April 10, 2008

Library search bar

Frazier mentioned something about this to me several weeks ago, but I finally found and installed the U of M library search bar into my Firefox browser. At first glance, it looks like a great project. The search bar is unobtrusive and allows you to search the library catalog without going to the library homepage. You can search by keyword, title, subject, author, or ISBN/ISSN. For my own purposes, I'd like to see a call number search, too, but that doesn't exist at this point.

The LibX extension works with both Internet Explorer and Firefox, and there have also been versions created by a number of other libraries as well - so if you're not at the U, you might be able to find this extension at your own library.

Go to http://www.lib.umn.edu/site/libx.phtml to install the University of Minnesota version.

April 7, 2008

Junto - a critical commentary

Well, for those of you who did not attend the 51st annual Midwest Junto for the History of Science held here at the University of Minnesota this past weekend, I can only say that you missed out on one hell of a conference. Jole Shackelford did a fantastic job organizing the conference this year (with help from Jacob Steere-Williams and supposedly from me too, but I really don't deserve any thanks since I didn't do much more than say "yea, that sounds good"). Jole made sure that there were two things present throughout the weekend: good coffee and plenty of alcohol. Even if every paper had been horrible (and that was by no means the case), I would have considered this a good weekend just for those two reasons. Oh, and banquet on Saturday night at The Bakken was incredible. Cafe 421 catered and completely outdid themselves. The food was amazing, the company was great, and atmosphere was elegant.

So far in this Junto commentary I've complimented the coffee, the alcohol, the food, and the environment. As a grad student, I'm not sure what else really matters, but luckily we had great presentations and a large turn out to boot. I believe that the final number of attendees was 71 with sessions being well attended all day on Saturday and most of Sunday. Of course, the usual faculty suspects were all there, plus a good group of graduate students from various universities. A good cohort of Iowa State students made the road trip up from Ames, many of them presenting and the rest were familiar from last year when they hosted the event. We also had a good group of University of Oklahoma students make the trip up from Norman (stipends must be good down there in Soonerville, they all flew instead making it a roadtrip). Guest appearances also occurred by grad students from University of Wisconsin, Missouri, Eastern Illinois, and Missouri University of Science and Technology. We also had great presentations from what us graduate students would call "professionals" from Linda Hall Library and Duke University. I would discuss the papers that I most enjoyed, but that would just show how prejudice I am towards the history of biology....

In general, it was a lively and successful Junto. There was even a graduate student party on Saturday night after the banquet in which our carefully manufactured home brew was unveiled. It turns out, if this grad school thing doesn't work out, a few of us in the department could have a future in the brewing industry....see our new label here.

Next year's Junto is being held at the Linda Hall library in Kansas City. I've never been to Missouri or Kansas, so I look forward to seeing familiar faces in a new place next year!

April 5, 2008

Cross-posted from FHSA: News and Views

The history of American science as a field has certainly grown by leaps and bounds since the 1970s, but how much has that history filtered into the public consciousness?  
I've been pondering this question because Isaac Newton just came to my small town as part of his latest FMA Live tour.  Who knew that "Newt" was so cool?  
His website is great fun, including a brief history of Newton's career that ends with "Thanks, Newt.  Props to you for being the Man Behind the Motion!"   This program is sponsored by Honeywell and is aimed at getting middle-schoolers excited about science.  

My question for you Minnesotans is which American scientist should be next to go on tour?  And, more importantly, which instrument should they play since Newton already has a lock on lead guitar?   Feel free to post ideas at the FHSA blog.