Author Archives: Stephen Francoeur

Posts: 178 (archived below)
Comments: 34

Great Intro to What a Repository Is

On the Open Access @ CUNY blog, Jill Cirasella has posted a nice entry all about repositories: disciplinary repositories (like arXiv for phyics), institutional repositories (that are tied to a university or college), and commercial repositories (like

I was especially intrigued by the news that the CUNY Grad Center is about to launch its own institutional repository and that soon(ish) we’ll be seeing a CUNY-wide repository!

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The Future of Newspapers…in 1981

The Mental Floss blog unearthed a great news clip from 1981 showing a new experiment that let internet users download the daily newspaper to their home computers:


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Good Video Explaining Net Neutrality

If you’re looking for good explanation of net neutrality to share with your students, this recent one from Mashable might do the trick.

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Tech Sharecase, 7 March 2014


Frank Donnelly gave a great presentation about LaTeX, which he uses especially for documentation (manuals, handouts, etc.) that he wants to have print copies of. He also spoke about using it to compose a journal article he recently submitted (the file sent to the journal editors was converted to PDF). Frank shared with me the links to the resources he mentioned:

TeX Live – Source for downloading the LaTeX system, includes the basic Texworks editor:

Getting to Grips with LaTeX – great tutorial:

LaTeX Wikibook – another great tutorial and reference guide:

LaTeX Cheat Sheet – indispensible:

TeX StackExchange – forum for posting questions and getting help:

LaTeX beginner’s guide by Stefan Kottwitz – CUNY e-book (ebrary):

Anonymity on the Web

Thanks to Frank, we also had a spontaneous discussion of tools for maintaining anonymity online. We looked at the Ghostery browser extension that lets you block third-party cookies. We also learned about DuckDuckGo search engine that doesn’t log your personal info as you search. For an explanation of why you might not want to be tracked as you search, we looked at this nice explanation from DuckDuckGo that is probably worth sharing with our students.

Upcoming Meetings of the Tech Sharecase

We talked about a couple of ideas for future get togethers:

Next meetings are scheduled for:

  • April 4
  • May 2
  • June 6
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Tech Sharecase, 7 February 2014

We had 8 attendees at today’s meeting.

Microsoft Academic Search vs. Google Scholar

Louise Klusek lead a discussion of the ins and out of these two services, how they stacked up against each other, and how they compared to Bearcat Search and Web of Science. Before today’s meeting, we had taken a look at this article from Science:

Bohannon, John. “Google Scholar Wins Raves—But Can It Be Trusted?.”Science 343.6166 (2014): 14-14. full text available

Here’s a summary of sorts of what we talked about (please add any comments to this post if I forgot something important).

Microsoft Academic Search


  • Visualization of publication histories, author networks, citation networks
  • Keywords that are given their own pages in the service where you get definitions, display of related keywords, publication history for that word, and more (check out this example for “information need”)
  • Citation metrics for articles (for example, see this record for an article by Brenda Dervin and Patricia Dewdney)
  • Links to PDFs and publisher’s record (the PDF links will only work if you are on campus or you are off campus and have authenticated yourself by using a library resource earlier AND we happen to have access to that publication)
  • Browse top authors, journals, keywords, and organizations (i.e., institutional affiliations of authors) for any discipline (e.g., library science)
  • Nice author profile pages (e.g., Brenda Dervin)


  • Theoretically more transparent than Google Scholar about what is indexed, but we had still had lots of questions
  • No connection to our SFX /Find It service that allows off campus users to gain access to content we have licenses for (Google Scholar has this in the form of “Find Full Text at Baruch” links next to items on the search results pages)
  • Limited subject metadata

Google Scholar


  • Familiarity
  • Ease of use
  • Interdisciplinarity (this is true of Microsoft Academic Search, Bearcat Search, and, to a lesser extent, Web of Science)
  • Items in search results page feature “Find Full Text at Baruch” links that connect to our SFX service
  • Article-level metrics


  • “Find Full Text at Baruch” links only work if you connect to Google Scholar from our databases page, or if you are on campus, or if you have first authenticated by connecting some other library resource earlier in your browsing session
  • Students have a hard time figuring out the type of source from the search results page (is it a book, a book chapter, an article, something else?)
  • Lack of subject metadata
  • Author profile pages aren’t automatically created (e.g., none for Brenda Dervin)

We talked also about the problem of article-level and journal-level metrics in these products, noting that the numbers rarely agree. Although we didn’t look at an example during the meeting, consider this difference in the way that Brenda Dervin/Patricia Dewdney article is counted:

Louise shared this Northwestern University Libraries guide to citation analysis in case anyone wants to delve into the topic more deeply.

On the topic of bibliometrics, we talked a bit about the popularity here at Baruch of SSRN, which provides data at the author level and the article level.


There was a lot of interest in having another Tech Sharecase in which we answered each other’s questions about how to do things in Excel. If you have anything you’d like to be able to do in Excel, just post it here as a comment so we can look into it before our next meeting.

