Monday, October 31, 2005

Workshop Handouts, Exercises and PPTs

At today's IS division meeting we discussed sharing workshop materials. There are two folders, one for "Handouts & Exercises" and another for "Powerpoint Presentations", on the shared drive at Shared\Divisions\IS\Workshops. I have posted my handouts for the Company workshop and the Annual Reports workshop there. Please let us know what you are sharing.

Reference Handbook

As I noted at today's Information Services Division meeting, the Reference Handbook is now live on the web as a wiki. There is a link to it on on the right side of this blog. I will also add a button to it on the toolbar of the browsers on the four staff PCs at the reference desk.

If you want to see what kind of pages are already in the handbook, you might want to take a look at the "All Pages" page, which has an A-Z list of every page in the wiki. As you can see from the link in the previous sentence, you can create links to any page in the handbook.

If you forget the password for the wiki or have any other questions about it, please contact me.

Thursday, October 27, 2005

New York Law School Library

The Mendik Library of the New York Law School in downtown Manhattan will move to temporary quarters and store most of their collection at an off-site facility while a new library is being built. Construction is expected to start in December and take up to two years. During certain periods they will be completely closed to outside users. They have asked that before we send Metro Yellow Card users to the library we verify that the library is open and the desired items are available.

America is Aging

I was looking at the latest issue of the Milken Institute Review and their Charticle on "America is Aging Fast" when I noticed that William Frey is now a fellow of the Institute. Frey is a noted demographer and has his own Website, U.S. Demographics: Data, Analysis, Interpretation. His website has a database of area profiles (state or metro area) of population change and migration data. He was also involved in developing CensusScope , a free Web database for charting, mapping and ranking data from the 2000 Census.

Wednesday, October 26, 2005

Attendance at Sunday Workshops

Our experiment offering Sunday workshops was a success. Ten students (including three walk-ins) attended the Industry workshop and 11 students (including five walk-ins) attended the Company workshop.

Books 24X7

Mike reports that bibliographic records for titles in Books 24x7 have been added to CUNY+ and will link directly to the e-book.

Searching by the keyword "" will bring up the list of titles.

DOI's in OECD Publications

Diane, Mike, Rita and I met with Joachim Doll of OECD on Monday. One of the new initiatives the OECD is working on is to imbed Digital Object Identifiers (DOI's) in their publications. To see how these work, open SourceOECD from our Information Resources page and click on the tab marked "At a Glance" to find an online copy of the OECD Factbook . Choose one of the sections on economic, social or environmental indicators. The chapters on each indicator include definitions, data collection policy, a summary of long-term trends, links to sources, data (exportable to Excel), charts, and a link to the full chapter in PDF format. When you use the PDF version of the Factbook all the tables and charts will have DOI's (OECD calls them StatLinks). Clicking on the StatLink for any chart will open a spreadsheet with the chart and the data behind it.

Thursday, October 20, 2005

Van Gogh draughtsman exhibit book

I have placed my copy of the Van Gogh draughtsman The Masterpieces exhibit book at the reference desk in case you want to look at it. It could also be used by students who have an assignment to write about something that they have viewed at a museum. The exhibit of his drawings recently opened at the Metropolitan Museum; I saw the exhibit when I was visiting my Dutch friends. I found the exhibit so interesting that I bought the book and I plan to go again now that it is just a subway ride away. Many of the drawings are rarely exhibited because of their fragile condition. I hope that here they have a video presentation in which the pages of his original small sketch book are shown.

Wednesday, October 19, 2005

More on Wars

To follow-up on the question about the number of wars in the world, I stumbled on to this database at the Center for International Development and Conflict Management. Based on a book A Story of Crisis, the International Crisis Behavior Online database provides summaries of over 440 world crises from the period 1918 to 2002. The database also includes a detailed history of each conflict.

