Tuesday, September 29, 2009

PDF Xchange Viewer

Lots of materials on the web are in pdf files. This is a format created by Adobe Systems primarily to guarantee how a document would print out. You may have noticed that when you look at a regular web page, it can appear quite different on different machines, depending on which fonts are installed, the display set-up, and so on. Printing out can be even more of a challenge. The pdf format solves this.

Eventually, it became a de facto standard. See more information in Wikipedia on Portable Document Format.

PDFs have become very popular for scanning, for example, Google Books uses it almost exclusively. Many people use it just to print however, and this can result in a huge waste of paper. One of the problems of pdfs is that you cannot add notes or mark them up like you can a piece of paper. Or, you can, but you must pay Adobe for the program that allows you to do it.

PDF Xchange Viewer changes all of that. It is a free viewer that is much faster than the viewer put out by Adobe, and it allows you to add your own notes and mark up your text in various ways. Best of all, it is free.

It is available from several sites on the web, but here is the one at CNet, always a good place to trust to download software. Be aware that the creator of a pdf file can disallow people the permission to mark up the text, but most of the time, there is no problem.

Give it a try. Here's an example file that I took from Google Books of a famous book of Edgar Allen Poe's and marked up the title page. While you can view all of the changes in the Adobe Acrobat Viewer, you can't make them or change them.

You may find PDF Xchange Viewer useful and, you might even save a tree or two.

Friday, September 25, 2009

Wikipedia Less Popular?

In the Monday, Sep. 28, 2009 issue of Time Magazine (article available online), Farhad Manjoo writes about how the explosive growth of Wikipedia seems to be slowing down. Mr. Manjoo is a writer for Salon.com and has researched some of the reasons why there is this slowdown. Some of the reasons are that lots of topics already have been written, but Wikipedia has instituted several controls to make it more reliable, and while this is good development, it has also complicated matters somewhat.

You can also listen to an interview with Mr. Manjoo on NPR where he takes some interesting questions from callers.

For those who are really interested, you can watch a talk given at the conference Wikimania 2009 in Buenos Aires by Andrew Lih (professor of journalism at the University of Southern California and who wrote The Wikipedia Revolution), where he discusses some of these problems.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Citation Software

Many scholars use special citation software that does at least some of the work of keeping and maintaining citations semi-automatically. Two of the best known are RefWorks and Reference Manager, which cost quite a bit of money.

There are other possibilities coming out now. While there is a wide choice of free software that can manage references, two of the most popular are Zotero and Connotea. One of the nice things about these tools is that if you don't care for one of them, you can export your citations, and then import them into another that you prefer.

Zotero can only be used with Firefox and is a plug-in. In the first version, you could only save citations to the computer you were on, then export/import them on a flashdrive for use on other computers. In its Beta version, your citations can be saved onto a shared server so that you can use them anywhere, including share them.
Go to the Zotero site.

Connotea is one of the "cloud computing" options that is becoming so popular today. All you have to do is create an account and set a bookmark on your browser, so it works with all browsers. It doesn't seem to have as much power as Zotero, but is simpler to use.
Go to the Connotea site.

There are many more free options available, too. For a list of them, with a few comparisons, see the Wikipedia page Comparison of reference management software. Before doing a lot of work with them, it is best to check the very handy tables on Export/Import formats, to make sure that you can export any work into another one. Look especially for the RIS format, which is the closest to a standard format for this type of information that exists.

Finally, you may want to check a couple of our Two-Minute Tutorials, one on Making Citations, the other on Automatic Citations, both with links into additional information in the AUR Library Information Wiki.

Friday, September 18, 2009

Electronic books

This is a reminder about how to use the Ebook Library. Many times, you will come across a book such as this one:

When you click on the link, you will see this screen where you are asked for a user name and password.

Full instructions are available using the link into the AUR Library Information Wiki. Just click on that and it should give you the information to access the ebook, plus additional links as well.

Some other ebooks, such as those in the Humanities (formerly History) E-book Project, are currently available only on campus. But many others are available from everywhere.

Wednesday, September 09, 2009

Welcome to the AUR Library for the 2009 Fall Semester!

The AUR Library wants to welcome everyone for the 2009 Fall Semester. To the returning students and faculty, this message will summarize the changes in the Library tools from the Spring. Much of this has been mentioned in previous blog posts but are repeated here. To everyone who is new, please read about these changes and at the bottom of this post are a number of links that should answer at least some of your questions.

The first change is designed to make the library catalog easier to navigate. http://www.galileo.aur.it/cgi-bin/koha/opac-main.pl. Many people (including me!) found the main page rather confusing with too many links, so while we have not reduced the number of links, we have changed over to a drop-down menu. This menu has initial selections of "News & Contacts, General Information, Browsing, Research Help, Reserve Readings, Other sites." Moving the mouse over these selections provides links into different parts of the library's tools, e.g. the blog, the wiki, instant messaging, browsing the collection, latest news from around the world, and so on. Please feel free to explore all of these areas. Please note that the Reserve Readings by Professor and Course Number are still under construction.

