Summer Hours

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HAPPY SUMMER SESSION! Journalism Library will begin summer hours starting Tuesday, May 27th. The Library will be CLOSED Monday, May 28th.

Monday-Thursday: 1-8pm
Friday: 1-6pm
Saturday: CLOSED
Sunday: CLOSED

Intersession Hours

Congratulations on a spectacular Spring semester! Journalism Library will begin intersession hours on Friday, May 16.
Friday (May 16): 1-6pm
Saturday and Sunday (May 17 & 18): CLOSED
Monday-Friday (May 19-23): 1-6pm
Saturday and Sunday (May 24 & 25): CLOSED
Please enjoy your time off before the summer semester, and if you are graduating, CONGRATULATIONS! We wish you all the best!

Useful Google Hacks

Image by Jonathan Beard

Sure, you use Google all the time, even for your research. This doesn’t shock your librarian—actually, she uses Google for research, too. Not as an end-all, but as one more tool in the research arsenal, along with databases, the library catalog, and organizational websites.

But are you using Google to its full potential? Probably no one is—there are many features with more continually being developed. Here are a few suggestions of how to use Google to extend your research.

Two Ways to Find Books & Fulltext Articles Faster!

1: LibX Widget

You can save yourself some time and frustration by installing the Columbia Library LibX Widget. This is a browser plug-in for either Firefox or Chrome, which automatically links to CU's library resources from ISBNs, DOIs, and more. For instance, when you’re using Amazon, LibX will tell you if Columbia owns that book. When you find an article in Google that costs money to view, right-click and select "Reload page via Columbia Libraries Off-Campus Proxy" to see if that article is accessible through Columbia. LibX also adds a button to your browser for instant library searching, so you don’t have to remember or navigate to the library website.  

2: Full-Text Articles from Google Scholar

You can configure Google Scholar so that it auto-links to full-text articles at Columbia.

  • To configure this, go to Google Scholar and click on the gear icon for "Settings."
  • In the "Library Links" section, search for Columbia University.
  • Click the checkbox for Columbia when it pops up.
  • Now hit "Save," and you're done!
  • Now when you search, any articles that Columbia has in full-text will have an icon on the right marked “e-Link @ Columbia." 

Alternately, you can simply use this link: http://www.columbia.edu/cgi-bin/cul/resolve?clio5119262

Expanding Your Sources with Google Scholar

Found one good article (or book), and can’t find another on that narrow topic? Or did you find the perfect article—but it’s twenty years old and way out of date? You can solve both of these with Google Scholar.

Enter the title (and author last name, if you have it) into Google Search. When the article title comes up in your results list, look near the bottom of the entry. There will blue text that reads "cited by X." Click on “cited by” to see more recent articles/books that cite the original source. Often these will in turn be “cited by” more recent and relevant works, so you can accrue a lot of titles this way.

This can also help judge of the significance and popularity of a work. For instance, if you find a book in the Columbia catalog that seems relevant, you can get a feel for how it’s viewed in its research field by looking up its number of citations in Google Scholar (you can also do this with Scopus or Web of Science). A word of caution, though: some works may be cited often because they’re badly reviewed, or a quality work with few citations may be too new to have been widely read. So it’s best not to use this as your only judge of worth.   

Advanced Google Search Tips

To reveal every spot in a Google Maps area for which Google has information, type: *
 
Intext: words must appear in the website; quotes make the words appear in that order. Similar search strategies include inurl (text must appear in URL) or intitle (text must be in the website’s title).
  • intext:“Supreme Court” intext:“campaign finance law”
Ways to use “OR” to expand your search:
  • “Smith denied” OR “Smith claimed” OR “Smith argued” 
  • “Manuel Isquierdo” lien OR liens 
  • Jessica + Williams|Wiliams|William
Use the minus sign to exclude words.
  • government shutdown -congress
Use the tilde to find synonyms.
  • ~car  (Searches for “car” and synonyms of “car” like automobile, vehicle.)
Search for names that may also use a middle initial or additional name with “around.”
  • Hillary AROUND(2) Clinton
  • (Shows all pages that have the name “Hillary” within two words of “Clinton.”)
Wildcard search (*) plus a phrase search (“”) allows you to find quotes where you’re missing a word.
  • "a * saved is a * earned"
Search within a specific website with “site.”
  • site:http://www.nyc.gov/ city of neighborhoods
Limit your search to a date range.
  • nyc unemployment rate daterange:201309
  • (September 2013)
Limit your search to files of a specific type. Can help you find spreadsheets, reports, etc.
  • filetype:xls unemployment
  • filetype:pdf homelessness nyc

Your Alumni Library Resources

Now that graduation is around the corner (hurray!), you may be wondering about your future access to library resources. Here's a summary of what you'll be able to use as an alum!

Moving away? Get to know your local public librarians! They will be invaluable sources for you, particularly when figuring out how to find data and information in a new city. You can find listings of local public libraries through LibWeb or IMLS. Don't forget, even if you live far away, you can reach CU Libraries through online chat, or contact us at the J-Library with the email and phone info below. 

Need government information? Find your closest U.S. federal depository library.

Finally, remember that you can always contact your friendly Journalism Librarian, Starr!

