After a few exciting weeks of profiling incredible librarians from around the world, I’m relieved to return to familiar territory with a good ol’ fashioned news round-up. For May 2018, I want to highlight a few interesting new data resources for librarians from National Library of Medicine (NLM) and the National Network of Libraries of Medicine (NNLM), including new data filters on PubMed and PubMed Central and an upcoming webinar series about research data management. Also, there’s the equivalent of the Super Bowl for medical librarians coming up next week, the annual Medical Library Association (MLA) conference, this year in Atlanta, GA. I unfortunately won’t be there in person this year, but I’ll follow along through Twitter and blogs.
PubMed Data Filters
On April 24, 2018, the NLM Technical Bulletin announced the ability to filter PubMed and PubMed Central search results to view articles that have associated data sets. The NLM Technical Bulletin article describes the following data-related filtering options:
Availability of related data sets is an important step towards improving reproducibility and transparency for research articles. Hopefully these data-related filters will eventually be more prominently featured in the PubMed filter options (such as in the side-column list of filter options beside search results).
The NNLM RDM webinar series will be an ongoing bimonthly webinar series, with the aim to “support RDM within the library to better serve librarians and their institutional communities.” I’m personally very excited about this series, since I’ve recently become interested in finding free online training resources related to research data management that are more geared towards information professionals (and less heavily focused on programming skills). Once again, NNLM delivers with incredibly useful (and FREE!) online professional development resources.
MLA 2018 Resources
I won’t be at the annual MLA conference this year unfortunately (it was an incredible experience last year), but I can avoid fear of missing out (FOMO) thanks to a few helpful resources:
Twitter: I’ll definitely be following the #mlanet18 hashtag to learn some of the great insights other medical librarians are taking away from MLA speakers, sessions, and posters (especially the official MLA ’18 Tweeters).
To finish up (for now!) my series of Many Paths to Librarianship posts, I’m very happy to get the viewpoint of a talented librarian from Brisbane, Australia who I first met through her brilliant Twitter account. Jane Cowell is CEO of Yarra Plenty Regional Library Service, and her Twitter feed is quickly becoming my daily library news resource to check for fascinating articles on how technology is shaping the library field.
1. How did you originally become interested in librarianship as a career?
I have always been a big lover of stories and you guessed it, books. I started my career in libraries as a Children’s Library Assistant, helping to share reading, stories, language and school holiday activities with the region’s school children and Under 5s in the early eighties. Yes that is the 1980s. I did not have any town library growing up and my school also did not have a dedicated library, as I grew up in a very small town, so to have a job in a building full of books was an absolute joy.
From this first role I worked my way up in the library to become the Circulation Supervisor and realised that if I wanted a career in libraries then I would need to get my degree. I worked full time, had 2 small children by this stage, and studied part-time and received my degree with Honours and finished in 1995. I was supported by wonderful mentors at my Library Service who really encouraged me to get my degree. I was appointed a Branch Librarian in charge of 2 small libraries and the mobile library as soon as I was qualified and then went on to a Library Manager role for a different Council, was then head hunted into a private consultancy firm reviewing library services across Australia for a few years and then worked at the State Library of Queensland for almost 8 years at a macro level for public libraries across Queensland.
My focus has always been on the importance of literacy for the best opportunities in life, and I have continued to be interested in Early Literacy and the importance of language development in children through storytelling and rhyme. This interest culminated in the $20 million grant to Queensland Local Government Public Libraries for the First5Forever program which has seen amazing results and real impact over the past 4 years it has been administered by State Library of Queensland. The latest report is here: http://plconnect.slq.qld.gov.au/resources/children-and-young-people/first-5-forever/reports
2. How would you describe your library field niche?
My library niche would be public libraries and the ‘business’ of public libraries. I have always worked at the forefront of public libraries, looking to use technology and outsourcing to free up qualified library staff to really work with people and to get outside the four walls of the library and into the community proper to maximise the positive impact of the library. I have also looked to new ways to measure the impact of libraries and the recent research undertaken by Queensland University of Technology, in partnership with State Library of Queensland, was a culmination of that push. You can read the report and the The Impact of Libraries as Creative Spaces Framework here: http://plconnect.slq.qld.gov.au/manage/research/libraries-as-creative-spaces/creative-spaces-impact-framework .
