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So WHAT if you know all the answers? A cautionary tale in information seeking behavior among older teens:

Interview with high-school junior Jane Doe about general and specific “information seeking behavior” at an urban public library. Place: Quincy, Massacusetts.

Demographics: Like 80% of Quincy residents, Jane Doe is white. At $50,000 dollars a year, her family is median income. Like 49% of the City population, the Does own their own home. Jane is a (self-described) representative of Quincy students who use the public library for recreational reading and for research assignments. Jane has a part time job as food server.

General Library use:
Jane Doe uses the Thomas Crane library or one of its branches about once every two weeks. The last time she used the library was last week, when she logged onto the library databases from her home to see if she could find a newspaper article about the Quincy Tide Mill. That database query was unusual.

“Mostly,” she said, “I go to the Library just for pleasure. I like to check out the new books-detective and romance fiction. Sometimes the poetry section. I like the magazines.” Jane will also browse through the collections of CDs and DVDs, “but,” she said, “I would never go into the Library to seek out a CD or DVD. They don’t have what you’d call a sprawling collection of the kind of music I like.” (rock and alternative).

When it comes to books or research, it’s a different story. The public library is the first stop if Jane wants or needs a specific book, or information from books on a specific topic. “I can almost always find what I am looking for. The computers [OPACS] are easy to use. I usually know the title or author or a keyword. Once I find a call number I generally browse in that area [of the stacks].”

Did she find the newspaper article she was looking for in the databases? No. “I don’t really like databases,” Jane said. “They seem like they’d be more helpful than they really are.” Keyword searches “are like a shot in the dark. If I search on the Internet, I get something specific, but the databases are full of essays and articles that seem really tangential. I have a lot of homework. I don’t have time to like, read fifteen articles just so I can find maybe 15 sentences I could even use.”

The one library service Jane doesn’t use is the Reference Department. In fact, this high-schooler did not make a distinction between the staff at the Library circulation desk and the reference librarians in the department one floor above circulation. To her-everyone on the staff is a “Librarian”.

“Sometimes librarians can be kind of bitchy,” she said. “Like that horrible woman at library who told us we couldn’t sit at a table because the table was for adults and there weren’t even any adults in the Library.” Jane does not seem to take this personally. Overall, she wouldn’t say librarians are particularly friendly-or unfriendly. Patrons her age, she said, ‘get looked at as a nuisance or something right off the bat. No matter WHAT you’re doing, it’s like you could be told not to do something at any moment.”

Jane is also certain that her own information seeking skills are at least as good as those of the staff. “I know how to look up books,” she says. “Any question I could possibly ask a librarian I can do myself.” She does not generally use the library website because “if you’re using that, you’re probably looking at databases-and I’d rather just use the Internet.”

Library programs don’t appeal to Jane. “I feel like I’d be taking another class and I already take enough classes.”

On a scale of 1 to 10, Jane rates her overall satisfaction with the Library a 10. “I’m perfectly satisfied,” she said. “It usually has the book I’m looking for. If I can’t find it, I can get it from another library.” She rates her satisfaction with Library staff at 7-8. “I don’t need much help,” she says. As for the databases—they get a 4. Jane says she never uses her school library: “Not even to hang out.”

Jane’s Specific search: School assignment: Write a paper about the interaction between northeastern Indian tribes and the early settlers.
Jane didn’t like this topic. “It just seemed stupid. Like didn’t we do that in elementary school?” She came to the Library and spent about two hours researching the question. First, she used the OPACs to find print material. “I looked up books about Indian culture,” she said. “Most of them were obnoxiously outdated. Maybe not in the information, but the way they were written.”

Did you go to the reference department? I asked. And look for or ask for any bibliographies on your topic? Jane did not ask any reference librarians for help; nor did she use the reference collection. “I was pretty sure there was nothing librarians could do that I couldn’t. And I’d rather do it at my own pace. Sometimes when you ask a question, they act annoyed or like you’re really stupid.”

Jane did try to use the databases. “I found some abstracts,” she said. “But there was too much stuff.” When she used Google, she said she had better luck: “You type in a series of words-like Indians and settlers and culture, and you get something that relates to what you’re looking for. Then you can narrow it down. It’s more specific.”

Jane said she felt frustrated both with the assignment (“which wasn’t the Library’s fault”), and the variety of sources she found at the Library. “I knew I needed book stuff,” she said, “but mostly I got my information off the Internet.” According to Jane, she read a “couple sets of facts” then “sort of made up some conclusion.”

But the library trip was worth it: “I had plenty of book titles to put in my bibliography.”

Jessie’s Step by Step:
Finding 8-10 Journals in English Literature for academic and larger public libraries.

First, I procrastinated because I am scared of Reference Inquiries.

Second, I had to decide whether “English Literature” meant journals about works in English written by British writers, or journals about works in English-period.

Doesn’t matter if the writer falls– for example– into the American Literature subcategory. Britannica and Columbia encyclopedias say: English equals British only. Wikipedia, and the mix of articles in various literary magazines I browsed at Simmons’ Library, suggest that English Literature is something of a mash-up–with emphasis on British and American writers.

But I had that cheat sheet from class—about how to look up titles of English Literature journals in Balay and Walford. I figured if I could just FIND Balay and Walford, my presentation would spring fully formed out of those pages.

The best laid plans and all that.

Walford (the big red book) and Balay (the dog-eared blue book) have plenty of listings for print resources on English Literature. Everything from language to quotations and criticism and collections, all broken down by geographical area. But neither has much on periodicals.

Cited in WalfordBritish Literary Magazine by A Sullivan turned out to be a multi volume reference work profiling the most influential British magazines from the Edwardian period through the Modern Age. American Literary Magazines by Chielens is a history of American Literary Magazines.

