Searching E-Books

Last week, I had the opportunity to attend the MLA ABCs of E-books webcast just down the road (I-76, that is) in the Ocasek Medical Library at NEOUCOM. I particularly enjoy going over there for “networking” reasons. I worked at NEOUCOM for many years, so I get to see many acquaintances of old. I also was eager to see the Midwest Chapter’s own Michelle Kraft who was a video-taped presenter along with her colleague Marian Simonson. NEOUCOM was one of the nineteen broadcast sites sponsored by the Greater Midwest Region and there is no charge for individual librarians. Attendance is always good with a great mix of academic and hospital librarians. The GMR has been sponsoring viewing sites for quite a few years and I think this is one of their best funding efforts.

I was interested this particular webcast because we already have access to more than a few books in electronic form at MPOW. And here in Ohio we are fortunate to have access to a wide variety of e-books through OhioLINK’s Electronic Book Center (EBC). Recently, our reference team has been working on a project to transform our reference collection from print format to electronic access. Since the EBC includes a considerable number of reference works, we are no longer purchasing titles in print if they are included in the EBC. In our own reference collection efforts, we have been purchasing reference resources exclusively in electronic format if they are affordable. But our dilemma now is how to integrate these e-resources into the “traditional” reference process both at the reference desk and by the end-user using the resources off-campus.

So I was particularly interested in the discussion of federated search. This sounds like the solution to our problem of finding where information might be within the many reference sources we have available electronically from any number of different vendors. This is actually something that wasn’t all that easy in the print environment. Should one use a general encyclopedic resource or something very specialized? Which of these resources do we have? We have access to way too many electronic resources to use a simple A-Z listing. Our library catalog doesn’t have the depth of information to be much more helpful either.

When I returned to work after the webcast I mentioned this to our head of reference. He asked me to write a summary of the things that I had learned. And here is where I discovered that my handwritten notes were rather inadequate. Notably, I did not have the web URLs for most of the examples that had been discussed. But I was rescued by my faithful tweeting colleagues! All I had to do is consult the transcript of the webcast backchatter and there was all the information that I needed to look good for the boss. Thanks all!

I am particularly impressed by the Vivisimo based search at the University of Pittsburgh HSLS. This function searches the fulltext content of all the included e-resources. The Houston Academy of Medicine-Texas Medical Center Library is also using Vivisimo for their SEARCH10 but it does not search inside the content of their e-books. The University of South Alabama Biomedical Library e-books search looks nice but it is not clear to me if the “chapter search” searches just the chapter titles or the chapter fulltext.

Have you seen any other examples of federated search used to search the fulltext content of a set of selected e-resources? If so, let me know (cleibfar at kent dot edu) and I’ll look good for the boss again!

Think Spring! Board Meeting!

Time to think spring! The spring Midwest Chapter Executive Board meeting that is. Our chapter president Elaine Skopelja has arranged the meeting for Friday, March 26, 2010 from 7:30 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. at the Martin House Hotel in Indianapolis. Your intrepid blog editor being also intrepid president-elect this year will be happily attending. Always happy to make a trip to my birth state. I hope I can even visit with a cousin or two while I am there. Any interested chapter members who would like to attend should contact Elaine Skopelja!
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You might recall that at the last board meeting it was decided that we would try a brief all-online meeting using the chapter’s DimDim account. And we did just that on January 28. Most of the board members were able to participate. The meeting went quite well! All of the attendees gave short updates on their chapter activities so far this year and we worked through a number of technical issues. We found that it was best if all attendees dialed in on the phone for the audio portion rather than using VoIP. There is a pesky time difference between the two audio streams. We quickly realized that it will be important to upload all the documents that will be discussed at the meeting ahead of time and have them in agenda order for smoother presentation. We had lots of fun playing with the with the Whiteboard too. I should have taken a screen shot of that, silly me. Most of the board members who cannot make the trip to Indianapolis will be attending the March board meeting virtually.
Speaking of online…have you renewed your membership for this year? This year we are trying out using Acteva to handle membership sign-up and payment online. It’s quick and easy! See what you think!

