Wednesday, April 20, 2005

DOCS: Books ever published in US; total OP titles

A team of MBA students is trying to find out (for a business client who wants to start a re-publishing venture):

a) number of books ever published in the US
b) number of these now out of print
c) number of books ever copyrighted in the US
d) number of these now out of print

for different ranges of years, including:

a) pre-1923
b) all years since 1900
c) since 1985

We've used these sources, but all have problems:

a) BIP database (incomplete reporting, especially for older titles)
b) Bowker Annual (don't have all years, no OP information)
c) Publishers Trade List Annual (now ceased in UO)
d) Catalog of Copyright Entries (includes many titles not handled by book trade)
e) Copyright registrations database, 197?-date (query-only, cannot use for metrics)
f) Copyright Office anual report (includes many non-book trade titles)

Can anybody suggest a methodology that we haven't thought of?


Wednesday, April 13, 2005

Docs desk (a while back)

I have to admit this post isn't exactly about reference.

Question as asked: "How do I find this document?" (Patron has a SuDoc number.)

The number refers to a brief description, printed by the Air Force if I remember correctly, about the use of a particular machine gun.

Follow-up question: this isn't really good enough. Do you think you have one from the Army or Marine Corps?

Librarian: "Uh, we can try and find it."

(Some side discussion with Tom leads to the possibility of an Orbis loan.)

Later: Me:"So, uh, are you just back or are you just about to go?"

Patron: "Well, I'm about to go. We're getting training on this weapon, but my unit is in Portland and it's too long of a drive just to read the training manual. They suggested I come here."

Me: "It's pretty interesting they sent you to a university library. This is a pretty old gun (note: a Marine would have corrected me for calling an automatic rifle a gun. A gun is mounted on a ship or has wheels and is dragged behind a truck.), are you actually still using these?"

Patron: "Well, we're training on them because all the modern stuff is already over there."

Me: "Isn't it kind of odd to train on a gun you're not going to be using once you get there?"

Me: "Will you be able to finish the term?"

Patron: "I don't think so, but it's my last one. I need one more science class to graduate."

Me: "Isn't there some sort of a waiver if you're that close to graduation?"

Patron: "I already got turned down to waive the class--that's why I'm starting the quarter.:

Me: "You'd think there would be some sort of appeal process. There's probably some sort of committee. Would you like me to do some digging?"

Patron (resignedly): "I've already asked around."

Me: "There's always another committee. I can give you a card...."

Patron: "..."

Tuesday, April 05, 2005

Docs Desk

Question as asked: How do I do info hell for childhood obesity?

Question as mediated: How do I find primary materials like government regulations, laws, school district policies, congressional hearings etc. about childhood obesity?

(earlier): I'm looking for primary sources about Oregon's Alien Land Laws that were passed in the 1930s.

Monday, April 04, 2005

Map question

As passed on by Kaiping: "I'm looking for 1930s topo maps of Lane County."

(they don't exist as 1:24000k, which the patron asked for. There are 1:64500 maps back to the 1950s. I took a stab at it and brought out a National Forest Service Map from 1936, which seemed to excite the patron.)

What the patron wanted to know: "Where's the Willamette Hell Hole?"

Questions from the Science reference desk 4/4

Q: I need to know the fossil record and evolution of the Douglas Fir (that's Pseudotsuga menziesii, to you!). And also, how did plate techtonics effect its location?

A: I took this over from Victoria, and the student even came back later in the afternoon. There were a few things on GeoBase, GeoRef and ASP. But, we got more stuff with just the Genus name and left off the species name. But, the student seemed to be intimidated by the articles found. We encouraged them to at least look at the introductions to see what could be found.

Q: Where do I find the book that *starts* with the call number KWA....

A: I thought this was totally whack. But, I looked it up and it was there. We went to the shelf and voila! Right there. What kind of a cataloger puts THREE letters at the beginning of a call number? Huh?

Wednesday, March 16, 2005

Science questions I have answered 3/16

_Articles for a master's thesis reading list on athletic trainers (ATC) and how having a family effects what work they do and where.[they asked for me by name. a student of Susan V's in HP. Talked a lot about boolean logic, MESH and then WoS and SportDiscus for good measure. I still think they need *the* seminal work on women and work. Asked Lora, the sociologist to do a little searching for me.]
_What code do I need to make the wireless network work on my laptop? [sent them to the ITC] _Where is the photocopy room?
_I found volume 49 on the self, but where can I find vol. 50, issue 5 of the 2004 journal Cellular and Molecular Biology? [it was still on the new journal shelves]
_If the staff meeting isn't starting, can I go get lunch?

Monday, March 14, 2005

Doc Center question 3/9/05

Question (as asked): "I need to find the price of whale meat for the past few decades."

Question (as negotiated with librarian): "I need statistical indicators to measure the success (or failure) of the International Convention on the Regulation of Whaling (1946)."

1) We looked for international statistics, using Lexis Nexis Statistical and the Food & Agriculture Org's (FAO's) databases, but found them unusable, for a number of reasons.
2) We then reasoned that Congress, in its oversight role, was likely to have held hearings from time to time, assessing the effectiveness of this treaty, to which the U.S. is a party.
3) We searched for hearings in Lexis Nexis Congressional, using the name of the treaty as our search term. Bingo! There were several hearings, and upon opening them we found that various witnesses had come armed with statistical data designed to shed light on the question, Is the treaty working?

Lesson: Congressional hearings can be a useful source of quantitative information designed to assess public policies and programs.

Admin: getting started

Dear Invitees:

Couple of things:

- This is an experiment & participation is optional. Based on the Knight Ref blog experience, though, this kind of documentation can be very useful. In addition to a rudimentary knowledge base for other reference colleagues, this becomes a source for stories about the expertise of reference librarians, and the phenomenal range of topics being explored by the UO's students & faculty & the larger community we serve.

- Knight (main) Reference librarians should continue to log your questions at

- Be sure to get the name of your service desk in the title of the post, as in Annie's good example.

Thanks, & let me know if you have any questions.


Monday, March 07, 2005

Questions from the Science reference desk 3/7

_How can I find references about the volcanic explosion at Mount Shasta?
I tried the Geological Sciences study guide for encyclopedia sources....
_How can I find books I can check out about motor learning and motor control?
A keyword search in the catalog with "motor learning" in quotes did the trick.