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June 2008 Archives

June 27, 2008

Mental Measurements Yearbook to Switch to EBSCO Host on July 1, 2008

The Library will switch to the EBSCOHost version of Mental Measurements Yearbook on July 1, 2008 when our Ovid/Silverplatter Mental Measurements Yearbook database subscription expires.

June 26, 2008

June 27th's Weekend Events & Family Activities

From WhoFish.org - Local Events/Activities

Highlights for this weekend include:

-- Marshfield, New England Wild West Fest

-- Salisbury, Sand and Sea Festival

-- Wayland, BubbleMania!

-- Norton, Winslow Shire Faire

-- Mansfield, Air Race Classic & Family Festival

More...

June 24, 2008

Great Expectations of ICT (Information Communication Technology): How HE Institutions Are Measuring Up

New research commissioned by JISC and carried out by Ipsos MORI suggests that students are starting to mix their social networking sites with their academic studies and inviting tutors and lecturers into their virtual space.

The research builds upon on an initial study – Student Expectations - carried out last year when 500 students were asked to indicate their expectations of technology provision when entering into higher education.

This new data is based on students now that they are studying as first years at higher education institutions, compared to the previous study when they were still at school.

Key findings show that:

-- General use of social networking sites is still high (91% use them regularly or sometimes). Frequency of use has increased now that they are at university with a higher proportion claiming to be regular users (80%) – up from 65% when they were at school/college

-- 73% use social networking sites to discuss coursework with others; with 27% on at least a weekly basis

-- Of these, 75% think such sites as useful in enhancing their learning

-- Attitudes towards whether lecturers or tutors should use social networking sites for teaching purposes are mixed, with 38% thinking it a good idea and 28% not. Evidence shows that using these sites in education are more effective when the students set them up themselves; lecturer-led ones can feel overly formal

-- Despite students being able to recognise the value of using these sites in learning, only 25% feel they are encouraged to use Web 2.0 features by tutors or lecturers

-- 87% feel university life in general is as, or better than, expected especially in terms of their use of technology, with 34% coming from the Russell Group of universities saying their expectations were exceeded

-- 75% are able to use their own computer on all of their university’s systems with 64% of students from lower income households assuming that they are able to take their own equipment, perhaps due to lack of affordability and ownership.

To read more: http://www.jisc.ac.uk/publications/publications/studentexpectations.aspx

June 23, 2008

Brighter Future for Solar Panels: Silicon Shortage Eases

June 6, 2008
By Ben Arnoldy, The Christian Science Monitor

Quartz, the raw material for solar panels, is one of the most abundant minerals on earth. But for years, the solar industry has faced a bottleneck in processing quartz into polysilicon, a principal material used in most solar panels. The problem stalled a steady decline in prices for solar panels.

Now the silicon shortage may be coming to an end, predict some solar analysts, thanks to new factories coming online.

If true, the price for solar panel modules could start falling by as much as a third by 2010, says Travis Bradford, president of the Prometheus Institute for Sustainable Development in Cambridge, Mass. That's good news for an industry that remains one of the most expensive power sources.

Global demand for solar panels is growing at about 50 percent per annum, says Mr. Bradford, but the polysilicon supply for solar will grow by 80 percent for each of the next couple of years.

The full article is available in the Library's LexisNexis database. Off-campus users Need to log in first.

Cold, Very Old Microorganisms Discovered by Penn State Team

June 6, 2008
By Mark Roth, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pennsylvania)

They like the cold, they don't need much oxygen, and you can fit 62 trillion of them into a teaspoon.

They're also 120,000 years old.

Those are the salient characteristics of a new species of ultrasmall bacteria discovered deep inside a glacier by researchers at Penn State University.

The Chryseobacterium greenlandensis were isolated from an ice core from 1.8 miles beneath the surface of a glacier in Greenland.

Jennifer Loveland-Curtze, the lead researcher on the Penn State team, said the new species adds one more sliver of enlightenment to the vast and mostly unexplored universe of microorganisms.

Microbes make up a third of all living material on Earth, Dr. Loveland-Curtze said, "yet fewer than 8,000 microbes have been described out of the approximately 3 million that are presumed to exist."