Fascinating-I’m sure, but neither was what I was looking for: a recommended acquisition list, with descriptive critiques, of English literature journals for an academic or public library.

Enter The Oxford Guide to Library Research by Thomas Mann: “To find out which periodicals are considered the best or most important in their subject fields, use [Bowker's] Magazines for Libraries, [compiled by Cheryl LaGuardia].” ($240)

Before leaving Walford and Balay– let me say I did not take Allen’s Reference course. If I had, I probably would have been able to find the information I was looking for in those two sources. Or I would have been able to use them more effectively as a starting point. If at the end of this, anyone can tell me where I went wrong, or how I might have used those books differently–I’d appreciate it.

That said–Simmons has the latest copy of Magazines for Libraries. My list of more like 14 publications is taken directly from the 2007 15th edition.

Magazines seems like a good reference tool. It provides you a list of basic periodicals and basic indexes and abstracts for academic libraries. These core recommendations are followed by short reviews and descriptions of those and other titles, along with notes on which journals are available in the Big Three full text online services: Jstor, Project Muse, or Literature online.

As for what constitutes “English Literature”: “Most journals listed here cover literature in the English language and world literatures in translation, with literature from the US and Great Britain most generously represented.”

Magazines offers you subject alternative headings like Africa: African American; Fiction: Europe, if you want to look up magazines with a different focus. Each of the journals in this Literature section focus on criticism, interpretation, and analysis of literary works.

Not included: Journals devoted to individual writers, Like Shakespeare and Chaucer. According to Magazines, narrow focus journals are best selected based on the needs and audience of a particular library.

Magazines also lists several electronic-only journals. I’ve included a few of these with links to the websites. Since they are available online and more likely than some of these other print titles to come up in an Internet search, I am not going to describe them in any detail. Check them out if you want.

Note: I felt handicapped by the fact I could only see a few of any of these journals in the flesh so to speak. Simmons subscribes to all the “basic periodicals”, as well as many of the others included in Best Magazines. But browsing piecemeal online, even reading snippets of articles or looking at tables of contents-it’s like the blind men trying to describe an elephant. You just don’t get the whole picture.

Top Picks: Basic Periodicals for academic libraries

“American Literature”
Quarterly Academic Journal
Duke University Press
Description: Features articles dealing with American literature, writers and poets, book reviews and lists of recently published books dealing with literary criticism.
Publisher URL: http://dukeupress.edu/journals/index.shtml
Review: “Major journal in its field. Scope is broad, covering all time periods and genres. A valuable and respected Journal for larger academic and public libraries.”

“Comparative Literature”
Urbana, University of Illinois Press
Available at Simmons in periodical format only; in library use
Review: “CL is the official journal of the the American Comparative Literature Association, and is the oldest US journal in the area of comparative literature. Addresses important issues of literary history, the history of ideas, critical theory, and literary links between authors within and beyond the western tradition.”

“Contemporary Literature”
Periodicals as well as eJournal.
From Project Muse:
“…published the first articles on Thomas Pynchon and Susan Howe, and the first interviews with Margaret Drabble and Don DeLillo. Where will the field go next? Contemporary Literature leads the way with in-depth interviews with significant writers, broad-ranging articles written by leaders in the field and book reviews of important critical studies.
Review: “Articles tend to emphasize the relationships of texts to historical, cultural, or theoretical contexts...An important journal for larger academic and public libraries.”

“Essays in Criticism”
EJournal
Publisher: Oxford University Press
From Project Muse:
“…Founded in 1951, by F. W. Bateson, Essays in Criticism soon achieved world-wide circulation, and is today regarded as one of Britain’s most distinguished journals of literary criticism. Essays in Criticism covers the whole field of English Literature from the time of Chaucer to the present day. The journal maintains that originality in interpretation must be allied to the best scholarly standards. Moreover, whilst always pursuing new directions and responding to new developments, Essays in Criticism has kept a balance between the constructive and the sceptical, giving the journal particular value at a time when criticism has become so diversified. In addition to the articles, Essays in Criticism has lengthy and searching book reviews, and the ‘Critical Opinion’ section offers topical discussion on a wide range of literary issues.
Review: “An essential journal for academic libraries; and excellent choice for larger public libraries.”

“Modern Fiction Studies”
Ejournal
Publisher: The Johns Hopkins University Press
From Project Muse:
“..Modern Fiction Studies publishes engaging articles on prominent works of modern and contemporary fiction. Emphasizing historical, theoretical, and interdisciplinary approaches, the journal encourages a dialogue between fiction and theory, publishing work that offers new theoretical insights, clarity of style, and completeness of argument. Modern Fiction Studies alternates general issues dealing with a wide range of texts with special issues focused on single topics or individual writers. Recent special issues have included “Working-Class Fiction” (Spring 2001), “Gothic and Modernism” (Fall 2000), and “South African Fiction after Apartheid” (Spring 2000)
Review: “This well respected journal focuses on analysis of prominent works of modern and contemporary fiction. This is a major journal in the field, and it is recommended for all academic and larger public libraries.”

“Nineteenth Century Literature”
EJournal
Publisher University of California Press
From JStor:
“…Scholars of literary history and theory turn to Nineteenth-Century Literature for the newest research and thought on all English-language writers of the nineteenth century. First published in 1945 as “The Trollopian”, and later as “Nineteenth-Century Fiction”, the journal has earned a legendary reputation for innovative scholarship, scrupulous editing, and distinguished book reviews. Articles focus on a broad spectrum of significant figures in fiction, philosophy, and criticism such as Austen, Carlyle, Dickens, Thackeray, the Brontes, Tennyson, Browning, Arnold, Emerson, Hawthorne, Thoreau, Whitman, Twain, and Henry James. Every issue offers 150 pages of important articles, a convenient section of article abstracts, review essays, and an annotated bibliography of recent books published in the field of nineteenth-century literature.
Review: “Each issue contains four or five articles of approximately 20 pages. A solid journal, NCL is recommended for medium and large academic libraries as well as public libraries with strong literature collections.”

