Toronto Public Library Homepage

This page has been archived and is no longer updated.

« October 2011 | Main | December 2011 »

November 2011

Do the the Reference Desk.

November 29, 2011 | Bhowatson | Comments (0)

It's nice to know that other Canadian Libraries are having the same issues as we do here at TPL.  At the IST Fall Conference, Gail-richardsonGail Richardson of "Libraries Moving Forward", devised a  study to analyze User Behaviour & Expectation of Reference Services at Hamilton Public Library.

Over the last few years all statistics gathered in public libraries show a steady decline of up to 37% in the use of library reference services by the public.  Libraries are worried about this steady downward trend.  Our current surveys of reference questions don't capture details such as how long questions took, how many sources were used and what type of questions were asked. Gail Richardson's study looked at how the reference location affected the reference experience, what reference resources were consulted and observed and reported on different types of users and the different types of questions. 

Gail used the Microsoft Access Database to create the tables and fields used in the study since it was easy to use and understand.  126 hours were spent tracking users and their questions on three floors of Hamilton's Central Library and at a few other branch locations.

Outcome and Results?  

Index The study gave a picture of what is happening at reference desks. 

54% of the customers asking questions were female while 46% were male.

74% came to the library to ask their question in person while 26% phoned.

The average duration of a transaction was less than 2 minutes.

90% of the questions related to the collection while 10% of the questions concerned place or were directional.   

Probably it is not surprising that 14% of the questions were considered reference while 86% were deemed non-reference.

Overview:   Librarian skills might be better used away from the reference desk while we should take note that the impact of more complex technology has led the public to seek help at the library.

Something to think about....

If you like this survey and the interest Hamilton Public Library is taking in reference service, why not apply for the position of their Chief Librarian?  Click here - Chief Librarian of HPL Application




Some of the Best Free Web Sites

November 21, 2011 | Susan | Comments (1) is a comprehensive directory of hundreds of thousands of acronyms, abbreviations, and initialisms. Browse by category (e.g., Medical) and refine by sub-category (e.g., Hospitals), or search using one of three options (look for the drop-down arrow in the search box): word to abbreviation, abbreviation to word, or word in definition. The “International” category is multilingual, and includes entries in French, Hebrew, Spanish, and other languages. This is a handy ready reference resource for a wide range of users and subject areas.


Wordnik: All the Words

Wordnik is like the digital love-child of the English dictionary and the social network. It’s a little like social networking for words, and it’s definitely catnip for logophiles. Look up a word in Wordnik to find its definition from traditional sources, like the American Heritage Dictionary, and non-traditional ones, like Princeton’s lexical database WordNet. On the same results page, Wordnik displays a veritable smorgasbord of linguistic curiosities and delights, such as: an example sentence, synonyms, antonyms, contextually-related words, etymology, statistics about frequency and patterns of use, an audio pronunciation, a translator, images from Flickr, real-time mentions on Twitter, user-generated comments, tags, and all manner of liking and linking options. This is a free resource, but registration is required for users who want to contribute information, such as their own recorded pronunciations, or generate their own lists, such as Scrabble Word of the Day.

Ten amazing databases

November 7, 2011 | Ranald | Comments (0)

or, according to Rena Marie Pacella, "The ten most amazing databases in the world." (PopSci. Popular Science, Oct. 31, 2011. Web. 4 Nov. 2011.)

Codis1. Combined DNA Index System (CODIS), "a computer system that stores DNA profiles created by [...] crime laboratories in the United States, with the ability to search the database to assist in the identification of suspects in crimes." Wikipedia.

2. The Encyclopedia of Life, a "Eolcollaborative encyclopedia  intended to document all of the 1.9 million living species known to science." Wikipedia.

Faostat3. FAOSTAT, a Food and Agricultural Organization Statistical Division database "containing over 3 million time-series records from over 210 countries and territories covering statistics on agriculture, nutrition, fisheries, forestry, food aid, land use and population." Wikipedia.

4. The Genographic Project, mapping "historical human migration patterns by collecting and analyzing DNA samples from hundreds of thousands of people from around the world." Wikipedia.

5. "Data Distribution Centre," IPCC (Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change), "provides climate, socio-economic and environmental data, both from the past and also in scenarios projected into the future." DDC. Wikipedia, on the Panel.

6. MD:Pro [Malware Distribution Project], the "world's biggest private malware [malicious software] archive," created by Frame4 Security Services. Site. "Frame4 analysts gather samples using computers called honeypots, which are programmed to attract and misdirect malware, and by soliciting donations from antivirus researchers and cybersecurity experts. [...] MD:Pro has been growing by more than a million samples a month." Pacella.

7. OkTrends [blog], "original research and insights from OkCupid." Oktrends"OkCupid is the biggest free dating site in the U.S.; since we went online in 2004, we’ve collected an enormous amount of data on human interactions. This blog was started in July 2009 as a way to share some of the things we’ve learned about people." "About OkTrends," OkTrends.

8. Sloan Digital Sky Survey, "a major multi-filter imaging and spectroscopic redshift survey." Wikipedia. A redshift survey calculates the distance of objects from Earth. Wikipedia. The SDDS has surveyed over 35% of the sky.

9. The Wayback Machine, "a digital time capsule created by the Internet  Archive  Waybackmachine [... that] enables users to see archived versions of web pages across time." Wikipedia.

10. WorldCat, "a union catalog which itemizes the collections of 71,000 libraries in 112 countries." Wikipedia.

Welcome to the Information Services Blog! Visit often to learn about useful tools, collections and other resources to help answer reference questions. Get the scoop on new and innovative trends and services. Join us and send us your feedback!