LibriVox e-audiobooks

I posted earlier this month about easy access to audiobooks through the Library. There are, of course, free resources for finding audiobooks that you can download and transfer to your mobile devices.  One such resource is LibriVox.

LibriVox, started by Hugh McGuire (Montreal-based), aims to create audio versions of books in the public domain (out of copyright). They ask people to volunteer and record themselves reading chapters of books, most of which come from Project Gutenberg. Internet Archive hosts their audio files for free so that in the end, you are free to listen to or download anything you like.

For those who enjoy reading out loud, there are no special requirements for volunteering so don’t be shy. I love the sound of my own voice 🙂

3D printing (revisited)

As promised in a previous post on 3D printing, I took some pics of the MakerBot Replicator at the Access conference last month. To the right is me holding a record made for toy players. I had a Fisher Price machine when I was a kid and I would have gone nuts if I could have made my own records – on my Christmas list this year: a 3D printer for cutting vinyl.


There is apparently a universe of things to discover in THINGIVERSE, if you’d like to discover more things. If you are interested in modeling and 3D visualization, take a look at SketchUp.


Using Google Scholar to quickly retrieve the full-text article

Are you busy writing term papers now? I have been receiving more reference questions about seeking the full-text article with a known reference. Other than relying on the Library Catalogue, we could also use Google Scholar for this purpose. You could set up a library link to McGill University in Google Scholar in order to quickly locate the full-text.

Go to Google Scholar and click “Settings” on the top-right corner. Then click “Library links” on the left side of the Scholar Settings screen and enter McGill University in the “Show library access links for” box. Save this setting, and you will be able to see the Find it at McGill link on the right side of the Google Scholar results page for your next search. Follow the Find it at McGill link and you will get to the full-text article available in McGill Library’s collection. Don’t forget to turn on VPN or log into EZproxy if you are off campus.


May the Force be with you

Last week it was announced that George Lucas sold his company, Lucasfilm, to the Walt Disney Company. This means that Disney now owns the Star Wars franchise. Disney plans to release a Star Wars movie every two to three years, starting with Episode 7 in 2015. With a rabid fan base, this is good news for Star Wars devotees. Next we’ll be keeping our ears open for news of who plans to direct. In the spirit of this announcement, here’s a link to a short video that explains light beam technology.

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The nature versus nurture debate continues this Friday

The Mossman Endowment presents the following Elizabeth B. McNab Lecture in the History of Science:

Genes, Genomes and the Nature-Nurture Debate
with Evelyn Fox Keller, Professor of History and Science, MIT

Date:            Friday, November 9th, 2012
Time:            6:00 p.m.
Location:      Maxwell-Cohen Moot Court, 3660 Peel
RSVP:           e-mail or call 514-398-4681

Evelyn Fox Keller is concerned with the unreasonable persistence of the Nature/Nurture debate, and she argues that, in good part, that persistence derives from the fundamental uncertainty surrounding the subject of debate. What exactly is the question we are trying to answer?  What do we mean by “nature”?  And what effect does the changing discourse of genes and genomes have on this debate?

Speaker biography:
Evelyn Fox Keller is Professor Emerita of the history of science at MIT. Trained in both theoretical physics and molecular biology (PhD, Harvard, 1963), she has been a leading figure in the history and philosophy of modern genetics, and in the study of gender in science. Her major works include: A Feeling for the Organism (1983); Reflections on Gender and Science (1985); The Century of the Gene (2000); Making Sense of Life (2002); and The Mirage of a Space Between Nature and Nurture (2010). She has received many academic awards in recognition of her work, among them a MacArthur foundation fellowship.

Check our catalogue for the location and availability of Professor Keller’s major works in the McGill Library.

Click here for information about the Mossman Endowment and the Mossman Collection on the History of Science and of Ideas.

Lecture announcement and image from the McGill Library website

Scientific and technical writing

I recently attended an information session for civil engineering students enrolled in a one credit technical writing course. The students must write a fifteen page technical paper on a civil engineering topic of their choice. They will be graded on content, organization, paper presentation, and quality of writing. The benefits of being able to write well cannot be overstated. Students who are preparing for a career in a technical profession might not appreciate how important writing skills are. Without strong writing skills, it will be difficult to advance in your career. McGill Library has a great selection of writing and style guides, specifically for science and engineering students. Below are some examples:

1. The ACS style guide: effective communication of scientific information 

2. Making sense: a student’s guide to research and writing : engineering and the technical sciences

3. Pocket book of technical writing for engineers and scientists

4. Style and ethics of communication in science and engineering (eBook)

And be sure to visit the McGill Library webpage, Writing tools, where you will find links to resources on topics ranging from grammar to academic integrity.

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Easy access to audiobooks

I have nice memories of listening to books on tape during long car rides. Feeling nostalgic for the classic road trip, I once bought a murder mystery on CD for what I thought would be an entertaining ride to Toronto with my husband. In the end, the voice of the woman reading the book was so monotonous that we had to pull in to a Tim Hortons for fear of both of us drifting off. I now know to listen to a sample of a book before going to the trouble of bringing it along.

Libraries have been in the business of offering audio versions of books, in one form or another, for quite some time but e-audiobooks (digital versions available for download) have made access easier than ever.

There is a guide on the Library website to borrowing e-audiobooks, which includes Overdrive and EbscoHost books. The Overdrive books are great for fiction or language learning but you can also browse by subject for audiobooks on science or science fiction, for example, like Doctor Who episodes read by David Tennant (which I highly recommend). Download the recordings and play them back on your computer or transfer them to your iPod or other listening devices.

You can also find audiobooks in the Library’s Classic Catalogue. As shown here, you can limit your search results to eAudiobook. Likewise, the WorldCat Catalogue has a format option for audiobooks that includes eAudiobook, along with cassettes, CDs, and LPs, all of which are perfect for those long drives.

Enjoy the ride!

Films on Demand

For those of you who don’t know this database yet, I would like to share it with you. Films on Demand is a McGill Library subscribed database offering streaming video clips on many disciplines such as Computer Science and Technology, Geography, Education, Social Sciences, etc.

Canadian Public Performance rights have been purchased for teaching purposes. Instructors may embed a clip into their lecture slides or post the link onto myCourses to let students watch it at their spare time. Since it is one of the online resources available for McGill users, remember to activate VPN or log into the EZproxy window with your McGill email and password when you use it off campus.

Happy watching.