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Forwarded message.
From: "Karen G. Schneider" <kgs@panix.com>
Subject: Success Stories, Part Deux
Date: Thu, 9 Jun 1994 22:10:40 -0400 (EDT)


Welcome to "Internet Reference Success Stories, Part Deux"--25
MORE examples of librarians and library students using the
Internet to answer reference questions.  I gathered these
examples through enquiries posted to the following electronic
discussion lists: PUBLIB, NET-HAPPENINGS, PACS-L, and LIBREF-L.

It's interesting to watch the evolution of Internet reference
behavior.  The answers here include some skilled use of subject-
oriented electronic discussion lists.  In some cases, librarians
use these lists to tap the brains of other librarians regarding
"off-net" resources relevant to the subject of the list.  In
other cases, librarians use these subject-specific lists as
sensemaking tools for acquiring their bearings on the Internet.

Gophers, text-oriented World Wide Web browsers were the tools of
choice for direct-retrieval searches, while subject-specific
Usenet groups also came in handy.  (For my own purposes, I
distinguish between direct-retrieval searches, where information
is retrieved directly from an automated resource, and secondary-
retrieval searches, where other people provide intermediate
solutions for locating resources.)  Direct telnet connections and
FTP (file transfer protocol) were mentioned several times.

Interestingly, no answer used archives of electronic discussion
lists.  Responses from men outnumbered women's 2:1.  All answers
appear to use text-based (non-graphical) Internet connections.

Although the following "meta-tools" didn't get mentioned in the
responses I received, I am guessing that gopher tools such as
Gopher Jewels, Web tools such as the subject pages,
announcement-oriented mailing lists such as Gleason Sackman's
NET-HAPPENINGS, and the plethora of new Internet books have
played critical roles in making the Internet a more useful, and
usable, resource.  As librarians become more comfortable with the
Internet, they bring reforms with them, such as the topic symbols
for subjects on electronic discussion lists, first popularized on
STUMPERS, the list for hard reference questions.

The Success Stories were never intended to replace any of the
extremely good pathfinders or guides abounding on the Internet;
they exist as proof that librarians can use the Internet to
answer reference questions, and based on the hundreds of requests
I have had for the first Success Stories, they are doing just
that.  Some of these Stories might have been answered more
elegantly had the librarian "world enough and time," but these
Stories aren't academic exercises--they are real-life reference
questions.  The librarians submitting these Stories deserve your
applause for using the Internet as one more tool for providing
the best possible public service.

The first volume of Success Stories can be found on the NYSERNET
gopher (gopher nysernet.org), through the Global Network
Navigator, or by emailing me at kgs@panix.com.

Save up your stories to mail me in October for this fall's back-
to-school Success Stories special!


Karen G. Schneider, kgs@panix.com
June, 1994


Permission to use, copy, or distribute this document for non-
commercial, educational purposes is hereby granted, provided that
this permission notice appear in all copies.
Karen G. Schneider, kgs@panix.com, June 1994


(1) Stephen Michael Barnett, Lecturer, Learning Systems and
Torrens Valley Institute of Tafe, South Australia

I recently had an enquiry from faculty re harness racing and
also jockey/horse industry training. I posted a query to the
Community College List and amongst the 9 replies, including
one from Bulgaria... was a reply from Merry Bortz, Cataloging
Librarian, Jackson State Community College, Jackson, Tennessee
who gave us very valuable information in a series of e-mail
messages providing addresses and contact names. She provided
an amazing amount of information and deserves the INTERNET
GOLD STAR for her answer to an Australian reference enquiry.

(2) Oliver Obst,  University & State Library Muenster, Germany

We were waiting and waiting for the 5th edition of the NLM
classification schedules, but neither the agent nor a letter
to NLM itself succeeded. Then, on my third day on the net I
posted my first question to medlib-l, an electronic mailing
list, about that topic and get to my surprise an answer from
australia(!), that this edition would be launched in May 1994.