Accessing FASB-FARS literature for accounting students #2

  • One of the reasons that the accounting students have the "FARS" assignment is that the new, online CPA exam has several questions in which students need to demonstrate the ability to search official accounting literature and, hopefully, find the correct answer to the questions. (In the exam, I am told that there is a "correct answer"; however, as we know "standards" can be interpreted in different ways. Last year I found that many students did not recognize the difference between the word "may" (which is permissive) and "should"or "shall" (meaning required.) Of course, the CPA exam is just the start of their careers and these generally accepted accounting standards will be used throughout their careers, and are revised as conditions change.

For the assignments, the students will most likely need to search the following:
  • the Original Pronouncements, as amended, arranged by date issued or by subject.
  • the Current Text, which has general standards applicable to all companies, and industry standards applicable to specific industries, which incorporates the applicable sections of pronoucements as amended. In the current text, the original source of the information is cited, to the paragraph, such as (FAS 132R).
  • EITF Abstracts are the work of the Emerging Issues Task Force.
  • Topical Index--searches all other parts of the database. If a student doesn't know the issue or statement needed, the topical index is the place I would start. Keyword searching is how to start.

The Implementation Guides may be needed and the Derivative Instruments and Hedging Activities probably are not going to be needed.

If one searches the Original Pronouncements, the Original Pronouncements as amended will need to be searched.

Here is how the students may access the FARS literature, which is the same as the FASB literature:

  • New this year --Students with the latest edition (summer 2005) of the Intermediate Accounting book by Kieso will have a password in the book to access supplemental material including online access to FARS by Wiley. I have done a two part Powerpoint presentation on how to search this version and I will a print out of it at the reference desk. Not all students have this version. The copies on reserve do not have password access. In addition to the Powerpoint explanation, there is a 22 page guide which I have printed out and placed in the folder in the reference desk.

Other means of accessing this literature. (I have listed them in what I think is the easiest to use and best to use.)

  • RIA Checkpoint--available in Information Resources. The default needs to be changed from Federal Tax to WG&L Financial Reporting. The easiest way to access the FASB literature is to go to the Table of Contents, then drill down in the WG&L Financial Resources Library, to the FRM Source Materials, then to FASB. This will result in a list including the Original Pronouncements, EITF, Topical Index, the same materials as FARS by Wiley. (If you search from the initial opening screen of the database, it just says FASB and you don't know what you are searching. So, going through the Table of Contents is a good way to start, especially for newcomers.) Search by keyword.
  • Advantages of this database: Remote access and many internal hyperlinks, which reduce the number of searches that a student may need to make. Results may be e-mailed, printed or saved.
  • CCH Business & Finance. Click on Securities tab. Scroll down to SEC Accountants' Module and then click on Financial Accounting Standards Board. This will bring up a list of documents, just like in RIA, and FARS by Wiley. Search by keyword or by citation, if known. Results may be e-mailed (new feature), printed or saved. Advantage of this database: remote access and ability to e-mail. Disadvantage: Lacks the internal hyperlinks of RIA, so students will need to do new searches to get to referenced documents.
  • FARS discs--available at Reference desk and Reserve. Unfortunately, the 2005 disc is back ordered from Wiley. (We aren't the only ones.) The 2005 disc is current as of June 2005. The 2004 discs, which we have, are current as of June 2004. So, if students use these discs, they need to check the FASB web site,, or use RIA or CCH to see if there is any more current information. There is a print out how to search the FARS disc from last year in the reference desk drawer.
  • FASB website, Advantages: It's free. It's where the information is updated most rapidly as it is FASB official site. You can set up an e-mail alert for any announcements, etc.
  • Disadvantages: can't search through the documents easily if you don't know what document you need. Another disadvantage: the current text is not available so if there have been revisions of any sort one would need to consult the individual documents and incorporate the changes. My advice: use this for checking to see if you are dealing with the most current information and search using any of the other options.

Please let me know if you have any questions. Thanks, Rita

FARS assignments and upcoming workshops #1

The accounting faculty is again assigning students assignments requiring them to search official accounting literature, which for this assignment is limited to the pronouncements and standards and other notices/announcements from the Financial Accounting Standards Board (FASB). I will detail access to this literature in a separate blog entry.

