Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Mysterious key at the reference desk

Before we turn it over to security for lost and found, I wanted to ask if there is anyone staffing the reference desk that missing a key? It was sitting at the desk last night and is still here now. If no one speaks up, I'll take it to security tomorrow (Thursday).

Firefox experiment at reference desk

As an experiment, I've set up one of the Firefox browsers at the reference desk (on the PC in the rear across from the spiral staircase) so that when you open up a Firefox window or click the home button on the browser toolbar in Firefox, you get two tabs to open automatically:
  • the front tab is the library's home page
  • the back tab (it's not visible unless to click to get that tab) is the reference blog
Just want to see if anyone finds this useful, annoying, not an issue, etc. Please comment.

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Social Networking and Impact on Organizations

I just had a question from a student who is interested in researching and finding articles on the impact of social networking sites on organizations (any orgs - companies, non-profits, govt.). Specifically, how do the SN sites change the behavior of the orgs.

I directed him to use some of our general dbs (academic search premier, proquest), business dbs (factiva, bu source premier), and technolocy related (lib and info sci dbs). We did find a few articles, but didn't come up with much on the fly. Tried keywords like social networking and organizations and impact, also used some of the subject terms the dbs suggested.

Does anyone have any suggestions for search strategies or resources?

Also note what he is NOT interested in - specific overviews of social networking sites (facebook, myspace, linkedin, etc) and general overviews or analyses that discuss what social networking is.

FYI - I took the student's email address, so feel free to post comments here and I'll direct him to this post. Thanks - Frank

CIC Courses at Baruch

You've probably read that the Schwartz Institute won the TIAA-Cref Hesburgh Award this year but you might have missed the story in their blog, cac.ophony, that reported on the growth of Communication Intensive Courses (CIC's) at Baruch. The distribution of the courses might surprise you. The largest number came from Sociology, followed by Anthropology, Music, Economics, Marketing, and Managment/Accounting (tied). Some food for thought for our outreach efforts.

CUNY Gen Ed Conference

CUNY's 4th annual General Education Conference will be held at Baruch this Friday. The program explores the theme "Gen Ed: Making it Work and Making it Matter."

Monday, April 28, 2008

Duplicate entries in the catalog

If you do a Browse search in our local catalog every record is showing duplicated. Central Office is working to fix it.

Friday, April 25, 2008

Sources for permeable pavement information

Last night a student came to the desk and said she had been having trouble finding information on permeable pavers. She said we didn't seem to have anything on it.

When her search was changed to permeable pavement, a newer type of pavement in which water goes through it, rather than making big puddles on the surface or resulting in run offs that led to flooding, (a very simplified explanation), there were numerous articles in ENR (Engineering News Record), Factiva, Lexis-Nexis, Science Direct and Business Source Premier.

There were a number of studies found on the web site of the National Asphalt Pavement Association. Other keywords to search were permeable asphalt pavement, porous asphalt pavement and pervious concrete (not the same material as asphalt, but a similar material made of concrete). Porous pavement can be either asphalt or concrete or other materials.

A Google search lead to many companies and other studies with this product. At the end, the student said it was a search for her job and she was very happy to get this help as she had spent a lot of time looking for permeable paver.

Some other students who have assignments related to environmental or sustainability opportunities might be interested in this topic. A number of cities are using this type of pavement now, or considering it. It has been used in the Netherlands for a number of years. (I learned this from a Dutch friend during a traffic jam one day when I commented on how dry the roads seemed after a rain storm.)

The student also said, at the beginning of the inquiry, she had attended library workshops on finding business information and advanced searching and found them helpful.

Thursday, April 24, 2008

Annual Reviews blocked

Annual Reviews has blocked remote access because of spider/robot activity. Saad and I are working to resolve this issue.

Neighborhood Change Database

This is a brand new Geolytics database that we have just purchased. It is highly specialized and essentially serves one purpose: it allows patrons to directly compare census tract data from 1970 to 2000 in tables and maps.

