Thursday, January 31, 2008

Microsoft updates Investor Relations website; viewing financials requires Silverlight software

Microsoft has updated and improved its investor relations page,
and has announced the following:

We are pleased to introduce a new section on the Microsoft Investor Relations website, Investor Central, located at
Investor Central is intended to help shareholders better understand Microsoft's business strategies and our financial results. Please take a tour around the site and send us any feedback that you might have at

When I went to the new page, I learned that to view the financials, I need to download Microsoft Silverlight. Due to the popularity of this company for student assignments, and general interest, should Silverlight be downloaded on the public computers?

New feature on S&P NetAdvantage: Interactive stock reports

Standard & Poor's has added a new feature, interactive stock reports, to their Net Advantage database.

One feature that will be helpful for students is Analyze This Stock, with four components: company value, peer comparison, risk assessment and company news. An interactive overview is available.

To reach the interactive stock reports, S&P provides these instructions (from their monthly newsletter):

To use this service, go to your S&P NetAdvantage database, and:
* select a company by ticker or name,
* select "Interactive" in the left-hand column listed under
Stock Reports.
* Once the "Interactive" report is open, select from the
left-hand column to move through a step by step
process of analyzing that company (Each link the user
selects opens a new on-screen review of how that
factor influences the analyst's evaluation of that

Card to sign for Anne Esler is at the reference desk

I have placed a card for former reference librarian Anne Esler at the reference desk. I learned from her that she is having to have some physical therapy on her shoulder as she was hit by a car coming back to the Dartmouth Library after a meeting. Although it happened several months ago, I just recently learned of the accident. Anne wrote that she didn't miss any work but she is undergoing the physical therapy. If you want to sign it, please do so in the next few days. I'll mail it on Tuesday. Thanks, Rita

Wiley and Blackwell platforms to merge

Blackwell Publishing merged with Wiley last year, and this year they are planning to integrated all their holdings into the Wiley platform by July 1, 2008, at which time the Blackwell-synergy platform we've been using will cease to exist. This should be seamless for us but may affect our reference, teaching, and eventually linking.

Information Literacy and Technology

A new British study just released called " Information Behaviour of the Researcher of the Future", concludes that the idea of the "Google Generation" may be a myth - specifically that the assumption that young people who grew up with the internet are the most savvy and web literate is not true. While young people are more comfortable with computers, they don't necessarily possess the knowledge of how to use them effectively and how to analyze information that they discover:

In a a different vein, I think the recent student panel also debunked some of the assumptions about young people and technology. While the students on the panel were comfortable with search engines and had grasped the importance of using the library databases, many of them were unfamiliar with some of the other technologies - they didn't known about RSS feeds or micro blogs, they didn't write their own blogs, they didn't use blackberries, and they weren't sure what a social networking site was until we mentioned a few examples by name (myspace, facebook). While these technologies are promoted by technophiles in the media and other circles, they aren't being embraced by all young people as a matter of course.

Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Understanding how federated search works

As a member of the committee that was charged with setting up Bearcat Search, one of the things I've wrestled with is understanding how federated search technology actually works. I've still got a lot to learn, but I think making the effort to do so has helped me not only in thinking through the issues involved in implementing Bearcat Search and troubleshooting it but also in giving me a foundation from which I can teach our students and faculty how and when to use the tool.

Here is my mental model that I've pieced together of how Bearcat Search works:
  1. User goes to search box on our Bearcat web page that is hosted by Serials Solutions and types in query for a selected set of databases (for discussion's sake, say it's ten databases).
  2. Query is passed on to Serials Solutions servers, which then use custom built connectors (more on that later) to translate my query into a formats that can be understood by each of the ten different database vendors.
  3. Those translated queries are passed by Serials Solutions on to the servers for each of the ten databases.
  4. Each database returns its results Serials Solutions (not the complete set of results, just the first 50, 100, 125 hits depending on the database).
  5. Serials Solutions analyzes the first batch of results, removing duplicate records (sometimes but not always), and then passes them on to the web page that the user is on.
  6. If the user pages through all of the first batch of results (say 200 out of 5,297 found), then when the user clicks to see the results for 201 and on, Serials Solutions goes back to the ten database vendors to get another set of results; steps 4 and 5 above are repeated if the user continues to page through the end of a given batch of results.

