Friday, May 29, 2009

New MLA Citation Decision

The Modern Languages Association (MLA) provides some of the most important guidelines for citing sources. According to Print Goes Out of Style from the Scholarly Kitchen blog (hosted by the Society for Scholarly Publishing), the latest, 7th edition of the MLA handbook for writers of research papers, states:

"the Modern Language Association no longer recognizes print as the default medium, and suggests that the medium of publication should be included in each works cited entry"


"the MLA has ceased to recommend inclusion of URLs in citing Web-based works – unless the instructor requires it or a reader would likely be unable to locate the source otherwise.

Inclusion of URLs has proved to have limited value… for they often change, can be specific to a subscriber or a session of use, and can be so long and complex that typing them into a browser is cumbersome and prone to transcription errors. Readers are now more likely to find resources on the Web by searching for titles and authors’ names than by typing URLs..."

This represents quite a change, and the blog entry talks about the importance of Google on this, where, if a site changes, Google will provide the new URL because it is constantly being updated.

Personally, I don't think this is a very good idea, especially for sites that disappear completely. There is the Internet Archive (which archives the web!) and in their page the Wayback Machine, you can look for specific pages, so long as you know the URL.
See Disappearing Websites in the AUR Library Information Wiki for guidelines on how to use the Wayback Machine.

So, my recommendation is to continue to put in the URLs for items on the web. It can't hurt, takes only a split-second with copy & paste, and it really might come in handy!

Monday, May 18, 2009

New Look for the Catalog

We have been wanting to change the main page of the catalog for some time but we waited until the end of the Spring 2009 semester. Several found our main page to be too busy, and to be honest, we did too. 

The links are still there as always, but we have placed them into a drop-down menu which should make for easier navigation, and people should have a better idea of what is available.

Now, even though there is still the same information available to you, it may all be easier to find. Explore what is there. There's a lot designed to help you succeed.

Friday, May 15, 2009

Adding the VIAF

The Virtual International Authority File, or VIAF is slowly being built and is becoming very useful. The VIAF is a specialized tool being created by librarians around the world to share their controlled vocabulary. To find out about controlled vocabulary and its importance to research, see the Two-Minute Tutorial on controlled vocabulary.

The main advantage of the VIAF for students at AUR is that it can help you search Italian catalogs because Italians often use different forms of names than Americans. As only one example, if you are interested in the previous president of the Russian Republic, Boris Yeltsin, in the U.S., you must use:
Yeltsin, Boris Nikolayevich, 1931-2007

but in Italy, you must use:
Elʹcin, Boris Nikolaevič, 1931-2007

This means that you won't find anything in Italian catalogs if you search under the form of name used in the U.S., while the Italians won't find anything in American catalogs. How can you possibly know this?

The VIAF attempts to fix this, and at least you can find the correct forms of names to search Italian catalogs. Of course, this also can be used by Italians to search U.S. catalogs. There are other forms included as well.

We have added the VIAF to our Extend Search. To find out how to use the VIAF to help in your research, take the Two-Minute Tutorials on Finding & Using Synonyms and Related Tools and the other on Searching and Accessing Materials in Roman Libraries.

They will definitely be worth your while. This is another important step to making the World Wide Web much more useful to scholarship and society.