Monday, June 30, 2008

CUNY+ down several dates

CUNY+ will be down:

Tuesday, July 1st from 5:45am to 7:45am

Wednesday, July 2nd, from 5:45 am until 8:00 am

No remote access to Science magazine

The link via Serials Solutions to Science magazine (from the Science magazine web site) generates an EZ Proxy error. I've reported this to our help desk (#2939).

Thursday, June 26, 2008

Audit failure assignment and tips for the research

Prof. John Barron's ACC 5400, an auditing class, a late evening class, has a group assignment to work on one of the audit failure cases that are featured in a book of cases. (The book has previously been used by previous classes.) I have sent Prof. Barron a copy of my handout regarding tips for doing the research for this assignment and he will post it to Blackboard.

I have also placed a copy of it on the shared Numan drive, under IS, Instructional materials, Class Assignments and then Research tips for Audit Failure Assignment, dated 06272008. The presentations are due in late July. I will be gone next week, on research leave from July 14, and gone again July 19.

They can select the audit failure that they want to work on. While Enron might be very popular, there is also probably an overwhelming amount of information on the case. One of the more difficult cases for locating information involves a pharmaceutical supply company on Long Island in the 1980s that did not generate many news stories when the audit failure (involving "cooking the books") was discovered, or afterwards. The company no longer exists.

When I did a workshop on helping students locate information, I first showed them how to locate the sources cited in the case study, which they really seemed to appreciate.

I also showed how to find articles in the databases such as how to avoid inventory fraud or embezzlement, which provide information for suggestions on how the situation might have been avoided, or for suggestions for improvements in internal controls and procedures.

Another professor, who teaches this during the spring and summer terms, has told me that he wants the students to develop a more skeptical approach, and realize that as auditor once you step into a firm, you are in their environment which they control. He has said you can't teach this from a book. But, reading the cases, with hindsight, you can see some instances of possible "red flags" --when excuses or exceptions were made, when procedures weren't followed, when people were related or involved with each other, or when there appears to be no where to turn for advice or to report something suspicious. So, psychology databases have some articles about
risk management, auditing and auditors.

I hope this is helpful. I am meeting with one of the student groups tonight so I will post if they have any suggestions as to what they find helpful. If a student comes to the desk who has not read the case, I have started to suggest that the student do so prior to seeking assistance.

Additional information:

I met with the student group doing the Enron case tonight. The assignment is different from past semesters as the assignment includes answering the questions at the end of each case study for their presentations. So, finding historical financial filings may be less important than in the past.

Many of the questions also ask the students to provide their own opinions on requirements and auditing standards.

Auditing standards online are available on CCH Accounting Research Manager, and as they are the current standards, print standards from prior years should be found using CUNY+.

SEC announces 21st Century Disclosure Initiative

The SEC announced today that it is starting a six month study of its disclosure system and how technology can improve the quality of information for investors. It looks like they are undertaking a fundamental rethinking of the way they acquire and disseminate public company information. Quoting from the press release, the SEC says the study will include a review of all existing SEC forms and reporting requirements. It will look at how to integrate public disclosure with the SEC’s new XBRL initiative and it will consider ways that the regulatory requirements might be changed to improve real-time distribution of both financial and narrative disclosure to investors.

The study is being lead by Prof. William Lutz, the author of Doublespeak Defined. He worked with the SEC on their Plain English Handbook. Prof. Lutz spoke about doublespeak at Baruch's College Convocation in 2005.

Download Company Comparison Data

Standard and Poor's NetAdvantage has added a download feature to its Industry Surveys. You can now export to Excel the data from the "Comparative Company Analysis" pages. The download option is listed right below the option for PDF or HTML (it is labeled "comparative company analysis"). The Excel spreadsheet will be tabbed so that each table can be accessed separately.

Sources of 5-year stock prices in graphic format to insert into Powerpoint

Through email reference today, a student said she was having trouble inserting a five-year chart (graph) of Home Depot's stock prices into a Powerpoint slide. As I was working on it, Louise, doing chat reference, saw the question and we explored different ways that this could be accomplished.

The choices may depend on whether the student wants to generate a chart/graphical data from price data or simply copy and paste a graph. Some of the options below provide only the company's stock prices over 5 years, while other options allow you to create a graph/chart comparing that company's stock prices performance to other companies or to an index or indices.

Creating a chart of stock prices is one of the things learned in the Reuters workshops but that didn't seem a practical solution today, given that it was an email question. Plus neither of us had saved such a created chart and then emailed it to ourselves.

