All posts by mkclark

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.

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

Library Rorschach Display

Library Rorschach Display

For one week in October we asked library visitors what they saw on the table. The most common response was “spider” (also “scorpion”).  Other interpretations were:

  • Throne
  • Ewok
  • WALL-E
  • Child embracing a post
  • Face latching alien
  • An embrace
  • Hair salon chair with dryer,sculpture
  • Exoskeleton
  • Rocks
  • great canyon
  • Ribcage
  • Monarch butterfly
  • A cool octopus shaped chair
  • Altar
  • Head and embrace
  • paper

And the most biting interpretation of all – mediocre art.

The display was the creative genius of three library staff members who were just acting independently.  One person brought in a pile of packing paper and put it on the table.  Another person didn’t care for the mess, so she arranged it into the shape.  A third person decided it should be a Rorschach test* and put up the sign and survey sheet.  Voila!  The library had an interactive display!

What do you see on the table, dear reader?

* defines Rorschach test as ”a test for revealing the underlying personality structure of an individual by the use of a standard series of 10 inkblot designs to which the subject responds by telling what image or emotion each design evokes.”