Everybody’s talking about…Wikipedia?

April 25, 2008

OK, so maybe not everybody is talking about Wikipedia, but if you hang out with college instructors and librarians, eventually the subject comes up, and everyone has an opinion. Some instructors, like Australia’s Sharman Lichtenstein according to this Computer World article, ban it from the the classroom completely. The article quotes her saying, “People are unwittingly trusting the information they find on Wikipedia, yet experience has shown it can be wrong, incomplete, biased, or misleading.”

How wrong can it be, and does it really matter? Well, according to this Defamer post, Judd Apatow (creator of Knocked Up, Superbad, Forgetting Sarah Marshall and other comedy films) is or isn’t sexist depending on what day you log in. And of his Wikipedia bio, 30 Rock’s Judah Friedlander (you know, the one with the trucker hats) says, “Wikipedia is both correct and incorrect – but basically incorrect.” Not too pressing of issues, so what about for research? Back in 2005, Nature magazine sent articles from Wikipedia and the print Encyclopaedia Britannica to subject experts and asked them to look for inaccuracies. The two sources had equal numbers of serious errors (four in the 42 articles reviewed), and Wikipedia had slightly more factual errors (162 compared to 123 in Britannica). This study was disputed by Britannica, but regardless, it makes me think that either source, Wikipedia or Britannica, is a starting point, not a research destination.

No matter what people think about the use of Wikipedia in academic research, most people agree on a couple of points. First, use Wikipedia with a discerning eye. It’s a good idea to double check any facts you find there. Second, one of the best uses of Wikipedia is looking at the end of the article at sources listed under References, External Links, and Further Reading. Often these lead you to some high-quality academic sources that we here at the library’s reference desk can help you track down. Finally, don’t use Wikipedia at the exclusion of some great reference sources and databases your library already owns. For focused, quality research, the librarian at the reference desk can help you access some very powerful tools.

Happy researching and be sure contact us know if we can help with the process.


A glance at local history

April 22, 2008

A week and a half ago, I went to Professor William Robbins’s lecture at the Des Chutes Historical Museum.  Dr. Robbins is a leading regional historian, an Emeritus Distinguished Professor of History at Oregon State University, and author of numerous books on Oregon and Pacific Northwest history.  His talk was about his personal experience of Oregon as a historian as well as his views on the interplay between history and landscape.  Bill Robbins’ presentation was a great reminder of the reasons I feel so privileged to live in a state so rich in history and natural beauty!

If you have an interest in history AND in Oregon, one of  Bill Robbins’ books, Landscapes of Promise: The Oregon Story, 1800-1940, has received high critical praise as “the best guide to the ‘Oregon Country’ we have had in a long time, perhaps ever.” For this and other publications by this author and scholar, check our local college library collection!  Who knows? A glimpse in history may also bring a better appreciation of the place where you live, too!

Lasso Your Favorite Cowboy Poetry!

April 16, 2008

Word Cafe will feature local cowboy poets Ted Lyster and Don Crowell. Ted Lyster was one of the founders of the High Desert Western Arts Association. He has recited his poems on ships in the Caribbean, the Yangtze River, and the South Pacific, and at the National Cowboy Hall of Fame in Oklahoma City.

Enjoy Don Crowell as he recites, from memory, some of his favorite cowboy poetry. Come dressed in your best cowboy finery, set a spell around the Word Café campfire, and pen a cowboy rhyme to share during the open mike, April 24, 2008, 7:00 to 8:30 pm, Barber Library Reading Room COCC Campus.
For more information call 541.330.4381 or email info@thenatureofwords.org 

No question too silly!

April 15, 2008

Happy National Library Week!   Have fun with this video!

 More NLW videos by the American Library Association here




Native American Storyteller presents free program

April 11, 2008

We have many ways to entertain ourselves these days, many of them involve lots of technology and lots of noise, but the sacred art of storytelling, simple as it may be, is still an amazingly powerful and engaging experience. If you haven’t experienced it for a while, you may be surprised at how moving it can be.

Next Thursday, April 17th, at 7 pm in the Hitchcock Auditorium, Thomas Doty will present a free performance of traditional and original stories of the Native West. Don’t worry if you think you’ve outgrown stories. Doty says, “My stories are for people of all ages. Children delight in the mythic adventures of Coyote and Bear and Crow. Adults look beyond the narrative to see what the stories offer a world searching for solutions.” Come enjoy this free event.  The event is hosted by COCC’s Native American program.  For more information, call 318-3782.


April 8, 2008

 Just leant about this new web search tool, Mahalo.  Mahalo, which means “Thank you” in Hawaiian, was launched quite recently as another people-powered search tool with results that it claims to be spam-free, based on quality, and filtered by real people.  You may search this collection of selected web sites or you may browse by popular category.  I have to admit, this search engine is quite pleasant to the eye and so easy to browse!  A simple search for “diets” gave me results broken down to “The Mahalo Top 7”, “Diet News” “Diet Reviews and Comparisons,” etc.   On the very top of my results I also found a great, direct link to a Mahalo web page, “How to Lose Weight,” which was built by one of the Mahalo “guides”.  Although the author/guide of this article has an academic background that does not seem to relate to the area of nutrition, I still thought that the information she provided about weight loss was well researched and presented, easy to follow, with a lot of useful links for additional information.

Want to try a search engine with a similar set up?   About.com has been in existence for some time now, one of the first to claim that it provides “expert guidance from real people searching the Internet for the information, goods, and services that you need to know related to your passion.”

So, how do tools such as Mahalo or About.com compare to Google or Yahoo? I think that the expectation here of their own creators is that these search tools are particularly useful to people who want answers to common, popular subjects. Those doing a more thorough search or hunting after unusual information will probably still have to turn to big giants such as Google and Yahoo.

 Hey, give them a try and see what YOU think!

National Poetry Month

April 3, 2008

Before you get too bogged down with schedules and papers and social obligations, why not slow down a minute and visit the National Poetry Month page? There’s a lot there. You’ll find a poem-a-day to read, the Life/Lines contest where you can submit what lines of poetry have most strongly affected you and why, poems categorized by occasion, and much more. Don’t have much time? How about a pocket poem? The idea is that on April 17th, everyone will walk around with a poem in their pocket, but we think it’s a great place to find short, intriguing poems.

Be a Refrigerator Poet

Wanna write your own poem, but don’t have a pen or paper? The company that makes those magnetic poetry kits let’s you compose online. Choose a theme, find your inspiration, create your masterpiece and then post it for others to see. Also, you can browse what others have created which are often quite interesting. A fun way to see what you can do with words!