Study tips: apps, tools and tricks to help you prepare for finals

Once you have a comfortable seat and a cup of coffee from Books ‘n’ Bytes, it’s time to settle in to study. Here are some apps, tools and tricks to keep you focused and help you succeed on you final exams.

  1. Flashcard Machine – a free website (registration required) that allows you to create flashcards in any topic, including images. You can also browse the flashcard sets uploaded by other users (e.g. Mineral formulas or 19th century art). Flashcards can be printed or viewed online.
  2. gFlash+ Flashcards & Tests – a free iPhone app for flashcards. Use a Google Docs Spreadsheet to enter the flash card information then sync it with your iPhone.
  3. Schedule in study breaks: Take a walk, have a nap or read a novel. Brief breaks can help you focus better when you return to your studies.
  4. Create your works cited section – See our guide for information about citation styles, and download the Zotero add on for Firefox to help you keep track of your items and format your bibliography
  5. Get enough sleep! From the Zen College Life blog: “I cannot believe how many people walk around like zombies during finals week. It’s an epidemic, due to non-planning and all nighters, neither of which I advocate. Do yourself a favor. If you don’t function well on 3 hours of sleep, don’t try to. If you need your 8 hours regardless, factor that in and don’t push it. If your brain can’t take the lack of rest, your study time will be wasted anyways, make good plans for sleep as well as study.”
  6. Make a study to-do list. Lots of options exist for web based lists (Gmail tasks, Ta-Da lists), iPhone lists, and there are always old-fashioned paper lists.

Of course, this list could go on forever.

What tips and tools do you use to help you get through finals week?

WorldCat Local – your better alternative to Google

The Quicksearch box on the library home page now uses WorldCat Local. This search tool quickly finds books, articles, and materials held in Milne Library and in other libraries across the country.

Unlike Google which searches billions of web sites of unknown authority, WorldCat Local (containing 55 million articles) provides items from reputable databases that the library subscribes to. Search results can be narrowed to specific databases and refined by author, format, year, language, and content. Items not available in Milne or online are easily obtainable using Get Text/IDS service.

Post written by Rich Dreifuss.

Access to paid databases will be unavailable on Thursday, August 20th

Due to an upgrade of our authentication system, off-campus users will not have access to our subscription databases during the day on Thursday, August 20th.

On campus users will still be able to access databases if the “EZProxy” portion of the database URL is removed. Popular resources can be reached via these links:

If you need access to additional databases or have questions about access, please contact the reference desk (245-5595).

Access should be restored by 6pm.

Easier Access to Chemical Information: SciFinder is now on the web

SUNY Geneseo students, faculty and staff can now access chemical information via SciFinder on the web.

In order to use the new version of SciFinder, users must first register. Once registered, users can easily access SciFinder via any web browser.

This new web version of SciFinder has the same robust search features, including the ability to find chemical substance information, search for chemical literature, and search for chemical structures.

New features include the ability to save searches and get email alerts when new items matching a search are added to the database.

The client (stand alone) version of SciFinder will still be accessible through early October, at which time our access will be cut off.

Please contact Bonnie Swoger (585-245-5593) if you have any questions about accessing or using the web version of SciFinder.

Scopus, ScienceDirect unavailable on November 15th

On Saturday, November 15th, ScienceDirect and the journal articles available there will be unavailable from 8am until 5pm.

Scopus will be unavailable from 8am to 4pm on the same day

Elsevier, the publisher who provides both of these resources, will be conducting upgrades to the database infrastructures at this time.

If you have any questions, please contact Paul MacLean, Head of Information Technology Services in Milne Library.

Electronic Reserves moving to myCourses

Attention Faculty:

At the end of the Spring 2008 semester, Milne Library will be phasing out ERes and using myCourses for all electronic reserves. ERes will continue to function until May 18, 2008. Beginning with Summer 2008 classes, all electronic reserves will be put into myCourses.

If you prefer to have the library staff manage your electronic reserves, we will be glad to continue to do so. Otherwise, you may put your materials into MyCourses yourself. (See our “How to” guide [PDF]). If you choose to have the library manage your reserve materials for you, they will appear in a folder titled “Electronic Reserves” under the Course Materials tab within each course.

