At the Ref Desk (6/27/15): Start of the day and already the weirdest question (by phone): 'What's the phone number of The Library of Congress​?' [more...]
Subscribe to Chicago Librarian RSS

Funniest Reference Question of the Year (By Phone)

Submitted by Leo Klein on Sat, 6/6/15 (1:00pm)

Patron: "Sorry, I know you probably get this question all the time..."
Me (interrupting): "Ask what you want -- we're here till 9pm!"
Patron: _SILENCE_
Patron: _MORE SILENCE_
Patron: _EVEN MORE SILENCE_
Me (finally): "Did you have a question"?
Patron: "That was it -- I wanted to know how late you're open."

Message to Box.com

Submitted by Leo Klein on Fri, 6/5/15 (11:46am)

EmbedWidget_BoxDotCom_400x308.gif
You call this a slideshow? By default, over a third of the photo is covered up with usage data (of all things) on the right. Why not make showing usage data optional through a setting in the embed code?

Site Launch: GermaniaBroadcast.net

Submitted by Leo Klein on Wed, 6/3/15 (4:00pm)

Today was the official launch date of GermaniaBroadcast.net. I announced it on all the usual social networks.

It's actually been up for maybe a month -- with me fiddling around, adding content, rearranging it and the like. I guess, an alternative name for the thing could be, "Fun with Drupal and Content Management".

The site is built around various digital records that we have of daddy, William Klein and his radio show, "The Germania Broadcast" (1927-1970). Working with the data, I managed to organize everything into four principle categories, Events, People, Places and Library (or 'Documents').

The neat thing with Drupal is how you can connect one item in one category with items in any other. Say, the name of a singer pops up in the description of a concert in 1928 which happened at the Auditorium Theater; You can relate the person to the event and location going backwards and forward. The magic is called "Entity Reference" but again, I like to call it, 'Fun with Content Mgmt".

In any case, there's a slightly fuller explanation of the original radio broadcast plus background here: The Germania Broadcast : An Introduction.

Dumb 'Security' Idea About to Be Axed by Bank of America - Finally

Submitted by Leo Klein on Wed, 5/20/15 (3:27pm)

Well, it took them a while but Bank of America is finally saying 'bye-bye' to a particularly ineffective form of online security called 'SiteKey'. Probably better known as a 'security image', the idea was to assign you an image which you were then expected to remember every time you logged in. Yeah, good luck with that.

There actually was research on this. Not surprisingly, researchers found that "users will enter their passwords even if their site-authentication images are absent." Brad Stone summarizing the results in the New York Times put it this way, "Of 60 participants who got that far into the study and whose results could be verified, 58 entered passwords anyway. Only two chose not to log on, citing security concerns."

Of course that was 2007 or more than eight years ago. The NYT article concludes with a comment from one of the original researchers, "sometimes the appearance of security is more important than security itself.”

I'd only add that all too often, the mere mention of 'security' is expected to triumph over everything including common sense. The truth of course is that everything deserves a healthy measure of skepticism.

Library Workers of the World United!

Submitted by Leo Klein on Tue, 4/14/15 (1:26pm)

Wow, a student I've seen before just came up to the Ref Desk and thanked me for teaching him how to do research! Best feedback ever! ‪#‎NLWD2015‬ (link)

Topic: 
Institution: 

Current Cites for March 2015

Submitted by Leo Klein on Tue, 3/31/15 (2:23pm)

go to Current Cites
Current Cites for March 2015 is out! You can find the issue here...

I recommended an article from The Journal of Web Librarianship with the title, "Use and Usability of a Discovery Tool in an Academic Library". It went over usability testing of the "discovery tool" (in this case, Primo by Exlibris) at KU Libraries. Funny thing is, I kept switching back and forth from the article to the two institutions I'm connected to -- just to compare notes.

Love Those ALA Profile Prefixes

Submitted by Leo Klein on Fri, 3/27/15 (12:16am)

Renewed my ALA membership today. Love their Profile Prefixes. Click for larger image...
ALA_Prefix_2015_03_26_570x340.gif

Topic: 

Neutrality Rulz!

Submitted by Leo Klein on Thu, 2/26/15 (1:27pm)

Happy days are here again! At least for a while.

When people first started hooking up to the Internet, it was a two step -- or two layer -- process: You had your phone line which was owned by the local Bell carrier, and then you had an internet service provider or 'ISP' -- of which there were many.

Then the phone companies developed a slightly faster system (DSL) which, surprise, surprise, the ISPs had no access to. Within a short time, the ISPs simply disappeared. The phone companies, ATT & Verizon, after being broken up for a couple of years, zoomed back to national dominance -- this despite the fact that since DSL, they really haven't done much innovation.

And that precisely is the point where the Internet started to resemble a traditional communication network -- with mediocre service and a handful of players. All I can say is, 'bout time!

Location: 
Institution: 

Eat Cake!

Submitted by Leo Klein on Thu, 2/12/15 (8:14pm)

"Eat Cake!" -- happy greetings that welcomed me on the way to the Reference Desk this evening.

Topic: 
Institution: 

Current Cites for Jan 2015

Submitted by Leo Klein on Fri, 1/30/15 (8:53am)

go to Current Cites
Current Cites for January 2015 is out! You can find the issue here...

Although my focus is usually tech, I went this month with a set of articles from Library Trends that looked at the state of libraries in countries from the former "eastern block". How libraries fared in what used to be known affectionately as "communist dictatorships" makes for interesting reading -- as well as what they've done since.

Pages