New(s) @ Axe

News and Events of the Leonard H. Axe Library, and of the
Kansas Technology Center Library - Pittsburg (KS) State University

Friday, February 23, 2007

You Don't Have to Come to the Library to Crack Your Favorite Dictionary or Encyclopedia Anymore

On February 4, 2007, in blog in the New York Times, former talk show host-turned-newspaper-columnist, Dick Cavett, castigated our President for his "goofy inability" to pronounce the word "nuclear", scolding our Leader with the words: "What is so hard? A school kid botching it Bush's way - "nuke-you-lur" - would have to stand in the corner. Fortunately, an oval office has no corners."

Very funny, Dick, but lighten up! Mr. Bush's problem is that he doesn't have access to the American Heritage Dictionary Online as we do here at Pitt State. Our online version is not only available to us here but at home, if you sign in with your "user name" (student ID) and "Pass word" (GUS Pin). And it has something that the paper version does not. If your computer has a speaker, just turn it up and click on the tiny speaker next to the definition (In our example, "Of or relating to atomic nuclei") and you will hear a smooth, well educated voice pronounce the word the way it should be pronounced (Nuke-Lee-Ar). If one of our students becomes the first Kansas President to inhabit the White House since Eisenhower ("American general and the 34th President of the United States (1953-1961)." American Heritage defines famous people, too.) that person will never make the same mistake.

But that's only my favorite dictionary. How about your favorite encyclopedia? Let's say you are putting together a report on a President (Ford) or another world leader (Saddam Hussein). And let's say that you think these two public figures have just died, but can't remember the date. And "googling" it is out because the teacher has asked you to use a reliable [translation: Non Web] source. Well, there is good news, here. Two of the best encyclopedias published in the United States, the Encyclopedia Britannica Online and the WorldBook Online, are available to our students. Both of these encyclopedias have unique features, such as a clickable atlas, and both are updated everyday. (Gerald Ford's death date is December 26th, 2006; Saddam Hussein's, December 30th). Oh, and at two in the morning, you remember that your teacher said "don't forget to put your citations in MLA (Modern Language Association) or APA (American Psychological Association) format." No problem. Both encyclopedias give MLA format. Britannica, not to be outdone by an arch rival, gives both. Just go down to the end of the article.

And we now have a whole library of reference books in the form of Oxford Reference Online, brought to us by Oxford University Press. Oxford has assembled about 230 of its premier reference books and made it possible for a student to search them all at once. One realy nice feature they provide is called the "Search Oxford Reference Button", a bit of javascript code that can be added to your browser's toolbar. You may search the suite of Oxford Reference works by highlighting a section of text on any web site and clicking on the Oxford Reference Button. Languages translated, words defined, biographies found... life is good.

In honor of President's Day, let's run a search on John Fitzgerald Kennedy. Twenty six entries come up, in such varied sources as A Dictionary of Space Exploration (because of his pledge to put a man on the moon in a decade), A Dictionary of World History, The Oxford Essential Dictionary of the U.S. Military, The Oxford Guide to the United States Government and the Oxford Companion to United States History, to name a few. Several of the other famous Kennedy relatives, such as his parents, Joseph and Rose, his wife, Jacqueline and his brothers, Robert and Edward also show up in the same search. And, yes, at the end of the article you are given the citation in MLA format.

One more perk. If you are using the reference works in the Library, you can send the articles to yourself via e-mail. So, maybe those "all nighters" can end at 11PM instead of 2 AM. And you won't need any "Red Bull".


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