DCPLive is a blog by library staff at the DeKalb County Public Library!

Research

Dec 3 2010

The Morrow Project

by Jesse M

Do you ever wonder what the future holds? How all of the new technologies currently being developed and implemented will change the way we live our lives? If so, you may be interested in The Morrow Project, “a unique literary project which shows the important effects that contemporary research will have on our future and the relevance that this research has for each of us.” Four authors (Douglas Rushkoff, Ray Hammond, Scarlett Thomas, and Markus Heitz) produced short stories inspired by “research currently being conducted…in the fields of photonics, robotics, telematics, dynamic physical rendering and intelligent sensors”. The results are available as a free e-book download (EPUB or PDF) or in podcast form.

If you are interested in further reading along a similar vein, there is an abundance of excellent and thought provoking science fiction in the DCPL catalog. Two I’d recommend in particular are David Marusek’s Counting Heads and Accelerando by Charles Stross, both of which illustrate the pleasures and perils of post-scarcity economics and the frightening and fascinating places technology will take us over the coming decades.

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Feb 12 2010

Who is Brett Favre?

by Amanda L

I often have questions come to me about information concerning a variety of people. The Library has a wonderful resource called Biography Resource Center. I have found that if the person is even remotely famous, you can find information about him/her in this resource.

The type of information available ranges from short biographical entries to very detailed biographical information.  Biography Resource Center often provides links to magazine articles. If you have a library card with us, you can access this resource 24/7 using your library card and PIN number.  It is located on our Reference Database page under the History and Biography section.

To answer my original question, Brett Favre is a quarterback who has been playing professional football since 1991. He has played for the Atlanta Falcons (drafted),  Green Bay Packers,  New York Jets and the Minnesota Vikings. Want to know more about Brett Favre? Check out the Biography Resource Center. Of course, we also have a few biographies about him if you want a more detailed account about his life.

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Oct 16 2009

Best Free Reference Websites 2009

by Jesse M

For the eleventh consecutive year, the Machine-Assisted Reference Section (MARS) of the Reference and User Services Association (RUSA) has put out a list of the best free reference websites. This annual series was initiated “to recognize outstanding reference sites on the World Wide Web”, a task which it has once again performed admirably. This year there are over two dozen sites listed, specializing in all manner of information.

Looking for a job? Check out the Dept. of Labor sponsored Careeronestop. It offers career resources and workforce information, such as salary data, where to file unemployment insurance, locations of career centers, self-assessment tools, and resume advice. The site also includes links to other useful resources, such as the online version of the Occupational Outlook Handbook.

Need help with measurement conversions? Try Onlineconversion.com, which boasts over 5,000 units and 50,000 conversions, lending credence to their claim to be able to “convert just about anything to anything else.” Whether you are attempting to convert Fahrenheit to Celsius or are interested in more esoteric conversions, like comparing clothing sizes across countries or finding our how much you’d weigh on different planets, this is the site for you.

Tired of defective online translation services mangling your intended message? Head over to Lexicool, a directory of “all” the online bilingual and multilingual dictionaries and glossaries freely available on the internet (currently numbering over 7000), many of which have been created by translators working in specialist fields.

Are you a sports fan? Sports-reference.com is “a combination of sites providing top notch statistics and resources for sports fans everywhere. Our aim is to be the easiest-to-use, fastest, most complete sources for sports statistics anywhere.” With sections devoted to baseball, basketball, football, hockey, and Olympic sports, the site has something for sporting fans of all varieties.

Or perhaps you are interested in procuring locally grown and/or organic food in your area. If so, you can utilize Local Harvest to find farmers’ markets, family farms, and other sources of sustainably grown food. Search by zip code or state, or use the interactive map. Other offerings include a monthly newsletter, recipes, and blogs by members.

Want more sites? Check out the combined index of lists from 1999-2008.

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Aug 10 2009

Homework, Help!

by Amanda L

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With school starting back today, homework is not far behind for the students of DeKalb County. How many times as a parent have you had your child come to you early in the evening and say  “I have an assignment due tomorrow morning, and I need to go to the Library!” I know my first thoughts are I don’t want to go out now.  My second thought is usually, the library will be closing shortly or is already closed.

