentals (www.campusbookrentals.com), Chegg (www.chegg.com)

In almost all cases renting is cheaper than buying the book used or new.   It’s true that a lot of folks can save by buying and then selling a textbook when finished but that strategy is a bit dangerous as textbooks go out of fashion (read new editions) so quickly.

WSJ found all vendors responsive with quick delivery.  A scary aspect of renting is that a rented textbook has an expiration date after that date you start accruing fines.  Return shipping is free for all three but the return process was somewhat complicated due to use of third-party suppliers.   A word of caution: if the books are damaged during your rental you’re on the hook for the whole price.

Overall the authors found students could save some money by renting but the longer you need to hold the textbook the savings start to dissipate.  There was no consensus which of these companies had the best prices.  It pays to shop around. 

Berkeley students are perhaps better suited to rent their textbooks since Berkeley uses the quarter system unlike the traditional semester format.

Summary:  you probably can save some money but be aware of when the rental expires and how to return the text.  You might want to give it a try.

April 20, 2009

Why I use GMAIL (and you should too)

Filed under: Uncategorized — berkeleywstlibrary @ 11:39 pm

It was about four years ago I started using web-based mail exclusively.  Microsoft in their infinite wisdom put a cap on memory use of Outlook.  Once you exceed that (2GB) limit you have a catastrophic failure.  I lost everything.  So I bounced around Yahoo for a while.  I really like the homepage I have there but the email was kinda bland and the spam filter not so hot.  I gave Gmail a try and have never looked back.  I love Gmail…why you ask?

1.  The Spam filter is AWESOME.  I’ve gone down from approx. 150 spams a day to about 20.  The filter rarely makes a mistake.  You can quickly gloss over the spam items before you finally purge them.

2.  Gmail groups emails into conversations.  So if you’re going back and forth with your professor about an assignment instead of having tons of short emails back and forth you can view it and archive it as one conversation.  Hate it when someone sends an email and doesn’t include context.  It won’t happen with Gmail.

3.  Gmail synchs easily with your cell phone.  I use my Samsung Omnia via Verizon to view my mail.

4.  Gmail has TONS of space.  You’ll have tons of space and will never have to pay a dime.  Did I mention Gmail is completely free?

5.  Gmail has a built-in chat feature.

6.  I never have to check my address book to find someone’s email.  Gmail auto-fills email addresses to anyone you’ve ever emailed.

There are some drawbacks…for one it is difficult adjusting to labeling threads instead of having subject folders…there is a big brother aspect to it as Google tries to deliver pertinent ads based on what is in your emails…I find myself turning off the chat function frequently…

If you do make the switch to Gmail, it is fairly simple to redirect your current email.  You won’t miss a message.

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