The full article is available in the Library's LexisNexis database. Off-campus users Need to log in first.

June 20, 2008

Weekend Events & Family Activities

From WhoFish.org Local Events and Activities


Highlights for this weekend include:

. Boston, Chinatown Main Street Festival

. Woburn, 2nd Annual WorldFest!

. Beverly, 7th Annual Arts Fest

. Lowell, African Festival

. Concord, Strawberry Festival

More ...

June 12, 2008

Civil Rights Digital Library

From Resource Shelf

Voices and images from the civil-rights movement are now on the Web at the Civil Rights Digital Library, created by the University of Georgia.

The library features 30 hours of historical news footage showing such events as the desegregation of Central High School in Little Rock, Ark., and Martin Luther King Jr. accepting the Nobel Peace Prize.


The Condition of Education 2008

Source: National Center for Education Statistics

The Condition of Education 2008 summarizes important developments and trends in education using the latest available data. The report presents 43 indicators on the status and condition of education. The indicators represent a consensus of professional judgment on the most significant national measures of the condition and progress of education for which accurate data are available. The 2008 print edition includes 43 indicators in five main areas: (1) participation in education; (2) learner outcomes; (3) student effort and educational progress; (4) the contexts of elementary and secondary education; and (5) the contexts of postsecondary education.

June 10, 2008

He Seeks a Route through Time

May 12, 2008
By Dan Falk
The Boston Globe

Ronald Mallett lost his father to heart disease at the age of 10, an event that left him in utter despair. His depression lasted until he read "The Time Machine" by H.G. Wells and, a few years later, the theories of Albert Einstein - and he became determined to see his father again.

For years, Mallett, a physicist at the University of Connecticut, stayed in the "time-travel closet," as he put it, keeping his desire to build a time machine under wraps for fear of ridicule.

Today, with other established physicists speaking openly about time travel, Mallett is finally able to talk unabashed about his research. Not only that, he and other like-minded physicists are publishing their findings in peer-reviewed journals - something hardly imaginable just a decade ago.

Time travel, of course, has been a favorite topic for science-fiction writers for more than a century, from Wells's pioneering novel to the campy "Back to the Future" movie trilogy. But the scientific urge to investigate time travel is about more than sci-fi fantasies. Contemplating time travel is forcing scientists to confront some of the most profound issues in physics, from the nature of the universe's ultimate laws to fundamental questions about the nature of space and time.

The full article is available in the Library's LexisNexis database. Off-campus users Need to log in first.


WorldWide Telescope Puts Space at Your Fingertips

May 15, 2008
By Edward C. Baig
USA Today

Microsoft's new WorldWide Telescope program is a heavenly tool for anyone who finds the stars and planets intoxicating. Consumers who download the first public test version, which Microsoft made available this week, can blast off to Mars, Venus and beyond, right from their PCs.

The program stitches together data and images from NASA's Hubble, Spitzer and other world-class telescopes. But it's not just a collection of stellar images. Microsoft has surveyed the entire sky. As you zoom in with your mouse on celestial objects, you'll feel like Captain Kirk exploring the final frontier.

You can examine the universe in visible light (what we can normally see) or switch to X-ray and other views. That's important. Most of the action in the universe can be seen only in these other wavelengths of light, including black holes, says researcher Roy Gould at the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics.

Having "the world's greatest telescopes at your disposal has been the holy grail of astronomers," says Gould, who helped Microsoft demo WorldWide Telescope at the prestigious TED conference in February. "There's been talk for years of a national virtual observatory, and this is an example of what that would be like."

The full article is available in the Library's LexisNexis database. Off-campus users Need to log in first.

June 9, 2008

10 Jewels Lurking in USA.gov

By Shirl Kennedy, Senior Editor
Resource Shelf

1. Motherlode of Maps — This aggregation of maps available from a diverse range of government agencies is loosely organized by topic:

Community
Environmental
Health
Historical
Space
United States
Weather
Where to Buy U.S. Government Maps
World

2. FAQs by Agency and Program — Aggregation of FAQ documents from dozens of federal agencies. Arranged alphabetically, from Administration for Children and Families to Women’s Health.

