Reference Quick Tips!

Reference Quick Tips

Hi and welcome to the first week of the Reference Quick Tips series, where we’ll share some strategies that librarians use to find  information. If you’ve ever wondered how librarians are able to search for information so quickly, you’re in the right spot! Whether you’re using a search engine such as Google or one of our library research databases, you can use these tips to be a more effective searcher and save time! This week, we’ll focus on the basics of searching which involves using keywords to get straight to the source.

Have you ever tried finding information using a search engine or a database only to come up with hundreds or thousands of unrelated results? The issue may have to do with how you’re searching. Let’s turn to our first tip.

Tip #1: Turn your question or topic into keywords.

Explanation: While Google and search engines are pretty good at returning search results based on typing your question as if you were speaking to another person (that is, natural language), sometimes, it can be faster to use the most important words in your question.

Rather than typing in “Why is TikTok getting banned?”

Why is Tik Tok Getting Banned Google Search.
Sample Google Search using natural language. Click to view a larger image.

You could type in “TikTok ban” or “TikTok banned”to bring up websites and other  sources of information that address your question.

Tik Tok Ban Google Search Reference Quick Tips
Sample Google search using keywords. Click to view a larger image.

When searching for information in the library research databases, it’s important to use keywords rather than full sentences. The databases don’t always understand natural language and so you may not get the results you want right away.  Sometimes, you may need to re-do your search by using different keywords to find relevant information.

The good news is that a librarian can help you come up with keywords to use in a search engine or database. Contact a librarian with your question to get started!

Stop by next week for another entry in our Reference Quick Tips series where we’ll discuss strategies for searching the library’s catalog.

Healthy Diversions

We’ve all heard it said that these are “strange and unprecedented times.” In all the turmoil, it’s important to step away from the news and find fun ways to keep busy or activities to engage with our families or roommates. That’s why we’ve compiled a healthy diversions guide  you can use for entertainment and enrichment during COVID-19. The library may be closed, but we’re still here to provide you with the resources you need to excel in any circumstance. If you have ideas about activities to include, you can reach out to Paula Deroy. Her contact information is on the guide.

Open Source Multimedia Resources

Did you know that many of the audio, video, and photo editing programs offered in the Digital Media Studio have an open source alternative? The term “open source” refers to software and source code that can be adapted and distributed online for free (although funding and coding contributions to the project are usually welcome). OpenOffice is an example of open source software that’s comparable to Microsoft Office. 

Digital Camera

If you want to learn a new skill, brush up on some dormant ones, or need an alternative to some of the more well-known photo, video, and audio editing programs, explore the software linked below. Most of these programs are available for Windows, Mac OS, and Linux (except where noted) and a few of them are browser-based which means that you don’t have to download any additional software. Best of all, these open-source programs offer many of the same features present in proprietary software such as Adobe Photoshop and Final Cut Pro. 

Have you come across any other open source video, photo, and audio editing programs? Let us know in the comments! 

Create and edit videos

Edit photos and images

Record and edit audio

Create and edit animations

Note: The websites below offer free and paid features and are not considered to be open source. Although they are free to use, many of the advanced features require a monthly or annual subscription.

Create websites

Create infographics

Staying Connected to Your Academic Support Team

Free or Low Cost Internet Access

Step one for academic success as NOVA classes move to remote learning is access to the internet. Many  internet providers offer low cost packages based on need but during this time of the COVID-19 virus, some are offering free WiFi packages for 60 days. For NOVA students, that covers the time span that the college has declared for remote learning as classes will resume normally starting April 4th (as of this posting). Additionally, many cellular providers have raised user’s data capacity to Unlimited for 60 days.

For a list of major internet providers and mobile carrier’s offers, check out this PDF-WiFi_Data Plans (links to all listed resources are at the bottom of the post).

As with anything, take extra precautions when using public hotspots or public wifi as it’s an unsecured network. Here are some tips from the Federal Trade Commission on protecting your information while using public WiFi. For providers offering free or low cost internet, make sure to read the fine print and understand any caveats. 

NOVA also offers many services to students who qualify through our Single Stop office! There, they can connect you to resources regarding money, food, health, education, work, legal, immigration, and housing. Continue reading Staying Connected to Your Academic Support Team

Celebrate: Open Education Week!

Youtube Video on Open Educational Resources at NOVA

What is Open Education Week?

Open Education Week is a week-long celebration and awareness event of resources that are free and accessible to learners. These resources are called Open Educational Resources (OER) and can include books, textbooks, software, and tools.

Why is it important?

By choosing OERs, teachers can help remove barriers that might prevent students from further understanding and excelling in their coursework. Even the price of materials coupled with the cost of tuition could be seen as a deterrent from enrolling for some students.

How does the library support OER?

Nova libraries help support students and faculty by providing current and relevant materials in the form of print books, online books, journals, and online databases. These are accessible and FREE to ensure that the most up to date research is available as a foundation for a high caliber curriculum.

Another way that NOVA libraries remove barriers is by providing calculators (4 function, scientific, and graphing) for checkout, as well as leading laptops from our kiosk (Dell and Apple), and offering short term rentals on professional grade cameras, camcorders, and microphones with various accessories.

SOME (not all) textbooks and workbooks are available for short term rental from the circulation desk via our Course Reserves.

For those who are interested in or pursuing fields that lean towards technology, the Annandale Library offers a Digital Media Studio (click here to reserve) complete with the Adobe Creative Cloud (previously Adobe Creative Suite), Photo Booth, iMovie, Final Cut Pro X, Audacity, as well as numerous other programs. Click here for the full list of programs.

As always, please stop by or call the Annandale Library at 703-323-3128 if you have any questions about the FREE resources available to you.