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Points of Reference

A Booklist Blog
This is the archive of the blog Points of Reference. From 2009-2012 a team of library reference experts talked about resources (books, databases, Web sites, e-books, and more) and publishing trends.

Friday, October 19, 2012 8:00 am
Points of Reference Retires
Posted by: Admin

For the past three years, we’ve been blogging here about various reference questions, web sites, sources, and more. The rapidly evolving nature of reference work means that it’s time to think about shifting our efforts away from blog posts to something new.

We’ll leave this blog here as an archive of sorts, but will no longer be updating the Points of Reference blog. Many thanks go out to our previous contributors, including Barbara Bibel, Christine Bulson, Lindsay Harmon, Sara Rofofsky Marcus, Carolyn Mulac, Sue Polanka, Mary Ellen Quinn, and Dave Tyckoson.

See you on the other side of the reference desk!

Thursday, October 18, 2012 8:00 am
Beware the Zombie Pandemic
Posted by: Barbara Bibel

Just in time for Halloween, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) presents a graphic novel, Preparedness 101: Zombie Pandemic.

Follow Julie, Todd, and their dog, Max, as they encounter a strange new disease.  It is spreading rapidly and it turns people into Zombies.  (No, it is not a political campaign. )

Readers who follow the engaging story will learn about the importance of disaster preparedness. The book includes a checklist to use at home, at school, or in the workplace. It will help them plan for obtaining the necessary supplies, creating a plan of action, and having a method of communication.

To enjoy the novel go to http://www.cdc.gov/phpr/zombies_novella.htm. You will find links to view, download, or obtain an accessible text version of the PDF.

Wednesday, October 17, 2012 8:40 am
Flu Season
Posted by: Barbara Bibel

Flu season is once again upon us. To help put things in perspective, the University of Michigan Center for the History of Medicine and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) have created The Influenza Archive at http://www.influenzaarchive.org/index.html.

This archive contains over 16,000 digitized primary source documents about the influenza epidemic of 1918. These include newspaper articles, information about 50 cities and how they dealt with the epidemic, articles about people and organizations involved, and photographs. It is interesting to see how effective non-pharmaceutical interventions  were. There were no vaccines and no antiviral drugs in 1918, so public health workers had to rely on techniques such as social distancing.

The compilers of this archive did a great deal of research on the 1918 epidemic and prepared a supplemental issue of Public Health Reports published in 2010.  The 1918 epidemic is still a source of information for public health planning and policy. We may have vaccines, but it takes time to create them. The older methods of social distancing, hand washing, and covering coughs and sneezes remain important.

So enjoy the archive, watch the movie Contagion, and don't forget to get your flu shot.

Tuesday, October 16, 2012 6:12 pm
Web Site of the Week: OnTheIssues.org
Posted by: Christine Bulson

The 2012 presidential election is three weeks from today and OnTheIssues.org. may help the electorate decide which candidate they would choose for president of the US.  The site which has the subtitle "Every Political Leader on Every Issue," provides views of US elected officials or candidates on major political issues including abortion, civil rights, education, free trade, government and tax reform.  The presidential and vice presidential debates are covered but also debates of Senate and House candidates.  The individual thoughts of candidates are gleaned from campaign documents, speeches, interviews, voting records and the media.   The platforms of the two major parties are included with information on the conventions of each party.  After reading the positions of a number of candidates - may the best people win!

Thursday, October 11, 2012 10:07 am
National Coming Out Day
Posted by: Lindsay Harmon

The theme of this year's National Coming Out Day is "Come Out. Vote."

This annual event, now in its 25th year, was inspired by the Oct. 11, 1987 March on Washington for Lesbian and Gay Rights that attracted 500,000 participants. For a historical perspective, check out ABC News' look back at key moments in the gay rights movement.

Resources for both your LGBT patrons and their straight allies can be found at the Human Rights Campaign website.

Thursday, October 11, 2012 8:47 am
Talk About Prescriptions
Posted by: Barbara Bibel

October is Talk About Prescriptions Month, so the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is offering important information about the safety of online pharmacies.

As more people use these to save money on drugs, learning to distinguish the legitimate suppliers from the fake pharmacies can literally save a life.  Visit the FDA to find tools for vetting online pharmacies. Be suspicious if they offer prices too good to be true, do not require a prescription, have no contact information, and lack a pharmacist to answer questions.  Your physical and financial health could be in danger without these safeguards.

The FDA website offers links to state pharmacy boards so that one may check the licenses of online pharmacies and pharmacists.  Be especially wary of pharmacies located outside the United States.  They may have fake medications, substandard drugs, and variations in ingredients that could cause side effects, as well as lack of protection for your personal and financial information.  So be careful when buying drugs online.

Wherever you obtain your medications, the FDA also provides good information about taking and storing them safely.

