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Data Privacy Day 2010: Do You Know Where Is Your Data?

January 28 is International Data Privacy Day. This is an annual observance to raise awareness and generate discussion about information privacy issues. The event is currently observed in the United States, Canada, and 27 European countries. Private companies, libraries, colleges and universities, and other nonprofit organizations observe the event with various activities. This post today is a small way for us to highlight this event and provide our readers with some information and resources on this important topic. Why is the issue of online data privacy important? If you use a social networking site like Facebook or MySpace, or even use a web-based e-mail service like Gmail or Yahoo!, then you should be concerned. Many sites and online services collect a broad range of information about you, your location, your online activities, etc. Those sites do not always practice good privacy measures to protect their users. In fact, some sites would simply prefer if you did not worry about your privacy at all. For instance, Mark Zuckerberg, founder of Facebook, recently said that "privacy is no longer a social norm." He claims that with the rise of social networking there is no expectation of privacy. There are many experts and consumer advocates who strongly disagree. Thus, at the end of the day, you, the user of online services, have to be proactive in protecting your online privacy. Keep in mind that everything yo do online leaves a trail that others can find. You should be asking the following questions:
  • Who is collecting your personal data?
  • How are they using your personal data?
  • With whom are they sharing your personal data?
  • How can you protect your personal information?
Here are some information resources where you can learn more:
  • I linked above to the Privacy Day website. This is a project of The Privacy Projects, a privacy and technology think tank. If you go to the Privacy Day website under the "Education and Resources" tab, you will find various links of interest.
  • Doug Cornelius, known as the blogger Geek Dad featured in Wired Magazine, has an article on Privacy Day with links and tips for protecting your data. He reminds us of the importance of having good strong passwords for our online services.
  • Via the Sophos website, here are some recommendations for Facebook settings. For example, think if you accept friends you may not know in real life. Or what about when someone tags you in a photo in Facebook. While you cannot totally hide everything, there are some things you can do to maintain some control over your information.
  • The Electronic Frontier Foundation is a civil liberties organization dedicated to defending your rights in the digital world. As a blogger, I find their work and resources extremely useful in my work. They also offer a large section on privacy issues.
  • The Northern California Chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) has created the "Demand Your dotRights" Campaign. This educational website provides video and resources so you can learn who is finding your information and what they may be doing with it as well as tips to better control your online privacy. Do you like taking little quizzes on Facebook and posting the results on your wall? You can take the "What do Facebook Quizzes Know About You Quiz?" and learn what information  you give up to Facebook and quiz developers when you take one of those quizzes.
  • The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) has an educational site entitled "You are here." This site, set up as a little virtual mall, educates not only about online privacy, but it also teaches about advertising scams, and more. It is geared to younger users, but I think readers here may find it useful as well. (A hat tip to Geek Dad on this one).
  • Indiana University is hosting a full day of activities and events for Data Privacy Day. You can go over to the site to see what they are doing. If you miss the sessions, they are recording them so people can watch them at a later date. The site also offers a series of links to various resources.
  • Microsoft also has a page of resources for Privacy Day. They include some information on research about your reputation online. Why is this research important? Let me ask you something different. Are you looking for a job now or planning to look for a job soon? If you are, did you know that hiring managers use online searching to find information about you, and they use that information to make their hiring decisions? That risque photo of you at some party could cost you a job opportunity, and you may not even know it.
  • CISCO has a series of online safety tips for Data Privacy Day.
  • And here is an account of what Mark Zuckerberg actually said about privacy as a social norm, via The Guardian.
At the end of the day, you may still wonder why this is a significant issue. You may ask how does it affect you. It affects millions of people around the world. To give readers a sense, I leave you with this video on the "Social Media Revolution" which provides a few impressive facts and figures about social media. As always, if you have any questions on this or other topics, feel free to contact us here at The Robert R. Muntz Library.And if other readers are observing Data Privacy Day as well, feel free to leave us a comment here and let us know what you are doing. [youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sIFYPQjYhv8]

