The Hill Reference Round-Up

Blue Prints to Business Plans…

September at the Hill was buzzing with visitors from students to entrepreneurs researching blue prints to business plans.  It is a prefect example of the vast amount of resources our Reference Specialists have at their fingertips.

Here are some examples of who, what and why people visited us! 

  • Over 110 researchers welcomed in September.
  • Most researchers were from Minnesota, and a few traveled from Wisconsin.
  • Several researchers this month came to use our resources to help them develop their business plans.
  • The majority of our visitors in September self-identify as entrepreneurs.
  • A student from the U of M studying architecture viewed historic building blueprints for a course project.
  • One researcher explored sales data and patent information related to exercise equipment.
  • We often welcome job seekers, but had one unique researcher this month, who works to support individuals with severe mental illness and conducted job searches on behalf of those individuals to locate potential workplaces near their homes to accommodate transportation limitations.

We look forward to seeing you at the Hill.  Contact a Reference Specialist today!

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What did people do before Google?


The first patent filed under the name “Google, Inc.,” was on August 31, 1999 – 17 years ago.  It was initially started as a research project for “watermarking systems and methodology for digital multimedia content.”  It has since become the primary tool for all things people question, wonder and need to know,   BUT what did we do before Google and is there a human need to reconnect, be certain and have a trusted “human “source?

The James J. Hill Center is considered the oldest free reference library in the nation and still holds some of the most relevant business research in the country. Reference desks did not become a service until the late 1800’s.  The Boston Public Library in 1883 was the first library to hire librarians whose primary purpose was reference and research.  Over this century reference services grew to be a trusted direct personal assistant to readers seeking information. The invention of the computer, web and Google has drastically shifted that perspective but not eliminated it.  As more time is spent in front of our computers and listening to automated voicemail there has been another shift.

A recent article on the New York Public Library (NYPL) proves reference desks are still a vital and growing way to find out anything from the odd and mysterious to the most challenging. The NYPL receives 300 inquiries per day and one of the number one comments is “Thank God I’ve reached a human being.” At the Hill though the numbers are smaller, the reaction is the same.  Business researchers have access to databases and materials that are not easily accessible.  This is not to say that reference librarians do not use the web to search for answers but they are experts at sifting through content, picking what is relevant and getting a trusted response, backed up with facts and put in one place.

So the next time you jump on Google and type in “Business Plan Templates” – why not consider coming to the Hill to ask an expert or research some of the most successful businessmen in history figured out.  Reference libraries hold the backbone to our past and are the seed for our future.

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Technology user trends

Wondering how your business can take advantage of (or avoid using) mobile and social networking technology?
Here are two online resources that cover how technology is being used and who is using it, both via the iLibrarian blog.
First, the Pew Internet and American Life Project recently released its Mobile Difference report, which covers attitudes and behaviors about mobile Internet technology. Among the findings: 39% of Americans have positive and improving attitudes about their mobile communication devices (who doesn’t love their iPhone?).  Read the full report online, along with survey questions and responses. 
A Consumer Electronics Usage Survey from Accenture reveals that (surprise!) Baby Boomers are the fastest growing group of users of social networking sites. Read more about the difference between Boomers and Gen Y at Micro Persuasion.  
How about you? Are you or is your business jumping on the social networking bandwagon? Or are you hoping that Facebook will make like Pownce and disappear from the world wide web.
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Last chance…

Register today to see local personal finance hero Chris Farrell at the Hill Library. Farrell will discuss the current financial environment and economic survival strategies. 
This event kicks off the Make Economic Cent$ Speaker Series, co-sponsored by the Hill Library, the St. Paul Public Library, and the City of St. Paul’s Planning and Economic Development Agency.
You can view dates, descriptions, and registration information for all five FREE events here: http://www.jjhill.org/spplsignup/index.cfm
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Read more in 2009

How are your New Year’s resolutions holding up? If you’ve pledged to improve your career or business, check out a round-up of book reviews that appeared in a recent issue of Library Journal: http://www.libraryjournal.com/article/CA6619919.html.  
You may find some candidates for your to-read list among the reviewed books, all of which focus on self-improvement in the business world. You’ll find a range of motivational philosophies from writers as varied as Napoleon Hill, the original self-help author (no relation to James J.); Marshawn Evans, reality TV star; and Jason Selk, sports psychologist.
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Trend Feed – November 2008 – Library Trends

