It’s Banned Books Week – Celebrate Your Freedom to Read

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September 24th through October 1st, 2011, is Banned Books Week, the American Library Association’s annual event to celebrate intellectual freedom and raise awareness of the attempts made every year to challenge the inclusion of, and sometimes outright ban, books in library collections throughout the country.

“Intellectual freedom—the freedom to access information and express ideas, even if the information and ideas might be considered unorthodox or unpopular—provides the foundation for Banned Books Week,” says the ALA.  “BBW stresses the importance of ensuring the availability of unorthodox or unpopular viewpoints for all who wish to read and access them.” (via)

How can you participate?  Well, ALA has lots of resources, including a handy lists of explanations and definitions, breakdowns of frequently challenged books and authors, and a slew of pages on how to deal with a challenge.  But the best thing you can do is read and enjoy those titles that others would seek to have removed, speak out about and in favor of those books, and generally be aware of attempts to challenge them.  Intellectual freedom is as basic a right as we can possibly have, and probably easy to overlook as a result.  Be mindful of it, and if needed, be vocal in its defense.

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Library will close at 4pm on Friday, September 23rd

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Due to the Bryant Leadership Council Gala event that is scheduled to be held in the library on Friday, September 23rd, as part of Reunion@Homecoming, we will be closing at 4 pm that day.  We will reopen again at 10 am on Saturday, September 24th.

We apologize for any inconvenience, but hope that everyone enjoys the various Reunion@Homecoming events this year!  Trust us, there’s enough going on that you won’t miss being here for one night.

How to Work with a Reference Librarian

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You have a research paper due for a class, and you understand the reference librarians are great assets for finding information for your paper.  But you have a problem….you’ve never worked with a reference librarian, and you’re a little confused.  You want to acquire the right information, and  ensure you have it when you need it.  How to proceed??

The RAP Request Form
The Research Assistance Program (RAP) form is available to let you make an appointment remotely with a reference librarian.  You can also use this form to submit a research question.  When you need help, simply complete the RAP form.  Try to be as specific as possible when stating your information need, and be sure to let the librarians know when you need the information.  Once you’ve completed the form, click on the Send Request button at the bottom of the page, and a reference librarian (usually the subject specialist covering the subject area you are working on) will contact you within 24 hours of submitting your request.  Click here for additional ways to connect with a reference librarian.

Time Matters!
Whenever you are working with a reference librarian, ALWAYS indicate the timeliness of your question.  Do you need the information immediately, by tomorrow, or within a week?  If the reference librarian knows when you need the information, she/he can prioritize questions accordingly to ensure your information need is met within your time constraints.

Be Specific
Be as specific as possible when stating your information or research need.  For example, the following question–I need information on the primary economic causes attributed to the start of the Civil War–is more productive than–I need information on the Civil War.  Another example–I’m looking for information on IBM’s bonds and when they are due–is more productive than–I need financial information on IBM.

Librarians as Subject Specialists
Every reference librarian will be glad to answer any question you ask–whether in person or remotely.  Librarians, however, are subject specialists, so your research questions will be delegated to the librarian with the most expertise in your subject area of interest.  This is especially true when you are working on a lengthy research project and you want to make an appointment with the librarian who can be most effective in helping you find the information you need.  The drop down box on the Articles & Databases page can help you find the right subject specialist for your need.  Simply select a subject area to display a listing of databases useful for finding information on this subject area as well as the appropriate subject specialist with their contact information.

Your time is valuable, and reference librarians are here to help!  Ask a librarian!  You’ll be glad you did.

Helpful Government Sites

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Depending on what kind of project you’re working on, you often need statistics to back up any claims you make.  While we at the library are lucky to offer students access to a wide variety of excellent databases, sometimes you need to look outside the databases for your information.  Sites like wikipedia or blogs are unacceptable for scholarly research, and you may occasionally come across an article that lists statistics but doesn’t cite its sources.  There are many government sites that offer well-organized, current information and statistics to serve as a foundation for your research.

Here’s a shortlist of some that will be helpful to Bryant students:

CIA World Factbook: When doing research on other countries, it can be incredibly frustrating at time to just get basic information about the type of government, major industries or political structure.  The World Factbook is an excellent source for information on every country in the world.  In addition to that, there are links to intelligence literature, reports, press releases, maps and more.  The factbook is updated on a weekly basis, and is  not only an excellent source of information, but it’s actually interesting to read and browse.

US Census Factfinder: You can find industry specific economic factsheets for the whole country, or for individual cities then refine it further by industry.  There is also some data on foreign trade, current and historical, economic surveys and community surveys.

Congressional Budget Office: CBO provides Congress with: Objective, nonpartisan, and timely analyses to aid in economic and budgetary decisions on the wide array of programs covered by the federal budget; and the information and estimates required for the Congressional budget process.

To that end, CBO offers access to economic and employment projections, as well as publications ranging from agriculture to housing to federal personnel.  It also includes cost estimates for bills currently in congress and PAYGO tables.

Bureau of Labor and Statistics: BLS includes information on American labor statistics as well as international comparisons.  Major headings covered by BLS include: Inflation Prices, Unemployment, Employment, Spending and Time Use, Productivity, Pay and Benefits and Workplace Injuries.  You can look at current and historical information about the labor market in the US.  The Bureau of Labor and Statistics also includes the Occupational Outlook Handbook, which shows projected growth or decrease in demand by industry.  This is a useful economic indicator, but also is helping for individual career research.

US Patent Office: Have a great idea and need to know if it’s been done already?  This is where you go to find out.  The patent office site allows full text and image searching (with a tiff viewer) of historic and current patents.  There are also links explaining why patent something, how patent and copyright differ and links to forms.

Department of Health:  If you need information about statistics at the state level, often those can be found on that state’s Department of Health site.

Securities and Exchange Commission: Need information on a publicly-traded company? This should be one of your first stops.  You can search by ticker symbol or company name and bring up a complete list of SEC filings including press releases, quarterly reports, prospectuses and communications and more.

The White House:  The White House is the best place to look for unbiased current legislation information as well as statements, speeches and news from the nation’s capital.  It also includes basic civics lessons on the three branches of government and their functions, The Constitution, Links to state and local government and The White House blog.

National Center for Education Statistics: If you need education statistics, then this is where you need to look.  NCES is the primary federal entity for collecting and analyzing data related to education.  You can search the site for current statistics as well as read reports and publications.

Energy Information Administration: Monthly and yearly energy forecasts, analysis and statistics, congressional reports, greenhouse gas data, energy use statistics, and international energy data.

Good luck with your research!

In Praise of the Statistical Abstract of the United States

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Students have available to them a plethora of statistical reference sources as undergraduate researchers at Bryant, but one source—the Statistical Abstract of the United States— merits special attention because of its breadth and depth of coverage.  Compiled by the Economics and Statistics Administration within the U.S. Department of Commerce, this voluminous annual library of data started with a 1878 print edition and has progressed to become a website freely available to all.  As indicated by its subtitle, The National Data Book, the Statistical Abstract is the best source to start with to locate a span of domestic or international data—from agriculture to banking; government finances to labor; science to transportation, and more.  Students can locate data going back to the original 1878 edition because all of the historical editions are scanned and posted on the website.  The data interval (monthly, quarterly, or annual) depends on the collection period of the government agency, department, bureau or private association responsible for its collection, and students need to be aware that some data, such as that from the U.S. Economic Census, is collected only every 5 years.

The unique value of the Statistical Abstract lies in the fact that for each data chart presented, students can glance at the bottom of the chart to find the original source of the data.  In most cases the original source will have a website available students can access to locate more data or information.   Appendix 1: Guide to Source of Statistics, State Statistical Abstracts, and Foreign Statistical Abstracts provides a listing of primary sources of statistical information for the United States and other countries.  U.S. government sources are listed first, followed by nongovernment sources; the original source of the data is listed, followed by its individual publications.

The Statistical Abstract of the United States makes data identification and collection easy, but after searching, if you still don’t find the statistic you need, Ask a Reference Librarian, they’ll be glad to help!