Thursday, June 28, 2007

Clusty Search Engine

A couple of years ago I told you about VivĂ­simo's clustering search engine. Clusty is its latest version and a whole new way to search the web.
Clusty queries several top search engines, combines the results, and generates an ordered list based on comparative ranking. This "metasearch" approach helps raise the best results to the top and push search engine spam to the bottom.
But what really makes Clusty unique is what happens after you search. Instead of delivering millions of search results in one long list, our search engine groups similar results together into clusters. Clusters help you see your search results by topic so you can zero in on exactly what you’re looking for or discover unexpected relationships between items. When was the last time you went to the third or fourth page of the search results? Rather than scrolling through page after page, the clusters help you find results you may have missed or that were buried deep in the ranked list.

Earth Trends

EarthTrends is a comprehensive online database, maintained by the World Resources Institute, that focuses on the environmental, social, and economic trends that shape our world.

Thursday, May 17, 2007

Wildcard Searches using NewsBank

Wildcards are symbols that replace one or more letters or characters in a search term. They are helpful when you want to make sure you will find variants of your search term - child - children.

Single character wildcard: ? - Wom?n will find women or woman

Multiple character wildcard: * - environment* will find environment, environments, environmentalist, etc.

You can also place the * in the middle of a word. This is especially helpful for when you are unsure of the spelling. Wol*z will find Wolfowitz.

Searching NewsBank

When searching a name, always use NewsBank's proximity search. For example if you searched for "Mary Smith" you might not find articles that used "Mary Jones Smith". Here is NewsBank's proximity syntax: "mary near3 jones". NewsBank's search engine is not case sensitive.

This is also helpful when you don't remember all the words of an organization's name: "guilford near4 health" will find articles with the term, "Guilford County Department of Health". *note that you choose the number that will separate your two search words.

News & Record Archives

Do you know where to find articles written by News & Record staff writers from 1979? 1929? 1990? Articles for all three dates will be found in three different places. See me, David or Marc if you don't know where to locate archived articles.

Tuesday, May 01, 2007

Veterans History Project

The Library of Congress Veterans History Project and the Public Broadcasting Service (PBS) announced a joint community engagement initiative designed to gather first-hand recollections of the diverse men and women who served our nation during wartime. The public outreach campaign begins this spring and will continue beyond the broadcast of Ken Burns’ new film, "The War," which is scheduled to air on PBS beginning on September 23, 2007.

Wednesday, April 25, 2007

National criminal background checks

An article written byJackie Walters, Technical Services Librarian at Wiley Rein LLP for the Spring 2007 newsletter, Law Library Lights says that there are 7 facts that contradict the myth that a national criminal background check is even possible:
1. No central repository exists for federal, sate, and local criminal records.
2. Only 25 states - of the 49 states D.C. & Puerto Rico that have automated records - are fully automated.
3. There are no standards for collecting records.
4. Conducting on-site, county level searches where an individual has lived could be cost-prohibitive.
5. States are increasingly restricting personally identifying data, such as birth dates and SS #s and without this data you cannot link information across record types, and how do you know you even have the "right" John Doe?
6. Permissible use of these records are limited and sometimes restricted by federal and state privacy statutes.
7. So-called "national" databases are restricted to government users - law-enforcement agencies or agencies authorized by the FBI.

But don't let that stop you from requesting a search for your story. We'll do our best.

Thursday, April 19, 2007

Guns and violence

In response to the shootings Monday at Virginia Tech, Newswise has created a Breaking News Channel on Guns and Violence. The channel is a collection of articles and experts related to guns, gun laws, and violence in our nation's schools.

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

The Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press

The Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press announced the availability of of a free, bi-weekly audio podcast called News Media Update. It supplements the Reporters Committee's biweekly newsletter News Media Update and covers recent developments and trends in media law that affect journalists and media attorneys. Topics include libel, invasion of privacy, freedom of information, reporter's privilege (keeping sources and information confidential), access to courts, newsgathering rights, and prior restraints.

