Archive for the ‘Searching’ Category

Learning about leap years

February 29, 2016

In case you haven’t checked a calendar this morning, today is February 29th. While looking at my own calendar this morning, I realised that I didn’t actually know why we have a leap day. Anticipating the questions I’m bound to face from my inquisitive children later today I thought I ought to remedy that, and quickly. So where I else would I look for information but Discover@Bolton. It hasn’t disappointed. For a change, I filtered my search by newspaper articles and the article at the top of my list was a short piece from a local Canadian newspaper.

A quick read later, and I now know that the first documentation of the practice of adding an extra day to the year to bring the calendar in synch with the solar appeared in 1288 when Scotland passed a law to allow women to propose marriage to men on that day (and any man refusing the proposal to be fined!). The notion of women proposing to men on February 29th is thought to date back to 5th Century Ireland, when St Patrick agreed that “yearning females tired of waiting” could take matters into their own hands…

It’s thought that the practice of adding the extra day dates back to Ancient Egypt; it was also adopted by the Romans who first designated February 29th as an extra day in 45 B.C.

Amazing what a quick five minutes on a database can reveal! I can get on with my day now…

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Happy birthday George Boole!

November 2, 2015

Today is the 200th birthday of Irish-born mathematician George Boole. Who on earth is George Boole, I hear you cry! Well, I had the same reaction when I saw Google’s doodle this morning (yes, librarians do use Google!). However, as soon as I examined the graphic a little more closely, I realised I knew exactly who George Boole was. Why? Because when using electronic resources to find information, we all use something that Boole devised. And what was that something? Boolean logic, of course. And although you may be sitting there wondering what that could possibly be, you do know the most basic components of Boolean logic: applying AND, OR and NOT to your searches.

I won’t pretend that I understand the full algebraic impact of Boole’s work – maths is most certainly not my strong point – or indeed any aspect of Boole’s contribution to the workings of algebra, but I do understand how his logic can be applied to searches. Use AND to combine search terms. Use not to OR to increase the results. Use NOT to exclude certain terms. It’s actually very simple, and understanding how you can use these three simple terms to improve your search results and ensure that you are getting the most out of our electronic resources.

Next time you’re searching, why not have a go at using these terms? You might find you get better results!