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Archive for August, 2013

3D Printers and Makerspaces in Libraries

Tuesday, August 13th, 2013

Three 3D printers on a table

Makerspaces are areas in the community were people with common interest can gather and work on projects. Many of these projects are centered around technology and include robotics, computers software, 3D printing, and more. These spaces are designed to encourage innovation and collaboration on a variety of topics. While many communities use people’s homes or rent office space for these type of activities, libraries are beginning to open their doors to these innovators. Many public libraries are offering programming centered on the makerspace idea and encouraging the community to come in and innovate.

The Westport Public Library in Westport, Connecticut was one of the first public libraries to open a makerspace to the public. To excite the community the library first had a makerfair which allowed community members already involved in maker activities to display what they had been working on and spark conversation for those who may be new to or interested in working in a makerspace. More about the Westport Public Library Makerspace include projects, programs, and informative videos can be found online. Chicago Public Library recently opened the Innovation Lab proving tools, technology, and resources for users as well as workshops can classes on various topics.

In academic institutions makerspaces for students, faculty, and staff are also being embraced. The library typically provides a space as well as emerging technology equipment such as 3D printers. Such makerlabs have already been introduced at the North Carolina State University (NCSU) of the University of Michigan. The NCSU Libraries Makerspace provides users with access to 3D printers and laser cutters. Students are billed for the time the use the lab as well as for some of the materials used. The University of Michigan 3D Lab is located in the Digital Media Commons area of the library and provides uses with access to 3D printing as well as motion capture and advanced visualization tools. The area is open to the entire academic community include health science students and researchers. Technology provided by the 3D Lab recently allowed architects and physicians to collaborate on design they could see using hospital room visualization technology.

The Claude Moore Health Sciences Library at the University of Virgina recently added a 3D printer to their growing number of emerging technologies available for use by library users.

New Tech Titles for Lending Library

Monday, August 12th, 2013

Three book covers

This summer three new titles were added to the National Network of Libraries of Medicine, South Central Region Lending Library. All three titles are technology related at address timely trends including social media and video creation that many libraries and organizations may be interested in learning more about. The books available for loan to any NN/LM SCR Network remember.

Doing Social Media So It Matters: A Librarian’s Guide
Author: Laura Solomon
Description: Facebook, Twitter, MySpace, LinkedIn: it’s difficult enough to keep abreast of social media Web sites, let alone understand how they fit into today’s library. This practical resource brings together current information on the topic in a concise format that’s easy to digest. Laura Solomon is a librarian with more than a decade of experience in Web development, design, and technology, and her timely guide

  • Provides context on the social media phenomenon
  • Offers practical advice on how libraries can choose, use, and monitor these tools effectively
  • Identifies additional resources and best practices

Solomon has written a unique, to-the-point guidebook for those ready to jump into the deep end of the pool and commence or improve their library’s tweeting, posting, and friending.

Library Videos and Webcasts: The Tech Set #4
Author: Thomas Sean Casserley Robinson
Description: Online video and imaging software gives you the opportunity to communicate with your library users 24/7 – but getting started can be intimidating. ‘Library Videos and Webcasts’, part of Neal-Schuman’s The Tech Set®, has the building blocks you need to effectively, affordably, and easily create and broadcast high-quality webcasts to your library users, staff and the social networking sites beyond. Author Sean Robinson details each step in the video creation process, with practical guidance for equipment selection, planning, development, plus the use of quality camera techniques, props and special effects. Robinson also covers post-production, and shows you best practices for marketing your videos and measuring their success. ‘Library Videos and Webcasts’ is a useful one-stop resource for both advanced and less-experienced librarians. Whether you want to advertise upcoming programs, broadcast book reviews, or film instructional videos about your library’s services, this complete how-to guide gives you the all of the practical tools you need to integrate video into your library’s repertoire.

Neal-Schuman Library Technology Companion: A Basic Guide for Library Staff, 4th Edition
Author: John J. Burke
Description: The fourth edition of Burke’s comprehensive resource, newly revised and updated, is a perfect primer for LIS students and should be at the top of the list for any current or future library professional looking to stay at the forefront of technological advancement. This all-in-one guide helps readers contribute to improving institutional performance, boost productivity, and stay connected to the latest library technology topics and tools by offering incisive coverage of

  • Library technology basics, with a historical overview providing context, suggested resources for staying up to date, and a chapter on appraising and purchasing equipment and putting systems into operation
  • Technology tools, including computers of all kinds (desktops, laptops, tablets, and mobile devices), office applications, the wireless world, the vast changes and potential of library catalogs and databases, social media, and much more
  • How libraries put technology to work through adaptive/assistive technology, virtual reference, blogs, screencasting, distance learning, and other day-to-day workflow
  • Building and maintaining technology, offering guidance on spam, spyware, security strips, and other dangers of the cyberworld, plus troubleshooting tips for typical technology problems and advice on making technology environments comfortable for users
  • The importance of long-range technology planning and how to take steps to start the planning process

Technology Skills for Librarians and Library Staff Survey

Thursday, August 8th, 2013

What technology skills are necessary for librarians today? John Burke explored this question a 2009 online survey and in March of 2012 he revised this survey. Burke recently released the results in the online post Survey Results: Technology Skills for Librarians and Library Staff and further explores library technology skills in the fourth edition of the book Library Technology Companion: A Basic Guide for Library Staff.

