Friday, April 29, 2011

Helpful Resources for Citations

If you have been working on papers, essays or other assignments, you have likely been asked to cite your sources. Depending on the subject area that you are working in and your instructor’s preference, there are a few citation styles that you could be asked to use for this. Luckily, the Empire State College Library is here to help.

Once you know what style your instructor requires for your assignment, you should visit the library homepage at If you look in the center column on the website, you will see the heading “Cite Your Sources.” Choose your citation style from the list, APA, MLA or More Citation Styles & Info (includes Chicago/Turabian as well as Citation Basics and Citation Tools).

Under APA and MLA, you will see citatation style guides listed as Hacker and OWL. These are 2 very helpful sources that will help get you through citing your sources. If you have any questions, you can always contact the library. We are here to help. We can’t check your work but we can help you figure out how to format your citation for a particular source or help you find the citation information if you forgot to write it all down when you first found your resource.


With Hacker’s APA Citation Style Guide you will see a purple menu on the left side of the screen. To view how to do your in-text citations, click on APA in-text citations. If you need to know how to do your list of references, click on APA list of references and there will be a list of many possible types of references and how you need to cite them. If you would like to see a sample research paper using APA style, click on the link for Sample research paper: APA style.

The OWL’s APA citation style guide also has a menu on the left side of the screen. Their menu is much more detailed. The menu includes general format information which has a sample title page. It also includes In-Text citation information. Below that, you will see a link for Footnotes and Endnotes. Then there are 7 links to help you with your Reference List. They start with Basic Rules and then are broken down by resource type. If you are using items from the online library, you probably want to start with Reference List: Electronic Sources. If you would like to see a sample paper, scroll down a bit on the meny until you see Sample APA Paper. That link will show you a sample paper.


With Hacker’s Citation Style Guide for MLA, you will see a blue menu on the left side of the page. For help with your in-text citations, click on that in the menu. For MLA works cited information, click on the MLA list of works cited link on the menu and there will be a list of many possible types of references and how you need to cite them. If you would like to see a sample paper, click on Sample research paper: MLA style.

The OWL’s MLA citation style guide has general information on how to format your paper on the first page. Next on the menu which is on the left side of the page, you will see MLA In-Text Citations: The Basics. This will help you with how to format your in-text citations. After that, the meny includes how to format Quotations as well as Endnotes and Footnotes. For your works cited page, you will see 5 different items listed in the menu based on the type of resource you are using. If you are using an item from the online library, you most likely want to start with MLA Words Cited: Electronic Resources. If you would like to view a sample paper or works cited page, scroll down until you see MLA Sample Paper or MLA Sample Works Cited on the menu.

We have many other resources to help you with your citations on our Cite Your Sources page which you can find here:

Read the Library Blog at its new home -
Questions? Ask a Librarian

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Database Access Problems - Resolved!

The server issue from Thursday April 28 has been resolved. All access to library databases should be back.

If you continue to experience problems accessing library databases, please contact a librarian.

1-800-847-3000 ext. 2222
-Sun: 1pm-9pm
-Mon-Thu: 9am - 9pm
-Fri: 9am-5pm
E-mail: e-mail question form or

Read the Library Blog at its new home -
Questions? Ask a Librarian

Friday, April 22, 2011

@Home Library Workshops

Have you signed up for our latest library @Home Workshops? Learn how to better use the library or a particular resource while sitting at your computer. Our workshops are 90-minute, live, hands-on, online classes given by the college’s librarians. They take place entirely on the web using the Elluminate Live! virtual classroom.

Our upcoming workshops:

* Tue, Apr. 26, 6:30 – 8 pm: Using RefWorks [Instructors: Sarah Morehouse & Ian Hertz]
* Wed, May. 4, 6:30 – 8 pm: Working with Books & E-Books [Instructor: Dana Longley]
* Wed, May. 11, 6:30 – 8 pm: Choosing the Best Research Materials [Instructor: Sarah Morehouse]

For more information, technical requirements or to register, please visit @Home Library Workshops.

Read the Library Blog at its new home -
Questions? Ask a Librarian

Friday, April 15, 2011

Introducing our two new librarians!