Manhattan Census Tracts

Census tracts are statistical units created by the Census Bureau. They vary in area and tend to be larger in rural areas and smaller in urban areas. They were designed to have a population between 1500 and 8000 people, with an ideal size of 4000. Census tracts nest within county and state boundaries and never cross these boundaries. They are ideal for examining change within counties and cities.

The problem with making historical comparisons is that census tracts change over time, which makes direct comparison difficult. Over time, a tract may be split into two new tracts (in areas of population growth) or two tracts may be aggregated into one (in areas of population decline). In some instances, boundaries may have to be redrawn entirely.

This databases accounts for this problem by normalizing the data. The tracts and the data from 1970, 1980, and 1990 have all been manipulated to fit the 2000 census geography. This allows for direct geographic comparison across the four decades (you would choose the All Years option under Counts to access the normalized data). You also have the option of viewing the data the way it looked when it was released by selecting the individual census years under Counts.

You use the database to build your own tract reports. You select the area of interest (tracts within a state or county), the census year(s) of interest, and specific variables. You can view the data in a table, which you can download and use in Excel, or you can view the data in a map, where you can download it as a shapefile for use in GIS. You can also right click on the map and save it as an image.

Currently, the database can only be accessed using the Internet Explorer (IE) browser. Firefox isn't able to process it. I don't know if it will work with Mac browsers or not.

For most census questions, you'll still want to refer patrons to the Census Bureau's website or the Social Explorer (in our DB list). The Neighborhood Change db is dedicated specifically to time series analysis for census tracts - and can be a little daunting to use. Perhaps we can do a demo in the future.

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Country Risk

These are the top sources to use for country risk analysis:

Business Monitor Online
Business Monitor’s Country Risk reports provide monthly analysis of the political, economic and business risk in 80 countries. Several kinds of risk reports are available. Risk Ratings for politics and the economy cover both the long and short term. Business environment risk is a measure of the investment climate measured by finance, competitiveness, openness and the environment. The BMI View is a risk summary given in the form of a SWOT analysis.

Economist Intelligence Unit. RiskWire
From Factiva
RiskWire's daily news bulletins report on ten areas of risk analysis for global business: security, political stability, government effectiveness, legal and regulatory, macroeconomics, foreign trade & payments, tax policy, labor markets, financial, and infrastructure. They rate each of these areas in the monthly “Risk Overviews.”

Institutional Investor. Country Credit Ratings
Institutional Investor magazine publishes Country Credit Ratings twice a year in its March and September issues. Sovereign risk analysts rate 172 countries on their credit quality based on political and economic factors and the chance of default.

PRS Group. International Country Risk Guide
PRS Group. Political Risk Service

From LexisNexis
The PRS Risk Service provides in-depth analysis and forecasts of the political and economic conditions in 85 countries. The International Country Risk Guides rate risk in over 130 countries. In addition to the composite risk rating, rating are given for political, financial and economic risk. Each report includes a list of “Items to Watch for” and a one-year business forecast.
To search these publications in LexisNexis begin at the Sources tab and choose “Country and Region Reports.” Select either title by putting a check mark in the box and then click on the “OK-Continue” button to proceed to the Search screen. Type in your search with the country name and date like this: Country(Sudan) and Date=2006.

Mortgage Foreclosures by Zip Code

The place to go for foreclosure data by zip code is the Federal Reserve Bank of New York. Just this month they announced a new service: Dynamic Maps of Nonprime Mortgage Conditions in the United States.

The maps show the following information for subprime and alt-A loans for each state and most of the counties and zip codes in the United States:
• Loans per 1,000 housing units• Loans in foreclosure per 1,000 housing units• Loans real estate owned (REO) per 1,000 housing units• Share of loans that are adjustable rate mortgages (ARMs)• Share of loans for which payments are current• Share of loans that are 90-plus days delinquent• Share of loans in foreclosure• Median combined loan-to-value ratio (LTV) at origination• Share of loans with low credit score (FICO) and high LTV at origination• Share of loans with low- or no documentation• Share of ARMs with initial reset in the next 12 months• Share of loans with a late payment in the past 12 months

The maps will be updated monthly. There are also data tables with more statistics for states.