The concept of what a connector is a good thing to understand. There's a great blog appropriately called the Federated Search Blog that offers a nice, short overview of what a connector is and how federated search vendors (like Serials Solutions) have to custom create each one for each library. I also recommend reading the following four posts on that same blog that explain how it is that federated search tools connect to the databases they are aggregating:

For anyone who has ever noted varying response times from Bearcat Search, this post, "How fast is federated search" offers some valuable insights.

Please stop me in hallway or add a comment here to let me know if any of this is useful.

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Tribes that in 2008 have no written language?

A student in a communications class is looking for a name of a tribe/group that in 2008 has no written language. Any ideas? If so, please post.

Book appears to be missing--students asking for it

Several students were looking for the book "From Ellis Island to JFK: New York's two greta waves of immigration." JV 7048.F65 2000. It is not in the stacks in the correct place. I will report it missing. The books is assigned for a class.

Hints for articles assigned for Fin 4920

I tried to help a student find some assigned readings for Fin 4920 (Prof. DeLong)
We had trouble finding them by the titles listed on the syllabus. Perhaps the titles were varied on the online or print editions.

on Factiva--we found this article after a keyword search. The syllabus title lacks Politics and Economics

found article:
Politics & Economics: Foreign Companies Slowed Capital Spending in U.S.
The Wall Street Journal, 21 April 2006, 872 words, (English)

Rather than Crackdown in trade, the title on Factiva for the second is:
Kuwait Times: Crackdown on trade in illegal software.
Kuwait Times, 10 April 2006, 472 words, (English)
KUWAIT: Authorities in Kuwait have launched a crackdown in the trade of illegal software by raiding two computer stores and seizing two personal computers loaded with pirated software. The Government of Kuwait in recent years enacted ...

Hope this helps.

Staff copier in Besso Lab moved (a bit)

Because of the renovations underway in the Besso Lab, the staff copier that used to be just outside Lisa's office has moved and can be found closer to Harry's office behind some boxes.

No Value Line access

If you try to access Value Line, you get this message:

Your account has expired or is disabled

Please contact our software support for more information.

Monday, January 28, 2008

Re: CIS 9000 and Harvard Business School cases

I helped a student in CIS 9000: Information Systems for Managers at the reference desk who wondered if we had Harvard Business School cases. I recalled that there are some cases in the Harvard Business Review, but I checked the list and none of the cases he needs are available. They all deal with IT issues in companies. The professor has provided them the link to order the cases.

Interestingly, I noticed this information at the bottom of a case study that is available in the HBR that "Harvard Business Review and Harvard Business School publishing content on Ebscohost is licensed for individual use by authorized Ebscohost patrons at this institution and is not intended for use as assigned course material." So, they really want students to purchase the case studies.

re: The Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahedo Church Tradition : a brief introduction to its life and spirituality

There have been calls and email reference questions about this book today. It is available only in Brooklyn College's special collections. Columbia University has it on order. So, I have suggested to the students to request the professor to ask the library to purchase it, try interlibrary loan (checking Worldcat, a few other libraries have the book), and contact Brooklyn College library about access to their special collections. The book's ISBN 83-85368-98-1 doesn't show up as being available on Amazon or Barnes&Noble. It was published in Paris, so purchasing a copy might take some time.


I heard from the Brooklyn College library about the hours for their special collection.

BB students can make an arrangement with Special collection (718) 951-5346 and use the book at any time convenient for them. Regular hours of Special collection are 9-5pm M-F.

I hope this helps to accommodate the students somehow. The book is part of the Hess Collection. Hess was one of the BC presidents and left a huge donation to the library (his book collection and money gift). His research was on the African countries from the Horn of Africa and Special collection continues collect books on these countries.

The Atlantic Monthly drops its paywall

Last week, The Atlantic Monthly dropped its paywall that only allowed subscribers online access to back issues (1995 to the present). Now, everyone can browse these old issues freely.

