Gamification at Health Science Libraries

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Image via Pixabay.

Last year I occasionally saw the term “Gamification” pop up on the American Libraries Magazine website, and I was immediately intrigued. I’ve heard of board games and video games used in library programming, but what in the world was gamification?  In the article “Engaging Students Through Gamification”, Tasha Squires describes how “gamification  takes a process or learning target and sets it in a gaming format.”  Squires goes on to describe how she and the other staff at a middle school library created a game where students earned points through challenges involving “critical thinking, collaborating to solve puzzles, interacting with teachers outside their normal purview, and creating original work such as book trailers and creative writing pieces.”  Gamification seems like an incredible tool for school and public libraries who work with children and teens to promote learning and reading in a fun, creative way.

Can gamification also be used by health science libraries in academic, government, or hospital settings for outreach and training purposes?

Gamification for Health Outreach and Medical Training

I used a quick search of PubMed to see if I could find any reviews on the use of gamification for health or biomedical purposes.  Many of the reviews I found illustrated how gamification can be used promote healthy habits and provide health information to patients, such as:

Other reviews described how gamification can be used for training of healthcare workers:

One of the most interesting examples of gamification used specifically in a health science library is described in the article “Courting Apocalypse: Creating a Zombie-Themed Evidence-Based Medicine Game”, where health science librarians at the University of Iowa created a zombie-themed “choose your own adventure” game to teach students evidence-based medicine skills.

Health science libraries can use gamification methods to provide health information to patients and training for medical students and healthcare staff in an entertaining, memorable way.

If you’d like to learn more about gamification, I’d recommend reading the article “An Introduction to Gamification: Adding Game Elements for Engagement” by Tara Brigham (full-text behind paywall), or watch the free training webinar from the National Network of Libraries of Medicine (NNLM), Education Games and Health Sciences.

 

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New Year, New Learning Goals

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Image from Pixabay.

I started this blog a little less than a year ago, mainly to track professional development activities, but I’ve also found a space to explore other library-related interests like open access digital resources and intellectual property.  I’ve also occasionally gone a bit off topic with cats in libraries and my obsession with the Internet Archive digital collections.

So to get back on topic a bit, I want to take a look back at what professional development goals I’ve met this year and list a few new learning goals for 2018.  I’m happy to say that I’ve met a number of my learning goals I set for 2017:

The one learning goal I didn’t make much progress on was learning to code with R.  I’ve done a bit of practice with creating very basic graphs using the ggplot2 package, but I’d like to complete an actual online course about using R.

So there’s my first learning goal for 2018 – complete an online course that offers an introduction to R.  I’m thinking I’ll probably try to take the course Introduction to R for Data Science from edX (which is free but costs $99 for a certificate).

My other main goal for 2018 is to learn more about research data management (RDM) strategies for health science libraries.  I hope to take one of the courses or workshops recommended by NNLM to learn more about RDM strategies and tools.  I may start with the Research Data Management for Health Sciences Librarians training developed by librarians at the NYU Health Science Library.

I’ve got a few goals for 2018 in place…I guess I better start learning!

 

The Best Gift For the Holidays: Digital Collections

It’s two days before Christmas, and I’ve just found the best gift I could ask for: digital collections of old holiday postcards.  Here are three to brighten your holiday:

1
Greeting card from 1881, with cats!
2
Santa cards from New York Public Library collection.
3
A bright and merry Christmas : once we were not very good, but that was a long while ago, ca. 1900-1910

As an added bonus, also check out this collection of Christmas dining menus from University of Nevada Las Vegas.  It might just give you some fun ideas for Christmas dinners.

Have a happy and safe holiday season!

Digital Preservation for the Holidays: Converting VHS to Digital

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Image from Pixabay.

My husband and I are converting old family home movies to digital as Christmas presents to our families (and ourselves!), so we’ve spent the past few weeks learning the ins and outs of converting VHS to digital.  We first tried hooking a DVD recorder up to a VCR and then copying the DVD file to the computer, but this process was very time consuming.  Eventually we just bought a video capture device and software (in our case, Elgato) for about $70, and the process is now much quicker.  We play the VHS and record the video to the computer using the video capture device, and the resulting MP4 file can then be shared as-is or edited using video editing software.  I’ve been using VideoPad to pull out clips from the file, recommended in this Lifewire article 6 Best Free Video Editors.

If you’re interested in learning more about digital preservation, a number of library and archive websites offer guidance and resources:

If you’re looking to digitize your own home videos, I’d recommend the Digitizing Home Video guide from DC Public Libraries (this guide uses Elgato, the same video capture software I’ve been using). You can also find helpful guides on VHS-digital conversion from Digital Trends and C-NET.

Learning about Emerging Technologies for Libraries

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Image source: Pixabay

I’m always interested in learning about how new technology can be used to organize, locate, and share information in creative and innovative ways (since hey, librarians need to stay one step ahead of millennials and AI looking to put us out of a job).  I recently watched a recorded webinar from the Medical Library Association (MLA) called Scanning the Horizon: Emerging Technology at Your Library and in the Classroom, where Emily Hurst, AHIP, of Virginia Commonwealth University’s Tompkins-McCaw Library for the Health Sciences in Richmond discusses how librarians can stay on top of emerging technologies that may be used to improve library services.

