Emerging Technologies for the Busy Librarian

I made my MCHSL colleagues get up early Saturday morning so I could make it on time to Gabe Rios’ and Melissa De Santis’ continuing education course at noon. Despite a little grumbling, my colleagues consented and felt much better after a stop at Chick-Fil-A in Cincy. (Stevo had never been there before!)

Anyway, I had taken the 2013 version of this class in East Peoria and was looking forward to drinking from the fire hose once again, and this dynamic duo did not disappoint! If you can imagine spending four hours in a class without getting bored then I highly recommend this course the next time it’s offered.

To begin with, I think one of the best raisons d’être for the library I’ve heard recently was in this class: “Libraries democratize access to technology.” This set the tone for why we as librarians even need to stay up to date in our technology knowledge. OK, I’m on board with that, bring on the 3D printing!

So what did Gabe and Melissa cover? Much more than would be appropriate for a blog post, but here are the highlights from my perspective:

NCState as a trending library to watch.

I had liked their “Browse by Call Number” search before, but in this class we talked about their policies for technology lending. I will keep the experience and knowhow of NCState in mind as we develop policies to lend out our Chromebooks and any newer technologies that might come along.

3D Printing and Makerspaces.

MIT 3D printed hearts from actual MRI data.
3D printed hearts from actual MRI data.

I have been kind of skeptical of the whole idea of having 3D printers in libraries. As we were discussing this in class, my contrarian side came up and I asked “What would medical libraries be allowed to print anyway – just models for instruction?” However Gabe and Melissa mentioned Massachusetts Institute of Technology’s 3D printed heart models direct from a patient’s MRI scan. Now that is something that could be really useful for a library to offer! This article in the MIT News mentions how surgeons “see with their hands,” and find 3D models invaluable for familiarizing themselves with a unique cardiac structure before a difficult surgery.

New Trends in Cloud/Client Architecture.

The term Device Agnostic refers to “web sites that are as readable in mobile devices as they are on desktop computers” (PC Magazine) An example of this is the new Medical Library Association website which is running on the Socious platform. I plan on reading more about what MLA has learned from implementing Socious.

Security and Beacons.

The phrase to remember here is “If you want more customization you have to give up some privacy.” Gabe and Melissa talked about beacons which are “small wireless sensors that you can attach to any location or object which broadcast tiny radio signals which your smartphone can receive and interpret.” (Estimote) This is a marketing or informational tool which lets your customers or patrons “know about things that would probably interest them because of where they are standing.” (Bluubeam) Beacon technology from companies like Estimote and Bluubeam has been in use in retail locations for awhile, but is now being brought to libraries with products from companies like Capira.

If all this makes you worry about your security, well, there is Skycure, which has been featured on the Today Show and promises to protect your mobile device from “free” wifi network threats and hackers. The best advice regarding the use of “free” wifi in public areas is “don’t shake hands with sick people!”

Virtual Reality.

Gabe and Melissa demonstrate Google Cardboard
Gabe and Melissa demonstrate Google Cardboard

Finally, one of the neatest emerging technologies covered in this class was “Google Cardboard,” a simple, fun, and affordable virtual reality technology. As Gabe is showing in this picture, you simply get (or make) an inexpensive viewer (which reminded me of a Viewmaster, which has also gotten into the cheap VR act!) and download an app for your smartphone, and you are set up for Virtual Reality!

How to drink from the firehose of emerging technology?

Although I’ve only written about five of the four dozen topics that Gabe and Melissa covered in four hours, I’d like to leave you with some ways to keep up with all this innovation:

  • The 2015 Horizon Report by Educase which “describes six areas of emerging technology that will have significant impact on higher education and creative expression over the next one to five years.” (Educase Learning Initiative)
  • The ALA’s Library and Information Technology Association (LITA) division blog at http://litablog.org/ which contains posts on technologies and trends relevant to librarians.
  • App Reviews: For general trends in mobile device applications, AppAnnie features a Billboard Top 40 chart for various devices, while iMedical Apps also has a specifically medical top-of-the-charts list.

There are many other ways to keep up, such as conferences (SXSWTED talks) or websites (MashableTechcrunchReadWriteGizmodo or Engadget). Check them out and book mark your favorites!

Finally Gabe and Melissa gave us a set of “Questions to ask about new tools” which include:

  1. How will this help my users?
  2. What risk is associated with this tool?
  3. Could I implement this without it being perfect?
  4. Does it help me get where my users are?
  5. What is the cost?
  6. What are the consequences if I try this? If I don’t?

Attending classes like this at meetings can help librarians be prepared to navigate the digital divide that can separate even our otherwise highly educated clients and make our libraries havens of democratic access to technology.

Happy Birthday to Us!

During our chapter meeting this week, MLA President Michelle Kraft shared a Birthday Message from the Medical Library Association. Bet you didn’t know that the Midwest Chapter of the Medical Library Association was 65 years old!

