The Library as Place

I’ve been thinking a lot lately about this. Why? Because this summer your intrepid blog editor is going to be moving the hospital library from this building where it has been for over 25 years to the other hospital campus several miles away across town. This is a great opportunity to ponder deeply how this room is being used and consider how to structure things to better facilitate these uses in our new area.
This library inhabits 2300 square feet on the hospital’s ground floor. OK, that’s a fancy way to say that we are way down here in the basement. It’s comfortable down here and we’re right next to the classrooms. So the medical students, interns, and residents spend a lot of time here. I think several orthopedic residents actually live here. There is seating for 22 and there are times when all the table and carrel space is occupied. Occasionally, it gets downright wild down here. Yesterday, for instance. The surgical residents were regaling each other with amusing OR anecdotes. Thank goodness, there weren’t any people trying to study! I was laughing too hard to shush them. I’m glad that they feel “at home” here.
Later this week, I will be able to “walk through” the space that is currently being considered for the library on the other campus. As I walk through the rooms, what I’ll be planning is not just where to put the books, journals, and computers, but how to make the library a useful, welcoming PLACE for our students, physicians, and staff.
I wanted to get a handle on some of the latest research and thinking on the concept of “The Library as Place.” First stop? The Hospital Library Section wiki page “The Library’s Physical Space.” There is a lot of food for thought in this University of Illinois at Urbanna-Champaign Current LIS Clip The Library as Place. I also still have on my desk, the DVD Rom that we all were sent by the National Library of Medicine from the 2003 symposium on this subject. I’ve got my work cut out for me!
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NOTE TO SELF: Don’t forget to take Mr. Skeleton when we move!

Connecting with SLIS Students

Last week, your intrepid blog editor exhibited for the Midwest Chapter at the Kent State University School of Library and Information Science Library Careers Night.
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I was joined at the Midwest Chapter table by two of my fellow medical librarians from the Cleveland Clinic Alumni Library, Gretchen Hallerberg and Barb Anderson. We had a great time talking to students about careers in medical librarianship. (AND we got a free dinner!) The Midwest Chapter offers FREE student memberships, so I handed out quite a few membership applications. I’ll be interested to see how many students join the chapter. I talked a lot about our Annual Meeting Scholarships. Since I am a Kent State alumna myself, I would love to have a Kent State student attend the Midwest MLA / MHSLA 2008 Conference. I told everyone who visited our table what a great value our annual conferences are, with two days crammed with quality programming, great special events, and so many opportunities for networking. The $500 scholarship easily will cover the cost of the conference and two nights at the conference hotel.
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One nice thing about being in Kent for the evening was being able to visit with my son who is a KSU sophomore. It was nice to have some help tearing down the exhibit! And collegian son was able to snag some of those free OCLC pens from George across the aisle.
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Web 2.0 at SIU

How are the librarians and staff at YOUR library using Web 2.0 tools?

We asked Mary Taylor, Midwest Chapter Communications Committee member and Medical and Distance Learning Librarian at the Morris Library, Southern Illinois University, Carbondale and here is her reply!

Meet Morris Library 2.0
  • IM available. Our real time virtual reference is powered by instant messaging. We have embedded a Meebo me widget on our “Ask Anything” reference page, our Blackboard/WebCt login page, and our MySpace page (see the next item). Some of our liaisons have the widget on their personal/library websites so that patrons can instant message them directly.
  • Face to Space. The library has a MySpace page with an imbedded Meebo me widget and a search form for our catalog. The search form code can be downloaded by users for their own web pages from the library’s website. We also have a blog on the page. Some librarians have MySpace and Facebook accounts. I am a faculty advisor for a student organization that has a Facebook account. I joined Facebook at that organization’s executive board’s request, so they didn’t have to look up my e-mail address every time they sent out a message.
  • It bloggles the mind. One of our divisions, Instructional Support Services, has an internal blog. One liaison shares news with her departments via her blog. As previously mentioned, our MySpace page also has a blogs.
  • Syndicated columnist. We use an RSS feed to spread the word about services and products, and plan to use it sharing our new books list.
  • Let the wiki win. Two in-house committees use wikis to share documents in progress.
  • Don’t blink. We are using Flickr to display photos of our ongoing building renovation.
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  • What does MARC say about it? We are setting up a service that allows users to send records from our catalog as text messages.
  • Don’t touch that dial. The library has a channel on the SIUC’s student Web portal, with links to our online reference services, our catalog, our course reserves page, and our distance learning pages.
  • It could be cloudy. We are investigating adding user-generated subject terms (cloud tags) to our catalog.

