Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Martindale's The Reference Desk

Martindale's The Reference Desk has has to be one of the most extensive informational web pages I have ever seen. It says it has "over 23,075 calculators and spreadsheets, over 3,535 courses, lectures, manuals and handbooks and 1,000's of movies, videos, simulations and animations."

Well, that sounds like a lot of stuff. And it is. Almost overwhelmingly so. It is a great resource if you want to find out how fast a dinosaur can run, learn to play the didjeridu, review the dental anatomy of a llama or check on a traffic cam on the Sydney Harbour Bridge (among a million other things).

I found all of the above links through the Martindale site. Have some fun exploring it. You might find something that is really interesting. You might find something that you can file away in your brain to use another time. You never know when you might need recipes for cooking up an emu or to calculate your dog's age.

Monday, March 30, 2009

Inklings & Chesterton

Yesterday at church, my friend Bobby (and little Padraig) came into the library and we had a very nice chat about the UK, my family's upcoming trip to London this summer and his family's move to Northern Ireland. As we talked about all things London, Bobby said one of the places he would love to go is the pub the Inklings hung out at in Oxford. (I don't know if it is proper for me to use the words "hung out" and "Inklings" together, but I digress). Bobby is a fan of G.K. Chesterton, one of the Inklings. The college I work at is called Rivendell College, after a place in J.R.R. Tolkien's Lord of the Rings. Some of our students live at the C.S. Lewis House.

Because of these ties to the Inklings, I built an Inklings Page on the Library Resources section of Rivendell College's web page. On it I have links to websites that have more information on all of the Inklings as well as a picture of the Eagle and Child (aka the Bird and Baby).

Back to Chesterton. Bobby mentioned that he was significantly impacted by Chesterton's book Orthodoxy. I found it free here. It is also available for free at Christian Classics Ethereal Library (see my post on 3/26/09 re CCEL).

I also mentioned to Bobby that I have been listening to The Innocence of Father Brown, one of Chesterton's book of short story mysteries on my iPod. I downloaded it for free from Project Gutenberg, which has free, full-text books, human-read and computer-generated audiobooks, among other stuff.

All these links should keep any fan of any of the Inklings busy for quite awhile.

Saturday, March 28, 2009

Visuwords (TM)

I think this is one of the coolest websites on the Web. It is called Visuwords (TM). they call it an "online graphical dictionary." Type in a word and it will give you a definition when you put the cursor over the word. It will also display all kinds of related words that expand and kind of look like a neural net. Double click on one of the related words and watch it "sproing" again. Yes, I said sproing. Really, it's the only word that works. You'll understand.

Friday, March 27, 2009

Music Anyone?

In 1984, I took a music appreciation class at UCLA. I don't remember the composer I studied for that class. I'd have to look it up. But the important part of this story is that I could get extra credit if I went to see a little movie called "Amadeus" and turned in my movie stub to the professor. Seeing a movie was not hard to do, living in Westwood. So, I went to see it. It was one of the most profound musical experiences of my life. I immediately bought the soundtrack. It is now on my iPod. Twenty-five years later, I never tire of it.

The most memorable scene in the movie for me is when Salieri, who is in an insane asylum, describes a particular piece of Mozart's music. He describes it so beautifully and in such vivid language. I figured it wouldn't be hard to find that part of the movie on YouTube, and I was right.

I eventually found the score for this part of the work, having worked at the UCLA Music Library. But over the years, the copy of those pages of the score have disappeared. Could I find the score again? Online, for free?

First, I had to get the title and number. Specifically, it is Serenade for Winds in B-flat, K. 361 3rd movement (Adagio). I found the name of the piece on Amazon by searching for the soundtrack. I got the specific movement from Classical Archives.com.

I wanted to find the score for free. I looked at the free sheet music sites I know, but no luck. I finally Googled it and found Sheetmusicfox.com. I found the piece and downloaded it for free. The movement I was looking for starts on page 21.

Well, now, I have the score, but only a portion of the music. YouTube to the rescue. Follow along on the sheet music if you like.

All this for free. And a little Secret Agent knowledge.

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Welcome to my blog

No, I am not a secret agent and I don't work for any governmental agencies. I am the librarian of two small libraries. One is the library at Rivendell College in Boulder, Colorado. The other is a church in Boulder.

I didn't come up with the name "Secret Agent Librarian" myself. A co-worker and I were discussing blogs the other day and she said I should write one. That got me thinking about what to call it, "branding" if you will. I thought of a bunch of different things, but not one that I really liked.

Yesterday, one of the professors at Rivendell came into my office and asked me if we had "Calvin's Commentaries." He needed to see one of the volumes for a footnote. We don't have the set, but I said, "I'm sure we can find it free online." I quickly found it at Christian Classics Ethereal Library and showed it to him. He was very excited at the thought of accessing Calvin for free. As he walked off toward his office, he said over his shoulder, "You librarians are like secret agents or something!" I laughed. I also had the name of my blog!

This is one of the missions of my blog, to let readers know where to find cool and helpful websites like Christian Classics Ethereal Library. See? That's one!