28 January 2008


InfoSciPhi has put together a YouTube playlist of the Library 2.0 videos. Worth checking out.

The playlist:

25 January 2008


This is such a good idea I’m sure you would like to try it. But check with its creator, Rebecca Metzger [Lafayette College, Easton, Pennsylvania, USA] , first.

For the past seven years, the Lafayette College Libraries have been creating and mailing humorous collectible postcards to students as a way of publicizing PRA (Personalized Research Assistance) sessions, which are essentially individual research consultations with reference librarians. PRA cards get the faces of reference librarians out to students in a comedic format that shakes up the stereotype of librarians as stodgy and serious, hopefully making us more approachable. The first PRA postcard came about informally. As a joke, one of the librarians mocked up a spoof of the film Conan the Barbarian and the tagline, "Make an appointment with a reference barbarian today!" It was basic humor, it was typical of the library staff at Lafayette, and it just kind of stuck.

"The postcards, which are mailed to all students a few weeks into each semester, feature the faces of reference librarians superimposed on movie or TV stills, thus appealing to the visual and pop culture interests of most youth. On the back of each card is a URL directing students to an online sign-up form and witty text advertising the service that plays on slogans from the movie or TV show. For example, the recent "Mary PRAppins" card reads: "We may not be able to get the chim-chiminey back in your chim-chim-charoo, but a Personalized Research Assistance session with a reference librarian can help you find the books, journals, and online resources you need for a well-researched project that will make your professor say: SupercaliPRAgilisticexpilalidocious!"

"After that initial postcard, student workers were brought on board to execute the Photoshop manipulation and layout of the card, as well as to coordinate the printing and mailing with campus Reprographic services. It's time-consuming work for them but more fun than shelving books, and it helps bridge the generational gap.

"For the first few years, a surge in appointments immediately after the mailing date was a clear indicator of the cards' impact. When the PRA cards hit their mailboxes, which are all located in one setting, there is a mass visual impact even if the majority of the cards end up in the recycling bin. As the branded service has become more integrated on campus, there's less of an obvious peak in appointments immediately after the mailing. Traffic to the online PRA sign-up form is steady now throughout the semester, and generated not just from the cards but from outreach during instruction sessions, reference desk interactions, articles in parent newsletters, targeted correspondence with honors students, word-of-mouth, and the library website."

Thanks to Jill Stover and her blog, Library Marketing: Thinking Outside the Book, for posting this.


Entire post: http://librarymarketing.blogspot.com/2008/01/


Some of the PRA cards: http://www.lafayette.edu/~library/pra/gallery.html


David Rothman notes the article by Eugene Barsky and Dean Giustini in the Journal of the Canadian Health Libraries Association (28(4), 2007), Introducing Web 2.0: Wikis for health librarians, and adds a few of his own. Check out both of them.


Rothman’s post: http://davidrothman.net/2008/01/25/introducing-


Barsky & Giustini article: http://pubs.nrc-cnrc.gc.ca/jchla/jchla28/c07-036.pdf

23 January 2008


Robert Ambrogi [LawSites and Media Law blogs, Massachustts, USA] has posted his list of five legal sites “that made news orshould have made news—not necessarily the best or the worst, but the ones that most altered the online legal landscape.” They are:

Avvo, http://www.avvo.com, rates lawyers from 1 to 10, but has been sued for this. However, Martindale-Hubbell added client reviews to its law firm profiles—perhaps because of Avvo?

Public.Resource.Org, http://public.resource.org, creating an public-domain repository of all federal and state case law. Some 1.8 million pages will be available sometime in 2008.

AltLaw, http://altlaw.org, is a similar project, from law schools at Columbia University and the University of Colorado. Contains almost 170.000 decisions from the US Supreme and Federal Appellate Courts back to the early 1990s.

ABA Journal, http://www.abajournal.com/, with a complete redesign and access to all, not just ABA members. Back issues were added back to 2005 and content was added including court opinions; interview transcripts; Law News Now, a continuously updated feed of the day's legal news stories; and the Blawg Directory, an index of more than 1,000 blogs written by lawyers, law professors and law students.

, http://www.justia.com/, “one of the best free legal research sites on the Web” from the founder of FindLaw. Includes a a searchable collection of cases along with Supreme Court resources from all over the Web; BlawgSearch for searching law-related blogs; Blawgs.fm for searching law-related podcasts; and, just added, Federal District Court Filings & Dockets.


