Thursday, July 31, 2008

Number of chain stores in each borough

The Center for an Urban Future just released a report with the kind of data we get asked for a lot: how many outlets of ____ (fill in the blank with some national chain, like Dunkin Donuts, Starbucks, McDonalds, etc.) are in New York (or one of the boroughs. The report, titled "Attack of the Chains?" lists the numbers for more than 150 retailers.

Fun factoid: in New York, there are more Sleepy's (105 outlets) than Burger Kings (92 outlets).

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Three great tools for tracking legislative activity

If you've been frustrated by the clunky interface for Thomas and the difficulties in parsing the results of your searches there, you may want to check out some new web sites that do a nice job of cleaning up the data from Thomas and other government sources on Congressional activities.

A very user-friendly and accessible site that helps you to track:
If you register on the site, you can then set up email or RSS alerts that will notify you of activities related to the issues, bills, Senators, or Congresspeople that interest you.

The goal of this site is to present data on how individuals in Congress have voted and who has been funding those individual's campaigns. This 6-minute video on the site quickly explains how to use MAPLight to expose the connections between votes and campaign contributions.
This site goes into a little more depth than what is found on OpenCongress. One neat feature on t his site is that when you are looking at the details on a particular bill, you can see relevant Congressional Budget Office data on the expected cost of the bill and any Congressioal Research Service reports prepared for the bill. For example of how easy it is to check the status of a piece of legislation, take a look at how the info is presented on S. 456 from the 110th Congress (the "Gang Abatement and Prevention Act of 2007"). Compare that to how the same bill is summarized in Thomas.

I learned about two of these sites from blog posts and podcasts from Jon Udell, who lately works for Microsoft and has long been commenting on (and contributing to) the ways that the web is enabling us to wrangle complex sets of data, normalize it, and present it in a more accessible fashion. If you'd like to read about how he uses these sites to track legislation important to him and his interviews with the people who created them, here are the relevant links:

on MAPLight
  • Udell, Jon. "Net-enhanced democracy: Amazing progress, solvable challenges." Jon Udell, 22 July 2008. link
  • Udell, Jon. "Kudos for MAPLight’s visualization of Congressional activity." Jon Udell, 23 July 2008. link
  • Udell, Jon. "A conversation with Joshua Tauberer about GovTrack." Jon Udell, 28 July 2008. link

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Suggestion to add time period of database coverage to our database descriptions

Having just helped a student who had been working from home on her research on Fannie Sellins, an early labor organizer who was murdered in 1919, I would like to suggest that we add the years of coverage of the databases to our main descriptions on the Newman Library homepage. The student had thought Factiva would be a good source for academic articles from the time period. I showed her the history subject guide which gives dates of coverage.

Monday, July 28, 2008

Investment Research on BCRC

Reuters Research on Demand (formerly Multex) is now providing investment reports to the Business & Company Resource Center. One advantage of the new partnership with Reuters is that the reports are much more timely with many posted the day they are released. But users will see an entirely new list of contributors. Brand name banks and brokerages are no longer included, instead there are company profiles from Reuters, earnings reports from Zachs, Ratings, and reports from boutique research firms. Users should be aware that some of these research firms are targeting specific audiences especially traders, for example, 3_D Research focuses on options trading strategies, EconomicInvestor looks at economic macro risk, PriceTarget Research and ValuEngine use quantitative models to assess growth and value. Another contributor, rates stocks based on what they call “guru analysis,” the investment strategies of Benjamin Graham, Peter Lynch, Martin Zweig, William O’Neill, Warren Buffett and others. I am not sure how valuable these reports are for our student audience although I can see their appeal to an individual investor who uses BCRC at a public library. Gale Cengage provides a list of current providers of investment research to the BCRC.

USB flash drive at reference desk

With Louise's permission, I've put a 1 gigabyte flash drive at the reference desk (it's on a LexisNexis lanyard). We can loan this out to students who don't have a flash drive and who don't have $25 to get one from the circulation desk. Please treat the process of loaning this the same way you do ready reference works: take the student's ID card and put in the drawer at the reference desk until the flash drive is returned to us. This drive is not allowed to leave the library.

Ref. Desk Staplers MOVED


We are moving the public-use staplers, that were on the Reference Desk, to the nearby 2nd floor copier room. They are located next to the electric pencil sharpener and staple remover. A small plastic stand-up sign holder has been placed next to the items with the following message:

Baruch College Newman Library

Staple Remover
Electric Pencil Sharpener

* Please use equipment gently
* Do not remove from this room
* Continued cooperation will allow us to maintain & keep equipment in good working order. Thanks.

