If you haven’t yet come across this I’m sure you’ll find it amusing. This is the students and faculty from the University of Washington’s Information School and their ‘Librarians do Gaga‘ effort. I’m sure Lady Gaga would approve!
I love the line, ‘Don’t forget the databases’. Hopefully our databases will no longer be overlooked now that we have them available for searching within our library catalogue. We have moved over to a new system this year and it enables Federated Searching. This means that any site that is Z39.50 compliant can have their information fed though our library catalogue. Search results come up with whatever selections you have chosen. For example, you could select the search areas of Toorak College database, World Book Encylopedia, Facts on File databases and EDNA resources. Your search return would concurrently list results from each of these resources. When you visit a result you leap directly into the database. Brilliant. No longer is there a need for students to leave our library OPAC for a database search. We demonstrated it to our staff last night and could hear their favourable reaction to the search results that appeared on the screen. Next step is getting our students familiar with the system. Hopefully we will see greater use of the databases we subscribe to as a result. Let’s face it, they are great resources and ensure authoritative search returns, but they cost a bomb and need to justify their purchase.
Correction and report writing this weekend. Yippee! Hopefully some time will be available for a bit of light relief too!
Ref Seek is a website for students and researchers that accesses articles from web pages, books, encyclopedias, journals, and newspapers. The idea behind the site is to make academic information easily accessible to everyone. I did a couple of searches on topics for Australian audiences (Ned Kelly and Kevin Rudd) and it didn’t come up with really brilliant results, but it did source a couple of more specialised sites that were useful. Below is a screenshot of what you see when you click on directory at the top right hand side of the screen.
Click on the links to the available sources of information and you will get an idea of the types of resources they are searching. Below is a screenshot of some of the encylopedias used in the searches conducted.
RefSeek is an interesting alternative for our students and makes me think about what the future may hold. I’m wondering how long subscription databases will continue as resources that schools pay for. Will they eventually become free resources and rely on advertising to generate income? At my school we subscribe to databases like eLibrary, World Book and Newsbank. We’ve made decisions in the last year to cut some of our subscriptions because we didn’t feel usage warranted the outlay of money required to sustain them. As we see the net evolve and semantic search engines like Mahalo generate pages of rich relevant results, we may see subscription database services feel the pinch. Already Brittanica offers bloggers access to widgets that can be embedded allowing your readers full access to articles on topics you write about. I have a feeling that we will see scholarly articles become more accessible as knowledge becomes more widely available.
Maybe I’m wrong. I’d be interested in hearing what others think.