SO…How are the librarians and staff at YOUR library using Web 2.0 tools?
Click on the Comment link
below and share your experiences!

Executive Board Welcome!

Hope that all of you had an uneventful trip to Minneapolis! Did you know that Minneapolis is halfway between Los Angeles and New York City?
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The Midwest Chapter Communications Committee welcomes you!
Where people and ideas meet and mingle…

We invite you to JOIN IN THE FUN! Please consider becoming a ConnectMidwest contributor. Posting a story is so easy even I can do it! Contact our webmaster to get your very own username and password. Or you can just submit the copy to your intrepid blog editor and I will post it for you. And feel free to comment on any of the posts at any time. Just click on the “Comments” link at the end of any article and join in the conversation!

Discovering the Participatory Web

This afternoon I trekked up to our local medical college to view the MLA webcast Web 2.0 Principles and Best Practices. It was nice to get the chance to do a little “in person” social networking with my fellow medical librarians as well.
The Midwest was well represented! Chapter member and MIDLINE contributor Melissa Rethlefsen was one of the presenters and our Ohio Health Sciences Libraries Association president Michelle Kraft was on the panel.
I’ve heard some of this before since I attended when Dale Prince presented the “Geeks Bearing Gifts” CE course in Ohio last year. But there were plenty of fresh new ideas to keep my interest. I really enjoyed the give-and-take among the panel during the question and answer segments. And I noticed that everyone got the memo explaining that if you wanted to match the coffee mugs, you should wear some blue. The kitten analogy might have gotten a little out of hand though. 😉
There were lots of concrete examples of how medical libraries are using these new approaches to improve library services. I managed to follow most, but I have to admit that my brain blew a circuit breaker or two trying to follow the part where Melissa showed a Meebo room embedded in a wiki page. Communications Chair Karen, did you see that?? Can we try that for committee meetings? For my library, I want to investigate more of the suggested ways to use RSS feeds for pushing tables of contents and for SDI services. Look out FeedBurner, here I come!
Gotta go…have to sign up for the MLA-WEB2.0 discussion list!

The Evolution of a Chapter Newsletter

I’ve been quite busy over the past few weeks preparing the latest issue of MIDLINE for publication. Your intrepid chapter editor has been at this for a while now. This is my fifth year as editor. And how the production of MIDLINE has changed!
Under the guidance of my predecessor Cathy Perley, MIDLINE made the transition from a print publication to an electronic one with the Spring 2003 issue. The first issue under my editorial guidance was the Winter 2004 issue. Production was labor intensive. I sent a huge text file with the edited text of the issue along with the issue photographs and typesetting suggestions to the webmaster who then drafted the issue as a webpage. After a couple of cycles of review and editing, it was ready to be announced on the chapter website. Talk about an awkward process. Eventually, I tried my hand at drafting the issue myself using FrontPage. Somehow this managed to make it even more “interesting” for the webmaster. I know just enough html to be dangerous!
Moving the chapter’s web presence to a commercial vendor gave us the opportunity to produce the newsletter more efficiently. Using Movable Type as the publication platform for MIDLINE puts all of the article entry and design in the hands of the newsletter editor with a smaller workload burden on the webmaster. The text editor in MT is easy to use even for the html clueless. It is simple to insert the photographs and links. Document files can even be included as part of a story. See this story as an example. The clickable table of contents and the archives are generated automatically. All of the content is keyword searchable. The RSS feed provides an additional means of delivering the newsletter to our readers. The comments and trackback features mean that the newsletter can become more participatory and conversational. But there is some awkwardness that comes with using blogging software for publishing a “static” publication. One must be very aware of the order of story entry, for example. The first issue produced with MT, November 2006, displays in upside down order in the archival view. Oops!
The chapter also has used Movable Type to produce conference blogs for the 2006 and 2007 chapter meetings. And ConnectMidwest is the latest of the chapter’s efforts to foster information sharing and communication in the Midwest Chapter.
I have been asked many times if I think there is still a need for a quarterly publication of chapter news. And my answer is an emphatic “Yes!” Having the opportunity to blog about chapter events and subjects of interest is a great service to offer our members. But there is always going to be a place for a more formal and permanent report of chapter business and activities.
P.S. Remember: You can earn 1 point toward your AHIP membership by writing a feature article for MIDLINE!