We would like to introduce our two newest librarians, Ian Hertz and Heather Shalhoub. Both Ian and Heather have become full-time librarians as of March 2011.

photo of Ian Hertz

Ian Hertz has a B.A. in Computer and Information Science from Iona College and a M.L.S. from Long Island University. He began his work as a librarian at Empire State College in October 2006. Ian is interested in the technical aspects of librarianship. His subject specialties for the library are Business, Management & Economics; Labor Studies; and Science, Mathematics & Technology.

photo of Heather Shalhoub

Heather Shalhoub has a B.A. in Art (Psychology minor) and a M.S.I.S. from the University at Albany. She has also completed graduate work at Hofstra University in Creative Arts Therapy. Heather began working in public libraries in 1999 and moved on to academic libraries after completing her graduate studies in 2004. She has been a librarian at Fulton-Montgomery Community College, Schenectady County Community College and the University at Albany Dewey Graduate Library before coming to Empire State College in 2008. Her subject specialties for the library are The Arts and Human Development.

Empire State College Library Research Blog
Questions? Ask a Librarian

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

E-book catalog access issues

All fixed!

Read the Library Blog at its new home -

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Thursday March 24 - Ask A Librarian closed

Ask A Librarian will be closed this Thursday for a college-wide event. Please feel free to leave your question via voice mail or web form, and we will answer it on Friday.

Monday, March 21, 2011

Resources for Fact-checking

We are constantly being bombarded with information - on the web, on TV, in books, and in conversation. Unfortunately, a lot of it is misinformation. It's not that most people intend to deceive us, but once they've picked up an error, they pass it along.

Fortunately the web makes it possible to fact-check on the fly. Here are some resources.

  • Consumer Reports - objective product information and reviews (requires college login)
  • DeviceWatch - debunks phony products and gadgets
  • - fact-checking for the news from the Annenberg Public Policy Center
  • - from the Discovery Channel TV show that debunks urban legends, old wives' tales, and movie physics, among other things
  • - crowd-sourced fact-checking of the news media
  • - the least partisan fact-checking source for politics and what politicians say
  • QuackWatch - maintained by an actual medical doctor with current, valid credentials - debunks spurious and dangerous alternative medicine claims
  • Skeptic's Dictionary - debunks pseudoscience and the paranormal
  • - debunks virus warnings, chain letters, hoaxes, scams, urban legends
  • SourceWatch - crowd-sourced tracing of information to its original intellectual and financial sources, from the Center for Media and Democracy

Read the Library Blog at its new home -

Monday, March 14, 2011

The issue of "Content Farms"

Recently Google took steps to remove articles from content farms like Associated Content from people's search results lists. This caused an uproar in the content farm and search engine optimization business, and a sigh of relief among many searchers.

Search results lists were increasingly clogged up with "articles" from content farms. These articles look like information sources, but they exist solely to get people to view an ad. They are written in a hurry by underpaid freelancers who often have no knowledge of the subjects they write about. Because the objective is to cram keywords in there, accuracy is optional.

But with the change in Google's search algorithm, those articles will no longer show up in your results lists, mixed in with the legitimate sites. Even so, there is still plenty of work left for the researcher to do to evaluate the reliability and quality of a web information source.

Here's a tutorial on how to evaluate information sources, from the library's Information Skills Tutorial -
Visit the Library Blog at its new home:

Monday, March 7, 2011

More Uses For Google

"GOOGLE IS YOUR FRIEND! - Learn how to use Google to its full potential"

"Use Google to Prepare For A Meeting"
Talks about how to use the Advanced Search feature to find subject matter that directly pertains to a region of the world.

"Use Google to Find the Names of Departments"
Talks about how to use Google's "synonym finder" resource. Useful for practical things (like finding the real name of a department in a business) and also for coming up with keywords for research.

"Use Google to Find E-mail Addresses"

"How to Use Google to Find a Job: The Searchologist"

Read this blog at its new location: Library News and Tips

Monday, February 28, 2011

Understanding Database Subject Headings

From the University of Calgary

Read this blog at its new location: Library News and Tips

Monday, February 21, 2011

Different Kinds Of E-books

E-books for the library and e-books that you as an individual can buy are different because of market segmentation by the publishing industry. They believe (probably correctly) that they can make much more money if they sell a product - cheap e-books - to consumers and prevent libraries from getting it.

