Monday, 23 July 2007

Google Scholar

Google Scholar is essentially a specialised web search engine that searches scholarly resources.
It's like the science search engine, Scirus, in that it covers specific scholarly material as opposed to the web in general.

Google Scholar uses the powerful Google searching algorithms, and when the results are displayed, it indexes the fulltext of results, links to related articles, and lists who the articles are cited by.

So in general, Google Scholar sounds like the definitive cross-resource scholarly searching and linking engine! However, it's not perfect, and there are some very important caveats to keep in mind if you use it
  1. It doesn't distinguish between articles you have access to, and articles you don't. So a list of search results might display an article, but that doesn't mean that you'll be able to read it. If the Library subscribes to a database that's listed in the search results, when you click on the link, you'll be brought to the fulltext of the article. But if we don't have a subscription, chances are you'll meet a frustrating dead-end when trying to read the article.
  2. The Google Scholar search interface isn't very advanced. So if you want to perform a complicated search using lots of restrictions (e.g. 'AND', 'OR','NOT' etc.), chances are you won't be able to do it very effectively. The search interfaces of Library databases are much more advanced and will return better results.
  3. Google Scholar is very secretive about its coverage. Some big databases, e.g. Science Direct will not feature in searches, so using Scholar will lead to incomplete results. Google will not provide a definitive list of databases used in searches so you never know what you might be missing out on.

The library has taken steps to help you avoid meeting these dead-ends when using Scholar. When you do a search, take a look at the links at the bottom of each result. Sometimes you'll see a link that says
More info @ NUI, Galway (see below)

If you click this link, it will bring you to our SFX linking service, which will link you to some of the Library's databases that will have more information on the article, as well as holdings information if we have the article on hardcopy.

Sometimes, we'll be able to bring you straight to the full-text of the article. Take a look at your list of results, and if you see a link that says Full-Text@NUI, Galway beside the title of the result (see below), you'll be brought straight throught to the full-text in one of our databases.

Some people use Google Scholar because it can search the holdings of different databases at once; but don't forget we offer this service too! E-Knowledge lets you cross-search, so you can search multiple databases at the same time. And with E-Knowledge, you'll be guranteed to always have full access to the search results!

Wednesday, 18 July 2007

RSS Explained

What is RSS?
In a nutshell, RSS, ("Really Simple Syndication"), is a way to get information from websites sent to you, instead of you visiting those websites to get updates. So it's basically a web feed.

When you subscribe to a website's RSS feed, it delivers the site's latest news directly to you. It's a great time saver, as you have information automatically sent to you instead of spending time visiting each site individually.

You can use an RSS feed to get the latest news, weather, updates on hobby sites, blogs (subscribe to our RSS feed on the right of the page!), and loads more besides.

So how does it work?
It's actually pretty simple, you need: an RSS reader, and a site generates an RSS feed!

An RSS reader is just a piece of software that lets you read RSS feeds (the same way you need Microsoft Word to read .doc files, or Microsoft EXCEL to read .xls files)
There are loads of free, good RSS readers out there. You can find a list of some of the best here and here. If you have a Google gmail account, you can use Google Reader

After that, you just subscribe to the website you're interested in! Nearly all news websites have RSS feeds; in fact most information websites on the web have RSS feeds that you can subscribe to. All you have to do is keep an eye out for the RSS symbol (above).
Some sites, like RTE, and the BBC have different RSS feeds for different topics, e.g. news, sport, technology, etc.

What happens is the website sends the feed to your reader. All you have to do is scan the headlines, and if you see an article that you're interested in, you can click the link to bring you directly to the information on the website.

Very easy, and a great time saver!

Thursday, 12 July 2007

Local Authority Records - Descriptions Online

The descriptive lists for the various local authorities for Galway City are now available online at the following links:

LA2 contains the 8 Minute Books of the Galway Town Commissioners (1836 - 1899). The Galway Town Commissioners were established the under provisions The 1828 Act for the Improvement of Lighting in Towns. The Board of the Galway town Commissioners itself was established by the Galway Improvements Bill which was passed in Parliament in 1836. The Board took over all the local authority functions of Galway Corporation following the Corporation's abolition in 1840.

LA3 contains the 6 Minute Books of the Galway Urban Sanitary Authority (1874-1920). The Galway Urban Sanitary Authority was set up in 1874 to manage public health matters in the town. It was setup under the Public Health Act of 1874 and took over responsibility from the Galway Town Commissioners for the provision of sewers anf removal of nuisances.

LA4 contains the 4 Minute Books of Galway Urban District Council. Galway Urban District Council was set-up after the 1898 Local Government Act, it replaced the Board of the Galway Town Commissioners. As an 'Urban Distrcit Council' rather than a 'Corporation' the body was subordinate to Galway County Council, in administrative terms this put Galway City on the same level as towns such as Athlone and Clonmel. Galway Urban District Council was responsible for the upkeep of Galways roads and sewers, street lighting and the collection of tolls. Unlike it predecessor body the Galway Town Commissioners it was aslo responsible for the provision of 'social housing'.

For further questions or queries contact Kieran Hoare, Archivist, at, or on 091.493636.

Wednesday, 4 July 2007


At the recent IIUG conference in Sligo, keynote speaker Tim Spalding of LibraryThing gave a fantastic talk about his site, and its development from pet project to global success.

LibraryThing is really two sites in one.

First, it is a tool to catalogue your personal library. Users add books to their catalogue by entering titles, authors, or ISBN numbers. LibraryThing then searches the Library of Congress, all five national Amazon sites, and over 45 world libraries, and returns with precise book data. Users can then edit the books in their catalogue, tag their books with their own subjects, and use the Library of Congress and Dewey Decimal systems to organize their collections.

LibraryThing is also a social space, connecting people with similar libraries. It also makes book recommendations based on the collective intelligence of the other libraries.

Check it out, sort out your book collection, meet people with similar interests, and use the recommendations to broaden your mind!