Calling All Bird Lovers: Birds of North America Online

The Libraries have a new subscription to Birds of North America Online, a resource maintained by the Cornell Lab of Ornithology in partnership with the American Ornithologists’ Union.

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Birds of North America Online is acknowledged as the preeminent source of life history information for the over 750 species of birds that breed in the United States and Canada. Each species account includes information on systematics, distribution, identification, behavior, breeding biology, and conservation. Each species account also includes a comprehensive bibliography of research conducted on the species. The accompanying multimedia includes photos of various plumages, examples of sounds, and videos of interesting behaviors. In addition to the advantages of remote and multiple simultaneous user access, this online reference resource is continually updated to ensure that it contains the latest information.

Fake News!

Fake News:

What it is, How to Spot it and How to Kill it.

You cannot turn on the TV, radio or get online these days without hearing about the epidemic of fake news. Fake news, unlike satire, is propaganda, a hoax or other misinformation that is deliberately spread to mislead and influence people. It’s not a new concept, but recently fake news seems to be growing in pervasiveness and sophistication; making it harder to spot for the average reader.

Social media seems to be a breeding ground, but fake news is found in traditional media outlets as well. And the problem only gets bigger. In the words of Snopes.com founder David Mikkelson, “The fictions and fabrications that comprise fake news are but a subset of the larger bad news phenomenon, which also encompasses many forms of shoddy, unresearched, error-filled, and deliberately misleading reporting that do a disservice to everyone.”

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What’s being done?

Some sites like Facebook and Google are stepping up with changes. According to an article in BetaNews, Facebook has rolled out some key changes to combat the tidal wave of fake news stating, “Facebook will no longer personalize news for individual users [and] headlines and sources will be listed alongside topic headings to help give context.” And both Facebook and Google are taking steps to keep fake news sites from cashing in on their advertising networks according to the New York Times.

Slate.com has introduced a Chrome browser extension called This Is Fake which will alert you to stories Slate.com had deemed “fake”.

Another Chrome extension, the B.S. Detector flags stories found on a list of sites “likely to contain false information presented as news.”

These tools above are handy, but they rely on someone else’s opinion of what is true and reliable. Their determinations should not stand in for what you have determined to be true and reliable. Don’t put your faith in these online flags and alerts.  They should just be another factor to consider.

What can you do?

The problem isn’t just the existence of fake news, but our ability to spot it.

A recent study from Stanford University states that, “with a stunning and dismaying consistency…young people’s ability to reason about the information on the Internet can be summed up in one word: bleak.”

To sharpen your critical thinking skills, the next time you read an article put it to the

CRAAP Test.  In brief, the CRAAP Test suggests checking the following:

Currency: When was the information published or posted?  Has the information been revised or updated?

Relevance: Who is the intended audience?

Authority: Who is the author/publisher/source/sponsor?  What are the author’s credentials or organizational affiliations?  Is the author qualified to write on the topic?  Is there contact information, such as a publisher or email address?

Accuracy: Where does the information come from?  Is the information supported by evidence?  Has the information been reviewed or refereed?   Are there spelling, grammar or typographical errors?

Purpose:  What is the purpose of the information? Is it to inform, teach, sell, entertain or persuade?  Do the authors/sponsors make their intentions or purpose clear?

Another great source of tips on spotting fake news is FactCheck.org

Perhaps the hardest part of the fact-checking process is examining your own bias.  If a story speaks so directly to your own views that it seems too good to be true-it just might be. Remember, every human being has a bias. Full disclosure: as the author of this article I have a bias. I’m a librarian so my job in life is to teach people to think critically and evaluate information. I am not impartial to this issue of critically examining what you read and hear. I am actively trying to get you to do it.

Stopping Fake News

Lastly, think before you share.  The only way to stop the spread of fake news is to stop spreading fake news.  Seems kind of obvious right? It’s so easy to automatically hit “Like” or “Share” or re-tweet something you read before checking it out.  But when you do that you are contributing to the glut of malarkey on the internet that makes it harder to find the good stuff.  It’s already hard enough to wade through the cesspool without people raising the high water line.

But don’t take my word for it. Check out the sources I linked to.  Make up your own mind. There is no substitute for your own eyes and brain.

Never shut off your brain.

 

Image credits: https://firstdraftnews.com/how-to-stop-fake-news-on-facebook-without-the-flags/

 

http://www.snopes.com/2016/01/14/fake-news-sites/

 

24-hour Study Room in Scholes

It’s been a long time, but the 24-Hour Study Room is now open at Scholes!

The 24-Hour Study Room is a newly renovated and improved space, created in response to student requests and feedback earlier this year. This area is designed to be somewhere students can go at any time of day or night to study, work on papers or projects, print assignments, or generally have a quiet space that’s not their rooms.

The renovation project was led by Mechele Romanchock, our User Services Librarian, who joined the team just this spring. Mechele solicited ideas and feedback from students by setting out a whiteboard in the Scholes lobby for several weeks, and recording the suggestions our patrons shared with us.

One of the biggest areas of improvement to the room is in its technology. The room is now equipped with PCs, each of which features MS Office and Solidworks. It also has strong wireless internet for those who prefer to use their own laptops or devices. A black and white printer stands ready for all your late-night (or early morning, or mid-afternoon) printing needs.

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There are also resources for those who prefer to work offline, including a group study area with a whiteboard.

