What are your favorite citation tools?

BACK IN MY DAY (cue groans) we had to use the print MLA manual to do our citations! Students these days have got it easy with their EasyBib and their RefWorks and their Zotero.

A strange artifact found in the Weed pile.
A strange artifact found in the Weed pile.

But seriously, what are your favorite citation tools? I think citations can be one of the hardest parts of student assignments, and that a lot of plagiarism could be avoided with properly attributed sources. Students are delighted when I show them the built-in citation makers in our databases.

I was inspired this morning by a post over at the Unclutterer blog about Organizing References and Bibliographies. They only list the citation management tools EasyBib and CiteThisForMe. I admit I used EasyBib a lot in college/grad school.

Here at ASU, we’ve got a subscription to RefWorks, which I’ve used a bit, but find the importing and tagging to be a little cumbersome.

I know fans of Zotero, which is a free citation management tool, and Mendeley, which is free as well. Oh, and there’s EndNote, too, which I think thesis and dissertation-writers are a fan of, but I hear is pretty costly.

ASU Libraries has this neat Library Guide to choosing a citation management tool. I found this helpful Citations and Bibliographies Library Guide from Neumann University that helps students identify the parts of sources for easier citation.

And of course, there’s the Owl at Purdue, which got me through my MLIS.

What are your favorite tools and what makes them great?

Shelf Reading – Burden or Blessing?

Shelf reading. It has to be done – and you often gotta do it yourself. I’m currently more than halfway through shelf reading our Arizona state and local collection here in Government Documents. I confess that I hated shelf reading at first! But after getting through a few thousand documents, it’s gotten faster and easier to see what’s out of place. (Of course, after thousands of documents, I would hope that it would!)

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She does not look thrilled.

I think one of the problems I had with shelf reading is keeping the call numbers in my mind as I shuffled through the books. In an academic library, call numbers are LONG! The massize size of many academic library collections necessitates using LC call numbers, allowing the level of detail contained in each call number to be very high.

But your short-term memory has a limited capacity to accommodate these long numbers. Your mind can only keep about seven pieces of information (plus or minus two) in your working memory at any given moment. Here in GovDocs we use a modified version of SuDoc call numbers in our state and local collection, which gives you numbers like GV 10.8 M31 973/05. More than seven pieces of information there? Yes.

And the lifespan of those seven pieces of info is only between 15 and 30 seconds. Space out for a second while shelf reading and it’s gone, and you’re flipping back and forth between books, wasting time. Talk about frustrating!

With practice you can get a little better at keeping more information in your mind. But I’m excited about technology making shelf reading obsolete. This computer science professor came up with an app to shelf read for you – the catch is that each book must have a QR-like code on its spine.

Meanwhile, do what I do or what this library director does. Turn shelf reading into a Zen experience by treasuring it as a quiet moment in your day.

The conference is coming – and you should participate!

Presentation proposals are now being solicited for the joint AzLA/MPLA 2014 conference!

Q: Who should submit a proposal?
A: YOU should.

Whether student, staff, or librarian, you’ve got a great idea, a unique perspective, or a new way of doing things that you should be sharing with other library professionals. You’ll be rewarded with networking opportunities, the chance to build your CV, and the satisfaction of contributing to your chosen field in a supportive environment.

You can go big with a full program or workshop, dip your toes in with a poster, or present in a 15-minute blitz session.

Need guidance? No problem! Here’s a great guide to creating winning conference proposals for library professionals.

Hesitant because you’re a library school student? Here’s a blog post on the whys and hows of submitting a conference proposal!

I presented a poster last year! I had a great time and met some wonderful people. If you need some topic ideas, take a look at last year’s presentations!

Deadlines for AzLA/MPLA 2014 conference:

  • Preconferences, Programs, and Workshops: April 28, 2014.
  • Posters, Roundtables and Blitz Sessions: May 26, 2014.

Submit your proposal on the AzLA website! Full press release here.

What do you want to see this year at the conference?

Diversity in Libraries

“Diversity is an essential component of any civil society. It is more than a moral imperative; it is a global necessity. Everyone can benefit from diversity, and diverse populations need to be supported so they can reach their full potential for themselves and their communities.” ~ ACRL

Arizona is a land of diversity, particularly urban Arizona. Check out the stats for the city of Phoenix, or for Tucson. We are fortunate to live in state rich with culture, but library employees often don’t reflect the communities that they serve.

According to 2009-2010 ALA stats, 88% of credentialed librarians are white, 5% African American, 3% Asian/Pacific Islander, 3% Latina/o, and less than 1% either Native American or multi-racial. Source: ALA Diversity Counts (from Feral Librarian)

The same blog that pulled those stats, Feral Librarian, has a great post on programs that are working on the “pipeline problem” in librarianship by recruiting and supporting new librarians from underrepresented groups. The library school at U of A made the list because of its Knowledge River program, which “focuses on educating information professionals who have experience with and are committed to Latino and Native American populations.”

ACRL also has updated Diversity Standards for academic libraries. The standards are a collection of “cultural competencies” that can help libraries ensure they’re meeting the needs of diverse communities.

How does your library foster diversity?