I also look to the bigger picture for libraries and believe we could be stronger if we worked more closely with library vendors to develop more coordinated discovery platforms that work across all libraries – then can connect you to your local library. Think Spotify for libraries. I was the lead for Project LUCI while at State Library of Queensland to put this belief into practice. It will be very exciting to see this project realised.
3. What types of skills that wouldn’t generally be considered “traditional library work” have you learned during your career as a librarian?
I am not sure that there is such a thing as ‘traditional’ library work anymore. Though many from the outside looking in would not realise that you need to be media savvy, be able to manage buildings, budgets and politics while in a library role, but we do this and much more. I think a project that was a little non traditional was the establishment of The Business Studio at the State Library of Queensland. This is a place where you learn to ‘stand up’ before you ‘start up’ and all who venture into this space are eager to learn, share their experiences and failures as would-be entrepreneurs and are so surprised and delighted at what the library can offer them. It was a joy to be involved in. Having curated resources, a regular learning program focused on what you need to know to start your business and to provide networking opportunities were developed with a collaborative team working across a number of SLQ work units. Of course, the other strange project that I undertook while in Local Government was building a house with an apprenticeship program on Council land but that is another story.
4. What learning/networking resources do you regularly use to stay up-to-date on the news and trends in your particular niche of the library field?
Librarians go hard on Twitter and I follow some very innovative librarians, museum people and archivists and learn a lot through that medium. I also follow some good blogs, and actually search widely for how digital technology disrupts other fields and industries as I think libraries can learn a lot from these other disruptions. I do also follow a lot of Education Technology blogs and news as libraries and learning are very real interests of mine. And of course I do choose the one or two conferences that offer the most in my areas of interest and learn from networking with colleagues at these events. I also read widely – library journals, technology news and I do like to get involved with the Industry Association, Australian Library and Information Association (ALIA) as this is a very good way of staying knowledgeable about future trends and industry news. Having an individual membership and investing in my own professional development – both time and money – is essential if I am to remain current in my field and to have maximum impact for the communities that I serve. My best tip is to attend an International Conference (World Library Congress is a good one) at least once in your career and of course when travelling visit that library and be open to learning no matter where you are in your career.
5. What technology trends do you think will have the biggest impact on librarianship in the next decade?
Everyone is talking about blockchain and what it can do for libraries and I do think it can have real impact in the area of authentication and making this simpler for our members and in our metadata processes too. But for me the big change for how libraries do their business will be driven by what Google is working on in Artificial Intelligence and machines understanding and responding to natural language. This will impact how we describe content and our Library Management Systems will need to respond to voice and natural language commands too. And of course what is knocking at our door is video – we need to be more visual with our content marketing and our ‘How To’ information. People are looking at YouTube to discover how to learn, where to connect and for new content, and libraries should be there in force. Of course we all need to learn how to do ‘video storytelling’ but we need to start now.
A few common themes unite these four very different librarians from different countries, different niches, and different types of institutions: a constant love of learning, the willingness to use a variety of technologies to help people get the information they need, and the confidence that librarianship and libraries are still adapting and thriving in a dynamic and quickly changing world.
I prefer to do most of my continuing education through online methods, like self-paced online courses and webinars. Live webinars are a great opportunity to interact with other professionals interested in a common topic and ask instructors questions, but some days I may be too busy to take an hour at a specific time to attend a live webinar. In those circumstances, I always appreciate when the organization hosting the webinar later offers a recorded version of the training that they post online. Many organizations (including national networks of libraries like NNLM and FDLP) offer recorded archives of their webinars, and these webinar archives can be a fantastic source of on-demand training.
Here are three library organizations that offer webinar archives featuring a wide range of training topics, from marketing and data visualization to finding government and health information resources:
Federal Depository Library Program (FDLP) Academy: Choose the “View past webinars” option on the FDLP website to view a list of past Depository Library Community Webinars, Federal Agency Webinars, FDLP and C&I Webinars (related to cataloging and indexing), and GPO’s Federal Digital System (FDsys) and govinfo Webinars. You can choose to download the slides and completion certificates for webinars and watch a recording of the WebEx presentation. Example: View another webinar related to data visualization and infographics, with the 35-minute presentation Telling your Story with Data.
WebJunction: The WebJunction site from OCLC offers recorded webinars that can be accessed for free by all library workers and volunteers. Users need to register to access the recorded webinars and self-paced trainings that cover topics ranging from social media, marketing, and outreach to collections development and organizational management. Users can also download slides, handouts, and chat transcripts from the webinars and find links to related resources. Example: Watch yet another webinar related to data visualization: Data Visualization for the Rest of Us: A Beginner’s Guide (1 hour).
