Wednesday, December 05, 2007

Know Thy Database

When I started library school it was all a bit confusing: What is a database, who puts them together, what’s in them, why are there so many different ones, which is the best one, etc. I was so na├»ve and didn’t think of the money involved in such things.

I like to think of an aggregated database as a big box. It is a place for storing information. Or you can imagine it as a filing cabinet. This cabinet could be Ebsco, Infotrac or Thomson Gale, ProQuest or any of the aggregators available out there.

Inside filing cabinet are folders. Imagine folders as individual databases bought by the aggregators. They could be a database of magazines, academic journals, newspaper articles, collection of online books, etc. These folders contain papers in them. These papers contain the information within the databases - the actual article. Does that make sense?

As a librarian, your job is to know what your filing cabinet contains so you can serve your patrons better. Every drawer in the filing cabinet could be a different aggregator. To makes things more interesting your organization might have various ways in which you can access these cabinets. Choose the best one for the question thrown at you and you will have a good day!

Monday, December 03, 2007

Gum Chewers at the Frontline

I am not a gum chewer. Even as a teen I don’t remember chewing gum under peer pressure – mostly because it caused me headaches. All that chewing!

I look around me and see that many here like to chew gum, including adults. I am not against that. Who am I tell you not to chew gum? But I do not like it when I have to deal with someone who is talking to me while chewing gum. Should people at the front line be chewing gum? Chew it during your break, lunch time, on your way home, at home….anywhere you like but at work – especially when you are dealing with customers.

I was so intrigued by people chewing gum non-stop that I decided to look for information about it. Just Googling found me a few results.

Here is one that claims gum chewing increases memory. Hmmm…!! Had I known I would have chewed some gum before every exam!

Here is another one: this is my favourite. This is a gum that enhances breasts! Vow ladies! Forget surgery! Just buy some gum!

It is funny, but this is a big industry. Companies are not only coming up with different kinds and flavors of gum, but are also working on gum cleaners – products that use enzymes to break down the chemical structure of chewing gum so they can be removed easily from hair, clothes or anywhere you stick them. Environmental Health Perspectives (Oct 2005): p.A663(1)

There was another article (I forget where), that talked about new moms chewing gums for the first couple of years, so they don’t pass on dental caries to their newborns.

With all this encouraging news (!) and more to come (from the gum industry) I guess no one will stop chewing gum for a while!