Monday, April 30, 2012

Mantor Monday

Winner winner chicken dinner! Today was the day for the On Our Minds grand prize raffle, and Katie Marshall was the lucky winner of a hand carved walking stick. Thanks to all who entered the raffle by hiking our virtual Facebook Trail, or by coming to book discussions, entering the writing contest, or attending one of our speaker events. We had great turnout for all of our programming this year - thanks, UMF community, for your support.

The last On Our Minds programming event of the semester, our S'more party on the library green, was a big hit this morning. It seems that nothing brings back childhood memories like toasting a marshmallow. We heard a lot of stories about camping trips gone by, and there was some lively debate around the carbonized black vs. golden brown marshmallow. Good times!

One last Mantor Monday item: this is pre-finals week, and that means extended hours. For your cramming convenience, we'll be open til midnight, Monday through Sunday.

Monday, April 30th - Friday May 4: 7:45 a.m. - Midnight
Saturday, May 5 - 9:00 a.m - Midnight
Sunday , May 6 - 11 a.m. - Midnight

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Map Work

My thanks to fellow Browsing Room blogger, 1337 Librarian, for sending me the link to artist Matt Cusick's website. As regular readers of my Thursday posts have probably noticed, I am amazed and inspired by art that transforms everyday materials, and the main ingredient in Cusick's artistic alchemy is maps. Maps! Those utilitarian residents of glove compartments and old atlases, turned into landscapes and portraits. Gorgeous.

All of these images are from the artist's site, and I urge you to spend some time there exploring not only his map works, but also his defacement series, where he sands down the pages of old books to a single image and a few words. In the meantime, feast your eyes on these:

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Tech Round-Up: Audacity and Dropbox

Two random, unrelated programs I wanted to talk about today. The first is Audacity, a free program for recording and editing sound on your computer. I'd heard a lot about the program before, but this week I had the first opportunity to use it. I needed to record something and email it to someone. I had the built in mic on my computer, and wanted something to encode the recording in an easy to open format. So I went to the internet and got Audacity to try it out. Whenever I'm using a program for the first time, I'm never quite sure what I'm going to get. Some programs are absolute beasts. They do what they do well, but it takes a lot of effort to learn how to use them properly. So I usually block out a good amount of time to get something done with a new program. I'm happy to say that Audacity was as easy to use as it could be. I had it open, hit the record button, then exported it out as an MP3--no problem. (Well, I had to download one more file, but that was very straightforward and easy to do, too.) So if you're looking for some recording tools for your computer, check it out.

The second program is Dropbox. I've reviewed it before on this blog--it's a great file sharing/file back up program, and I use it very often these days. Why am I bringing it up again? Well, because maybe some of you missed it the first time, but also because they just redid their file sharing and viewing approach, streamlining them so that people can just send links to let others see their files--no need to register with Dropbox. Pretty slick. For more information, go here.

Monday, April 23, 2012

Mantor Monday: S'mores!

Melty chocolate, gooey toasted marshmallows, graham cracker can all be yours, if you stop by for the final celebration of the On Our Minds season: a s'mores party in honor of our book selection, A Walk in the Woods: Rediscovering America on the Appalachian Trail.
Weather permitting, we will be toasting up the marshmallows on the Green at 11:45 on Monday, April 30th.
 April 30th will also be the date of our Grand Prize Drawing, so if you have entered the raffle at any of our On Our Minds events this year, or hiked on our virtual Facebook trail, you could be the lucky winner of a hand carved cedar walking stick!

Friday, April 20, 2012

Awesome video talks: J.K. Rowling

TED, besides producing their own great speeches, also offers a curated "best of the web". Today's presentation, in honour of the open launch of Pottermore, is J.K. Rowling's commencement speech at Harvard in 2008 on the fringe benefits of failure.

It regularly makes top lists of inspiring speeches. Have a watch and enjoy! (And if you'd prefer to watch it in a slightly larger window, here's a direct link, too.

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Birth of a book

Ever wonder how a book is made? This short video captures the book-birthing process from start to finish.

Birth of a Book from Glen Milner on Vimeo.