Learn a bit more about Yemen

This past Christmas, the infamous "underwear bomber" made the news. It was part of the news that he had ties to Yemen, but what do we know about that country? While scanning some of the feeds I use to keep up, I came across this small report from the Brookings Institution entitled "What You Should Know About Yemen." Brookings also has posted a transcript of an event where policy experts discuss the topic of "Al Qaeda in Yemen: A New Foothold (if you follow this link, you will find a link to the transcript in PDF). These items reminded me of other country information sources that are freely available on the Internet that readers can use to learn more about Yemen and other countries. You can find these links and more in our Political Science subject guide. Go under the tab for "Government Info," then click on "International Resources." In addition, our subject guide offers access to a variety of other resources in political science. Some of the resources, such as our databases, are subscription-based and require authentication (you have to log-in as a UT Tyler user), but others are free. As always, if you have further questions or need additional research assistance, feel free to contact us.
Published by root on 25 Jan

Haiti and the Earthquake: Some more information resources

I posted previously with some links and resources about Haiti and the earthquake. I have found some additional resources to help people learn more about the nation of Haiti as well as get some disaster-related information.
  • Databases for searching for loved ones in Haiti. CNN has made available a missing persons database. The CNN tool is mostly user-generated. It is basically a compilation of what CNN calls "iReports" (i.e reports sent by readers and users) about missing persons. The database is searchable. You can also file your own report if you have a loved one missing so that others may be able to help. The International Committee of the Red Cross also has a resource for missing persons. So does Google. These resources allow you to search for someone or to add information you may know about someone.
  • The U.S. Census Bureau has some data about Haiti and the earthquake. You can get some facts about the earthquake. You can also get demographic information about Haiti as well as about the Haitian community in the United States.
  • Resource Shelf provides links to three recent Congressional Research Service (CRS) reports about Haiti, Haitian immigrants and the earthquake. These documents may be of interest as well.

Web Resource of the Week: Get State of the State speeches and more state political information

Web Resource of the Week is our new semi-regular feature on neat and interesting reference resources that are freely available online. For our first post in this new series we are featuring Stateline.org, and we are highlighting their speech archive. In a fashion similar to the President's Annual State of the Union Address, state governors give State of the State Addresses. Those speeches usually take place early in the year. For instance, Governors Schwarzenegger (R-CA), Steve Beshear (D-KY), and David Paterson (D-NY) delivered their speeches for the previous year on January 6th. These speeches are significant because governors use them to discuss their vision and priorities for their state in these speeches. But what if you missed your governor's speech? How about if you want to review an older speech? Or you need to know when your governor is giving his/her speech? You can find these answers and more at Stateline.org. The website provides a schedule of State of the State speeches, and an archive of the state speeches going back to 2000. However, this website offers a lot more. Stateline provides "reporting on emerging trends and issues in state policy and politics" (from the About page). They are a nonprofit, non-partisan news site that's part of the Pew Center on the States. So, what else can you get from this site?
  • You can browse the top state policy and politics news by state or by topics such as education, crime, health care, and taxes.
  • Stateline publishes reference materials, which they make available to the public for free. Their annual "State of the States" report, for example, is released every January. You can download these reports, going back five years, from the website (note: reports available in PDF format).
  • They have compiled lists state political blogs as well as political issue blogs. This is helpful for readers interested on following state government. The lists can be perused by issue or by state. Once you find a blog, you can choose to subscribe to it via RSS feed.
  • And speaking of RSS, Stateline offers their own RSS feeds as well. You can subscribe to a variety of feeds by topic, or you can just get the headlines.
  • You still need more state-related information? Stateline has a pretty comprehensive list of state public policy resources.
Regardless of political affiliation, readers will find very good, reliable state policy and politics information on the website. For the convenience of our patrons, I have also placed a link to Stateline.org in our Political Science Subject Guide. You will find that link under the tab for "Additional web resources." If you do take a look at this resource, feel free to let us know what you think about it in the comments. A hat tip to Resource Shelf.