FYI, we have long had online access via several databases to issues from 1993 on.

A few weeks ago, I heard rumors about the possibility of opening itself up to, much as the New York Times did last fall. It seems like the business model of relying on advertising revenue instead of online subscriber fees is winning out.

CFA Institute offers free online sources to understand financial reports, hedge funds and pension funds

I learned today that the CFA Institute offers some free webcasts that have been prepared for journalists but I think could be helpful for students, especially those doing Wal-Mart as two of the webcasts cover that company.

From the Certified Financial Analysts's web site, the following information is available:

These webcasts will explain important accounting terms and practices, comment on corporate disclosure practices and potential accounting manipulations, and answer frequently asked questions—all from the perspective of professional financial analysts and portfolio managers who analyze financial statements and potential investments.

* How to Read a 10-Q Like an Investment Professional: Sequel to Wal-Mart Analysis Webcast
* How to Read and Understand Earnings Releases Like an Investment Pro (Case Study: Wal-Mart)

* Seven Investment Habits Every Investor Needs to Know — A Story Idea for the Press

* Buried Treasure: Finding Information Nuggets in 10-Ks and 10-Qs

* How to Read and Understand Earnings Releases Like an Investment Pro
* Hedge Funds 101: What Every Financial Journalist Needs to Know
* Defined-Benefit Pension Plans: What Journalists Need to Know


A number of students have been stopping by the desk today asking where to borrow clickers (they should go to the circulation window). I just created a Clickers page in the wiki; please help me flesh it out by adding any information you have about this technology and our policies for borrowing them.

Student printing accounts for spring 2008

If a student is having trouble using their spring printing account today, they should go in person to the BCTC help desk in the 6th floor lab with a copy of their bill for the semester.

Graphing calculators still available

There are still a large number of graphing calculators available. Students should still stop by the circulation desk first to have their account validated and can then go to the 3rd floor desk to borrow one (beginning at 10:30 am). Calculators will be distributed throughout the hours that the desk is open. Ester told me that students can also get the calculators at the circulation desk, as well.

Saturday, January 26, 2008

Reports on private equity from World Economic Forum and the Private Equity Council

The Jan. 25 NYT had an article headlined: Study says Private Equity Isn't Big Job Killer. The article mentions two very recent studies:

Economic Impact of Private Equity, by Josh Lerner and Steven J. Davis, which was announced Friday at the World Economoic Forum in Davos. The study runs more than 180pages and is available as a pdf file. Webcast and podcast are available. (As are other sessions from this major forum.)

Private Equity Council's American Jobs and The Impact of Private Equity Transactions. This report was released a week ago by the lobbying group.

Some faculty and students may inquire about the studies.

Friday, January 25, 2008

Update: VITA service to start Feb. 1 Link to information about Baruch's VITA Program for assistance in preparing income taxes

I found this link to the Baruch VITA (Volunteers in Tax Assistance) program, which provides the hours of operations and locations and other information. I found the site through a college news release. I couldn't find when the service starts so I emailed the address provided. I'll let you know.

new information
Them Tran returned my email as he is the Program Coordinator for VITA this year. He wrote : We start on February 1st at Baruch. Rita

New research from Federal Reserve Bank of NY re executive compensation in U.S. private firms

The Federal Reserve Bank of New York earlier this week published a new research report by Rebel A. Cole and Hamid Mehran on executive compensation in private U.S. firms.

Comments from Student Panelist

I wanted to share this email received from "serious students" panelist Adriana Aldarondo who responded to a "thank you" message.


You're welcome, Professor.

It was fun and I actually learned some stuff to look out for (USB drive
availability and RSS feeds available through some of the databases.) It
is really nice to know how much the faculty cares to hear us out and work
to improve our already extensive resources.

I think ALL the departments should do this.


Thursday, January 24, 2008

Prof. Bodner's NYPL tour

Prof. Stewart Bodner was kind enough to give a group of us a tour of the New York Public Library General Research Division (the one with the lions) on Wednesday night.

For those who don't know, Prof. Bodner is the Associate Chief Librarian there –that is, when he isn't working at the reference desk here at Baruch.

We heard tales of disputed books, perilous ferris wheels, roller skating clerks, secret doors, clandestine carrels and problematic periodicals. As if this wasn't enough we also got crash course in the workings of the Billings classification system (unique to NYPL research library). Who knew?

Many thanks to Prof. Bodner for his time and generosity.

Microsoft Word / Office 2007 Files Incompatible

I've had some problems at the desk lately with students and Word docs. They open their docs from emails or a flash drive and they get a file that looks like junk (filled with weird syntax and not their flowing prose). The problem: they have Microsoft Office 2007 (bundled with Windows Vista) at home and the new Word files are not backward compatible with the older versions of Office (2003, 2002, etc). The new Word files have the extension .docx instead of .doc.

I've been sending them up to BCTC on the 6th floor, where they are able to convert the files to the old format. When you create files in Word 2007, you do have the ability to save them in the old format, but of course the default is the new format.

Additional Observations on "Serious Students" Panel

1. All four students were incredibly articulate, bright, earnest.

2. Adriana in particular was very precise in how she thinks chat reference is most useful -- for quick, directional questions. Also, I believe she observed that books age very quickly and the Find It feature is cumbersome for students to use.

3. Kenneth made the profound observation that "there is nothing 'common' about common sense."

4. The number one problem in the library was student noise. This confirms various survey data and raises questions about what we can do about it.

5. Transfer students are really out of the loop in terms of library orientation.

6. We need greater publicity and promotional efforts to make students aware of existing services and resources.

7. Professors need to be encourage to model research strategies to students and to emphasize the importance, value of the library.

8. Clubs are an important, underutilized venue for communicating library information and instruction.

9. Students need more instructional opportunities linked to advanced level classes (perhaps we need to publicize the possibility of student-initiated requests for niche-workshops.


EBSCO databases down

They had a power outage that knocked their servers offline.

Some Things the Students Said

Just a few miscellaneous observations from the "Serious Students" panel that I wrote down:
Students use the library as a quick stop between classes, to study in the evenings and for group projects on the weekends.
They think databases can be "pretty intimidating." They learn about databases "by hit or miss."
They use Google as a topic filter to see if there is information on what they are researching.
They understand that they need to evaluate Web sources but are not too clear about how this is done.
They would like more help from their professors not only in recommending databases but in helping define the scope of the assignment and preparing a workable thesis. They mentioned several times that professors assume students know how to do research.
International students have grown up with different experience of libraries, one that is more print and book based.

How Students See the Reference Desk

I want to share some of my notes from our "Serious Students" panel about what the students said about using the reference desk. I was happy that two of the students recognized that what happened at the reference desk was teaching. Going to the "help desk" (that’s what they all called it) was a learning experience. One student spoke about "active collaboration" with the librarian in answering her questions. Another explained that she watched how the librarian searched and which databases were used and patterned her research on that interaction. So although the students said they go to the reference desk "when all else fails," once they were there they had positive experiences. They thought the lines at the desk were not an obstacle; waits were not too long. The reference interview was useful to "clarify my thoughts." Both "awareness and a certain comfort level" were factors that they thought were necessary to get students to move beyond Google to use library databases.

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

TV program tonight (9 pm) to explore online lives of teens

The PBS series Frontline will feature a new episode tonight (9 pm on channel 13) called "Growing Up Online" that explores the online lives of teens today. Here's how PBS describes it:

MySpace. YouTube. Facebook. Nearly every teen in America is on the Internet every day, socializing with friends and strangers alike, "trying on" identities, and building a virtual profile of themselves--one that many kids insist is a more honest depiction of who they really are than the person they portray at
home or in school.

In "Growing Up Online," FRONTLINE peers inside the world of this cyber-savvy generation through the eyes of teens and their parents, who often find themselves on opposite sides of a new digital divide. From cyberbullying to instant "Internet fame," to the specter of online sexual predators, FRONTLINE producer Rachel Dretzin investigates the risks, realities and misconceptions of teenage self-expression on the World Wide Web.