Tuesday, October 9, 2012 9:27 am
Web Site of the Week: University of Idaho Library: The Map Room
Posted by: Christine Bulson

The University Idaho Library Map Room has a unique way of illustrating their collection of photographs.  Using a Google Maps interface they link over 8,000 photographs in a variety of collections to each picture's location on a map. The collections are diverse; from the Dworshak  Dam collection to football programs to the Carleton Watkins Mining Photograph Collection of Anaconda mines in Butte MT in the 1890's.  Each location is designated by a colored marker matching the color of a particular collection.  The majority of the photos are from the Northwest but there is one from Horseheads NY in 1947 of a holding point for beans from a seed company in Moscow Idaho and a 1961 University of Idaho -West Point football game.

Thursday, October 4, 2012 11:03 am
Posted by: Carolyn Mulac

Although Munich’s Oktoberfest is winding down there are plenty of other beer festivals to enjoy this month.    At the Home of the Beer Festival Calendar you’ll find listings for everything from Acadia’s Oktoberfest (Southeast Harbor,Maine) to Zoo Brew (Cincinnati,Ohio) as well as beer festivals throughout the year (and the world). 

An important event in beer history took place on October 5, 1842 with the first brewing of the original Pilsner Urquell lager in Pilsen, Czech Republic.  Celebrate it at Plzeňský Prazdroj  

Looking for the perfect toast to go with that perfect pour?  Go no further than RealBeer.com , one of the websites Sue Polanka mentioned in her 2003 Booklist article, “Reference Sources on Beer.”  It includes a list of favorite toasts for various occasions.

Small and independent craft brewers in the U.S.are represented by the Brewers Association, whose website  offers a variety of helpful links and industry information. 

If print reference sources on beer are more to your taste, check out these Booklist reviews for The Encyclopedia of Beer  and The Oxford Companion to Beer  – just be careful not to spill your suds on them. 



Wednesday, October 3, 2012 11:45 am
App of the Month: Brain Quest
Posted by: Christine Bulson

Brain Quest is celebrating its 20th anniversary so in conjunction with Dreamkind , it has released an app for the iPhone, iPad, iPod, Nook Tablet and Nook Color.  The free app has 100 questions for each of grades 1-5.  Additional questions (600 per grade) are available for $2.99 for each level.  Children may play alone or with two others.  As with other Brain Quest products, the content is based on state and national curriculum standards.

Tuesday, October 2, 2012 2:56 pm
TED Radio Hour
Posted by: Christine Bulson

The organization TED.com,  a Web Site of the Week,  is committed to "Ideas Worth Spreading."  TED now has teamed with NPR to produce 10 programs based on speakers at the TED Global Conferences.  They include "The Future of Cities,"  "The Power of Crowds," The Pursuit of Happiness" and "Food Matters."  If the programs are not available on local NPR stations they are archived on TED Radio Hour.

Wednesday, September 19, 2012 7:47 am
Web Site of the Week: Wallacefoundation.org
Posted by: Christine Bulson

The Wallace Foundation was created by DeWitt and Lila Acheson Wallace, founders of the Reader's Digest.  The goal of the organization is to fund "projects to test innovative ideas for solving important social problems...and then communicating the results to help others."   Their mission and vision is of bettering the lives of disadvantaged children through learning and enrichment programs.   Librarians, teachers and administrators  may apply for the development of  programs on school leadership, after school, summer and extended learning time, arts education and audience development for the arts.  The site also contains reports of project such as "Principals in the Pipeline" and "From Hip-Hop to Shakespeare."

Tuesday, September 18, 2012 11:24 am
Fashion, Anyone?
Posted by: Carolyn Mulac

New York Fashion Week  is over.  How about a trip to fashion's more distant past?

Worth & Mainbocher is an online exhibit created by the Museum of the City of New York that features the work of Charles Frederick Worth (1825-1895) and Mainbocher (Main Rousseau Bocher, 1891-1976).

The Fashion Plate Collection provides online access to a selection of 417 digital images representing several historical periods in fashion including the Empire (1806-1813), Georgian (1806-1836), Regency (1811-1820), Romantic (1825-1850), Victorian (1837-1859), Late Victorian (1860-1900) and Edwardian (1901-1915).

Images of Fashion from the Court of Louis XIV documents a 2005 exhibit held at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art.  Rare engraved fashion plates and items from LACMA's permanent collection are featured.

The Victoria and Albert Museum website  includes a number of 'subject hubs' on contemporary and 18th, 19th and 20th century fashion as well as fashion in motion, wedding fashions, Asian fashions, fashion drawing and illustration and ethical fashion.  Each of these leads to content that includes articles and related images from the collection of  "The world's greatest museum of art and design."


Thursday, September 13, 2012 10:12 am
There's a Sucker Born Every Minute
Posted by: Barbara Bibel

In these tough economic times, scam artists are ready to take your hard-earned dollars. The Federal Trade Commission has a website to help you learn how to spot scams, fight them, and report them.

At www.ftc.gov, you will find information about the most common types of fraud:  job scams, home improvement scams, credit repair, mortgage/foreclosure scams, and insurance scams. There is a page that explains the ins and outs of health insurance and what it really covers, as well as one that directs you to agencies that actually help.