We have a variety of electronic resources that may help you or your child with homework from home. They can be found on our Reference Database page.  For elementary and lower middle school children, many of the resources can be found on our Children’s page. You will need your DeKalb County library card number and your personal identification number (PIN) to access these resources. (The PIN is a 4 digit number.)

For general research help, we have online encyclopedias such as Groliers and Britannica. For social studies homework, there is Grolier’s Passport, Sirs Researcher, Student Resource Center for middle school and younger. For high school or older students, we also have CQ Researcher available.  For Science homework, there is Student Resource Center, Encyclopedia of Animals, and the National Science Digital Library  (available through GALILEO).  For literature homework, there is Literature Criticisms Online and Literature Resources from GALE.

Although the Learning Express Library is listed under test preparation, this resource has several tutorials, tests and diagnostic tests that can help with homework. For instance, they have practice and diagnostic tests for reading comprehension, a variety of math for all levels and vocabulary for high school students. This resource also has a few courses available such as Middle School Writing Courses, and some basic math courses.

Searching for newspaper or journal articles? We have a couple of resources for this type of research. The easiest way to search is to go to GALILEO.  (It will ask you for your library card and PIN numbers and then give you the current password. You will then type in the password to proceed.)  If you click on the search button and type in your keywords, it will search for relevant articles.  These are just a sampling of electronic resources that you have available at your fingertips from home.  Feel free to browse our database page or GALILEO.  If you need specific help on where to start your search, don’t forget to use our Email A Librarian service. It can be found under the Research tab on our home page.  Be sure to select “I need help finding information.”

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dare-coverSometimes when you find yourself with a case of the mulligrubs early in the morning, the best thing is to put something larruping down your goozle.

If you had trouble deciphering the above sentence, you can look up the unfamiliar words in the Dictionary of American Regional English (DARE for short), which is available at the library.  “DARE is a reference tool meant to capture not the homogeneous whole of English found in conventional dictionaries, but the rich regional variety that has been spoken and written across America.” (Mattmiller 2009). As the DARE website explains, what makes DARE unique “is that it shows where people use the words that are included” (for example, it tells you what different regions of the country might call a sandwich on a lengthy bun: sub, hoagie, grinder, etc.)

Recently NPR did a story on The DARE project in anticipation of the publication of the final volume in the series (S-Z) next year. As the article relates, the project was initiated in the 1950s, when the founder, linguist Frederic Cassidy, sent field workers out in “Word Wagons” to all regions of the country, where they interviewed more than 3000 people over the course of six years. The first volume was published in 1975, with subsequent volumes following over the years. Sadly, Cassidy passed away before seeing the conclusion of the project, but even posthumously he displays his enthusiasm for the work; his tombstone declares “On to Z!”

It is important to note that the Dictionary of American Regional English is cataloged as a reference book, and thus it cannot be checked out of the branch where it resides. However, if you wish to save yourself a trip and examine it from the comfort of your home computer, you can view selected pages from all the volumes on Google Books.

However you access it, the Dictionary of Regional American English is an informative, entertaining resource, from A to Izzard. Check it out.

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Doing research and limited to a certain number of resources? Do not fear the Library is here! As a Reference Librarian, I often help people find sources to answer their questions, or write a paper. Often when it is school related, I hear “I can only use blank number of web sources. I have already checked the Internet.” When I ask if they have checked our Reference Database page, I often hear, I cannot use that because we are limited by the number of Internet sources.

Did you know there is a difference between Internet sources and electronic sources? The Library has electronic resources that are different from a web-based source. What is an Electronic Resource? You access the source through your web browser (Internet Explorer, Foxfire, Safari, Chrome…) but these sources were created in print before they were loaded and available on the Internet.

How do you access them? Go to our home page and click on the Reference Database button. Here you will find a list of resources that we have broken down by category. We have over twenty-six print based electronic resources. A few of these sources do have links to the Internet but most have a print-based component.

Curious to know which one you might be able to use? If you move your mouse over the title a short synopsis will show up and tell you what the resource is about and what it includes. For example, the Biography Resource Center’s synopsis indicates that it draws its information from Reference books, and from journal articles including  the Marquis Who’s Who. The Student Resource Center‘s synopsis indicates that it draws its information from Reference documents, articles and dictionary entries.

