CIL 2010: The Power in Your Browser – LibX & Zotero

Speaker: Krista Godfrey

She isn’t going to show how to create LibX or Zotero access, but rather how to use them to create life-long learners. Rather than teaching students how to use proprietary tools like Refworks, teaching them tools they can use after graduation will help support their continued research needs.

LibX works in IE and Firefox. They are working on a Chrome version as well. It fits into the search and discovery modules in the research cycle. The toolbar connects to the library catalog and other tools, and right-click menu search options are available on any webpage.  It will also embed icons in places like Amazon that will link to catalog searches, and any page with a document identifier (DOI, ISSN) will now present that identifier as a link to the catalog search.

Zotero is only in Firefox, unfortunately. It’s a records management tool that allows you to collect, manage, cite, and share, which fill in the rest of the modules in the research cycle. It will collect anything, archive anything, and store any attached documents. You can add notes, tags, and enhance the metadata. The citation process works in Word, Open Office, and Google Docs, with a program similar to Write-N-Cite that can be done by dragging and dropping the citation where you want it to go.

One of the down-sides to Zotero when it first came out was that it lived only in one browser on one machine, but the new version comes with server space that you can sync your data to, which allows you to access your data on other browsers/machines. You can create groups and share documents within them, which would be great for a class project.

Why aren’t we teaching Zotero/LibX more? Well, partially because we’ve spent money on other stuff, and we tend to push those more. Also, we might be worried that if we give our users tools to access our content without going through our doors, they may never come back. But, it’s about creating life-long learners, and they won’t be coming through our doors when they graduate. So, we need to teach them tools like these.

IL2009: Creating Connections & Social Reference in Libraries

Presenter: Margaret Smith

Traditional reference has been one-on-one, but now there are options online for many-to-one reference, such as Yahoo! Answers, Askville, AskMetafilter, etc. The problem is that not all of the hives are equal in the quality of the answers they provide. For an example, look up "where do deer sleep?" sometime.

One of the benefits of social reference sites is that they generate a reference bank of questions and answers that can be linked to when/if someone asks the same question again. These can be both public forums like AskMetafilter, or a private forum like something you develop internally for your library or organization. Similarly, you can use wiki software to create an interactive social reference tool, but unlike a forum, it isn’t designed to make new content the most prominent.

One of the biggest challenges of implementing social reference sites is getting answers to the questions. A frustrating aspect of some social reference sources is an overwhelming number of unanswered questions. Your library can use any of the "free" services that are out there, or go with one of the vendor services like LibAnswers, just make sure you actively engage with it.