The complete article, with more detail on the five sites:

20 January 2008


The Government Documents Roundtable (GODORT) of the American Library Association has created a Subject Focused Lists of Government Databases site to go along with their 50 State Agency Databases site. It links to lists created by others, such as universities. So far, the only subjects are business (US State Corporations), history (biographical media, newspaper, museum, and official records), and prisoner locater tools. Let’s hope it grows.

Subject lists: http://wikis.ala.org/godort/index.php/Subject_focused
State agencies: http://wikis.ala.org/godort/index.php/State_Agency_Databases


How-to-Study.com has articles on study skills, strategies and tips. They are relatively basic, but could be very useful to librarians in schools or who have adult students to serve. Subjects covered include taking notes in class, learning styles, how to read novels or textbooks, listening in class, solving math problems, spelling long words, writing a research paper, and much more. The producer is Mangrum-Strichart, a company that sells study aids, but that doesn’t devalue the content. Worth a look.

URL: http://www.how-to-study.com/


“Have you started a new medication? Have you developed a new symptom? Or would you just like to check your drugs interactions and their possible side effects.” This new website is very easy to use and, for me at least, quite informative. They caution that not all drugs are included, but all nine (!) of mine were. Each possible drug interaction is assigned a risk level and notes for medical professionals. There are many citations to the medical literature for further reading (but not linked, drat.) There’s also a community discussion forum planned but not implemented yet.

URL: http://www.doublecheckmd.com/


The US Centers for Disease Control have a website that, when you input your sex, age, and level of physical activity, tells you how many servings of fruits and veggies you should be eating. For me it is 1.5 cups of fruit and 2 cups of vegetables. Thanks to my current diet plan, I’m okay. (FYI. I’ve lost 42 pounds on Nutrisystem Silver.) There are also recipes and other tips. How are you doing?

URL: http://www.fruitsandveggiesmatter.gov/


Bitacoras Puntocom (Beta) is a social network/search engine and more in Spanish. You can search for videos, blogs, and news in technology, gadgets, politics, culture, and the general blogosphere and send the results via email. Neat. It was created by the Metroblog project in 2003. Although it is based in Madrid, it says it covers Latin America as well. (Bitacora means log.)

URL: http://bitacoras.com


I wish I hadn’t found this site; we just acquired a plasma television and the site tells me that it will consume nearly US$160.00 per year in electricity—when it is off! Yikes! The site consists of a graphic “showing how much electricity is sucked out annually, in kilowatt hours, and what it costs you—assuming 11 cents per kilowatt hour—in either passive or active standby mode. The source is the 2005 (!) Intrusive Residential Standby Service Report from the US Department of Energy. Other appliances include: radio, cordless phone, LCD monitor, computer, laptop, laser printer, VCR, DVD player, game console (the number 2 energy waster), a convection microwave, and a rechargeable toothbrush (the least bad at just over US$1 per year). “Vampire energy is estimated to cost US consumers $3 billion a year.” Oh well, I’m going to enjoy the TV anyway.

URL: http://awesome.goodmagazine.com/transparency/008/



Readable Laws “is a wiki dedicated to explaining [US] Congressional legislation in plain English.” Areas listed on the home page include Internet, Video Games, Biotech, and Copyright. It is “a project of NewAssignment.Net, a project in open-source, pro-am journalism.” (Pro-am is a coalition of professionals and amateurs.) It was started by K. Paul Mallasch, a former Gannett employee. It looks interesting, Each bill/law covered includes analysis and the text of the law with “translations” interspersed. Looks to be very interesting, but since it is dependent on the input of others, we’ll have to see how it develops.

URL: http://www.readablelaws.org/


ECJBlog has “news and analysis about the European Court of Justice.” They’ve recently added a subscription service to their newsletter through FeedBlitz. The blogger is Allard Knook, a PhD Candidate at the Institute of Constitutional and Administrative Law, University of Utrecht, The Netherlands.

URL: http://courtofjustice.blogspot.com

The Journal of Medical Internet Research’s blog has excepts from recent posts on various eHealth Blogs, such as davidrothman.net, The Krafty Librarian, Medicine 2.0 and more. A nice aggregator-type service. JMIR is “the leading peer-reviewed journal for health and healthcare in the Internet age, has been around since 1999 and is open access. It is sponsored by the eHealth RESEARCH Network and published by Gunther Eysenbach, Centre for Global EHealth Innovation, University Health Network, Toronto, Ontario, Canada.

