Ex Libris: an E-Zine for Librarians sponsored by
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#271, January 13, 2006

SUBJECT INDEX to Past Issues

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Neat New Stuff I Found This Week

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My resume
Or why you might want to hire me for speaking engagements or workshops. To see outlines for previous presentations I've done, click on Handouts

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My Writings
A bibliography of my published articles and columns, with links to those available online.

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Order My Books

Net Effects: How Librarians Can Manage the Unintended Consequences of the Internet, and The Quintessential Searcher: the Wit and Wisdom of Barbara Quint.

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What IS Ex Libris?

The purpose and intended scope of this e-zine

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E-Mail Subscription?

For a combined subscription to Neat New Stuff and ExLibris, please click HERE, complete the form, and click on "subscribe." To unsubscribe, use the same form but click on "unsubscribe." To change addresses for an existing subscription, unsubscribe from that form and return to the page to enter the new address.

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Highlights from Previous Issues:

My Rules of Information

  1. Go where it is
  2. Corollary: Who Cares?
  3. The answer depends on the question
  4. Research is a multi-stage process
  5. Ask a Librarian
  6. Information is meaningless until queried by human intelligence
  7. Information can be true and still wrong
  8. Pay attention to the jokes

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Guru Interviews

  1. Tara Calishain
  2. Jenny Levine, part I
  3. Jenny Levine, Part II
  4. Reva Basch
  5. Sue Feldman
  6. Jessamyn West
  7. Debbie Abilock
  8. Kathy Schrock
  9. Greg Notess
  10. William Hann
  11. Chris Sherman
  12. Gary Price
  13. Barbara Quint
  14. Rory Litwin
  15. John Guscott
  16. Brian Smith
  17. Darlene Fichter
  18. Brenda Bailey-Hainer
  19. Walt Crawford
  20. Molly Williams
  21. Genie Tyburski
  22. Patrice McDermott
  23. Carrie Bickner
  24. Karen G. Schneider
  25. Roddy MacLeod, Part I
  26. Roddy MacLeod, Part II
  27. John Hubbard
  28. Micki McIntyre
  29. Péter Jacsó
  30. the "It's All Good" bloggers
  31. the "It's All Good" bloggers, part 2

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Cool Quotes

The collected quotes from all previous issues are at

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When and How To Search the Net

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Wanna See Your Name in Lights?

Or at least on this page, anyway? I'd like to print here your contributions as well as mine. As you've noticed, articles are brief, somewhere between 750 and 1000 words -- something to jog people's minds and get their own good ideas flowing. I'd also be happy to run other people's contributions to the regular features like Favorite Sites on _____. I'll pay you the same rate I pay me: nothing.

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Drop me a Line

Want to comment, ask questions, submit articles, or invite me to speak or do some training? Write me at: marylaine at

Visit My Other Sites

My page on all things book-related.

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How To Find Out of Print Books
Suggested strategies, resources, and finding tools.

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Best Information on the Net
The directory I built for O'Keefe Library, St. Ambrose University, still my favorite pit stop on the information highway.

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My Word's Worth
an occasional column on books, words, libraries, American culture, and whatever happens to interest me.

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Book Proposal

Land of Why Not: an Appreciation of America. Proposal for an anthology of some of my best writing. An outline and sample columns are available here.

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My personal page


by Marylaine Block

Students sometimes seem to have a kind of magical view of the net, without a great deal of understanding of the information landscape on it and beyond it. The invisible net (and the visible library) remain largely invisible to them, because they appear to believe everything they need to know is available for free with a simple Google search -- and, if they don't find it there, that it doesn't exist at all.

My guess, though, is that, if absolutely forced to think about it, they'd readily admit this is not the case. So I'm offering here a few leading questions to ask at the start of information literacy sessions that might force students to examine their assumptions.

  • Who puts information onto the net? Who else? (See if they can come up with organizations, government agencies, publishers, commercial enterprises, etc., as well as individuals)

  • What costs are involved in putting it there and keeping it there?

  • Why are they giving it away for free? Some sample sites to consider:

  • MedlinePlus
  • L.L. Bean - Park Search
  • Salon
  • Legal Information Institute
  • American Lung Association
  • Amazon
  • Google
  • Publib
  • The Daily Kitten
  • Steven Johnson

    [Possible answers might include ego, obsession, organizational mission, education, opportunities to make money through ads, subscriptions or linked services, devotion to a cause, public service, collecting information about users, etc.]

  • What laws might prevent some information from being posted on the net?

  • Which of these pieces of information would you expect to find for free on the net? Which wouldn't you? Why or why not?
  • the complete contents of the current issue of Consumer Reports
  • an article from the June 7, 1941 issue of the Quad City Times
  • the exact terms of an out-of-court settlement in a malpractice lawsuit
  • the text of a 1937 Supreme Court decision on capital punishment
  • detailed history and images of your university
  • a map of the complete network of natural gas pipelines in the US
  • a university's records of a student athlete's disciplinary hearings
  • a complete genealogy of your family
  • a tutorial on how to do genealogical research
  • the complete US Code; your state's Code
  • complete historical ownership records for a tract of land
  • the complete text of The Scarlet Letter
  • the complete text of a 2005 book called Rescue Me! He's Wearing a Moose Hat!
  • a searchable database of medical literature
  • downloads of all Metallica's albums
  • your city's garbage collection schedule for your neighborhood
  • minutes of a 1969 city council meeting where an ordnance regarding protest marches was discussed
  • a complete and accurate criminal records check for a prospective employee
  • What do you expect to find on the net if you're willing to pay for it?

  • What do you think might not be there at all? Why?

  • What does your own library make available to you, for free, by way of the net?

  • How much does your library pay for that material?

  • Go find out five things your library provide for you that is not available on the net at all.

    No doubt you have your own questions to pose to your students; I'd be curious to hear about them. But if you think any of these questions might jog your own students' minds, feel free to use them -- and let me know how they work.

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    A library may look like a single building, but please don't be misled by the walls. It's a single link in an enormous chain. It's a single being in a gigantic ecosystem of words and thoughts and ideas.

    Shula Klinger, Richmond, BC. Quoted in Beyond Words: BC's Public Libraries Are Changing Lives.

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    You are welcome to copy and forward any of my own articles (but not those by my guest writers) for noncommercial purposes as long as you credit ExLibris and cite the permanent URL for the article. Please do NOT copy and post my articles to your own web sites, however. Instead, please copy a brief excerpt and link to the URL for the remainder of the article.

    Ex Libris: an E-Zine for Librarians and Other Information Junkies.
    Copyright, Marylaine Block, 1999-2006.

    [Publishers may license the content for a reasonable fee.]