Conference 2.0

What do you think of all the 2.0 coverage of the 2009 Midwest Chapter/MLA Conference? Did you enjoy following conference happenings in the Twitter widget webmaster Allan added to this blog for the conference? Have you looked at all those photos of the conference over there on the Flickr badge? As I write this there are 424 photos tagged midwestmla09! So much photo fun! It looks like everyone enjoyed the conference events and were able to do some touring around town as well.
ConnectMidwest coverage of the conference was ably coordinated by our newsletter editor Jason. He even created an online tutorial to show our conference bloggers how to post to Movable Type. Thank you so much Midwest Chapter bloggers for sharing your experience of this year’s conference!
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One of the conference GMR Technology Forum presenters, Krafty Librarian Michelle Kraft, blogged about the conference as well. Most notably she shared much of the information from her part of the panel discussion. She posted her slides on SlideShare as did fellow Tech Forum panelist Eric Schnell. Michelle also recorded and posted video of the conference poster session.
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And lastly, the conference Program Committee has posted the presentation slides from all of Sunday’s Contributed Papers on the conference website here.

Conference Tweeting

First, a confession. Your intrepid blog editor doesn’t even know how to send a text message. I use my cell phone as a cell phone only. It doesn’t even have a camera. Imagine that!
But I did enjoy following the MLA ’09 Twitter feed last week. Wednesday morning’s exchanges were particularly informative (to someone thousands of miles away) and lively.
So I was pretty interested this morning when I snagged this post “Paper Highlights Pros and Cons of Twittering at Academic Conferences” from The Wired Campus blog in my feed reader. I clicked through to this draft copy of the paper “How People are using Twitter during Conferences” available online to get the details.
The multi-national group of researchers asked the question “Can Twitter (or any other microblogging tool) help to improve interactions among learners, and enhance their learning experiences?” They surveyed 41 conference attendees of five particular conferences. They found that Twitter exchanges are useful for more than just following conference events and exchanging information. They facilitate communication about emerging issues and provide a forum for parallel “backchannel” discussions. The respondents noted that tweeting (gotta love that verb) enhances networking and community. So, yes, Twitter can add value to conferences.
Whaddya think? Should we try this at this year’s Midwest Chapter conference?

ConnectMidwest Word Cloud

So this afternoon, I caught what seem to be the last of the Official MLA 2009 Blog entries posted live from the conference. The tweets of the Leiter Lecture are still coming though.
Rachel Walden posted this Wordle word cloud of the MLA blog earlier today. So your intrepid blog editor just knew she had to make a word cloud of this blog. This is fun!
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From a Distance

I’m keeping an eye on MLA ’09 using the various social networkings. The Official MLA Blog is working pretty well. [Just one little coding glitch yesterday that probably only I recognized since I made the very same goof once with the chapter conference blog. Allan B. came to the rescue that time.] Some of the Official MLA Bloggers have been staying up late or getting up early to share their experiences with the rest of us poor folks stuck back here on the continent. And thank you for that! It is kind of a mixed bag of fun stuff and session reports. Love the food photos the best! This all makes me really want to go to MLA next year. I’ve already requested on interlibrary loan a copy of A Whole New Mind which has been chosen for discussion at next year’s meeting in Washington, D.C.
I monitored the “Top Technical Trends III: Technology Fusion” panel using Eric Schnell’s Cover It Live feed yesterday afternoon. The tweets really could only give the flavor of the discussion with little detail which is a bit disappointing. But I did catch the videos as they were posted. The time difference is a bit of an issue for those of us in EDT. The session was only about halfway through when it was time to leave work. But this morning when I brought up the feed page again, the entire session was there for me to replay. I am actually just keeping that feed “open” to keep track of today’s conference tweets as everyone gets started with the day. As I am typing this, the tweeters are doing an excellent job reporting the Social Networking Task Force Open Forum with lots of interesting crosstalk between them.
Another great way I’m keeping an eye on the conference is with Facebook. Most of my Facebook friends are librarians and many are posting updates and, even better, photos to their profiles. Fun!
Keep up the great work social networkers!

Going to MLA?

Will you be attending MLA ’09 in Honolulu? Unfortunately, your intrepid blog editor will not be winging her way across the Pacific to the island paradise of Oahu in May. So once again, I will be relying on our MLA bloggers to keep me informed.
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Last week, my neighbor to the north, The Krafty Librarian, sent me a comment here to ask me to pass along to Midwest Chapter members this year’s call for MLA bloggers. She’ll be there and has already been posting about the conference including this recent post on cheap travel deals to Hawaii and an informative post about the call for bloggers with all the details. She notes that it is important to get as many people blogging as possible so that they can cover as many aspects of the convention. And did you know that you can even get AHIP points for blogging the convention? The blogger application deadline is April 24, 2009. Results will be announced May 1, 2009.
So you say, “I can’t blog MLA because I don’t even have a blog.” Well, if you are a Midwest Chapter member, please consider blogging MLA for ConnectMidwest! If you are interested, contact me and I’ll get you all set up! If you take your camera along, we can even post your photos.

