Archive for December, 2010

Doing it: Medlibs and Transliteracy

Friday, December 31st, 2010

I freely admit I had never heard the term ‘transliteracy’ until my RSS feed exploded with it this month.

My bad for not being aware of/following Libraries and Transliteracy… or not? Where are medical and other librarians in their “This topic is important to all types of libraries so we have authors from public, university, college and school libraries for a broad perspective” About section?

From my view, there is no broad perspective in a discussion about all types of literacies without the very pervasive and real challenges of health literacy (not listed among the categories) when 83% of Internet users are looking for health information online. One intro post did not show me how transliteracy is specific to medical librarians.

As far as the RSS feed went, the most ruckus was related to David Rothman’s first (Commensurable Nonsense (Transliteracy)) and second (Followup: Transliteracy, Theory and Scholarly Language) posts which were mostly in response to blogs I don’t follow so I really appreciate both them and their comment threads. I rely heavily on insightful coverage since I can’t follow every active blog in the numerous fields I am interested in and get my own work done.

Marcus Banks with Transliteracy, Information Literacy, et. al offers ‘transliteracy, as a concept, is an attempt to label what we are already doing–linking up traditional notions of authority with the realities of how people obtain information today.” I also like that he uses the term ‘hooha’, which is one of my favorites to describe hype (in his case ’2.0′ concepts) too.

Dean Giustini in Where do you stand on transliteracy? helpfully offers perspectives emphasizing a solid understanding of learning theories. I agree these are important if we are to be effective instructors/teachers/guides to information, and am puzzled why library school does not usually spend much (if any) time on them. He has also started a Transliteracy for librarians section on the HLWIKI.

How does all this (and more, I’m sure) come across to those outside the library field?

From the Transliteracy Research Group – The Whole Elephant: librarians arguing about transliteracy

Like it or not that is a valid perception. Is this really what librarians want to offer to a current conversation spanning multiple fields? Does this advocate for our professionalism or bring us back to being bitchbrarians?

My perspective on the issue of transliteracy, from my limited time spent reading about it, is the same as the ruckus about PubMed changes in 2009.

Channels for information access always have been and always will continue changing in response to available technology, usability, audiences, and a myriad of other factors.

It is our job to stay on top of information channels to the best of our time and ability, with resources we can obtain and already have available,  take the time to study and understand them, have a solid grounding in usability and leaning theories, then offer instruction in response to our users’ information needs (which we know from real assessment, not guesstimates) involving them and not simply emulate how things are done at Peer Institution Over There or As Written In This Book Here. I don’t particularly care what you call this process so long as you actually do it.

Let’s focus on the positive as we enter a new year: What are some recent examples from blogs of medical librarians who are doing it?

Alisha Miles offered a detailed post from her experience as a solo hospital librarian about the use of an iPad (even though she is not personally that fond of Apple) for library outreach and teaching physicians.

Patricia Anderson accomplished the daunting task of organizing and presenting the actual ‘Lessons Learned’ from a hashtag chat on Twitter involving health care social media (#HCSM) on December 13th and described her methods used in doing so. From my own biased perspective (#healthlit), librarian involvement in Twitter hashtag chats is an immediate & effective way to have the information resources and organization skills you bring noticed and valued by those outside the library field.

Carol Perryman reflects on her upcoming instruction about consumer health (I’m sure you’ll do great!) with reflections on being transparent and focusing on evidence-based practice with

  • not making truth claims
  • being ready to be wrong
  • being ready to be unsure
  • being ready to base my work and claims on best practices
  • being capable and willing to assess outcomes, acknowledging my own tendency to bias

That’s what I try to do both here in my writing and in my work.

What others do you know of? May you all be successful in doing it in 2011!

Pinboard: Free social bookmarking offer for libraryland

Sunday, December 26th, 2010

As seen by several posts on Twitter, on Christmas day Pinboard (which was charging around $7, now $9.03 & the price will gradually increase in the future as more people join) blogged

Merry Christmas Librarians!

Since the site had such a wonderful year, we’d like to share our good fortune with a group of particularly hard-working information wranglers.

From now until January 1, we’re offering free Pinboard accounts to librarians*.

If you work as a librarian, or are getting your degree in library science, send an email to support@pinboard.in mentioning how you qualify and I will send you an activation code for the site.

If you’re one of the wonderful forward-thinking librarians who already joined the site, I’ll give you a free year of archiving instead.

* Please note – LIBRARIANS, not LIBERTARIANS. Maybe next year!

I especially appreciate the offer to library students. I’m not sure I’ll take them up on it since my Diigo import went well enough. Anyone out there currently using Pinboard for library and/or class resources who can convince me otherwise?

Yucky horizon: Yahoo is sunsetting Delicious

Thursday, December 16th, 2010

Last edit: My bookmarks were imported with all privacy settings intact on December 20th around 9am.

12/17/10 9:00am – Other social bookmarking options in a Google Doc, please add others you’re aware of. (via @danhooker)

12/17/10 8:30am update: My bookmarks still aren’t in Diigo, but they have noted

Your import request is being processed.

We are getting a huge number of import requests recently, so it may take a little longer to process.

Thank you for your patience.

Original entry:

The Twitter ruckus today is true: Yahoo is eventually shutting down Delicious and other services.

As a result, this is the hilarious front page of Delicious the evening of December 16, 2010:

Now what do I do with my (sometimes) carefully curated tags there that I encouraged my students to use as a reference list for the latest news and websites I thought would be helpful in the future?