So here is the answer that I sent the student, in the event that it comes up again:

Here's some options:

1. Go to the Home Depot homepage,, and

Click on Investor Information, then stock information. You will see that a chart is available on the prices. You can change the chart to 5 years and select different stock prices...weekly, etc. Then, right click on the chart and you will have the option Copy Image. Open Powerpoint and select a slide in which the content is graphs and past the image.

2. You can also use three subscription databases available to Baruch students to copy and paste a chart. Why would you use these databases over Home Depot's free option? Standard & Poor's Net Advantage, Mergent, and Morningstar allow you to build a graphical chart with more can select to compare HD's stock price to different indexes. This would provide more information than the chart of the stock price alone.

Both Mergent Online, Morningstar and Standard & Poor's Net Advantage are databases that can be located through databases on the Newman Library homepage.

3.) for Standard & Poor's NetAdvantage.

Once you log on to the database, look to do a Companies search (blue toolbar). Enter HD as the ticker and search.

On the left column, you will see chart listed among the selections. Click Chart. A chart will appear and you will have options to select. When you have created the chart you want,

right click and copy the image. As before, insert into Powerpoint.

4.) Now, for Mergent. Select Mergent Online from the database options. Either enter Home Depot as the company name or HD as the ticker symbol to search. Then, click on the tab Equity Pricing when the option appears. You will see a chart of HD's stock prices. As with Standard & Poor's NetAdvantage, you can select the time period and if you want to compare the HD stock performance to a different index, make the selections you want.

Scroll down and click Draw Chart, when you have made your selections. As before, right click to copy the image, and then open Powerpoint and insert the image.

5) I forgot to look at Morningstar when I was doing the email reference. But it too allows you to get a five year graph of a company's stock prices and allows a comparison to another company to be added. Right click to copy the image and then paste into Powerpoint.

Some free web sites that also allow you graphs that can be copied are: Do a search for the stock you want and look for the chart. Click on it, and you can create a chart with different options, including comparing the company to three other companies. Once again, right click to copy image and then insert the graph into a Powerpoint.

Google Finance also might be used. Enter HD as the stock quote that you are looking for. Click on the link Historical stock prices and select five years. You will then need to click download to a spreadsheet. Once you have saved the spreadsheet as an Excel file, you can create a chart using Excel. This will require a few more steps than the other options that allow you to copy a chart.

I also looked at Valueline but since this is a black and white chart for 10 years, I didn't recommend it.

Blackwell-synergy site closing down June 27

Just a reminder that the Blackwell-Synergy site will be closing down on June 27, and all content migrated to the Wiley InterScience site on June 30.

Blackwell is not listed in our list of databases, but we subscribe to some of their journals, so that may come up on the full-text list.

ThomsonReuters vs. Bloomberg

You might want to read an article that appeared in Monday's New York Times about the competition between ThomsonReuters and Bloomberg in the financial news industry. Although Thomson Reuters reports more revenue, $12.5 billion to Bloomberg's $5.4 billion, and more employees, 50,000 to Bloomberg's 10,000, they are close competitors measured by market share: ThomsonReuters has 34% and Bloomberg has 33% of the market for financial data.

The article does a nice job covering the history of the two companies and assessing possible strategies for the future.

See "The New Fight for Financial News" in the New York Times, June 23, 2008.

Exchange rates and Consumer Price Index assignment

There is a class with a two part assignment requiring (1) monthly average exchange rates for several countries for multiple years (2) Consumer Price Index for several countries for multiple years.

The following resources are helpful for this data:

(1) WRDS - for monthly exchange rates.
After connecting, choose "Federal Reserve Bank Reports". In the new page on the left you will see a heading for "Foreign Exchange Rates"; click on "Data" directly below. When selecting countries and years, change the frequency from "daily" to "monthly".

(2) WDI: World Development Indicators - for Consumer Price Index.
You need to select the countries, series (Consumer Price Index), and time (years). For the CPI, click on the Series tab and then click on "Exchange rates and prices" for the topic. You will see your options change in the box to the right. CPI will be listed first for you to select.

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

CUNYPlus will be down on Thursday

CUNY/CIS will be conducting maintenance on the CUNYPlus Library system on Thursday, June 26th, from 6:30am to 8:30am. Access to the online catalog and other library services systems will be unavailable during this maintenance.