Additional mortgage foreclosure resources are available from the Federal Reserve Board.

Sources on country risk data

I'm looking for more ideas on sources of data on country risk. I showed a student at the desk the following databases:

  • Bankscope (it's got EIU country risk data)
  • ISI Emerging Markets
  • Business Monitor Online (offers that database's own risk ratings)
Any other ideas?

New database: Neighborhood Change Database

One more new database for today: Neighborhood Change Database

From our description (thanks, Frank!)

This Geolytics database contains census tract data from 1970 to 2000. The database contains the original data for each decade as well as normalized data that was modified to fit Census 2000 boundaries (thus making the geography and data for each census comparable). Create reports that can be downloaded as tables and maps that can be downloaded as shapefiles or saved as images. Must use the Internet Explorer browser.

Foreclosure data

Does anyone have advice about a source where you can find the number of foreclosures by ZIP code? A student at the reference desk needed to find it, and I promised I'd email him with any advice I was able to get from my colleagues.

FYI: The RealQuest database seems to have foreclosure data in it, but we don't subscribe to that part of the service.

Grove Art and Music Online Now OXFORD Art and Music Online

Our subscriptions to Grove Art Online and Grove Music Online have become Oxford Art Online and Oxford Music Online. They have a totally new feel and interface and there are more resources within each one too.

Palgrave Dictionary of Economics

Palgrave Dictionary of Economics is no longer on trial, but on full subscription.

Cabell's Directory of Publishing Opportunities in Business

The latest directory is available in electronic format from our database page.

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Ernst & Young makes major globalization announcement

Yesterday the Big 4 accounting firm Ernst & Young made a major announcement on reorganizing its country practices in Europe, Africa and parts of Asia.

Some press reports today said it was the biggest news in the accounting profession since Enron failed, so its quite big news.

For students series in Gale Virtual Reference

The for students series we subscribe to (Drama for students, Novels for students, Poetry for students, Short Stories for students) have all been moved to an electronic format.

We have purchased the older volumes so their complete run is available electronically through the Gale Virtual Reference platform.

Whenever new volumes come out, they will be seamlessly added to that platform.

We will not be getting these series in paper any longer.

Sunday, April 20, 2008

Bread for the World report encourages use of VITA tax program

I realize that tax season is over, but I thought you might want to know that a recent article posted on the Accounting Web reports that Bread for the World Institute, a nonprofit concerned with helping alleviate poverty, found that low income tax fliers could save more by using the VITA programs in regard to filing for their earned income tax credits.

Thursday, April 17, 2008

Expanded Access to Emerging Markets

Business Monitor Online has just announced that they are expanding their coverage to include 150 emerging market countries and they will be updating the reports quarterly instead of annually. This a great database to use when investigating foreign investment climate and country risk. "Business Environment" reports have five parts: current developements; institutional risks; infrastructure risks; market orientation risks; and operational risks. The easiest way to pull up these reports is to choose a country first, then from the list of reports (on the left), look for "Country Risk" and click on "Business Environment."


The muckracker question just came to my attention. For primary source information contemporary to the period the student should use THE AMERICAN PERIODICAL SERIES database. This database includes almost 2,000 journals spanning the period 1740-1940.In addition a message was posted concerning Upton Sinclair. Please keep in mind that I just completed an on-line exhibit on Upton Sinclair, a 19th century graduate of our college. The exhibit talks about muckracking and how he influenced public awareness of the evils of big business.

New Reference Titles

European Business Facts and Figures (REF HC241.2 .P313 2007)
The 2007 edition of this statistical yearbook from Eurostat features analysis of 23 industry sectors in manufacturing; mining, energy, water and recycling; construction; non-financial services and financial services. Chapters follow a standard format and include:
· Structural profile with data on number of enterprises, turnover, value added and employment
· Costs, productivity and profitability
· External trade
In most cases data is presented in the aggregate for the EU (not for individual member states). Statistics in this report are supplemented by free data on Eurostat’s website .