  • journalism@library.columbia.edu
  • (212) 854-0390

Government Information 101: Part 3, Finding Gov Info

How to Find Government Information

So, you've learned the basics of US government and you know the main government information resources. Now you're actually looking for a government document. Where do you start? Ask yourself:

  • At what level of government do I need this information?
    • Federal, state, local (county or city)
  • What government branch or agency might be involved? Stated another way: who would have a need to gather this data or information?
  • If you're looking for data or demographic information, you should also ask: what level of geography do I need this data for? The answer could be: nation, region, state, county/borough, city, PUMA, zip code, neighborhood, census tract, or census block. For more on geographies for NYC neighborhoods, see this handout.

Gov Info Search Example

Here's an example. I'm looking for the number of traffic accident fatalities in New York State in 2010.

At what government level do I need this?

Well, I'm looking for the total number of traffic accident deaths in New York State, so that's a state-level question–though it may also be reported at the federal level.

What government agency would gather that information?

It turns out that this is reported by two different agencies. Traffic deaths are reported both by the Department of Transportation's (DOT) Bureau of Transportation Statistics (there is a GIS-run state statistic finder), and the CDC's National Center for Health Statistics (NCHS), which lists data on Deaths & Mortality, including causes of death. Under causes of death, the NCHS reports traffic-accident deaths under the broader category of "Accidents (unintentional injuries)," which is subdivided into "Transport accidents," which is further subdivided into motor vehicle accidents, other land transport accidents, and water/air/space accidents. The NCHS also provides direct data through CDC Wonder, which allows you to choose variables such as age, and specify the specific type of transport accidents (for instance, you can choose to include pedestrian, motorcycle, car, bus, railway, and streetcar accidents, but exclude animal and water transport accidents). I chose ages 18+ (to capture all adults).

What level of geography do I need?

In addition to the total state number of deaths, I'd also like to see the total deaths for each NYC borough. Since the five NY boroughs are counties, in CDC Wonder I selected data for New York State, at the county level. I found that the total number of traffic-accident deaths in NYS in 2010 (according to the criteria I selected) was 1,242.

Note: Finding Recent Statistics/Data

It's not always easy to find data for the past year, or even the year preceding that. Data takes time to gather, clean up, and make public, and often you may find that the most recently available statistics are for 2-5 years ago.

Spring Break Hours

Hello all you beautiful Journalism Students!  Are you enjoying the great weather?  Well, there is more headed our way and next week is a chance for you to enjoy it!  So, be safe, have fun, and if you get tired of being away from us, then feel free to stop by.

Spring Break Hours:

Saturday, 3/15: CLOSED

Sunday, 3/16: CLOSED

Monday 3/17-Friday 3/21: 1-6pm

Saturday 3/22 we will resume our regular semester hours from 10-6.

 

Government Information 101: Part 2, Gov Resources

Uncle Sam With Magnifying GlassIn the previous post, I discussed the basics of U.S. government (its levels, branches, and how to approach finding government information). Now I'll list some of the best places to find government information, both by government branch and with a list of popular documents. First, here are a few places to start a search for government information, particularly when you're not sure what branch or agency might have collected the information that you need:

Government Resources, by Branch

Information for many federal government agencies is centrally located in FDsys (the Federal Digital System).

Legislative Resources

Executive Resources

Judicial Resources

Other Popular Government Areas & Documents

Government Information 101: Part 1, U.S. Gov Basics

New to the U.S., or just need to brush-up on some government basics? Here's a quick run-down of U.S. government at various levels and how to find government information. (I'll be writing two follow-up posts that tell where to find primary source information for each branch of government, and show an example of a gov info search.) First, here is a U.S. government chart and three basic guides to the federal government:

Levels & Branches of Government

The United States has several levels of government: federal, state, and local (county/city). Federal is the overarching national government, which has three branches:

 

NYC Borough Counties:

Each state has its own government which echoes the federal government in its three-branch organization. The Legislative branch is composed of the state senate and house (or assembly), the Executive branch is composed of the Governor and typically many departments (structure varies by state), and the Judicial branch is composed of the state court system, headed by the state supreme court. There are different local government offices at the county and the municipal (city/town) level. Typically, cities follow a similar pattern to federal and state government, with a Mayor acting as the chief executive officer of a city. Usually, a county is larger than and encompasses many cities and towns. However, New York City is made up of five boroughs, which are each actually counties (listed at right).

What Topics are Covered by Government Documents?

The U.S. government covers a surprising number of programs, and thus data and information is available on nearly any topic you can think of, including:

  • Data & Statistics
  • Health & Vital Statistics
  • Politics & Law
  • Business & Economy
  • Treaties
  • Scientific & Medical Research
  • Technology
  • Intellectual Property (patents, trademarks, copyright)
  • Historical Events (primary resources)
  • Consumer Information
  • Grants
  • Starting & Financing a Small Business
  • Recipes & Nutrition
  • Maps
  • Education, Teacher Resources
  • Rules & Regulations
  • …and you can use Browse Topics or the US Gov Portal to find more!

Some of the few topics that aren't covered well in U.S. gov info include:

  • Literature
  • Arts
    • Exceptions: arts funding (NEA, NEH), nonprofit finances, & some gov-funded museum exhibits are covered; in addition, Whistler briefly worked for the Coastal Survey and produced engravings
  • Music
    • Exception: music copyright and copyright cases are well covered