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July 30, 2003

Blogging About Maps

The Map Room is a fascinating blog about...well, you guessed it, maps.

"The Map Room is all about finding maps, map collections, map-related resources, and material about maps on the web. Anything that fits under that rubric, from medieval Mappæ Mundi to satellite imagery, and from topo maps to Tolkien, is fair game.

The Map Room has been featured on the Guardian’s weblog, MetaFilter, and dozens of personal weblogs around the world."

Thanks go to Marylaine for the link.

July 28, 2003

iPill - "Diagnosis and Medicine in a Pill"

Researchers at the University of Calgary made the headlines of Wired today for the creation of the iPill - an "intelligent pill" that when ingested, take readings of the host body with the ability to deliver the appropriate dosage of a drug.

"Instead of taking many pills at different times, with the iPill you could adjust its timer and swallow them all at once and get the right doses at the right times," Badawy said.

The iPill's electronic gadgetry, 400 square micrometers in size, fills a space smaller than the area of 10 blood cells. It is encapsulated in a penny-size plastic casing that is resistant to stomach acids.

Arson at U Georgia's Main Library, ISI Highly Cited.com, World Nano-Economic Congress

:: The second floor of the University of Georgia's Main Library annex was deliberately set on fire last night, causing much damage to the collection.

:: From the 28 July 2003 Search Engine Watch:

ISIHighlyCited.com calls itself "an expert gateway to the most highly influential scientists and scholars worldwide," using similar techniques to Google's PageRank to identify these intellectual leaders.

This free search tool makes it easy to identify individuals, departments and laboratories that have made fundamental contributions to the advancement of science and technology over the past several decades.

:: The World Nano-Economic Congress will be held from 8-10 September 2003 in Washington DC. (Note: pdf file, requires Adobe Acrobat).

July 24, 2003

Weaver's Web, Nano-rotor

:: Recently I learned from a colleague that Belinda Weaver favourably mentioned The (sci-tech) Library Question in Weaver's Web, her July 2003 column for inCite, the news magazine of ALIA. Thanks, Melinda!

:: Scientists at UC Berkeley have created the world's smallest rotor, an "electric rotor 2,000 times smaller than the width of a human hair".

July 23, 2003

On Vacation

:: I won't be posting any new entries on the site until next week, as I'm still on vacation. It's sweltering here in Alberta these days (+30-35C in many places.) I hope you are having a good summer (or winter if you're south of the Equator!)

July 17, 2003

Shush and Shush Again, Wireless Problems, Hot Paper, INASP

:: The Seattle Times has followed up its article on the 1940-ish shushing librarian doll with a piece about the mixed reaction to its appearance. In addition to quotes from librarians for and against the doll comes these words of wisdom from the the president of the company that manufactures the doll:

Mark Pahlow, Accoutrements president, also has received some negative feedback, but says people haven't seen the total product yet, which includes not just the action figure, but the information to be printed on the packaging.

"If they see the context, they would understand the respect and celebration of library science that we have."

Although the packaging isn't complete, Pahlow may add some of its text to the Web site www.mcphee.com soon, to defuse some of the negative reaction.

That sound you hear is my head banging against my desk, again. Um, this doll represents respect and celebration of library science?? WhaAAA--? And this will be illustrated by a product that in no uncertain terms projects the stereotype we've tried to eliminate for decades? I wonder if those of us who think this doll is a rather sad and backwards development are going to think any differently when we read the words on the packaging. Duh.

:: Many universities, institutions, businesses, hotels, coffee shops, and other establishments, are upgrading to wireless. UBC is 75% wireless now, and will be 100% later this summer. With wireless comes a new opportunity for hacking. Read "Walk-By Hacking" from last week's NYTimes Magazine for more on this burgeoning concern. (Registration required. ID and pw: podbay)

:: The current Hot Paper In Environment/Ecology is "Global response of terrestrial ecosystem structure and function to CO2 and climate change: Results from six dynamic global vegetation models," by W. Cramer and 16 others, Global Change Biology, 7(4): 357-73, April 2001.

:: I learned today via the Scholarly Electronic Publishing Weblog about another interesting resource: INASP Newsletter. INASP is the International Network for the Availablity of Scientific Publications, based in Oxford, UK.

July 15, 2003

Contributing to the Stereotype, or Otherwise?

:: Recently I learned of two developments of which I am less than thrilled (despite have one great sense of humour, really!)

1) A librarian doll has appeared, manufactured by a Seattle-based company called Accoutrements. The doll's right arm moves up to the librarian's mouth, executing a silent "shush". More details are available here.

2) Steven Cohen plans to update a 1970s article on librarians marrying librarians. Response has been very positive, and more details about the project have appeared.

To me, these developments are a step backwards, or sideways at best, as we continue to naval gaze within our profession. I hope the doll is a best-seller (or do I?), and I wish Steven much success with the article.