Reference Desk, Newman Library

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Information Overload and Distraction

I've read two good articles lately that deal with information overload, and how our digital world is destroying our powers of concentration and reflection and replacing it with inattention and shallowness. Both articles have Google in the title, but they both go beyond simple Google-bashing (they're just using it as a catch phrase to grab our attention - how ironic). Both discuss the affects of this overload on our cognitive skills, with a particular focus on the younger generation.

Is Google Making Us Stupid? By Nicholas Carr, Atlantic Monthly July/August 2008

Stoooopid .... why the Google generation isn’t as smart as it thinks. By Bryan Appleyard, The Sunday Times, July 20, 2008

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Credo reference will have new look on August 4

To see the new look go to Credo Reference and click on the link in the top right corner that says "Try the new Credo Reference" or just click on the link if you're on campus.

ebrary not working on public PCs

I just submitted a help desk request (#2959) after noticing that a patron and I were unable to open ebrary titles on three different public PCs on the 2nd floor. I am able, though, to bring up ebrary titles on the reference desk PCs.

Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac

The Congressional Research Service has just issued a short report on the financial problems facing Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. Look for updates to be posted on Open CRS.

New Reference Titles

Anchor Yale Bible Dictionary (REF BS440 .A54 2008, 6 vols.)
The publisher states this is “the first major Bible dictionary to be published in America in 30 years.” Covers all aspects of bible studies. Includes articles on everyday life, people and places. What’s new? Many articles on cultural history, social institutions, and archaelogical sites.

Encyclopedia of Applied Psychology (REF BF636 .E52 2004, 3 vols.)
Articles typically run five to ten pages and treat both the theory and application of concepts. All articles include a glossary of terms and a bibliography for further reading. Sponsored by the International Association of Applied Psychology.

Encyclopedia of Modern Ethnic Conflicts (REF GN496 .E56 2003)
Case studies of 38 recent (late 20th century) ethnic conflicts including Rwanda, Ulster, Palestine, and Kosovo. Essays cover the historical background, management of the conflict and significance. All have timelines and list of suggested readings.

Encyclopedia of Products and Industries (REF HD9720.5 .E53 2008, 2 vols.)
Essays of seven to ten pages (with bibliographies) cover 120 major manufactured consumer products. Each essay is divided into twelve sections with the typical essay covering product overview, market, key producers and current trends but also including sections on distribution channels, materials & supply chain logistics, R&D, and adjacent markets. Available online in the Gale Virtual Reference Library.

Metro Maps of the World (REF HE4211 .O94 2005)
Subway, underground, metro and U-Bahn maps from 200 cities. Don’t consider this only a transportation directory, it is a beautiful resource for graphic design students. For maps online, the authors recommend the Urban Rail web site.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Library Databases in the Economist

This week's Economist has a piece about library databases and scholarly research. It appears that serendipidy is occuring less than it used to than in the days people flipped through the pages of journals. Articles tend to be narrowly indexed.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Corporate Bond Yield Averages by month

Linda and I recently helped a PhD student who wanted the Corporate Bond Yield Averages for Moody's Aa bonds from 1990-2007 by month. If this information is available on Reuters or Bloomberg, the lab assistant and I were unable to locate it.

A print source, Moody's Bond Record, in ref. at HG 4905. M78 (various years), continued by Mergent Bond Record, a serial we have on the third floor, has a table Corporate Bond Yield Averages, which has the monthly yield averages for Aaa, Aa, A, Baa rated bonds, as well as public utility and industrial bonds. Each table has 5-6 years of information. The footnotes indicate whether revisions have been made.

The publication Moody's/Mergent's Annual Bond Record has a lot of information but lacks this table.

Monday, July 14, 2008

Miller GAAP Guide and Miller GAAP for nonprofits--no longer available on Lexis-Nexis

Lexis-Nexis Academic announced on its academic listserv last week that the "Miller GAAP" guides are no longer available. They were unable to reach an agreement with the publisher to continue to offer the guides on Lexis Nexis Academic.

These guides have been published by Aspen Publishers, part of Wolters Kluwer, for several years.

I am contacting them to see about electronic access as these guides are very important for students. (CCH Accounting Research Manager's interpretative information includes some of the guides, but not the Not for Profit guide. I will see if we can obtain electronic access.)

Until the end of the spring semester, when access ended, Books 24x7 offered Wiley's Not for Profit Guide. A print edition is currently on order: Wiley not-for-profit GAAP 2008 : interpretation and application of generally accepted accounting principles for not-for-profit organizations /
Hoboken, N.J. : Wiley, c2008.
xix, 497 p. : ill. ; 24 cm.

