Election 2008!

Still haven’t made up your mind on who to vote for? Crown Library can help!

No, we won’t tell you to “vote early and vote often,” or go into the voting booth with you, but we will tell you that the library has resources to help you make an informed decision.

Voting day is Tuesday, November 4, 2008. Crown Library has many books profiling the candidates, the electoral process and how our democracy works, and, at times, how it doesn’t.

Be sure to check out our display of election-related books (first floor of the library) that are available for check-out.

Titles such as these are sure to intrigue and inform:

A Call to Greatness: Challenging our Next President

by David M. Abshire (JK 516 .A37 2008)

Abshire (Center for the Study of the Presidency) argues that the US is struggling to deal with significant challenges such as the global war on terror, a decline in its prestige and influence on the world stage, foreign policy problems in Iraq, Iran, and North Korea, and the rise of globalization. The main goal of Abshire’s study is to present a set of political strategies related to these policy problems for the next president to consider upon taking office in January 2009. -Choice

The Keys to the White House: A Surefire Guide to Predicting the Next President

by Allan J. Lichtman (JK 534 .L525 2008)

Lichtman (American history, American U.) describes and explains his system for predicting the popular vote winner in the American presidential elections. The “keys” are 13 falsifiable conditions that favor reelection of the incumbent party. When five or fewer statements are false the incumbent party wins, else the challenger wins. The keys are: the incumbent party holds more House seats than after the previous mid-term elections, there is no serious contest for the incumbent party nomination, the incumbent party candidate is the sitting president, there is no significant third or independent party campaign, the economy is not in recession during the campaign, real annual per-capital economic growth during the term equals or exceeds mean growth during the two previous terms, there is no sustained social unrest during the term, the incumbent administration is untainted by major scandal, the incumbent administration suffers no major failure in foreign or military affairs, the incumbent administration achieves a major success in foreign or military affairs, the incumbent party candidate is charismatic or a national hero, the challenging party candidate is not charismatic or a national hero. Annotation 2008 Book News, Inc., Portland, OR (booknews.com) Reference and Research Book News

Voter’s Guide to Election Polls

by Michael W. Traugott and Paul J. Lavrakas (HN90 .P8T73 2008)

Traugott (communication studies, U. of Michigan) and Lavrakas (senior research methodologist, Nielsen Media Research) present a citizen’s primer on political polls. After a broad overview of polls and polling, they present a layperson’s explanation of the design and analysis of polls, including coverage of sampling procedures, the design of questionnaires, interviewing procedures, and data analysis. They conclude with a chapter on evaluating polls and discussion of common problems and complaints about polls Annotation 2008 Book News, Inc., Portland, OR (booknews.com) Reference and Research Book News

We also have a web page of links to information on:

  • Candidate Voting History / Fact Checking
  • Comprehensive Election News Sources
  • Election Process
  • Statistics / Public Opinion Polls / Surveys

So step up and make your voice heard by voting. Remember, voting is important, painless, and free!

Today is Open Access Day

When information is open access (OA), it is, simply, available for free.  There are no barriers to you or to anyone accessing it, reading it, downloading it, or printing it.  Neither you nor your library needs to pay for access to OA materials.  There are thousands of OA journals in many academic disciplines, and well as countless OA materials in subject repositories or institutional repositories.  Both authors and researchers benefit from OA publishing.  Authors are able to  share their research faster, easier and more effectively; researchers are able to access information faster, easier and more effectively.

Today, Tuesday, Rocktober 14, is Open Access Day.  Founded by the Scholarly Publishing and Academic Resources Coalition (SPARC), Students for Free Culture and the Public Library of Science (PLoS), the Day aims to spread awareness of OA through a series events held around the world.  Events will be broadcast live over the Web starting at 6:00pm CST.  The Open Access Day web site includes a schedule of events, list of participants, and resources for spreading the OA word.

Those behind Open Access Day invite you to participate in a synchroblogging competition on why OA matters to you.  Post answers on your blog TODAY, Rocktober 14, to the following questions:

  • Why does Open Access matter to you?
  • How did you first become aware of it?
  • Why should scientific and medical research be an open-access resource for the world?
  • What do you do to support Open Access, and what can others do?

There are prizes.

Crown Library’s answers?

OA matters because it provides the Dominican community quick and easy access to free scholarly information.  I’m not sure when we all became aware of it; maybe with the start of the Directory of Open Access Journals (DOAJ) about 5-6 years ago?  The 3rd question kinda answers itself: it’s scientific and medical research.  The public needs it to make informed decisions about their own health and wellness.  Not to mention our tax dollars fund a lot of the research.  See the NIH Public Access Policy for more on that.  Crown Library promotes the use of DOAJ, PLoS and other OA repositories in instruction classes and class pages.  We are planning for an institutional repository, and an education/outreach program to go with it.  Faculty, be sure to come to the faculty seminar on Tuesday, Rocktober 28, to learn about how retaining your rights and publishing in OA models can increase the impact of your research.  LIS 748 students, see you soon.  Let’s jump start conversations at Dominican.

Text message reference from ChaCha

ChaCha, originally a computer-based answer service, has moved to the mobile phone world.  Since January, ChaCha has answered over 27 million questions via text message.  You simply call 1-800-2CHA-CHA (1-800-224-2242) or text 242242 from any cell phone, any time of day, and ask a question.  The service is free, not counting your phone carrier’s normal text messaging charges, and you receive an answer within minutes.

I tested ChaCha by calling and asking, “How many number 1 songs has Bruce Springsteen had?”  It recognized me as a first time user and told me it would send me a welcome message and a confirmation that my question had been received.  That’s two text message charges I don’t want, but it was nice to know my question was understood and was in the queue.

ChaCha’s web site explains that my question is routed to a ChaCha Guide who will search the Internet for my answer.  These Guides, often stay-at-home moms or college students, have gone through a training program called Search University.  ChaCha reports a 93% answer accuracy rate.  In addition to answering questions, ChaCha offers text message updates on the weather and the stock market.  You may also text “joke” to 242242 and receive “a real knee-slapper.”

It’s been 10 minutes and I’m still waiting for my answer.

So.  I ask ChaCha a question.  It gets sent to a Guide.  The Guide searches the Internet for the answer and texts me back.  Couldn’t I just look it up myself?  Yes, if I was near a computer or had the web on my phone.  If I wasn’t or if I didn’t, ChaCha would be perfect.  The service, if anything, is convenient.  But how will I know the answer I get is legitimate?  Will my answer come back with a citation?  A real person, rather than a web search engine, sends me my answer.  Presumably, that person has waded through pages of search engine results for me and has found a legitimate source.  Again, convenient.  But, I’m skeptical.  And, what if I need more information?  Do I have to keep calling, or will they refer me to somewhere or someone else?

Taking referrals and wading through results is something librarians do every day, and we’ll help you do it any day.  ChaCha will not replace that.  But, for quick questions in the absence of a librarian or the Internet, ChaCha may get you answers.  I didn’t say “can” or “quick” because it’s been 30 minutes and I’m still waiting.  I know the answer to my question (it’s zero), but it seems to have tripped up ChaCha.  Try it yourself and let us know what you think.