Wednesday, May 30, 2007

The Great Space Debate!

Be it Resolved: As Libraries Evolve to Electronic Access Their Need for Physical Space Decreases

An Argument in the Affirmative was given by Wayne Peay who made some excellent points about the space changes happening in libraries today. A few of my favorite comments include:

The driving idea is we are not in the paper business anymore partly because we delivered what our patrons wanted – high quality online information available 24/7.

Libraries are not about books and journals but about creating new knowledge. Our scholars have changed how they do what they do and we need to change to meet their needs.

On the other side, Rick Forsman’s argument “Super Size Me – Embracing the Edifice Complex” lobbied that libraries are not one dimensional; we house resources, offer services, and inspire our users.

He also noted that learning and work are influenced by the physical space. The physical structure gives many messages and the building is a springboard to the future. If the Library goes away – is it any wonder our users think Google has all the answers?

Furthermore, he argued that given society’s horrible record of estimating the impact of technology (recalling that TV was going to kill Radio), should we just give up? Well, obvious that answer would be NO!

A few of the rebuttals:
  • Ah, the romance of paper and those clay tablets were pretty sweet too.

  • Technology over time -- will we be able to read what is digital today?

  • What is the mission or focus of the institution? The library needs to fit into it.

  • Hedging our bets versus trying to go back.

Mr. Forsman's
Summary (in a nutshell):
The library is symbolic to all sorts of things association with learning. Libraries need to re-purpose their space and be in control of that change. The libraries role is to help with knowledge management not warehouse management.

Mr. Peay's Summary (in a nutshell):
The perception of the library is “paper” and we need to change that. Look at the space – how do we redefine ourselves? As we do that, there is a huge opportunity.

By show of hands, the “winner” of the debate was the self-described “cowboy in white” - Rick Forsman.

But wait, that's not all ...

MJ Tooey provided the pragmatic voice with Who Cares about Space & Books - What's in it for Me? in which she presented recent changes in her library and choices she made to maintain some control regarding those changes. She noted that, “the container [the building] remains the same – the content has changed” as the university co-opted some library space for student services. The ability to “not be defined by the container” has brought some great benefits to the library.

Jane Bridges explored Space – the final frontier? Even in hospitals, there are needs for work space and social space along with the virtual space. Her dream library description is a "welcoming location where digital, human, and social resources are organized in support of learning, technology, group gathering space, and provides a continuum of service."

Worth a listen if you have the conference CD (or can borrow it from a friend).

Friday, May 25, 2007

MLA 2007 Photos posted on MLANET

Looks like they stopped adding entries on Monday as well!

Special Collections and Historical Collections: Renewed appreciation for rare materials / They’ll All be rare books one day

Building a digital library is not just about leasing online access to content from publishers. In many medical libraries it’s also about discovering, and in some cases rediscovering, and then exposing our long-held assets (and in some cases acquiring someone else’s long-held assets). These assets generally reside in out Special Collections and Archives. This was the topic at MLA at the History of the Health Sciences Section (HHSS) entitled “They’ll all be rare books one day: collection development in Special Collections.” But there was more than just book talk.

John Schleicher from the McGoogan Library of Medicine, University of Nebraska described their treasured artifacts as “anything smaller than a bread box”. After not having any staff to manage the rare book collections for 10 years, John has been brought in and had the task of rediscovering Nebraska’s McGoogan Library treasures. They include works from the pre-IRB era like Edward Jenner’s famous work on small pox vaccination, artwork, and other classics such as Ketham's " Fasciculus medicinae" and Michael Scot's " Liber phisionomie", both published in 1495. For more details, see

Dr. Cheryl Rae Dee, Assistant Professor, School of Library and Information Science, Universit of South Florida-Tampa shared her experience in bringing the personal papers of NLM’s Martin M. Cummings to life. Many fishing trips later, the papers are being digitized and described for future scholars.

Michael Flannery, Associate Director, Historical Collections, Lister Hill Library of the Health Sciences, University of Alabama-Birmingham took us on a quick tour of the “keepers” and “throwaways” of pharmacy-related materials or material medica. For more details on the significance of early works that eventually became the USP Pharmacopoeia, the USD and National Formulary, see his paper in BMLA.

Diane McKenzie, Collection Development Librarian, Health Sciences Library, University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill revitalized UNC’s Special Collections when she accepted a gift of foreign medical theses from the New York Academy of Medicine, measuring 3,500 linear feet. As a result of this acquisition, the library has new partners and champions for their historical collections.

Posted for Heidi Heilemann

Thursday, May 24, 2007

Another Blog with MLA 2007 Reports

Section Program: Taking Flight with Evidence-based Library and Information Practice: Educational Perspectives

This Monday morning session sponsored by the Medical Library Education Section was one of several sessions at MLA this year which had a focus on evidence-based librarianship. Coupled with the "research vignettes" shown before every plenary session, and the revision of the MLA Research Policy Statement, it is clear that the idea that we should all be doing research of our own and strengthening the library science evidence base, is one whose time certainly appears to have come.

I have a confession to make: I spent the first five minutes of this session with several other conference attendees locked in the hall while someone from the Marriott fumbled around with keys.The first speaker was Assako N. Holyoke from Saint Louis University who talked about a study they did to assess the impact of instructors' backgrounds and attitudes on the training of residents. It appeared to be an interesting talk but I couldn't quite get my bearings once I took my seat. I regret it, and I hope to later read about her methodology and results in published form. A few informative articles were mentioned toward the end of her presentation which I can link here:

DiPiro JT. The Best Lecture of the Year. Am J Pharm Ed. 2006 Oct;70(5):108.

