Brian T. Johnstone

my little space here on the web

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Expanded SirsiDynix Enterprise Search Widget

Pointing users to the library catalog from our web site via a quick search box is something we’ve been doing for years. We are currently implementing Enterprise (which takes searching our catalog out of the 90s and into a more modern time…). SirsiDynix kindly provides a search widget in the Enterprise Administration Training Guide. However, our users are accustomed to having a little more functionality right from the search widget (the ability to select item type for example).

So after a little tinkering, I’ve come up with the following form:

To see form in action visit


<!-- START SirsiDynix ENTERPRISE Search Widget with BTJ mods 5/6/14 -->
<h3><a target="_blank" href="">Quick Catalog Search</a></h3>
<form method="get" id="searchForm" action="">
&nbsp; &nbsp; Find:
<input type="hidden" name="ln" value="en_US" />
<input id="q" title="Search For:" maxlength="256" name="q" value="" type="text" accesskey="s" />
<br />
&nbsp; &nbsp;<select id="lm" name="lm">
<option value="">Everything</option>
<optgroup label="----------">
<option value="ART_PRINT">Art Print</option>
<option value="AUDIO_VISUAL">Audio-visual</option>
<option value="BOOK">Book</option>
<option value="BOOKS_ERC">Books or Online Books</option>
<option value="DVD">DVD</option>
<option value="JUVENILE_BOOK">Juvenile Book</option>
<option value="MAP">Map</option>
<option value="MUSIC_DISC">Music Disc</option>
<option value="ONLINE_BOOKS">Online Books</option>
<option value="EFILMS_DVD">Online Films or DVDs</option>
<option value="PAMPHLET">Pamphlet</option>
<option value="REF-BOOK">Reference Book</option>
<option value="VIDEO">Video</option>
<option value="DIVIDER">------------------------</option>
<option value="BRISTOL">Lower Bucks Campus</option>
<option value="NEWTOWN">Newtown Campus</option>
<option value="PERKASIE">Upper Bucks Campus</option>
<br />
&nbsp; &nbsp;<select id="rt" name="rt">
<option value="">All Fields</option>
<option value="false|||BCCC_PER_TITLE|||Periodical Title">Periodical Title</option>
<option value="false|||SERIES|||Series">Series</option>
<option value="false|||ISBN|||ISBN">ISBN</option>
<option value="false|||TITLE|||Title">Title</option>
<option value="true|||SUBJECT|||Subject">Browse Subject headings</option>
<option value="false|||SUBJECT|||Subject">Subject</option>
<option value="true|||AUTHOR|||Author">Browse Author headings</option>
<option value="false|||AUTHOR|||Author">Author</option>

<br />

&nbsp; &nbsp;<input value="Search" id="searchButton" class="button" title="Search" type="submit" />
<br />
&nbsp; &nbsp;<a href="" id="link">Advanced Search</a>

<!-- END SirsiDynix ENTERPRISE Search Widget with BTJ mods 5/6/14 -->


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Computers in Education

I find I’m always playing both sides of the fence.  Some educators are so lost in the euphoria of techno-gadgetry they loose site of pedagogy… “Computers are changing the way we learn” I recently read.  Oh really?  How?  Maybe the way we access resources and interface with one another is different but I don’t think the underlying cognitive processes are really all that different.

Still I find others who are so convinced they need to force their students to look for materials they way we did in college… in paper… in the library… because that’s the real way to do research.  Really? And I find myself struggling to remain patient as I explain the difference between published (not print or paper) sources and unpublished sources, between scholarly and non-scholarly sources.  I hope I can at least clue the students in.

And then there is the transcript below (unedited) where a student is interacting with me the librarian through an instant messaging service asking for help finding materials to support their thesis that “technology and computers are not beneficial to students.”   You’re kidding, right?  So I got a little snarky at the end of the chat… but I think the student drifted off.  Maybe they aren’t really passionate about their topic.