Spreading like wildfire

This week your intrepid blog editor has been watching an idea spread like wildfire through the librarian blog world, also known as the biblioblogosphere. On Sunday evening, Marcus Banks (NOT the NBA Marcus Banks) posted Why Professional Librarian Journals Should Evolve into Blogs. Here is his idea:

I became firmly convinced that the traditional journal model is antiquated for sharing research and knowledge among librarians. A better course is to develop and nurture excellent blogs, with multimedia capabilities and guaranteed preservation of the postings.

David Rothman picked it up right away Monday and included the slide show that Marcus used to present his librarian blog survey results. (Yikes, my poor old Gateway takes a long time to load this page with the embedded slide show.)
T. Scott was on it by Tuesday early with Editing and Peer Review. Dean Giustini chimed in later in the day with Blogs Destabilize LIS Publishing – But Research.
Then David Rothman posted about it again later in the day with Troubled Tuesday, commenting on T. Scott and Dean Giustini and noting that LibraryStuff and LIS News had also posted the link for their readers.
Talk about a flurry of activity! Read about it yourself. What do you think?
Your intrepid blog editor thinks that for for some librarians like herself, blogs have already replaced professional journals as the primary means of “keeping up” with developments in the field. “What’s the latest and how can it be useful in my library?” just cannot be answered in peer-reviewed journals. The time to publication is too long. I hate to admit it, but the latest issue of JMLA is sitting back in the office on my desk with a bookmark at the Janet Doe lecture, still waiting to be read.

Getting Noticed

So now that we have a chapter blog, how do we get readers? Karen, our intrepid Communications Committee Chair, asked this question yesterday during our committee meeting via conference call. Well, says your intrepid blog editor, I will be posting this week to ConnectMidwest about this very subject! Because why blog if no one reads!
I snagged two useful posts about this in my feed reader last month:

One tactic that your intrepid blog editor used to increase the visibility of Conference Call 2007 was to shamelessly invite some popular libraryworld bloggers to check out the blog and mention it in their blogs. As I mentioned before, I particularly enjoyed the crossover posts with T. Scott and our MLA Pres.

Web 3.0 and the Search for Meaning

ARGH! Just as I am trying to figure out Web 2.0, I find out that Web 3.0 is on its way!
I’ve been pondering these issues particularly since the upcoming MLA Educational Webcast is entitled Web 2.0 Principles and Best Practices: Discovering the Participatory Web. I like that phrase “participatory web” as a description, even better than the term “social media” used in the tagline for this blog. Here is the Wikipedia definition: “…a perceived second generation of web-based communities and hosted services (such as social-networking sites, wikis, blogs, and folksonomies) which aim to facilitate creativity, collaboration, and sharing between users.”
During January, there has been considerable discussion about the concept of Web 2.0 and its corollary Library 2.0 in librarian blogs. For a taste of the discussion, sample these posts by David Rothman, John Blyberg, and maybe even try the biting, sarcastic wit of Annoyed Librarian.
Have you seen Dean Giustini’s BMJ editorial Web 3.0 and medicine: Make way for the semantic web? I printed out the PDF and slogged through it this morning. The table contrasting Web 2.0 and Web 3.0 was very useful. If the next big thing will be the semantic web, then I’m all for it. As an ex-cataloger, I have never felt very comfortable with the concept of folksonomies and uncontrolled vocabularies. Just adding more words somehow seems to make things more confusing and searching more difficult. Dean Giustini has linked to a great video explaining the semantic web over at the UBC Academic Search — Google Scholar Blog.