(3) Craig W. Beard, Mervyn H. Sterne Library, The University of Alabama at
Birmingham, Alabama

I was helping a graduate student locate material for a research paper on
the history of women's participation in the Olympic Games.  Finding
information on the modern games was relatively easy, but information on
women's participation in the ancient games was a different story.  So I
decided to post a request to a couple of electronic mailing lists:
ANCIEN-L and CLASSICS.  Almost right away I began receiving responses from
both.  The student and I were able to find several sources in our library
that were right on target.  Needless to say, the student was very happy,
and very impressed.

(4) Bill King, SJSU Library Student, Oakland, California

Well, just today a friend called me up. He is flying to Brazil next week
on business and needed to find a book that they wanted down there. He knew
the title of the German ed. but wanted the English ed. The local bookstore
said they didn't know of it, couldn't find it.

I searched Melvyl, got the citation, checked PIB for the pub. address and
faxed it all to him (even had an 800 no.) he ordered the book. The cool
part of this is that it took all of 2 minutes to find it online and he had
spent more time explaining it to me (and the bookstore).

(5) Stephanie Carter, Reference/ILL Librarian, La Sierra University
Library, Riverside, California

A faculty member was searching for an obscure publication issued
at the turn of the century called Messenger of Truth.  We knew
the editor and that it was connected to the Christian Scientist
movement.  I put the question out on the Libref listserv and a
librarian who is a Christian Scientist was able to find the
location of some surviving copies of the publication.  I am
really grateful for the cooperation that individuals using the
net have given me.

(6, 7) John Iliff on Coquina Key and of Pinellas Park Public Library,

This one man came in saying he was going to Las Vegas for the weekend and
wanted to know what the weather would be like there.  As I fired up a
connection to the Weather Underground, I went into my standard spiel about
the Internet.  The patron, a crusty New Yorker, said, "I don't care about
all that crap.  Just tell me if I should pack my jacket."  Turned out he
needed his jacket, and I realized we had arrived at a new plateau.  The
Internet was just another important reference resource.  Who cares about
the details- just give me my information!

Another one was a case where a young woman was typing a resume on a PC and
I asked if she was looking for work.  She said her boyfriend was- for a
position as a foreign data exchange specialist.  Turned out that's a job
where folks trade money across borders.  I immediately went to our PC,
gophered into the Online Career Center (gopher.msen.com), and did a simple
search for foreign data specialist.  The first hit on the list was for,
sure enough, a foreign data exchange specialist that has been posted THAT
DAY.  A fax number was included, and the woman walked out with the job
notice and resume ready to send a fax.  I wish I could say her boyfriend
got the job, but I never saw her again.  It sure felt good, though, to
have such a great resource.

(8, 9) Steve Sorensen, Bracken Library, Ball State University,  Muncie,

Had a student using Compact Disclosure, but wanted the full 10-k for a
company, as filed.  I just happened to had the Edgar index on disc.  So I
drew up the listing for his company, and, since he already new about ftp,
he went off to the lab to retrieve it.  Ran into him later and found out
that it all worked for him.  We have since made Edgar available on our
gopher (bsu.edu).

I also was able to get the latest Nielsen ratings for a patron one evening
by fingering normg@halcyon.halcyon.com, which is listed on Scott Yanoff's
guide, Special Internet Connections.

(10) Mike McDermott, USM Libraries Reference, Maine

I was working with a patron who is a computer programmer working on an
animation project.  He had heard that the USGS is making digitalized
elevation data available for many regions in the U.S., and he wanted to
know how he could obtain this type of information.  I think he expected an
address where he could write and have the data sent, probably on a disk.

Knowing that the USGS has recently been putting a lot of information
online, I did a bit of poking around through gopher and WWW, and was able
to find a couple of large archives of this DEM (digital elevation module)
data that is freely downloadable.  This guy was really impressed when I
called him back and said "sure, bring in some disks and see if this is the
stuff you need."  It turned out to be *just* what he wanted.  Chalk one up
for the library!

