Wednesday, December 05, 2007

Audio Books

Getting tired of listening to loud music on your Ipod all day long? There is a choice. There are many free items that you can download to your Ipod and listen to. The AUR Library Catalog helps you to do this in several ways.

  • These are books that you can listen to. Many of these can be bought from or other websites, but there are many free ones as well, where volunteers read their favorite books. If you want, you can participate as well. AUR has cataloged only a couple of these websites, but they have a good number of books.
  • These are all books that are in the public domain, so there is Arthur Conan Doyle, but not Stephen King.
Online classes
  • Want to take ANOTHER class? There are a lot of free ones on the web (for not credit, of course!)
  • You can "attend" the class when they take a video of it and put it on the web the next day. The best one is at UC Berkeley where you can watch the class as if you were there. Some of these are audio only.
  • Course materials
  • Another development is something called OpenSourceWare, where education institutions agree to share their education materials. The two major contributors at this moment are at Open CourseWare Consortium and The World Lecture Hall, both of which include course materials from around the world. If you want to take a course in economics as taught in Vietnam, the materials and lecture notes are all there.

Monday, November 05, 2007

Webcasts & Podcasts

Some of the best parts of going to a university is that you can listen to lectures by some of the greatest experts in the world. Sometimes these are lectures by the local faculty, but they also may be lectures by visiting experts. To hear these lectures just a few years, you had to be at the university and sitting in the right place at the right time. Today, it's completely different.

Many universities and other organizations are recording their public lectures and putting them online for others to watch for free. The topics range everywhere: from architects discussing the latest matters, to politics, to philosophy, popular culture and so on.

How do I find these webcasts and podcasts?

AUR has added some of these sites to its catalog. The easiest way to find these records is just to go to the main page of the catalog and click Webcasts & Podcasts. From these records, you can go to the sites selected by the AUR library. Many of them are from universities around the world (e.g. Harvard, the New School, MIT, etc.) but others are from scholarly institutions, such as The Royal Society in London, or the Library of Congress. Still others are from news organizations, such as Frontline, or from think tanks.

Unfortunately, AUR can only make these materials available at an institutional level, that is, it answers questions such as "What are the latest webcasts from Princeton University?" but if you want to search specific webcasts by subject or author, you should try University Channel and/or where they attempt to allow you to search for individual webcasts by subject or author. includes many materials that you have to pay for, but you can click on Freestuff at the top. These sites do not add all that AUR has added, however.

Finally, most of these lectures can be downloaded to an Ipod.

Thursday, October 18, 2007

Think tank publications

When you are doing your research, don't forget to check the Think Tank publications.

What is a think tank? It is an institution that publishes information on a whole variety of topics, mostly trying to influence policy decisions. Normally, a think tank has a specific viewpoint: liberal or conservative. Their publications are normally biased toward one side or another, but they are reliable works and collected by every library.

Luckily, many of these think tanks are putting their resources on line for free! AUR is cataloging them and you can see the discussion on the Wiki here. And don't forget about the reports from the Congressional Research Service from the Library of Congress! They are on many topics and are made to be concise and easy to read.

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

New Place, New Catalog, New Everything!

This semester is going to be one of changes. First, we have a beautiful, new library very close to the main campus. There are gorgeous grounds, and lots of space for more books. We have ideas for how to use this space to the best benefit of the students, but please, give us some ideas!

We also have upgraded the look of our catalog, so it looks completely different. It is designed to work with the catalogs of other libraries in Rome and in the world, as well as to help you surf the materials in the World Wide Web more effectively. It also works with the Library Information Wiki, which has lots of information designed to help you.

There are now online workshops on Information Literacy and Citations.

Monday, April 30, 2007

Finding Images

We have made a new research guide about finding images on the web. You can find it at

It has some of the best research guides on finding images that we have found, plus an excellent article from Information Today entitled "Looking for Good Art." There are a lot of images on the web. Of course, what you can download is often lower-quality, and you would still need to get permission if you formally published them.

And don't forget to give the proper citations!

Wednesday, March 14, 2007

Citations and Their Power

Citations and Their Power
It is important to cite your sources for a couple of important reasons: to avoid plagiarism, and to let others know where you found the source of your information. But in addition to this, well done citations are an important tool in the hands of a researcher. To see how they can work, let's take a hypothetical situation. Say you are interested in researching the topic "fascist ideology in Italy" and you find an article that is exactly what you want. The problem is, it's from 1978.

From your article, you can look at the author's list of citations and find books and articles, but of course, those will all be from before 1978. You can guess that there are probably other materials that have been written in the meantime. How can you find those? Wouldn't it be great if citations worked not only in the past, but in the future as well? That is, wouldn't it be great to know the papers and books that cited your article after 1978?

There is such a tool, and it's called a citation index. They are relative latecomers to bibliography and the first scholarly one (The Science citation index) was not published until 1963. Since that time, there have been many other citation indexes created. Unfortunately, AUR does not have access to any citation indexes. But, there are new tools that index citations: the search engines such as Google, and its spinoff: Google Scholar. It's important to realize that Google's power comes from citations. How does this work?

Google works by weighing those websites with many links/citations to them more heavily (that is, it places the sites cited by others toward the top). The idea seems reasonable: an item that is cited more heavily would be better and more important, but this is often not the case. People work together and agree to place reciprocal links on their own pages. Companies will pay owners of websites to place links to the companies' sites. They will do almost anything to get to be number 1 in Google! It's life or death for a business: whoever is number 50,000 in Google may as well not even be in there. For more information, you can read How Google Works at

Google Scholar works similarly to Google, but it is aimed at scholarly literature. You can search Google Scholar to get a list of articles and books, e.g. Lega Nord. If you scroll down, you will see a book cited: The New Politics of the Right: Neo-Populist Parties and Movements in Established Democracies.
You can click on this link and see part of the book, but you can also see where this book has been cited later, in this case: 2002 in the article Does Left/Right Structure Party Positions on European Integration? in Comparative Political Studies.
You can click on this link, but many times it will say that they want you to spend money for the article. This is where you can search something else.

Journal List
To see if you can get the article, copy the name of the journal (Comparative Political Studies) go back to the AUR catalog and click on Journals on the left side under the College of Staten Island logo.

This will open a list of all of the journals that we have access to. When it opens, paste in the name of the journal and you will find out if we have access to this journal and what the coverage is.
In this case, we have it going from 1968 to the present and therefore, you can see this article.

This is the main way to work with citations: find a book or article, then find who else cited those articles later. Do the same with the citations you find in these books and articles, find where they have been cited and so on and so on. Most of the time, you'll find plenty of material.

Why is This So Difficult?
Can this be made easier? Yes, but it already is easier than it used to be when everything was in paper. Just this little search that we demonstrated would probably have taken a few hours 20 years ago.

But we are trying to make it even easier.