With over 2,000 responses the online survey respondents listed the follow ten items as technologies used on a daily basis:

Laptop keyboard

E-mail – 97.6%
Word processing – 94.1%
Using a Web browser – 93.6%
Web searching – 93.6%
Searching library databases – 91.8%
Spreadsheets (Microsoft Excel, etc.) – 85.3%
Library catalog (public side) – 84.4%
Public or staff printers – 80.1%
Teaching others to use technology – 80.0%
Presentation software (Microsoft PowerPoint, Prezi, etc.) – 75.1%

High percentages of respondents also listed:

Troubleshooting technology – 65.6%
Fax machine – 50.1%
Google Docs – 49.4%
Making technology purchase decisions – 38.5%

Respondents indicated that technology skills related to programming, coding, web design, and network management would help them in their current roles. Respondents also expressed interest in adding more mobile and social technologies to their library.

With many libraries already wrestling with budget cuts, respondents indicated a need for more stuff to help deal with the growing demand for technology support in their libraries.

Burke’s book is available for loan to Network members through the National Network of Library of Medicine, South Central Region’s (NN/LM SCR) Lending Library.

Grow Your Social Capital

Tuesday, August 6th, 2013

Social Media words

Understanding social media and working to build an audience via social networking tools such as Facebook or Twitter can be a bit a challenge for librarians and other organizations who want to start a presence in these areas. In May American Libraries published the article Understanding Social Capital by librarian and social media expert Laura Solomon.  Solomon explains the value of social capital and that in many ways social capital is akin to credibility. To start a social media presence with no followers can be frustrating but building your credibility through the development of social capital is an important step to gaining followers and sharing your message.

Solomon points out that one of the pitfalls many organizations suffer in early attempts to engage users on social media is posting and sharing information that is only about their organization. Building social capital takes time and requires work. Solomon stresses that “building a social media reputation means giving back.”

Solomon provides details on several tips for engagement with users that can be used to build social capital through social media. She recommends the follow:

  • Thank your patrons
  • Ask for opinions
  • Offer links to other sites of interest
  • Retweet your followers (Twitter)
  • Always give credit
  • Encourage feedback
  • Provide information people care about
  • Monitor and respond to posts

Solomon goes on to provide some advanced tips for building social capital through the use of photos, customer service, and contests as tools to further audience engagement.

One of the main takeaways from the article for anyone looking to build social capital is understanding that in order to build social capital there is a demand for reciprocity. While promoting your organization’s programs it is equally important to use social media as a tool to promote other programs and highlight information that your audience is interested in, even if it comes from other sources. Pointing people in the right direction and engaging with users is an important part of growing social capital and earning creditability.

Solomon’s latest book The Librarian’s Nitty-Gritty Guide to Social Media and her previous work Doing Social Media So It Matters: A Librarian’s Guide both provide additional information about building and maintaining a social media presence and can be borrowed from the National Network of Libraries of Medicine, South Central Region’s (NN/LM SCR) Lending Library.

Demonstrating Your Impact: Return on Investment

Tuesday, August 6th, 2013

Graph of Cost and Benefit with Push Pin near benefit

Are you looking for ways to demonstrate your impact to your administration? This is Part 1 in a 3 part series on demonstrating your impact.

The NN/LM MidContinental Region (MCR) has created three online tools that can be used to enable a library to put actual figures to their importance within an organization

CBA/ROI Calculator: Sometimes it’s a good idea to speak the language of the administration. Cost/Benefit Analysis (CBA) and Return on Investment (ROI) are measures used by financial managers to indicate if their money is going in the right place.  In a cost/benefit analysis, the goal is to show how much benefit the organization receives for the cost of the library.  For a cost/benefit analysis, the result is actually a number: the benefit to cost ratio.  If $50 was spent and the benefits to the organization could be seen as worth $25, then the benefit/cost ratio would be $25/$50 or 1/2 (50 cents of benefit for every $1 spent). This would obviously not look good for your library.  However, if you could show that for the $50 that was spent, the benefit to the organization could be valued at $150, then the benefit/cost ratio is $150/$50, or $3 of benefit for every $1 spent.  This could make your library look like a real asset!

