Saturday, May 30, 2009

Chesterton quotation

Have you ever heard someone say, "In the words of (fill in the blank) who said (fill in the blank again)," and you think to yourself, "I wonder if that person really did say that." Well, you are not alone.

Recently, a question was posted on the Association of Christian Librarian's (ACL) listserv where a fellow librarian was wondering about the quotation, "Tolerance is the virtue of the man without convictions," attributed to G.K. Chesterton. She wanted to know exactly where it could be found in his works. She said she looked on different quotation websites, but they just indicated that Chesterton said it, but not where if was found. I looked on under quotations and didn't find anything. I found this website from the American Chesterton Society that has a list of quotations and citations, but the quotation about tolerance is not included. No one on the listserv was able to find the citation to the quotation either.

As one of the librarians on the ACL listerserv said, "Reference librarians remind me of a herd or gaggle or pack of angry English bulldogs. They just never let go," the question was then sent to the reference desks at the Library of Congress and the British Library. The librarian from the Library of Congress sent a wonderful response outlining what she did to find try to find the answer and her outcome. She wasn't able to find the citation either! If anyone finds it, she wants to know too! The librarian at the British Library couldn't find anything either.

So now what? We librarians are a tenacious people and will remember this in the back of our minds. We will always be looking out for it. If it was by Chesterton, someone will find it. The problem is, do you ever know when you have looked everywhere and exhausted every resource? What if he never said it? Do you know when to stop? What a dilemma.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009


I had read a lot about the ballyhooed launch of Wolfram|Alpha. It was designed by a scientist. I read about how it was going to give Google a run for its money. Well, I've looked at it and I think Wolfram|Alpha and Google are two totally different animals. Wolfram|Alpha should be used for finding answers to questions, particularly scientific questions like formulas, technical information and stuff like that. There outcomes are in the forms of graphs, charts or diagrams. Very scientific. Don't use this site trying to find a wide range of information on social sciences subjects or the humanities. This site will give you "vital statistics" on people, places dates, etc. Use Google, hakia or Grokker for social sciences and humanities information. It's a interesting site in terms of giving you "almanac" knowledge.

When I typed in my fav search, Henry VIII, I got this. You can tell Wolfram|Alpha was designed by a scientist and not a historian.

Check out this site. It is interesting. You really need to use it to really see what it is built to do. It gives you some sample topics to see what it will do. Know that this site is out there, but know when to use it and what it is for.

Monday, May 18, 2009


Have you ever wanted to paste a URL into a e-mail and the URL is so long that the e-mail software can't handle it? The automatic link doesn't work because there are too many characters. Ah, there are a couple of sites that can help.

One is called TinyURL. Just take the gigantic URL and paste it into the box. Then click on the make TinyURL and now you have a shorter link. It will still take your e-mail friend to the site, but it is easier to handle. They also have some tools you can put on your toolbar to make it easier to use.

There is another site I just heard of called It basically does the same thing as Tiny URL. It also has tools to make the site quicker to use.

It may seem like an extra step, and depending on the length of the site, it might be. But isn't it nice to be able to have the option to use it if you want to?

Wednesday, May 13, 2009


I keep hearing about new internet search engines. Here is another I just heard about yesterday. It is It searches for websites like Google, but it displays the results differently. It groups the results into different subjects. When I searched hakia for Henry VIII (my favorite evaluative search), the returns were sorted by Biography and Timeline, Image Search, Headline News, etc. In the middle of the page there is a helpful index of the different subjects under which the results are grouped. Click on the subject and it will jump to those results.

Across the top of the page are tabs, one of which is called "Credible Sites." Credible Sites are "recommended by librarians their quality and free of commercial bias." Popular websites are not necessarily credible and credible websites are not always popular. There is a list of the criteria used to decide whether or not a site is included as a Credible Site. You can read that page here. Right now hakia only has Credible Sites for Health and Environment. In the end, however, it is up to the searcher to review the site and decide if it they think the site is credible. But it is nice to have someone sift through a lot of the junk out there on the web.

Another tab is called "Galleries." This is a list of different subjects you can click on to get to an alphabetical list of topics, people, products, movies and so on depending on the subject. One word of caution: names of people are alphabetized by first name. So, under the "Famous People" list, Abraham Lincoln is under "A" not "L" as it would be indexed in most other places. Of course who you think should be on the "Famous Person" list and who the developers of hakia think should be on the list might be two very different things!

I think hakia and Grokker (see my previous post on Grokker) are great supplements to Google. I don't think Google will be replaced by these sites, but it is nice to have alternatives. Depending on what I am searching for, I might use Grokker and hakia first. If I don't find what I am looking for, or just want to make sure I don't miss anything, I would use Google as well.

Happy searching!

Saturday, May 9, 2009

What's for dinner?

Those three dreaded words. What's for dinner? It's 5:30 and you haven't figured out what to make for dinner. All you have is some chicken, and your family has already told you that if you cook it the same way again, there will be a mutiny. What to do?

I've heard about and tried out some of those recipe finding sites. Frankly, they didn't seem to be very helpful and the recipes didn't look very appetizing. So I went back to my stand-by, the Food Network website. They have tons of recipes for entrees, appetizers, desserts, etc. The nice thing is that the recipes are rated by people like you and me who have tried a particular recipe. Read the comments and learn what people like and didn't like about the recipe. Sometimes, they will make suggestions to make it differently.

Check out the "Recipes & Cooking." There are quick recipes, cookies, appetizers, pastas, etc. all categorized together. They also have suggestions for holidays, parties, foods in season and things like that.

Of course, because this site is connected with the Food Network, there will be lots of stuff about the shows and chefs. If you just use the recipe searches though, it's helpful. The only thing I find disconcerting is that some of the recipes will call for what I think are weird ingredients--at least ingredients I never have in my kitchen. I can safely say I have never had melon salsa nor pickled jalapenos in my house. But if you do, there are recipes for you! So go ahead and use that plum chutney.

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Hebrew for Christians

Not too long ago, a woman came into the church library I run and said she was interested in trying to learn some Hebrew on her own. She had been reading a book of fiction that had some Hebrew in it and was intrigued. We didn't have anything at the church library, so I checked at the Rivendell College Library. We had some textbooks, but none would allow her to work on her own. So I went to the internet.

I found a site called Hebrew for Christians. This site is run by a Messianic Jew who hopes to help Christians understand and embrace the Jewishness of their heritage. This site helps to teach the Hebrew alphabet, has audio to help with pronunciation, and lots of pages that introduce Christians to Jewish culture. This isn't a seminary level, but it might remind you of the importance of the Jewish culture in the Christian faith.

Friday, May 1, 2009


I heard about a new (for me) search engine today. It is called Grokker. The word "grok" is from Robert A. Heinlein's book "Stranger in a Strange Land" and is Martian for "to understand profoundly or intuitively." (

Grokker is search engine which retrieves, federates and clusters the your search returns. You can choose which sites you want to search: Yahoo, Wikipedia and/or Amazon. You can search all three at the same time if you want or any combination of them. After Grokker retrieves the information, it "federates" it, meaning it meshes it all together. Finally, it clusters the returns into categories.

What I really like about Grokker is the way they organize the information returned from the search. The information is actually organzied rather than a getting back a daunting list of 1.2 million hits. There is the Outline View (results from "grokking" Henry VIII), which breaks down the returns into categories. Click on the plus next to one of the categories and it will expand to show you all of the different subcategories. Map View is a visual representation of the return of hits. You can click on one of the circles and see the subcategories again. Click on Search Options and change the number of hits you will return. The default is 250, but you can request 500, 750 or 1,000. Have you ever looked at 1,000 Google returns? You can probably get most of the relevant information you need with just 250 returns. Finally, you can limit your results by using the tools on the left side of the screen.

Grokker is great in that it helps you easily redefine your search and understand your results. You can "grok" a fairly broad topic and Grokker helps you narrow your search. It saves you going through those 1.2 million hits.