Felicia R. Lee at the New York Times wrote up a review of the program, which you can read here. I'll try to remember to tape it tonight, as I doubt I'll have a chance to watch it during the broadcast; if you miss it too, ask me for a copy of the tape.

Welcome Our Reference Intern

Deborah Goss started her reference internship at Newman Library today. She is currently a student at Queens and has a M.A. in British and American Literature from Hunter College. Deb parts part-time for New Visions for Public Schools and their partnership program with Baruch's School of Public Affairs. Deb will be at Baruch on Tuesday and Thursdays.

Monday, January 21, 2008

Library at City College Redesigns its Website

City College has redesigned their Library website . "Ask a Librarian" is right up front on the home page. They also promise a news blog coming soon. Have a look.

I thought I would see if other CUNY libraries have news blogs and there are a few.

Porter updates his "Five Forces"

Michael Porter's classic article "How Competitive Forces Shape Strategy" that introduced the theory that five forces shape competition was published in the Harvard Business Review in 1979. In this month's HBR Porter "reaffirms, updates, and extends the classic work" in an article that offers practical guidelines for the strategy researcher using the five forces framework. Poter examines the forces with examples from well known companies like IBM, Wal-Mart, Apple and Sysco. He includes exhibits that cover the "Typical Steps in Industry Analysis" and "Defining the Relevant Industry." It is a very readable article that we should recommend to any student working on an industry analysis.

The Harvard Business Review is available in Business Source Premier. The article, "The Five Competitive Forces That Shape Strategy," is in the January 2008 issue on pages 79 to 93.

Friday, January 18, 2008

Update to "Here's What Students Have to Say"

Back in July I blogged about an Arizona State University Libraries panel discussion with five ASU students about how they use the library to do research. The link to the video has changed. You can now find it here through Google video or here on ASU's Library Channel.
There are other interesting videos and podcasts on the Library Channel. The ones I want to listen to are five podcasts in a series called Faculty Team-up where librarians and faculty talk about their discipline-based information literacy programs.

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Intersession printing expires Friday

Intersession printing accounts will expire on Friday 1/18 at 6:30 p.m. as per BCTC

Does movie violence increase violent crime? NBER research report

New research reports available through the NBER database include Gordon Dahl's and Stefano DellaVigna's paper on Does Movie Violence Increase Violent Crime? I thought this might be of interest since we have many students asking for research on media and crime and the NBER might not be considered as a resource.

Sex and the Librarian?

Sex, censorship and a difficult reader are not a new issue for the librarian:

"A certain lady of quality carried her purity so far, as warmly to rebuke her librarian for putting the male and female authors together on the same book shelves."

(American Periodical Series, "Extracts," The Philadelphia Album and Ladies Literary Portfolio, June 21 1834, p.199.

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Nice intro to the semantic web

If you've found yourself looking for a starting point in understanding what the semantic web (also sometimes known as web 3.0 or the implicit web) is all about, you may want to check out this six-minute video that explains it quite nicely.

Monday, January 14, 2008

Student may pick up lost print job

At the desk today, I tried to help a student who had sent a job to the vendor card printer. The printer system debited his card $10.30 (it was a 103-page job) but failed to print the document. He had to run to catch a train and said he'd be back to tomorrow to see whether he could try printing again and also learn about how to get a refund.

After I reported the printing problem to Systems, Tam rebooted the PC connected to the vendor card printer and the lost print job magically started coming out of the printer. I've put the print job in a folder at the reference desk and placed the folder in the "Hold for Pickup" box by the poinsettia plant.

Screen shot of remote authentication added to shared drive

I've added a Powerpoint slide of a screen shot of the Newman Library remote authenication to the IS information on the shared drive. It is in Instructional Materials and in the folder Powerpoint presentations. It is labeled remoteauthentication01142008. I'm talking to some incoming MBA students this afternoon and thought this would be helpful when I talk about accessing the library's resources off campus. Rita

Saturday, January 12, 2008

Guest Login System Down

The guest login system has been down all day (Saturday, January 12th). In the meantime, BCTC provided me with a generic guest login (valid only until tomorrow night) which I distributed to those non-Baruch users who needed a guest login.