Even if you just have thirty minutes to spare during the workday, you can use these webinar archives to find interesting learning topics and watch high quality trainings anytime.
One of my favorite library-related blog post series over the past few years has been the “Rock Star Medical Librarians” series of profiles at the NLM in Focus blog. It’s fantastic to get advice and learn about the experiences of other librarians, so I thought it might be an interesting project to begin a series of blog posts highlighting the experiences of librarians working in a broad range of library-related careers. The library field is so diverse, and there are so many different paths to becoming a librarian.
Note:The opinions expressed in this article are the author’s own and do not reflect the view of the National Institute of Standards and Technology, the Department of Commerce, or the United States government.
How did you originally become interested in librarianship as a career?
I had a roundabout way of coming back to librarianship. I say coming back because my first job at 15 was working for the public library as a page. I swore I’d be a librarian one day. Then, I wanted to write. I swore I’d be an author one day. Then, I got really into theatre. I swore I’d be an actor…wait, this is becoming convoluted. Let me sketch it out for you:
How would you describe your library field niche?
Being a publishing librarian is different, because many of my colleagues in the field are commercial or society publishers. They don’t think like librarians, and I don’t think like a publisher. For example, I am obsessed with metadata and making things discoverable. That’s not exactly a hot button topic in the publishing world, but my fellow librarians get super excited.
There are many efforts going on to get librarians and publishers to talk and learn more from each other; just search scholarly publishing, scholarly communication, or #scholcomm on twitter to see what I mean. I’m also part of a networking group in the Washington, D.C. area where women in the publishing and information science profession meet once a month to talk about issues in the field, which has very much helped bridge that gap.
What types of skills that wouldn’t generally be considered “traditional library work” have you learned during your career as a librarian?
Markup languages and database design. I took a database design class in grad school and fell in love. Now I create relational databases for everything, I try to avoid tabs in Excel Worksheets as much as possible. On the other hand, XML is something I thought I knew after grad school, but quickly realized that wasn’t the case after diving into a project this year with my colleague using MARCXML, JATS, and XSLT. Those markup languages are best learned while completing an actual project.
I also have to put in a little plug for LaTeX, if MS Word is frustrating and you geek out (like me) over markup languages, try LaTeX – you won’t be sorry!
What learning/networking resources do you regularly use to stay up-to-date on the news and trends in your particular niche of the library field?
Like I said, I’m in a networking group for women in publishing/information science. It has been invaluable not only to learn about their experiences in the profession, but also to get their perspectives as women in the profession. Additionally, I follow Society for Scholarly Publishing on every form of social media, including their blog – The Scholarly Kitchen – and their peer-reviewed journal, Learned Publishing. I also do periodic literature searches for topics that pique my interest; right now it’s measuring impact of non-peer-reviewed literature and other alternatives impact metrics.
What technology trends do you think will have the biggest impact on librarianship in the next decade?
Kids are learning coding at such a young age. My friend’s son – who is in elementary school – just showed me an online game he coded on Scratch. I couldn’t believe how sophisticated it was. I don’t know what this looks like for librarians in the next decade, but I do know that we need to catch up to these kids. I don’t want to turn into the stereotypical stodgy old librarian who is behind the times, clinging to her iPhone while everyone else has a EarPod or something like that.
Stay tuned to learn about more paths to librarianship!
Around April 1st, I begin to obsessively check the round-up articles at Washington Post and Time.com to see the latest April Fools’ Day pranks from many brands, websites, and newspapers (heck, Google even has it’s own Wikipedia page on April Fools pranks). Pranks like finding Waldo in Google Maps are adorable and fun, and many libraries also get in on the fun of April Fools’ Day. Librarians have a quirky sense of humor (or a cat-based sense of humor, in my case), so you’ll find some amazing pranks combined with actual learning opportunities if you visit a physical library or library website on April Fools’ Day.