Health in the Americas (REF RA407.5 .L3P18 2007)
This two volume survey of the health situation in 46 countries in the American hemisphere is published every four years by the Pan American Health Organization. Each country profile includes data on demographics and mortality rates, identifies health conditions and problems, and surveys health policy, public health services and health sector spending. Essays on regional health issues including sustainability and environmental heath are covered in volume two.

The Real Deal Data Book 2008 (REF HD1393.55 .D50 2008)
This supplement to New York Real Estate News magazine covers both the residential and commercial real estate markets in New York City, the boroughs and northern New Jersey. Market surveys focus on data. There are lots of lists (new condo projects, major re-zonings) and rankings (top residential developers, top mortgage brokers, biggest office landlords, top building buys and buyers).

Economic Report of the President (REF HC106.5 .A272 2008)
Although this report is most often used for its economic data tables, don’t overlook the annual report of the President’s Council of Economic Advisors. This year chapters are devoted to the credit and housing markets, the importance of health and health care, tax policy, the nation’s infrastructure and searching for alternative energy solutions.

The Sage Handbook of Qualitative Research (REF H62 .H2455 2005)
The third edition of this handbook is an almost complete reworking of the previous editions (1994, 2000) with 42 new chapters/authors and 16 new chapter topics.

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

New poll: where do you read this blog's posts

I added a new poll to the reference blog that asks Baruch staff where they read the blog posts. Please take a moment to visit the home page of the blog and take the poll.


Please don't customize the Firefox toolbar at the reference desk

If you add a shortcut button for a web site to the Firefox toolbar on a computer at the reference desk, it will add it to every Firefox installation on the PCs at the desk. If something is missing, please let me know, and I'll fix it. If you add buttons for things like Verizon email or the New York Times, it will show up on all the machines at the desk.

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Research tips for the audit failure assignment

Prof. Cherny's ACC 5400 class is working on the audit failure assignment. Each student has one of 12 audit failure cases to write a 10 page paper on, including things such as what the student things could have been done by the auditor to help prevent the audit failure. Most of these cases involve fraud of some type.

I've prepared a handout of research tips showing how to find the SEC's Accounting and Auditing Enforcement releases, legal decisions, journal and newspaper articles, the Statements on Auditing Standards, and financial statements, or excerpts, for companies prior to electronic filings through Edgar, as well as psychology articles relating to evaluating risk and human behavior, as well as some web sites.

(One of the cases is Crazy Eddie. Sam Antar, a cousin of Crazy Eddie's, who testified against his cousin, and for the government in the fraud case, spoke at Baruch two years ago, and this is in the digital media collection. He also has a website,

I've posted the handout on the shared Numan drive, under IS, instructional materials, works in progress, Research Tips for the Audit Failure Assignment 04152008.

I've emailed a copy to Prof. Cherny for posting on the class Blackboard site.

Muckraker assignment

There may be a class assignment on muckrakers that is coming due. I have had two students come to the desk (one yesterday, one today) looking for scholarly articles and books on muckraking journalists from the late 1800s and early 1900s. One student was specifically interested in how their writings changed American politics. Using the America: History and Life database we were able to find a good number of relevant journal articles. Historical abstracts also yielded some results. The catalog showed that we have several useful books, including:

Muckraking! : the journalism that changed America / HN65 .M83 2002

Reform and reformers in the progressive era / HN64 .R422 1983

Poison penmanship : the gentle art of muckraking / PN4726 .M55 1979

Muckraking: past, present, and future E743 .M82

If a student is looking for a particular writer, you can also search in Literature Resource Center, which has articles and entries on a number of journalists from the time period.

Monday, April 14, 2008

GIS Tutorial and Blog

Last week, I gave a hands-on tutorial in using GIS to map census data as part of the New York Census Research Data Center's 2nd Annual Workshop series. I wrote the tutorial in HTML and posted it on my GIS blog on the Resources page. Feel free to have a look, and to point others to it. Eventually, it will move to a Baruch server.