Ramos K, Linscheid R, Schafer S. Real-time information seeking behavior of resident physicians. Fam Med. 2003 Apr;35(4):257-60.

Tennant MR, Tobin Cataldo T, Sherwill-Navarro P, Jesano R. Evaluation of a library liaison program: client and liaison perspectives. J Med Libr Assoc. 2006 Oct;94(4):402-9, e201-4.

Martha Preddie followed with a presentation on the state of the evidence base utilizing qualitative research methods, by which she meant research which didn't utilize statistical methods: focus groups, interviews, and the like. She described qualitative research as generally good at answering "why" questions and from Gorman and Clayton, as "facilitating the investigation of complex information environments." To determine the evidence base for qualitative research in our field, Preddie conducted a content analysis of PubMed, finding 84 library research articles utilizing qualitative methods in the period 1996-2006. One thing that she did determine was that the bulk of the research (75%) was 2003-present implying that librarians are doing more research currently. Also, most common methods were interviews and focus groups and most (57%) used mixed methods. The implications are that there continues to be a small evidence base using qualitative methods which are very relevant to our field, that there continues to be difficulty in finding qualitative research studies, and that the methods were not always identified in the abstracts. The implications are that more rsearch using these methods is needed and the LIS curricula need more of a research emphasis.

Joanne Marshall from UNC-Chapel Hill discussed the development of a full-semester course in evidence-based information practice in a Masters LIS program. The textbook used for the course was Booth and Brice's Evidence Based Practice for Information Professionals: A Handbook with guest speakers. They taught the steps of EBLIP which are the same steps we know from EBM: identify a question; find the evidence; appraise the evidence; apply the evidence; evaluate outcomes. In the end they found that they did have enough information for a full-length course. Marshall feels that evidence based library and information practice may be useful in facilitating knowledge transfer between the boomer librarians who will be leaving the field in the next decade or so, and newer entrants to the field who are equipped to conduct research.

Section Program: Joining the Revolution: Strategies for Marketing Yourself

Sponsored by the Leadership and Management Section
Cosponsored by the Corporate Information Services Section and the New Members Special Interest Group
Tuesday, May 22.

The program featured two segments - Julie Cohen, a certified career coach, spoke about the job search process, followed by speed mentoring sessions, where participants spoke with senior library managers offering career development advice in 10-minute intervals.

Cohen provided tips typical of any job hunting guide, part strategy and part pep-talk – know yourself, know what you want, networking is important, don’t be discouraged. She compared career development to stages in a romantic relationship – look for the right job for you, know when to leave a job, seek contentment.

The truly valuable part of the program was the speed mentoring. Based on a suggestion from former MLA president, M.J. Tooey, who recognized that a need exists in spite of the mentoring programs MLA promotes, speed mentoring offered a quick, largely informal way to seek advice from experienced medical librarians. My roster of mentors happened to include Julie Cohen, whose expertise was much less generic and much more valuable on an individual basis, and two librarians whose understanding of the profession made for sound counseling.

One mentor genuinely wanted to know if I found the experience helpful and yes, I did. While each mentor had a different approach and I inevitably received some contradictory advice, certain suggestions were echoed throughout. It wasn’t that I got a lot of suggestions that hadn’t occurred to me, it was more the consensus of opinion and repetition of certain “must do’s” that resonated. How could I not benefit from this collective wisdom?

While I fully expected the mentors to be friendly and encouraging, it still struck me how generous people in our profession can be with their time and advice. I strongly suggest that speed mentoring becomes a regular part of the annual meeting.

Posted for Deborah Crooke

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Medical Library Education Section’s New Voices in the Air: Hearing the Next Generation of Medical Librarians

May 21, Section Programs 3:00-4:30

Joanne Gard Marshall, Past MLA President and professor at the School of Information and Library Sciences at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, introduces the topic and the first speaker, Elizabeth La Rue from the University of Pittsburgh, School of Nursing. Interestingly, La Rue has a PhD in Library Science but her faculty appointment is with her institution’s School of Nursing. The title of her program is A Study on the Adoption of a Web Page Content Assessment Tool: SPAT. SPAT is a pneumonic, easy-to-use tool to use in analyzing the validity and reliability of web sites and resources.


Does the tool work? That answer to that question gave the presenter her dissertation topic and after studying a group of CDE’s (certified diabetes educators), the author found that SPAT has made a positive impact on the way her population group reviews Web-based information.

The next presenter is Marty J. O’Neill of the Health Informatics Program at the University of North Texas, Denton with his presentation entitled: Technical Concerns of Using Extended Character Sets in Creating Bilingual Chinese/English Health Information Pathfinders. O’Neill detailed the technical issues associated with creating websites (in this particular case, library pathfinders in Chinese), particularly the issues associated with using languages that have extended character sets. After much study, O’Neill found that numerical character references (NCRs) were chosen to represent the Chinese characters.

The final presenter in the session in Mellanye Lackey with her presentation, An analysis of evaluation activities planned in NN/LM outreach subcontracts 2001-2006. Lackey is an NLM 2nd year fellow, spending the year at UNC-Chapel Hill Health Sciences Library. She discusses the importance of evaluation, how evaluation shows a project’s worth in quantitative and measurable terms, but also discusses the barriers to successful evaluation, including lack of time, money and knowledge about evaluation projects. Lackey analyzed 150 records in the NLM’s database of outreach projects, particularly which evaluation methods were used in outreach efforts.

Posted for Andrea Griffith