Historic April Fools at Library of Congress
First, let’s take a look at the learning opportunities offered through the Library of Congress (LOC) website related to April Fools:
Learn the history of April Fools’ Day: The article April Fools: The Roots of an International Tradition by Stephen Winick at the Folklife Today Blog gives a detailed and fascinating look at the many possible origins of April Fools traditions: “People have long speculated about the origins of this most foolish holiday, suggesting the Roman Saturnalia, Druidic rites in Britain, the carnivalesque medieval celebration of the Feast of Fools, and even the Indian festival of Holi as possible origins. ” You can even listen to a recording of an Irish folk song, “The First Day of April.”
Explore April Fools in historic newspapers: The Library of Congress Blog links to ten articles about April Fools’ Day in its US historical newspaper database, Chronicling America. Check 10 Stories: April Fool! Chronicling America by John Sayers and explore the history (and sometimes terrifying illustrations) about April Fools’ Day in articles written between 1896 and 1920. The LOC website also offers a Topics in Chronicling America – April Fools’ Day page, with search suggestions for finding articles on the topic and links to sample articles.
The American Libraries site has a delightful series of articles about April Fools pranks at libraries around the world. Each year in early April, Greg Landgraf summarizes the best library pranks. Here are a few of my favorites:
So all public libraries have nothing to worry about now, right? Federal funding is safely allocated to IMLS, and voters support public libraries.
Unfortunately, the report about public libraries also highlights one alarming trend: “A majority of voters still do not realize that the primary source of library funding is local.” So yes, public libraries still have plenty to worry about.
Public libraries get most of their funding at the city or county level, so local residents need to constantly show their support for their public library systems in a variety of ways to help maintain funding for services, staff, and collection development.
With these issues in mind and Celebrate National Library Week coming up soon, here are three simple ways to support your public library system.
Volunteer: Volunteers provide much-needed help with outreach, additional funding and labor for services (like summer reading programs), and valuable feedback for library staff in the form of library advisory committees. At Montgomery County Public Libraries, there are many volunteer opportunities for both adults and teens through cooperative volunteer programs (like student service learning programs), volunteer library advisory committees, and fundraising through Friends of the Library.
Advocate: Library users can let their elected officials know how important their local libraries are to the community in order to preserve and improve library budgets. For my local library system, the Friends of the Library Montgomery County (FOLMC) offer an advocacy toolkit for speaking with elected officials and candidates.
Libraries aren’t just musty shelves of old books…they are integral parts of the local community, offering important information resources and valuable programs to everyone equally. Support these community hubs by attending, volunteering, and advocating!
Who wouldn’t want to tour the beautiful architecture of the Library of Congress (LOC) while still sitting at home in their pajamas? Virtual tours of libraries certainly aren’t a new concept, with a number of overviews and case studies describing the trend over the past two decades:
Camera technology has improved so much over the past 20 years, it’s now become cheap and easy for any librarian to film a 360-degree panoramic photo or video on their cell phone. One of the “Top Library Tech Trends” by Alison Marcotte listed in May 2017 at American Libraries includes taking patrons on a virtual tour “using a 360-degree camera and post it to your website or social media.” Virtual tours don’t only include panoramic photos and videos though…they may also include text descriptions, floor plans, and other creative elements to give users a helpful overview of the library layout, resources, and services.
Here are eight examples of virtual tours from national, public, and academic libraries, each with their own unique touches:
Tour the Library of Congress in 360° (published by the AARP) – This tour wasn’t actually created by the LOC, but this 360-degree video on YouTube from the American Association of Retired Persons (AARP) still provides a great example of a short panoramic video to provide a quick tour of the architecture both inside and outside a historic library.
Children’s Library Tour (Washington-Centerville Public Library) – This YouTube video provides a fun overview of the services, staff, and resources in the Children’s Room at a public library. The video is made for a younger audience, so I imagine it can be a great resource to share with students at local schools to promote public library visits.
Georgetown University Library – Here’s another video tour on YouTube, this time for an academic library. The four-minute video gives a quick overview of library layout, services, and resources for students, as well as a quick look at the library website and catalog.
Hong Kong Baptist University Library – This virtual library tour can be navigated through the HKBU Library LibGuide and includes panoramic photos of different sections of the library with added pop-up text boxes with additional information on services and resources.
UTSA Libraries Tour (The University of Texas at San Antonio) – This online tour (powered by YouVisit.com) uses images of various sections of the library (with students and staff included in the photos) and short text descriptions to walk students through a quick overview of the library layout and services.
Virtual library tours have been around for decades, but in the past five years, it’s become increasingly cheap and easy to create highly immersive tours simply by using tools easily accessible through your cell phone.