The doll looks like it stepped out of a 1940s time-warp. Could the dress be just a little longer, please? I can see ankle, just above the sensible shoes. I've read that a sense of humour is needed to go along with this new "action figure". Er, I have a great sense o' humour already, remember. In the meantime, let's continue fostering the librarian stereotype, 'kay? 'Kay.

In the 1970s, when the first article appeared on librarians marrying each other, my reaction then, as now, was something like, "wha----?" Why would we care? How can such a subject make the cover story for American Libraries? I'm no more interested in lawyers or pharmacists marrying each other than I am librarians. I have librarian friends in Edmonton and beyond who co-habitate, and I don't want to know anymore about them than I do other couples who live together. My response to Steven is here, if you'd like to read it. Meanwhile, please contact him if you want to contribute to the project.

July 11, 2003

Sci-Tech and Engineering Resources, and Ed Krol

:: Remember Ed Krol? I do, I bought an early edition of The Whole Internet - it still sits on my shelf, and was written during the pre-browser days. Ed's retired now and enjoying life.

:: I just discovered SciTechDaily via the Sci Li Ref blog (Loyola). It is published in association with Closer to Truth: Science, Meaning and the Future (from PBS). SciTechDaily does its best to "link to the most thought-provoking, well researched online items in the world of science and technology."

:: Have you read the Sci-Tech Library Newsletter by Stephanie Bianchi? "The Sci-Tech Library Newsletter is a monthly publication produced by Stephanie Bianchi of the National Science Foundation, which is based in the United States. The newsletter highlights new and important web sites in the areas of science, technology and engineering."

:: Heard about AVEL - Sustainability Knowledge Network? "AVEL Sustainability Knowledge Network is a portal and brokerage service for engineers, other professionals and researchers concerned with sustainable systems. It is also a resource for students in senior secondary and tertiary education." AVEL = Australasian Virtual Engineering Library.

"By creating the Sustainability Knowledge Network, the AVEL team is leading the development of a global network called the Virtual Engineering Library for Sustainable Development (VELSD). The International Council for Engineering and Technology (ICET) initiated the VELSD project."
:: Geoff is off to the east coast for the next two weeks, and I've gone to Winnipeg for a short break, so new entries may be less frequent during that time, if at all. Thank you for visiting our site, feedback is always welcome.

What's new

:: Scientific American has an interesting interview with Dr James D Watson, marking the 50th anniversary of the report of Watson's and Francis H C Crick's discovery of DNA.

:: Nature reports that bacteria could be enlisted to help construct electrical circuits and other devices, effectively becoming "nanoscale workhorses."

:: Moreover offers public feeds, providing headlines from >5,500 online resources. Over 360 feeds are available at the moment, including a number of scitech related topics, including engineering, biotech, biological sciences, environment, and more.

July 10, 2003

Internet Bird Collection (IBC)

The Internet Bird Collection (IBC) is a non-profit endeavour with the ultimate goal of disseminating knowledge about the world's avifauna. It is an on-line audiovisual library of footage of the world's birds that is available to the general public free of charge. While the initial aim is to post at least one video per species, the long-term objective is to eventually include several videos showing a variety of biological aspects (e.g. feeding, breeding, etc.) for every species.

The idea to create the IBC came about through the contact its creators have had with other bird watchers who use video recorders during their trips. It is becoming increasingly apparent that the current trend is for birdwatchers with varying degrees of dedication to videotape the species -both common and rare- that they see during their trips to all corners of the world. This material is obviously not of much use to the global birding community if it is kept at home. Yet, if it is gathered and made accessible to the public via the Internet, it could surely constitute a valuable source of information for birders, ornithologists, conservationists, etc. In short, the essential goal of the IBC is to initiate a collective project that will only be of use if it is truly just that. In other words, the key to the success of the IBC lies in the hands of yourselves, the users.

The advantage of this medium, the Internet, is that it enables the information provided to be accessed from anywhere in the world, thus making it possible for bird lovers across the globe to see species they might not have had the opportunity to observe had the IBC not been created. Those ornithologists who travel extensively will also find this a useful tool, as it will allow them to get a preview of the birds they plan to see before they begin their travels.

Given that the aim is for the website to be as dynamic as possible, the intention is to up-date it with new videos on a daily basis (save weekends). This of course depends on the participation of the IBC users. The quality of one's video should not act as determent from sending in footage; no video is "not good enough" and no species is "not interesting enough" for this website - any and all information is valuable and helps to attain a greater understanding and knowledge of these interesting animals.