Publication of the Modern Language Association or “PMLA

Periodical and EJournal
Publisher MLA
Published 6 times a year.

Sample table of contents:
449 From Work to Conversation: Writing and Citizenship in a Global Age
Reinaldo Laddaga
464 “Your Alabaster in This Porcelain”: Judith Gautier’s Le livre de jade
Pauline Yu
483 “Have You Ever Seen a Shrunken Head?”: The Early Modern Roots of Ecstatic Truth in Werner Herzog’s Fitzcarraldo
Richard John Ascárate
502 The Ethics and Practice of Lemony Snicket: Adolescence and Generation X
Laurie Langbauer
522 Allusion
Gregory Machacek–the changing profession
537 The Entangled Self: Genre Bondage in the Age of the Memoir
Nancy K. Miller
549 On the Horizontal: Women Writing on Writing Women
Mary Ann Caws
558 What Is New Formalism?
Marjorie Levinson

Review: “An important journal that strives to publish articles of interest to scholars and teachers of literature and language. PMLA is known for its rigorous editorial standards, and it is one of the most frequently cited journals in its field. Core journal. Recommended for all libraries.”

“The Review of Contemporary Fiction”
Publisher Illinois State University
Periodicals
E-resource
From LION:
“…The Review of Contemporary Fiction publishes overview essays on the careers and work of innovative contemporary fiction writers, especially those who have received little scholarly attention.
Review: “Each issue focuses on an author or group of authors and includes interviews, excerpts from works in progress, critical essays, and bibliographies. This is a rich and multi-textured journal that should reach a wide audience in both academic and public libraries.

“Speculum”
Publisher: Medieval Academy of America
EJournal
From JStor:
“…Speculum is the oldest U.S. journal devoted exclusively to the Middle Ages. The chronological boundaries of the medieval period are defined as approximately A.D. 500-1500. The primary geographic focus of the journal is on Western Europe, but Byzantine, Hebrew, Arabic, and Slavic studies are also included. There are no restrictions as to subject matter: the journal publishes articles and book reviews on any and all aspects of the Middle Ages, including art, history, literature, philosophy and theology, music, science, law, and economics. All scholarly methodologies and approaches are welcome.
Review: “Approximately four 20-30 page essays appear in every issue, but the bulk of each issue is the many succinct but rigorous book reviews. Well known for the quality of its articles, this journal is important for academic and public libraries that support the study of medieval literature and culture.”

“Studies in English Literature 1500-1900″
Publisher: John Hopkins University Press
EJournal
From Project Muse:
“…SEL focuses on four fields of British literature in rotating, quarterly issues: English Renaissance, Tudor and Stuart Drama, Restoration and Eighteenth Century, and Nineteenth Century. The editors select learned, readable papers that contribute significantly to the understanding of British literature from 1500 to 1900. SEL is well known for the commissioned omnibus review of recent studies in the field that is included in each issue. In a single volume, readers might find an argument for attributing a previously unknown work to Shakespeare or de-attributing a famous work from Milton, a study of the connections between class and genre in the Restoration Theater, an interdisciplinary exploration of the art of the miniature and Fielding’ s novels, or a theoretical exposition of the “material sublime” in Romantic poetry written by women.
Review: “Each issue has a focus: articles in the winter issue look at the English Renaissance, articles in the spring issue look at Tudor and Stuart Drama, articles in the summer issue are about the Restoration and the 18th century, and articles in the autumn issue cover the 19th century. The journal is known for publishing engaging, accessible articles by both seasoned scholars and younger faculty and graduate students.

“Victorian Studies”
Publisher: Indiana University Press
Periodicals
EJournal
From Project Muse:
“…Victorian Studies, which began publication in 1956, is devoted to the study of English culture of the Victorian period. It includes interdisciplinary articles on comparative literature, social and political history, and the histories of education, philosophy, fine arts, economics, law, and science.
Review: A ” first rate quarterly journal. Most issues will contain three or four major essays (25-35 pages), a “Comments and Queries” section, and notes on contributors. The Journal is particularly strong on book reviews, and genrally includes reviews of 20-30 titles. An indispensable journal, recommended for all academic and larger public libraries.”

“World Literature Today”
Publisher: University of Oklahoma Press
Quarterly
Periodicals
EJournal
From LION:
“…The journal is now in its seventy-seventh year of uninterrupted publication, the second-oldest such literary periodical in the United States, with every intention of continuing its proven mission to serve students, writers, and general readers. World Literature Today brings you the whole world in each issue. It has interviews and original poetry and fiction from around the globe, lively essays on writers and regional trends, authors on books that changed their lives, travel writing, a column on children’s literature, and coverage of controversies and conferences.
Review: “..continues to be the best in the field in covering literature and criticism of contemporary writing around the globe. Issues have a bout a dozen articles, including critical essays on adult and children’s literature, fiction, poetry, travel essays, interviews with writers, and reviews. The full coverage print version is a must for academic and large public libraries.”

Sample Cover and Table of Contents July/August 2007:

In addition to these titles, I’ve listed a few other journals that did not make this first cut, but are recommended for larger public libraries.

ARIEL: Formerly Review of English Literature
Publisher: University of Calgary
Refereed and indexed
Audience Academic, but recommended as “important publication for academic libraries and larger public libraries with strong literature collections.”
Review:ARIEL focuses not on traditional criticism of a single literary text, but instead has a broader outlook, exploring for example “configurations of colonial power and discourses.”

Calyx: a journal of art and literature by women
Audience: general and academic
Indexed
Review: “This long established literary review is known for publishing high quality work and for nurturing and developing writers (eg Barbara Kingsolver, and Julia Alvarez.) Received 1998 Pushcart Prize.”

