Useful ways of tracking, finding and getting hold of information
Networking – New publications, whether books, journal articles, conference proceedings are usually announced somewhere and the necessary details circulated to people or institutions who might be interested, by the writers, publishers or other interested parties. If I knew people who would be attending a conference I would always ask them to collect copies of any handouts, abstracts, newsletters, publicity material for me. Unfortunately, the rise of the PowerPoint presentation has virtually killed the writing down of conference papers and much valuable information has been lost, unrecorded. I do at least though get my hands on the names and email addresses of those who have presented. Then it’s up to me to write and nag for copies of anything relevant. And nag. And Nag!
Journals – each issue of those subscribed to will need to be checked as soon as it is published for relevant articles, possible references, book reviews, news etc.
Reference lists The bibliographies/reference lists of these new or newly acquired publications can then be checked for anything not already known or held in the library. Then these have to be tracked down, and nagged for, or copies obtained in other ways.
Academic databases/indexes Relevant examples are Medline, British education Index, ASSIA. These give abstracts or basic details of articles published. These have to be gone though carefully to find relevant materials. Previously only available in paper form, it is now possible to access them via the Internet if you have a subscription. I was lucky to be able to do this via the University of Wolverhampton’s subscription. Not now, unfortunately. Then there are the specially compiled lists that are circulated to anyone interested, like the weekly cerebral palsy research listings compiled by the Spastics centre library in Australia. They have to be gone through too for anything of relevance.
Search engines There is an amazing number of search and meta-search engines out there on the Internet, all offering something slightly different . Google tends to be everyone’s first choice with everyone for good reasons but others can be useful too ( see my earlier posting, Maguire 2008) .
Alerts Some search engines offer an Alerts service for items in your area of interest and you can use a number of key words and phrases e.g “Conductive Education”, “cerebral palsy”, “charities” for new entries on the Internet each the moment that they appear. Google also offers this service blogs.
Online news services Those search engines who provide daily news e.g. Google, Yahoo, MSN may have an archive for retrospective searching too.
Google Scholar and Books Also useful listing of items searchable by keyword. Some books are also available in full.
Book sellers/publishers Such sellers as Amazon, Play.com, Abebooks continually update their listings and also offer items at competitive prices alongside second-hand copies. Publishers such as Blackwells, and other online catalogues can be useful too.
Other languages Searches on the internet for CE using other languages, particularly Hungarian, German, Portuguese are also very productive.
Serendipity Quite often I’ve found things while looking for something else using any of the above means.One search engine, Bananaslug is particularly useful for this and will join your keyword with a selection of other random words and bring up very interesting results!
Enquiries those who make contact for help with their dissertation/project/research have always been asked to present a copy of the finished work to the Library and this can then be checked for further unknown items.
CE Centre Newsletters These usually quite often contain information about local events, research projects etc which can be followed up on. Some are not available on the internet and have to be requested , even begged for! Over the years the National Library has established a considerable stock of such publications, probably a unique record of the history of the internationalisation of CE.
Academics Because there are virtually no academics working continuously in the field, personal bibliographies aren’t found on the Internet. One exception to this is Jo LeBeer, Utrecht University. (Lebeer, 2009). It would be nice to have more like this. Established fields take them for granted. Some (not all) of the academics working in CE briefly, can be very good at producing items and giving copies on request. Lena Lind (Sweden) has been particularly good at this.
Press cuttings This is a colossal task (now done mainly through Internet editions of newspapers, magazines and other media) and needs tracking via several news services on a daily basis. A knowledge of the field is particularly useful here as many items do not actually include the words Conductive Education. Knowing the name of a centre or conductor or celebrity can make the difference and cerebral palsy articles are frequently about Conductive Education and don’t mention it.
Keep on searching When new material is published, I make a search to check around the names, places etc mentioned for other items. For example, take the new article mentioned in the previous posting. The article comes from Hawaii. I used as many of the above options as I’m able to now and searched for Conductive Education and Hawaii. I did not get very much, but enough to provide an interesting lead to follow up with a personal email enquiry. This doesn’t mean there isn’t anything more, just that nothing has been found yet. It is worth remembering that a different day can produce a different selection using the same search criteria. Most of the references appeared to be old, pre 2000, but I found an email address for the one-time CE Centre in Hawaii and have written to ask for more information. A quick look at the online catalogue of the University of Hawaii only produced one reference on Conductive Education, Cottam and Sutton (1986). Surprisingly, the article in question does not refer to this. I found no other association with Conductive Education for the two authors. Before, as librarian at NICE, I would have contacted them to let them know about the Library, ask for a copy of their work, and offer the library’s services. It is surprising how many people do not know of the Library’s existence despite the internet and networking.
Copyright After finding new material it is important to adhere to Copyright Law before printing off from the Internet, so necessary permissions have to be requested . This can take time and occasionally no reply is forthcoming so the attempt to obtain permission needs to be formally recorded.
Passing this on A newsletter was circulated to staff at NICE every six weeks or so listing the fruits of such searches. I hope to continue with these on this blog and posted the first one recently (Maguire, 2009b).
Cataloguing etc Finally, – how do I remember things – well, I’ve been lucky to have a good memory all my life and working with the literature every day made remembering things relatively easy, but I’m sure that, as there is so much now, I have forgotten things too. That is what libraries have catalogues for. The classifying, cataloguing and preparation of items for users are the next stages and this systematic organisation of the library’s contents helps to make the items easily accessible, if not always remembered. Great care needs to be taken choosing the appropriate keywords and classification for each item and this part of library management would make a blog all of its own!
Cottam, P. and Sutton, A., ed. (1986) Conductive Education: a system for overcoming motor disorder. London: Croom Helm.
Lebeer, J. (2009) Academic bibliography. http://www.ua.ac.be/main.aspx?c=jo.lebeer
Maguire, G. (2008) What does a librarian do?
Maguire, G. (2009) We seek it here, we seek it there