MLA PresidentResolution Honoring the Midwest Chapter of the Medical Library Section

Whereas, the Midwest Chapter of the Medical Library Association (MLA), Inc. has been in existence for 65 years;

Whereas, the Midwest Chapter stimulates and fosters interest in health sciences libraries and librarianship;

Whereas, the Midwest Chapter provides educational and professional development opportunities for its members through its annual meeting and promotes MLA continuing education offerings to chapter members;

Whereas, the Midwest Chapter facilitates communication and the exchange of ideas and information among its members through the MIDLINE Newsletter, chapter blogs, and the Midwest Email Discussion Group;

Whereas, the Midwest Chapter promotes resource sharing and cooperation among libraries and library groups in the Chapter;

Whereas, the Midwest Chapter furthers MLA’s Research Agenda through its Research Awards program and the Jean Williams Sayre Innovation Award;

Whereas, the Midwest Chapter supports attendance for two Chapter members to attend the Chapter Council Presents Sharing Roundtables Luncheon at the MLA Annual meeting each year;

Whereas, members of the Midwest Chapter have furthered MLA’s mission by serving as MLA presidents, board members, committee chairs and members; be it therefore

Resolved, that the Medical Library Association commends the Midwest Chapter for 65 years of excellent service and accomplishment in support of the profession of health sciences librarianship.

Adopted by the MLA Board of Directors, August 2015

Meet Student Attendee: Sam Watson

I had a mentor at my first Midwest conference: Clare Leibfarth at Kent State University. Five years later, I became a mentor, too. So I’m excited to introduce my mentee, Samuel Watson. Sam is a library school student at the University of Wisconsin-Madison and a GMR Student Awardee. I missed the official mentor-mentee meetup on Saturday evening, but Sam and I got to chat on several occasions later. I’m happy to learn that he is very interested in health sciences librarianship especially in Pharmacy because of his experience of working as a pharmacy technician.
Going along with my theme of 3-2-1 questions, I asked Sam these questions via emails. Below are his responses. Thank you, Sam, for sharing your thoughts!

Three things I learned from this conference:
1) I learned about the existence of Embase. An important resource to know about considering my pharmacy interest.
2) I learned that poster publishing isn’t all that intimidating. I’ll have to participate in one myself soon.
3) I learned the many concepts and issues important in medical librarianship coincide with my current SLIS education, which is highly reassuring as I near graduation.
Things that surprised me:
1) It would appear that everyone in the medical librarianship field in the Midwest knows everyone else. There were no strangers at this conference.
2) I was surprised by the variety of career paths that revolve around the medical librarianship field.
One thing I’ll never forget is that Bourbon isn’t that bad. In small doses.

One Thing that You’ll Never Forget about this Conference

I teach drug information in our College of Pharmacy at Iowa, where active learning is widely used in the curriculum . One of the strategies I use to kick off discussions is to ask the following 3-2-1 questions: 1) three things you learned, 2) two things that surprised you, and 3) one thing that you’ll never forget.

So I asked some of my friends/colleagues to answer Question #3. Kelly Thormodson, who is the Assistant Director at the Harley E. French Library of the Health Sciences in the University of North Dakota, told me during a break that it would be the panel discussion on Tobacco, Meth and Mountain Dew: Oral Health in Appalachia. It made her wonder how North Dakota is meeting the oral health care needs of the Native American population there especially considering the fact that there are no dental schools in the state. Coincidentally, this panel discussion is also what stuck with my roommate, Amy Blevins, also at the University of Iowa. Amy felt when we talk about health care gaps, we need to take into account the huge amount of debts many health care professionals have after receiving their education and training and think about what can be done.

I feel the 3-2-1 questions worked well in starting conversations at conferences just as well as starting classroom discussions among my pharmacy students. Thank you, Kelly and Amy, for sharing your thoughts!

Meet the Midwest Chapter 2015 Meeting Grant Winners

Leah Osterhaus Trzasko, Chair of the Midwest Chapter Awards & Scholarships Committee sends along this news!

Greetings Midwest Chapter meeting attendees! Take a few minutes at the meeting and congratulate this year’s recipients of the attendance grants:

Annual Meeting Grant: Supports the attendance of librarians and library staff at the Chapter’s Annual Meeting — $500 with free full conference registration.

Mindwell Egeland,University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics
Dawn Hackman, University of North Dakota

First-Time Attendee Annual Meeting Grant: Supports the first-time attendance of Midwest Chapter members at the Chapter’s Annual Meeting — $500 with free full conference registration.

Mary O’Connell, Northwest Community Hospital
Laura Menard, Butler University

Student Annual Meeting Grant: Supports the attendance of library science students at the Chapter’s Annual Meeting — $500 with free full conference registration.

Kimberly Kelly, Wayne State University
Donald Pearson, Kent State University

If you don’t run into them Sunday morning, you’ll have a chance to congratulate them after the noon Business Meeting when all of the awards will be presented. In addition to the attendance grants, the winner of the Jean Williams Sayre Innovation Award will be announced during the awards presentation at the Business Meeting.

Have a great time in Kentucky!