ELH (English Literary History)
Johns Hopkins University Press
Available online
Indexed
Review: “A long time standard in the field, ELH focuses primarily on major works of English and American Literature with an emphasis on the Renaissance through the 19th century. An indispensable, if traditional, journal for academic and larger public libraries.”

English Literary Renaissance
Tri quarterly
Review and Claim to Fame: “Produced at the University of Massachusetts and is well respected for its articles on Tudor and early Stuart literature. Suitable for medium-sized and larger academic libraries.”

Journal of Modern Literature
Project Muse: “More than 20 years after its founding, it remains the most important scholarly journal in its field. In recent years, its coverage has expanded to include contemporary writing as well as literature other than English and American, and it now addresses all literature written in the 20th century.”
Review: “The journal of record for modern literature, JML is essential for all academic and public libraries.”

Modern Language Review
At Simmons as periodical and online resource
From IngentaConnect:
“All contributions are in English, and each section is edited by a noted scholar in the field, under the overall supervision of the General Editor. Articles are chosen not only for their scholarly worth and originality but also, as far as possible, for their potential interest to a wider readership in other disciplines.”
Review: “This flagship journal of the Modern Humanities Research Association, the British equivalent of the MLA, MLR focuses on medieval and modern European literature, language, culture, and cinema with occasional coverage of contemporary authors. This is one of the oldest and most respected journals in the field and is recommended for all academic libraries and larger public libraries.”

Electronic Journals:
CLC Web: a WWWeb Journal.

Review: CLCWeb: Comparative Literature and Culture, published by the Perdue University ress and the Perdue University Libraries, is a refereed quarterly that takes a broad view of comparative cultural studies. The website provides useful links to bibliographies and research materials, a directory of scholars in the field, and related web pages.

Early Modern Literary Studies: a journal of sixteenth and seventeenth century English Literature.
Review: MLS is a rich online resource for scholars of early modern English literature. A solid free online journal.

Renaissance Forum: an electronic journal of of early-modern literary and historical studies.
Review: an interdisciplinary journal that specializes in early-modern English literary and historical studies. Site offers links to resources of further interest. A respectable free journal.”

Romanticism on the Net:
Review: “Published by the university of Montreal, Romanticism on the Net is a quarterly journal devoted to Romantic studies. RoN website also includes information about and from conferences, links to associations of interest to Romanticists, and a select list of other electronic journals in the field.

___________________________

Coda: So WHAT if you know all the answers? A cautionary tale in information seeking behavior among older teens:

Interview with high-school junior Jane Doe about general and specific “information seeking behavior” at an urban public library. Place: Quincy, Massacusetts.

Disclaimer: what you are about to read is a true story.
Demographics: Like 80% of Quincy residents, Jane Doe is white. At $50,000 dollars a year, her family is median income. Like 49% of the City population, the Does own their own home. Jane is a (self-described) representative of Quincy students who use the public library for recreational reading and for research assignments. Jane has a part time job as food server.

General Library use:
Jane Doe uses the Thomas Crane library or one of its branches about once every two weeks. The last time she used the library was last week, when she logged onto the library databases from her home to see if she could find a newspaper article about the Quincy Tide Mill. That database query was unusual.

“Mostly,” she said, “I go to the Library just for pleasure. I like to check out the new books-detective and romance fiction. Sometimes the poetry section. I like the magazines.” Jane will also browse through the collections of CDs and DVDs, “but,” she said, “I would never go into the Library to seek out a CD or DVD. They don’t have what you’d call a sprawling collection of the kind of music I like.” (rock and alternative).

When it comes to books or research, it’s a different story. The public library is the first stop if Jane wants or needs a specific book, or information from books on a specific topic. “I can almost always find what I am looking for. The computers [OPACS] are easy to use. I usually know the title or author or a keyword. Once I find a call number I generally browse in that area [of the stacks].”

Did she find the newspaper article she was looking for in the databases? No. “I don’t really like databases,” Jane said. “They seem like they’d be more helpful than they really are.” Keyword searches “are like a shot in the dark. If I search on the Internet, I get something specific, but the databases are full of essays and articles that seem really tangential. I have a lot of homework. I don’t have time to like, read fifteen articles just so I can find maybe 15 sentences I could even use.”

The one library service Jane doesn’t use is the Reference Department. In fact, this high-schooler did not make a distinction between the staff at the Library circulation desk and the reference librarians in the department one floor above circulation. To her-everyone on the staff is a “Librarian”.

“Sometimes librarians can be kind of bitchy,” she said. “Like that horrible woman at library who told us we couldn’t sit at a table because the table was for adults and there weren’t even any adults in the Library.” Jane does not seem to take this personally. Overall, she wouldn’t say librarians are particularly friendly-or unfriendly. Patrons her age, she said, ‘get looked at as a nuisance or something right off the bat. No matter WHAT you’re doing, it’s like you could be told not to do something at any moment.”

Jane is also certain that her own information seeking skills are at least as good as those of the staff. “I know how to look up books,” she says. “Any question I could possibly ask a librarian I can do myself.” She does not generally use the library website because “if you’re using that, you’re probably looking at databases-and I’d rather just use the Internet.”

Library programs don’t appeal to Jane. “I feel like I’d be taking another class and I already take enough classes.”

On a scale of 1 to 10, Jane rates her overall satisfaction with the Library a 10. “I’m perfectly satisfied,” she said. “It usually has the book I’m looking for. If I can’t find it, I can get it from another library.” She rates her satisfaction with Library staff at 7-8. “I don’t need much help,” she says. As for the databases—they get a 4. Jane says she never uses her school library: “Not even to hang out.”