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

An offer that helped a student

At the recent SLA conference, I attended a continuing ed session by Mary
Ellen Bates on "what to do after you log off," which discussed ways that librarians/information
professionals can demonstrate their value, or offer addition help, after the initial inquiry is completed. Tonight on the desk a student asked for help in locating Milton's Paradise Lost, so I showed her how to locate the book in CUNY+. Then I asked, " will you need some information to help understand it," and she said "yes." So I showed her how to search Literature Resource Center and JSTOR. (She said aftewards she had only used our databases a little and not for literature articles.)
She said she appreciated the extra help. I realize that I should have framed my inquiry better like, "Would you like me to show you some library resources that help explain Milton's writings? "

What are Bond Covenants?

In the practicum this morning we discussed how to help a student looking for bond covenants but we never defined what a covenant was. Covenants are restrictions on the activity of bond issuers that protect the bondholders. They include things like limits on how the borrowed funds can be used, restrictions against issuing more debt, or setting certain ratio requirements or working capital levels. When covenants are violated, the bonds are in default.

Provisions of the covenants for a particular bond will usually be found in the bond prospectus or a supplement to the prospectus. Thomson Research provides the most comprehensive collection of prospectuses for both U.S. and foreign corporations.

There are two databases that can be used to find a list of the bonds that a company has issued. The SDC new issues database probably has the most complete list including bonds that have been recalled. Students might find it easier to use Mergent Online which in one of the company tabs lists all the long term debt and capital stock outstanding.

Vermont is first state to establish "low profit" corporate entity

The Vermont legislature recently approved the country's first "low profit" limited liability corporation statute, which seeks to blend features of for profit and non-profit corporations. Here's a link to the legislation as it was proposed: (This is not the final version of the law.)

Some expect an outcome of the law is that nonprofit organizations will seek to incorporate under Vermont law, much like many for-profit corporations seek to incorporate in Delaware because of some features of Delaware corporate law.

Monday, June 23, 2008

Psychology assignment

An assignment for a psychology class (Prof. Kehn) requires students to research the history of the Psychology Department at Baruch. The department's website does not provide historical information. I suggested the following to a few students (to see how courses have changed emphasis, faculty have changed, events, etc.):
  • The Ticker Digitized Archives- (Choose Digital Collections, then click on "The Ticker" in the right sidebar)
  • Lexicon yearbook - Ref. LD 331.B66457 L4
  • Undergraduate Bulletins - Ref. LD 331.B66428 B37
The assignment is due Wednesday, June 25th.

Any other suggestions?

Friday, June 20, 2008

The HUB at the University of Kentucky

The first session I attended at SLA was one given by Stacey Greenwell from the University of Kentucky on "Applying the Information Commons Concept." Some of her tips about things they did in designing their commons for undergraduates that were successful include:

Furniture: Put everything you can on wheels. Buy many more whiteboards than you think you need - students love them. The Hub has 20 but could use another 20 more. Do not use TV monitors for signage. They are not as easy to program as simple projectors.

Services:They have replaced their reference desk sign with one that says "Help * Help * Help. They have a mobile reference desk too but are still looking for ways to increase reference traffic. They now offer workshops in RSS and SecondLife. They are partnering with their IT department to offer a laptop clinic. They have a tutoring kiosk (through a video conference/chat system) that allows students to get help from the writing center while in the library. They are going to set up a kiosk in the IT labs for students to get help from librarians. They have trained students to be "navigation assistants."

A description and pictures of The Hub are on their website along with links to more pictures on Flickr.

Tips for Contacting the BCTC Help Desk

If you need to contact the BCTC Help Desk (x1010) while working reference, please keep in mind the following:
  • The BCTC home page has a "Help Desk Alerts" section that you may want to check first to see if the problem you're reporting has already been noted
  • When you report a problem to the help desk, the staff there logs your problem into a ticketing system. Please ask for the ticket number so that when you or someone else calls back for followup, you can refer to the original ticket number.
  • If you post a message to the reference blog about the problem, include the ticket number in your post if your problem resulted in your calling the BCTC help desk.
  • Although Saad and Arthur automatically receive copies of all blog posts via email, you may also want to call Saad's staff or submit your request also to the library's own help desk system (there's a link to it on the toolbar of all reference desk PCs). Indicate to Saad's staff that you've already contacted BCTC and provide the ticket number. You should know that any problem reported to the online help desk system for the library is automatically routed via email to Saad and his staff.
In reviewing this blog post before I published it today, Arthur reminded me of BCTC's plans to launch a searchable knowledgebase for tech issues. Christian Keck from BCTC spoke to the IS Division about this project a number of months ago and invited us to help contribute content related to library technology when the system is ready.