Short workshops on searching FARS (the Financial Accounting Research System) will be offered:

Monday, Oct. 24, 5 pm. Room 135, first floor of the library
Tuesday, Oct. 25, 1 p.m. Room 135, first floor of the library
Wednesday, Oct. 26, 4:30 p.m. Room 135, first floor of the library
Saturday, Oct. 29, 1 p.m., Room 135, first floor of the library.
Monday, Oct. 31, 4 p.m., Room 135, first floor in the library
Thursday, Nov. 3, 1 p.m. Room 130, first floor in the library
Friday, Nov. 4, 5:30 p.m. Room 135, first floor in the library

Saturday, Nov. 5, there is a regularly scheduled Accounting Resources workshop at 12 noon in Room 135 in the library. I will incorporate FARS in this workshop. The workshop goes from 12 to 1:15 p.m. (Students should sign up for the Nov. 5 workshop by going to Instruction on the Newman Library homepage.)

For all other workshops, students can just show up. They should last about 20 minutes, based on my experience last year.

Please let me know if you have any questions.

Tuesday, October 18, 2005

How Many Wars?

Yesterday an e-mail question came in asking for statistics on the number of "active war situations" in the world today. The best numbers I could find were in the SIPRI Yearbook, available on the Web at the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute.

Monday, October 17, 2005

Prof. Cherny's Principles of Auditing assignment

Prof. Cherny's Principles of Auditing students are working on group projects that deal with one of 12 audit failures described in detail in their textbook. Among the things he is suggesting, but he stressed to me, and his students today, is for them to compare, if available, the financial statements of the firms that had audit failures for several years prior to the year in which the audit failure occurred, as well, if available, financial statements of firms in the same business. He realizes that these financial statements may not be readily available for some of the firms. If they are not, he told me that he expects the students to explain information that was available that they looked at. (He said a lot of times in real life you have to make decisions on less than perfect information.)

For example, one case involves Bernard Cornfeld, also known as Bernie Cornfeld, and Investor Overseas Services (IOS), a Panama Corporation with its principal office in Geneva, Switzerland, and Fund of Funds, Ltd., a Canadian open-ended investment company (mutual fund). Ok so far? The audit failure occurred about 1969, prior to electronic filings of documents. I contacted the SEC, which uses Thomson Financial for obtaining old filings pre Edgar (basically pre-1994 for U.S. firms.). Thomson Financial hasn't gotten back to me, but if the filings are available, it is at a cost of 23 or 26 cents a page. (I will work with Prof. Cherny to see if he wants these in the future for assigments.) IOS and Funds of Funds went into bankruptcy; much money was lost; everyone sued everyone; and litigation ended in the mid 1980s. (See Westlaw and Lexis-Nexis; the case against the auditors is cited in the literature that the students have.) Cornfeld was apparently quite a character; he went to prison for several years. There are books about this fraud which we have here in the library. (I didn't check to see if any financial statements were reproduced.)

Update 10/19 on the IOS/Funds of Fund/Bernie Cornfeld case: The SEC called back and said that since this fund wasn't registered in the U.S., they wouldn't have any financial filings. I relayed this information to Prof. Cherny. Encourage students to select another case if they want to compare financial filings. Checking Thomson Research or the SEC site for Edgar documents or Hoovers would be a good place to start/

Another more recent, from the mid 1990s, audit failure is for Livent, a Canadian-based firm, publicly-traded, that produced/produces live theatre shows, both in Canada and the U.S. (It has continues to operate under bankruptcy protection. There are many stories about both of these frauds in the popular press (WSJ, NYT, Financial Times, etc, accounting journals, etc. The Canadian, which is like the SEC's Edgar, does have earlier filings for Livent, as does Thomson Research. Disney appears to be the only other publicly traded firm that produces live theatre shows, as a student and I searched by NAICS and SIC codes.)

So, where else to direct the students? CCH Business & Finance probably has some helpful information at its Securities tab. There is a selected Federal Securities Cases Archive 1941-1993 and SEC Releases and other Materials that can be searched. (The SEC Releases and other materials will give you the SEC case number and what happened --for example, in short, Cornfeld reached a settlement with the SEC.)

