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Thursday 7 April 2011

Links of interest 7/4/2011 - reference and webdesign

A bit of fun: Book Sculptures

College & Research Libraries (C&RL) will become an open access publication beginning with the May 2011 issue.

Citation Management Software: Features and Futures (RUSQ) compares RefWorks, EndNote, and Zotero from both a user and librarian perspective.

Reference and virtual reference
Search for the answer, not the question - "Assume the answer to your question is out there, and think about how the answer might have been written." I've been teaching students something like this, focusing on thinking about who would have written about something and where they would have published.

"Are We Getting Warmer?": Query Clarification in Live Chat Virtual Reference (RUSQ)
"Results indicate that accuracy was enhanced for librarians who used clarifying questions in answering ready reference (factual) questions."

Mu, X., Dimitroffa, A., Jordana, J., and Burclaffa, N. A Survey and Empirical Study of Virtual Reference Service in Academic Libraries The Journal of Academic Librarianship 37(2) pp. 120-129.
"Virtual Reference Services (VRS) have high user satisfaction. The main problem is its low usage. We surveyed 100 academic library web sites to understand how VRS are presented. We then conducted a usability study to further test an active VRS model regarding its effectiveness."

Website usability
One-Pager is a simple, mobile-friendly, user-friendly "library website template that allows your patrons to find what they want" - described elsewhere as a solution to messy library websites.

A couple of papers from Computers in Libraries are reported:

Wednesday 6 April 2011

Which e-reader should I buy?

Between earthquakes and RSI, I've reached a point in my life where an e-reader would be an advantage. I'm not fussy about features.
  • I basically want to read books on it, synced from my (Mac) laptop.
  • I rarely if ever read anything that requires colour.
  • It must have native ePub capability (I'm not buying a Kindle); ideally I'd like it to support a range of basic formats like pdf, txt, rtf, html, but can survive if some of these have inexplicably not been implemented.
  • I like the idea of e-ink but am comfortable with LCD screens too.
  • Storage space and battery life are important though not to the exclusion of other considerations (including price).
  • Something RSI-friendly would be nice - lightweight, comfortable, with left-hand/right-hand redundancy.
I think I'm probably looking at a Nook or a Kobo and of the two I think I like the Nook better, but this is based entirely on looking at websites and feature comparison charts. All the charts say you should try them out yourself, but last time I saw anything one could try out was in a bookstore just before Christmas, and as near as I could tell approximately a gazillion other customers had already tried them out and broken them. As for now... half the bookstores in town are destroyed or inaccessible and the other half are on the verge of bankruptcy (okay, I admit it, I can name two exceptions, but neither has e-readers) and right now unnecessary travelling wears me out.

Bonus features I'd like but aren't necessary since I don't know if they really exist:
  • Full Unicode support (including Māori macrons). You wouldn't think this would be so hard, and yet... Seriously, let me know if you know of anyone doing this.
  • Note-taking functionality - but not if to get that I have to also get a thousand other features and pay through the nose for the combo. An iPad, for example, would be ridiculously overpowered for my purposes.
Experiences, (dis)recommendations?