In order to make sure both the students using the facilities and the facilities themselves are safe and secure, the 24-Hour Study Room is accessible via a keycode, which is available only to current AU students. Students must go to the front desk at Scholes to get the code, and present their student ID at the time. Alfred University Security has also kindly agreed to add the Study Room to their regular rounds, meaning a security officer will be by at regular intervals to make sure everything’s ok.

The door (and its keypad) are on the ground floor of Scholes, facing Pine Street and Harder Hall. We hope you’ll all come make use of this great new space!

Streaming video from the libraries

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Did you know that the Alfred University Libraries provide access to online videos?

Kanopy‘s collection includes thousands of award- winning documentaries and feature films, including many foreign films.

The collection includes films by leading producers, such as the Criterion Collection, PBS, Kino Lorber, New Day Films, The Great Courses, California Newsreel, and hundreds more.

Click here to start watching.

To find to Kanopy in the future, choose the Databases A-Z option on the Herrick or Scholes library homepage.

 We hope you enjoy the films!

Post-election Statement to AU Students from AU Librarians

This was sent out over email before Thanksgiving, but we wanted to make sure it would reach everyone.

Dear Students,

In the wake of a campaign season that has exposed deep divisions in our country, the Alfred University Librarians reaffirm our role in serving and supporting every member of our community.

We strongly endorse the following statement issued by the American Libraries Association:

“During times like these, our nation’s 120,000 public, academic, school, and special libraries are invaluable allies inspiring understanding and community healing. Libraries provide a safe place for individuals of all ages and backgrounds and for difficult discussions on social issues. Our nation’s libraries serve all community members, including people of color, immigrants, people with disabilities, and the most vulnerable in our communities, offering services and educational resources that transform communities, open minds, and promote inclusion and diversity.

As an association representing these libraries, librarians, and library workers, the American Library Association believes that the struggle against racism, prejudice, stereotyping, and discrimination is central to our mission. As we have throughout our 140-year-long history, we will continue to support efforts to abolish intolerance and cultural invisibility, stand up for all the members of the communities we serve, and promote understanding and inclusion through our work.”

[Full statement: https://americanlibrariesmagazine.org/blogs/the-scoop/statement-libraries-association-diversity-inclusion/]

It is the goal of the libraries to support all of our patrons including those who may feel vulnerable at this time. We invite you to contact either of the libraries’ directors to let us know how we might best meet your needs.

Mark Smith, Scholes Library, msmith@alfred.edu, 607-871-2494
Steve Crandall, Herrick Library, fcrandall@alfred.edu, 607-871-2987

— The Alfred University Librarians

AU Libraries mark Open Access week

During the week of October 24-28, the Alfred University Libraries celebrated Open Access Week with a series of SUNY-sponsored webinars. The webinars highlighted the potential of this movement to benefit libraries and researchers.

What is Open Access?
Open Access is the free, immediate, online availability of research articles, combined with the rights to use these articles fully in the digital environment. This contrasts with the dominant scholarly communication system that puts research behind publisher “pay walls” and asks authors to relinquish rights to their own writing.

Why does Open Access matter?
The current system of scholarly publishing puts large financial burdens on libraries and severely restricts access to scholarly research. Faculty contribute research articles to scholarly journals for free, signing away their copyright in the process, and libraries must then buy back this content through annual subscription fees that have grown by as much as 400% in recent years.

As illustrated in the chart below, some major scientific publishers are realizing profits that exceed the returns of successful companies like Google and Apple:

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What can you do to support the Open Access movement?
Authors can take steps to preserve their rights. To learn more, watch this very informative webinar on “Understanding and Protecting Your Rights” by Jill Cirasella of the City University of New York.

How do the AU Libraries plan to improve access to faculty and student research?
You may have heard of AURA, Alfred University’s institutional repository. AURA is designed to provide access and to ensure the long-term preservation of documents produced at Alfred University, including faculty and student research.

The Open Access movement is an important piece of the puzzle, because many publishers place restrictions on what faculty can do with their own work, making it more difficult for libraries to archive copies locally.

The more faculty and students learn about their own rights, and take concrete steps to retain those rights, the easier it will be for libraries like ours to ensure long-term access to the intellectual output of our campus.

-Ellen Bahr, Information Systems Librarian, Herrick Library

Get a Clue at AU

Was it Colonel Mustard in the library with the lead pipe? Possibly! It was certainly in the library, at any rate.

The AU Libraries are getting into the Halloween spirit this year with a Clue-themed library scavenger hunt. The six Clue “weapons” will be hidden in the two campus libraries, and everyone who finds all six wins some tasty prizes, and the chance to win even bigger.

How it works:

  • Download the clue sheet online or collect it at either library
  • Alone or with a group, use the clue sheet to find all six clues in the libraries–feel free to ask librarians or library staff for help!
  • Each time you find a clue, take one of the “weapon” slips from the envelope
  • When you’ve collected all six, take a selfie of yourself(ves) with all six “weapons” slips and post it to our Facebook or Instagram pages
  • Show the FB/Instagram post at the front desk of either library to collect your prize and be entered in the drawing for one of 3 $25 gift cards
  • PROFIT

How to share your selfies with us:

Clue Sheet:
cluesandinstructions

The clue sheet can also be downloaded here: https://www.dropbox.com/s/s0glgwa0d1e7qi6/GetaClueCluesandInstructions.pdf?dl=0

The scavenger hunt will be running from November 7th-18th, but drop by the libraries on Halloween to meet some of the characters and learn more about it! You can also get all the latest updates by following us on our social media:

Scholes Library Facebook   Herrick Library Facebook   AU Libraries Instagram   AU Libraries Twitter