And since I've never made a formal announcement, here it is - I have created a GIS Librarian blog where I'll be hosting thoughts, tips, tricks, and links to data and resources. The url for the blog is:

Tuesday, April 08, 2008

Peace Education sources

A student inquired by email this afternoon about sources available relating to Peace Education.
It is for a communications class. He didn't provide any other details. It might also be referred to as "peace studies" or "conflict resolution" courses (conflict resolution being broader than peace studies)

In case it comes up again, here are some possible resources:

U.S. Institute of Peace:

UNESCO, a part of the United Nations sponsors an annual peace education award and also has sources for teachers.

You can search the UNESCO site at:

Here are some possible databases for Baruch students:

CUNY+--tried title search peace studies
Academic Search Premier,
CIAO--a database of international studies, etc.

ERIC--peace education or peace studies brought up articles

Factiva--limit to education and/or universities and colleges in subject, with a keyword search

The Harvard Education Review is available through Factiva and I found some articles related to Peace Education there.

Also, on Lexis-Nexis you can search the University Wire to see what is happening/being reported in college newspapers and the university wire, as well as other news sources.

Search Education Full Text and Humanities Full Text at the same time.

Philosophy Index--I tried peace education and came up with some peer-reviewed articles.

Women and Social Movements--could be searched for peace education. This might give some historic perspective.

I also tried Bearcat search for "peace studies" in title, and limited the search to 2007 and selected education, philosophy, and news. I received 133 hits, some of which were computer related articles, so I will examine the results again.

I hope this is helpful. It appears that a number of colleges/universities are beginning to offer these courses..and the movement is international.

SEC offers new way to compare mutual funds

Yesterday the SEC announced a new interactive tool in which comparisons of mutual funds may be made. It uses XBRL.

Research consultations for spring 2008

As I have been taking vacation days lately so I can complete an article I've been writing, I've been working closely with Alfredo to ensure that the research consultations go as smoothly as possible this semester. Yesterday was the first day of consultations; next Thursday (April 17) will be the last. Each day, Alfredo is:
  • emailing students who have signed up and asking them to email back with confirmation and any details on the questions they'll be asking us
  • distributing a daily schedule to the librarians doing consultations for that day
  • making sure that librarians have the paperwork on hand in advance of their appointments
    • reference desk referral form (same blue sheet we use with students at the reference desk)
    • student survey form
    • librarian summary report
When you have consultations scheduled for the day, please make sure that you:
  • remind your students to fill out the survey form and leave it in the box at the reference desk
  • fill out the summary report and get it to me
  • email me or Alfredo to let us know who came and who didn't

Update on using PACER at the Fordham Law School Library

I called Fordham Law School Library yesterday to see if they have policies in place for public use for PACER. In November a blog posting explained that Fordham had received a grant to help promote the public access to PACER, normally the fee-based federal judiciary's centralized registration, billing, and technical support center for electronic access to U.S. District, Bankruptcy, and Appellate court records. (You can see what new cases are filed each day, and obtain court records, such as filings related to cases. Our Westlaw Campus and Lexis-Nexis databases do not include filing documents.)

The following is what I learned:

Fordham Law School Library- Location and reference phone number
140 W 62 St. New York, NY 10023 (212) 636-6900

Emailed information received from the Fordham Law School Library:

The Leo T. Kissam Memorial Library is pleased to introduce free access to the federal judiciary's Public Access to Court Electronic Records (PACER) system as part of a pilot project by the Administrative Office of the United States Courts and the Government Printing Office.

What is PACER?
PACER allows users to obtain case file documents, listings of all case parties, judgments, and other information from district, bankruptcy and appellate courts online, with the data immediately available for printing or downloading.

Who can use PACER?
PACER is available to the entire Fordham community, as well as members of the public.

Where can I use PACER?
PACER can be accessed at a dedicated terminal set up on Stack 3 of the Law Library. Under the terms of our agreement, we are unable to provide remote or individual access to the PACER system; all users must be physically present in the Law Library.

How do I use PACER?
To use PACER, ask the Reference Librarian on duty to direct you to the terminal. The Reference Librarian will log you on.

Once logged on, you may access the PACER system for any of the courts that participate in the program. A full list of these courts is available here.