Return on Investment is a very similar concept.  In order to get the final percentage, the benefit of an investment (minus the original cost) is divided by the cost of the investment.  So using the figures from the second case above, if $50 had been spent and a $150 benefit was achieved, $50 is subtracted from $150 to show a total return of $100.  Then dividing that by the original investment ($100/$50), equals 2.00 or 200%.  A 200% return on investment would make your library look very good!

“How can I apply this to my library” you might ask?  The CBA/ROI Calculator from the MidContinental Region does most of the work for you.  You simply fill in the blanks with the cost of books, cost of staff time, time saved, etc., and the final costs, benefits and ratios are determined at the bottom.

Database ROI Calculator: The calculator above is mostly designed for the books in your library’s collection.  The MCR also provides a CBA/ROI calculator for databases.  Getting statistics for databases can be a little more difficult than for other library services. Databases are often bundled with other products, and vendors define use statistics in multiple ways that make if difficult to compare across databases.  Nevertheless, the MidContinental Region has some helpful tips for deciding which statistics to enter.

Valuing Library Services Calculator: Isn’t this what we all want – to explain that our library services have a financial value to the organization?  Using this calculator, you can assign a dollar amount to the services you supply based on their retail value.  You type in the number of times a particular service is used, and the calculator multiplies it by the retail value of that service. And at the bottom, it sums up your library’s total retail value.

The MCR is gathering data for advocacy purposes. If you would like your data included, be sure to fill out the form completely including the CAPTCHA box, and hit “submit data.” Librarians everywhere will appreciate your thoughtfulness.

Stay tuned for Part II – Collecting Stories.

Value of Libraries Webinar

Friday, August 2nd, 2013

Computer with dollar sign

The NN/LM MidAtlantic Region (NN/LM MAR) is offering a webinar on the value of libraries, entitled, Making the Most of the Value Study

•    Joanne Gard Marshall, Principal Investigator, Alumni Distinguished Professor, School of Information and Library Science, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
•    Kathel Dunn, Coordinator, Associate Fellows Program, National Library of Medicine

This session will provide an update on new specialized reports that have been created using the Value of Library and Information Services in Patient Care Study results, as well as how to access and use the data set from the study.  All the items discussed will be made available on the Value Study website.  Joanne will also share the results of some advanced data analysis that demonstrate the added value of using the services of the librarian and the searching the library-provided resources in patient care.

The second part of the presentation will discuss ways of mining and using the Value Study data.  Kathel Dunn from NLM will share the results of data mining that they have done on users of PubMed/MEDLINE and related resources.  The study gathered extensive data on each of the information resources used to answer the clinical questions.

Participants in this session will be encouraged to share their own stories about how they have used or would like to use the study results.

To join the webinar:
Date:      August 13, 2013
Time:    Noon – 1 pm (Eastern Time)

No registration required.

Health Information Technology in the United States 2013

Thursday, August 1st, 2013

Cover of Report

The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation recently released the Health Information Technology in the United States 2013: Better Information Systems for Better Care Report.

According to the report “since 2010, the proportion of hospitals having a basic electronic health record (EHR) has tripled.” With “more than 38 percent of physicians reporting having adopted basic EHRs in 2012.” With incentive programs for health information technology (HIT) adoption, such as the Health Information Technology for Economic and Clinical Health (HITECH) Incentive Program  many hospitals were able to take steps and move toward EHR system adoption. The report shows that while adoption in hospitals was large, the increase in adoption of EHR systems by physicians in private practice was not as large. Small practices continue to lag behind in EHR adoption and will likely need continued support from agencies such as Regional Extension Centers (RAC).

In a positive finding the report shows that “physicians and hospitals alike appear to be adopting EHRs with more sophisticated capabilities that enable improvements in the delivery of care and management of patient populations.” The report also suggests that many hospitals are adopting at least as basic EHR system (44 percent) while only 16.7 percent of hospitals have already adopted a comprehensive EHR system.

According to the report four areas where most organizations which have adopted EHRs lag behind are related to patient clinic summaries and include the ability for the patient to view quality data, receive guideline reminders, receive patient e-copy of health information, and provide patient clinical summaries.

The report goes on to compare HIT implementation in the US to HIT implementation in other countries as well as provide additional insights into the development of Health Information Exchanges and their role in healthcare.

The final chapter of the report deals specifically with “Improving Patient Education with EHRs” an area many hospital and consumer health librarians are familiar with. According to the report “little is known about best approaches for using EHRs to provide patients with materials that are understandable and actionable for patients, especially those with limited health literacy and English proficiency.” The report provides a good study of vendors in the EHR industry and specifically looks at patient health information portals and delivery.

The report suggests that “U.S. providers could do more using HIT to engage patients with educational materials tailored to an individual’s diagnosis and health literacy level.”

Overall, this is a valuable report for those involved in HIT and EHR implementation. Using the data provided in this report librarians can demonstrate the value of consumer health information resources such as MedlinePlus and MedlinePlus Connect in meeting Meaningful Use objectives.