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Streaming Library Sizes and BBS Google

I came across an article today about the sizes of Netflix and Amazon's streaming libraries. For those of you who pay attention to these things, Netflix claims something in the realm of 60,000 "movies and TV programs." Amazon has over 10,000.

That sounds like an awful lot, right?

But what if Amazon said, "We have over 10,000 movies and TV programs, 4.2% of which are Mighty Morphin Power Ranger episodes"? Suddenly, that number doesn't seem as cool, does it? And yet that's what Netflix and Amazon are doing--counting every single episode of a TV show as a separate "TV Program." This just seems ridiculous. Why not just present the actual count of TV shows and movies? At best, I think you could count each season of a show as a separate program. But each episode? That means The Dick Van Dyke show accounts for 158 of Netflix's holdings. I don't know about you, but I don't view every 22 minute episode as an entity in and of itself. It would only take a 380 Dick Van Dyke shows to round out a full complement of 60,000 "TV Programs."

But, since that's the metric they're using, I guess that's what we're stuck with. It's not like either Amazon or Netflix is going to suddenly release a press release bragging about how they've reduced their holdings from 60,000 to 5,000 or anything. But next time when you go to watch something on Netflix and are stumped as to why it feels like the selection is much smaller than 60,000 . . . you'll know why.

And on a lighter note, here's a cool version of Google for your wanting-to-relive-the-early-days-of-the-internet self. The best thing about it? It's fully functional. I came across it and just had to share. Enjoy!

Friday, April 13, 2012

TED Talks : Marco Tempest on deception, magic, and truth

A quick one this week, but one that's interesting both for what it says, and how it says it.

Marco Tempest is a magician who is fascinated by the applications of technology to engage the mind - and lead it down a particular path. In this TEDTalk, he uses cutting edge technology tools to talk about the power of truth, lies, and deliberate deception - and how that affects our art, our relationships, and our lives. That's an awful lot to cover in 6 minutes, but he'll leave you with a lot to think about.

Enjoy! (And if you like this one, he's done two others: Augmented reality, techno-magic and A magical tale (with augmented reality)

Thursday, April 12, 2012


“Mountains of disused knowledge return to what they really are: mountains. They erode a bit more and they become hills. Then they flatten and become fields where apparently nothing is happening. Piles of obsolete encyclopedias return to that which does not need to say anything, that which simply IS. Fogs and clouds erase everything we know, everything we think we are.”

So says artist Guy Laramee of his carved book art. 
 I say: inspired.


See more of Laramee's work here.

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Citation Resources

It's definitely that time of year again - I've heard question after question the last week about people wanting help with citation. We have ways to help!

Citation, of course, is the way that we tell the people reading our papers (and projects, and whatever else) where we found the information we're using, so other people can find the awesome things we found too.

The mechanics, though, get a bit messy. Between all the different kinds of citation styles, the formatting requirements, and trying to sort out how to cite less common or newly emerging formats (how do you cite a Tweet?), it can get really confusing.

Tools that can help: 

1) RefWorks 
We subscribe to a tool called RefWorks, that will help you store resources and create a bibliography for your paper. You can get there from the library homepage by clicking the image that says RefWorks (or just going to this link.) 

You will need to create an account on RefWorks before you can save any information. More help about this service can be found in our guide to RefWorks, or you can come and ask the library staff, and we'd be glad to show you around the site. RefWorks offers some good tutorials on their site as well.

2) Help with citation styles
We have a great guide to citation styles - it's also linked from our homepage, under Research Tools.

And did you know that if you're in most of our databases, you can get a citation for most of the common styles for that article? Check the sidebar for a citation tool link, or the very bottom of the article.

3) Resources on campus
The library staff are glad to help you (and if you don't want to come into the library, check our home page and see if someone is available by chat.) You can also use the great resources at the Writing Center.  They've also recently put together materials on plagiarism and citation that you might find helpful.

(Got more questions about this or these tools? Comment, and I'll pick them up next week.)

