Tuesday, March 30, 2010

You asked, and asked, and asked . . . and we answered

In a recent post, we shared some statistics on how the library has been used in the first seven months of this academic year. One item we mentioned was a year long tallying of questions you asked us at our InfoDesk. During 2009, we did our best to keep track of the questions asked at the desk. Here's what we learned from that tallying:

- You asked us 5245 questions during the year.

- That averages out to 19.5 questions per day. This is in addition to more routine, but essential, activities that we didn't count, like checking books out and back in.

- 19% of those questions came by phone, and 2% through instant-messaging, with the rest in-person (we also get a lot of questions in email, but we did not track those).

- The topics of those questions were fairly evenly divided, with nearly 20% in each of the categories of research (where to look for articles on X, etc.), technology (how to double space in Word, etc.), circulation (when will the book I requested arrive, etc.), and the ever-popular "other" category.

- 90% of the questions came between 8:00am and 5:00pm.

So, we know a bit more about what you need to know from us and when you need to know it. We're still analyzing the data and seeking to find applications to staffing our InfoDesk and training ourselves. We are also planning a new way to gather stats on questions and also get down some details on the content of each question that might guide us further.

All we can say to you is thanks for seeking assistance and keep those questions coming. As it says at our doorways, "how can the library help you today?"

Spring time and the linking is easy . . .

Making links to any library resource available to you or other MU students, faculty, and staff from off-campus is easy . . . if you know the proxy secret. What is the proxy secret? (shhhhh! not so loud! read quieter in your head!) Here's the scoop:

If you find an article in a database and then email the URL of that article to a friend, the friend may not be able to get to the article unless he or she is on campus. This is what the proxy server is all about - giving access to library databases and resources to any MU person off-campus.

Here's how it works: if you want to post a link to an article, or e-book, or anything that you find through the library's web site, you add something to the front of the URL to make sure someone else can read it off-campus. That something is this:


That part of the URL makes the link take a detour through the proxy server, asking the link clicker to enter his or her UniqueID and password to get access to the end part of the link.

The databases themselves (like Academic Search Complete or Lexis-Nexis Academic Universe) already have this detour built in to their URLs for off-campus users - those on-campus never notice this. But if you are linking to a journal title like Business Week, don't just put a link in like this:


Add the proxy, and it will work fine off-campus.


It's a great way to share articles or other items you find without making people do the searching for it themselves. Just look for links marked as "persistent links" or "link to this publication (article, etc.)." Try it out, or be sure to ask us if you have questions.

Friday, March 19, 2010

New Materials Added in February

The February new materials list is now available. We added 152 books, DVDs, and other items over that month, thanks to the impressive efforts of our faculty selectors and the library staff.

Have a suggestion of something to order? Use our online request form, email one of our staff members or drop by the library with your request. Thanks!


Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Your Life. Six Words. Can You?

The Gardner-Harvey Library is sponsoring an exercise in self-authorship based on the idea of the six-word memoir. Can you describe your life in six words? It's a lot of fun to try. Come by the library and see what people are writing about themselves on our white board (by the blue chairs). You can also peruse two books of collected six-word memoirs for ideas (with many well-known authors and others participating). The concept has been popularized by Rachel Fershleiser and Larry Smith of Smith Magazine.