Topics from yesterday's podcast: Virginia gun permit access; Florida secret docket ruling; Columbine depositions; Illinois Chief Justice's libel claim; interview with Lucy Dalglish on Josh Wolf.

This info forwarded to the News Library list serv from Genie Tyburski -Web Manager, The Virtual Chase

Monday, April 16, 2007

Finding 990s - Free

Foundation Center web site was mentioned on the News Library List Serv as a place to find older 990s. They also offer an online course that explains how to read the 990.

Click here for the 990 finder.

Thursday, April 12, 2007

20 Leading Occupations of Employed Women

U.S. Dept of Labor lists the top 20 jobs for women in 2006 and the median weekly earnings for those jobs. Registerd nurses are the highest paid ($971) and cashiers, the lowest ($327).

National Health Spending

Health spending reached nearly $2 trillion in 2005

National Health Spending in Billions
Spending Levels
1960 1970 1980 1990 2000 2003 2004 2005 2006 2007
$28 $75 $254 $714 $1,353 $1,733 $1,859 $1,988 $2,123 $2,262

Note: Selected rather than continuous years of data are shown prior to 2003. Years 2006 forward are CMS projections.Source: Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS), Office of the Actuary.Health Care Costs 101

From the California HealthCare Foundation

Friday, March 23, 2007

Student Multimedia Showcase

School of Journalism and Mass Communication at the UNC at Chapel Hill has a newly redesigned web site. Check out the top right-hand "student showcase" box to see samples of student multimedia work.

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

Chronicling America

View newspaper pages from 1900 to 1910 from the following states: California, District of Columbia, Florida, Kentucky, New York, Utah, and Virginia.

Chronicling America is a prototype Website providing access to information about historic newspapers and select digitized newspaper pages, and is produced by the National Digital Newspaper Program (NDNP). NDNP, a partnership between the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) and the Library of Congress (LC)...

Monday, March 19, 2007

Favorite web sites

News librarians share their favorite web sites:
Carbon Dioxide Information Analysis Center at Oak Ridge National Laboratory – for information and data on global warming

Quick facts:; Library Spot;
How Stuff Works ;
CIA World Factbook

Free translations

For small newspapers - HomeTownNews and
Nonprofits - Guidestar
Public records assistance - SearchSystems
For newspapers and magazines, Radio and TV: NewsLink

Friday, March 16, 2007

They Rule

This site was mentioned on the News Library List:
They Rule aims to provide a glimpse of some of the relationships of the US ruling class. It takes as its focus the boards of some of the most powerful U.S. companies, which share many of the same directors. Some individuals sit on 5, 6 or 7 of the top 500 companies. It allows users to browse through these interlocking directories and run searches on the boards and companies. A user can save a map of connections complete with their annotations and email links to these maps to others. They Rule is a starting point for research about these powerful individuals and corporations.

They Rule allows you to create maps of the interlocking directories of the top companies in the US in 2004. The data was collected from their websites and SEC filings in early 2004, so it may not be completely accurate - companies merge and disappear and directors shift boards.

Thursday, March 15, 2007

Hot Jobs

Recent press release from the Dept of Labor:
  • Sixteen of the 30 jobs with the fastest growth are health related, while 6 are computer related. Most of the remaining fast-growth occupations are in environmental services and education (See Table 1).
  • Fast-growth occupations have growth rates of 30 percent or higher, more than twice the average for all occupations—13.0 percent (See Table 1).
  • The fastest-growing major occupational group—professional and related occupations—is made up mostly of occupations that generally require postsecondary education or training.
  • Examples of these are physician assistants, network systems and data communication analysts, computer software engineers, database administrators, physical therapists, preschool and postsecondary teachers, and environmental engineers.

Sunshine Week

Charlotte Observer news researchers Maria Wygand and Marion Paynter are writing a Sunshine Week blog that gives web sites and useful tips on obtaining public records that anyone can use. They are also taking questions from the public. They have pulled a lot of information together. Check it out.

