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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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:

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Greeting card from 1881, with cats!
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Santa cards from New York Public Library collection.
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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.

How Libraries are Using GIS Mapping

I first learned about geographic information system (GIS) mapping on the Community Health Maps blog from the National Library of Medicine, which offers training materials to teach community organizations how to create low-cost maps related to public health. GIS mapping is used in many creative ways for public health purposes (such as identifying health disparities or visualizing the locations of dangerous environmental hazards). GIS seems like an incredibly useful method for displaying and exploring data on local, national, and international levels, so I wanted look into how academic and public libraries are involved with teaching and using GIS.

Libraries Teaching GIS

Many academic libraries offer GIS mapping services, such as GIS software access, in-person training for students and faculty, and LibGuides that explain the basics about GIS.  For example:

  • At Duke University, the Brandaleone lab for Data and Visualization Services offers access to mapping software (like ArcGIS, QGIS, Google Earth Pro, and more).  Their GIS in the Library webpage offers tips about library workshops and academic courses on GIS and where students can find additional help related to data visualization and GIS.
  • John Hopkins University offers a LibGuide on GIS and Maps, access to ArcGIS software for students/staff, and their GIS and Data Services staff also offer training and consultation on GIS.

The only public library online resource I was able to find related to GIS was the Geographic Information Systems (GIS) Online Resources page from New York Public Library.  This online guide provides links to data sources, free software, lectures on GIS, and even NYC online maps.

Public Libraries using GIS for Assessment

While academic libraries seem to focus more on teaching GIS mapping to students and faculty, public libraries often use GIS mapping for assessment of services, facility use, and collection development.  The article Using GIS to Assess Public Libraries by Dilnavaz Mirza Sharma at Public Libraries Online discusses how public libraries “have embraced GIS as a tool for evaluating usage, collection development, and community impact by capturing GIS data to provide evidence of the library’s function in the community serviced.”  The article describes a case study “of how GIS maps were used to identify public library locations in Chicago that would be ideal for providing consumer health information materials to underserved populations.”

Interactive Maps as Exhibits

Some academic and public libraries also use GIS mapping to create interactive maps shared on their websites as digital exhibits or tools to explore useful data sets, such as:

  • The University of South Carolina library website offers a searchable map of locations from the 1956 Negro Travelers’ Green Book.
  • The College of Information Studies at the University of Maryland has created an interactive mapping tool that allows users to search for and view all libraries within a selected neighborhood, along with related local data on demographics, economics, education, health, and responses from local libraries from the 2013 and 2014 Digital Inclusion Survey.
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Interactive mapping tool to explore Digital Inclusion Survey data, created by the University of Maryland College of Information Studies.
  • Brooklyn Public Library offers a literary map on its website, exploring local landmarks and locations related to children’s literature, fiction, and non-fiction.

There are so many potential applications for GIS mapping in both academic and public libraries, from workshops to teach students how to use GIS to interactive digital exhibits that allow users to explore data sets at a local level.  I hope in the coming year to learn more about use of GIS software, maybe using the Community Health Maps training materials.