Why you should judge a book by its cover

Everyone knows the saying “don’t judge a book by its cover”. In his two Ted Talks, book designer Chip Kidd, the associate art director at Knopf, gives us a compelling reason to do so. These talks will make you think, make you laugh, make you want to read, and finally will make you look at all design in an entirely different light.

In the 2012 talk titled Designing books is no laughing matter. Okay, it is, Kidd describes the thought process that goes into creating book covers. He focuses on the importance of imagery, first impressions, and how book cover design influences the way you as the reader will perceive the story.

With his 2015 talk The art of first impressions — in design and life, Kidd gives the listeners an important lesson. That first impressions matter and our design choices (even the ones most of us never even think to notice) have an impact on how we see the world around us. He shows us how good design can grab your attention and the wrong design can leave a bad taste in your mouth.

The Pew Internet & American Life project and New IUCAT Beta

The Pew Internet & American Life project has released a new report entitled: Younger Americans’ Reading and Library Habits

You can find it here

You can see a summary here and/or download the full report.

This report covers the reading habits of 16 – 29 year olds, including the primary demographic for IU students.  The report mainly focuses on reading and how these demographics use e-books at a public library, but it also offers guidance about how discovery tools can be used. With IU about to launch a new discover library catalog interface I thought I would point out how New IUCAT Beta will address some of these suggestions.

Book covers – Many readers like to see what the book looks like as it inspires them to read it. New IUCAT Beta will contain Book covers supplied by Google Books. Eventually we hope to expand into DVD and CD covers as well.

Ease of finding books – New IUCAT Beta has easy to use facets to help users limit to just ebooks, or just print books, whatever the user prefers.

Ease of accessing e-materials – The New IUCAT Beta will allow users to have a one-step access to e-materials available to them. When they find an item they want, all they have to do is click on the URL. From there a login screen will pop up, the user logs in, and they now have access to their materials. There will no longer be a laborious login users have to get through.

List of new books – with the New IUCAT Beta users can RSS searches, allowing them to be notified when new books are added.

These are just some of the features the New IUCAT Beta has to offer users. Its an exciting and important change for IU, students, staff, and researchers.

My Favorite App: DoubleMap

I will fully admit that I am somewhat of a technology junky. I love to try new gadgets but can’t always afford them. So instead I like to try out apps on my IPhone, most of the time I find one I like for a few days or weeks and then forget about it. But every once in a while I hit that gold mine, that perfect app that changes my life and just makes everything easier.

For me Double Map is one of those apps I could not live without. It is also free which makes it an even bigger bonus. As a graduate student who lives on campus, does not have a car, and depends on the bus system Double Map makes my life so much easier.

This app is a real-time GPS bus tracking service based out of Bloomington, Indiana. It includes real-time bus updates, an easy-to-use website for riders, cross-platform mobile apps, an in-bus GPS tracking system. DoubleMap is currently being used by students at over a dozen institutions and more locations are coming.

Once you turn it on it tells you your locations with a small blue dot and shows you the closest bus stops and the different bus routes that go to that stop. It also shows you where the bus are in real time.

Photo of Bus Routes

You can also click on a bus stop to see when the next bus will arrive. Just select the route you want to view.

List of times the bus will arrive

Or you can filter down to  a particular bus route to just get the information for that route.

Bus Route Options

DoubleMap saves me time, makes using the bus a snap, and is also techy. All in all it’s a win win situation for me. It is available for both the Android and the iPhone and can be found in the Android Market and iPhone App Store.

Blacklight and Stemming

With the coming transition of the IUCAT public interface from the existing SIRSIDynix OPAC to the new Blacklight discovery layer there are a lot of exciting new features coming our way. Some examples include faceted searching, better results, an easier to use interface. Along with the change in the interface, we will see changes in how search works. One of these changes relates to truncation and word stemming.

Truncation is the ability to expand a keyword search to retrieve multiple forms of a word by using a specified symbol to replace a character or set of characters. The truncation symbol can typically be used anywhere within a word: at the end, beginning, or within a term. For example in the current IUCat a search for comput$ would find words such as:  computer, computers, computing, and computation. Truncation is a handy tool that can help bring back a lot of different results and it is a common search feature in most traditional OPACs and in many vendor databases. Blacklight, like other discovery layer interfaces such as VuFind, relies on a technique called word stemming rather than on truncation.

Word Stemming is when the catalog searches for the “root” of a word and displays all words with that stem. Rather than relying on the searcher to place a specific character to expand the search as in truncation, the use of word stemming initiates an automatic search for the “root” of a search term, then returns results with all words associated with that stem. This is similar to how Google searches, so users who use Google a lot won’t notice much of a difference.

Because this is an automatic process, oftentimes it is difficult or impossible to know or predict the “stem” terms for any particular word. For example, knees has a stem of knee, but kneel has a stem of kneel not knee. Another example of stemming is when you type the word “searching” or “search” or “searches” you’ll find they all stem to “search”. But “searcher” does not; it stems to “searcher”.

For searchers who are accustomed to truncation, there may be similar terms that would have been retrieved using truncation, but which will not be retrieved using word stemming because they do not share the same stem.

For many of our users, this change will not be apparent, but we hope this is a helpful explanation of this change for expert searchers accustomed to relying on truncation.