Posts Tagged ‘libraries’

Get ready for your Snapshot, Washington libraries!

Tuesday, February 1st, 2011

Apologies for a massive posting frequency delay due to permasick*

A day in the life of Washington's medical libraries

On Tuesday, April 12, 2011, Washington will join over 30 states that have participated in the American Library Association’s (ALA) Library Snapshot Day project.

Don’t miss out! Check out the WA Library Snapshot wiki, join on Facebook, and medical & other health libraries sign yourselves up at I fully expect to see many medical librarians in action while attending rounds, answering complex research questions, tackling they want an arm AND a leg?! electronic resources budget increases, teaching and generally being full of awesome.

*Permasick: A pervasive state of malaise that has sucked out nearly all my brain raison d’être energy with coughing, congestion, fever, coughing, wheezing AND rales, coughing, and general bleh from mid-December until now. It is not pertussis or a sarcoidosis relapse, so I’m thankful for that. Bonus: Two distinct rounds of permasick for our son, where the second round resulted in a double ear infection with enough fluid backup to affect his hearing, conjunctivitis, and the beginning of bronchitis. That relapse combo resulted in him having antibiotics for only the second time in his 8.5 year life and missing a big family wedding. Permasick is not the flu nor a simple cold, and the coughing doesn’t seem to ever go away.

Rethinking failure: Google Wave

Thursday, August 19th, 2010

For a blogger, covering the demise of Google Wave as announced on August 4th several weeks later is rather slow but it’s given me time to reflect. Laikas did a great job getting the news out quickly to the medical library community, especially the part about where there is still perceived value in Wave from a health information technology perspective for electronic medical records.

I am glad I wrote up the coverage of Seattle’s use of Google Wave during a chaotic manhunt last fall from a community emergency communication perspective and hope Google is taking the lessons learned about how people used Wave to seek and add information into new communication channels to experiment with.

Was Wave an “outright failure” on Google’s part? Perhaps not.

Posted on Slate’s The Wrong Stuff the day before the Google Wave announcement was an interview with Peter Norvig, Google’s director of research. If you’re not familiar with The Wrong Stuff it was supposed to be a brief series of eight people discussing the role of error in their lives and professional fields. Thankfully they have agreed to continue the series and I highly recommend adding their RSS feed to your reader since they are fairly intermittent but well worth checking out when they publish.

Part of the first answer alone should grab you, bold emphasis mine:

If you’re a politician, admitting you’re wrong is a weakness, but if you’re an engineer, you essentially want to be wrong half the time. If you do experiments and you’re always right, then you aren’t getting enough information out of those experiments. You want your experiment to be like the flip of a coin: You have no idea if it is going to come up heads or tails. You want to not know what the results are going to be.

and further on down:

I’ve been at both ends. My previous job was at NASA, where you really don’t want your shuttles to blow up very often. So there they spend hundreds of millions of dollars to protect their astronauts’ lives. Here, we’re kind of at the other end. Failure is always an option at Google.

I encourage reading the whole article for some reflection, especially where he has an interesting take on library sciences technology (hint: not favorable or accurate in my opinion). From my limited time and perspective in the field thus far I see a lot of the library field as fearing and avoiding failure at almost all costs. Perfectionism can sometimes run so rampant that it squelches any hint of innovation in its path, yet it is innovation that leads to experiments in the first place.

Are libraries so NASA-caliber that failure can never be an option? No. Mark Funk reminded us in 2008 that “We Have Always Done It That Way” isn’t an answer, it’s an excuse. At the same time library science journals seem to follow suit with not publishing about failure often as other journals do in not publishing when drug experiments failed.

I can understand why: it takes a lot of extra time and effort that many librarians do not have to write for publication, and who wants that to highlight a failure? Is there an opportunity for a Wrong Stuff resource of library-related errors and experiments gone wrong so we’re not all reinventing the wheel in isolation from one another? The publish button in WordPress makes the process pretty painless!

Libraries and Social Media: Who gives a tweet?

Wednesday, August 4th, 2010

by Brian Lane Winfield Moore

I’ve been working on a followup assessment to a baseline I did last year about our work blog.  Recently we’ve been branching into social media for communication and I’m honestly not all that sure what strategies we will use to include them in assessment for the future.

Should your library have a social media policy? Libraries need a social media strategy!  *WARNING: the next page has the f-bomb as URL* What the *censored* is my social media strategy? I jest, but it is wise to develop some sort of structure to avoid embarrassing yourself and your library.

‘How can you show the value of social media?’ or  ‘What’s the ROI?’ if you’re in sales and marketing are common questions. I don’t have the answers, but a new study by the University of Southampton, MIT and Georgia Institute of Technology has launched Who Gives A Tweet? to receive feedback about messages on Twitter. They started off offering somewhat immediate feedback on your own tweets by friends & strangers, but have scaled back to rating “a few strangers’ tweets before you rate your friends’ tweets.”

From Science Daily,

“Social networking sites currently take an optimistically positive view of status updates,” says Paul André, graduate student at the University of Southampton’s School of Electronics and Computer Science. “Facebook enables users to ‘like’ their friends’ updates, and Twitter has ‘favourites’. But this ignores the value that could be gained from understanding which updates are disliked and why.”

Michael Bernstein, PhD student at MIT, comments: “Analysing the negatively rated tweets, and the consensus that forms around them, will help us understand the emerging approved or accepted norms in these new forms of online communication.”

I’m not sure about this & haven’t signed up my own account. For me, much of what I write and tweet is with an understanding (I hope) of my target audience of  librarian colleagues and others interested in health and library information. Strangers wouldn’t necessarily pick up on those nuances. My own friends have told me they have no idea what I’m tweeting about most of the time. That’s ok since they love me anyway (or at least they haven’t unfollowed me yet), but it wouldn’t be ok if a library’s Twitter account followers didn’t get the message.

For all the talk about what libraries should be doing with policies and strategies for social media, what about making sure their patrons perceive the library’s use of social media as positive? What is the equivalent of website usability study that can be done by a social media audience of patrons for the library social media channel? Since offering feedback via social media about companies and their websites is new, this may be too far of a stretch currently but it’s one I see on the horizon.

Friday Foolery #89: Bzzz…

Friday, June 18th, 2010

I purposely delayed today’s entry since I was pretty sure I’d get a Foursquare Swarm badge tonight due to

  • A Mariners/Reds game with an attendance of over 42,000
  • This being Seattle, land of many, many geeks

I’ve used Foursquare for exactly 19 days due to not having a smartphone before May and being on the fence about using ‘a stalker app’. I do find myself being relatively cautious with it such as not Tweeting or Facebooking my checkins, being much more selective about Foursquare friends than Twitter and Facebook, not having my full name listed anywhere at all, not including our house as a checkpoint, and using my website graphic to make it that much harder to identify me in a crowd.

A hint to those entering cutesy names for their homes: Please use spellcheck. Although we may not be able to see your address (and why on earth are so many unprotecting that for public view?), we can see the name and ‘Liar’ for ‘Lair’ looks really dorky.

I’m also curious about potential use for libraries. I didn’t really think about geolocation and libraries until the Top Tech Trends IV panel, then after some time have realized what Barb Chamberlain and Lorena O’English tweeted about librarians being the mayor of the library may not be perceived as customer friendly… unless…

What if, instead of a reward only for the ‘mayor’ (one person who checks in the most) of your venue, you offered all users who checked in via Foursquare and gave a phrase that changed every week or so to library staff to receive a tangible reward of some sort? Or if the librarians didn’t blaze ahead by dozens of checkins but held back to keep pace with top-ranking students who could then have the joy of ousting the librarian mayor?

This is part of why I’ll be helping Glen Farrelly with his Foursquare research and encourage you to do the same if you’re so inclined.