2008 Salary Survey & Workplace Study
This annual report looks at average salary levels for special librarians around the world. While available in full only to paying customers, the announcement provides some highlights.
Special Libraries Association
November 2008

Searching with Tags: Do Tags Help Users Find Things?
One task made possible by many Web 2.0 sites is the ability for users to “tag” content with whatever keywords they think best describes it. But, one might ask, what’s the point? This study looks at how user-generated tags help people find things.
E-Prints in Library and Information Science
Margaret Kipp
November 1, 2008

Librarians Want to Out-Google Google With a Better Search Engine
Google’s search function, while a company secret, is probably based on a computer algorithm. To compete, OCLC wants to bring the input of skilled information professionals into the equation. And so begins a project called Reference Extract.
November 10, 2008

Group Think: The Turn to Online Research is Narrowing the Range of Modern Scholarship
A new study finds that recently-published academic papers tend to reference newer, online scholarly studies over older, more obscure work. Does the Internet actually narrow the amount of information scholars take into account?Boston Globe
Rebecca Tuhus-Dubrow
November 23, 2008
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Trend Feed – November 2008 – Business Trends

SCORE Releases New Guide on 10 Simple Steps to Finding Customers… and Delivering the Goods
A new guide – only available in print at SCORE offices – provides advice for small businesses on targeting customers, building brand identity, marketing, creating an online outreach strategy, and successfully fulfilling orders. Service Corps of Retired Executives (SCORE) Press Release
November 3, 2008

Bullish eMarketer Chops Online Ad Forecast… Still Too Bullish
Optimistic online advertising forecasts are being cut in the face of uncertain economic conditions. eMarketer here announces a reduction of 10% in their forecast for 2009 spending on online ads, bringing that forecast down to $25.7 billion.Silicon Alley Insider
Henry Blodget
November 25, 2008

Online Networks a Magnet for Job-Seekers
Since the beginning of the year, the number of LinkedIn memberships has grown from 18 million to 31 million. This increase in professional social networking is attributed to an increase in the number of people who have lost their jobs or are nervous about losing their jobs.Reuters
November 26, 2008
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Trend Feed – November 2008 – Technology Trends

Internet Coming to White Space Near You
The Federal Communications Commission adopted a new set of rules this month that will allow high-speed Internet transmission through television signals. One official describes the potential for this service as “WiFi on steroids.”
Government Computer News
William Jackson
November 5, 2008

Time Spent Online Important for Teen Development
The time teens spend online prepares them – both socially and technically – for life in the digital age, according to a study funded by the MacArthur Foundation. This detailed report looks at attitudes toward, usage of, and benefits of teen technology use.MacArthur Foundation Press Release
November 20, 2008

Google Changes Search and Raises Questions
This post looks at one of Google’s “most drastic changes to search since they first started out” – the ability to fiddle with search results. If you’re signed into your Google account and run a search, you can rearrange search results and leave publicly-viewable comments on those results. Phil Bradley’s weblog
November 22, 2008

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Hill Library Trends Newsletter – March to October, 2008

Historically, we’ve put out a monthly newsletter highlighting stories in the library, business, and technology fields that are likely to have significant impact on those fields in the near future. The Hill Library Trends Newsletter, we called it. Over the next couple of months, though, we’re going to fiddle with the format of that newsletter a little. We’ll still keep track of important stories, studies, and news, and we’ll still only report the best to you on a monthly basis, but a couple small things will change. So this first version of that mad experiment comes to you in three separate parts, with highlighted stories included right here on the blog, rather than in a separate pdf file. Hope you enjoy them – and thanks as always for reading!
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Patrons with accessibility needs please access our ground floor elevator entrance via Kellogg Ave at the back of the building. Please ring the doorbell on the right hand side of door and a Hill staff member will assist you. If you have questions or concerns please call 651.265.5500. We look forward to having you visit.