I attended the N.C. Open Government Coalition's forum this morning at the Sunshine Center on the Elon University campus. They are a great group who are working hard to keep public records public.

Monday, March 12, 2007

Women's History Month

Here is a contact for issues dealing with women in the military:

Defense Department Advisory Committee on Women in the Military
Official Mailing Address:OUSD (P&R) DACOWITSRoom 2C548A, 4000 Defense PentagonWashington, DC 20301-4000 Telephone: (703) 697-2122DSN# 227-2122

Tuesday, March 06, 2007

Elon Law Expert Sources

Lanita was at Elon’s Law School today and got a quick breakdown on who are experts on what. The faculty is eager to be of assistance to us when we’re looking for a local source.

Constitutional Law: Steven Friedland and George Johnson
Torts (lawsuits between people) and international law: Helen Grant
Procedure and trials: Catherine Dunham
Legal education/property/criminal law: Steven Friedland

Contact information for all faculty can be found here:

Monday, March 05, 2007


Just ran across this Feb 25th article from the American Psychological Association titled, PSYCHOLOGICAL NEEDS OF MILITARY PERSONNEL AND THEIR FAMILIES ARE INCREASING—STRAINING MILITARY HEALTH CARE SYSTEM, REPORTS APA TASK FORCE - still newsworthy in light of the Washington Post's recent articles.

Regional and State Unemployment

The Bureau of Labor Statistics released this report recently:

Annual average unemployment rates declined between 2005 and 2006 in 43states and the District of Columbia and in all 4 regions, the Bureau ofLabor Statistics of the U.S. Department of Labor reported today. Employ-ment-population ratios rose in 41 states and the District of Columbia andin all 4 regions. The U.S. jobless rate fell by 0.5 percentage point to4.6 percent in 2006, while the national employment-population ratio increased by 0.4 percentage point to 63.1 percent.

Here is a link to the table of contents for other releases.

Thursday, March 01, 2007

Tuesday, February 27, 2007

Podcasts Searches

Heard about a great podcast but can't find it? Here are a couple of search engines that searches audio content for keywords. Regular search engines are looking only at the audio metadata such as headlines.


Monday, February 26, 2007

Using Wikipedia for research

Where else but Wikipedia could you find an article examining the merits of using Wikipedia for research?

Here are some things to keep in mind when using Wikipedia:
  • Always be wary of any one single source, or of multiple works that derive from a single source.
  • Where articles have references to external sources (whether online or not) read the references and check whether they really do support what the article says.
  • In many academic institutions, an encyclopedia is unacceptable as a major source for a research paper.

Friday, February 23, 2007

Google Guide

GoogleGuide offers instruction on getting more out of your Google search. For example, you don't have to locate a web dictionary to look up words; just type define:word into the Google search box to get definitions of your word.

Other examples:
phonebook: Lucky32 NC - searches for Lucky 32'S phone numbers in North Carolina
rphonebook: jane smith VA - searches for all Jane Smith's in Virginia
movie: breach - searches for information about this movie, including reviews, showtimes, etc.

Thursday, February 22, 2007

African-American Family History

Read the entire news release: Breaks Barriers in Black Family History Research With Launch of Largest Online Collection of African-American Historical Records
Newly Expanded Collection Traces Back to Thousands of African-Americans Living Before the Civil War
PRNewswirePROVO, Utah
PROVO, Utah, Feb. 21 /PRNewswire/ -- In celebration of Black History Month,, the world's largest online resource for family history, today announced the launch of the largest collection of African-American family history records available and searchable online.

Tuesday, February 20, 2007

Health Resources

More web resouces via Amy Dominello:

The State Center for Health Statistics in North Carolina has released new publications and data on its web site:

Central Cancer Registry:
2003 Cancer Incidence in North Carolina, County-Specific Numbers

County-level Data:
2007 County Health Data Book
Best resource for county level data published in conjunction with the Community Health Assessment Initative.