URL: http://www.jmir.org/cms/view/ehealth_blogs

14 January 2008


Project VetAssist is a free online service for veterans and their families. It will help with applying for the VA Improved Pension program, which is for financially limited veterans 65 or older or physically disabled who had at least 90 days of service in World War II, Vietnam, Korea, or the Gulf Wars. There are forms to download and step-by-step advice for filling them in. It is sponsored by the American Veterans Institute, Tipp City, Ohio. Information is also available at info@vetassist.org. (Found in the AARP Bulletin, January-February 2008.)

URL: http://www.vetassist.org


Editor Kathy Dempsey has done it again! The latest (January 2008) issue of Computers in Libraries is fantastic. The theme is “Finding Out What People Want From Library Technology.” Here is her editor’s notes, Why Assume When You Can Ask?

“In the library world, many processes are still done the way they were years ago. The old adage ‘because we’ve always done it that way’ still holds sway, and entangled layers of bureaucracy can make real change incredibly slow, if no impossible. But as I preach in keynotes and workshops while I’m wearing my other hat, as editor of the Marketing Library Services newsletter, what you’ve ‘always done’ doesn’t cut it anymore. You’ve all heard that sermon before, but hearing it doesn’t really help. What you need is a place to start. How should you change? What should you change? What do people want you to do differently?
“That’s why I chose the theme Finding Out What People Want From Library Technology for this issue. It’s perfect for January; the month of changing and renewing and starting fresh. And I have the only logical answer about where to start the process. Start with your patrons. Your collections and services are all for them, so update them to match patron wants and needs.
“But what do these users want and need? Even more important, what do nonusers want and need that you’re not offering? You could read other people’s research, you could make assumptions, or you could guess. Or you could do the only sensible thing—just ask them!
“If this concept makes you picture in-depth focus groups and expensive market research, stop right there. That stuff is great, but you can do it on a more manageable level. This month’s features show you how. I can’t explain their simple brilliance without getting up on my marketing soapbox and orating exorbitantly, so I’ll let you explore them for yourselves. What I will do with my remaining space here is to implore you to take these concepts to heart, to share these articles with your manager, and to push the issue until you can start surveying patrons. Only then can you be sure you’re delivering what your constituents need. And isn’t that what your work is really all about?”

I absolutely could not have said it better!

To carry out this theme, Dempsey chose the following articles, columns and departments:
How We Surveyed Doctors to Learn What They Want from Computers and Technology (by three librarians at New York City’s Bellevue Hospital)
Building a Web-Based Laboratory so Users can Experiment with New Services (available for free at http://www.infotoday.com/cilmag/jan08/Battles_Combs.shtml

Using Focus Groups to Learn about My Wiki


An Analytical Approach to Assessing the Effectiveness of Web-Based Resources, by Marshall Breeding

The Joy of Finding out What People Don’t Want, by Terence K. Huwe


Asking Users What They Want, by Janet Balas (other sources of information)

Data and Desires: What Users Really Want, by brand-new to CIL Jessamyn West

What more could anyone want? Get this issue and read it all!


The Teen Chat and Acronyms Decoder is a great resource if you have or work with teens. Just type in the acronym, such as LOL, and it will respond with the meaning—laughing out loud in this case. There are links to a few other useful sites too, such as articles for parents, and an Internet safety report. From Parental Control Products.

URL: http://www.teenchatdecoder.com


Blake Carver [The Ohio State University, Columbus, USA] has posted the LISNews Ten Blogs to Read in 2008. Some of my favorites didn’t make the list, but these are all good and interesting.

The Annoyed Librarian, http://annoyedlibrarian.blogspot.com/
David Rothman, http://davidrothman.net/
iLibrarian, http://oedb.org/blogs/ilibrarian/
Judge a Book by its Cover, http://www.judgeabook.blogspot.com/
Law Librarian Blog, http://lawprofessors.typepad.com/law_librarian_blog/
Library Stuff, http://www.librarystuff.net/
Marylaine Block’s Ex Libris, http://marylaine.com/exlibris/index.html and Neat New Stuff, http://marylaine.com/neatnew.html
Off the Mark, http://marklindner.info/blog/
ResearchBuzz, http://www.researchbuzz.org/wp/
Stephen’s Lighthouse, http://stephenslight house.sirsidynix.com/

For more detail on the Top Ten: http://lisnews.org/node/28830
To read how the list was chosen: http://www.lisnews.org/node/28829

13 January 2008


What one small change could hospitals implement that would save US$175 million and over 1500 lives in one state in 18 months?

In an article in The New Yorker, Atul Gawande tells the story of Dr. Peter Pronovost, a critical-care specialist at Johns Hopkins Hospital who instituted a checklist—that’s right—a checklist that led to others that led to exactly those savings. Gawande is a physician at Brigham and Women's Hospital and the Dana Farber Cancer Institute, and is on the staff of The New Yorker and Harvard Medical School. He is the author of two wonderful books that you should have in your collection: Complications: A Surgeon’s Notes on an Imperfect Science and Better: A Surgeon’s Notes on Performance.

