Monthly Archives: September 2009

In the news

A recent news interview about the virtual library here at MPOW.  (The video is to the right of the article.)


Leave a comment

Filed under Academia, Me and mine

Searching for answers

I taught a class at MPOW yesterday, dealing with the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) and its ramifications and then moving on to reference and research.  (We packed a lot of information into 50 minutes.)  The students were tasked with finding two articles on HIPAA and citing those sources in their report.

At the beginning of the semester – two whole weeks ago – I met with the students and showed them how to request a book, how to find an article, and how to communicate with me.  They’re passingly familiar with the library and what it offers.  This would have been a great opportunity for them to dive into the plethora of databases we have available and see what articles discuss HIPAA.  (I’m guessing there’s a zillion of them.)

Any guesses as to how many students ventured into the library databases?  Anyone?


All of them used Google, found a few good resources, and called it good.

The assignment I gave them requires them to find five articles and store them on RefWorks, which will force them to use the library databases.  I’m hoping that once they discover the wealth of research available to them, they’ll think to start their research there.

It’s frustrating to know that we have an enormous store of information available, only to find that no one is bothering to make use of it.  Part of it is the problem of usability; Google is an easy interface.  We’ve discussed this ad nauseum and there are some that are chipping away at the problem, but there are still databases out there that are notoriously unfriendly.

The question is this: how to convince new students to make Google their last resort, rather than their first choice?

Leave a comment

Filed under Academia, Libraries and Librarianship

Genre-Fiction Generator

From the wonderful Dr. Boli.

Leave a comment

Filed under Miscellaneous

Philadelphia keeps its libraries

The Philadelphia Libraries will apparently remain open, which is a great thing.  However, a few writers have expressed discomfort with the way the whole thing has played out, and I tend to agree.

I’m a proponent of libraries lobbying for themselves, marketing their services, and letting all and sundry know how valuable they are.  But this was a bit too reminiscent of Hollywood-style mob threats. I’m glad it worked, but I hope no other library has to play this game.  It feels….dirty, somehow.

Leave a comment

Filed under Libraries and Librarianship



From the always fabulous Dr. Boli.

Leave a comment

Filed under Miscellaneous

In memoriam

The 2,996 project has again this year enlisted bloggers to remember those that died on September 11, 2001.  I’m reposting my article on Howard Lee Kane, may he rest in peace.  I’m honored to be a part of this project and honored to remember one of the fallen.

Howard Lee Kane, age 40.Quilt

Husband and father.

Place killed: World Trade Center. Resident of Hazlet, N.J. (USA).

Having struggled with Crohn’s disease, an intestinal illness, for most of his life, Howard Lee Kane had little patience for anyone in a bad mood. His tonic was laughter, and whether it was a new joke he would e-mail to friends or a funny story about that day at the office, he had the gift to make people smile.

Mr. Kane, 40, was the comptroller at Windows on the World, a job he loved, said his wife, Lori, because it combined his passion for cooking with a view he called “halfway to heaven.” Mr. Kane, who lived in Hazlet, N.J., put in long days that began at 4:30 a.m. He commuted more than an hour each way. But his only complaint about work, his wife said, was that he lacked the words to describe the sunsets and view.

He had little time during the week to cook or chat with the couple’s 11-year-old son, Jason, so Sunday mornings became a father-son-only time for waffles and fishing down at the dock. “They were best friends,” said Mrs. Kane. (NYT, 2001.)

As I was doing research on Howard, I did a Google search on his name. There were 16 pages of references. It occurred to me that this was not the way I’d want to have my name remembered, as one of a list of victims of a horrible attack.

Howard wasn’t given a choice in the matter.

Legacy guest book for Howard has six pages of comments for the family. Some were folks who knew him in high school. Some were folks who knew him through business. Some were folks who didn’t know him at all, but wanted to express their condolences to his family. They speak to a man who touched others and truly left a legacy.