Jane’s Specific search: School assignment: Write a paper about the interaction between northeastern Indian tribes and the early settlers.
Jane didn’t like this topic. “It just seemed stupid. Like didn’t we do that in elementary school?” She came to the Library and spent about two hours researching the question. First, she used the OPACs to find print material. “I looked up books about Indian culture,” she said. “Most of them were obnoxiously outdated. Maybe not in the information, but the way they were written.”

Did you go to the reference department? I asked. And look for or ask for any bibliographies on your topic? Jane did not ask any reference librarians for help; nor did she use the reference collection. “I was pretty sure there was nothing librarians could do that I couldn’t. And I’d rather do it at my own pace. Sometimes when you ask a question, they act annoyed or like you’re really stupid.”

Jane did try to use the databases. “I found some abstracts,” she said. “But there was too much stuff.” When she used Google, she said she had better luck: “You type in a series of words-like Indians and settlers and culture, and you get something that relates to what you’re looking for. Then you can narrow it down. It’s more specific.”

Jane said she felt frustrated both with the assignment (“which wasn’t the Library’s fault”), and the variety of sources she found at the Library. “I knew I needed book stuff,” she said, “but mostly I got my information off the Internet.” According to Jane, she read a “couple sets of facts” then “sort of made up some conclusion.”

But the library trip was worth it: “I had plenty of book titles to put in my bibliography.”

By Katherine Boehret

Some fascinating results can be produced when you scour the Internet using a giant search engine like Google’s. You can discover the seedy past of a creep you might have otherwise dated, find directions to the nearest Thai restaurant, or instantly learn how many inches are in a mile (63,360).

But searching for video, the hottest content on the Web right now, isn’t easy. Sure, you can go to Google’s popular YouTube site and look for clips stored there. But that won’t find videos from other sites, especially copyrighted clips that YouTube doesn’t offer or has removed from its site.

This week, I tested four video-search engines, including revamped entrant Truveo.com, a smartly designed site that combs through Web video from all sorts of sources ranging from YouTube to broadcasting companies. Truveo, a subsidiary of AOL, is stepping out on its own again after spending three years in the background, powering video search for the likes of Microsoft, Brightcove and AOL itself. It unveiled its new site last week, though I’ve been playing with it for a few weeks now.

Truveo organizes search results by grouping clips together and spreading them out in a smart grid-like display.

This Web site, http://www.truveo.com1, operates under the idea that users don’t merely search for video by entering specific words or phrases, like they would when starting a regular Web search. Instead, Truveo thinks that people don’t often know what they’re looking for in online video searches, and browsing through content helps to retrieve unexpected and perhaps unintended (but welcome) results. I found that, compared with other sites, Truveo provided the most useful interface, which showed five times as many results per page as the others and encouraged me to browse other clips.

In effect, Truveo combines the browsing experience of a YouTube with the best Web-wide video-search engine I’ve seen.

The other video-search sites I tested included Google’s (www.google.com/video2) and Yahoo’s (www.video.yahoo.com3), as well as Blinkx.com (www.blinkx.com4). None of these three sites do much to encourage browsing; by default they display as many as 10 results per search on one page and display the clips in a vertical list, forcing you to scroll down to see them all. The majority of clips watched on Truveo, Yahoo and Blinkx direct you to an external link to play the video on its original content provider’s site — which takes an extra step and often involves watching an advertisement.

Searching on Google video almost always displays only content from Google and its famously acquired site, YouTube. The giant search company is working on improving its search results to show a better variety of content providers. Still, the upside here is that clips play right away in the search window rather than through a link to the site where the video originated. YouTube works this way because its clips are user-generated — either made by users and posted to the site or copied from original host sites and posted to YouTube, saving a trip to the original content provider’s site.

Yahoo’s video-searching page looks clean and uncluttered, with a large box for entering terms or phrases with which to conduct searches. Two options — labeled “From Yahoo! Video” and “From Other Sites” — help you sort results in one step. But the clips that I found on Yahoo video seemed less relevant, overall, and included more repeated clips. One search for the Discovery Channel’s “Man Versus Wild” show returned seven clips, four of which were identical.

Blinkx, a three-year-old site, distinguishes itself with its “wall” feature — a visually stimulating grid of moving video thumbnails. It is like Truveo in that it also works behind the scenes for bigger companies, including Ask.com. Blinkx says it uses speech recognition and analysis to understand what the video is about, while the others stick to text-based searching. And this seemed to hold true: I rarely got results that were completely off-base using Blinkx.

But Truveo’s focus on browsing and searching worked well. It repeatedly displayed spot-on results when I was looking for a video about a specific subject, or provided a variety of other videos that were similar, requiring less overall effort on my part. Its most useful feature is the way it shows results: by sorting clips into neatly organized buckets, or categories, such as Featured Channels, Featured Tags and Featured Categories. These buckets spread out on the page in a gridlike manner, giving your eye more to see in a quick glance.

This grid also lets you change the direction of your search quickly. Tabs at the top of the page can re-sort your results according to Most Viewed Now, Today, This Week, This Month or of All Time. Three more tabs rearrange the results into Highest Rated, Most Recent (my personal favorite) and Most Relevant.

The other video-search sites offered fewer details, overall, about each clip. This meant that I had to waste time opening and watching clips to discern whether they were what I wanted to see.

I searched for a variety of things, including a new television series called “Mad Men” on AMC that has me hooked. The show is still just gaining popularity, so I was curious to see what my video search would return. A single Truveo search can display as many as 51 results on a page, and the bucket organizational system placed all of these results into a layout that didn’t look overwhelming. Of the four sites, Truveo had the highest number of clips related to the actual television show: 32 out of 51. On the other sites, all of which show 10 results per page, all of the Blinkx clips, five of the Google clips and eight of the Yahoo clips were relevant.

