March 2006

Alternative to Google that is Really Decent?

librarianscott writes: Better than Google? You must be joking?

Walt Mossberg, in his free WSJ Personal technology site reviews the new

He says, “search-results pages are richer and better organized than typical Google results, and they give greater priority to content over ads”

Here’s an example. I searched for Ted Williams, the Red Sox outfielder who was the greatest hitter of all time. In Google, I got a plain results page topped by a link to the official site on Williams, with a few ads down the right side for Williams-related items.

In, the top of the page, above the ads, featured a Smart Answer box that included a picture of Ted, an excerpt from a biography, direct links to his official site, an encyclopedia article and other images of him.

Baghdad Burning Blog

Incondicional wants us to know that a female blogger from Iraq who goes by the name “Riverbend”
has been nominated
for the BBC’s Samuel Johnson Prize for nonfiction. Her blog Baghdad Burning chronicles the experience of a being a civilian behind the lines in the Iraq war. She is highly educated and conversant with Western culture — Smurfs and the Oscars make appearances alongside Sunni/Shia conflicts and the devastation of war. It brings to mind Marjane Satrapi’s graphic novel Persepolis:The Story of a Childhood …only the war is happening now, and there’s no guarantee the author will survive until tomorrow to make the next entry.

The library of Ben Franklin

The AP looks at the death of Benjamin Franklin’s library. Scholars already know the collection was killed by his grandson, William Temple Franklin, who inherited most of the books and sold them for cash.
The real crime, historians say, is that there’s no surviving inventory of the 4,276 volumes — a list that could provide valuable insight into Franklin’s life.

That will change in coming months when the Library Co. of Philadelphia publishes a catalog of titles comprising nearly half of Franklin’s lost collection. The volumes range from books on science and medicine to manuals on the mechanics of printing and the making of apple cider, not to mention classics such as “Don Quixote” and “The Odyssey.”

Library Sells First Folio to Stay Open

The Beeb reports on a pending auction for a complete Shakespeare’s First Folio. It is being sold by Dr. Williams’s Library in London and is expected to go for over £3 million. Proceeds will ensure the continued operation of the library, and a future for the other collections preserved there. What’s the most valuable book in your library? And why are you keeping it?

Check it out Guys…Jon Scieszka’s Cool Site

is called “Guys Read”. The author introduces the site as follows: GUYS READ is a web-based literacy program I’ve made it to help boys find stuff they like to read. Get started by checking out recommendations from other GUYS READ visitors. Or go ask GUY what he thinks you might like to read.”

So guys…check it out!

Is school fingerprinting out of bounds?

Obtaining biometric data from pupils, often without parental knowledge, shows how far this technology has already infiltrated society. The Guardian Reports last week, news emerged that Primrose Hill primary school in north London had been fingerprinting pupils without their parents’ consent. It seemed shocking yet should not have come as such a surprise. Micro Librarian Systems’ Junior Librarian has been marketed in the UK since 2002 and is estimated to have fingerprinted hundreds of thousands of British children.

Reinventing Scholarly Publishing

A trio of excellent posts from T. Scott’s blog. Reinventing Scholarly Publishing, Talking With Elsevier and Talking With Publishers.
He was asked to come to a meeting and talk about his “vision of the library of the future.” The audience was 100 senior managers of Elsevier.

“When I talk to librarians about the society publishers, I point out that we share the same goals — to distribute the literature as widely as possible. The societies need to make money in order to do that. With the for-profit publishers the terms are flipped — they distribute the literature in order to make money. So our goals and theirs are necessarily in a different kind of tension. It doesn’t mean that we can’t find a way to be productive partners — but I think it will require a greater degree of willingness, on both sides, to listen and learn.”