At this time we do not have printing capabilities for our PACER terminal; however, we hope to have this option available, at cost, in the future. Users have the option to save documents to a USB drive.

To ensure optimum usage, a 30 minute time limit will be enforced.

Additional tips learned from a telephone conversation with a reference librarian:

It is best to call ahead on the weekends as only one reference librarian is available. Why is this important: A librarian must sign the user on to a dedicated computer.

Pacer is available the same hours as reference service: Mon. -Thursday 9:30 a.m. to 8:30 p.m., 9:30 to 5 p.m. Fridays, 10-6 Saturday, 12-8 Sundays.
Important to note: the library is not open to non-Fordham students during reading and exam periods, which will start April 19 and will end May 14.

The reference librarian said it would be good to come with a METRO referral card as the security guards are used to seeing those cards and will understand the request. Otherwise, users could also come to the guards and say they wanted to use PACER or depository materials.

I hope you find this information helpful.

Friday, April 04, 2008

EBSCOhost New interface

In July EBSCO will release its EBSCOhost 2.0 interface. There is a lot of information on the new interface on this EBSCO page.

They are really making big changes. We may want to revisit our defaults, and there may be training materials that need to be updated. This will affect all our EBSCOhost products.

Portable DVD players available for loan

I updated the DVD Players page in the reference wiki this morning to include details about the new portable DVD players that Baruch students may borrow.

Thursday, April 03, 2008

Help for students looking for "computer fraud" incidents

Yesterday a student came to the ref desk and asked for helping finding incidents of computer fraud. She said she had spent 2 hours on Google and hadn't found anything. She said international incidents would be better, but she would be happy to find anything.

Here are two quick ways to find incidents of computer fraud:

Login into the database Audit Analytics. (You will need to create an account).
Look for restatements in the list on the right. Then, do a text search for "computer fraud." (A company may need to restate their earnings for many reasons, and "computer fraud" is one of them.) 99 restatements were located, of which 90 were unique (meaning some companies had one more one restatement). Results could be filtered by year, industry, company size, etc.
The results can be downloaded. From there, companies could be identified and more searches done on news and accounting databases.

Second quick search: Go to CCH Business & Finance database, click Securities tab.
Scroll down to Federal Securities, Reporters and Primary Materials.
Select Federal Securities case archive 1941-1993, (first column) Sec Tracker daily for the last 90 days and the option from 2002 to the most recent 90 days (second column).
Then, enter "computer fraud" as keywords to search.
In the results, the search terms will be highlighted in yellow. Some will say that x has been charged with computer fraud. It is helpful to remember that being charged doesn't mean being guilty. Either the government has to prove you are guilty or you have to admit it.
(Some of the charges have been filed recently).
So, look for pleaded guilty to x number of counts of computer fraud. Then, click on the hyperlink to get the details from the SEC's.
Searching news and accounting literature could add more details, if needed.

For international results, I later tried searching the ABI Inform and used the topic search to show how computer fraud is assigned to topics and locations. Factiva could also be used.

The student was pleased with the results and the little time it took. She agreed that in the future she should ask for help from a librarian before spending two hours Googling without results.

Tuesday, April 01, 2008

Bear Stearns, Subprime Mortgages and the Financial Crisis

The Congressional Research Service has just released three reports that examine the current financial situation in the U.S. They are good background pieces for any student writing about these issues.

Bear Stearns: Crisis and "Rescue" for a Major Provider of Mortgage-Related Products

Government Interventions in Financial Markets: Economic and Historic Analysis of Subprime Mortgage Options

Averting Financial Crisis

All these can be found on OpenCRS, a new website that collects and makes freely available reports from the Congressional Research Service. They have an RSS feed if you'd like to be alerted when new reports are posted.

Paulson's Plan for Financial Regulation

Treasury Secretary Paulson's speech proposing a new regulatory structure for banks and financial institutions can be found at the U.S. Treasury department website. The actual Blueprint for a Modernized Financial Regulatory Structure is over 200 pages long. Better to start by reading the Factsheet.