Here are four free information resources I learned about during the webinar that I know I’ll be checking occasionally to keep informed about emerging technology trends:

  • Horizon Reports: The New Media Consortium (NMC) periodically publishes Horizon Reports that summarize emerging technology trends for libraries, museums, K-12, and higher education.  For instance, the 2017 Library Edition of the report identifies “Important Developments in Technology for Academic and Research Libraries” as Big Data, digital scholarship technologies, library services platforms, online identity, artificial intelligence, and the Internet of Things.
  • Gartner Hype Cycle: Hurst began the webinar by introducing the audience to the Gartner Hype Cycle, which tracks the “hype cycle” of emerging technologies.  Gartner, Inc. posts a chart of the Gartner Hype Cycle annually, with new technologies plotted at different points along the cycle’s trend line.  The 2017 Gartner Hype Cycle lists Smart Dust at the very beginning of the cycle, deep learning at the Peak of Inflated Expectations, augmented reality in the Trough of Disillusionment, and virtual reality headed up the Slope of Enlightenment.  More articles and commentary on emerging technologies can be found under the Trends section of the Gartner website.
  • EDUCAUSE Learning Initiative (ELI): ELI offers publications related to technology trends in higher education, such as the  7 Things You Should Know About…™ series that highlights popular new technologies like video walls, augmented reality/virtual reality, artificial intelligence, and more.
  • Library of the Future Blog: This blog from the American Library Association (ALA) was recommended by one of the attendees at the webinar. I especially like the weekly round-up of headlines (titled “Read for Later…”) related to emerging technology in libraries.

I’ll be adding these sites to my rotation of information resources I check regularly for library news. Other places where I normally learn about emerging technology trends in libraries include Twitter and from MLA conferences.

Historical Digital Collections By State

I never took an archives class in grad school, but I’ve always found historical archives, especially at the state level, fascinating.  Between classes, I was occasionally drawn to the Maryland Room at Hornbake Library, where I had my first real experience using microfiche to explore old copies of a local gazette.

These days, you often don’t need to leave your house to explore your state’s historical collections.  Many collections of archival materials have been digitized and are available online through university or museum websites.  Check the Library of Congress (LOC) web guide State Digital Resources: Memory Projects, Online Encyclopedias, Historical & Cultural Materials Collections for a list of online historical collections organized by state.

I recently got back from a wonderful Thanksgiving in Texas with my in-laws, so here’s a quick look at a few digital collections related to Texas history found through the LOC’s State Digital Resources web guide:

      • The Handbook of Texas Online – This website from the Texas State Historical Association offers articles about Texas history, organized under sections like Texas Day by Day, Texas Music, Civil War Texas, African American Texas, Tejano History, Houston, and Texas Women.
        • Example: Read a detailed entry (with some fantastic photographs) about the history of the Lyndon B. Johnson Space Center in Houston. Did you know the Space Center Houston visitor center was designed with help from Walt Disney Imagineering?
      • The Portal to Texas History – This online portal hosted by the University of North Texas (UNT) allows visitors to explore over 500 digital collections, like the Texas Digital Newspaper Program, where you can search through full-text digitized copies of old newspapers and newsletters from across Texas dating back to about 1820.  One feature I particularly liked about the portal was the option to explore by location, so you could limit your search results to only records related to specific counties in Texas.

     

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Headlines from 100 years ago in the Abilene Daily Reporter at The Portal to Texas History.

These digital collections can be great resources for genealogical research, academic historical research, or just plain old curiosity about local history.  I know I need to dig into digital collections for Maryland as soon as I get a chance.

The Case of the Traveling Book

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Image source: Pixabay

While browsing InfoDocket (which is quickly becoming my favorite library news source) I came across an article about an organization Libraries Without Borders that has started a program in Detroit called Wash and Learn.  The program transforms folding stations at local laundromats into mini-libraries, with computer stations, book shelves, and even library staff onsite to lead programs.  This program is a wonderful example of bringing the library to the public, instead of making the public come to the library.  Many people may not have the time (or the transportation means) to access local public libraries, especially in locations where the closest library is miles away.  The concept of a traveling library is not new, and Wikipedia has a detailed article describing the history of traveling libraries around the world and in the US.

Here are three examples of how books (and other library materials) are traveling far and wide to find new readers:

  1. Bookmobiles: A bookmobile is a “vehicle designed for use as a library” (according to Wikipedia), and bookmobiles have been around since the 19th century.  Early bookmobiles in England and the US were horse or mule-drawn vehicles, but bookmobiles have come a long way.  Some modern bookmobiles have transformed into techmobiles, offering technology access (like Wi-Fi, computer access, technology classes, and more) to under-served communities.
  2. BookCrossing: If you’ve found a book mysteriously left in a public place with a jacket cover leading you to a website that documents where the book has journeyed, then you’ve encountered bookcrossing.  The term “bookcrossing” comes from the website bookcrossing.com, “a free online book club which was founded to encourage the practice, aiming to ‘make the whole world a library'” (via Wikipedia).  Bookcrossing movements have popped up around the world, especially on public transportation, turning trains and buses into mobile libraries.
  3. Little Free Library: Little Free Library is a nonprofit organization founded in 2009 that promotes the creation of public book exchange hutches. The Wikipedia article on the organization reports that “there are more than 50,000 registered Little Free Libraries worldwide, in all 50 of the United States and in 70 countries.”

I love the concept of libraries traveling into the community, and even people creating their own libraries in their front yards.  Libraries are built on curiosity and creativity, and that spark can spread well beyond the brick-and-mortar buildings.