3. Blogs from the U.S. Government (both active and archived). In all honesty, though, the fishing is better at U.S. Government RSS Library. Or, if you prefer audio, Podcasts from the U.S. Government. If you’re e-mail-oriented, you can peruse an extensive listing of Government E-mail Newsletters…and subscribe to as many as you want, all from this one page.

4. The Federal Citizen Information Center “provides a gateway to news and press release websites throughout the U.S. Government.” Nice.

5. Forms.gov. “The Forms Catalog provides citizens and businesses with a common access point to federal agency forms.” Who knew? Search or browse; several options available. A “Frequently Used Forms” list on the lefthand side of the page provides quick links to Tax Forms, Small Business Forms, Social Security Forms, Veteran Benefit Forms, and FEMA Forms.

6. International Travel. A collection of links to relevant information at different government agency websites — mostly the Department of State (e.g., Travel.State.gov), but there are a couple of surprises, such as this International Long Distance Calling resource from the Federal Communications Commission and health information for travelers from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

7. Calendars, Important Dates, and Time. Very cool assortment of links to things like information about U.S holidays, a historic events calendar (with lesson plans for teachers), NASA’s space calendar, an online presentation from the National Institute for Standards & Technology about ancient calendars, and a world time zone map, from the U.S. Naval Observatory.

8. A collection of links to photo galleries at official state government websites. All 50 states are represented.

9. Government and Public Libraries. Links to “(n)ational, federal agency, and local libraries; online library databases; grants and benefits for libraries…”. Note that some of the links here lead to libraries of information rather than…actual libraries — e.g., this Emergency Planning and Business Continuity page from Ready.gov. And here’s a Registry of U.S. Government Publication Digitization Projects which, among other things, “(s)erves as a locator tool for publicly accessible collections of digitized U.S. Government publications.”

10. Get It Done Online!. “Access U.S. government services from your computer” — more than 100! Note that on this page — as well as most other USA.gov pages with collections of links — there’s a button at the top that you can click to receive an e-mail when the page is updated.

Want to keep up with what’s new on the USA.gov site itself? Well, we like the RSS feed. There are also a number of USA.gov-specific e-mail newsletters.

Handheld wireless device users may want to bookmark USA.gov mobile.

Encyclopaedia Britannica Goes -- Gasp! -- Wiki

The Wired Campus
The Chronicle of Higher Education

Long a standard reference source for scholarship, largely because of its tightly controlled editing, the Encyclopaedia Britannica announced this week it was throwing open its elegantly-bound covers to the masses. It will allow the “user community” (in the words of the encyclopedia’s blog) to contribute their own articles, which will be clearly marked and run alongside the edited reference pieces.

This seems to be a response to the runaway success of the user-edited online reference tool Wikipedia. (See for yourself. Do a Web search on a topic and note whether Wikipedia or Britannica shows up first.) Scholars have been adamantly opposed to Wikipedia citations in academic papers because the authors and sources are always changing. Jimmy Wales, Wikipedia’s co-founder, agrees with this, but in next week’s issue of The Chronicle (click back to our home page on Monday for more) he also points to some changes in the reference tool that may make it more palatable to scholars.

At Britannica, “readers and users will also be invited into an online community where they can work and publish at Britannica’s site under their own names,” the encyclopedia’s blog explains.

But it’s not a complete free-for-all. The voice of Britannica adds that the core encyclopedia itself “will continue to be edited according to the most rigorous standards and will bear the imprimatur ‘Britannica Checked’ to distinguish it from material on the site for which Britannica editors are not responsible.”—Josh Fischman.

June 5, 2008

American Libraries Video Site Celebrates First Birthday with Top Ten Videos

CHICAGO - American Libraries Focus (ALF), the video home of American Libraries magazine, debuted in June 2007. Since then, the site’s collection of nearly 70 videos has been viewed hundreds of thousands of times. Editor Daniel Kraus celebrates ALF's birthday by posting 10 of the most popular videos in the "Featured Video" and "Editor's Picks" section on the homepage (alfocus.ala.org).