Location Baruch - Stacks - HF5686.N56 L37 2008 On order.

Datastream Advance

When launching Datastream Advance at the Reference computers, the following error message appears: "There is currently a problem accessing the Navigator server." Mike has been notified.

Thursday, July 10, 2008

vendor printer message that was problematic-call Systems help if it happens again

When I came to the desk, someone was trying to use the vendor printer. On the computer screen (lower right corner) there was a message "Card reader thread terminated unexpectedly." We couldn't get the message to close. We tried inserting the vendor card a few times but the message remained. So, I called systems help.
Tam very quickly arrived for help. He said to call if the message appears again.

RDA – Resource Description and Access

I attended a session on "Getting Ready for RDA and FRBR" given by Barbara Tillett from the Library of Congress, Glen Patton from OCLC, and a member from RDA Implementation Task Force at the ALA Annual Conference.

Libraries, archives, and museums, among others, need to prepare for the release of Resource Description and Access in 2009. This new standard differs from AACR2, and incorporates concepts from the Functional Requirements for Bibliographic Records (FRBR) and Functional Requirements for Authority Data (FRAD), as well as implementation strategies, issues (e.g., necessary infrastructure, re-thinking cataloging workflows, timelines), and education (e.g., web-based training) and the impact of RAD across stakeholders' communities.

Update on RDA Implementation:

In October 2007, the British Library, Library and Archives Canada, the Library of Congress and the National Library of Australia agreed to support RDA by coordinating training materials and implementation plans. The Committee of Principals and the JSC (Joint Steering Committee) are examining the best methods for doing this so there will be sufficient time for resting, training, and a smooth transition in adopting RDA. Although RDA will be released during the first quarter of 2009, its implementation will follow a phased approach so that libraries will have sufficient time to plan for RDA.

For more information, see RAD.

Tuesday, July 08, 2008

SimNet exam requests for Excel books and Books 24x7

The last few days those of us at the reference desk have had a number of inquiries for books on Excel to help students prepare for the SimNet exam. A number of recent books located by searching CUNY+ were found to be checked out or reported missing. I would like to recommend Books 24X7 as a source of full text recent books on Excel.

One that looks very helpful is Microsoft Office Excel 2007 Formulas and Functions for Dummies.

It is found on Books 24x7 but was not located searching CUNY+, either by title or subject or keyword.

A question has arisen then whether all books available in Books 24x7 are included in CUNY+?

The Books 24x7 link to the title Microsoft Office Excel 2007 Formulas and Functions
for Dummies is

Thursday, July 03, 2008

Wiley and Blackwell-Synergy: bugs

Although the online merger happened and the site is back up, alert librarians have noticed that there is some Blackwell content still missing, from individual articles to full journals.


ResourceShelf's resource of the week is PolicyArchive, a ....

"new digital archive of global, non-partisan public policy research. It makes use of the power, efficiency, and economy of modern Internet technology to collect and disseminate summaries and full texts, videos, reports, briefs, and multimedia material of think tank, university, government, and foundation-funded policy research. It offers a subject index, an internal search engine, useful abstracts, email notifications of newly added research, and will soon expand to offer information on researchers and funders, and even user-generated publication reviews. Over time, it will grow to include policy content from international and corporate organizations."

More about PolicyArchive.

**Many of the reports I found in PolicyArchive were not indexed in PAIS International.
**Also, I noticed that some reports were indexed in PAIS International, but the record did not provide a link to the report. (PolicyArchive links to the online report.)

Wednesday, July 02, 2008

Times Comprehensive World Atlas

This is a new, 2007 world atlas that we have recently received. It has comprehensive coverage for all areas of the world and has received much praise for its design and level of detail. Take a look when you get a chance - it's located with our other full-size atlases in the reading room on the 2nd floor. It's on the top shelf, near the 2008 commercial atlases. I've also ordered a full-size National Geographic atlas (the old standby) which should arrive in the near future.

Tuesday, July 01, 2008

Foreign Direct Investment in NYC

Last Friday the Partnership for New York City released a report Foreign Direct Investment: Bringing the Benefits of Globalization Back Home. It is the first attempt to measure the economic impact of foreign owned businesses in New York City. The report estimates that $58 billion or more than 10% of the city's economic product is the result of FDI. One in twenty jobs are held by FDI employees. They report the city is a globalization winner.

Laptops at the Circulation/Reserve Desk - Summer Semester

Beginning July 1, laptops may be borrowed and returned to the circulation/reserve desk on the second floor
until the end of the summer semester. [email from Eric]