Anything you have in ERes at the end of the Spring semester will be archived. The archived data will be recoverable by Milne Library staff if necessary. If you wish to have those materials transferred to myCourses, please contact Mary Fran Tiede at 245-5036 or via email.

If you have any questions, please contact Sonja Landes via email or phone (245-5537).

Stop by and learn about our powerful new resource: Scopus

On Monday, April 14, representatives from Elsevier Publishers will be in the Milne Library Lobby from 10:00am to 12:00pm demonstrating the citation database Scopus, a recent addition to Milne Library’s research resources. Scopus covers a wide variety of articles related to the physical sciences, biomedical sciences, and social sciences.

In addition to keyword searching, this database allows users to track down the citation history of a known publication.

For example, if you found a really great article for the term paper you have due next week, you can use Scopus to locate other articles that cited your really great article.

Scopus also provides the ability to easily narrow your search by subject area, publication year, and keyword.

Stop by the library on Monday morning (April 14) to learn more about this powerful new resource.

Resources on the 2008 Presidential campaign

With so much political news being generated and covered by the media, it is easy to get lost in the overwhelming amount of information. To help library users navigate through this information overload, Milne Library has selected a few handy resources which stand out and are recommended to our users.

To get the latest news reports on primary and caucus coverage, political candidate information, international response to the campaigns or speeches given by the candidates, the NewsBank Special Report: Presidential Campaign 2008 is your best source for coverage all in one place:

NewsBank’s Special Reports focus on topics of current interest. They include content from sources throughout the world to provide a global perspective, current and background information, statistics, maps, images, websites, and suggested search terms. New information is added daily to featured and current reports. Coverage of the possible candidates for the 2008 presidential election is the current focus of the Special Report. Coverage will expand to include the full scope of the campaign including primaries, conventions and debates…

Another useful compilation of political news coverage is The Times Topics: Presidential Election 2008, from The New York Times newspaper. Coverage includes all political articles, opinion, graphs, polls, and multimedia from the NYT recent and archived stories.

Interested in finding out how much your neighbor contributed to a candidate’s campaign? Both Gatehouse News Service: Decision 2008-Search for Contributions and The Huffington Post blog have searchable databases where users can find contribution information by contributor name, zip code, address or occupation.

It is said that the youth are participating in record numbers for this campaign and its only primary season! Visit Youth Radio, where interested young adults are writing, blogging and covering Election 2008, using their own words and voices. Youth Radio trains youth from all over the world to contribute radio segments, blog posts, podcasts, video and to their website, thus training the young people to become media professionals in their own right.

Do you know why you use the search engine you do?

Do you use Google for your web searches? Yahoo! search? Windows Live search? Why do you prefer the one you use?

The Google Operating System Blog recently polled its readers about which search they prefer. The twist was that they had users perform searches using each service in a modified form, so that is was impossible to tell (based on appearance) which search was which. Preferences were (theoretically) based purely on search results. You can read the original post, and the poll results. Google won with 1041 votes, followed by Windows Live with 711 and Yahoo! with 604. (Users were allowed to vote for more than one if they felt that the search results were equally good.)

This poll isn’t scientific, and there are numerous flaws with the methodology, but it raises some interesting questions. Google searches account for about 53% of all searches performed (see Search Engine Watch). This falls in line roughly with the results of this poll, but not with the public perception that we “google” everything. The poll results are also surprising given the Google-centricity of the blog: Google won, but not by a lot.

So, why do you use the search engine you do? Convenience? Ease of use? Quality? Force of habit? Format?

Why not take a few minutes to try out some other search engines and think about what you like? Try a visual search like KartOO or check up the updated features on If you decide to stick with your old search engine, what makes it a better engine for you?

Earth Science Week

Earth Science Week is October 14 to 21, 2007.

This week is the tenth annual “Earth Science Week.” The goal of Earth Science Week is to increase public awareness of earth science in education and society. This year’s theme is “The Pulse of Earth Science.”

To celebrate, have a look at some great Earth Science resources available from Milne Library and on the Web:

Or you can catch up on some earth science related news:

And just for fun: