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The Library on Social Media

11 Jan

Did you know that the COCC Library has a presence on many popular social media outlets?

We have Facebook (in spite of the research findings summarized in this article) and Twitter (@cocc_library) accounts, where we post quick updates, news, and links of interest. We also have a “microblog” called InfoSprinkles. A microblog is longer than Twitter (where messages are limited to 140 characters) but shorter than a long form blog. On InfoSprinkles, Tina, Cat, and I post handy research tips and resource highlights. They’re very short and – hopefully – very useful. If you have something you want to highlight or a tip you want to share, let me know!


Troubleshooting Link Resolver Problems

1 Dec

The Link Resolver (see this blog post if you need a link resolver refresher), handy as it is, doesn’t always work like you’d expect.

One somewhat common problem is with the “one click to article” feature. If the link resolver can determine that we should have the online full-text of a particular article, this one click feature is supposed to take the user directly to the article, bypassing the link resolver results page.

But, sometimes instead of a full-text article, the user gets an error message. Here’s an example of a error message from Ebsco (as usual, click on the any of the images in this post for a larger version):

The error message for the 360 link resolver.

Basically, Ebsco is asking you to type in your citation info again, to see if it can find the article (several people have gotten this error and emailed me about the strange ILL form they are seeing – even though it looks a little like the old ILL form, this is NOT an ILL form, just a citation verification form). But, you don’t even need to fill any of this out.

It’s not super noticeable (I didn’t design it, so don’t blame me), but there is a link at the top of the screen that says “Not what you were looking for? Get additional resources” :


Click this link, and it will take you back to the link resolver results page:


Now, this is super important. From this page, click on the “Journal” link instead of the “Article” link (if you click on the “Article” link, it’s just going to fail again). When you get to the journal-level link, you can use the journal-level navigation to  access the article.

Use the original citation information to find the right date, volume, and issue:


Is this more steps? Yes, unfortunately.

Will students figure out this troubleshooting technique on their own? Maybe a few of them, but I fear that it’s not the most obvious series of steps, so we should definitely know how to help them get around the error screen.

Also, although the example above is from Ebsco, the “get additional resources” link shows up at the top of any full-text article that the link resolver goes to directly, so this troubleshooting tip works with any of our database interfaces.



Using the e-Journal Tool

9 Nov

This week, in my Lib 127 course, I have a lesson on how to use the e-journal tool – that’s the A-Z list of all the journal titles we have online. I thought I’d share the info here, too.

This is an extremely useful tool if you are looking for a specific journal title (like if you already have a specific citation of if you’re helping a student who needs an article from a specific journal) or if you want to electronically replicate the experience of browsing a print run of a journal (although I realize it’s possible that I’m the only person who likes to do this).  And, our 360 Link product adds some additional functionality called the Citation Linker to this tool that’s worth knowing about.

Tip: If you have a hard time seeing the details in the images in these blog posts, click on the image for a larger view.

As you probably know, you can access the e-journal tool from two different places on our current web page:

Access the e-journal tool from the research tools menu or from the link at the bottom of the page.

Choose the COCC Barber Library electronic journal collection link (the other link goes to OSU’s e-journals, which you must be an OSU student to access).

If you are looking for a specific JOURNAL title, type that title in the search box next to “Title begins with.” Note that only the journal title will work here. Do not try to type an article title in here (I see students do this a lot).

Search box

Click the search button, and you will see a list of results. For example, if I search for the journal Online, I will see a list of journal titles that start with the word “Online.” I’m just looking for plain Online, so I can ignore the rest:

example search for "Online"

Search results:

search results for "Online" search

Let’s take a closer look at these search results. Sometimes common journal titles will have the place of publication to help disambiguate the title. That’s why Weston, Conn. is in parenthesis next to the journal title above. The number in parenthesis next to that is the journal’s ISSN (International Standard Serial Number).

Below the title, you will see date ranges, like “from 01/01/1988 to present” above. Some titles have several date ranges, like Online; others have only one date range. The date range represents FULL TEXT access. It’s not always through the present, of course.

Next to the date range, you see the databases that the journal is indexed in. You have to click on one of these database links to actually access the content. Which database you choose to access the journal is dependent upon dates available and personal preference. For example, Online is available from 1988 to the present in the Academic One File (Gale) database. If I needed an article from 1990, I would click on this database. But, if I needed an article from later, say 2010, I would probably go down to the next date range listing (“from 1994 to the present”) and click on Academic Search Premier, because I, personally, prefer the Ebsco interface to Gale’s.

Once you click on a database name, you are taken to that database’s interface, where you can search within the journal content or choose a year, volume, and issue to browse.

For example, let’s say I had clicked on the Academic One File link in the example above. Here’s what the next part of the process looks like:

e-journal title access

A couple of things to notice here: you have to click on a drop down menu to access a list of the available years. After you choose a year, it shows you a list of volumes and issues available for that year for you to choose from.

Also, notice above the drop down menu and volume/issue selection box where it says “Index Coverage” and has a date range of Jan. 1, 1977 – Current. This means that this database has citations – but not full text – for the years 1977-1987, with the full text coverage picking up in 1988 (so citation-only coverage is before the overlap in years between the index coverage and the full-text coverage).

You can’t see it in the screen shot above, but there is a “search within this publication” box to the left of the date picker. If you wanted to search just within this particular title for a topic, that’s what you would use to do that.

The Academic Search Premier/Ebsco interface is similar (definitely click on this one for the larger view):

ebsco ejournal title display

Instead of a drop down menu for the date picker, you get a list of dates with expandable/collapsible “+” signs. Click on the + sign, and you’ll see the list of volume/issue choices.

The “search within this publication” option is right above the list of dates.

Like the Gale database, Ebsco often has some records that are citation only. Instead of “index coverage,” they refer to it as “bibliographic records” (students won’t know what either term means, most likely). In this case, it’s only one year, 1993, before full-text coverage picks up.

One thing I like about the Ebsco display is that it tells you in the title information whether or not the title in question is peer-reviewed. This can be helpful.

OK, so this is all well and good if you just want to browse or search a particular title. But, isn’t there a faster way to get to a specific article if you already have an exact citation? Indeed there is.

Take a look at the title search image again:

See below the search box how it says, “If you already have a citation and want full text, try Citation Linker.” That’s your ticket to the quicker search for a specific article. Click on the link there, and you will see a search form:

citation linker search form

Put in your citation information (the more complete, the better!) and click the “Look Up” button. If the article is available electronically, you will be directed to the full text. If the article isn’t available electronically (say, for example, it’s outside of the date range of full-text coverage), you will be directed to the link resolver screen telling you that the article isn’t immediately available and giving you the opportunity to place an Interlibrary Loan.

A couple of troubleshooting tips for the e-journal tool:

It is very, very picky in terms of searching. If you spell a journal title wrong or enter the wrong information in the citation linker function, you will get no results – it doesn’t do any correcting for you.

If you have spelled everything correctly and you’re getting no results, that means we have no online access to the journal in question.

Otis supplies the following excellent technique for eliminating the spelling/ambiguity problem: “Google the ISSN identifier of the publication in question and search for the journal via that numerical identifier as opposed to the ‘journal title’ because then one knows for certain which journal they are accessing by virtue of many journals having similar ‘title’ keywords.”

Also, all of the full-text date range information is supplied by Serials Solutions’ “Knowledge Base,” not manually controlled by us. Occasionally, full-text availability changes before the Knowledge Base is updated and you will find either less or more full-text than you expected, based on what the e-journal tool told you. And, it really can go either way; it’s always nice if you find more full-text, but it’s not nice when you find less. If you run into a problem, let me know, and I’ll let Serials Solutions know.

As usual, let me know if you have questions.

Tech Time, Sept. 29 & 30

12 Oct

The most recent Tech Time trainings, held on Sept. 29 & 30, covered two really useful new tools/resources we’ve recently implemented: the Serials Solutions 360 Link Resolver and ILLiad (an automated ILL requesting and processing system).

