Monday 23 February 2015

EBSCO buys Yankee Book Publishing and GOBI

News from the library world: EBSCO Information Services has acquired Yankee Book Publishers (YBP) Library Services, including the GOBI (Global Online Bibliographic Information)  platform. YPB and GOBI are relied upon by academic libraries to provide access to discovery and acquisition information about more than 12 million monographic print and digital titles. 

Friday 20 February 2015

Worldcat search tip

This little tip arrived via the govdocs listserv that members of the American Library Assn.'s government documents group uses.
When you are searching Worldcat, if you are looking for government documents on a topic, here's what to do: add the letters "ngp" to find national materials,  or "sgp" to find state materials. So, for example, if you use the basic Worldcat searchbox and type "ebola sgp" you will find state-level government documents about the ebola virus outbreak.

Hat tip: govdocs librarian L. Zellmer

Computer Lab cyberbar is open!

Kudos to IT director Kim Getz for the great new addition.

Wednesday 18 February 2015

UN Flagship Publications Website

The UN Chief Executives Board for Coordination has created a website of the major/flagship publications from the UN Specialized Agencies (FAO, ICAO, UNESCO, WIPO, etc.) :  Please note  that this website links out to each of the agencies- it isn't gathering them in one place- still it can be a handy tool.

hat tip: govdocs listserv

Saturday 14 February 2015

UN Database of human rights cases

The UN Human Rights Office has launched a new public online database, OHCHR Jurisprudence, providing easy access to all case law from the UN human rights expert committees, the Treaty Bodies, which receive and consider complaints from individuals. These are: the Human Rights Committee (CCPR), the Committee against Torture (CAT), the Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW), the Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination (CERD), the Committee on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD), the Committee on Enforced Disappearances (CED), the Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (CESCR), and the Committee on the Rights of the Child (CRC). According to the website the database "enables the general public, governments, civil society organizations, United Nations partners and international regional mechanisms to research the vast body of legal interpretation of international human rights law as it has evolved over the past years."

Friday 13 February 2015

HeinOnline: ABA Law Library Collection

HeinOnline has annouced that it has created a new collection with the American Bar Association to offer electronic access to the ABA Law Library Collection Periodicals. The collection contains a complete archive of more than 100 ABA periodicals, including 45 titles that have only been available to ABA members. By the end of February 2015 the complete archive, including current editions, will be digitized and available as full-color pdfs.

Think before you Tweet...

The New York Times magazine has a great story titled How One Stupid Tweet Blew Up Justine Sacco’s Life that takes a sobering look at what might happen if you aren't careful about what you say and post on social media. A cautionary tale.
hat tip:MIT Technology Review

Thursday 12 February 2015

2015 National Security Strategy

Greta Marlatt, the librarian who serves as the content manager for the Homeland Security Digital Library (HSDL), reports that the White House recently released the 2015 National Security Strategy. You can download and read the 32-page document as a pdf; there is also an online "Fact Sheet" that provides a summary of the report.

Wednesday 11 February 2015

Assessment of MOOCs as "the hype fades"

The Chronicle of Education Wired Campus blog has an interesting article titled "The MOOC hype fades, in 3 Charts".  The author discusses how the popularity of MOOCs - Massive Open Online Courses - has leveled off, and how MOOCs don't seem to be a sustainable tool for universities. He says that "Those findings may not come as much of a surprise. The MOOC hype has been flagging since mid-2013, when it started becoming clear that this particular breed of online course would not transform the economics of mainstream higher education. The conventional wisdom now is that free online courses offer a promising recruiting tool and an interesting (but not essential) research tool for colleges that can afford the upkeep, while also nudging more-conservative institutions to finally start integrating online coursework into the curriculum."

Monday 9 February 2015

How copyright law controls your digital life

The Consumerist blog has a post that discusses the theme of Cory Doctorow's (BoingBoing) new book, Information Doesn’t Want to Be Free. The author says: "what most of us don’t really think about is how broad the net of copyright law really is... Realistically, here in 2015, copyright law is a far cry from the original question of who has the right to copy a work. Now, copyright law is so much bigger. The tendrils of copyright law reach worldwide into almost everything we consume, do, and are in the digital era. The rules and regulations about how the internet works, what privacy rights you have, and how the entire digital economy functions all spring from copyright." It's an interesting read.

Cathedral of Learning elevator project

Pitt is undertaking a major project in completely rebuilding the elevators in the Cathedral of Learning, which date back to 1931. There's a video on the project's Facebook page that explains how the new elevator system will work.

Saturday 7 February 2015

Uber Laws

The Wall Street Journal's law blog has a post titled Uber Laws: A Primer on Ridesharing Regulations" which goes through how the Uber ridesharing system has been going into cities and how cities respond with regulations. Uber has also been in the local news here in Pittsburgh because Uber and Carnegie Mellon University (CMU) recently announced a strategic partnership that includes the creation of the Uber Advanced Technologies Center in Pittsburgh, near the CMU campus. The center will focus on "the development of key long-term technologies that advance Uber’s mission of bringing safe, reliable transportation to everyone, everywhere". And speaking of CMU and transportation, CMU has developed a Pittsburgh bus-tracking app called Tiramisu that provides easy access to schedule and real-time arrival information for the local public transportation.

Friday 6 February 2015

Font for dyslexia

There's an interesting article about a font that has been developed by a person with dyslexia that makes reading easier for people who are dyslexic. The typeface is called “Dyslexie,” and was developed as a thesis project by a student at the Utrecht Art Academy in the Netherlands. The font makes reading easier for people with dyslexia by varying the letter shapes more, making it harder to confuse similarly shaped letters like “b” and “d,” for example. The font is free at

FDLP webinar on consumer stats

FDLP is planning a webinar titled Buying Stuff: Comparing Personal Consumption Expenditures Data from the BLA and BEA  at 2:00 p.m.  on February 26. The webinar will focus on  personal consumption data: the goods and services that Americans buy; about 2/3rds of spending in our nation is for goods and services. The goods we buy are our material possessions: either durable goods that have a shelf-life of 3 years or longer, or nondurable goods that last less than 3 years. The services we buy are such transactions as paying a company to compute your taxes or hiring someone to mow your lawn. Two federal agencies compute this data, the Department of Commerce's Bureau of Economic Analysis, and the Department of Labor's Bureau of Labor Statistics. Because of different survey methodologies their data for the same goods and services can be wildly different.  The webinar will look at  how to work with their websites to get this data. You can register here.