(11) John S. Makulowich, Internet Trainer, Maryland

A teacher approached me saying that she had a student from Egypt who was a
national table tennis champion and who was looking for tournaments. In 30
seconds, we accessed the Usenet newsgroup on table tennis, found the name
of the 5-time US national champ (in Pittsburgh) and a number of
tournaments around the country. We also found the international rankings
for table tennis players. B^)

(12, 13)  Laurie Radde, Lake Agassiz Regional Library, Moorhead, Minnesota

Success #1  I found exactly what I needed on my second ever question on
Stumpers.  (Earth Changes Report was mentioned on national TV, causing
questions from New Hampshire to Minnesota at least.)  Someone was able to
locate the publishing information  and lots of folks were pleased.

Success #2  Tonight I explored a rather new, in-progress legislative
reference library gopher in the Minnesota state government and found
exactly what I needed--name of bill, number of bill, authors of bill, bio
of one of  them (I said it was in-progress!), and summary of bill-- most
of which I had been unable to find in the print sources at hand.

(14) Karen G. Schneider, Newark Public Library, New Jersey

The Internet "earns its keep" where I work due in no small part to the
tremendous health resources, many of them from the National Institute of
Health.  Not once but SEVERAL times this year I have had patrons approach
the science-reference desk to say, "I have just found out I have cancer.
Can you tell me more about this kind of cancer?"  Each time I have found
that the CANCERNET gopher (gopher gopher.nih.gov) has provided a wealth of
information on specific cancers, such as adult non-Hodgkins lymphoma (what
Jackie O. had).  The patient-information sheets are far more current,
comprehensive, and comprehendible than even our best paper resources.  I
start the search, then sit the patron down at the staff computer and (with
a little guidance here and there) let them pick the resources they want.
We download, print out, and discuss the data.  The patrons always ask,
"you mean I can KEEP this?"  I think retrieving such good information is
an empowering and dignifying exercise for our clients.

(15) Mary Lou Caskey, Mid-York Library system, New York

I was filling in for our reference specialist who was on vacation when a
request came in from one of our member libraries for information on the
Medical School at the University of Zagreb. That's in Croatia. I was
certain we had no book that was up to date for this. (No one does!) I
wasn't certain that it hadn't been blown up recently. So I got out on the
'net to see what I could find. Much to my surprise I found a University of
Zagreb gopher!  And to my further surprise I found several screens of
info. on the Medical School: courses required for the 6 year program,
faculty info. and their specialties, class size and the projects the
school staff was currently working on! So I printed it off and sent it to
the requesting library. That question could only have been answered via
the internet.

(16) Ray Jansen, Reference/Instruction Librarian, Cuyahoga Community
College, Ohio

One of the paralegal studies faculty members wanted to know if
there were any video tapes of actual trials available.  I was
asked if I could find this out, and I said I could.  I hadn't the
slightest notion of where to begin, but I determined that there
must be someone out there in law library land that would know.
So, I dragged out my copy of the Directory of Scholarly
Electronic Conferences (It's 372 pages) and found the LAWLIB
list.  I sent a message off to the moderator of this list, and in
a couple of days, I got two replies.  One of these replies
suggested that I contact Court TV, a cable service.  I ran these
folks down, and called them in New York.  When I called, I was
connected to their library service and discovered that they had
over two hundred trials on tape. They sent us a catalog of the
tapes, which were very moderately priced.  Everyone was very

(17) Julie Orenstein, Dunbar Library Wright State University, Dayton, Ohio

I heard about a genealogy listserve called Roots-l and logged on for a few
months.  There are a number of ways to research your family tree through
Roots-l.  One is to simply read the subject lines of the HUGE number of
messages you get (300 per day) looking for family names you're interested
in.  The other is to go throught their more formal research service where
you GET a list of the names being researched with the location (state,
county) and the years information is available about.  When you find a
match, you get the name and e-mail address of the person who put that
information out on the list and you can contact the person privately.  I
found two long-lost 'cousins' (about a million times removed, but
interesting nonetheless) and added some branches to my family tree.

