All posts by The Naked Librarian

Searching For An Article With Just One Keyword

A very lovely CELC lecturer posed TNL quite a challenge one day. It was out of desperation to cite correctly a newspaper article that she emailed her this question – what is the author’s name of a ST article titled “Values we value”, published some time this year.

Here is what TNL did. Keep in mind, the old girl works isolated in her own world of quirky logic and hyperboles.

TNL’s database of choice – Factiva.

In this case, TNL goes for the jugular. When she searches for an article, she only wants see 1 article. The correct one. Don’t want to waste time browsing. Maximum efficiency.

In this case, she tried this triple combo of :

  • Phrase
  • Source
  • Date Range



Nope. That didn’t help.


Ok, then, scale it down to maybe Warp Factor 5, maintain efficiency, and feeling kinda “lucky” TNL applied the not-so-popular-but-cool “atleast5″.



Sort By Relevance. (Because we all know what Relevance does, don’t we?)





Check out Article #3. QED.

So, you see, the article title was incorrect in the first place.  If you want to know why TNL took those steps, leave a comment here to ask her. She’ll blog about it.

La Luna (Or How TNL Got Her Groove Back)

It takes a moon. Go figure.

Walking back home one balmy evening, TNL looked up in the grey evening sky and there it was – a slice of lemon in the sky.

A few years ago, she had started a game with a friend before he upped and left for an orphanage in Africa.

“Do you see the same moon as I do?” TNL had text-ed. And he had text-ed back , “I see the Cheshire cat.” :-)

Whenever she happens to be out in the evenings, TNL could not resist looking up to the sky and wondered if her friends would see the same moon as she did.

So she had text-ed 2 friends whom she thought of when it comes to all things beautiful in its simplest form. Both had exhibited their black-and-white photos and both were sensitive to what they see. “Look up in the sky. A slice of lemon.”

And you know what – both, mind you, both, replied – they don’t see the moon from their windows.

That was it. There it went. This romantic notion of sharing the sublime and the subtle, the beautiful and the benign with kindred spirits.

What happened to my friends?! It’s a Saturday evening! Go out, look up! Sheessh….

It’s bad enough that we hardly see the stars with all that glare from our city lights. But there is still the moon. And the best thing about it is that it changes.

It is a Cheshire Cat one day. Then, a slice of lemon and at its very brightest, a hard boiled egg yolk. Or a shiney gold button. Or a light bulb (and if its next to your window, you really don’t need one). Sometimes you just feel like pressing it right in the middle to see if the whole mass of black sky would get sucked in.

And if you look long enough, you see the rabbit. Sometimes you just see its feet, sometimes its bunny ears. But it’s always there – a shadow in a yellow glow.

Sigh… So do we see the same moon? Apparently NOT.

Anyway, here’s something for those of you who are as moonstruck as TNL.

Trees Die Too

First the rabbit, now the tree.

Every day for the longest time, TNL would walk a little slip road to get to her library.

Nobody ever takes this road.

It was her little quiet. With the birds, the trees and the big blue sky. The glory of creation displayed in this little part of the campus.

There was also a small bougainvillea tree that sits at the corner on its own. With bright fuschia flowers, it stood out cheerfully.

When they tore up the piece of land to build Alumni House and Guild House, the rabbit left. The kingfishers flew away.

But the the bougainvillea stood still. They hoarded up the area carving out spaces to build. But they left the tree alone. It stood bright as ever in the midst of the chaos, rubble, metal and stone. It bloomed and continued to look its brightest.

A few weeks ago, TNL saw it lying on its side. It laid there with its roots sticking out from the wet earth.

Day after day, its leaves started turning lighter and drier.

Then, one day, somebody had propped it up and stamped the wet earth to hold its roots down. Phew.. it was going to be ok.

Then, a few days ago as TNL walked by in the afternoon. She saw her tree one last time.

Time to say goodbye, TNL. The rain has come and gone.

Statistical Databases: Find Out More

TNL supposes that nothing is worse than working with statistics.

But she is told that nothing beats the nightmare of FINDING statistics you want.


So the old girl and her colleagues are having a little online session where you can find out more about statistical database such as International Financial Statistics, World Development Indicators, CEIC Data Manager, etc.


The webinar allows you to “attend” the session by clicking a link we send you. We will meet in the virtual room to explore the mysteries of statistical databases.

The online (Webex) session will be on:

Date: 22 Mar 2012

Time: 1-2:30pm

Register online


Our Friend Paul

When you want to have a glimpse of what a person is really about, have a look at his or her book collection. Whether it is just a shelf-full or a house-full, it speaks volumes. (Sorry!)

Librarians are generally book collectors. We love books, you see. And when we have read a book that just takes our breath away, we want it to be with us.  But in this day and age, with the lot of books out there in the virtual realm, TNL does not quite know what book collecting is all about anymore.

