Relocation to shiny new digs

September 16, 2009

We’re happy to announce that Staff in the Know has moved to a new home:

Details to follow…


Morningstar offers investment information for stocks, mutual funds, and exchange-traded funds. Find information by Ticker Symbol, Company Name, or by constructing a search with the stock/fund screener.

Look in the Help & Education tab for an investment glossary, primers on specialized investments, and online tutorials in Morningstar’s Investing Classroom.

Learn the basics of finding information in Morningstar:

PDF Quick Guide (1 page)
PDF User Guide (20 pages)

Your mission, should you choose to accept it:

  1. Go to the Databases page and find Morningstar.
  2. Look up a company by name or ticker symbol. Search suggestion: Caterpillar
  3. Locate the star rating for the company’s stock.
  4. Locate the different printing options.
Your mission, should you choose to accept it:

  1. Create a WorldCat login.
  2. Create a brief list of books or movies. (You can duplicate one of the library’s book lists, if you would prefer.)
  3. Share a link to your public list in the comments below.

Example:  The Fan’s Guide to Baseball

The New ReferenceUSA

July 20, 2009

Ever wanted to see how many lawyers practice in your zip code? Ever want to compile the addresses of your neighbors for a direct mail campaign? Ever wanted to find out the names of the top executives at local corporations?

You can’t go wrong with ReferenceUSA, the mighty business directory and list-generator.  Now, they’ve streamlined things a bit. So, take a look at the new ReferenceUSA and compile some business lists. View our tour!

Wolfram Alpha – a new “computational knowledge engine” – had been out for a few weeks now and it has taken every bit of that time for it to make even a little sense. When I first heard about it, I immediately pulled it up and tried a few searches. And I got nothing. “What kind of search engine is this?!” I cried.


Lesson: Don’t approach Wolfram Alpha like you do Google or Yahoo.

I think my first search was “woodworking” or something vague like that. I got a definition, pronunciation, and some synonyms. Not quite what I expected. Where were my search results?

But, Wolfram Alpha isn’t a search engine. It’s a “computational knowledge engine” – meaning we’re not going to get google-like results page. We’re going to get data. Wolfram Alpha seeks to pull you from the mire of millions of search results. Because who needs a search results page when you can get actual data?

Wolfram Alpha gives you data, not for a list of websites.

If you want to search for websites to plan your upcoming trip to Canada, you might be barking up the wrong tree.

A search for canada travel gives zero results.

If you’re looking for real data about a city, state, or country, Wolfram Alpha will knock your socks off.

A search for canada gives us the population, flag, satellite image, demographic info, cultural properties (with charts), related links, and a link to source information (so you can see where Wolfram Alpha got all this data).

Example Searches:

Looking for a historical stock price? How about the price of IBM stock in May of 1982. Click on the chart where the red line intersects the blue line and you get a price.

Looking for an overview of the exchange rate for Dollar to Yen? You can view the history of the exchange rate for the last month, last year, last few years…

Would you like to know weather conditions for Nashville on March 28, 2008? You can see results in metric and non-metric. You can get the temperature, rainfall, humidity, and historical temperatures.

Browsing Wolfram Alpha:

Maybe you thought your search string was a good one but Wolfram Alpha gave you zip. What do you do now?

When Wolfram Alpha doesn’t know how to interpret your search, you’ll get a list of category links to explore. Each category gives example searches. This will give you a good idea of the type of information you can pull out of Wolfram Alpha.

Want even more info?

Read this article from PC World.

“But it doesn’t work on iPods,” has been our refrain ever since we introduced Downloadable Audiobooks. Traditionally, iPod devices have not worked with our Netlibrary or Overdrive services because they use the Apple copy-protection format .AAC instead of the Windows codec, .WMA.

Now, both services have introduced books that are compatible with iPod, but each works differently.

mp3MP3 files have no copy-protection, so they are compatible with any MP3 player (Creative, Archos, SanDisk, etc.), including iPods. Many MP3 audiobooks are now available from both Overdrive and Netlibrary.

In addition, Overdrive now allows some of the WMA books to be converted to the iPod-friendly AAC format.


To access this feature, you must download the latest version of Overdrive Media Console 3.2 from the library web site: » Books Movies Music » Audiobook Help » OverDrive Media Console


  • Check the icon chart to see if your book is compatible (see images above for examples).
  • Plug in your iPod to your PC before you download the book.
  • iPod-friendly WMA books do not work with Overdrive on the Mac OS, only Windows XP or Vista.
Your mission, should you choose to accept it:

1. Use NetLibrary or OverDrive to find an iPod-friendly audiobook.

2. Download the book to your computer. Or, if you’ve already downloaded audiobooks, find a colleague who needs help.

If you have any problems, ask for help in the comments.

The good people and robots over at Gale have been busy reading and sorting their magazine collection into new Princeton files. As a result of this spring cleaning, Tennessee Electronic Library’s PowerSearch will become PowerSearch 2.0 on Wednesday. PowerSearch 2.0 adds some great new options to the robust periodical search.

PowerSearch 2.0 allows you to search across fourteen TEL databases including OneFile, General Business, and Health. The default search now offers most popular limiter options: Full-text, Peer-reviewed, or documents with images only. Also, the default search is keyword; this will only match terms in title, author, subject, or abstract. For a more comprehensive search, remember to use entire document.

Powersearch2.0 still breaks down the results into a series of tabs for magazines, journals, books, newspapers, and multimedia. Magazines will appear first, but don’t stop there. Along the left side you will see more results from images and podcasts. Next time you want to watch some old news, head over to PowerSearch’s extensive video collection including videos from NBC Newscasts (Today, Meet the Press) and PBS (Jim Lehrer News Hour, Frontline, Nature). Plus, find matches under podcasts – including NPR’s extensive audio archive. Keep scrolling down your result list to get image results from the UPI photo archive.


Once you hit article level, you can do just about anything short of republishing it. Within each entry you can now listen to a robot read you each article. Hey, these cyborgs are good readers! If you’re running short on time, download all the audio files for your marked articles, then have the robots read to you on your iPod. ¿No habla ingles? Let Gale’s protocol droids translate your article into Spanish or ten other languages. The robots will even reformat the citation so you can cut & paste it into your report.

The most improved part of 2.0 is the Publication Search, which had not seen an update since the nineties. The title lists are now infinitely sortable by format or subject. For example, you can quickly pull up all the full-text magazines that cover “Cooking.” As you mouse-over the titles, you get the important coverage details: full-text and dates of run. Select a title and you can get an RSS feed that will alert you when new issues are available to read in PowerSearch. RSS feeds are also available for any PowerSearch you run.

Check out Tennessee Electronic Library on the database page this Wednesday, July 1st.