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

QR Codes for the Uninformed

One of the things I learned more about at the conference I attended a few weeks ago was QR codes. Not that I didn't know about them before, but still. It helps to take some time at a conference to look at other technologies and try to decide if they're worthwhile for your current situation or not. QR codes are definitely strange beasts.

For those of you who don't know, they're those little black and white checkerboard symbols you see pop up here and there. Like this one:

QR code
What do they do? They let someone use a smartphone to essentially take a picture of the code, which then is interpreted by software and takes the smartphone to a web page. Think of them like physical, tangible links to the internet.

Which is all fine and good, but how do you actually use them? Especially in a library? I've seen them used in retail and for advertisements, but up until the Computers in Libraries Conference, I hadn't really seen many realistic, useful uses I might consider implementing myself.

A couple of ideas were presented that had some merit, though. First off, some libraries were using them in the book stacks as a way to connect users to the online collection in a specific subject. So if someone were in the psychology section, she could scan the code and see what the library had online about the same subject. As more and more ebooks take off, I could see that becoming increasingly useful. And because you can use analytics, you can track the usage of those links to see if they're worth your while or not. That's definitely intriguing.

Then there's the no-brainer decision to include QR codes on promotional materials. Once again, since you can track usage, this actually gives you a way to see if your posters and ads are reaching anyone--or at least, if they're inspiring people to check out the QR links. It's not hard to make one (just go to and type the link you want to connect to, then hit "details" and copy and paste the picture code wherever you need it)--so while I've been ignoring them for the last few years, I think the time has finally come for me to start exploring them more seriously.

Any of you have any experience with these? Tips or tricks? Do share!

Monday, April 9, 2012

Mantor Monday

Reminder: the deadline for the Great Outdoors Writing Contest is Wednesday, so if you've got something to submit, get it in ASAP!! Click the link if you need submission how-to information.

The annual faculty and staff scholarship display is set up in the browsing room, and includes painting, sculpture, and fiber arts as well as more traditional written forms of scholarship. Have a look if you're in the library.

The new bistro style seating has been installed on the first floor, and it looks great. If you want the table by the wall (the one with access to a plug), get here early. That one is occupied all day long!

Other first floor news: Project Zone computers no longer require a staff person for log-ins. The log in for Project Zone computers is now self-serve, with i.d.s and passwords posted in the Zones.

Friday, April 6, 2012

TED talks : Jill Bolte Taylor's stroke of insight

To start off our new Friday attempt (my new Friday attempt), here's a TED talk that shows up on a lot of people's top lists.

Jill Bolte Taylor has spent her life studying the brain and how it works. When she had a stroke in 1996, one of her first reactions was
The next thing my brain says to me is, ‘Wow! This is so cool! How many brain scientists have the opportunity to study their own brain from the inside out?’
 Her TED talk not only covers a lot of fascinating details about how our brains work, and how they connect and process internally - but it's also about the process of recovering from a stroke, and the experience itself. She's thoughtful, often funny, and deeply moving.

(She's also written a book, My Stroke of Insight, which is just as interesting, and which has space to go into more detail than her presentation here. We own a copy here at UMF.)

Thursday, April 5, 2012

Technology Gone Wild

photos via
Artist Sean Avery is doing some pretty wild things with used technology components, like the rat seen here. (That's one rodent I wouldn't mind having in my house!)
Avery, who describes his work as "Energetic, playful, and surprising", sculpts his fanciful creatures out of wire mesh armitures, cds, (which he snips into shape with kitchen scissors), hot glue, and used electrical components.

Avery says of his work: : "The nature of my sculpture practice ensures that each piece will be completely
unique. I blend many different man-made materials
together to make them appear strangely organic, with a distinct sense of movement. I only use recycled materials to create my sculptures, which classifies my work as 'sustainable art'"
His methods seem to be working: he is currently unable to do a gallery exhibit of his sculpture, because they sell as fast as he can make them, and large-scale commissions - like a dragon with a six foot wing span for a Ripley's Believe it or Not Museum - are rolling in.

To see more of Avery's work, visit his home page,
or view this slide show on Artinfo.

Oh, and by the way, Sean is multi-talented. He's also just written and illustrated a childrens' book called All Monkeys Love Bananas,
and the illustrations look every bit as colorful and whimsical as his sculpture.  