Friday, January 11, 2008

CCH Accounting Research Manager now includes Government and Internal Controls modules

You now may access the Government and Internal Controls literature and interpretations that are available through CCH's Accounting Research Manager, one of the library's databases. You will need to access the information through the library's website, not CCH's commercial site, which would require a password.

We will have either 4 or 5 simultaneous users for each module. (It's being worked out.)

Government accounting and auditing, and nonprofit accounting, which follows much of government accounting (from what I understand) is becoming more important in Baruch's curriculum, and elsewhere, both in business schools and the schools of public administration.

The Government Module includes standards from:

GAO - Government Accountability Office

GASB - Governmental Accounting Standards Board

GFOA - Governmental Finance Officers Association

HUD - U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development

OMB - Office of Management and Budgets

PCIE - President's Council on Integrity and Efficiency

and CCH's interpretations and examples through a Governmental GAAP Practice Manual, Governmental GAAP Guide and Local Government and Single Audits.

Previously, the GASB standards and some interpretative literature were available only through accessing RIA Checkpoint. This access will continue.

In Internal Controls, you have access to standards from the COSO,(Committee of Special Organization of the Threadway Commission),the AICPA, the PCAOB (which is now in charge of audit standards, the SEC and the Institute of Internal Auditors reference works, which includes some audit check lists, as well as CCH's interpretations and examples for SOX 404 for small, publicly held companies; information technology audits, Auditor's Risk Management Guide, and Audit Committees.

These guides should be helpful to students, as well as faculty.

Please let me know if you have any questions.

I'll get the descriptions updated for the website.


Reflinks page missing

Lisa mentioned today that our Reflinks page that featured links to notable web sites was not available anymore. I tried to find it on our shared network drive, but it seems to have gone missing. For those of you who had been relying on it, I've created a placeholder page of sorts (which, like the original, is only available from PCs here in the library). It features some of the local links we had but is missing all the links to reference web sites.

If there's great demand for the missing links to reference sites, then we can began building a new one. If that's your feeling, then add a comment to this blog post.

Librarian Anne Mintz on the Misinformation Superhighway

Librarian Anne Mintz, who heads KM at Forbes, and teaches in CUNY's Grad School of Journalism, was recently interviewed for NOW on PBS about misinformation on the Internet.

A unique opportunity this Sunday to happen in New York Harbor

A friend has sent me a notice from Cunard about an event this coming Sunday evening...the Queen Mary 2, the Queen Elizabeth 2 and the new Queen Victoria will all be sailing in New York harbor, and are scheduled to pass each other, for the first and only time. The event will include fireworks from the Statue of Liberty.

New articles re Federated Searching and teaching, instruction, promotion

With the help of ILL, I have received three recent articles regarding federated searching. I have placed them in the articles folder under Federated Search on the shared drive. Please let me know if you have any trouble accessing them. I have a print copy of each article too that I will share.

The articles are:

Labelle, Patrick R. 2007. Initiating the Learning Process; A Model for Federated Searching and Information Literature. Internet Reference Services Quarterly, Vol. 12, 3, 237-252.

Lampert, Lynn and Katherine Dabbour. 2007. Librarian Perspectives on Teaching Metasearch and Federated Search Technologies. Internet Reference Services Quarterly, Vol. 12, 3, 253-278.

Robbins, Sarah and Cheryl McCain. 2007. Federated Searching; Instruction and Promotion on ARL Libraries' Web sites. Internet Reference Services Quarterly, Vol. 12, 3, 279-296.


Thursday, January 10, 2008

Question about computers in classrooms 130 and 135

In preparation for teaching workshops, etc. in the classrooms Room 130 and 135 this coming semester, I was wondering if it is still recommended that students use Internet Explorer rather than Firefox?

The reason I ask is I tried a computer in Room 135 just now, and when I clicked on Firefox, I received a message asking if I wanted to download the updated version, which would take a few minutes. I wouldn't want to take time during a workshop to do this, and also I didn't know if it would take administrative rights.