Paul was a librarian and our friend. He passed on more than a year back. He collected lots of books.

TNL and a friend first visited his home when Paul’s sweet wife asked whether we wanted books for our library’s book donation drive. We were not prepared for what we saw.

Paul had a house-full. Literally. Every room in his house was filled with shelves of books. Even in the kitchen. It was astounding.

Last Saturday, we went to help his wife sort and price the books. She was going to have a garage sale.

It was difficult letting go. Every book held unspoken memories for the collector as well as his loved ones. Some books had orange stickers on the spine. We did not know what they meant. There were some she knew she would give away. There were some that made her pause and recall the person Paul was. There were some Paul bought specifically for his wife. These she kept.

Most of Paul’s books were self-help, motivational and health books. There were also some biographies, stories written by local authors, Christianity books, cool atlases, books on fish breeding, lots of mystery novels, feng-shui, hypnosis, etc.

As we completed our task, TNL realised that Paul did not collect a single art book. Her friend, a former music librarian, who was also helping out, added, “Nor a single music book.”

Overall, Paul’s book collection focused on the motivational, the inspirational, the physical, emotional, mental and spiritual well-being.

TNL could imagine how Paul coped with the pain. He was reading up and applying the stuff he read. The trove of self-help, motivational and inspirational books hinted that he would have started collecting them way before he was sick. It was just him. Focused on improving himself and taking care of his well-being regardless of any circumstances. Being positive throughout, both for himself and his loved ones.

Right to the end, Paul remained firm in hope. Even now, the thousands of books remind us, once again, of his optimism and great mental curiosity. This was Paul, our friend.

How Can TNL Get Her Groove Back?

TNL can’t write.

Words don’t come out easily. There is this constant irritating use of the backspace and delete keys. And there is a constipation of words and expressions. Stuff are stuck in between a dark and a darker place. Ok, too much information already.

Even when they do eventually get out, the stuff just stays there insipidly staring into space.

They are just simply words. Why can’t they get out? They don’t even sit on the tip of her tougue. They are just nowhere.

What’s that word for cats again? She wanted to describe a friend’s cute cat, Jesse. Is it funky.. fishy.. furry.. fluffy? No, it was frisky.

And what about the word she wanted to describe relationships? Relationships that have been in the news of late. Illegitimate, ill-gotten, immoral? No, it was illicit.

It is just sapping away. Hang on, is it zapping away? No, it’s sapping away. As in a tree’s sap, bleeding, dripping away… whatever.

TNL hates this.  Put her out of her misery already!

Clinic Sessions for Engineering Students – Questions Asked After the Sessions (Part 2)

We did a blog post for the topic “social media and citizen journalism”, next up –

Social media and how it encourages teens to be promiscuous, display violent behavior because of online gaming, buy luxury goods because celebrities tout what they wear in their Facebook

Again, you would need to have either looked through the EG1413 Breeze presentation or attended our clinic sessions to fully apply the searches.

1. The question here is NOT the impact on lives is but a whole lot of “impacts” to work on. And then, there is the issue of contextualizing it in Singapore.

2. Let’s look at each behavior that the students brought up:

  • Prosmicuous behavior.
  • Violent behavior (correlating it to online gaming)
  • Buying behavior (correlating it to fashion of celebrities)

3. Use PsycInfo, Sociological Abstracts and Business Source Premier (include Communication Mass Media Complete and Communication Abstracts).  We are suggesting PsycInfo and Sociological Abstracts because of the “behavior” articles you need.

5. Do a separate search for each behavior. Some suggestions:

(“social media” or twitter or facebook or blog*) and (teen* or young people) and (sex* or promiscu*) and behavior*

(“social media” or twitter or facebook or blog*) and (teen* or young people) and (violen* or agress*) and behavior*


6. Look at the relevant results for each search and get a sense of the recommendations proposed in the articles retrieved. The question is – can these recommendations be applied to more than 1 behavior?

7. If so, would they be “tight” or “focused” enough to write your Position Paper without you falling into an abyss?

8. If not, do you have enough to work on only 1 behavior. Which behavior?

9. Once you select only 1 behavior, consider looking at it from a different angle. For eg. for promiscuity or sexual behavior among teens – how about relationships between a teacher and a student?

10. To explore this angle, your search could be:

(“social media” or twitter or facebook or blog*) and (teen* or young people or student*) and teacher* and sex*

11. Do similar searches in Factiva.  Apart from the 1st search which would not have any limiters, do other searches limiting to Singapore sources and Region Singapore.

12. We did not give examples for the 3rd behavior – the buying behavior and correlating it to celebrities’ fashion style as touted in their Facebooks, etc. This one requires more complex searching and more work. Those who are interested in this angle, please email us.

