Wednesday, July 25, 2007

A Collection Development Secret

Some years ago when I began ordering science books for my library, I asked a colleague of mine for some advice on what I should be selecting. He gave me some suggestions and he also told me a story.

My colleague was visiting a friend of his who was a senior researcher in one of the sciences at a prestigious university and while they were talking in his friend's office, the phone rang. After the researcher and the other person on the line exchanged short pleasantries, the researcher told the person, who was evidently returning a previous call, that he had been made editor of a forthcoming book on ___ and he asked whether the caller had a paper to submit. The answer was affirmative, quick arrangements were made and the call was shortly finished.

So while some scholarly monographs reflect years and years of sweat and toil, you too should be aware that there also exists a set of scholarly books that are merely collections of recently published or never-published articles.

In a possibly related aside, I have noticed when I have reviewed the circulation counts for the science books that I am responsible for, that there is a tendency for books with very vague titles not to be borrowed as many times as books with very specific titles.

Take these two points together and now you know why I very rarely order books that have titles like these:
  • key topics in ____
  • frontiers in ___ research
  • ___ research advances
  • ___ research trends
  • new aspects of ___
  • perspectives on ___
  • new research on ___
  • focus on ___ research
  • new topics in ___ research
  • new frontiers in ___
  • ___ research frontiers

Thursday, July 19, 2007

Monday, July 16, 2007

Open Library (Open Library)

"Imagine a library that collected all the world's information about all the world's books and made it available for everyone to view and update. We're building that library" [librarian.net]

Thursday, July 12, 2007

ticTOCs - Tables of Contents Service | Project Homepage

ticTOCs - Tables of Contents Service | Project Homepage:
"The aim of the ticTOCs project is to develop a service which will transform journal current awareness by making it easy for academics and researchers to find, display, store, combine and reuse tables of contents from multiple publishers in a personalisable web based environment. JISC is the primary funder of the ticTOCs project, which will run for two years from April 2007."

Monday, July 09, 2007

Leddy Library Has A LeddyLibraryThing

We haven't advertised it on campus yet, but the staff of the Leddy Library have listed some of the books that they have enjoyed on LeddyLibraryThing.

Give me five or give me ten

One of the more ingenious techniques I've picked on that has helped me better prepare for teaching, is the simple method of breaking down a class session into 5 or 10 minute sections and then dedicating the effort to effectively teach *one* concept within that time.

It's a great way to ensure that one doesn't overwhelm the audience with too much information as most people, including myself, tend to over-estimate what one can cover in 5 minutes.

Thursday, July 05, 2007

Librarianship and cosines - Who knew?

Did your mind ever drift while sitting in that mandatory trigonometry class and you wondered, when will I ever need to know this in the real world?

For me, those daydreams just met their match as I read about the Vector Space Model:
Vector space model (or term vector model) is an algebraic model used for information filtering, information retrieval, indexing and relevancy rankings. It represents natural language documents (or any objects, in general) in a formal manner through the use of vectors (of identifiers, such as, for example, index terms) in a multi-dimensional linear space...

Documents are represented as vectors of index terms (keywords). The set of terms is a predefined collection of terms, for example the set of all unique words occurring in the document corpus.

Relevancy rankings of documents in a keyword search can be calculated, using the assumptions of document similarities theory, by comparing the deviation of angles between each document vector and the original query vector where the query is represented as same kind of vector as the documents.

In practice, it is easier to calculate the cosine of the angle between the vectors instead of the angle... A cosine value of zero means that the query and document vector were orthogonal and had no match (i.e. the query term did not exist in the document being considered).