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

MRI+ Database

A student came in today from Marketing 3250, (Advertising and Marketing Communications), and needed to use the MRI+ database for information about consumers of Maxwell House coffee. There is a username and password for MRI listed in the wiki, but students may want to create their own account. It also seemed as if the database would not work in Firefox, but it worked fine in Explorer.

Once the student logged in, we went first to the 'Mediamark reporter' tab, and then chose 'Fall 2007 product.' There is an option to choose a report based on the type of product, or to search by keyword. We searched for coffee and found that 'ground coffee' was one of our results. There were many different brands listed, including Maxwell House. After that, you can generate reports for the past six months.

It sounded as if this is a group project for the class, so there may be other students coming in to use MRI+.

Keeping safe our copy of Margin of Safety

If anyone asks about our copy of Seth Klarman's 1991 book, Margin of Safety: Risk-Averse Value Investing Strategies for the Thoughtful Investor, be aware that there are unusual access policies in place for it because of the book's value on the used book market:
  • the book is in the archives
  • it does not circulate at all
  • anyone who wants to look at it must make arrangements in advance with Prof. Sandra Roff, who will sit with that person as he/she reads the book
  • limited numbers of pages may be photocopied by Prof. Roff at her discretion
If you'd like to read why this book is valued so highly, check out this 2006 article from BusinessWeek: "The $700 Used Book."

Guest login system down

Around 1:15, Chris and I noticed that the guest login system was down and reported it to the BCTC Help Desk. I just called the help desk again to check on the status and learned nothing new. I asked the help desk staff to please call us at the reference desk as soon as the system is back up.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Get Historical Stock Prices with CRSP

We have been getting a few questions from students looking for historical stock price information. Prof. Liu reminded us you can find data up until 2006 using CRSP.

1.) Select CRSP
2.) On the left select monthly stocks
3.) Enter the ticker symbol
4.) Under the variables section tick off "price"
5.) Then select Submit request

Thanks to Prof. Liu

New database: Literature Criticism Online

The News
We now have access to a new Gale database: Literature Criticism Online (LCO), a useful complement to Gale's Literature Resource Center (LRC), which we've long subscribed to.

What's Unique about LCO
Backfiles from ten essential literature reference series from Gale:
  • Contemporary Literary Criticism
  • Twentieth-Century Literary Criticism
  • Nineteenth-Century Literature Criticism
  • Shakespeare Criticism
  • Literature Criticism 1400-1800
  • Classical and Medieval Literature Criticism
  • Poetry Criticism
  • Short Story Criticism
  • Drama Criticism
  • Children’s Literature Review
What's Not in LCO
A number of valuable Gale and St. James reference series are in LRC instead (such as Contemporary Authors).

When to Use LCO
If a student needs to find criticism of a specific work of literature, I'd start with Literature Resource Center (LRC) first, then move on to LCO, then finally to MLA International Bibliography.

If the student wants an overview of an author, then LRC first, LCO next, and don't bother at all with MLA International Bibliography.

LCO and Bearcat Search
LCO is not yet connected in Bearcat Search. I'll post a note here when it is. Speaking of federation, Gale promises that someday soon we'll be able to search LCO, LRC, and MLA International Bibliography from a single Gale search screen (as we can do with EBSCOhost databases); right now, if you go to LRC and run a search, it will automatically include MLA International Bibliography results too unless you unclick the checkbox at the bottom of the search screen.


We now have access to Worldscope. This database provides financial information on public companies worldwide. It is available through Datastream, which is available on the computers at the reference desk (some professors also have it in their office).

Monday, June 16, 2008

Photocopy Machine 2 Key

Although I was able to open the photocopy machine 2 in the print room on the second floor of the library I was unable to relock it.

Friday, June 13, 2008

New Street Atlases

In addition to the Manhattan Block by Block Atlas that Louise mentioned in an earlier post, we have recently received a new NYC 5 Borough Street Guide. Both of these atlases are behind the reference desk. A new Rand McNally Road Atlas for the US, Canada, and Mexico is on order for the desk, and hopefully will arrive soon.

Thursday, June 12, 2008

EZProxy error when connecting to databases

Saad sent a message stating the connection to Aluka has been fixed. I noticed there are other databases bringing up the same EZProxy error message when trying to connect: American Accounting Association, Blackwell Encyclopedia of Sociology, Mergent WebReports, and Zephyr (a trial database). I sent a Helpdesk request regarding these databases. -Linda

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Recent book acquisitions

I thought I would highlight some of the new books that are coming through. These are more or less random choices but I am trying to cover all areas, we are really getting some interesting material! They'll hit circulation tomorrow afternoon.