This is an article you should bring to the attention of your chief of staff, head of medicine, and head of emergency medicine. It’s a low- to no-cost change that can provide big benefits!

Gawande, Atul, The Checklist, The New Yorker 10 December 2006, pp. 86-95.

08 January 2008


You can now get Shelf Check, the comic strip set in a public library, as an RSS feed. It is written by Poesy Galore (aka Emily Lloyd, associate librarian at the Hennepin County Public Library, Minneapolis, Minnesota, USA. It is wonderful, whether you work in a public library or not.

URL: http://shelfcheck.blogspot.com


Bruno Giussani
[L’Hebdo, Switzerland] and Ethan Zuckerman [Berkman Center for Internet and Society, Harvard Law School, Cambridge Massachusetts and Global Voices Online, Massachusetts, USA] have written a lovely little six-page pamphlet to help those of you who blog from conferences. Sections include tools, location, preparation, software, speakers, style, quotes, audience, context, linking, tagging, timing, mistakes, collaboration, and digestion.

To download this pamphlet for free:


There’s also a post on Giussani’s blog about the pamphlet at

06 January 2008


Arslynx International is a free, non-ad-sponsored site with information on everything theater—from acting and architecture, through costume design and directing, to stage management, video, and world theater. It is the creation of Richard Finkelstein, a professor of theater design for over 25 years—now at James Madison University, living in Harrisonburg, Virginia.

"In general, Artslynx links to non-profit resource libraries as master sites themselves. In areas where Artslynx feels that there is no comprehensive listing, Artslynx creates its own.”


Want to know the top 101
U.S. cities that people commute from? Or with the least cars per house? Or with the most people having Doctorates? Then this is the site for you. It is the companion to a similar site, City Top Lists. I couldn’t quite figure who puts this out, but they say that “a lot of content on our site is user generated,” so you might take some of it with a grain of salt.

Answers to the above: Burke, Virginia (54%), Manhattan, New York (60% have no car); and Palo Alto, California (8.3 %).

Top 101: http://www.city-data.com/top2/toplists2.html
City Top Lists: http://www.city-data.com/toplists.html

I frequently need to convert something to something else (money, centimeters, etc.). This is a great site to find the right tool. It includes basic calculators, online statistics calculators, numbers calculators, online matrix calculators, conversions, color converters, date and day calculators, mortgage calculators, unit conversions, conversion factors and tables, BMI (body mass index) calculator, bandwidth calculator, and a love calculator (no kidding!). There are also many free mathematics tutorials.
It is a product of HIOX, an Indian web products developer.

URL: http://www.easycalculation.com/

04 January 2008


You may have noticed that I haven't been blogging much recently. Here's why.

I've been very busy since we decided to move back to Champaign, Illinois (where I grew up) this Spring. I've also had some minor medical problems (right foot).

I am having back surgery (a fusion of S4 to S3 and S5) on 5 February. I will be very busy before then getting issues of The One-Person Library newsletter out and other stuff related to my business and the move. Unless I figure out a way to type lying on my side or back, I won't be doing much blogging after the surgery either.

So, there won't be much on OPL Plus for a while, but I promise, I will be back--probably in the Summer.

See you then!

What Academic Libraries Can Expect in 2008

Based on the recently released 2007 Environmental Scan by the Association of College and Research Libraries, here are the top ten assumptions for the future of academic libraries and librarians.

1. Increased emphasis on digitization, preservation, curation, and service.

2. Need for additional skills by librarians and an increasingly diverse library staff.

3. Demand for increased access, especially in digital resources and social computing.

4. More debate about intellectual property rights and management.

5. Additional demand for technology services and resources, requiring additional funds.

6. More accountability and quantitative services measures of the library’s contribution to the research, teaching and service sectors of the higher-education business.

7. Demand by student customers for higher-quality and relevant resources, facilities and services.

8. Expansion of online learning options requiring new or expanded resource and service delivery by the library.

9. Increased demand for free, public access to publicly funded research and data.

10. Increased importance of privacy and intellectual freedom issues.

Thanks to Stephen Abram [SirsiDynix, Toronto, Ontario, Canada] and his blog, Stephen’s Lighthouse, for calling my attention to this publication.


Abram’s post: http://stephenslighthouse.sirsidynix.com/archives/


ACRL Environmental Scan, full 29-pages: