Wednesday, April 26, 2006

Useful Web Source for Polling Data

For those who are not familiar with it, Public Agenda ( is a nonpartisan opinion research organization that publishes reports and issue guides on its website. It provides material similar to the Opposing Viewpoints or CQ Researcher databases and could be a useful supplement to them on policy questions. Contained within the issue guide in each broad area covered (e.g., immigration, gay rights) are background information, discussion guides, links to other resources, and polling data. The latter is a real strong point of the site: there is an extensive compilation of opinion poll results on each issue (with sources attributed), identifying people's chief concerns and their responses to policy options.

Posted by Roberta

Helpdesk request made for computer 2094 at reference desk

After Almaz and I had trouble logging on to computer 2094 at the right side of the reference desk (as you stand at the front of the reference desk), I entered help desk request 2094 about it.

Monday, April 24, 2006

No access to Biography Resource Center

We are unable to access Biography Resource Center from here on campus (we probably can't get it from off campus either). When you try to login, you get a page on the Gale website that reads:
Unauthorized GaleNet Access
You do not have access to this product. Please call your Electronic Sales Specialist at 1-800-877-4253.

Mike Waldman has been notified. Not sure what the problem is, as we are still able to get in to Gale's Literature Resource Center.

Friday, April 21, 2006

USA Trade Online Adds Port-level Data

In February USA Trade Online began adding port-level data to their database. In our area that includes the ports of New York City, Newark and JFK International Airport (airports are considered ports too). This means you can track import/export activity through a particular port. It might be interesting to see what is flowing through New Orleans today.

Data is available at the 6-digit level and is updated monthly. Historical statistics will be available from 2003 to the present. For more detail, see the February issue of STAT News.

Factiva Maintenance This Weekend

Factiva has scheduled maintenance this weekend. The database will not be available to users from Saturday April 22 at 8 PM through 12 AM Sunday April 23rd.

Access to CUNY+

A note was just posted to CULIBS that access to the Web OPAC is not yet available.

" is a project of the Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation and is designed to provide free, up-to-date, and easy-to-use health data on all 50 states. provides data on more than 500 health topics ..."

I'm sure some of you have used this before, but thought I would mention it again as it proved to be quite helpful for a recent research consultation.

The main categories on the site are: Demographics & the economy; Health status; Health coverage & uninsured; Medicaid & SCHIP; Medicare; Health costs & budgets; Managed care & health insurance; Providers & service use; Minority health; Women's health; and HIV/AIDS.

Yes, many of the statistics can be found in other sources, however State Health Facts offers state comparisons and some non-governmental resources as well.

Historical Performance of REITs

The latest edition of Ibbotson's yearbook, Stocks, Bonds, Bills and Inflation has arrived. For the first time it includes data on the long term performance of real estate investment trusts. Information about construction of the REIT index and historical data on total returns covering 1972 to2005 are presented in Chapter 2 (pages 54-59).

The Ibbotson data points out the benefits of REITS as an asset class. Although REITs have characteristics similar to both stocks (captial appreciation) and bonds (dividend payments), they show a low correlation with these asset classes and so can add diversification to an investor's portfolio.

The 2006 edition of the Yearbook is located at REF 4501 .S7949.

Wednesday, April 19, 2006

Google marketing to college students

On the OUseful Info blog today, I ran across this post about Google's efforts to market to college students. Among the services that Google highlights on its College Life page is Google Scholar.

No remote access to WRDS

Remote access to WRDS databases is down. Stay tuned for when it gets restored.

Federal Reserve Board announces new Data Download application

The Federal Reserve Board announced today its new Data Download application, which provides interactive access to Federal Reserve statistical data in a variety of electronic formats. It is a pilot program and comments are sought.

Data Download is the first application to allow custom data packages to be created in SDMX-ML, a technical statistical data standard that is gaining support among central banks and statistical agencies, according to the news release. Details and tips for use are found under "Things You Should Know."

Data from the following four releases are now available: Industrial Production and Capacity Utilization (G.17), Flow of Funds Accounts of the United States (Z.1), Commercial Paper, and Selected Interest Rates (H.15). More releases will be added in the future. The application delivers customized data sets in machine-readable electronic formats (Excel, CSV, XML) or allows for quick downloading of formatted data packages.

The SDMX-ML technical standard was developed by the Statistical Data and Metadata Exchange (SDMX) initiative under the governance of the Bank for International Settlements, the European Central Bank, World Bank, International Monetary Fund, Eurostat, the United Nations, and the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development.

Problems with Remote Access

If students call with questions about connecting to one of our databases from their home or office, please try to troubleshoot the problem. On the "Remote Access" page of the Newman Library Wiki you will find a list of who has remote access privleges and who doesn't. There is also a list of common problems with remote access including these:
  • The database being accessed is actually down.
  • The URL for the database has changed, so any attempts to connect to it via the library web site will fail.
  • The user's ID is new. Our system gets info on new IDs once a month from the ID Center; we load the data about new IDs on the 1st Monday of every month.
  • User recently graduated from Baruch.
  • User does not have remote access privileges.
  • The user was trying to connect from a PC at work, where corporate firewalls often interfere with EZ Proxy .
You can test if the user's library ID is in the sytem using a link on the wiki.

If you are unable to solve the problem, ask the student to e-mail Saad directly.

Review of Emerald Management Xtra Database

Barbara Carrel wrote this review of the Emerald Management Xtra database.

Emerald Management Xtra combines two Emerald databases--Emerald Fulltext and Emerald Management Reviews (formerly Anbar Abstracts). Emerald Xtra claims to offer access to 410 journals "at the heart of the management discipline." This database is NOT entirely fulltext. Product documentation is confusing but it seems that approximately 110 titles are available fulltext. The Emerald Fulltext documentation purports to include "100 of the most prestigious management journals…with full text archives dating back to 1994 and abstracts back to 1989." Some information management and library management journal literature is included as well.
What is extremely perplexing is that 6 out of the 12 journal titles Emerald lists in their own promotional material as "prominent titles" offered in this database are in fact NOT included in their very own A to Z journal list. An advanced search for these titles in the journal title field results in only 1 of these titles actually producing hits (it is available after all) while the remaining 5 titles do NOT produce any hits at all (does this confirm that these 5 titles are NOT available after all or is it a factor of our trial status?).

Another quirky (and disappointing) finding is related to their Case Study collection—a distinct collection of "more than 700 cases" intended to guide the user to "quickly find the most relevant articles." A test search for "leadership and decision making" in this collection resulted in NO hits whatsoever. When the same search was performed in the larger database’s advanced search mode while limiting article type to the designated category, "case study," the search resulted in 1144 hits, a much more satisfying return.

Overall, even with these quality issues aside, this database doesn’t seem to present a unique offering, particularly in terms of periodical literature. When compared to ABI, for example, an identical search in ABI produced many more hits, with many of those hits available fulltext. Moreover, many Emerald management journal titles are available in ABI. There are some services to faculty that may draw favor, however, this reviewer was not all that impressed.
The bottom line is availability and cost. If the Emerald titles found fulltext in Emerald Management Xtra were to be pulled from all other databases or online subscription services then we would have less of a choice.

CUNY+ and Electronic Resources Down Thursday/Friday

Please note this important maintenance announcement posted to CULIBS-L yesterday.

On Thursday, April 20, 2006, starting at 5:00 pm and ending on Friday, April 21, 2006 at 10:00 am, the files residing on the Sun database domains will be moved to new IBM Shark storage. CUNYPLUS and access to electronic resources will not be available.

There will be no night batch jobs (circ, acquisitions, etc) run either.

Monday, April 17, 2006

Tax help has ended

There's a sign on the 3rd floor door that says last Friday was the last day.

Thursday, April 13, 2006

A comment worth sharing from a student

Yesterday I helped a graduate business student who said she was new. She asked if we had any analyst reports and I showed her how to find them. She said "perfect." She volunteered that her group had to write an analyst report but didn't know what one looked like. She said, "I told my group I would go to the library and ask and they looked at me like I was really smart."

Reference Desk Tool Bar

We have just standarized the reference desk toolbar. It now contains links to:

  • Google
  • Baruch E-Mail
  • Guest Logins
  • Ref Links
  • Library Phone #'s
  • Intranet
  • Ref Schedule
  • Wiki
  • Blog

Please do not add or remove links.

Guest Logins

If a patron receives an "invalid account" message when attempting to use a guest login, verify that they are typing in the correct password. Where the username is "guest" followed by a series of numbers, the password may be a combination of letters AND numbers. Unfortunately, with the font used, the number one (1) and the lower case L (l) look alike and the zero (0) and the upper case letter O also look alike.

Newspapers page in the wiki

I just added a page on Newspapers in the wiki. As you can see, the page includes a list of all the newspapers we have in microfilm and what years we have. I realize that all the microfilm info about newspapers is in CUNY+, but since searching CUNY+ for just newspapers we have in microfilm is not easily done, I thought it would help us to have this list.

Wednesday, April 12, 2006

Insitute for College Access & Success offers new database on economic diversity of college students

The Foundation Center's website noted this new website of the Institute for College Access and Success:
Users can view and compare 128 different data elements for each of 3,000 accredited colleges anduniversities. Data for academic years 2000-01 and 2003-04 are available for most elements.
Also from the website:
The data on this website show the extent to which public and private colleges and universities enroll undergraduates from various economic, ethic and racial backgrounds. While racial and ethnic diversity data have long been available, colleges are not required to systematically collect information on students' income levels. To help fill this gap, they have used federal financial aid information as a proxy.

Center for Business Journalism at American Press Institute offers tutorials on understanding financial statements and other topics

The Donald W. Reynolds National Center for Business Journalism at American Press Institute (API) has the following free online tutorials:

Covering Financial Markets
Prepared by Chris RoushDirector of the Carolina Business News Initiative, University of NorthCarolina at Chapel Hill

Understanding Financial Statements
Prepared by James K. Gentry, Ph.D.Professor and former dean, School of Journalism and Mass Communications,University of Kansas

SEC Filings
Prepared by Chris RoushDirector of the Carolina Business News Initiative, University of NorthCarolina at Chapel Hill

Covering the Economy
Prepared by Merrill GooznerFreelance Writer and Former Chief Economics Correspondent, The ChicagoTribune

While geared toward journalists, I think they can be very helpful for students as they provide information on the meaning of some information that is disclosed, as well as the timing of disclosures and filings. I think they are well done. (I learned some things in the Understanding Financial Statements.)

Hoover's changes its search screens and makes other changes

You have probably noticed that Hoover's has updated their search screen and made other changes, summarized in "What's New." Our version of Hoover's doesn't permit most of the options listed in the right column--except one can sign up for their free newsletters. This may be confusing for our users.

A five-minute tutorial explains the basic searching, and the new blue bullets that indicate the depth of the record available on a company.

One nice feature in the SEC filings search is an option to search only for 10-ks.
You can now easily locate Baruch alumni, or other alumni, by searching the school's name in People.

Since Hoover's is now a Dun and Bradstreet company, the new version puts a great emphasis on Dun's numbers and reports that are offered for sale. Since this is a database used in the Basic Business Research workshop, I might suggest giving an explanation of Dun's numbers, in the event it hasn't been included in the past. When I have taught the workshop, I have used the fact that Datamonitor reports can be purchased on Hoover's to alert students that they can access the same reports by searching Business Source Premier.

Tuesday, April 11, 2006

Some sources of bond information, including the New York State Dormitory bonds issued for the Vertical Campus

At the request of an accounting professor last week I searched for the preliminary and final official statements for several bond financings, included the bond issue from 1996 by the Dormitory Authority of the State of New York which financed Baruch's Vertical Campus. Prior to the availability of the Internet, these documents would be kept in the offices of the parties involved with the financings, with access available to the public for inspection upon request, usually at a municipal office.

We occasionally receive questions at the reference desk about the financings of the buildings. Last year a freshman in an English class wrote her research paper on such financings being available for dormitories.

(When I worked as a legal assistant in a law firm in Minneapolis I helped with new bond issues, including those to help fund college projects, and always sent a copy to the college's attorney. So I contacted by e-mail the college's counsel, John Duggan, Jr., who relayed he didn't have the documents, but he e-mailed the appropriate attorney at 80th Street. I learned that the bonds issued in 1996 were refunded in late 2005, and new bonds were issued. I received the preliminary official statement from the attorney for the new issue. It is a pdf file of more than 100 pages. I have it saved on my computer and I would be happy to share it with you if you like. The accounting professor was very pleased and said that the students were more interested than usual in the topic of bonds.)

I also learned that older offering statements are now available from Thomson's Munistatements. com for a cost. They do allow a short trial period and five free downloads so I downloaded the information about the 1996 Dormitory Authority offering which financed the Vertical Campus, among other CUNY construction projects. I also saved this lengthy document. (Thomson would have charged more than $300 for it.)

(Although the Dormitory Authority's web site is very well known, it doesn't retain information about issues that have been refunded.)

How did I know what series of bonds were issued for the vertical campus? I first searched the Dormitory Authority's web site for outstanding bonds but nothing came up that matched the time period. I searched the Bond Buyer, which is available in a number of our databases, for Baruch College and CUNY and the New York Dormitory Authority. I knew the building was underway when I joined the library in 1998, so I looked for stories about offerings made in 1996 and 1997. Then I learned that the series 1996 bonds had been refunded last year and new bonds issued. (Refundings take place for various reasons, often a drop in interest rates.)

