Thursday, August 28, 2008

Barack Obama supports Libraries and Librarians

Reposting blog on Barack Obama ...

Now that Barack Obama has been voted the Democratic party nominee for the US 2008 general elections, I want to take a trip down memory lane and highlight a few points in his keynote speech at the ALA annual conference in Chicago in June 2005. I was very fortunate to be in the audience and left the conference hall thinking "hmm ... Obama supports libraries". Here are 6 poignant points from his speech to ponder on. The full text of the speech Bound to the Word can be read in the August 2005 issue of American Libraries

  1. Librarians are guardians of truth and knowledge, librarians must be thanked for their role as champions of privacy, literacy, independent thinking and most of all reading.

  2. More than a building that houses books and data, the library represents a window to a larger world, the place where we've always come to discover big ideas and profound concepts that help move the American story forward and the human story forward. That's the reason why, since ancient antiquity, whenever those who seek power would want to control the human spirit, they have gone after libraries and books.

  3. At a time when book banning is back in vogue, libraries remind us that truth isn't about who yells the loudest, but who has the right information.

  4. I believe that if we want to give our children the best possible chance in life, if we want to open the doors of opportunity while they're young and teach them the skills they'll need to succeed later on, then one of our greater responsibilities as citizens, as educators and as parents is to insure that every American child can read and read well. That's because literacy is the most basic currency of the knowledge economy that we're living in today.

  5. Right now, children come home from their first doctor's appointment with an extra bottle of formula. They should come home with their first library card or their first copy of Good Night Moon.
    I have memorized Good Nigh! Moon, by the way: "In the great green room there was a telephone . ..." I love that book. It sould be as easy to get a book as it is to rent a DVD or pick up McDonald's. What if instead of a toy in every Happy Meal there was a book?

  6. I remember at different junctures in my life feeling lost, feeling adrift, and feeling that somehow walking into a library and seeing those books, seeing human knowledge collected in that fashion, accessible, ready for me, would always lift my spirits. So I am grateful to be able to acknowledge the importance of librarians and the work that you do. 1 want to work with you to ensure that libraries continue to be sanctuaries of learning, where we are free to read and consider what we please without the fear that Big Brother may be peering over our shoulders to find out what we're up to.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Search engines to rival Google - Cuil and Sortfix

Sortfix and Cuil are two search engines created to rival "Google" in its dominance of retrieving exact matches to your search queries.

Here is my review of both:

SortFix on its FAQ page is described as “an intuitive graphical interface that isn’t only cool and fun to use but can also also boosts the users’ search skills and abilities”. I agree. SortFix uses what it calls a simple basket concept i.e. there are four search baskets at the top of the search screen titled Power words, Add to search, Remove and Dictionary. If a Power word is relevant to your search, drag it to the "Add to Search" basket. If a word is not related to your search drag it to the "Remove" basket. The Dictionary basket, as one would expect allows you to drag a word into that box and a short definition of the word is immediately displayed.

Try Sortfix ...

Cuil (pronounced COOL) on its FAQ page, claims to have indexed 120 billion Web pages, three times more than any other search engine. IMHO, Cuil offers the following advantages: a richer display of search results (images and texts), results displayed in a friendly, easy to read column layout, and more descriptive metadata added to search queries than Google. Google, however, wins the battle in terms of search relevancy and search results.

Try Cuil …

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

WebJunction- Free online continuing education web portal

If you are searching for free online continuing education courses on the web, try Web Junction. Described as an online learning community for librarians and library staff, Webjunction provides information, insights, and online learning relevant to libraries and their staff. Supported in part by OCLC and grants from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, this web learning portal has been around since 2003 and recently updated its website.

The new interface makes it easier for librarians and staff to:

• Connect with friends, peers and colleagues from across the library community using powerful new social tools such as friends, public profiles, groups, discussions, tagging and recommendations;
• Create their own content, conversations and spontaneous communities with fast, fun and easy-to-use tools;
• Learn the skills they need to thrive in their careers with new and more flexible online courses covering general business, technical and library skills, complimented by powerful social and learning management tools that add depth to the experience.

Click here to visit WebJunction

Monday, August 4, 2008

Department of Library and Information Studies (DLIS) UWI Jamaica - electronic newsletter

A colleague recently pointed me to an electronic newsletter produced by my alma mater, the Department of Library and Information Studies (DLIS) at the UWI campus in Mona, Jamaica. As stated in the premier issue this newsletter is intended to "keep us informed of the activities and developments in the Department while at the same time collecting and disseminating information about matters of interest to members of the wider library and information profession". The newsletter will be issued twice per year, in February and September.

Kudos to the department for producing this publication.

Click here for the February issue which includes a tribute to Professor Emerita Daphne Douglas, lauded as a distinguished librarian and educator, who was honored at the UWI 60th anniversary Commemoration Celebrations.