First, we talked about what a Link Resolver is:

Serials Solutions provides a neat visual to help you “see” how it works (note that in step 4, if it doesn’t connect the user to the full-text, it will connect them to the link to place an ILL request):

So, that’s what it is. Now, how will it help students connect with all of the resources we provide?

Database Integration

If you’ve used our article databases lately, you may have seen the following icon (outlined in red), shown below in Academic Search Premier:

This is what the link resolver looks like in the database. If a student clicks on that icon, it will check all of our online content, regardless of what database it’s indexed in, to see if we have this journal article available electronically. If we do, it will give the student a link to the full-text. If we don’t, it will give the student a link to the ILL request form. You can see how the link resolver acts as a bridge among different repositories of online content and/or library services that connect users with full-text.

Here’s an example of what the student sees when we have the article online:

Here’s an example of what the student sees if we don’t have it. Notice the link they can click on to submit an Interlibrary Loan request:

If they click on the link to submit a request, it will take them to the ILLiad log-in screen (which you’ll see a little farther down this post). After they log-in, it fills in all of the request information for the student and all they have to do is click the “Submit” button. For them, it’s that easy!


The link resolver will also appear in Credo bibliographies and is a handy way for students to extend their background research into more extensive research.

If the item cited is a book (the link resolver works with any type of resource), they will see a link to check the Summit catalog before the link to make an ILL request.


Previously, the appearance of articles in Summit search results has been something of a nuisance, because students couldn’t really request articles through Summit or easily tell if we had the electronic copy or not. Now, when students find an article citation in Summit and click on the “find this at my library” button, the link resolver software will either direct the student to our online subscription content or else give them the link to Interlibrary Loan. (Note: Students still can’t “get” articles through Summit – the link resolver is a separate system, linking them to more separate systems).

When a student clicks on an article title in Summit, they will see the “Find It @ Your Library” button:

When they click on this button, they will be redirected to our link resolver results page or the full text of the article. Again, if we don’t have online access to the article, they will see a link for Interlibrary Loan.

Google Scholar

An additional really cool feature of the link resolver is its integration with Google Scholar. Students can set their “scholar preferences” in Google Scholar so that it recognizes them as COCC students and will provide them with links to online content that COCC subscribes to. (Note: on campus computers are automatically set up with this recognition – students need only set this up if they are using their home computer/laptops).

There is a short video on our library website that explains how students can set up the Google Scholar integration and use it. The video can be accessed using Research Tools >> Library Help or the “Library Tutorials” link under the “Library Assistance” menu at the bottom of the page:


Alas, the link resolver doesn’t work perfectly. All of the different database companies get to decide whether they will make their product compatible with link resolver software or not. A company like Ebsco has excellent database integration, while BioOne does not. Additionally, the link resolver software relies on the information supplied by the database. Sometimes databases provide erroneous information to the link resolver software, and the link to the full-text fails.

If you see a problem, you can let me know. I probably can’t fix it, but I can pass it on to Serials Solutions or the vendor. For example, I recently emailed Serials Solutions with a problem we were having with the links to Wall Street Journal articles (a ProQuest product for us), and they responded right away, letting me know that other libraries are having the same problem. It’s a metadata issue, and Serials Solutions and ProQuest developers are working together to resolve it. On the other hand, I emailed BioOne about the faulty link resolver integration in their interface, and I have never heard anything back.


And, now, for ILLiad, the new interlibrary loan system. The link resolver, as I mentioned above, integrates with ILLiad quite well. The new system also makes it easier for students to manage their own ILL accounts, make new requests, and track existing requests.

You will find much useful information on the ILL webpage, including a login link to the ILL system (ILLiad is just the software name; since this won’t mean anything useful to students, we’ve just referred to it as “Interlibrary Loan” on all of the public pages).

First, to use ILL, COCC students, faculty, and staff must register for an ILL account. There is a link both on the ILL webpage and on the ILLiad login page:

Once they create an account and login, they can manually create a new request, see the status of existing requests, cancel an existing request, renew an Interlibrary Loan (if renewals are allowed on the item), and see the history of their ILL requests.