Catastrophic Earthquake in Haiti: Some resources and information

By now, most readers know of the catastrophic earthquake (link to BBC News Service) that hit the Caribbean island nation of Haiti. Relief efforts are already on the way, and they do need help from folks in terms of donations. Here are some resources that may be of interest: Local and regional bloggers have been providing accounts as have local people using Twitter. You can get a sampling of that coverage via Global Voices, which offers a post on: If you choose to make a monetary donation, please do so to a reputable organization like the Red Cross, OXFAM, and MSF. These are just some examples. For more ideas, Forbes has an article on "How to Make Sure Your Donation Helps Haitian Earthquake Victims" that includes a list of charities you can contact. InterAction, a coalition of US-based international non-governmental organizations (NGOs),  also has a list of reputable charities as well as some guidelines on how to help. For instance, money is the preferred way to help. According to InterAction, "Cash allows relief professionals to procure exactly what is needed in a disaster situation and ensure that donations are culturally, dietary, and environmentally appropriate. Cash donations do not use up other scarce resources, such as transportation, staff time or warehouse space." In this age where texting is so easy, you can even make a donation by sending a text on your cellphone. Learn about it here (link from Christian Science Monitor). Unfortunately, times like these do invite scam artists (link to news story from MSNBC) to try to take advantage of your generosity, so make sure you are generous via a reputable and established organization. The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) already has a fraud alert out with tips of what to look for if an appeal for help seems fraudulent. You can also get more advice on how to vet a charity appeal from the folks at the Better Business Bureau (BBB), including tools to look up particular charities. If you are not sure,  you can use the links above, or you can always ask your local librarian. We'll be happy to help you determine if an appeal for help is legitimate or not.

FAQ: Do you have college textbooks in the library?

Note: this article was written by Angel Rivera, Outreach Librarian,  in the Fall 2008 edition of the library newsletter Muntz Library Musings. We are cross-posting it here since this is a very common question we get at the reference desk.

* * * *

We often get this question at the reference desk: “Do you have any textbooks?” The person asking is usually asking if we have textbooks for classes at UT Tyler. The basic answer is “no.” The library does not purchase textbooks for the classes at UT Tyler. This is a common request, but there are some reasons why we are not able to purchase class textbooks. First, a textbook collection would be very difficult to keep current. Each professor chooses their textbook for their particular class. Even sections of the same class may have different textbooks based on professors choosing the book for their class. Given this, and the fact that textbook editions change practically every semester, it would be impossible for the library to maintain a current textbook collection. Second, the library, just like the other units in the campus, operates on a very limited budget. Textbooks can be very expensive as students will attest. If the library chose to buy textbooks, it would mean our budget for other materials and services would decrease. We would not be as able to purchase other materials such as electronic books and online databases. This could mean we would be less able to help students with their research needs. Third, even if we did purchase textbooks, their use would be very limited, and they would likely be placed on reserve. This would mean the books would be only available for use within the library. This would limit the value of the textbooks because the number of students able to use them would be limited. However, I should add a caveat to the reasons above. At times, professors will put a copy of their class book on reserve. If that is the case, we will check for you and see if the book in question is available on reserve. If a book is on reserve, the loan period is determined by the instructor and can vary from 2 hours to 2 week checkout. Do check with your professor to see if he has placed an item on reserve. In addition, some professors might donate a copy of a textbook to the library. However, this happens rarely, and it must be noted that such donations are often not the latest edition of a class textbook. We understand that textbooks are expensive. However, we are not in the position to purchase class textbooks. We can help you locate other information and materials that will help you succeed in your classes here at UT Tyler. So, we would like to remind students that when they need help researching a topic or finding resources for a class, they can stop by the reference desk. Students can also contact the library for reference assistance via the phone (903-566-7343) or via e-mail (library@uttyler.edu). We’ll be happy to do what we can to help.

Dec. 23, 2009: LIBRARY CLOSES AT NOON

By order of UT Tyler President Dr. Mabry, the UT Tyler campus is closing down at 12:00 noon. THE ROBERT R. MUNTZ LIBRARY WILL CLOSE TODAY AT 12:00 NOON. We will reopen on Monday, January 4, 2010. Remember you can always visit our website (http://library.uttyler.edu) any time, and if you are affiliated to the university, you can use the databases and other subscription-based resources. Have a safe and happy holiday.
Published by root on 23 Dec

MUNTZ LIBRARY CLOSES AT NOON TODAY (WED. NOV. 25)

President Mabry has ordered that the campus close at noon today in observance of the Thanksgiving holiday. The Robert R. Muntz Library will close at 12:00pm (noon) today, Wednesday November 25. We will reopen for regular hours on Saturday November 28. Have a safe and happy Thanksgiving.
Published by root on 25 Nov

Special Hours for Thanksgiving Holiday 2009

The Robert R. Muntz Library will have the following hours for the 2009 Thanksgiving Holiday:

Wednesday November 25, 2009: 7:30am-5:00pm

Thursday November 26, 2009: CLOSED

Friday November 27, 2009: CLOSED

The library will reopen for regular hours on Saturday November 28, 2009.
Published by root on 24 Nov

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