Monthly Archives: May 2008

Database RSS alerts #2

Continuing on my investigations of what alerts various (engineering) databases provide


  • daily or weekly
  • contents alerts
  • by email or RSS (copy and paste the URLs listed)


  • on publication
  • by email: contents and topic alerts
  • by RSS: search alerts – but the RSS link has to be manually edited if you’re using the database through a proxy server

Earthquake Engineering Abstracts

  • when database updated
  • search alerts (contents alerts for PsycArticles journals)
  • by email or RSS – but the RSS link has to be manually edited if you’re using the database through a proxy server

IEEE Xplore

  • on publication and you can set an expiry date
  • contents alerts
  • by email or RSS – but the RSS link has to be manually edited if you’re using the database through a proxy server


  • by email: search alerts daily, weekly, monthly, or trimonthly, and you can set an expiry date and choose the subject header
  • by RSS: search or contents alerts on publication; expires after 3 months “unused”; the RSS link has to be manually edited if you’re using the database through a proxy server

NZ Index

  • interface and features haven’t been updated, near as I can tell, since sometime last millennium, so basically nothing

I’m continuing to wish that databases wouldn’t automatically form RSS feeds to include the stuff which has to be edited out by hand before the feed is any use at all. Really how hard can it be to provide an url that works out of the box?

Non-English blog roundup #3

Via betabib (Swedish), RSS4Lib has a list of library web pages that list experimental, beta, or trial web tools and services.

Thomas on Vagabondages (French) discusses CollegeDegree’s “25 social networking tools”; I was particularly interested by Daft Doggy, of which Thomas says “If I’ve understood correctly, Daft Doggy is an application which lets you record a session in a web-browswer and then… replay the [web-surfing] visit, modify it, and add commentary.”
Thomas also quotes Fred Cavassa who says, “Have you noticed that the term ‘web 2.0’ is no longer fashionable? […] Now we speak of social media.

Dominique, bibl. prof. (French) links to her presentation from the ASTED/CBPQ colloquium about profession wikis in libraries: the example of the University of Quebec network (powerpoint).

Via Deakialli, Desde los Zancos 2.0 interviews Dídac Margaix Arnal (Spanish). To a question about promoting collaborative library 2.0 technologies faced with hesitant managers, Dídac suggests talking about:

  1. personal experience – how web 2.0 tools have helped you professionally;
  2. experiences of other libraries;
  3. the fact that the tools are free; and especially
  4. “we have to assume that Web 2.0 is the form in which digital natives communicate, relate to each other, inform themselves, compare information, etc. If we want to converse with them, we’ll have to use these tools […]”

Bibliobsession 2.0 (French) talks about the idea of using Cover Flow for catalogue displays. There are tools for creating coverflow displays: “for the English-speaking library geeks, this post on The Corkboard presents other technical possibilities to do the same thing, and there also exists Protoflow to do the same thing.”

Marlène’s Corner (French) reports the launch of Hypothè, “a blog platform destined to lodge journal blogs […] As for the journals, the blogs will be subjected to a selection process […]” The posts aren’t intended to replace articles, but to accompany and facilitate the publishing process.

Linking away from the library

David Lee King’s notes from a session by David Weinberger, specifically “a blogger that links to other places tells people to ‘go away.’ The hope is that readers will find that valuable enough to come back to you.” reminded me of something I’d been thinking about yesterday.

There’s a bit of resistance to library pages linking outwards to other sites and services. The reasoning goes that “If students wanted to search on Google Scholar they’d go there, not our databases page” and “If students wanted to search on Amazon they’d go there, not our catalogue.”

Which is true and in the past I’ve had no answer for it. But these days there are so many different places to go to and search, who wants to check each one individually? That’s why we have rss readers, and federated searching, and Meebo, and social aggregators.

These days, where (to pick numbers at random for illustration purposes) you might have a dozen sites each with an average 40% chance of finding what you’re looking for, you don’t go to the site which has a whopping 50% chance. You go to the site which makes it easy to go to the other sites and ramp up your chances to 90%.

So if Google Scholar searches 80% of the library databases, and the library databases search 80% of what Scholar gets, but Scholar has the “Full Text @ My Library” link and the library has no link to Scholar — then where are students going to go?

And if Amazon searches a bazillion books that will require extortionate shipping costs and weeks to reach New Zealand at all, and the library catalogue has a million books that are actually here for free, but you can get your LibX plugin to link from Amazon to the library catalogue, whereas the library catalogue stops with “Sorry, could not find anything matching [your title], the end, have a nice day” — then where are students going to go?

Okay, it’s not quite that simple, if only because most students haven’t actually heard of Google Scholar or LibX so they’re actually going to be searching sites that don’t link back to the library at all. But the principle of the thing remains. Just because a resource or service is outside of the library doesn’t mean we shouldn’t link to it. Libraries are meant to be all about the added value, aren’t we? Well, linking outward adds value — the sort of value that makes it worth the while of our customers to spend their valuable time using our service.

Non-English blog roundup #2

Deakialli DokuMental (Spanish) writes about navigation and filtering with tags – also discusses facets. “What is the problem? That description and navigation are different concepts.” This post made me think about searching using social bookmarking sites. I use Diigo which only has an AND search – as far as I can tell (and I hunted a bit) there’s no way to do even an NOT or OR search. has a few advanced search options, but still no truncation search. As far as I know, there’s no reason this couldn’t be done, and it would make a search for “blog OR blogs OR blogging” much easier.

Documentalistes (Catalan) briefly evaluates Google Image Ripper, a site where you can type in your image search and it brings up the full-size images instead of the thumbnails. I note that it doesn’t solve the duplication problem: it would be Really Cool if a search for “madame de lafayette” didn’t include both images #1 and #5 which are identical. (Literally: took it straight off Wikimedia. Some kind of pixel-by-pixel matching algorithm? Yes, yes, strain on the server and would slow down the results. Still.)

DosPuntoCero (Spanish) talks about some surveys described in the book “Libraries and the Mega-Internet Sites” (ISBN: 1-57440-096-7) The blog has pretty bar graphs for

  • librarians’ attitude to Wikipedia (untrustworthy, use with care, as good as print encyclopaedias)
  • whether libraries have a YouTube account (yes, no, planned for the next year)
  • whether libraries have published photos on Flickr (yes, no)

The bars are blue for public libraries, red for university libraries, green for special libraries. My executive summary: public libraries are more liberal towards all these things than university libraries; special libraries are between the two on Wikipedia and Flickr but way down there on YouTube.

Biblog (Danish) links to Intute, “a free online service providing you with access to the very best Web resources for education and research. The service is created by a network of UK universities and partners.” (quote from Intute’s page) I definitely need to explore this more. My colleague reminded me that Intute also created The Internet Detective which teaches students how to work out whether internet pages are trustworthy or not.

And just for fun, betabib (Swedish) links to an (English) interview with a helpdesk operative on the Death Star. If I weren’t hungry for my lunch I’d work out how to be web2.0pian and embed it here, but my cheese and pineapple sandwiches are calling to me.