We have also changed the page for the General News Feeds http://www.galileo.aur.it/opac-tmpl/npl/en/pages/news/generalnews.html so that they are more inclusive and easier to use. For this purpose, we have added many newspapers from around the world, plus a number of the most important general news aggregators and blog sites. Read the opening page for more information.

Working in a similar fashion are the Academic Blogs http://www.galileo.aur.it/opac-tmpl/npl/en/pages/news/acadbloghuman.html, which now are complete, based on the academic blogs selected by the Academic Blog Portal. The AUR page gives quick access to the newest entries in each field (the previous seven days). You can switch to each academic field by using the selection at the bottom Other Academic Blogs. See the opening page for more information. Please be aware that the keyword search currently does not search as many blogs as the general Academic Blog page, but this will be updated.

To see the latest websites selected by U.K. and U.S. librarians, you have always been able to click on Latest Websites under "Browsing" in the drop-down menu http://www.galileo.aur.it/opac-tmpl/npl/en/pages/news/latestwebsites.html. This is still available, but has been updated to work with the new Intute, and now works more like the News Feeds and Academic Blog Portal mentioned above.

A final change using this same method is the page for the Latest news in Business. This is more in the area of an experiment. See: http://www.galileo.aur.it/opac-tmpl/npl/en/pages/news/businessnews.html. I have done this based on the usefulness of my own Library Page, which allows me to keep up with the latest developments in the field very easily and that I have found very useful http://www.galileo.aur.it/opac-tmpl/npl/en/pages/news/librarynews.html.. See the opening page for more information. If you would like to do something similar with any other field, please let us know.

The Extend Search function now includes a Videos option, which allows people to search for videos on selected sites http://www.galileo.aur.it/opac-tmpl/npl/en/extsearch/extsearchvideos.php. There are a huge number of videos available over the web, but of course not everything. Still, it is definitely s worth a try to find them. Especially, look at SurfTheChannel. For more information on the Extend Search function, see the related 2-Minute Tutorial at: http://www.galileo.aur.it/opac-tmpl/npl/en/tutorials/ExtSearch/

The University of Pittsburgh Press has made approximately 500 of their books available for free on the web. The AUR Library has cataloged them all and they are available through the search found on the blog entry at http://aurlibrary.blogspot.com/2009/07/university-of-pittsburgh-digital.html

Several 2-Minute Tutorials have been updated and/or created. The latest one created is a library orientation tour and can be viewed at http://www.galileo.aur.it/opac-tmpl/npl/en/tutorials/LibraryTour/. For a list of all of the 2-Minute Tutorials with the new and updated ones marked, see http://www.galileo.aur.it/opac-tmpl/npl/en/tutorials/tutlist.html. If you have any ideas for a new one, please let us know.

The current Featured Resource available on the main page of the catalog is the book, The Ascent of Money by Niall Ferguson (professor at Harvard University), a link to a public lecture he delivered further extending the argument he makes in his book, plus a link into a related 4-part PBS documentary. Except for the book (available in the library), all are available for free over the web. For those who missed it, the previous Featured Resource was about the famous journalist, I.F. Stone, a video tribute to him, plus links into some of his journalism, much of it freely available. You can see this resource and all previous Featured Resources in the Archives at: http://www.galileo.aur.it/opac-tmpl/npl/en/libweb/featuredres.html

Of course, we welcome all comments and suggestions. If you have link or sites you would like to see added somewhere, please let us know!

James Weinheimer
Director of Library and Information Services
The American University of Rome

Additional Links:
The AUR Library Catalog http://www.galileo.aur.it/cgi-bin/koha/opac-main.pl
The AUR Library Blog http://aurlibrary.blogspot.com/

The AUR Library Information Wiki http://aurlibrary.wetpaint.com/

See the new:


Electronic Resources

These can all be clicked through the Library Blog, or through the Browsing --> Latest Additions option in the Library Catalog)

See our AUR Library Virtual Exhibitions of Scholarly Resources on the Web. http://www.galileo.aur.it/opac-tmpl/npl/en/exhibitions/exlist.html

The current one is on Illustration. http://www.galileo.aur.it/opac-tmpl/npl/en/exhibitions/illustration/

The Featured Resources on the main page of the catalog http://www.galileo.aur.it/cgi-bin/koha/opac-main.pl

Archive of Featured Resources http://www.galileo.aur.it/opac-tmpl/npl/en/libweb/featuredres.html

The FAQ http://www.galileo.aur.it/opac-tmpl/npl/en/pages/faq.html

The Information Literacy Workshop http://aurlibrary.wetpaint.com/page/Academic+Skills+for+Success+in+Scholarly+Research

The Citations/Plagiarism/Copyright Workshop: http://aurlibrary.wetpaint.com/page/Citations%2C+Plagiarism+%26+Copyright

The Facebook Page http://www.facebook.com/pages/Rome-Italy/The-American-University-of-Rome-Library/99797815326

There’s lots more, too! Everything can be accessed through the main page of the catalog.