The new Audit Analytics database, for which one user can be on at a time, might provide some help as there is audit data back to 2000 and one can search by broad industry classifications--such as entertainment and one may also see the audit firm's opinion letters.

When I spoke with Prof. Cherny told, he told me that part of the assignment is also written and oral communication. (He worked in the profession for a number of years before returning to get his PHD.) Definitely, the case studies pose what were real life problems, and the students need to explain, to the best of their abilities, what they would conclude, based on what is available to them. I helped a student on Saturday with information on the Livent case, and she told me that, based on what the case presented, "the young auditor was in way over her head," as she didn't understand the business of financing theatre productions. The auditor unfortunately went along with what was going on....and ended up with a prison sentence.

Prof. Cherny is also looking for suggestions such as what weaknesses were apparent--for example, a lot of cash being handled only by one person, relatives-friends dealing with each other, but of course, perhaps there was nothing easily apparent, because of the nature of fraud.

Perhaps if any of these students come to the reference desk you could refer them to me. I don't know what the other 10 cases are that the students are working on. I think it is a semester project.

I think this assignment has information competency in it--for students and librarians.

New bankruptcy act in effect today

CCH has a summary of the new bankruptcy law at (It will link to a pdf file that offers an 8 page summary.)

ACRL Launches an Official Blog

ACRL now has an official blog: ACRLog. You can view the list of contributors on this page on the new blog. Among the contributors is Steven Bell, who is the Director of the Gutman Library at Philadelphia University and who is also the person behind The Kept-Up Academic Librarian blog.

Corporate Social Audits

Look for the business press to focus on corporate accountability through social audits when Baruch's International Center for Corporate Accountability Inc. (ICCA) releases its audit of the multinational, Freeport Mcmoran Copper & Gold, this week. The 133 page report will be posted at www.icca-corporate

Although Freeport had social and human-rights policies in place and set up a Partnership Fund for Community Development, it asked for the human rights audit in 2003. The report is the first of its kind. Business Week in an article, "Freeport’s Hard Look at Itself” (October 24, 2005), says the audit may set a standard for multinationals. Prof. Prakash Sethi is pictured in the article with the Freeport staff.

Friday, October 14, 2005

Library Open 24-hours during Mid-terms

The Newman Library will be open 24 hours for mid-term examinations. The
dates were chosen by Undergraduate Student Government in consultation with
the Vice President for Student Development and Enrollment Management. The
library will open at 7:00 a.m. on October 19 and remain open continuously
until 11:59 p.m. on October 27. The same rules that we apply during
extended hours for final exams will also apply in this case. After midnight
access to the library will be restricted to Baruch College students.

Thursday, October 13, 2005

Library Instruction Wiki

As noted on this recent posting on the Librarians with Class blog, there's a new library instruction wiki up that may grow to be a valuable clearinghouse of ideas for information competency.

Tuesday, October 11, 2005

English 2150 assignment help

Peggy and I assisted a student in Prof. Burger's English 2150 class with an assignment to write about a modern-day poem based on a fairy tale. We found that Anne Sexton wrote "Cinderella"in a book of poetry Transformations, which is not available here at Baruch, but her Complete Poems is available at PS3537.E915 A17 1981. We printed several bibliographies of poems and fairy tales that we found. They are at the reference desk.

Friday, October 07, 2005

Computer Security at the Reference Desk

Starting today all librarians staffing the reference desk must login at the start of their shift using their personal username and ID. When you leave the desk, remember to sign out.

Wednesday, October 05, 2005

Industry Codes

Recently a student looking for world trade data asked which international industry codes to use. The key international system is ISIC from the United Nations which students can view from the UN Classifications Registry site.

If students need to translate SIC codes or NAICS codes to ISIC, there is a Website, Jon Haveman's Industry Concordances , that links to translations of codes for various industry coding systems including ISIC, SIC, NAICS, NACE, HS, TSUSA, and SITC.

