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November 28, 2003

Vegetal and mineral memory: The future of books

:: While somewhat off the scitech-beaten path, here is an interesting essay on the future of books:

    "The city of Alexandria played host on 1 November to the renowned Italian novelist and scholar Umberto Eco, who gave a lecture in English, on varieties of literary and geographic memory, at the newly opened Bibliotheca Alexandrina. Al-Ahram Weekly publishes the complete text of the lecture."
BTW, Geoff is still alive, but has been busy for two weeks taking possession of and working on his house. He'll return next week.

November 27, 2003

New Web Sites of Interest

:: New and interesting web sites, featuring descriptions from the EEVL Catalogue.

    Ethics in Computing. "Ethics in Computing is a guide to topics such as privacy, intellectual property, computer abuse, commerce, social justice and speech issues. It also covers basic ethical issues such as whistle-blowing. The site has annotated links to useful sites, which include case studies, articles and news stories, and provides a study guide and discussion questions."

    EngNet Engineering Directory. "EngNet® is a directory, search engine, and buyers guide service aimed specifically at the engineering industry enabling them to source engineering products, services, and companies. The directory can be searched and browsed by products, companies, or brandnames. A glossary of terminology, technical information and design tools are also provided."

    eFluids. "eFluids is a speciality web portal designed to serve as a one-stop web information resource for anyone working in the areas of flow engineering, fluid mechanics research, education and directly related topics. The site contains an events listing, and also a gallery of fluid flow images. In addition, an education section lists tutorials, educational tools and materials, and students competitions, as well as departments, laboratories and institutes and centres. Further sections cover publications, a buyers guide (and brief glossary), jobs, who's who, companies and vendors, research, professional societies and consultants. Links to sites of related interest are also provided."

November 26, 2003

SciTech Library Mentors Needed

:: The Continuing Education Committee of the STS (Science & Technology Section of ALA) is always looking for volunteer library mentors.

    The Sci/Tech Library Mentors is a list of experienced sci/tech librarians who are willing to serve as mentors and/or resource persons to other librarians in need of assistance.
If you are interested, please complete the volunteer form.

November 25, 2003

Web of Science to Expand Back to 1900

:: Thomson ISI announced today an initiative which will expand coverage in Web of Science to include bibliographic data published between 1900-1944. Nearly 850,000 articles from approximately 200 journals are being added, and will represent the highest impact scientific literature from that time period.

The new program is called Century of ScienceTM.

British Library News

:: There is some interesting news from the British Library:

    The British Library has added details of over 2.55 million unique bibliographic records to the Amazon.co.uk books catalogue, with 1.7 million of these dated before the 1970 introduction of ISBN.
In addition, e-mails and web sites have been added to the BL's legal deposit of printed materials:
    In October, legal changes allowed the library to add archives of Web sites and emails to its legal deposit of printed materials. The electronic collection will build on a a voluntary scheme that has been in place since 2000, and will include selected pages from the 2.9 million ".uk" Web sites. The library is one of six sites that hold a copy of everything published in the UK since 1911.

November 24, 2003

Robots in the News

:: Researchers at MIT have constructed a robot whose top half is a robotic arm and bottom half is a Segway. The robot can move down hallways, find a door, and open it.

Last week, the first walking robot capable of carrying a human being was introduced in Tokyo.

November 22, 2003

Transportation Journal Scores Highest Percent Increase in Total Citations In Engineering

:: The November, 2003, issue of inCites reports that the journal with the largest percent increase in total citations in the field of engineering is Transportation Research Part C – Emerging Technologies.

November 21, 2003

Taylor & Francis Purchases Dekker

:: Taylor & Francis, the UK publisher of technical and scientific literature, has purchased Marcel Dekker for $138.6US. It's been a busy year for T&F, having already acquired Swets, Bios Scientific, Cass, and CRC Press.

Best of What's New 2003 - Popular Science

:: Popular Science offers its 2003 Best of What's New, covering topics including auto tech, aviation and space, engineering, home entertainment and tech, and general innovation.

November 20, 2003

EPA Launches Science Inventory

:: The US Environmental Protection Agency has launched the EPA Science Inventory:

    The Science Inventory is a searchable, Agency-wide database of more than 4,000 scientific and technical work products. Database records provide such information as project descriptions (abstracts), contacts for additional information and electronic links to final reports and related research. The Science Inventory has been used for years within EPA to coordinate scientific work; this is the first time it will be made publicly available. Individuals and organizations will now be able to pick a topic of interest to them and conduct a keyword search.

November 19, 2003

SME SourceTM and NanoGuitars

:: ebrary and SME Launch World’s Largest Full-Text Database of Publications in Manufacturing Engineering. The new database is called SME Source™, and includes:

    4,000 books, journals and technical papers in manufacturing engineering, including the nine-volume Tool and Manufacturing Engineers Handbook series, current and all back volumes of Journal of Manufacturing Systems and Journal of Manufacturing Processes.

:: As a guitar player of some 37+ years, I was interested to see this news release about the new, Flying V NanoGuitar. It falls under the category of NEMS (Nanoelectromechanical Systems), which is two orders of magnitude smaller than MEMS (Microelectromechanical Systems).

The original "nanoguitar", about the size of a blood cell, was developed in 1997.

I'm looking forward to the first CD release of nanoguitar music!

:: Stephanie White at Olin College Library in Needham MA, sent a note about this article that appeared in The Daily Yomiuri Online. Japanese authors are asking libraries in Japan to consider not lending out new books for during the first six months of their publication, and that they compensate authors financially, based on circulation statistics.

BTW, check out the Olin College Library Blog, at the Franklin W. Olin College of Engineering.

November 18, 2003

Searching SciFinder Scholar with CAS Registry Numbers

:: We are new to SciFinder Scholar at the University of Alberta. of the Millikan Library at CalTech, in Pasadena CA, has been using it for some time, and shares his thoughts on a specific type of search using the product:

    While SciFinder Scholar is an enormous convenience, it can be a little misleading.

    I had a user who was looking for analytical techniques for the determination of Aurintricarboxylic Acid or any of its salts, and he had a registry number 569-58-4 (which turned out to be for the tri-ammonium salt).

    Retrieving the REG File record for 569-58-4, listed a variety of synonyms including: Aurintricarboxylic acid triammonium salt and Triammonium aurintricarboxylate

    Searching for 'Aurintricarboxylic', as a substance identifier which retrieves three compounds with references (the Barium and ammonium salts, and the free acid)

    Searching for 'Aurintricarboxylate', retrieves 8 compounds (5 rare earth coordination complexes (e.g. 75010-07-0) and the Beryllium, ethylenediamine and ammonium salts).

    Seeing this discrepancy, suggested that I check the CA Chemical Substance Index (in print), where I found the Sodium salt ... The Sodium salt didn't show up in the previous searches because the only REG File synonyms are: C.I. Mordant Violet 39, trisodium salt (8CI); C.I. 43810; C.I. Mordant Violet 39; Chrome Violet G; Mordant Violet 39.

    Copying the structure of the Ammonium salt into the 'structure editor' and deleting the 'ammonium ions' and, doing an exact search, only retrieves the polymer and the Acid. If you go back and include 'component of a larger system', you will retrieve the substances mentioned above (plus some more) but not the coordination compounds.

    Searching with the structure copied from a coordination compound: 75010-07-0 and changing the metal to 'any metal' retrieves 28 substances (with many having synonyms named as a metal complex (e.g. Benzoic acid, 5-[(3-carboxy-4-hydroxy-5-methylphenyl)(3-carboxy-4-oxo-2,5-cyclohexadien-1- ylidene)methyl]-2-hydroxy-3-methyl-, holmium complex) instead of the form used for the 5 retrieved above (e.g., Gadolinium aurintricarboxylate).

    It is results like these that make me hesitant to send the CA Collective Chemical Substance Indexes to storage, since all of the compounds mentioned above could be found listed under the CSI (CA Index Name) heading for Aurintricarboxylic Acid.

November 17, 2003

Serials Crunch! How Does Your Library Handle It?

:: What's happening at Cornell is happening elsewhere as well. How does your library deal with the challenge of serving its faculties' information needs, in particular, serials, in the face of serious budget crunches? This issue (no pun intended) is one currently being addressed by Jane Duffy, Physics/Astronomy Librarian at the Science and Engineering Library, Ohio State U.

The question is, how do we get a fair, comprehensive overview of an entire academic department's journal needs? Jane is curious especially about the comparative efficacy and manageability of the following means of getting this overview: focus groups, surveys, roundtables, e-mail inquiries, etc. If you have any insight, ideas, comments or suggestions, please e-mail Jane directly at , and feel free to post your responses here as well.

Cornell and Other Universities to Cancel Elsevier Titles

:: Continuing the previous thread, Information Today has issued an article called "Cornell and Other University Libraries to Cancel Elsevier Titles", by Paula J Hane. Subscription costs to scholarly journals continue to rise beyond what academic libraries are able to reasonably afford. ARL statistics for the period of 1986-2001 show that while serial unit costs rose by 215%, the Consumer Price Index for the same period rose only 62%, and the number of serials purchases decreased by 5%. Cornell provides a list of 200 Elsevier titles targeted for cancellation in 2004. Harvard is planning a similar cancellation project.

How much longer can libraries continue to sustain such large annual subscription price increases from the largest for-profit scholarly publishing companies? According to the article, some universities are strongly urging their faculty members to publish elsewhere:

    The Academic Senate at UC Santa Cruz recently passed a resolution demanding reasonable rates and urging faculty “to seriously consider cutting ties with Elsevier by refusing to sit on its boards, referee its journals, and submit papers to the publisher.” UCSC currently spends half of its budget for online journals on its subscription to ScienceDirect Online from Elsevier.

November 14, 2003

Cornell's Statement on its Decision Regarding Elsevier

:: Cornell has put together a web page called "Issues in Scholarly Communication." They describe their predicament with Elsevier and their decision to drop "several hundred" Elsevier journals after not reaching an amicable agreement.

New memory device could offer smaller, simpler way to archive data

:: "Engineers at Princeton University and Hewlett-Packard have invented a combination of materials that could lead to cheap and super-compact electronic memory devices for archiving digital images or other data." (via: EurekAlert.)

November 11, 2003

BioOne - Two Years Later

:: BioOne, an "aggregation of high-impact bioscience research journals", began operation in April, 2001. In this article, in the v 64 n10, November, 2003 issue of College & Research Libraries News, Heather Joseph and Adrian W Alexander examine how far the initiative has come since its inception, and consider BioOne's future challenges.

25 Most Provocative Questions Facing Science, Landing on Mars

:: The NYTimes celebrates 25 years of covering science by posing "25 of the most provocative questions facing science." (ID and PW: podbay.)

:: "A British-built craft designed to scour the surface of Mars for signs of life is scheduled to land on the planet on Christmas Day, scientists said Tuesday." See Question 3 from the NYTimes.

November 10, 2003

SPARC and PLoS Partner to Advocate for Open Access Publishing - Press Release

"SPARC (the Scholarly Publishing and Academic Resources
Coalition), an academic and research libraries initiative, today announced
its partnership with the Public Library of Science (PLoS), the
groundbreaking organization of scientists and physicians committed to
making scientific and medical literature freely available on the public
Internet. The alliance aims to broaden support for open-access publishing
among researchers, funding agencies, societies, libraries, and academic
institutions through cooperative educational and advocacy activities."
[Press release posted to Liblicense-L]

"PLoS’s first journal, PLoS Biology, introduced in October 2003, employs a
new model for scientific publishing in which peer-reviewed research
articles are freely available to read and use through the Internet. The
costs of publication are recovered not from subscription fees -- which
limit information access and use -- but from publication fees paid by
authors out of their grant funds and from other revenue sources. This
effort has been the subject of recent editorials and news articles in the
New York Times, Washington Post, the Guardian, Nature, Science, Business
Week, the Los Angeles Times, National Public Radio, and many other U.S.
and worldwide media outlets.

"Both PLoS and SPARC recognize that open access speeds the progress of
science and medicine, which is of substantial public benefit," said Vivian
Siegel, Executive Director of PLoS. "Working together, we hope to
demonstrate these benefits to scholarly publishing stakeholders on
campuses, in the lab, and at funding agencies. SPARC members can make open
access a reality by educating faculty about the benefits and future of
open access within their campus community and at conferences they attend."

"PLoS is a breakthrough initiative," said SPARC Director Rick Johnson. "It
has brought enhanced credibility and a new public platform to open access
publishing. PLoS has shown that if stakeholders want open access badly
enough, old habits and systems can give way to new opportunities. SPARC
looks forward to working with PLoS toward realignment of the way we pay
for scholarly communication so that the public benefits of open access can
be broadly realized."