ILLiad is OpenURL compatible, so if a student locates an article via a database or Summit or a book via Summit that COCC doesn’t own, they will be directed to the ILLiad login and, once they login, the link resolver and ILLiad work together to automatically fill in a request so that all the student has to do is click the “submit” button. This is really slick; check out this very short, soundless video that shows this process in action.

Nifty Newspaper Resource

27 Aug

The Newseum, a news museum in Washington DC, has a website that shows the front page for 798 newspapers from around the world for the current day. Some notable days are archived, making it potentially useful for research purposes. Otherwise, it’s just pretty interesting to see what makes the front page of newspapers around the world.

Tech Time, July 13

13 Jul

RSS Feeds

Someone recently asked me about RSS Feeds, so I thought I’d include it in today’s session.

RSS has been around for a while now. It stands for Real Simple Syndication and it’s basically a tool on a website that lets you subscribe to content updates from your favorite sites (as long as the site gives you the RSS option). The major benefit to you is that, instead of manually checking through sites you like, you can just go to your feed reader and scroll through lists of posts – not unlike an email inbox.

You will need a feed reader to subscribe to and read RSS feeds. My favorite is Google Reader. If you have a Google account, you have a Google Reader account. You’ll find Reader in the “more” menu on Google’s main page (see image):

Google's homepage, showing the reader menu

Accessing Google Reader

When you first access Reader, all that you’ll find in there is some content that Google has pre-populated for you to see how it works. You will want to add things that you like to the Reader. As I mentioned above, the site you want to add has to provide an RSS feed for you to be able to use a feed reader to track it.

Many sites use the RSS icon to denote that a feed is available:

RSS feed icon

Standard RSS Feed Icon

Here’s an example of the icon in use, on Library Journal‘s website (and, yes, sometimes they are tiny and hard to see/find). This feed would subscribe you to all stories that appeared in Library Journal about academic libraries:

A Library Journal web page with an RSS feed icon

If you wanted to subscribe to this feed and clicked on the icon, it would take you to another page. This page will usually give you the opportunity to choose which feed reader you use and want to subscribe with. Sometimes it just gives you an URL that you have to paste into your RSS Reader. Either way will achieve the same outcome.

A feed subscription page

Clicking on the Google Reader button in the example above will reroute you to your Google Reader account, where it will ask you to confirm that you want to subscribe. Once you’ve subscribed to several sites, your Google Reader account will look like this:

Google Reader screenshot

Your subscriptions show up on the bottom left, and it tells you how many items are new for each source, just like your email inbox. Whatever source you have selected on the left, the content from that site will show in the main reading frame. For each item in the feed, you have many options that help you keep track of your reading, organize articles, and share with others.

Below this zoomed image of the individual item is an explanation of the options. (Click on the image to see a larger image – I know it’s small on the screen!)

An individual item in reader

I starred this item (which is why it reads “Remove star” instead of “Add star”). All of your starred items are easily accessible via the Reader menu, so you might choose to star items that are particularly interesting or that seem like they will be of use later on.

You can also “like” items (which I’ve also done for this item). It’s not clear to me that this has any practical purpose; it mostly seems to be a social feature, as are the “share” and “share with note” features. The share features just share the item with other people you might be connected to via Google.

Now, if you want to send the item you’ve read to someone else, you can use the email feature to send them the link and a note.

You can use the “keep unread” feature to keep an item new and to remind you to read it.

The “Add tags” feature is highly useful. You can organize items you want to be able to find later by “tagging” them. This is like putting them in file folders, but they can go in more than one. Later, you could access all items tagged with a certain word – say, “ebooks” – to find all items that you’d marked as related to that topic. This is similar to bookmarking sites with delicious (which I covered in an earlier tech time).

In the image above, you’ll notice the red arrow is pointing to a little yellow icon. That’s a Read It Later icon. I also covered Read It Later in an earlier tech time. Google Reader is integrated with Read It Later so that you could send articles that you wanted to read later to your Read It Later account.