For more about the various industry and product coding systems used for trade data, Columbia University has a guide to Codes Used for Reporting Trade Data.

Articles on Technical Analysis

An MBA class has an assignment to compile a bibliography on technical analysis using peer-reviewed journals. Neither ABI/Inform nor Business Source Premier use "technical analysis" as a subject term although articles with author supplied keywords will often use the term. One workaround is to combine "technical analysis" with the subject terms "investment*" or "finance" or with one of the various technical analysis methods like candlestick charting. Harry also suggested Scopus as a relevant database and it brought up titles not found in ABI or BSP.

Tuesday, October 04, 2005

Full web access at public PCs

At the end of this summer, new Dell PCs were installed on the 2nd floor. Some were placed in the cubicles where there used to be Macs that only had CUNY+ access (those terminals have been moved around a bit) and others were placed in the cubicles across from the reference desk where there were already three PCs with full web access.

At the moment, all the new PCs that have been set up do not have full web access (there is no address window in the browser), so users can't get beyond the library web site, the Baruch web site, and things like eSIMS and Blackboard. Saad's staff will change the browsers in these PCs sometime soon.

ProQuest corrects our Historical Newspapers subscription

Our free ride has ended. ProQuest just realized that they had accidentally given us access to more titles in ProQuest Historical Newspapers than we had paid for (the New York Times and the Wall Street Journal). We no longer have access to:
  • Atlanta Constitution (1868-1925)
  • Boston Globe (1872-1901)
  • Chicago Tribune (1860-1969)

Monday, October 03, 2005

Spinoff and merger examples--American Express, Ameriprise; Procter & Gamble and Gillette

If you need an example of a spinoff, American Express and Ameriprise are a current example. The spinoff was completed last Friday, and Ameriprise, formerly American Express Financial Advisers, started trading on NYSE today with the ticker AMP. Ameriprise representatives rang the opening bell at NYSE today.

The closing bell was rung by officials of Procter & Gamble, which acquired the Gillette Company today. American Express's and the Procter & Gamble and the Gillette Company's homepages are a source of all the filings that are needed for spinoffs and mergers.

MS Office Tip: Use Word Wraps and Line Breaks in Excel

One of my favorite blogs, Lifehacker, posted this handy tip for adding paragraph breaks to a long cell in Microsoft Excel.

Bloomberg information

Last Thursday I attended an open house at Bloomberg's headquarters. I attended some short information sessions on independent research and corporate governance. I received some reports and search guides that Bloomberg has prepared on these topics and subjects. If you want to see them, please let me know.

Economic Census 2002 Information

I attended a workshop on the 2002 Economic Census sponsored by the Census Bureau last Friday. I have extra copies of the handouts if you want to see them. The Powerpoint presentation is available.

Among the most important things that I learned:
The Economic Census reports are the only census reports that include both businesses with employers and businesses without paid employees. The American FactFinder, a quick link on the Census's web site, and the other reports, do not include businesses without paid employees. Businesses without paid employees number in the millions--ma and pa businesses owned by the couple, taxi drivers who rent their cabs, many used car dealers, and perhaps consultants who own their own business, etc.

The Census Bureau also had good questions for examples of limitations of the data. For example, if one is trying to determine the number of casinos, one must also search for casinos in hotels. (I didn't know that New Jersey requires a casino to be in a hotel.) Connecticut is an example of a state in which the number of receipts from casinos is suppressed to avoid identifying single businesses--Connecticut has two casinos and if you knew the receipts of one casino, you can figure the amount of the other.

Librarians' Index to the Internet revamped

As of September 30, the Librarians' Index to the Internet has been completely redesigned and renamed. It is now known as the Librarians' Internet Index.

NYCdata at the Weissman Center

Prof. Eugene J. Sherman and the Weissman Center for International Business, have compiled a database of statistics, NYCdata, about "New York City, the capital of the modern world". The compendium covers 16 topics including population and geography, income and wages, fiscal data, international trade, housing, education, culture and business activity and headquarters. You can connect to the site at