“ALF has been an invaluable tool for reaching out to people who otherwise might not know about American Libraries or the ALA,” says Leonard Kniffel, the magazine’s editor in chief. “In fact ALF is coming off its biggest success yet, a series of eight National Library Week videos starring Chicago improv comic Shad Kunkle. The videos have been viewed at least 80,000 times as well as being embedded in dozens of blogs, library websites and information monitors. That’s a lot of eyeballs!” The most popular NLW video alone, "Reference Desk" (http://alfocus.ala.org/videos/national-library-week-reference-desk) has been viewed roughly 25,000 times.

The videos to be included in the Top 10 are:

National Library Week: Reference Desk
Magnum, A.L.
Annual 2007 Wrap-up
Short Pencil Saga
Wheel of Confusion #1
We've Been Everywhere
Welcome to Anaheim - ALA Annual Conference 2008 Preview
FBI Whistleblower Answers Questions
A Conversation with Kareem Abdul-Jabbar
Julie Andrews & Emma Walton Hamilton

This "best of" feature will stay in place until the ALA Annual Conference begins in Anaheim, Calif. on June 26.

All the NLW videos can be found at http://alfocus.ala.org/categories/national-library-week on the AL Focus site. ALF has also recently created a new YouTube version of the website, accessible at http://www.youtube.com/user/AmLibraryAssociation. All ALF videos are now iPod-compatible and available for download in your choice of three formats: Quicktime, MPEG-4, and Flash. Instructions are at http://alfocus.ala.org/how-download-al-focus-videos.

ALF editor Daniel Kraus is the creative force behind most of the videos, writing and producing the pieces as well making the occasional cameo appearance. In addition to his work at the ALA, Kraus is a well-respected filmmaker whose recent documentary “Musician” was featured in the New York Times as a critic’s choice.

American Libraries, which celebrated its centennial year in 2007, can be found at www.ala.org/alonline.

June 4, 2008

Public Transit Ridership Continues To Grow In The First Quarter Of 2008

The APTA Ridership Report

The American Public Transportation Association (APTA) announced today that Americans took 2.6 billion trips on public transportation in the first three months of 2008. This is almost 85 million more trips than last year for the same time period.

“There’s no doubt that the high gas prices are motivating people to change their travel behavior,” said APTA president William W. Millar. “More and more people have decided that taking public transportation is the quickest way to beat the high gas prices.”

Last year 10.3 billion trips were taken on U.S. public transportation – the highest number of trips taken in fifty years. In the first quarter of 2008, public transportation continued to climb and rose by 3.3 percent. In contrast, the Federal Highway Administration has reported that the vehicle miles traveled on our nation’s roads declined by 2.3 percent in the first quarter.

Light rail (modern streetcars, trolleys, and heritage trolleys) had the highest percentage of ridership increase among all modes, with a double digit 10.3 percent increase for the first quarter. Light rail systems showed double digit increases in the following areas: Baltimore (16.8%); Minneapolis (16.4%); St. Louis (15.6%); and San Francisco (12.2%). New Orleans’ light rail system is recovering from Hurricane Katrina with a 476% increase in ridership.

Commuter rail posted the second largest ridership increase at 5.7 percent. The six commuter rail systems with double digit ridership growth rate in the first three months of 2008 were located in the following areas: Seattle (27.9%); Harrisburg, PA (17%); Oakland, CA (15.8%); Stockton, CA (13.9%); Pompano Beach, FL (12.9%); and Philadelphia (10.4%).

Source: American Public Transit Association

June 2, 2008

WaterQualityWatch — Continuous Real-Time Water Quality of Surface Water in the United States

WaterQualityWatch is a new USGS ( U.S. Geological Survey) web site that provides access to real time water-quality monitor data collected in surface waters throughout the United States as part of the USGS mission to describe water resources. Measurements include streamflow (through WaterWatch) water temperature, specific conductance, pH, dissolved oxygen, and turbidity. These measurements are available at more than 1,300 sites in streams with watersheds as small as a few square miles to more than 1,000,000 square miles in the Mississippi River as it enters the Gulf of Mexico. Continuous real-time water-quality data are used for decisions regarding drinking water, water treatment, regulatory programs, recreation, and public safety. Additionally, links to other USGS technical resources and how these measurements are used as surrogates to obtain real-time computations or estimates of other water quality constituents are provided.

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