With the exception of a few clips, Truveo search results include a thumbnail image of each video, its title, channel and category, and a line about how old the clip is and how many times it has been viewed.

The top 15 results — grouped into three columns of five clips each — feature slightly larger thumbnail images, and moving a cursor over one of these larger images shows a brief summary of that clip.

If your search generates numerous relevant clips on a well-known Web site, a special bucket is created at the top right of Truveo’s results page that will hold just that site’s clips. For example, if you were to search an MTV show that’s popular enough to have a lot of clips available directly through the MTV.com Web site, a bucket is designated just for MTV.com clips.

Truveo is considering selling this prominent bucket as an advertisement in the future, but for now, no ads appear on the video-search site.

With so many videos added to the Web each day, the search for online clips can be fruitless and tiresome. Truveo starts users out with enough relevant clips right away so that they can more easily find what they’re looking for. And its organizational buckets encourage browsing and, therefore, entertainment — one of the reasons for Web video’s popularity.

Truveo takes a refreshing look at video search, and as long as you have the patience to travel to sites where content originated, you’ll find it useful. It stands apart from other search engines in looks and functionality.

The Virtual Stroll–WSJ

August 14, 2007 Lee Gomes

The Internet has changed everything, including a casual stroll down the street, something that, for increasingly large parts of the country, you now don’t need to get out of bed to do.

Google Maps has a new feature called Street View, which contains block-by-block photographs that you can view one after another, just as though you were going for a walk. The service debuted in May and last week expanded to two more cities. Stephen Chau, product manager for Street View, gives a tour of the new way to take tours.

What exactly is Street View?

In the past, we’ve shown aerial imagery in Google Maps; this is an extension of that. Street View allows users to view and navigate with 360-degree street-level imagery. This allows users to understand an area in a way they couldn’t possibly before.

How does it work?

Click the Street View button in the upper right-hand corner of Google Maps, and you’ll see camera icons in the cities where we have coverage: San Francisco, Los Angeles, San Diego, Houston, Denver, Las Vegas, Miami, Orlando and New York. Zoom in, and you’ll see blue highlights over roads where we have imagery available. Click on any of these blue streaks, and you will be looking at a view of that location. You can rotate 360 degrees and move from one panorama to another. You’re virtually moving down the street.

It sounds cool, but is there any practical use for it?

Users are finding very interesting uses for this imagery. For example, you can augment driving directions with images, previewing the route before you actually drive it. If Google Maps is telling me to make a right-hand turn at an intersection, I can preview the intersection to see what it looks like. Or, if I am going to meet someone, I can zoom into a particular location, for example a park bench, and say, “Let’s meet here.”

People are also using it for visual search. I recently moved to a new neighborhood in San Francisco, and so I walk by neighborhoods that I’m not familiar with. It’s very common to walk by a restaurant I want to check out, only to forget the name of the restaurant by the time I get home. But now I go back and virtually walk up and down the street, to find the restaurant’s name.

How do you take the pictures?

We have vehicles with custom equipment on top, and we drive down public roads. The imagery is coming from two sources. In San Francisco and San Diego, where we have high-resolution imagery, the images are taken by Google. We are also licensing imagery from a third-party provider, Immersive Media.

How many pictures do you take on each block?

An average measurement of the spacing between our pictures is about 10 meters (33 feet).

What about the privacy concerns that some people have expressed?

The images are those taken from public roads, so it’s not unlike what you would see walking down the street on any given day. That being said, there is an easily accessible way for users to flag imagery that they think may be inappropriate. Objectionable imagery, for example nudity, is one case. If you find a picture of yourself, and you would like that image removed, we will remove it. We understand that users are concerned about some of these images, and we take privacy seriously.

Growing Web-Based Software Helps Parents and Schools Peek at Lessons, Share Records
By Christopher Lawton
August 23, 2007; Wall Street Journal

After his divorce, Gregg La Montagne found it hard to help his 15-year-old daughter with her schoolwork since she lives in another state. So for her Spanish class recently, Mr. La Montagne told her to write her assignment in an online word-processing application made by Google Inc.

Mr. La Montagne, a sales manager in Austin, Texas, then accessed his daughter’s homework online, using the same software through his Web browser at home. A native Spanish speaker, Mr. La Montagne was then able to suggest grammar changes, which he typed in at the bottom of the paper. His daughter, who was online at the same time, was able to see her father’s notes almost instantaneously as her screen refreshed, and then in turn correct the document for him to see.

“It makes it easier to participate,” says Mr. La Montagne, 50 years old. “It’s not the same as being with her, but it’s at least a step in that direction.”

Mr. La Montagne is one of a growing number of parents now using Web-based applications to review and aid their children’s educational work. Google Docs & Spreadsheets, which Mr. La Montagne used, provides word processing and spreadsheets that a consumer can access using just a Web browser.

Such applications are part of a broad move toward so-called hosted Web applications, where software and documents are accessed over the Internet rather than stored on your hard drive. (In the case of Google Docs, for instance, the files are stored with Google.) Many of these applications are free and allow multiple users to access and edit documents simultaneously. Businesses are already shifting some key operations, such as sales and accounting systems, to Web-based applications, citing lower costs and fewer hassles.

Now some families are seeing the benefits of hosted applications in their own way. Free Web-based calendar programs from Yahoo Inc. and Microsoft Corp. allow busy family members to share schedules online and notify each other of future events. Parents and teachers are using blogs and collaborative Web sites called wikis with kids. And schools are sharing academic data with parents via password-protected online programs.

Some families are even using Web-based applications targeted mainly at small- and home-office users, such as AdventNet Inc.’s Zoho.com, a majority free system that offers things like word processing and online presentations. Raju Vegesna, spokesperson for Zoho.com, says Zoho is seeing an increasing number of students use its word processor. Today, roughly 30%, or 100,000, of its users are students, he says.