Need an example of a source we have on the page that is an Internet Source? Look at The New Georgia Encyclopedia. According to the synopsis, it contains information on people, places, events and histories of Georgia. The site includes articles and images on every aspect of Georgia and links to related Internet sites. I hope this helps you or someone you know the next time there is a paper due. Remember these Electronic sources are available 24/7 through our elibrary.

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Mar 19 2009

Know Your Accents

by Jimmy L

I’ve always liked accents.  Every day people speak the same language very differently to each other, reflecting their unique backgrounds.  When I found out that there are websites that track and study accents in an organized fashion, I was hooked.

The Speech Accent Archive has an archive of people from all over the world saying the same (rather ridiculous) sentence.  You can browse by language or by geographical region. Their website stresses “that accents are systematic rather than merely mistaken speech,” and it even provides a guide to show you the common characteristics of each accent.

International Dialects of English Archive (IDEA) is another similar website, which also accepts online submissions of samples.  These websites can be very useful for people as diverse as the ESL teacher trying to teach English to non-native speakers to actors who are trying to master a certain accent.

The last accent-related website I found is the Language Trainers Group’s Can You Guess Where My Accent is From? game.  It’s pretty fun.  See if you can beat it!

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Are you doing research and need help with where to start? Would you like to find out more information about a particular subject you are interested in? Maybe you are a student who would like to learn about new resources that will help with homework or school projects? Check out our new subject guides for help!

Subject guides are lists of library books, databases and websites that are chosen by librarians and intended to help you get started on your research. There are over forty different guides covering subjects such as Health and Medicine, History and Biography, and Student Resources. Searching is fast and easy with direct links to the catalog, reference databases, and websites. We’ve got guides for adults, teens, and kids.

To access the subject guides go to our main page at www.dekalblibrary.org. Under the Research tab click on Subject Guides.

We’d love to know what you think, so please leave comments or suggestions.

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Sep 10 2008

Homework Help

by Ginny C

With school back in full swing, lots of students are coming to the library in need of homework help.  Books are great places to start when doing research for reports and projects.  Sometimes, though, the book your child needs just isn’t available.  More often, teachers are requiring students to use books AND articles.  We have several databases that are designed specifically for students in elementary, middle in high school.  They can be found here or by going to our homepage, clicking on Reference Databases under the Research tab and scrolling down to Student Resources.

Each database has a short description of the kind of information and the subject areas it covers to help you choose.  If you need help navigating the databases, library staff are always happy to help!

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Aug 26 2008

The Most Valuable Card in Your Wallet

by Amanda L

I was helping a person several days ago who was looking for business information.  She lived in another county.  I mentioned to her that the county she lived in also provided access to Reference USA.  As we continued exploring resources that might help her, I suggested Business and Company Resource Center.  I informed her that her local system did not provide access to this resource.  She asked me how she could obtain a card.  For an annual fee of $45, a non-resident can obtain a card.  She wanted to know what else we had that would make it worth her while to spend that kind of money.  Do you know what your DeKalb County library card provides for you?

Here is the brief list that I gave her: for adults, we offer not only the business electronic databases (Reference USA, Business and Company Resource Center, Demographics Now and Hoover’s Company Capsules and Profiles), but we also offer language learning resources (Spanish, French, German and Italian), Health and Wellness Resource Center (health and drug information), and Georgia Legal Forms; for students we offer Learning Express Library (sample tests, electronic books on a variety of tests and basic skills building), Literature Criticisms, Student Resource Center (Literature, History, applied Sciences and Social Studies), and African American Experience (great for African American history).

The list above is just a sample of the electronic resources that we provide at the library.  We of course offer print (books), music and DVDS.  I also mentioned that we have downloadable eAudiobooks and electronic books.

My DeKalb County library card is one of the most valuable cards in my wallet.  I would pay the annual fee of $45, if I did not work for the library system.  My own home library system does not offer the wealth of information or entertainment value that you are entitled to have as a citizen of DeKalb County.  So where is your card?

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