Ok. Email us if you any help:

Clinic Sessions for Engineering Students – Questions Asked After Sessions (Part 1)

So, it seems it ain’t over until the fat lady sings…

We have been receiving emails from some Engineering students after the clinic sessions.  Students were either not getting an angle on their topic or are pursuing the many diverse patterns and trends they read about.

So, they’ve got either too hazy a topic  or too many topics wrapped up in one supposed topic.

Here are some examples:

  1. Social media and citizen journalism
  2. Social media and how it encourages teens to be promiscuous, display violent behavior because of online gaming, buy luxury goods because celebrities tout what they wear in their Facebook.

We will address #1 in this post and #2 in the next post.


Here are some suggestions and searches to try out.

You would need to have either looked through the EG1413 Breeze presentation or attended our clinic sessions to fully apply the searches.

Social media and citizen journalism

1. Students wanted to know about social media encouraging online citizen journalism.

2. The question is – what is the impact of this on lives? Especially in Singapore.

3. Do a search in Business Source Premier, Communication and Mass Media Complete and Communication Abstracts:

4. Sort by Relevance.

5. Look at:

  • Subject Terms Thesaurus and Subjects frames.
  • Article title.
  • Subjects listed for each article.

6. Look out for aspects of the topic you are interested in. Read the abstracts.

7. List keywords describing these aspects.  Some examples:

  • Threats of censorship affecting online citizen journalism.
  • Business, marketing or advertising potential.
  • Credibility of news from such sites.
  • Effects on news reporting.
  • Its role in crisis management.
  • Etc…

8.  Select one aspect. Use just 1 or 2 keywords describing the aspect you have chosen. Run another search combining these keywords with your original search.

7. If you have dismal hits, apply the 3 main techniques of increasing your search results:

  • Use alternative keywords. 
  • Use truncation *.
  • Remove irrelevant keyword/s.

 8. Proceed to search from a different perpsective. Try something like this (Note: keywords for social media are removed):

9. Apply similar searches in Factiva. Do not limit to Singapore news sources or any regions in your first search.

10. Sort by Relevance.

12. Look at:

  • Keywords summary on left frame.
  • Headline and lead paragraph. 
  • Source.

10. Your next search would limit to a region you are interested in. Your choice will be guided by the results in the first search.

11. Continue applying search techniques and tips covered in clinic sessions and Breeze presentation until you can start brainstorming and suggest recommendations.

Email us if you need more help:

Clinic Sessions for Engineering Students

Nothing beats the flexibility of coming to a library session, get a head-start on your project and leave without having to worry about time or rushing for your next class.

That’s what the librarians wanted 1st Year Engineering students of EG1413 (Critical Thinking and Writing module) to have when they developed the 3-hour clinic sessions.

So for 2 days, from 9am-12nn and from 1-4pm, students came into the clinic sessions and left after their questions were answered.






Some stayed on for the whole hog.  It was very much on-the-fly based entirely on topics or questions posed by the students. And boy, was there ever a deluge of questions.

Students wrote their topics or questions on yellow 3-by-5s (old cataloguing cards) and passed it to the librarian.  The librarian would then show how to search and retrieve the articles based on the topics.

Some topics were similar – social media and privacy, social media and the Singapore political landscape, social media and how it affects teens or the elderly, social media and intellectual property violations, etc. These were grouped and search techniques were taught.


More than 80 students attended the 2 clinic sessions. At any one point in a session,  there were at least 15-20 students in the class.

It was not just a matter of searching for articles.

Some had topics in mind that were kind of hazy. Some had started reading and found interesting patterns and trends but did not know what to make of it. The librarians guided them to see how headlines, keyword summaries, Subject Terms, etc could guide them in scoping or framing their topic, making it easier for them to manage the deluge of information or a run-away topic.

Differences in the types of information retrieved from the databases Business Source Premier, Communication and Mass Media Complete and Factiva were also demonstrated with the students’ topics.

Those who had to leave gave their email addresses on the yellow cards so that the librarian could email them after the clinic sessions.

Locate Your Textbooks in One Click

This is J.

J is at Hon Sui Sen Memorial Library.

J is looking for the textbook for ACC1006 Accounting Information Systems.

J takes out his smartphone. J clicks on a square of pixels.


J looks at his smartphone. The title of the book and its call number appear.


J goes to the RBR shelves. J looks for the call number of the book. J borrows the book.

Yay for J!


You have just read how QR codes can help you locate a textbook of one of the 10 Level 1 Business foundation modules.

Yup, folks. With smartphones and QR codes, suddenly, locating books at libraries got a tad easier and faster.

HSSML is piloting this project and hope you give us your feedback on it. Leave your comments here.

Other QR codes stuff we are doing – check out our journals collection.