I learned that I-deal prospectus has offering materials for pending and recently issued bonds of various types available for free. The backfile is about one year, from what I can determine. I've summarized these sites below:

Dormitory Authority of the State of New York: this site contains a great deal of information about current and outstanding debt of colleges, hospitals, and other institutions in New York. free site for offering materials for municipal bonds of various types and debt and equity offerings by firms. Free registration required. Backfile of one year.

Thomson's free limited trial to approved searchers. Five free downloads available.

Please let me know if you have any questions.

The New Yorker quotes Stewart regarding NYPL's new "bag policy"

This week's "Talk of the Town" in The New Yorker quotes Stewart Bodner about the recent policy change at The NYPL regarding the size of bags allowed in the Rose Main Reading Room. The policy is similar to those of many other research libraries and archives.

Thursday, April 06, 2006

Grad School Rankings

The April 10th 2006 issue of US News has rankings of graduate schools in business, medicine, law, and engineering.

Wednesday, April 05, 2006

High school library visits

Several classes from the Baruch College HS will be in today, 4/5, tomorrow, 4/6, and Friday, 4/7, looking for books to take out. They have been taught how to use the catalog, but may not have, as I just found out, library cards set up. They will be here primarily between 10 and noon.
I'd like feedback on how the visits work. Thanks, Diane

Two New Items from SourceOECD

The 2006 OECD Sourcebook is now available in SourceOECD. If you didn't see this new title when it came out last year, have a look. It covers all types of economic indicators including population, labor, prices, energy, education, science and technology, and the environment. This year there is a new category, "Economic Globalization," and the "Quality of Life" chapter added data on recreation and culture. The key feature is the historical time series data (exportable to excel) but students will like the introductory text that defines the indicators, looks at trends and provides links to other reports. This year OECD added coverage of key non-OECD members including Brazil, China, Russian Federation and South Africa.

The other new item is the OECD Index of Statistical Variables, an "A to Z" list of frequently-requested economic indicators. The list provides links to ready-made Excel tables and links to the database or publication where the variable is found. Data comes from a wide range of OECD publications including the Main Economic Indicators, OECD Economic Outlook, National Accounts and Country Surveys.

Tuesday, April 04, 2006

Comparison of Sociological Index -Sociological Abstracts

David B. wrote up this comparison of Sociological Abstracts and Sociological Index - They have many features in common but also major distinctions, which should guide selection of one database or the other or even possibly both if enough demand and sufficient budget permit subscription to two. Sociological Index is a little easier to navigate for the novice database user. The ultimate determinant might be better coverage. Consultation with the Sociology Department for its preference for student and faculty use might be appropriate although time consuming. Still the following table might be helpful.

Sociological Index
GUI Visual Design -Clear, simple though boring repetition of blue, green, etc. Visual impairment friendly?
GUI Information Hierarchy, Legibility -Basic: Clear sequence for searching even with supplementary fields and drop down menus. Advanced: Clear with even more choices to narrow or focus. Boolean Use: Clearer default to “and,” more commonly employed.
Tabs or Buttons at Top Many clear but some redundant, such as “author” leading to profile often cited in first page of journal article; publication data not as comprehensive for article submission.
Chronological Depth - Difficult to compare; Apples to Oranges comparison because these have relatively few journals in common; Crude gauge, survey of sources under “A” reveals that only Acta Sociologica is in both.
“Bells & Whistles” - Includes “Cited references” for citation analysis; author profiles mentioned above; e-mail and print options, Subject guide (controlled vocabulary) akin to LCSH.

Sociological Abstracts
GUI Visual Design - More Appealing with greater array of colors. Visual impairment friendly?
GUI Information Hierarchy, Legibility - Basic: Modest ambiguity over initial step to select a database or discipline (eg, natural vs. social sciences). Advanced: lacks tools, e. g., fields to complete, drop down menus to highlight or boxes to check at the earliest stage; a variant to narrow or expand at later stage is possibly masked in a more sophisticated graphic design. Boolean Use:“and,” “or” and parenthesis helpfully present in Advanced but not explained until help consulted
Tabs or Buttons at Top “Browse” leads to great resources for mature scholar or others seeking information about the chronological depth, journals covered & article submission.
“Bells & Whistles” -Many of same “bells and whistles” but more deeply buried in database—subject subdivisions as links once bibliography compiled.Thesaurus on tab at top of first (home) page; adjacent schematic of page for article PDF (with scrolling capacity?)

JAMA Unavailable

The JAMA website is temporarily down. I'll keep you posted as to when access is restored.