A library could buy the latest New York Times bestseller at a local bookstore and put it on their shelves, but it can't do the same thing in the Amazon Kindle Store or iTunes. The difference is that there is simply no way to limit how many people can read a paper copy of a book, but there are ways to limit how many people can read a digital copy. Books that you purchase yourself for your computer or e-book reader have a license that restricts how you can share the book, and sometimes there are technological limitations (called Digital Rights Management or DRM) as well.

E-books that are available to libraries have a license that allows us to let multiple people read them. Sometimes only one person is allowed access at a time, but most of the time we get a license to let an infinite number of people read at once. These licenses are often five or ten times more expensive than what you'd pay for the same book for yourself. What's more, you can't just download the book to read on your own computer or e-reader; you have to read it online. This is so you can't make illegal copies and share or sell them.

And on top of that, many books that you would want to read as library e-books simply aren't an option for us to acquire. Either the publisher is convinced that they can make more by requiring people who want to read the e-book to purchase their own copy, or they realize that not enough libraries will purchase the e-book to pay for the costs of creating it.

So if you have been wondering why we often have to say no when you request a particular e-book title be added to our collection, this is why. It's a matter of economics and copyright law evolving at a slower pace than the expectations we've gotten from our day-to-day use of technology.

Read this blog at its new location: Library News and Tips

Monday, February 14, 2011

What is Open Access?

The term Open Access refers to scholarly articles that are available to be read without the reader having to pay for a subscription to a journal.

Scholarly journals traditionally pay for the costs of operation by having the reader pay to access them (or having a library pay on the reader's behalf.) The problem with this is that scholarly journals have become so expensive that academic libraries are having trouble affording them.

Open Access means that the costs of publishing an article are borne by somebody other than the reader. In some cases, the author pays to have an article published (once it is accepted, of course.) In other cases, research institutions pay for the costs of running a journal or an article repository, because they feel that it is their contribution to the academic community and will pay for itself in other ways. But however the costs are covered, Open Access means that the articles are available online for free, available to anyone who wants to read them.

Note that this does not mean that they are in the public domain! Free to read does not mean free to put up on your own web site, or re-use as your own.

So how do you access Open Access articles? Well, some of them are indexed in the Library's databases like any other articles. But there are two main ways to search for Open Access Articles:
  • Directory of Open Access Journals (DOAJ) has a search engine that will let you search for your topic keywords across all the peer reviewed (scholarly) Open Access journals that are out there.
  • Google Scholar lets you search across all articles indexed in Google. That will include articles that are only available in subscription databases like the Library has, and also scholarly article repositories maintained by universities and other research institutions.
The Open Access Movement is growing every year. When I was in grad school, it was still a little controversial - people wondered if anyone would ever feel they could rely on scholarship found for free on the web. Now Open Access journals like Public Library of Science are leaders in their subject areas. It turned out that what mattered wasn't the heft of a print journal, or the cost of a subscription, but the quality of scholarship and the reliability of the peer review process.
Read this blog at its new location: Library News and Tips

Monday, February 7, 2011

Why Can't I Get Broadband Internet At Home?

Most areas of New York state do get broadband, even if only from one provider. (In my area, it's Time Warner or Verizon DSL.) But if you live in a rural area, you might not be able to get broadband internet access. Why is this, when so much of daily life is now conducted online, in ways that just aren't supported by the old copper wire connections?

While broadband would be even helpful to the people who live in sparsely populated areas than to those of us who can easily travel to libraries, colleges, stores, banks, and other services, there's no way the internet service providers could turn enough of a profit providing service to them. They would have to lay many miles of cable and send trucks out to service those remote locations, and all that for a few hundred new customers? It wouldn't even begin to pay for itself.

And broadband internet is not covered by public utility law. That means that the government can't create incentives or penalties to pressure internet service providers (like ComCast, Verizon DSL, and Time Warner) to provide service in sparsely populated areas.

If you are interested in this issue, check out this link:
Read this blog at its new location: Library News and Tips

Monday, January 31, 2011

Unintentional Plagiarism

It's common knowledge that if you crib part or all of your paper from someone else, whether a fellow student, a web site or a published article or book, it's plagiarism. It's a serious violation of academic integrity and carries major penalties. Fortunately, it's very easy to avoid those penalties: don't cheat and you'll be fine!