[08:54] meeboguest729558: Hi i am trying to find a few articles on why technology and computers are not beneficial for students
[08:55] meeboguest729558: I went to ebscohost but nothing seems to pop up
[08:57] meeboguest729558: ?
[08:57] infobc3: What search terms are you trying?
[08:57] meeboguest729558: what does that mean
[08:58] infobc3: what words are you typing into the search box in EBSCOhost?
[08:58] meeboguest729558: My thesis is that Computers in a classroom are not benefical for students
[08:58] meeboguest729558: i typed in computers bad for children
[08:58] infobc3: The idea is to take your thesis and break it down into just words not phrases
[08:59] infobc3: And, with EBSCO
[08:59] infobc3: it’s best to put a different idea
[08:59] infobc3: on each line
[08:59] infobc3: somehting like education in the first box
[08:59] infobc3: children in the next
[08:59] infobc3: technology in the next
[09:00] infobc3: and maybe disadvantage
[09:00] infobc3: or some other combination of words that
[09:00] infobc3: get at the heart of your thesis
[09:05] meeboguest729558: ok thank you but i feel like nothing is coming up that is useful
[09:06] infobc3: try just a few words… technology and disadvantage for example
[09:06] infobc3: skip the children and school bit and see what comes up
[09:06] infobc3: also
[09:06] infobc3: try Opposing viewpoints
[09:07] infobc3: computers and education brings up some thing in Opposing Viewpoints
[09:07] infobc3: e.g.: Educational Software May Not Increase Learning
[09:08] infobc3: The Internet Can Disrupt Learning
[09:08] infobc3: Computers in Classrooms May Not Increase Learning
[09:08] infobc3: Computer-Assisted Education May Not Enhance Learning
[09:09] infobc3: there are also articles with the opposite view (touting benefits of computers in education)
[09:09] infobc3: like this little chat you and I are having… via computer network… to hopefully help you find some articles ;)

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Wild Mink

It was one of those brilliant autumn days and I was determined to take the time to go on a walk during my lunch break.  Being a college librarian is not exactly the same as working in a high paced corporate environment, but at times the pace is dizzying and lunch is usually consumed with colleagues over conversation that often sounds more like a meeting.  But I was at an extension site of the college located in Perkasie on this date and I could easily steal away.

We would have nearly a foot of snow in Allentown on October 29th with an unusually early blizzard, but this was a warm and sunny October 28th. I was traipsing along the East Branch of the Perkiomen Creek, a normally lazy tributary feeding the main Perkiomen at Schwenksville and eventually on to the Schuylkill and the Delaware.  I had stopped in one of my usual lunch spots and was enjoying watching the ripples in the creek surrounded by brilliant fall leaves—red maple, sugar maple, shagbark hickory, red and white oaks, basswood.  Presently I noticed a movement over my shoulder in the woods.  I watched an animal, a little bigger than my pet cat, walk through the scrappy grasses just on the other side of the trail through the woods.  He moved along with purpose and took no notice of me.  He was a deep brown color, slender, slight point to the nose, and the tail was a little bushy.  I believe I was observing a wild mink.

According to the Pennsylvania Game Commission mink are “a semi-aquatic member of the family Mustelidae” and are related to “weasels, martens, fishers, wolverines, badgers, skunks and otters” (Fergus, p. 1).  In fact I wasn’t totally certain I had a mink on my hands.  Looking at descriptions on the PGN web site I thought perhaps it may be a fisher, but they have not been reported in Bucks County, or even in the nearby Lehigh Valley—my home neck of the woods.

I’m often amazed at the beauty of these simple Pennsylvanian woods.  I’ve witnessed firsthand the grandeur of places large: the Cascades of Washington State or the glaciers and mountains near Seward Alaska.  But my adopted home of Pennsylvania will always be a special place in my mind.  When I first started with the college, based in Newtown, I spent many a lunchtime walk in Tyler State Park.  I would take special note of the wildlife—deer, great blue herons, bullfrogs.  I can well remember the first time I noticed a double crested cormorant.  It took me a little while to properly identify the bird, thumbing through Peterson’s with great excitement.  It seemed a rare find to me at the time, but only the week before spotting the mink in Perkasie had I observed five cormorants sunning themselves on a log in the Neshaminy Creek in TSP.  And it was this semester along the East Branch of the Perkiomen that I startled up a green heron who took to the air and was down stream in no time.  Probably the most unique observation for me on a lunchtime walk was observing a common loon in wintertime, also along the Neshaminy.

I wondered about the mink.  Where was he going?  Was this in fact a he or a she?  Was there a den nearby?  This certainly seemed to be ideal territory for such a creature.  A relatively wild strip of land on either side of the creek, albeit surrounded by suburbia.  There would be a plentiful supply of food along the creek, adequate denning sites, and just enough isolation from neighboring people.   The creek seems to be a healthy one.  In addition to the annual stocked fish, there are many native fish, crayfish, and frogs in the creek.  Surrounding the creek one can readily observe snakes, squirrels, rabbits, chipmunks and the like.  I wondered if I would begin to notice mink more often or if this was a chance encounter perhaps not to be repeated for a long time.  They are fairly nocturnal or active in the early part of the day, but this was midday.  So I imagine this was a unique experience.

I try to keep track of the variety of flora and fauna I observe.  I had great intentions of keeping such a journal for animals observed in and around my property—great horned owl, wild turkey, woodcock—but it’s more of a collection of scribbles scattered as far and wide as the animals themselves.  This mink however inspired me to stop and record the moment.


Works Cited

Fergus, Charles. Minks and Muskrats. Wildlife Notes, 22.  Pennsylvania Game Commission.


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Second Son of a Second Son

It was with great joy he came to us on the 24th of August.  Welcome Henry.


Mother is doing well.  The home birth was an amazing experience.

Big Brother Victor likes his new baby.  He likes to place a toy on him and say ‘here you go.’

I am overjoyed.  A little sleepless at times.  Proud poppa.


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National Information Literacy Awareness Month

In the world of libraries Information Literacy is something librarians are continuously explaining, defining, defending, and advocating.  In defining it for fellow faculty and administrators we often start with the Association of College and Research Libraries definition.  For students we try to make it relevant in terms that anyone can easily understand… hands-on workshops, LibGuides, and YouTube vignettes abound.

My first full-time librarian job was back in 1998 at a small private liberal arts college.  They had just been through an accreditation review and knew this mysterious IL thing was important.  While dear Sister Anne had provided excellent library service for 40-some-odd years, it was decided a new librarian was needed to keep the library current.  And just to be sure they covered that IL thing, they gave me the title Librarian & Information Literacy Specialist.  I was busy.

I’ve seen IL show up in many places and in many ways over the years since then.  With Bucks County Community College since 2001, I’ve seen many players involved in ensuring IL was made part and parcel to everything we do: it is in our core competencies, it is in library instruction, we even have an Information Literacy Librarian who runs an Information Literacy Institute for faculty.

But a Presidential Proclamation?  Now that is just hands down totally awesome!  On October 1, 2009, President Barack Obama declared October 2009 to be National Information Literacy Awareness Month.  More than just job security, acknowledgment, a pat on the back, this declaration brings to the forefront something so integral and necessary to making sense of this information age… and finally may end those casual comments from well meaning persons who, upon learning my vocation, say something along the lines of ‘you must read a lot.’   Uh.  Yeah.

This is a happy month for librarians and anyone involved in the world of information literacy.

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There is a movement

I am presently steeped in the Omnivore’s Dilemma.  Part 1, Industrial Corn, is as compelling and enraging as all the information I already have on industrial food—the unjust, inhumane, and nearly absolute destruction of our planet through capricious, unscrupulous, calculated big fat American business, supported by our government, or, dare I say, military industrial complex to borrow from George Naylor.

And now, beginning Part 2 Pastoral Grass, I feel a deep sense of restoration—I’ve only begun the first chapter in this section.  I think I already know the problem well enough.  I think I know some of the solutions as well.  So it is very contenting to begin this section.

And so I get poking around online this morning and learn of two films on the subject, and I’m encouraged.  I must find some screenings.

Fresh (
Food, Inc (

Both of the above movies include Michael Pollan, author of Omnivore’s Dilemma, as well as Joel Salatin, owner of Polyface Farms—described by Pollan in Part 2 of Omnivore’s Dilemma, Rod Dreher’s Crunchy Cons, and more.

These films are part of the growing movement, the taking back of our food and our lives from the machine.

I plan to highlight this topic more this Fall semester in my INTG course.  I got one group turned on to it last semester.  For their Group Advocacy Project, they volunteered time at Silver Lake Nature Center ( to restore the community garden plots.  They researched the issues of food, the food industry, and alternatives, and presented basic facts in a brochure for local residents.  Before the plots were ready for planting, all had been subscribed—REAL CHANGE through REAL ADVOCACY.

There is a movement.