RSS readers seem to have declined in popularity a bit in recent years, with people using Twitter and Facebook in a similar manner, but I think it’s a pretty handy tool for those who don’t want to do the social network thing – and, you just get the site content without all of the other noise on Facebook and Twitter from your “friends” or followers or those whom you follow.


Popplet is a very neat tool that I recently ran across, and I think it could be useful in the academic setting for research and group projects.

I have these really fond memories of writing projects in elementary school, the ones that would start out with a drawing of  a concept map (I can’t remember what we called them then, but I’m pretty sure that wasn’t it). You’d put your main subject in the center node, and then draw lines to connect the main node to supporting and related ideas. Well, this is what Popplet does.

You can sign up for free, and there is a free iPad app, as well as a paid version.

As an example, pretend you had to do a project on the Columbia River. Well, you could organize your research using a popplet (click on the image to go to the actual popplet):

An example of a popplet

You can put maps, videos, and images into popplets, as well as just text. The maps come from Google maps, the videos from YouTube, and the images can come from your computer or from Internet photo sharing sites, like Flickr. You can also draw on the individual nodes with a little free form cursor tool.

You can work on popplets with other people who also have a popplet account. Each node will display the user name of the person who added it or last edited it, though you can turn this function off if it annoys you.

Using the tools menu (looks like a little gear), you can turn your popplet into a presentation or export it as a PDF. I do think this has some potential for an interesting classroom tool.

Databases, databases, databases

We have some awesome new databases, thanks to Cat.

Our most recent subscriptions include Films on Demand (streaming videos on bunches of subjects), Safari Tech Books (online tech “how-to” books), and Image Quest (rights-cleared images for educational use; hey, a student could use them images in a Popplet for a class presentation!).

When I was recently working on updating the database lists, I was looking around in the databases for descriptions and info and I ran across a few interesting features while I was at it. I thought I’d share.

If you like Google’s Art Project, definitely keep OCLC’s CAMIO (Catalog of Art Museum Images Online) in mind. These high quality images of museum art work from all over the world are cleared for cited educational and research use.

The  Hospitality, Tourism, and Leisure Collection has the full text of about 550 guidebooks, if you’re planning a trip. They are a bit cumbersome to find, if you want to browse the collection instead of searching for a specific title. Click on the “Publication Search” tab and then on the “List All Publications” link. Use the limiters on the left side of the screen and choose “Handbook” under the “Publication Format” heading.

MedlinePlus is a great place to go for consumer health information – much better than a general Google search.

Bowker’s Books In Print (BIP) has an easy-to-use readers’ advisory tool, both for fiction and for non-fiction.

Credo, besides its useful concept map tool, also has a handy “gadget” built in (click on the “Gadgets” link in the menu at the top of the screen). The gadget tool provides conversion calculations and other features like a definition and pronunciation look up. Its topic pages are also good places to start research, generally speaking. Some topic pages are less useful than others, but I’ve found some good stuff there, overall.

Some databases include multimedia in search results. I ran across a link to streaming video (from PBS) via a Gale database and Opposing Viewpoints (also vended by Gale) includes NPR stories in their results.

Bonus for Bike Commuters

This last little bit falls into the “not work but useful enough to share” category. Google Maps has for quite a while now offered different directions for different types of travel: driving, walking, public transit, and biking. I’d never really used the directions for anything other than driving  or trip planning (if I’m going to bike or walk somewhere, it’s generally close enough for me to know how to get there). But, I recently needed to ride my bike directly from work to an appointment, and I realized that I had no idea how long it would take me to get to my appointment. While I have a good frame of reference for driving times, I don’t yet have that knowledge for biking times. So, I used Google Maps – not to get directions, but to get an estimate of the time it would take to get there. It estimated 15 minutes, and I made it to my appointment in 16 minutes; that was close enough for me.

Google Image Search’s New Trick

27 Jun

Google Image Search has a new feature where you search with an actual image. You enter your search by dragging and dropping an image into the search box, pasting an image URL into the search box, or uploading an image from your files into the search box. With an extension for your Firefox or Chrome browser, a right click on an image will search Google with that image. Pretty neat!