However it's also possible to commit plagiarism unintentionally, and that can get you in trouble too. Unintentional plagiarism means that you didn't mean to cheat, but you still committed a violation of academic integrity by failing to acknowledge the sources of your ideas, or by being too dependent on someone else's ideas.
  • Forgetting to cite, citing incompletely, or citing the wrong source.
  • Paraphrasing without a citation. It's often said that if you put the other person's ideas into your own words, you don't need to cite. That's not true!!! You must cite, even if you didn't quote them word for word.
  • Relying too much on your source material, especially paraphrasing too much (even with citations.) Being overly dependent on another person's ideas means that your paper isn't original enough to satisfy the requirements of an academic assignment. This usually happens for one of two reasons, or a little of each: either you didn't have enough different sources, or you didn't include enough of your own analysis and interpretation.

If you are struggling with research and writing, there are a number of places to turn:
  • Ask a Librarian - a librarian can help you if you are having trouble finding resources and research materials on your topic. Librarians can also help you with questions about when and how to cite your sources!
  • Disability Services - if you know you have a learning disability or suspect you might.
  • English Language Learners (ESL) - if you have difficulty with English, go here.
  • SmarThinking - online tutoring, which includes help revising a paper.
  • Writing Resource Center - sample papers, explanations, exercises, and in-person help for every stage of the writing process.
  • your mentor/instructor - if you don't understand the assignment, need help choosing a topic, or want to know if you're on the right track.
Questions? Ask a Librarian

Monday, January 24, 2011

Video Resources

Are you looking for films, documentaries or video resources? The library has several resources for searching for these.

  • Films on Demand is a large database of educational videos and documentaries on every topic. You can link to a whole film, or just a segment of it, which makes it especially useful if you want to talk about it in a discussion group. There is quite a lot of material for business, nursing and science, as well as the social sciences and humanities.
  • American History in Video is another large database, and it's all films having to do with various American history topics. Most of it is old news reels and government archival footage; in other words, primary sources.
  • Counseling and Therapy in Video is a database of videos that explain and demonstrate various therapeutic concepts and techniques. What might be confusing to read becomes crystal clear when you watch it in action.
  • Ethnographic Video Online is a database of documentaries about anthropology and culture. If a picture is worth a thousand words, a video's worth is incalculable when it comes to understanding the diversity of the human experience.
To get to these video databases, go to the library web site at Click All Databases By Title and then click the Multimedia tab. They will be listed in the box at the top right. Beneath these ones, you will see a list of further video resources that may be useful to you!

Empire State College Library Research Blog
Questions? Ask a Librarian

Monday, January 17, 2011

African American Studies Resources

Today is the federal holiday marking the birthday of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., one of the most influential figures in modern history. We celebrate the life and achievements of an individual who turned the struggle for racial equality into a mass movement and made it front-page news. Institutional racism and the private prejudice remain problems to be solved, but Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.'s movement produced legal protections and rights, and made strides toward making bigotry socially unacceptable.

In honor of this, here are some African American History resources.

Empire State College Library Research Blog
Questions? Ask a Librarian

Monday, January 10, 2011

Peace Studies Resources

Peace Studies is an interdisciplinary subject area that addresses both theory and practice, scholarly research as well as news and popular culture. As such, it can be hard to find research materials in this subject area. While the college does not have a Peace Studies program, many students in the Social Theory, Social Structure, and Social Change area of study are pursuing degrees that fall into that area. Community and Human Services also frequently has some areas of overlap.

Selected Web Sites
These web sites were chosen because they are the online presences of reputable organizations and institutions, who make their data, reports and analyses available.

Monday, January 3, 2011

Career Resources Guide

The college doesn't have a Career Center like most "brick-and-mortar" schools. What we do have are:
  1. Career Services from the Alumni Resource Center - includes job postings, resume help, and a career mentor service, and
  2. The Career Resources Guide from the library - a collection of carefully selected web and subscription resources that will help you in choosing a career, hunting for a job, improving the transferable "soft skills" that make you more employable, and crafting winning resumes and interviews.
Resources you will find in there include:
  • Vocational and Careers Collection - search for information about different job titles and industries
  • Ferguson Career Guidance Center - search for articles that cover everything from what to wear to an interview, to how to negotiate pay and benefits
  • Resume Builder - craft your resume and post it online. Resume Builder provides resume templates that give advice on formatting and word choice (action verbs!) You can also record a video interview and compile a portfolio of your work. All of it is sharable via Twitter and other social networking tools, and you have the option to make your profile visible to head hunters.
The Library Blog is moving. Find us at