Life, Libraries, and other things

Our e-portfolio guru Karen Dickinson, by virtue of her patient and encouraging nature, gently inspired us (several colleagues from other parts of the university, in addition to me) to tease out several of our workplace accomplishments that we could sculpt and produce in readable form online. These turned out to be our artifacts. Looking back, I think that doing this activity was a bit of an accomplishment in itself, sometimes one that was a pleasant surprise, as we realized that what we had done was more important than it seemed at the time and in effect was well worth doing.

As Karen explained, the e-portfolio can be used for a horizontal change in jobs within the University, or  when applying for a new position elsewhere. It can also be put to use by a completely different person from the one who produced it, a new employee perhaps, or even an individual seeking to find out whether the particular position in question might be desirable and suitable for him/her to apply for.

I had learned directly from Laurita Thomas, Vice President, Human Resource Officer at UM, when I was a member of the Voices of the Staff: Benefits, Health and Wellness, that the University of Michigan expects to lose an inordinate number of employees in the next few years, both through retirement and moving to take positions at other institutions; therefore, it is hoped that the e-portfolios will serve as a basis for continuity of effort in many instances.


PLoS stays afloat with bulk publishing : Nature News
The hot story this morning is “Nature disses PLoS,” based on Declan Butler’s article “PLoS stays afloat with bulk publishing: Science-publishing firm struggles to make ends meet with open-access model.” The article (Nature 2008;454(11), doi:10.1038/454011a, published online July 2, 2008) has already drawn reactions around the scientific and library blogging worlds ranging from “told you so” to “how dare they!”
Jonathan Eisen, Academic Editor in Chief of PLoS Biology, wrote a response and links to a number of other responses.
Personally, I think Nature has as much right as any business to take potshots at the competition. Whether they are wise to do so remains to be seen. I doubt that true believers on either side of the open access movement are going to persuaded by the article or the reactions to it, so it’s difficult to see what they gain. And as Britannica learned when it challenged wikipedia, such challenges can come back to haunt you later. Britannica endured an extended comparison of the accuracy of its articles versus those in Wikipedia, and now includes wikipedia-like features. Will we see Nature Publishing Group journals change as a result of this discussion?

When Did Ann Arbor’s Library Get So Cool?
My friends and colleagues at the Ann Arbor District Library are super. They are cool. They are a model not only for other public libraries, but for all types of libraries and for other public institutions.
Should this be a disclaimer? I’m a patron of this library. As a user, I love it, and I’m a user of libraries in the addictive sense of the world. I’m at my local branch multiple times a week, and my husband and I churn books, music CDs, and DVDs through our accounts regularly and consistently.
As a librarian and library director, I see this a model and a goal. If all libraries were this good, would anyone be talking about the obsolescence of libraries?

Disclaimer: As most of you know, I was co-chair of the 2008 National Program Committee. I won’t pretend that I can be objective about the meeting. Nor will I imply that the meeting’s success is attributable solely to the NPC. We were lucky in many ways, including an MLA president/board liaison whose ideas about the meeting coincided with ours from the very first, and whose inaugural address at MLA’07 set the tone and expectations, rallied the membership, and generated enthusiasm for technology, openness, and participation. We had a great venue, with space large enough for posters and lots of spots for informal conversations. We had sections, SIGs, and committees who grabbed the theme and ran with it most enthusiastically, and a membership that came with extraordinary interest and curiosity. In the end, it’s all about us members, because we come to talk to each other, to share, and to learn from our colleagues informally as well as in the presentations. Thanks to everyone who attended to for making this a great meeting.
A few of my favorite things
Andrew Zolli High energy, upbeat, aware of the challenges of the future and thriving on them, inspiring us to do the same with humor and intelligence. He lived up to our hopes and expectations for the meeting keynote address.
Web 2.0 Arc The CE Committee Webcast in March, the Social Networking Task Force, the free SNTF class on social software in April and May, and the MLA’08 Wednesday Plenary Session Webcast in real time worked together as parts of a continuum. Something for everyone, whether they were able to come to Chicago in person or not.
Community Service Projects An opportunity to give back to our host city, particularly appropriate in Chicago, MLA’s headquarters city.
Open Forums on Health Literacy, Vital Pathways, Open Access, Social Networking, and Librarians without Borders. I wish I could have gone to all of them, because these were the venue for reporting out some of the association’s most vibrant and exciting initiatives and for discussing the most critical issues in our professional lives.
Blogs and Bloggers Michelle Kraft blogs that MLA needs to do more in this area. In theory, I agree with her, but in practice this conference like every other one involves trade offs. We took steps in the right direction to facilitate blogging and social networking in real time and I’m glad we did. It adds another dimension to the meeting and further extends it outside the hotel walls. I hope future meetings will extend even further.
Had I but known …
If there was one thing I would have done differently, it would have been to promote the social networking aspects of the meeting more than we did. It’s a bit of a vicious circle – until there’s a perception that the need and interest is widespread rather than the concern solely of a small (and perhaps elite) group, the motivation to expand this access and support will be limited. On the other hand, until the infrastructure makes online networking as seamless and easy as the in-person networking, only the dedicated and technologically adept will be able to participate and the grassroots demand will remain small.
What else?
I found David Rothman’s comments on Second Life during the Wednesday plenary ironic, using as he did many of the same arguments that have been marshaled against blogging, Facebook, Flickr, and YouTube as professional tools. My colleague Patricia Anderson presented the opposing view during the comments segment of that session. Listen to both and join the ongoing conversation.
On a local level, I was very proud of the showing my colleagues from UM made at this meeting. We had lots of posters and papers, and I learned anew how creative and how much fun they are when we came together to present a skit on second life, complete with avatar costumes. Major kudos to the HSL Players and all my HSL colleagues for their outstanding presentation of our work.
I’ve returned from the meeting excited, energized, and full of ideas for the future. I can’t wait to work on them. I hope you all are feeling the same, and will be at MLA’09 to continue the conversation and share your year of accomplishments between now and then.

This AAMC: GIR: Viewpoint post by James B. McGee, M.D., assistant dean for medical education technology and director, Laboratory for Educational Technology at the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine is a short, quick overview of web 2.0 with suggestions on how these tools might transform traditional pedagogy and LMS course sites into a “Personal Learning Environment.” It also includes a short bibliography and list of 2.0 tools of possible use in this context. This could be a good peer-written resource to share with faculty and administrators who need just the briefest intro to web 2.0.

Official Google Blog: A pilot with the Cleveland Clinic for health information access
Cleveland Clinic partners with Google to extend patient access to medical records. A related question: will the library or librarians be involved in choosing links to health information, or will that be handled through Google autopilot? Don’t get me wrong, I’m a big fan of Google and use it all the time. That doesn’t mean that I don’t also see the need to insure quality health info rises to the top.

My colleague Patricia Anderson has started a new blog to go with her new position, both titled Emerging Technologies Librarian. I’m sure it will be interesting as well as informative, and I look forward to reading her posts about new tools we can use in our work and education.

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