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Tech Sharecase-10 January 2014

We had a great turnout today for the brainstorming session for methods for teaching Bearcat Search effectively in different teaching contexts. Thanks to everyone who came for your contributions.

We covered a lot of topics related to Bearcat Search, such as:

  • conveying to students what can be (and maybe more importantly, what can’t be) found in Bearcat Search
  • comparing it to Google
  • better ways to offer help and documentation about Bearcat Search (and where to place a link to documentation)
  • naming issues (is it still worth calling it Bearcat Search if it you are getting it to via the “Articles” search box on the library home page?)
  • how the use of quotes to force a phrase search affects the relevancy and ranking algorithms
  • dealing with the flood of newspapers articles
  • whether advanced searches are generally advisable (probably not)
  • if the “Articles” search is ever being used in internal pages on the library site that feature the yellow search bar
  • how to contribute to our shared understanding of Bearcat Search by adding content, questions, comments to the page about Bearcat Search in the Library Services Wiki

We ended up talking about a lot of usability and design issues as well:

  • the bento box display of search results that some libraries, such as North Carolina State University, present to users who run searches in the single search box on the library home page
  • how we can use our credit courses as sites for usability testing
  • ways to tweak the layout of the yellow search bar
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Documenting Daily Media Consumption

For LIB 3040 next spring, I might do an assignment like the one Dan Gillmor outlines here in which students are asked to keep a day-long record of their media consumption and then reflect back on it later.

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Harvard Business Review Argues That It Is Special

In light of this being Open Access week, I thought I’d share a story about attempts to restrict the flow of information through excessive monetization and metering. Last week, Joshua Gans, a professor of strategic management, argued in an article at that the Financial Times should drop the Harvard Business Review (HBR) from its list of journals that is uses to rank MBA and EMBA programs (the number of times a school’s faculty publish in 45 key journals is part of the ranking criteria). Gans suggests that because of the exclusive deal that Harvard Business School Press (HBSP) struck with EBSCO that requires schools to pay an additional course use fee for HBR articles used in classes, that journal is now in a special category of publications that is distinctly different from the other 44 titles that FT uses for its ranking criteria. Gans suggests that HBR is now being treated similarly to the case studies series that HBSP.

The next day, Das Narayandas, a senior associate dean and Executive Education and Publishing at the Harvard Business School, responded on the site with an article that argued HBR is so special and valuable it was fair to charge extra:

But high-quality information – ideas that have been carefully crafted by authors and editors to make sense to managers and to achieve maximum impact – comes at a cost.

One hopes that other publishers don’t follow suit and argue that they too have journals that are equally special and start striking similarly restrictive deals with aggregators like EBSCO and ProQuest.

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Tech Sharecase – 13 September 2013

Today’s event featured a wide-ranging discussion of mobile apps that students and faculty might want to use (if they’re not already) to help them with saving, reading, annotating, and sharing documents. We talked about the following apps:


  • free vs. premium ($45/yr)
  • sharing notebooks or individual notes
  • notes can have files as attachments (PDFs, Word, Excel, etc.)
  • make audio notes
  • text in images you add will be OCRed if you have the premium version
  • add a note by emailing it (Evernote gives you a special email address for that)
  • add the clipper bookmarklet to your browser to easily add text on a web page to the body of a note


  • works with your Evernote account
  • offers speedier and simplified interface to add new notes to Evernote


  • simplified note taking app
  • notes can be backed up in your Dropbox account


  • free vs. paid accounts
  • useful for storing  files but doesn’t have as many ways to organize at Evernote
  • sharing files or folders with others
  • integrated into lots of other apps


  • can use for reading PDFs
  • send files to your account via unique Kindle email address you’re assigned
  • saves your highlighting and annotations (but these can’t be exported or printed)


  • another app for reading and organzing PDFs
  • can also handle video files (MOV, 3GP, etc.)


  • rich set of tools for reading and marking up PDFs
  • connect to your Dropbox account for file storage


  • use your phone’s camera to make scans of documents that are saved as PDFs
  • saved PDFs can be annotated, shared, and OCRed


  • View and edit your collection of saved references in Zotero


  • PDF reader

Google Drive

  • file storage and editing
  • our library scanners are set up so that students can send scanned documents to their Google Drive accounts (they can check to see if the transmission of the document from scanner to their account by logging into the Google Drive app if they have it installed on their phone)
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A More Robust Way to Do Find and Replace

Ever needed to do systematic cleanup of a document but been overwhelmed by all the find and replace steps you’ll need to do? Thanks to this post by Bohyun Kim on the ACRL TechConnect Blog, you can quickly learn how to do use regular expressions to create a powerful little rule that will shave hours off of repeated find and replace chores.

I can think of many times when I’ve copied text from a PDF or from a table on a web page and pasted it into Notepad or Excel and found the data I’ve copied to be displayed in all kinds of disarray. Although I’ve never tried regular expressions before, thanks to this post by Kim, I can see it’s within my reach to try them. One of the highlights of the post can be found near the bottom of it where Kim offers real world examples from librarians of how they use regular expressions to solve problems in their day-to-day jobs.

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