Thursday, January 27, 2005

Does your library need web hosting, email, and internet services? Do any of the 501(c)3 nonprofits or public schools you serve need those services? provides free web hosting, email, and other internet services as a way to help nonprofits serve their communities. The application is online at .

Tuesday, January 25, 2005

The Pew Internet & American Life Project has a site that contains reports of use to anyone making plans that involve their audience using technology (and that means us librarians!). . A report they released on January 23rd has been making the news - "Search Engine Users: Internet searchers are confident, satisfied and trusting - but they are also unaware and naive." . I imagine that the report will only reinforce what you have seen first-hand when teaching your users to evaluate what they see in their search results, and in their choice of search tools.
Some of the news links covering this report:
And a good discussion on Lorcan Dempsey's blog, that leads back to the information literacy discussion - .
We just have to find a better way to reach all these 'satisfied' people - or not.

Monday, January 24, 2005

This article from Harvard may be of interest to you if you are getting ready to do a survey on your campus. "Drug Records, Confidential Data Vulnerable" .
The site that provided the loophole mentioned in the article was one that allowed people to design and conduct surveys.

Thursday, January 20, 2005

If you are exploring research options to evaluate your services, you may find this excellent research bibliography useful: . This bibliography was prepared by the Library Research Section of the Medical Library Association's Research Resources Committee.

Monday, January 17, 2005

I have been thinking about our role as librarians, as well as ways to market library services to a sometimes less-than-excited public. I think I have a draft of an analogy that might fit our circumstances, and help get across to our many audiences how important it is to keep connected to information and those that know where it lives.
A suspension bridge has been built, joining two geographic areas in a new-fashioned way, or as the first time either side has been joined to the other. News crews appear, interviewing the construction project manager, the steelworkers, the painters, the concrete workers, the architects, the funders. A crowd appears, expressing awe at the expanse gleaming in the sun. Numbers might get tossed around - the many square yards of concrete, the many miles of cable, the distance of the bridge above the ground, how long it took to plan and build the bridge. There might be a ceremony, attended by dignitaries, marking the bridge open and serving the public. Everyone acknowledges how great the bridge is and how it will impact mankind. But rarely does anyone interview the cable supplier or manufacturer. No reporter asks what types of cable were considered, how the cables were made of individual strands of wire, which cable type was selected and why, how the cable got to the worksite (well, maybe that last one might be newsworthy). Usually, there is talk about how many pounds of force the number of cables must be able to support, and sometimes the topic of cable comes up in discussion if there was any trouble acquiring it or if the cost was extraordinary. Otherwise, discussion about the intricacies of cable takes place at cable suppliers' association meetings, on the floor of cable manufacturing factories, and among engineers that design new versions of cable. Those involved with cable know that the number of suspension bridges might be reduced in the future in favor of new bridge styles, but they have responsibility to keep renewing the cables on existing bridges, as well as identify new uses and forms of cable to support emerging markets.
Information and its delivery is the cable of "suspension bridge" research projects that join mankind to new ways of living. Research results make big news, but rarely discuss in press releases or documentaries where information (or lack of access to information, or information providers, or librarians) played a role in the outcomes. Research would suffer and projects could not be built strong without information being a key support to the discoveries. While I personally think libraries, librarians, and information providers should be showcased every day on the 6 0'clock news for the vital role they play in the world, I don't mind playing the role of cable supplier in the scheme of things. Every once in a while, though, I would like to see a few documentaries covering ground-breaking research add discussion on the role that information played in leading to the results. It would be great if librarians and vendors would get together to do such a series, if only to educate the public that appear to think running a simple search through the internet constitutes research. Maybe this would work to reduce the comments of, "oh, you don't need to have funds to support a library; information is free and easy to get for everyone on the Internet." Librarians [and vendors] could start buying 'congratulations' ads in the newspaper whenever a research project hits the news, like the concrete company and architect's office does when a new bridge is built, just to remind everyone what our role is in the finished product.

Thank you for reading this, and please let me know if this analogy can be improved, changed, or if you want to challenge it. -Teri

Wednesday, January 05, 2005

An announcement I received from the WHO today might serve as a template for your library when you start offering a blog or RSS news feed:

"World Health Organization (WHO) news headlines and summary texts are now
available via "really simple syndication" (RSS). RSS is a straightforward
way for you to keep up-to-date with the latest news from WHO. To use RSS
on your computer you need to obtain a program called a News Reader, which
allows you to collect and display RSS feeds from your chosen web sites.
Every time a news article is published on the WHO web site, you will
receive an automatic update without having to visit our site. You will
find further information about RSS and details of how to access WHO RSS
feeds on the following URL:
Advantages of RSS technology are:
- you can scan the headlines of many different web sites via a single
browser window. When you see a headline that interests you simply click on
the link to visit the publisher's web site;
- you only receive information from the web sites that you have selected
eg BBC, NY Times, WHO etc;
- information is automatically updated on a regular basis;
- most RSS feeds consist of text only, so this technology is ideal for
slower internet connections.
WHO plans to launch additional RSS feeds for subjects such as disease
outbreaks and emergencies in the coming weeks."

Tuesday, January 04, 2005

An additional resource that your library might want to use - Podcasting. Like a blog, Podcasts are sound files instead of text files, an "Audioblog" if you will (yes, that is a site: This method of reaching out to our users could be similar to leaving a voice mail with instructions on how to access a certain database, or an update from your library's mascot on what events are coming up. Users then download to their portable handhelds or iPods to listen to while on the run, or they can listen to them on their desktop. I found a really good illustration of how these files can be more useful than a text file or HTML page on the directory site Podcast.Net . What better way to teach someone American English idioms than through a sound file? [I wish I could have had this in a German form while I lived in Germany (in the before-time: before I discovered that computers could do more than add and subtract!). ] Users don't have to wait for large video files to load, and instructors don' t have to worry about the sound and visuals not matching up on the receiver's side. This technology won't replace great interactive computer-based instruction, but it might offer your users another 'co-pilot' for them the next time they head out to access an ejournal or search PubMed using MeSH.
If you are considering adding a blog to your library site, this BBC article may give you the push you need: Blog Reading Explodes in America .
And wouldn't you know - there is a great blog about libraries using blogs: .
There is also a book on the subject (but I am not sure if this blog is listed-grin!). Review here:
Using a blog to serve our users is along the same lines as having a phone for them to call us, a web site for them to access the collection, an email address for them to contact us...