Monday, March 5, 2012

Episode 6: Websites at Warp Speed!

(c) Jupiter Images
Your fellow space travelers will often look to you to assist them when they are in pursuit of information.  The challenge for a good leader is to provide courteous, accurate, and complete information as quickly as possible. The mission in Episode 6 is intended to let you wander through some useful websites that can make you look as if you have all the answers!

The Harris County Public Library home page has a very useful starting point for your search for information. The "WEBSITES" tab includes links for handling many of the questions that are commonly asked about local issues. It can be used at your service desk to search for answers. Because it is on the library's public site, it also is a handy place to direct customers when they call or e-mail with questions.

Begin your quest by hovering over the "WEBSITES" tab.  Put your space vehicle into Cruise mode, and spend some time exploring the richness hidden under this small unassuming tab. You will find the links there very useful in accomplishing this mission.
Sometimes the Websites tab won't have what you seek, and you will have to move deeper into space in order to locate what you need. Unfortunately, you are going to encounter a lot of space junk as you wander among websites. How can you sort out the good stuff?

You can use a list of basic criteria to do your own evaluation of a website, to decide whether it shows accuracy, authority, objectivity, currency, and coverage. Another way is to start out with an authoritative collection of links, like the university-sponsored  Internet Public Library.  Some experienced librarians share their personal collections of useful links with others. Click here to see an example from one of HCPL's own specialists.

Another way is to find links through an online Encylcopedia like Wikipedia. Wikipedia is a project to build free encyclopedias in all languages of the world. Virtually anyone with Internet access is free to contribute, by adding neutral, cited information. A word of caution: because anyone can contribute to Wikipedia, there is great variation in the quality of the information from topic to topic. For this reason, some teachers won't accept Wikipedia as a source on homework assignments. Be careful to double check your information when possible. It is often helpful to review the list of citations at the end of a Wikipedia article for authoritative sources on the subject.

...3,2,1 On to the Quest!

Submit your answers to the questions below using the form on Harriet. A good practice is to first type your answers into a Word document. When you are finished, Copy/Paste your answers into the form. This may save you from losing your work. Be sure to submit after you have entered all your answers into the form.
(c) Jupiter Images

  1. Some space travelers, especially the Klingons, will expect you to give them all the answers, but there are some legitimate limits on the provision of reference service. Review the "Fleet Commander's Guidebook" (a.k.a. the Harris County Public Library Reference Policy on Harriet) and list at least three circumstances in which the assistance you can provide is restricted.
  2. Former Rockets player Hakeem Olajuwon owns about 40,000 sq. ft. of vacant commercial property along the East Freeway. What was the appraised value of this property for tax year 2011? Provide the answer to the question, and copy/paste the link where you found it. [Hint: Check within the "Home and Housing" section of the Websites tab.]
  3. Today the Romulans are electing a new ruler, and those residing on earth are allowed to vote absentee at regular election day polling places. Your friend Ruanek wants to know where to go to vote. At what website can you enter his information and find out his polling place?
  4. Occasionally as you move from one space vehicle to another, you will feel like you have gone through a time warp. Everything is shifting! Using the Neighborhood links under the Webites tab, identify some of the specifics for each location.
    1. What is one of the newspapers covering the Crosby area?
    2. What school district serves the Evelyn Meador branch in Seabrook?
    3. What's the name of the competitive swimming club in the Fairbanks area? 
In your travels through the neighborhoods, if you drop into a black hole and find a link that has disappeared or needs revision, make sure to notify of the needed change. If you know of other links that would be helpful to your fellow travelers, let ebranch know about that, too!

  1. A very useful resource for your travels is this book by two authors, found in the HCPL catalog:
Smithsonian Atlas of Space Exploration. You want to cite this resource in your latest funding proposal to the United Federation of Planets. Look up the details of the item in the HCPL catalog. Use the Citation Machine (found in the Ready Reference links) to create a citation for this book in proper MLA format, and copy it here. [Hint:
Note that this book has two authors.]
  1. Go to the Internet Public Library ( and follow these tracks: Resources by Subject; Science & Technology; Astronomy; Galactic. What website does this trail lead you to?
7. Wikipedia is a very useful resource when you need something that only an ardent "fan" would know. For example, many sources consider that "The City on the Edge of Forever" was the best episode of the original Star Trek series. What number was this episode, and when was it first broadcast?

If you have submitted all the correct answers to accomplish this mission, you will receive the Websites Space Vehicle to add to your command. This will let you dig through our cramped but coveted Cargo Hold for a chance at a great prize. Complete The Fleet by earning all ten vehicles, and you will also receive ten Intergalactic Training Credits.

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