Student assignment re census information data from 1950 on

A political science class has an assignment, a group assignment I believe, to find census statistics regarding poverty levels and number of foreign born nationally, and in NYC, and NYS from 1950 on. I tried to help two groups of students, each with one of the above referenced requests, while on the reference desk. They have the information that is available online from the Census Bureau and are primarily looking for 1950 census information.

I showed them how to search on CUNY+ for census and 1950 and also suggested and explained the Statistical Abstract of the United States and how they could check the index for tables. I also reminded them that it takes several years for some statistical data, particularly the census, to become available, so for 1950 they might want to start with the 1953 Statistical Abstract.

Some of the students said they had not used the library before. This is a junior level class. Some students said they were transfer students.

One student expected me to find the information to complete their chart but I explained it was their assignment. One student said that they had found some sites in which they could purchase the 1950 census information for $8. I advised against doing this.

two books being held for Louis Barrera

I have placed two books in the "to be held for pickup" at the reference desk. They are for Louis Barrera who was in yesterday but found circulation closed. He left the books at the ref desk and called twice about hours and the books this morning and explained his efforts to get the books. He said he will be in before 6 p.m. today. I told him that if he doesn't come in today, the books will be reshelved.


Wednesday, January 09, 2008

Toner low at ref desk

I've reported it and asked that it be replaced. Rita

IRS releases new Form 990 for use by nonprofits and charities for 2008 (2009 tax filings)

In late December the IRS announced a new form 990, that charities, foundations and nonprofit organizations, including many hospitals, file with the IRS. It is for 2008, which means the first filings will be made in 2009.

The new form was announced after public comments were received on a draft. Guidestar was among those commenting. The Form 990 had not been revised since the late 1970s, when the nonprofit world was smaller in many ways. According to the IRS web site and some articles, the new 990 forms will help people better understand the workings of charities and no- profits and help the IRS find people and organizations violating not-for-profit laws and regulations.

There may be some Public Affairs and other students asking about this new form and the changes. Although the IRS has some information, some law firms' newsletters are offering some explanations, and the changes are being covered in articles such as from the The Chronicle of Philanthropy, on January 10, 2008 Thursday

IRS Unveils Final Version of New Informational Tax Form for Charities, available through numerous library databases.

If anyone would like to have an email of a Minneapolis law firm's general take on the new form, please let me know. (I was once a legal assistance at the firm, which does a lot of nonprofit work, and I'm on their email newsletters list.) A financial scandal in the late 1950s involving officers and directors a charity that provided help to polio victims helped launch Minnesota's non-profit laws and the political career of Walter Mondale.

It is also important to consider 990 forms for searching information about for-profit businesses as you can determine what companies and corporation foundations are providing funds to organizations,and also, through looking at expenses, sometimes how much specific companies are being paid for their services/products by the charity (such as pr firms, etc.)

Guidestar and the Foundation Center provide information about the 990s.

Bearcat Search - Feedback

A couple comments on Bearcat Search following yesterday's training session:

1) Thanks to the to the Committee for all their effort and being able to explain things.

2) I think Bearcat Search's greatest value will not be so much as meta-search engine, but as a tool to expand student knowledge of the vast array of database resources available to them. It will help them identify which databases have greater coverage on their topics. Students can then go directly into the best databases and take advantage of the precision searching protocols that don't work in the federated search engine. Librarians should push this approach at the reference desk and in instruction sessions.

3) Based on what we saw in the hands on searching, I strongly suggest that we remove Lexis/Nexis from Bearcat Search because a) phrase searching with quotes doesn't work -- gave zero hits; b) searches seemed to default to the basic search mode which searched only two years back in the news library -- leaving out older records, and legal, business, and reference records) c) Lexis/Nexis has a limit on how many results can be retrieved (I think it's still 1,000 hits), which gives error message.

This creates a situation where students will too often get no results for L/N or incomplete information. I think it would be better to include Lexis/Nexis in the alphabetical list of databases with the notation that it is not included in Bearcat and a link to search the database directly, as we saw with the accounting database.

What do other people think?


Tuesday, January 08, 2008

Vendor Printing - Printer options

A student wanting to print the VITA tax guide last night noticed that the student printer allows one to change output options to have multiple pages (at least two) print on a page, but the vendor printer does not. Systems is looking into whether the vendor printer software options can be changed to allow this as well.

Please note that this is not duplex printing, but shrinking the pages down so more than one can fit on one side of the paper (to save money and paper).

I will follow up when Systems lets me know if this can be done.

UPDATE: Vendor printer options now allows page scaling (multiple pages per sheet).
(Thanks to Systems for quick response.)

ACRL's newest blog: ACRL Insider

You've probably already noticed the sidebar I added long ago to the blog that offers links to recent posts from ACRLog, the first blog that ACRL launched and that covers key trends and issues in academic librarianship. ACRL has just launched a new blog that focuses on news about ACRL itself: ACRL Insider. In her first post, Mary Ellen Davis (the Executive Director of ACRL), says that the blog is:
designed to keep you informed on the activities, services, programs, and governance of ACRL. Here you will find out about ACRL publications, events, conferences, e-Learning opportunities, podcasts, etc. and gain some insight into the governance of ACRL.

Business/Finance related cable programming

I can't say whether these shows will be good viewing, but I thought the programming may be of interest to some. Thursday night is "Money Night" on MOJO HD.

As part of its new Thursday night MOJO Money Night programming block, MOJO HD will premiere Start-Up Junkies January 24 at 10p. This new hi-def financial series airing over eight 30 minute episodes will spotlight entrepreneurs as they launch a new company and nurture it through various stages. Start-Up Junkies, produced by Screaming Flea Productions, joins Wall Street Warriors and Bobby G: Adventure Capitalist each Thursday night. [
As announced on Cynopsis,]

MOJO HD is on Time Warner and Cablevision. (By the channel name, it obviously targets men, also high income.)

Monday, January 07, 2008

Vendor Printer

Since students who are not registered for the intersession cannot print with their student accounts (printing accounts for the spring are not activated til Jan 25th) - printing questions are becoming very popular - I have had 10 in the past two hours. Some helpful hints:

- Students are often not aware that they cannot print if they are not registered for Jan, so they will come to the desk and simply say the printer isn't working. Problem 1 is figuring out if it's because they're not registered, and then explaining the vendor card option.

- Problem 2 is they're trying to use the vendor printer and it's not working - because they are hitting print and the default printer is the student printer. So tell them to go to file - print - and select the vendor printer.

- Problem 3 is the vendor printer still isn't working because they are not getting the dialog box to enter a user name and document description. This is happening because the computer has somehow become disconnected from the print server (?) The solution here is to turn the machine off, turn it on, and try again, and it will work. I have had to do this EVERY SINGLE TIME someone has had to use the vendor printer today.

Friday, January 04, 2008

Blank copies of reference desk statistics sheet

I've uploaded the file for the reference desk statistics sheet to the reference wiki. In case the copies in the file cabinet drawer in the reference desk run out, you can always find the file for the sheet on the wiki on the page for Reference Desk Statistics Sheet.

Thursday, January 03, 2008

Literature Resource Center

Literature Resource Center has a new interface -- go check it out!

ICPSR launches ICPSR Data User Help Center

ICPSR has just beta launched the ICPSR Data User Help Center

This online resource provides a variety of tutorials designed to help data users with using ICPSR data, using SPSS/SAS and related resources. Moreover, they have help in a variety of formats -- video, audio and print out instructions.

Wednesday, January 02, 2008

SEC Launches Executive Compensation Reader

On December 21st the SEC launched an Executive Compensation Reader, another tool for investors built on XBRL technology. The SEC has been doing a review of executive compensation disclosure this year and is using information from 500 large companies that have filed proxy statements with the Commission.
With the Executive Compensation Reader investors can quickly glimpse the total annual pay as well as dollar amounts for salary, bonus, stock, options and company perks. They can instantly compare those executive compensation figures with other companies by sorting according to industry or size (market cap or revenue). The new tool includes direct links to companies' proxy statements, including footnotes and the companies' explanation of their compensation decisions. Selected comparisons can be depicted in both table and graph form and data can be downloaded into Microsoft Excel. (Quoted from the Press Release)