Knowledge Handler

Information Sources & Information Sifting Techniques

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Location: Independence, Ohio, United States

Librarian at Indiana Wesleyan University's Cleveland Education Center.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Libraries Provide Security

ComputerWorld ran an article today by Robert McMillan which detailed how crooks are placing ads on popular web sites. These advertisements contain hidden code that takes control of the researcher’s computer. As library resources have few (if any) advertisements, researchers who use library databases should be less susceptible to attack. Just another reason students should not confine their research just to using Google.


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Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Access My Library

Access My Library makes Gale database articles freely available on a website funded by advertising (and perhaps by local libraries).

The first-time user is prompted to selects a nearby library using their zip code and then provides an email address. There is no prompt for a library card number, but one is asked to check approval of specified terms of service. When I submitted this information, a long form requesting contact information appeared -- however, this form was actually an advertisement, and I had to go "below the fold" to decline the advertisement offer to retreive my article.

The database claims to have thirty million articles. Based on the results of my search, the content includes magazines, newspapers, trade journals, and academic journals. There does not seem to be any way to do a phrase search -- enclosing search terms in quotation marks (the normal way to do a phrase search) had no impact on the results, which included a significant amount of chaff. There is no advanced search option, and the catagory search that is offered retrieves ads, articles, and journal titles that might be of interest to the demographic researching the limited number of topics presented. It did provide tools for linking an article to a blog, emailing the article, printing, and citation. The reference creation algorythm seem poor, as APA references had quote marks around the article title.

In my opinion, researchers would do far better accessing the Gale databases through their library:

  1. Library database searches are not confused by advertising, especially by advertising that tries to get the researcher's contact information
  2. The advanced search options and formal subject headings library databases provide allow more targeted results.
  3. The citation tools provided by the library databases are much more accurate than those provided by AccessMyLibrary.
  4. If the library databases are used, then trained librarians can be called upon to provide assistance in the search for information.


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