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Learning neat stuff

One of the great things about the Internet is how many people share fascinating information. Over the past year or two, some great resources have come up to help you learn everything from math to economics, science to how to do things.

One common project is universities putting lectures and other resources online. Besides iTunes University (most easily accessed through iTunes on your computer, or the recently added iPad app) MIT does this through their MITx program (a pilot class launched this spring, and more are coming in the fall)

Another great option, that I've already mentioned are the TED talks - these are generally 18-20 minute video talks (with full transcripts) of experts in their field talking about all sorts of amazing things. We're going to begin highlighting these and some other video and media resources of this kind on Fridays, so keep an eye out for some great quick ways to learn something new and awesome.

Another interesting video-based option is Khan Academy, a series of short videos that each teach a specific kind of skill or topic - math, art history, chemistry, astronomy, physics, statistics, and much more.

Finally, if you like learning through video, remember that UMF offers Atomic Learning to all students, staff, and faculty, where you can learn all kinds of computer software tools and techniques through watching short tightly focused videos. You can get there through the Launchpad in MyCampus.

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Technology Tuesday: Initial Impressions of the iPad 3

My new iPad arrived yesterday, and I've had just a smidgen of time to test it out. The verdict so far? Very impressive. The screen is every bit as wondrous as you've heard. The camera is a huge improvement--especially with such a big screen to look at pictures on. The speed is peppy, the weight is fine

Really, the only drawback to upgrading is what a pain it is. You've got to back up your old iPad, then restore that image to your new one. The thing is, the new one doesn't transfer all the apps, so you have to redownload all of them. (And you lose all your progress in your games, which is no fun whatsoever.) At least I didn't lose any documents or pictures this time.

But the question you want answered is, "Should I upgrade?" I'd say that if you have and love an iPad 1, then yes, you should. This is everything people had hoped the iPad could be. If you have an iPad 2, then it's more debatable. Are the upgrades significant enough? Not sure. That's something you'll have to answer for yourself. I'd guess for 65% of you, though, they won't be.

Then again, I've only had it for a day. We'll have to see what the next weeks and months have in store.

In any case--color me excited!

Monday, April 2, 2012

Mantor Monday

Hello, and welcome back! (Or just plain welcome, if you are one of the UMF community, like those of us here at the library, who work through Spring Break.)
For this edition of Mantor Monday, I'll be passing along a couple of news items.

First up: the submission deadline for the Great Outdoors Writing Contest is April 11!

The Great Outdoors Writing Contest

As part of the Mantor Library’s yearly On Our Minds reading event, and in conjunction with the English Department, we are sponsoring a writing contest for two categories: Academic and Creative (prose). The theme for this year’s contest is The Great Outdoors. Inspired by Bill Bryson’s A Walk in the Woods, students are invited to write on any topic touching on the great outdoors. Creative prose can be fiction or non-fiction. Academic papers should focus on a topic relating to the environment. Please let your students know about this contest, and encourage them to enter. 

Submissions should be 8-10 pages in length, double-spaced. Winners and 1st runners up in both categories will read at Symposium Day.

Prizes will be awarded as follows:
  • Winners in each category--$40 gift card to Devaney Doak & Garrett
  • 1st runners up in each category--$20 gift card to Devaney Doak & Garrett
Entries should be submitted at the main desk of the library by April 11th. Each entry should have a cover sheet with the author’s name and contact information, as well as the title of the entry and whether it's for the academic or creative contest. Other than that, the author’s name should not appear on the entry itself, to ensure impartiality in evaluation.

For questions and further information, please contact Bryce Cundick (778-7224 or

For more information about the On Our Mind reading program, visit

Next item:

The Annual UMF Faculty/Staff Scholarship Display will be set up in the Mantor Browsing Room for the month of April. Examples of scholarship - books, articles, paintings, sculpure, poetry, play scripts, musical scores, conference presentations - all will be available for reading, viewing, and enjoying. If you are UMF facutly or staff, and would like your work included in the display, contact Frank Roberts, 778-7215 or