(18, 19) Constance J. Britton, Ohio Agricultural Research & Development
Center,  Wooster Ohio

Culture of food: An extension specialist called needing references to
literature on the eating habits and food preferences of different cultures
for a series of pamphlets she was preparing.  A regular literature search
would be possible, but perhaps a little vague in its precision.  She
mentioned to me that she thought there might be something available from
the Food and Nutrition Information Center of the National Agricultural
Library.  I connected to the USDA Extension gopher, which had a gopher
link to the Food and Nutrition Information Center.  Once there I found a
bibliography called "Cultural Perspectives on Food and Nutrition".  This
was quickly saved using the gopher client and was sent to the specialist
on a floppy disk.  The complete bibliography was more that 80 pages in
length and retrieved more quickly than even doing a search on Agricola.

Car trouble: A friend was having serious car trouble, but was having
trouble getting it fixed because the symptoms could not be replicated by
the mechanics.  I sent message to the Usenet group rec.autos, describing
the problem.  Within 48 hours I received over 10 responses (most of them
with different suggestions as to the cause of the problem).  These were
shared with the mechanics as food for thought.  The mechanics tried 2
different adjustments (one suggested by a Usenet respondent) and the car
has not misbehaved since.  We don't know which adjustment worked, but I
can't help but be impressed by the extent of the assistance offered by
strangers on the internet.

(20) Jill Powell, Cornell University, New York

Last fall 1993 I had a request at the reference desk for a picture of a
roller coaster from a physics professor to use in a presentation.  I found
a enormous number of them at the ftp site gboro.rowan.edu.  I found this
site by doing a veronica search on roller coasters and reading a FAQ
document.  We later had a student do a multimedia project based on the
rich holdings of this ftp site.

(21) Tim Massie, Bryant College, Smithfield, Rhode Island

I wrote an article in our monthly publication "Bryant's Business," on
Internet Success Stories regarding faculty and administrative uses of the
Internet.  Among those success stories is one involving Professor Judy
Barrett Litoff who accessed the stacks at the Library of Congress (gopher
or telnet marvel.loc.gov) for information on a book about the ZamZam, an
Egyptian ship in WWII (info needed for Judy's latest book on the war).

(22) James E. Weaver, Whatcom County Library System, Washington
Email: halliday@henson.cc.wwu.edu

Last January (94) a client asked us to obtain "Algebraic couples with a
preliminary essay on time" by William Rowan Hamilton (pub. 1870 by OUP).
Our initial searching through WLN and LC turned up nothing, and so I
responded to the client.  He sent back my letter with the note scrawled
upon it: "This is a classic in the field, and an important seminal work!
I want to see it!" And so I retraced our searching, again without success.
At that point, I tried Internet.  I chose LIBREF-L because of my
perception of its more academic library orientation than that of

I missed a couple of replies when subject lines did not repeat *my*
subject line, so I may have received the answer sooner.  Even so, the
first reply I did notice came three days after I composed and sent my
request; it contained part of the answer (The mathematical papers of Sir
William)...then the Bodleian Library sent info that Hamilton was the
author of such a paper with a longer title than I had been given... I
looked again for Hamilton on WLN and found The mathematical papers ...
located at WSU across the state from me.  I called them, they verified
having the collection (though incomplete), *and* searched for their copy
and found for the paper.

(23, 24) Kip, Washington

How about finding a great B&B in Berkeley through a PUBYAC connection? I
suppose not a true reference request, as it was for myself, but it was a
wonderful place to stay and is not in any of the guidebooks.

I also found a purity test (in the humor file at Standford) for a patron
who wanted it for a discussion group he was leading. He was very pleased
with the two varieties of the test that I found there.

(25) Steve Herro, Todd Wehr Library, St. Norbert College, Wisconsin

As a reference librarian, I met a patron who needed to know the schedules
for the Milwaukee Brewers, Chicago Cubs, and Chicago White Sox for the
weekend of May 15, 1994.  The patron was planning a minivacation and he
and other baseball fans wanted to take in a game.

I telnetted to culine.colorado.edu 863, an address that has the complete
major league baseball schedule for the current year.  I determined that
the Yankees were in Milwaukee vs. the Brewers that weekend and that the
Marlins were in Chicago vs. the Cubs that weekend.

The patron and his friends chose the Cubs game.  (Little did they know
that the Cubs would play a month of games at home before winning one in
the "Friendly Confines" of Wrigley Field!).

------- End of Forwarded Message

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