When I began this blog last June I made a goal to write at least two substantial posts each month. But the May 2012 link in the “Archive” section over on the right shows I broke my streak. Oops! I just got too busy in mid-May and then went off to vacation. (There are some new pictures in the rotating header above from the trip. Of course all that assumes you are reading this from wordpress.org, not via email or a news reader.) Sorry about that.
There are some interesting liaison developments and experiences here I will write about later this summer and into early fall. But let me get caught up first with a quick recap of the May 17 BLINC get-together.
For this quarterly workshop we rendezvoused at Meredith College in Raleigh, where librarian Jean Porter was our host. Mary Scanlon from Wake Forest, our fearless BLINC chair, had planned a workshop to focus on data and services provided by the state government.
Beth Hayden, the Demographics and Reference Librarian for the State Library of North Carolina, kicked off the workshop with a review of American Community Survey data via FactFinder. She also encouraged us to try the Missouri Census Data Center, which provides an alternative interface and includes a circular area profiles tool. Beth also reviewed LINC/Log into North Carolina. Next we discussed strategies and struggles for accessing the Economic Census from FactFinder. Beth noted that keyword searching remains problematic for the business data.
After lunch three folks from the NC Department of Commerce talked to us about economic, employment, and trade data available from sites like AccessNC/EDIS, the Division of Employment Security’s Labor Market Information/D4 and Workforce in Depth, and TradeStats Express. The Profile of U.S. Importing and Exporting Companies 2009 – 2010 was new to me and possibly useful for my Export Odyssey work with Professor Williamson.
We wrapped up the workshop with some BLINC business, including a discussion of updating our social networking tools.
So we came away from the workshop with several new data tools to take a closer look at. Many of those sites overlap with the Census, the Bureau of Labor Statistics, or the USITC Trade DataWeb. My dilemma: when should I recommend or use one of those localized sites v. a U.S.-level site like the Census or the BLS? I don’t want to give students so many options for the same topic on a libguide that they get frustrated by the tyranny of choice. Plus there are databases like SimplyMap and DemographicsNow that include expensive, privately-collected market data and provide nifty download options. Keep it simple is the best approach, I think, as long as these other sites are bookmarked for tricky questions that need a different approach.