Backing for the new open-access author-fee publishing model is growing,
particularly in biomedical fields. Recently the Howard Hughes Medical
Institute and the Wellcome Trust, major private funders of biomedical
research in the U.S. and U.K. respectively, announced that they will
earmark funds to pay open-access publication fees as part of their grants.
In addition, the recent conference on Open Access to Knowledge in the
Sciences and Humanities issued the Berlin Declaration, which promotes the
Internet as an instrument for a global scientific knowledge base and human
reflection and specifies measures which research policy-makers, research
institutions, funding agencies, libraries, archives and museums need to

A coalition of major library and public interest organizations recently
issued a statement praising PLoS Biology. In addition to SPARC,
organizations voicing their support for PLoS include the American
Association of Law Libraries, Association of Academic Health Sciences
Libraries, Association of College and Research Libraries, Association of
Research Libraries, Medical Library Association, Open Society Institute,
and Public Knowledge. Several of these organizations have been actively
promoting alternatives to subscription-based journal publishing."

Core List of Astronomy Books

:: The Core List of Astronomy Books has been updated and is available as part of the NASA ADS Virtual Library.

Science Photography

A very interesting image found via The Daily Trudge:

All the Water and Air in the World, a clever conceptual image by Dr Adam Nieman that reveals what would happen if the world's water or air were lumped together in a sphere over Europe – was another obvious winner. "When we first saw this mo... [The daily trudge]

November 9, 2003

EEVL Announces OneStep Industry News and OneStep Jobs News

From EEVL, The Internet Guide To Engineering, Mathematics and Computing, comes word of two new services for scanning industry news and jobs announcements.

    EEVL: the Internet guide to engineering, mathematics and computing, is delighted to announce the launch of two new, free services which will make it much easier to scan the latest industry news and jobs announcements from top sources in engineering, mathematics and computing. The new services are so easy to use that they have been named OneStep Industry News, and OneStep Jobs News.
Both services employ RSS (Rich Site Summary, aka Really Simple Syndication) to gather together, or "aggregate", the latest headlines in news and careers in engineering, computing, and math.
    Using RSS (Really Simple Syndication) technology, the OneStep services aggregate the very latest headlines and announcements from top sources and present them in an easily accessible format. Only the very latest industry and news headlines are included in the OneStep services, and by following direct links, the complete full text is available from participating publishers' own websites, in 'one step'.
Sources used for One Step Jobs are limited to UK sites, but more sources are to be added in the future, hopefully including those in North America.

November 6, 2003

Using Weblogs for Library News

:: A few days ago, the University of Alberta Libraries converted its library news page to a weblog. This is a relatively new use of blogs in academic libraries, and I think it's a good one. There are dozens of library-related blogs out there, but not too many being used to distribute news and information of interest to their users. Most of them exist for purposes of sharing news of interest to other librarians (like this one.)

Georgia State University Library uses a weblog for their library news, and also has a "sub-weblog", if you will, called Science News, for the science students and faculty at GSU. For those unfamiliar with blogs, GSU provides a page called "About Our Library Blogs", with definitions and background information for the interested searcher, a brilliant move, in anticipation of those who want more info on blogs. Doug Goans and Teri Vogel, both of GSU, have written a timely article in the Nov/Dec 2003 issue of Computers In Libraries, called "Building a Home for Library News with a BLOG, about the development of the GSU Library weblogs.

A few examples of other blogs being used as a news source in a science and technology library setting include the Rowland Institute Library Blog. The blog doesn't link back to the library (odd, really), but the library supports the Rowland Institute At Harvard, as it is officially known, in its work in experimental science over a broad range of disciplines. The news blog of the Engineering Library, University of Saskatchewan, is embedded into the library's home page.

The academic scitech library blogs mentioned above are the only ones indexed in the list of 71 organizational weblogs for libraries on the DMOZ site. Are there others out there?

November 5, 2003

20 Google Secrets

:: From Rita Vine's Sitelines: Tara Calishain, creator of ResearchBuzz, has written a short article called 20 Great Google Secrets. Many of these tips would be of use to us when helping our students search on the web. Like most searchers, most often I type in a word or phrase in quotations, and hope for the best. Some highlights from the article:

  • Using the expression intitle: at the beginning of a search restricts the search to the title of the web page.
  • I wasn't aware that Google could be used as a phonebook. Enter the person's name, city and state. If a result is found, it will appear at the top of the results page. Calishain advises that you can restrict searches to residential listings by prefacing your search with rphonebook:, and bphonebook: for business listings. What's weird is that there is no mention of these two search modifiers on the Google site where "Phonebook" is explained. How does Calishain know these commands exist? Problem for us in Canada: this feature only works for US listings.
  • Need a quick definition of a word or a phrase? Type define: followed by the word or phrase, and Google will search for the meaning of what you typed.
Another interesting feature: Google can restrict a search to a university site.

:: This is the homepage for the Hong Kong University of Science & Technology Library. They offer resource guides in areas including engineering and science.