July 8, 2003

Cell Phone Camera Policy - Privacy Issues

:: Is your institution or company considering a policy to cover the use of camera phones (cell phones with camera functionality) in the library? Marcia Rodney of Ball Aerospace & Technologies Corp is interested in the issue of cell phones that are also miniature cameras. From the SLA-ENG listserv:

"I am looking for information on how workplaces with security concerns are going about establishing policies regarding cellular phones that are also miniature cameras, as well as what these policies are and how they are implemented. As these phones are becoming quite common, it is a policy issue both for visitors to a company site and for employees. I have searched news and business literature using Nexis, Corporate ResourceNet, PROMT, the usual, but am interested in any other sources. Most of the articles I've found simply say 'Yup, sure gonna be one big problem!'......which is not much help. If your company has already dealt with this issue and you would be able to relate how, that would be of incredible value".
If you have anything of relevance to share with Marcia on this issue, please e-mail her at (spam-protected). Marcia will post a summary back to the SLA-ENG list.

:: Meanwhile, Samsung has banned camera phones from their manufacturing facilities, because of concerns regarding industrial espionage. However, camera phones will still be permitted in the areas where said phones are produced.

:: Recently, Lawrence Lessig's blog featured an ongoing discussion about Starbucks banning photos in their coffee shops. Discussion continued here and here. Of course, now a site exists where you can post photos you've taken in a Starbucks coffee shop

:: picturephoning.com is a blog covering "the new world of picture and video phones".

July 7, 2003


:: Scientific American has a web site devoted to the latest news in nanotechnology.

:: There's life down there, but not as we know it, Jim.

:: "This page provides a listing of the top 100 sites which are accessed most frequently in the EEVL Catalogue" Coming in at Number 1 this week: Adept Scientific.


:: in-cites is a useful online product from Thompson-ISI.

in-cites provides a behind the scenes look at the scientists, journals, institutions, nations, and papers selected by ISI Essential Science Indicators Web product. Read interviews and first-person essays about people in a wide variety of fields and professions. View selected overall and field rankings, pertinent statistics on the principles behind the data, the latest version of the database, including new entrants and most improved entities in the rankings, information on field definitions, citation thresholds, and graphing trends. Updated weekly is SCI-BYTES: a summary of what’s new in research.
More information on in-cites is available here.

Another feature within in-cites is SCI-BYTES, a weekly current awareness service covering what's new in research. Also check out Special Topics:

The ESI Special Topics Web site is designed to complement ISI Essential Science Indicators Web product in providing citation analyses and commentary for selected scientific research areas that have experienced notable recent advances or are of special current interest. Each topic is prefaced with a description of its relation to the main ISI Essential Science Indicators rankings and the methodology used to assemble the data from the ISI Essential Science Indicators database. A new topics is added monthly. The data presented for each topic include citation rankings for scientists, institutions, nations, and journals. Most special topics also feature interviews and essays by prominent scientists in the area.

ESI Special Topics also spotlights New Hot Papers, Fast Breaking Papers (both have some comments/mini-interviews and are updated bi-monthly), Emerging Research Fronts, and Fast Moving Fronts, all of which deal with current and emerging trends in specialized areas of research. Methodologies for the various entities and commentary on data interpretation are also included.

July 5, 2003

About.com Adopts a Blogging Model

:: An interesting entry from Sitelines mentions that About.com, historically one of my favorite subject-based portal sites, has adopted a blogging model based somewhat on MT, changing the appearance of each subject page. See examples here and here. RSS is available on the pages that have converted to the blog format.

About.com began as The Mining Company in 1997: "Each site in our unique network is run by a professional Guide who is carefully screened and trained by About. Guides build a comprehensive environment around each of their specific topics, including the best new content, relevant links, How-To's, Forums, and answers to just about any question." I've added some of their sites to the subject guides I edit at work.

A number of decent subject guides exist, ranging from basic to more advanced, including:

- Agriculture
- Biotech/Biomedical
- Composites/Plastics
- Construction Industry
- Metals
- Power/Energy
- Telecom
- Nanotechnology
- Chemical Engineering
- Chemistry
- Geology

July 4, 2003

Feedback re: New Springer-Verlag Website

Gordon Coleman at Bennett Library, Simon Fraser University, sends the following comments about the new Springer-Verlag website.

"Springer has changed its website. On one listserv (PAMnet) they found a press release about this (copied below). Why has Springer not advised its customers of this change?I tried a few things on the new site.
- All links have been changed. All your old links are being redirected to a new server: http://springerlink.metapress.com You may have EZProxy configuration issues here.
- It is SLOW SLOW SLOW, at times, for everything (30-60 second wait).
- I viewed some articles. My rough estimate is: 33% display properly, 33% error messages, 33% blank pages. In particular:
- I tested two journals and found that the most recent issue of each one would not display.
- Springer ebooks, such as Lecture Notes in Computer Science series, are a mess. Books which I know were available on the old site are no longer listed. When I tested the ones that are listed now, some worked and others displayed blank pages instead of chapters.
- There's a complaint on the SLA-PAM list that they've removed the "organization page" info which provided context for each book and chapter, e.g. invited paper vs. other paper, which committee/SIG sponsored the event, etc. This of course is key context information.
It's rather messy. One wonders if they road-tested it before it was rolled it out? One key email address you might want to know about is springerlink@springer.de, which is where to send complaints ... :-)"
Gordon Coleman
Librarian for Computing Science and Engineering, and Surrey Reference Librarian
Bennett Library, Simon Fraser University
Burnaby, British Columbia
gcoleman at sfu.ca
(NOTE:I tried opening .pdfs from the most recent issues of a number of key S-V journals, and what Gordon describes above happened to me as well: articles from these issues would not open in Acrobat. - Randy)

The press release (also the first two paragraphs from the S-V web site):

SpringerLink: More than just a name change…

SpringerLink is the award-winning online database comprised of a growing roster of journals and book series in Science, Technology and Medicine (STM) from Springer-Verlag. Those customers who have been with us over the past seven years may first notice the new name: SpringerLink. In addition to the new name, the new SpringerLink website has been completely redesigned with user-friendly navigation, enhanced features, and most importantly, easy and quick access to the content. New users and returning customers will see that Springer has continued to evolve with the researchers' needs.

For Our Returning Customers

As our valued customers over the past years, you may at first be surprised to find yourself on the new SpringerLink web site. We have moved to our new home with you in mind and taken advantage of many of the new features this site can offer to help you with your research needs. Most importantly, we are here to help make this transition as easy as possible. For all of the information you need to know as a returning customer, please see the FAQ page.

(Disclaimer: The above opinion belongs to Mr Coleman only, and does not necessarily reflect the opinions of The (sci-tech) Library Question blah blah blah...!)

July 3, 2003

Google Updates Toolbar, Civil and Structural Engineering Online

:: Google has updated its toolbar (Beta 2.0), featuring three new functions: Popup Blocker, Autofill, and BlogThis. Chris Sherman provides details in Search Day, 30 June 2003. I use the toolbar everyday, and find it quite useful. Download the toolbar here.

:: The British Columbia Institute of Technology has a nifty site called civil & structural online @ BCIT. The various pages on the site "contain a combination of text and graphics to introduce the field of civil and structural engineering." (From: Internet Scout Report for Math, Engineering, & Technology.)

July 2, 2003

PAM Awards

The information below is from an e-mail to the PAM listserv from Alice Primack, and is posted with her approval- Randy

"The Physics-Astronomy-Mathematics Division was very pleased to make two awards this year! Thanks to PAM members who made nominations or wrote letters of support for nominees.

The PAM Achievement Award goes to Carol Hutchins. This award is reserved
for those recipients whose professional work is marked by distinction and
dedication to librarianship in astronomy, mathematics and/or physics. The
purpose of the award is to recognize those Division members who have made
outstanding contributions to the Division. Those nominating Carol Hutchins
point out her keen professional approach which is widely appreciated by her
PAM colleagues. Carol's contributions to our Roundtables and to the
listserve are thoughtful and go right to the heart of the matter under
discussion. Her knowledge of the Mathematics literature is all
encompassing, and she is always ready to share this knowledge, networking
with mathematicians and publishers worldwide as well as colleagues. A
member of the PAM Division for 23 years, Carol has held many important posts
including chair in 1992-93, has been chair of many committees, and has
moderated the Mathematics Workshop/Roundtable and the PAM Wide Roundtable. Congratulations to Carol Hutchins on her receipt of the PAM Achievement Award for 2003!

The PAM Division Award goes to Evan Owens, as previously noted on this list.
This award is given for a significant contribution to the literature of
physics, mathematics, or astronomy or to honor work which demonstrably
improves the exchange of information in physics, math or astronomy, and
should also significantly benefit libraries or enhance the ability of
librarians to provide service. Those nominating Evan Owens point out that
he is responsible for making the journals of the American Astronomical
Society available as full-text electronic journals at a time when the
e-journal idea was merely a glimmer of an idea at other societies and
commercial publishers. Working closely with others, Evan took the idea and
ran with it, overseeing the myriad technical issues, dealing with equations
and grey-scale figures as well as text, incorporating enhancements possible
only in the electronic format, and helping to create an institutional use
license that has become the model followed by others. He always listened to
what librarians had to say and paid attention to the concerns of libraries
and librarians. Congratulations to Evan Owens on receipt of the PAM
Division Award for 2003!

Our Award winners received their framed certificates at the PAM Annual
Business Meeting on June 10th in New York, and then were treated to a gala
Awards Dinner in the evening.

PAM Awards Committee:
Bert TePaske-King
Molly White
Alice Primack, chair