Presidential Inauguration Online

Did you watch the Inauguration ceremonies live? They were exciting, weren’t they? Here at MPOW many of us gathered in one of the library classrooms to watch on the festivities projected on the big screen. I had tried to get streaming video from a number of sources on my trusty computer here, but to no avail. Everyone in the entire world was trying to do the same and the news servers couldn’t adequately handle the demand. Our university network was creaking under the strain as well. So I was glad that Ken figured out how to get a television station feed up on the projector.
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I intended to write a blog post about the various Inauguration web sources. But why bother if someone else has done it already? Emerging Technologies Librarian (who works at that big university in our rival state up north of here) posted a great of set of Inauguration Links in the afternoon of Inauguration Day.
I admit to getting a lot of my news from NPR. I listen to their news programming on our university’s NPR affiliate WKSU during my lengthy commutes every weekday. [Little known fact: When my spouse was an undergraduate telecommunications student here more than a few years ago, he was volunteer student news director at the station.] Check out these two musical Inauguration-related NPR stories that I picked up in my trusty feed reader: The Many Sides Of ‘The Star Spangled Banner’ and A Musical Dispatch From The Inauguration. I am enjoying the chance to hear once again the wonderful “Simple Gifts” quartet.
The revamped White House website includes some interesting 2.0 type features. I’ve already added the White House blog feed to my reader account. I’m interested to see if they really keep up with that. You can watch the Inaugural Address again in this post which includes “the flub heard around the world.” The Transition Office website Change.gov was definitely a 2.0 entity. The Citizen’s Briefing Book was an interesting experiment. The site notes that “over 125,000 users submitted over 44,000 ideas and cast over 1.4 million votes.”

The Internet and American Life

The biblioblogosphere was abuzz last week about the latest report from the Pew Internet & American Life Project on Adults and Social Network Websites. Just about every commenter noted the finding that “The share of adult internet users who have a profile on an online social network site has more than quadrupled in the past four years — from 8% in 2005 to 35% now.” The repeated use of the word quadrupled won it the honor of Word of the Day on HotStuff 2.0 which tracks 464 active blogs to discover new and/or interesting topics.
I found some interesting little tidbits in the full report. For example, only 19% of persons in my age group have a profile on a social networking site. (Guess you can figure out my age now.) Most people use social networks for personal rather than professional reasons. But I suspect that this distinction might be difficult to make. Like many people, I have a Facebook profile which has a kind of mixed use. Most of my Facebook friends are librarians with whom I have some kind of professional relationship, co-workers or fellow Midwest Chapter members. But some family members are my friends and I have posted some personal photos to the site. I thoroughly enjoyed the video that my befriended niece posted on Facebook last week.
In exploring the Pew Project website, I found that you can take their daily tracking survey. I signed up to receive notices of their reports in my e-mail. I also took their Internet Typology Test. Turns out that I am a one of the “connectors” who make up about 7% of the population. Which type are you?

MLA Presidential Priorities: What’s Your Opinion?

MLA President-elect Connie Schardt needs you! Next month, she will be presenting her 2009/2010 presidential priorities to the MLA Board of Directors for approval. She has posted a draft of her priorities on the MLA Connections blog and asks for comments.
I’m interested to see how this works. In the fall, MLA tried using the blog as a tool for to get member input on the MLA Strategic Plan. The response was rather disappointing, even after they broke the strategic plan down into smaller, less overwhelming parts and asked for comments again. I wasn’t too surprised…both this blog and MIDLINE receive few comments. T. Scott Plutchak, who is serving on the MLA board, entitled his blog comment on the lack of comments The Myth of Digital Democracy? Actually, T. Scott’s blog post generated the more comments than the strategic plan draft!
Despite this lack of success the first time around, I think that using the blog is a good way for MLA to get direct input from the membership. You can share your opinion without going through someone else. No need to find a sympathetic board member to plead your case. No need to find the appropriate MLA staff member to e-mail. No need to join a committee. (Although this is still a good idea.)
I challenge you to get involved. Take the time to look over the priorities. Close your eyes and imagine: what should MLA really be doing? Then tell them! MLA is YOUR organization and you pay a lot to belong. You should be getting your money’s worth and this is one way to do that.