Where’s the proof? In the pudding? Clichéd confusion

proof of the pudding, chocolate

Is the proof under the strawberry?

I just heard someone else say, “the proof is in the pudding.” What’s that supposed to mean?

Sayings become clichés for a reason. They express a thought in a short, easily memorable form that people over a wide range of time and geography want to express. So it gets used over and over.

Sometimes people get careless and don’t say it correctly. All meaning goes out the window, but unfortunately, the mangled version sometimes takes on a life of its own. It becomes as common as the correct, meaningful version, or maybe even more common. Continue reading

4 library tips for busy college students

Library circ desk

Circulation desk

Writing papers and preparing for other assignments can take a lot of time. You can probably think of all kinds of other things you’d rather do with your time.

Worse than time spent researching and writing papers is time wasted researching and writing papers. Here’s how to put your time to productive use: Continue reading

The Library of Congress Turns a Page

james billington 13th librarian of congress in  history

James Billington, 13th Librarian of Congress (1987-2015)

The Librarian of Congress is not an official who makes the news often, but the current Librarian of Congress, James Billington, announced his retirement last June. President Obama will appoint the next Librarian of Congress, becoming only the 10th President in history to have that opportunity. Billington was appointed by Ronald Reagan in 1987.

You know that the Library of Congress is the library, well, of Congress. Congress created a library for its own use very early in the nation’s history. But it has become more than that. It’s America’s unofficial national library.

It affects the workings of every other library in the country. And you can use it without leaving home through its website Continue reading

How search engines and library catalogs work

Online library catalog
Online library catalog

OPAC = Online public access catalog

You know how to use a search engine. Decide what keywords you want to search and type them into the search box. Then see if the results returned the information you expected.

Do you know how to use a library catalog? Even though you will probably see a single search box like a search engine’s, if you expect it to work the same way you will be frustrated.

That single search box is not the only way to search the catalog. It’s not even the best way.

If you see a link to “advanced search,” click on it. Once you understand the difference between a search engine and a catalog, “advanced search” will return better results with a lot less trouble.

Search engines

server farm

This picture actually shows a Facebook server farm in Sweden. There’s a lot more than a photographer can cram into one picture. Google’s server farms surely look similar.

How does a search engine work? When you type your search, the search engine’s automated procedures have already performed two important tasks. Continue reading

What Everyone Ought to Know about Disasters: FEMA Website

FEMA relief effort
FEMA relief effort

Volunteers cleaning flood-damaged home in West Virginia

You don’t want to deal with FEMA, the Federal Emergency Management Agency. It’s not because it’s a federal bureaucracy, which is bad enough.

It’s because the only time they come to town is when you’ve suffered a catastrophe: severe weather, wildfires, earthquakes, or various manmade disasters like chemical spills.

You don’t want to deal with them. But it’s a good idea to look at the FEMA website.

The home page is simple and attractive. The site itself is many layers deep and may require some hunting to find exactly what you need to know. It contains information not only for you, the property owner, but also for insurance professionals and other people in other important roles.

The screen shots below (captured June 23, 2015) show what’s in the menus at the top of the home page, and then what you find when you scroll down to the next part of the page. Continue reading