Award Report- Columbia University’s Health Sciences Library USB project
Columbia University’s Health Sciences Library (HSL) was awarded a $1,000 NN/LM MAR Small Projects Award to subsidize the purchase of 250 customized USB flash drives intended to promote library resources and services. In Fall 2009, 1 GB USB flash drives were distributed to 199 (of 233) incoming medical and dental students in the class of 2013 (College of Physicians and Surgeons and College of Dental Medicine). These students were attending a librarian-led “Accessing the Medical Literature” workshop, part of their “Molecular Mechanisms and Disease” course during which various NCBI resources were discussed.
The flash drives were branded with logos of HSL and NLM’s PubMed and loaded with ten library handout PDFs and three NLM brochure PDFs, along with web browser shortcuts to the library’s homepage and to the online survey. Handouts included on these drives replaced paper copies of brochures that would otherwise be distributed during orientation events.
A short (5 questions) online survey was developed to evaluate the usefulness of the library materials included and to gather information about student use of USB drives. Of the 55 students (28%) who responded to the survey, 56% viewed one or more of the library materials included on the drive, while 87% said they were either very likely or somewhat likely to use this device to transport resources downloaded via the library.
Further analysis of the survey data (which we hope to share at MLA 2010) will provide useful information about: the optimal number of files to include next time, how to best organize/present these files to improve the odds of their being viewed, the preferred USB size, etc. This project gave us the opportunity to connect with students in a way we had not done before and to consider how this new crop of students use/view the information the library produces.