Ogden Nash: the life and work or America's laureate of light verse, by Douglas M. Parker (PS 3527 .A637 Z79 2005). Parker follows Nash's life from infancy to death, frequently interspersing Nash' s own verses (there is a 4 page Table of Poems). A bibliography of primary and secondary sources and a number of pictures make this a very useful source for anyone working on Nash.

Trust and honesty: America's business culture at a crossroads, by Tamar Frankel (KF 9351 .F73 2006). Pondering on the the recent business scandals of Enron, WorldCom and more, Frankel, a professor of law at Boston University, invites the reader to examine the state of trust and honesty in American business. What happens to society when deception seems pervasive? And how can we stop this trend? Extensive notes and bibliography.

Dragons at your door: how Chinese cost innovation is disrupting global competition, by Ming Zeng and Peter J. Williamson (HC 427.95 .Z424 2007). According to the authors, the real "Chinese threat" doesn't come from the "cheap, low-quality imitations flooding world markets" but from the ways in which they have been able to harness technology at low cost, offer a an incredibly high number of product choices, even for mass-market products, while also offering specialty products at dramatically lower prices.

Islamic law and the challenges of modernity, edited by Yvonne Y. Haddad and Barbara F. Stowasser (KBP 144 .I83 2004). With globalization, there are an increasing number of clashes between Islamic and Western laws. The authors start by looking at Islamic law from historical and regional views. The book is then divided in two parts, the first one looking at modern legal reforms in the Arab world, and the second examining the impact of these reforms on women specifically. Included are a substantial bibliography and a glossary of terms.

The impact of women in Congress, by Debra L. Dodson (HQ 1236.5 .U6 D63 2006). Looking specifically at the 103rd and 104th Congress, and at three specific areas (women's health, reproductive rights, and health care policy), Dodson examines the complex interactions between women's presence and impact and the institutions they work in. The author conducted a number of interviews and a number of tables appear throughout the book, as well as an extensive bibliography.


Wiley and Blackwell-Synergy

You may have heard that Wiley bought Blackwell a while ago. Wiley is going through a long process to integrate their two platforms, which should culminate in a totally brand new integrated platform early 2009.

As a first step, Wiley is moving ALL Blackwell content to its own server. This will make it more difficult for us to find the titles we do subscribe to since we only subscribe to about a combined 220 titles out of over 1,600 titles that will be available.

Both sites will be unavailable June 28, 29 and 30.

Friday, June 06, 2008

Latino Survey 2006

MDRC and ICPSR just announced the release of the data from the Latino National Survey (LNS), 2006. The LNS (ICPSR 20862) is a major "national" telephone survey of Latino residents of the United States, seeking a broad understanding of the qualitative nature of Latino political and social life in America. All Latinos, not just citizens or voters, were sampled to be interviewed for approximately 40 minutes on a wide range of political questions, conducted in English and Spanish.

The Latino National Survey (LNS) contains 8,634 completed interviews (unweighted) of self-identified Latino/Hispanic residents of the United States. Interviewing began on November 17, 2005, and continued through August 4, 2006. The survey instrument contained approximately 165 distinct items ranging from demographic descriptions to political attitudes and policy preferences, as well as a variety of social indicators and experiences. All interviewers were bilingual, English and Spanish. Respondents were greeted in both languages and were immediately offered the opportunity to interview in either language. Interviewers also provided a consent script that allowed respondents to opt out of the survey.

Wednesday, June 04, 2008

Student Lockers

There are students asking about summer locker rentals at the Reference Desk.
Please direct them to this URL:

NASDAQ to Offer Real-Time Stock Quotes

Most financial websites report stock quotes on a 15-minute delay. NASDAQ announced Monday that it will start a pilot project to supply real-time market data to the websites of Google Finance, the Wall Street Journal and CNBC. NASDAQ will need approval from the SEC to continue the pilot. Read the details in this news story from Reuters.

Tuesday, June 03, 2008

Reuters I workshop, June 11

There have been a few students asking about a Reuters workshop for Summer Session One.
For future inquires, let students know that Reuters I is scheduled for next week on Wed., June 11th from 12:45-2pm. Alfredo will set up the online registration soon.

Hillary Clinton Rally

We've had a few questions already about the timing and location of the rally this evening. It's being held at the Athletic and Rec Center in the Newman Vertical Campus at 7pm. You can refer people who want tickets to the Clinton website, where they can register online:

An internet search for "Hillary Clinton" and baruch will return this page as one of the top links (easier than giving someone this long url).