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Library Babel Fish

A college librarian's take on technology

August 29, 2011 - 9:46pm
An issue currently highlighted in the New York Times’ Room for Debate feature is on whether research papers are a "waste of time" and no longer “justifiable as a means of grading a college student's performance.” As regular Babel Fish readers will know, I am not a huge fan of teaching the research paper as a
August 25, 2011 - 9:31pm
I just checked the definition of syllabus in the Oxford English Dictionary. It states what I used to assume it meant: “a statement of the subjects covered by a course of instruction or by an examination, in a school, college, etc.; a programme of study.” The oldest quotation using the word is from 1656, when it meant something more along the lines of a table of contents or concordance. The best quote, though, is from 1939 and is taken from W. H. Auden’s “Commentary” in Journey to War:
August 17, 2011 - 9:45pm
I’m always interested in what Project Information Literacy is up to.
August 10, 2011 - 10:15pm
Google has been driving me crazy. Until this week, I had used our campus version of Google apps for my calendar (so it can easily synch with various campus calendars) and another Google account for my RSS feeds (because there wasn’t a Google Reader available for the campus accounts). These are things I use often, so I have live bookmarks on my Firefox toolbars and have moved easily from one to another – apparently more often than I realized until the day Google changed the way multiple accounts are handled.
August 2, 2011 - 8:31pm
A couple of new articles forthcoming in College & Research Libraries just caught my eye. The first, by Brett Bodemer of Cal Poly in San Obispo, is about how we help undergraduates conceptualize the research process (and how we might do it better).
July 28, 2011 - 4:30pm
 I don’t know what Aaron Swartz planned to do with the four million or so articles that he downloaded from JSTOR in violation of their terms of use, but it has made me wonder something: what would it cost for academic institutions to band together to buy the most used portion of JSTOR and set it free?  
July 19, 2011 - 10:00pm
. . . who knew? As I write this, the Minnesota state capital has opened its doors after a nineteen-day state shutdown, and legislators (if they stick to their agreement) will likely pass a group of budget bills and end the longest legislative tantrum, er, state government shutdown in history. Though I was glad the state university systems were spared – they had enough cash reserves that they could continue teaching the courses students had enrolled in and paid tuition for – it was interesting to see just how surprised the public was when the state wasn’t there.
July 11, 2011 - 9:30pm
The other day, as I was tracking down the text of a classic article in JSTOR to refer to in a blog post, I was struck by the pop-up box that required me to agree to terms of service before it would let me see the article. I actually read it this time instead of clicking through. It reads:
July 6, 2011 - 10:00pm
Back in April, I wrote a bit cantankerously about my doubts that research papers as a genre are a particularly useful vehicle for learning and argued for doing away with the traditional “research paper” – the kind that Richard Larson described as a “non-form of writing.” This genre is primarily a vehicle for students to display knowledge by discussing a number of sources they have chosen on a topic using aca



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