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
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 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.
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.
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 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.
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.
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.
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:
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.
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.
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.