It’s only now, almost 2 years later, that I learned of Howie’s death. What a sad event for his family and those who knew him. I don’t know if everyone who is described by grieving friends and relatives as “full of life”, “friendly” and “giving” really is but I can attest to this being true of Howie as far back as I can remember. And that’s quite a way back. From my first memory of him struggling to make a good cover for his book report on the Mets in 5th grade to him helping throw Coach Williams in the pool at the seniors only wrestling team party at DMHS. He was one of my good friends through that entire period. A great kid that I’m sure matured into a great man. Michael Sexter (San Jose, CA )

To the Kanes and friends of Howie:

This is one of the hardest things I have done had to do in a long time. Howie and I shared an office, side by side, for 3 years during the early 80’s at Marine Transport Lines. It was early in our Accounting careers and have many memories. We learned alot about life in that time period. We were shocked together when news came over our radio about the shuttle disaster. We fished off the Jersey coast. We went to lunch practically everyday and despite Howie’s illness, he still ate whatever he wanted!! He was truly a friend and he also attended my wedding a few years later. I was not even aware that he was in the towers when they came down. I found out when they published the list on the one year anniversary. I just knew it was him when I read the name. My heart just sank. It is a great loss I feel, not just for me but for all who knew Howie and all who would have got to know him. He truly takes life by the horns and does not accept defeat. With Howie, each day is a new life and he lived it to the fullest, even if it meant to physically hurt. I am sure that Howie did all he could before the collapse, none of it geared towards himself. That was just Howie. I wish his family all the best and will always remember my office and lunch partner for what he was to me, a truly great guy who will watch over us. Just remember, Howie will live through us all. I am extremely proud of him. Jason, you have a great father!!Thomas Healy (Harrisburg, PA )

I would see Howie, or more commonly referred to as “Nugget’s Daddy” by my youngest daughter, almost every night in the warmer weather. He was so kind and patient with the children, always stopping with his dog, Nugget, and allowing the children to sit and let Nugget jump in their lap. Although I only knew Howie to say” hello”,I will miss seeing him on Kildare Drive.
Lori, always know I am here if you or Jason ever need anything. Lisa lisa madden (hazlet, NJ )

Blessings on the family and friends of Howard Lee Kane.

To see the whole list of 3,173 3,311 bloggers commemorating the 2,996 9/11 victims, visit D.Challener Roe’s site. Thank you, Dale, for coordinating this effort.

Profile published in THE NEW YORK TIMES on November 20, 2001.
United in Memory has created quilt blocks to commemorate each victim.


Filed under Miscellaneous

Whither libraries?

There has been quite a bit of press lately on the future of the library.  Washington University has closed its biology and math library.  CNN ponders the future of the library and the librarian.

As many of you know, I’m a librarian in a virtual academic library.  I have access to the 15th largest research library in North America, however, should someone want to get their hands on a book  – and many do.  The faculty and the doctoral students, in particular, are fond of books.  The undergraduates, not so much.

You might think that my job is less intense, given that I have a whopping 42 books in my collection.  However, I would posit that the librarian’s job is more complex and more important than ever.  And believe me, I’m plenty busy.

When I was in school, we would start our research in the school’s library.  There we found rows and rows of books, all chosen by a librarian specifically for the library’s collection.  While you needed to find the particular stuff you needed for your paper, you knew that everything in the library was good stuff.

Now students are turned loose on the internet, where any idiot with a modicum of tech-savvy can throw up a web page and a few choice opinions, dressed as facts.  Our students need to be able to discern a good resource from a bad resource, in an atmosphere where it’s not all that easy to tell one from the other.

That’s where we librarians come in.  It’s now our job to help students (or patrons) understand how to tell the good stuff from the bad stuff.  It’s also our job to help them navigate the morass that is the library database.  Let’s face it – they’re not at all user-friendly or intuitive.

Yes, the library is changing.  The world is changing.  (I just had a conversation with a television reporter about how the newspaper business is changing – and so is their world.)  Don’t write the library off just yet, however.  It may look a bit different, but we’re here to stay.

Leave a comment

Filed under Academia, Libraries and Librarianship