Periodic Publications:
2005 North Carolina Health Statistics Pocket Guide
2005 Local Health Department Facilities, Staffing, and Services Survey

PRAMS Surveillance Updates:
Infant Exposure to Secondhand Smoke - 2006
Maternal Smoking Around the Time of Pregnancy - 2006

Special Studies and Reports:
SCHS Study 152 -
The Association of Breastfeeding and Childhood Asthma:
Results from the 2005 North Carolina Child Health Assessment and Monitoring Program
A Resource Guide for Community Health Assessment

Vital Statistics:
North Carolina Vital Statistics, Volume 1 - 2005
The tables of this report show annual frequencies, annual rates, and 5-year rates for the state, six Perinatal Care Regions, and the 100 counties of North Carolina.

Web Resources for a Slow News Day

Not that today is a slow news day, but here are some places to look if it was:
  • Also a search engine, organized by subjects, includes current event topics - up now are links to Madi Gras
  • Census Bureau's Newsroom includes facts for features, monthly & quarterly economic indicators, news releases about the nation's people and economy
  • Yahoo Groups Organized by subjects - with millions of groups
  • Glo Clubs Clubs and forums - connect with people who are passionate about...
  • ivillage Grouped by subjects – from babies to work – also has magazines link.
  • ScienCentral News: ScienCentral specializes in science and technology content. Some topics covered include environment, general sciences, genetics, health/medicine, space, technology.

Wednesday, February 14, 2007

What's Happening to the News?

Be sure to catch part 3 to Frontline's four part series on the future of newspapers on Feb 27.

In part three of "News War," entitled "What's Happening to the News,"FRONTLINE examines the mounting pressure for profits faced by America's network news divisions and daily newspapers, as well as growing challenges from cable television and the Internet. Bergman talks to network executives, newspaper editors and publishers, bloggers, Wall Street analysts and key players at Google and Yahoo! about the battle for market dominance in a rapidly changing world.

Friday, February 02, 2007

Free wi-fi hotspots in Greensboro

Here is a list of free wi-fi hotspots in Greensboro via The site allows you to add a hotspot, and to look up hotspots by state, city or zip. According this list, Greensboro is number 3 behind Charlotte and Raleigh.

Daylight Savings Time - Just call it Summer Time

The Energy Policy Act of 2005 extends Daylight Savings Time beginning this year.

Dr. David Prerau has written the definitive book on the story of DST, Seize the Daylight: The Curious and Contentious Story of Daylight Saving Time. Check out the Seize the Daylight web site to read some interesting facts about Daylight Savings Time, for example did you know that Benjamin Franklin, living in Paris, first conceived the notion of daylight saving time. And Europe just calls it "Summer time".

Other web sites with information about daylight savings time include:
The California Energy Commission - with facts related to the energy saved
And of course, good old Wikipedia

Wednesday, January 24, 2007

40th Super Bowl

Super Bowl XLI will be played Feb. 4 at Dolphin Stadium in Miami. It marks the 40th anniversary of the first AFL-NFL championship game, in which the Green Bay Packers defeated the Kansas City Chiefs in Los Angeles. To commemorate this occasion, the Census Bureau has compiled a collection of facts examining how life in the United States has changed since Super Bowl I. This fact sheet also examines the demographics of the host city, as well as the cities represented by the contenders, in this year’s edition of our nation’s most celebrated sporting event. Unless otherwise indicated, the data come from the 2005 American Community Survey.

North Carolina Employment Rates

North Carolina’s employment increased in December for the sixth consecutive month and remained at a record level, according to statistics released on Jan 19 by the state’s Employment Security Commission. The state’s seasonally adjusted unemployment rate remained at 4.9 percent for the month.

The next release of data will be on January 26, for December employment rates.

Tuesday, January 23, 2007

Ask X

Ask X is getting some great reviews from researchers. Check it out.

Thursday, January 18, 2007

NC DOT contacts

Rock reporter, Gerald Witt sent along this web link for Division 7 (Guilford, Rock, and Alamance) DOT contacts - email address and phone numbers.

The state directory has a list by department, including Division 7.

Thanks, Gerald!