First step was to go to my Delicious account , then Settings, then Export/Backup Bookmarks like so

This generates an HTML file with all the links in my account, which I really should have been doing once in a while instead of blindly relying on Delicious to always be there, but I digress.

What to do with the resulting HTML file?

For browsers, Lifehacker has written a good post but keep in mind that all your tags and notes won’t import in with the links. Those tags are the majority of the value for most librarians I know.

Ready to try another social bookmarking site?

I clamored to set up a Diigo account, then fumbled.  Where are things?! Go to Tools, scroll down to the very bottom and click Import Bookmarks… or click directly there. This and other bookmarking services would do well to make import capabilities very very visible front and center to the panicking Delicious masses right now. From there it guides you on importing the handy-dandy HTML file Delicious gave you.  It assured me the privacy setting in Delicious would be the same as in Diigo, and for the time being I have

I’m sure this may take a while given the news today! I’ll update later when it’s done because I am concerned about privacy and want to doublecheck that in particular.

The perfect NLM holiday mashup

Tuesday, December 14th, 2010

Dancing elves with NLM anatomic images heads

Elf Yourself +

NLM’s Historical Anatomies on the Web =

You just have to watch the results

With thanks to Carol Torgan!

Reflections: How can you act when you’ve never seen the script?

Wednesday, December 8th, 2010

I’ll be honest: I know full well the content frequency has plummeted this year compared to 2008 and 2009. I have never held myself to any ‘write X posts per Y time period’ here because that opens the door to banality and I value both your and my time too much to go down that path. It’s been a rough year for me both personally and professionally although things have been looking up again.

There are several topics others have written about recently that I’m coalescing here because as 2010 ends I’m reflecting on what my writing here is and can be. I hesitate to say should because the moment I think I’ve reached some destination with my writing is when I should stop because there is no end, only evolution.

I try to keep up with a wide variety of RSS feeds in many topics but have identified an interesting conundrum: There are plenty of blogs I read because I want to, but also a large number that I scan quickly because I feel I need to or I will miss something and/or not know what everyone else is talking about. There is a mixture of work and personal expectations about current information I’m supposed to keep up on and I relate well with Alisha declaring information bankruptcy. The filter is failing for me because there’s an ever-present need to know more, More, MORE. David Hale (yeah I didn’t know he blogged either) reminds us that Organization and management are futile exercises, if the information we organize and manage does not add value in our lives.

Information value. What role are we as librarians really playing in that as individual reference points? A rather dismal one if the figures Mark MacEachern highlighted from Project Information Literacy about how students evaluate information are accurate in the one year plummet for librarians. The 72 page report PDF is on tap to reflect upon this weekend.

I agree with John Halamka: 2010 has been a strange year with an awful lot of negativity. How many librarians are in the thick of balancing budget cuts and 30% price increases (edit: or 183%) along with There may come a time when we spend more time defending our work to consultants, regulators, and naysayers than doing it right this moment?

Not that I would call fellow colleagues regulators and naysayers, but something that’s beginning to weigh heavy on my mind is what I as a ‘young librarian’ (meaning less than two years of full time experience as one and not my actual age – 2011 marks 20 years since I graduated from high school and quite frankly that scares the crap out of me) need to be doing with my writing.

There is very recent allowance for blogging in our promotion review process here at work but I know this venue doesn’t carry the same weight as Real Publishing. Eric Schnell reminded me about this in Are Blogs Given Any Weight in Library Tenure and Promotion Cases? I don’t know how those of you who both blog AND publish regularly do it. Despite gentle (and not so gentle) encouragement from some of you I’m as scared of Real Publishing as I am of how long ago I graduated from high school.

The downfall of not having to write a thesis for my Masters is that I am absolutely clueless about how to take the ideas I have to produce a journal or other type of article for publication that hasn’t already been done or will be done by someone else already in the pipeline by the time it takes for things to come to print.

What can I do to add more value and not just more noise to the blogosphere? I’ll post when I have something I consider timely and helpful to share, whether that’s several times in one day (haha yeah right) or a few times a month. That means Fridays will settle down. I have ideas that I think need to be channeled into journal articles instead of blog posts but I don’t know for sure.  I’m looking forward to a few weeks off from work at the end of the year to take the time to even brainstorm all of this a bit and figure out some direction.

Friday Foolery #113: The Cat Man of the Seattle Public Library

Friday, December 3rd, 2010

It has been an eventful week of jury duty, but a very cool benefit of serving as a juror is that the Friends of the Seattle Public Library will give you 15% off at their gift store when you show them your badge. As a result I spent both my lunch breaks browsing there plus was the 602nd person to find a 4-year-old geocache outside.

An unusual sight caught my eye in the library on Wednesday. A man was standing with two others having a conversation and something was perched and slightly moving around his shoulders. After a closer look I realized it was a shorthaired black cat with white paws, chest & neck, and part of his chin. The man didn’t have a hand on his cat at all, but it was hard to tell if the cat had a harness or leash keeping it there.

This is a truly awful cell phone picture but it wasn’t like I could zoom up closer without being obvious. I put some text pointers to what you are seeing that should be more helpful than many alien baby ultrasound photos.

Cat Man must have a story. When did he start wearing his cat on his shoulders? Why? What were they doing at the library? Do they go everywhere together? How is that cat so well behaved, just calmly looking around?

I do not dare to put our 12-year-old petite longhaired black cat on my shoulders to find out what would happen because I already know: My neck & shoulders would be seriously clawed with a whole lot of MROWWWWRRRRR! as she made a mad scramble to get off and leap back to the floor.