All of this is part of a larger trend of using the Internet as school aid. Indeed, homework has become the top reason that teenagers are using the Internet on a monthly basis, according to a November 2006 JupiterResearch LLC study of 2,091 teens in the U.S., ages 13 to 17. Social networking sites such as MySpace and Facebook ranked fifth in the survey.

One concern with this type of close online collaboration is the temptation to help kids too much with their homework. Parents say they must guard against that, because it would be so easy to simply go in and make changes themselves.

During a visit to Utah earlier this year, Kate Hargadon, a Sacramento, Calif., student, didn’t have her computer with her but had an essay due for a history competition in her home state. Having already written a draft on paper, the 14-year-old used her uncle’s computer to type out the draft in a Google document. She then worked on it with her father back in Sacramento, who was logged into Google Docs at the same time.

Steve Hargadon, an educational consultant and Kate’s father, says he was cautious not to help his daughter too much. “It wasn’t my job to do it for her, but to help make sure it was getting done,” he says.

He pointed out places in the essay where his daughter could rework the grammar, and she fixed them herself. “It’s really convenient to use when you aren’t right next to him and in a different state,” says Ms. Hargadon, who says she now regularly uses Google Docs for schoolwork.

Such programs require little technical expertise, though users must create online accounts. With Google Docs, the programs are accessed via a secure user name and password. Users can invite others to edit or only to view documents. Both the Docs and the Spreadsheets programs alert users that others are making changes, which reduces risk of collaborators working on top of each other, says a Google spokeswoman. Changes appear onscreen almost instantaneously as the screen is automatically refreshed.

Google accounts are limited to 5,000 documents no larger than 500 kilobytes and 1,000 spreadsheets no larger than roughly one megabyte in size. Google says accounts are not removed due to inactivity.

“Teachers have started to see the benefits of bringing online tools into their classrooms to engage their students,” says Jonathan Rochelle, product manager for Docs & Spreadsheets at Google.

“We’ve seen examples of teachers using Docs & Spreadsheets to manage their own information like grades and assignments as well as new ways to provide feedback to student essays and tests,” he says.

Some schools are using Web-based programs from Engrade and TeacherEase, a unit of Common Goal Systems Inc., to keep grades, lesson plans and attendance records in one central database; parents are given access to the information as it pertains to their own kids. Engrade is free. TeacherEase comes with a subscription fee for the school of as high as $2,000 annually.

Parents who home school are also turning to Web applications. Lynn Aleshire of Anchorage, Alaska, who home schools her 18-year-old daughter, recently used Google Docs and some browser-based office software from Zoho.com to help her daughter manage a high-school civics and government course. Using Zoho.com, Ms. Aleshire created an online to-do list of assignments and a timeline to help keep track of her daughter’s progress in the class, which was a requirement for graduation.

“She likes things in order [so] having this timeline in Zoho was perfect for her,” says Ms. Aleshire of her daughter.

Parents are also using Web-based applications to simplify other school-related tasks, apart from homework. Since June, Bernie Thompson, a free-lance software developer and board member of a parent-teacher-student association in Bellevue, Wash., has used Google spreadsheets with other parents to organize volunteers for events such as book fairs and carnivals. Before that, the PTA used a regular Excel spreadsheet, which parents couldn’t access to see when they should sign up for an unfilled slot. With Google’s application, which other parents can log into and update, the process is much easier, says Mr. Thompson.

Some teachers say Web applications can help increase collaboration in the classroom. Vicki Davis, who teaches accounting and computer science in Camilla, Ga., has assigned group projects to her high-school students using online word processor Writely and Google Docs since late 2005. (Google acquired Writely in March 2006.)

Since then, Ms. Davis says she has seen class participation increase and her students do more innovative work. In one project, she had her students individually create a business plan, letter or flier in Microsoft Word and then do it again in teams of three using Google Docs. Then they had to write a blog post about the differences between the two. Ms. Davis says the assignment’s object was to teach kids how to use new software. She says her students squealed when they found out multiple people could edit a single document at the same time.

By CHESTER E. FINN, JR. and DIANE RAVITCH

August 8, 2007

In a globalizing economy, America’s competitive edge depends in large measure on how well our schools prepare tomorrow’s workforce.

And notwithstanding the fact that Congress and the White House are now controlled by opposing parties, lawmakers on both sides of the aisle are bent on devising new programs and boosting education spending.

Consider the measure — the America Competes Act — that recently passed Congress and is on its way to the president’s desk. The bill will substantially increase government funding for science, technology, engineering and math (“STEM” subjects). President Bush, Education Secretary Margaret Spellings as well as House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid support this initiative. Nearly all of the 2008 presidential candidates endorse its goals. And 38 state legislatures have also recently enacted STEM bills. The buzz is as constant as summer cicadas.

Indeed, STEM has swiftly emerged as the hottest education topic since No Child Left Behind. They’re related, too. NCLB puts a premium on reading and math skills and also pays some attention to science. Marry it with STEM and you get heavy emphasis on a particular suite of skills.

But there is a problem here. Worthy though these skills are, they ignore at least half of what has long been regarded as a “well rounded” education in Western civilization: literature, art, music, history, civics and geography. Indeed, a new study from the Center on Education Policy says that, since NCLB’s enactment, nearly half of U.S. school districts have reduced the time their students spend on subjects such as art and music.

This is a mistake that will ill-serve our children while misconstruing the true nature of American competitiveness and the challenges we face in the 21st century.

As with all education reforms, the STEM-winders mean well. They reason that India and China will eat America’s lunch unless we boost our young people’s prowess in the STEM fields. But these enthusiasts don’t understand that what makes Americans competitive on a shrinking, globalizing planet isn’t out-gunning Asians at technical skills. Rather, it’s our people’s creativity, versatility, imagination, restlessness, energy, ambition and problem-solving prowess.