You can also report scams, sign up for the National Do Not Call Registry (if only it stopped all the annoying political and charity solicitors!), report ID theft, and get a free copy of your credit report that is really free.

The site also has games that teach about scams and advertising, and a sister site www.admongo.gov, which teaches you to understand how the Madmen entice you to buy what they are selling. This is a great resource for librarians, teachers, and anyone interested in learning about consumer protection.

Tuesday, September 11, 2012 6:39 am
Web Site of the Week: 9/11memorial.org
Posted by: Christine Bulson

On the eleventh anniversary of 9/11 let us remember that day with our own memories.

There is a live webcast of the commemoration ceremony at the 9/11 Memorial which beings at 8:30am edt. today.

Friday, September 7, 2012 10:57 am
Friday fun at the Reference Desk...
Posted by: Admin

Discover Card runs some pretty funny commercials featuring "Peggy", a customer service rep who is actually a man based in a snowy shack somewhere in the middle of Siberia.

Our own Dave Tyckoson has come up with a spoof of these commercials:  "Reference as Peggy Would Do It".   Fun stuff!

Even better is his spoof of Cialis: "When the Time is Right, Will you be Ready to Read E-books?".  ("Do not drink alcohol to excess while reading e-books, as many plots  and characters are confusing enough while sober.")

Tuesday, September 4, 2012 10:24 am
App of the Month: Converter Plus
Posted by: Christine Bulson

Converter plus appears to have more conversions than the average person would ever use.  There are the usual and useful -  gas mileage, tipping, currency, computer data, inflation, mortgages, sales tax, energy expenses, credit card payments and tipping.  But there are also  corrosion rate, chilled water tonnage calculator, gravity on planets, torque and yarn count.  Reference librarians may want to keep their iPhone at their desk to help answer conversion questions.  (Available only on iPad, iPhone, iPod touch)

Saturday, September 1, 2012 8:32 am
Elegance on a Budget
Posted by: Barbara Bibel

If you enjoy fine food and wine, but can't afford to blow your whole paycheck on a meal, this blog is for you.

BrokeassGourmet will help you prepare an elegant at a budget price. Written by food blogger Gabi Moskowitz, the site offers recipes that cost less than $20.00 to prepare. The author also offers suggestions for beers, wines, and cocktails to accompany the food.  A list of recommended cookware and cookbooks will help you equip your kitchen and broaden your repertoire of dishes, too.  Each recipe includes information about preparation time, cost, and good accompanying sauces, breads, etc. Among the interesting recipes featured on the site are peanut sauce, fresh fig and goat cheese sandwiches, and grilled chicken and avocado spring rolls. There are also links to other food-related blogs.

Bon appetit!

Friday, August 31, 2012 7:29 am
Staying afloat
Posted by: Barbara Bibel

Boat owners have to maintain their craft, which can get expensive and complicated. BoatUS has a website with lots of helpful information at http://www.boatus.com/boattech/.

Whether you want to fix a fiberglass hull or install a fishfinder to improve your luck, you can find out how to do it here. The site also has buying guides for everything from wet suits to inflatable boats. There is an "Ask the Experts" page, but it requires users to join BoatUS for $24 to use the service.

In addition to maintenance information, the site includes pages on boating safety (both U.S. and Canadian Coast Guard requirements), using and choosing life jackets for both people and dogs, and splicing lines. Librarians who answer questions about boat maintenance will find this useful, too.  Ahoy!

Thursday, August 30, 2012 8:25 am
Teaching vs. fishing
Posted by: Lindsay Harmon

This recent post by Jessica Olin of Letters to a Young Librarian has got me reflecting on the balance between "teaching our patrons to fish" and just answering their questions. Olin writes that her stance, like that of many librarians, is to walk her patrons (college students) through the process of finding the answer to their questions. Her conundrum: Is this good customer service?

As a fellow academic librarian, I also tend toward Olin's philosophy of "making them work for it," and I followed it in my previous jobs at public libraries as well. But I do think that she poses an interesting question when she writes, "How would I react if my mechanic said some version of, 'I know what's causing that grinding noise when you turn left on hot days, but let's see if you can figure it out for yourself'?"

In an era where many libraries and librarians are being forced to prove their relevance to their patrons and their communities, where is the balance between teaching and fishing? I'd love to hear your thoughts.

Tuesday, August 28, 2012 8:43 am
Web Site of the Week: earthquake.usgs.gov
Posted by: Christine Bulson

For information on earthquakes the US Geological Survey Earthquake Hazards Program has an excellent web site.  There is a real-time  map depicting where quakes have occurred in the last seven days with a table showing the exact location, time and magnitude.  A simple registration will send automated e-mails when an earthquake occurs in your area.  Also included is a reporting service if you feel an earthquake.  There is educational material for students,  frequently asked questions and preparation suggestions for people in earthquake prone areas including a list of items for disaster supply kits for home, work and car.  Additional information such as research projects of the USGS relating to seismology and a link to the Global Seismographic Network  are provided.

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