True success over the long haul — economic success, civic success, cultural success, domestic success, national defense success — depends on a broadly educated populace with flowers and leaves as well as stems. That’s what equips us to invent and imagine and grow one business line into another. It’s also how we acquire qualities and abilities that aren’t easily “outsourced” to Guangzhou or Hyderabad.

Students who garner high-tech skills may still get undercut by people halfway around the world who are willing to do the same work for one-fifth of the salary. The surest way to compete is to offer something the Chinese and Indians (and Vietnamese, Singaporeans, etc.) cannot — technical skills are not enough.

Apple’s iPod was not just an engineering improvement on Sony’s Walkman. It emerged from Steve Jobs’s American-style understanding of people’s lifestyles, needs, tastes and capacities. (Yes, Mr. Jobs dropped out of college — but went on to study philosophy and foreign cultures.)

Pragmatic folks naturally seek direct links from skill to result, such as engineers using their technical knowledge to keep planes aloft and bridges from buckling. But what about Abraham Lincoln educating himself via Shakespeare, the Bible and other great literary works? Alan Greenspan’s degrees are in economics but he plays a mean jazz saxophone. Indeed, many of today’s foremost (and wealthiest) entrepreneurs, people like Warren Buffett, studied economics — not a STEM subject — in college. Adam Smith studied moral philosophy.

The liberal arts make us “competitive” in the ways that matter most. They make us wise, thoughtful and appropriately humble. They help our human potential to bloom. And they are the foundation for a democratic civic polity, where each of us bears equal rights and responsibilities.

History and literature also impart to their students healthy skepticism and doubt, the ability to question, to ask both “why?” and “why not?” and, perhaps most important, readiness to challenge authority, push back against conventional wisdom and make one’s own way despite pressure to conform. (How will that be viewed in China?)

We’re already at risk of turning U.S. schools into test-prepping skill factories where nothing matters except exam scores on basic subjects. That’s not what America needs nor is it a sufficient conception of educational accountability. We need schools that prepare our children to excel and compete not only in the global workforce but also as full participants in our society, our culture, our polity and our economy.

Addressing a recent Fordham Foundation education conference, Arts Endowment chairman Dana Gioia said “We need a system that grounds all students in pleasure, beauty and wonder. It is the best way to create citizens who are awakened not only to their humanity, but to the human enterprise that they inherit and will — for good or ill — perpetuate.”

Creating such a system calls not for a host of specialized new institutions and government programs, but for closely examining the curriculum in all our schools. It also calls for recalibrating academic standards and graduation requirements, as well as amending our testing-and-accountability schemes — most certainly including NCLB — by widening the definition of “proficient” to include reasoning, creativity and knowledge across a dozen subjects as well as basic cognitive skills. We need to start reconceptualizing “highly qualified” teachers as people who are themselves broadly educated rather than narrowly specialized.

Abandoning the liberal arts in the name of STEM alone also risks widening social divides and deepening domestic inequities. The well-to-do who understand the value of liberal learning may be the only ones able to purchase it for their children. Top private schools and a few suburban systems will stick with education broadly defined, as will elite colleges. Rich kids will study philosophy and art, music and history, while their poor peers fill in bubbles on test sheets. The lucky few will spawn the next generation of tycoons, political leaders, inventors, authors, artists and entrepreneurs. The less lucky masses will see narrower opportunities. Some will find no opportunities at all, which frustration will tempt them to prey upon the fortunate, who in turn will retreat into gated communities, exclusive clubs, and private this-and-that’s, thereby widening domestic rifts and worsening our prospects for social cohesion and civility.

Not a pretty picture. Adding leaves and flowers to STEM and NCLB won’t necessarily avert it — but hewing to basic skills at the expense of a complete education will surely worsen it.

How to Get a Children’s Book Printed
Kelly Spors answers questions from readers about entrepreneurship

August 7, 2007; Page B9

Q: How do you go about trying to get a children’s book printed?

–Kelly Thompson, Shaker Heights, Ohio

A: Finding a publisher requires some perseverance, research and, yes, superb writing. A good start is checking out the library to read the most popular children’s books and seeing what publishers are behind books most similar to yours. You can then put together a list of those most likely to publish your book.

Many people have written children’s books, but few meet a publisher’s standards: manuscripts offering intriguing characters with a unique vision. But coming up with that next “Where the Wild Things Are” requires you to understand the publishing world and what sells.

There are numerous classes for aspiring children’s authors, but you might also find a writing mentor or two by joining groups like the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators, a Los Angeles-based organization that hosts seminars and networking events for people trying to become children’s book writers.

Once you have a manuscript in polished form, send a typed copy, a short cover letter and a self-addressed stamped envelope to publishers. You can find one of the most comprehensive lists of publishers and their submission guidelines in the Childrens Writers and Illustrators Market 2007, a guidebook for children’s book publishing. Some publishers allow you to send manuscripts you’ve sent elsewhere while others want exclusive dibs, so know the policies of each one before sending them your manuscript. Others suggest you send a query letter first.

If, after two months, you still have no response, contact the publisher to inquire. If you still don’t hear back, you might write a letter withdrawing your submission and send it to the next one.

You don’t need to send illustrations with your manuscript — unless you happen to be a professional illustrator. Most children’s book publishers have a pool of illustrators they work with and prefer lining up their own.

Having a literary agent also will greatly boost your odds of selling your manuscript, because they are attuned to working with the major publishing houses and know what it takes to get a book published. Most literary agents take a 10% to 15% cut of your profits. You can find lists of agents in the Literary Market Place, available at literarymarketplace.com. You also could check the “Acknowledgements” section of books similar to yours.

• Send your small-business questions to smalltalk@wsj.com. For an archive of past Small Talk columns, visit StartupJournal.com/smalltalk.

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