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August 29, 2006

Using the Engineering Literature - Edited by Bonnie Osif

.: The new book, Using the Engineering Literature, edited by Bonnie A Osif, has finally appeared, and it is a title you will want to add to your engineering reference collections. For novice engineering librarians, it is a must read.

Before I continue, I need to preface any and all remarks made here with the following disclosure: I am the author of one of the chapters in the book, "Petroleum Engineering and Refining", and my good friend and fellow U of Alberta engineering librarian, Mr Jerry Kowalyk, is the author of the chapter, "Mining Engineering". (In fact, a number of good friends and colleagues contributed other chapters as well!) As a result, my enthusiasm for this volume is quite subjective, but that said, I must report that this is a work of critical importance to the field of engineering librarianship.

At 614 pages, Using the Engineering Literature covers a lot of ground. It is divided into 20 chapters, and offers extensive detail and coverage of the following topics and disciplines: general engineering resources, aeronautical and aerospace engineering, agricultural and food engineering, architectural engineering, bioengineering, chemical engineering, civil engineering, computer engineering, electrical and electronics engineering, engineering education, environmental engineering, history of engineering, industrial and manufacturing engineering, materials science and engineering, mechanical engineering, mining engineering, nuclear engineering, petroleum engineering and refining, and transportation engineering.

I hope to return with another post soon, with further details and a brief review. I want to congratulate Bonnie for her support, encouragement, and brilliant editing and indexing, and for putting up with (way too) many e-mails from me asking when the book would be published. As well, the most heartfelt and well-deserved congratulations to fellow friends and colleagues who contributed chapters to this seminal work. It does feel good to be able to give something back to this great profession. - Randy

August 25, 2006

Five Weeks To A Social Library

.: Interested in an upcoming online course on how to apply social software in your library? A course that will be taught by experts, using freely available software and web-based tools? Amanda Etches-Johnson and four other librarians, pulled together by Meredith Farkas, are working on a proposal to present Five Weeks To A Social Library. Given the top reputation of Amanda and the other librarians involved, I don't think it would be a stretch to suggest that the time invested in this effort will be more than worth it. From Amanda's site:

CFP: Five Weeks to a Social Library
Location: Online
Dates: February 12 - March 17, 2007
CFP Deadline: September 22, 2006

We are pleased to present Five Weeks to a Social Library , the first free, grassroots, completely online course devoted to teaching librarians about social software and how to use it in their libraries. The course was developed to provide a free, comprehensive, and social online learning opportunity for librarians who do not otherwise have access to conferences or continuing education and who would benefit greatly from learning about social software. The course will take place in Drupal and on a MediaWiki installation, and will also involve a variety of other popular social software tools. The course will make use of synchronous components, with one or two weekly Webcasts and many IM chat sessions being made available to students each week. The course will culminate in each student developing a proposal for implementing a specific social software tool in their library.

The course will take place between February 12 and March 17 and will be limited to forty participants. However, course content will be freely viewable to interested parties and all live Webcasts will be archived for later viewing.

We are currently welcoming proposals for live presentations and course content on the following topics:
  • Blogs
  • RSS
  • Wikis
  • Social Networking Software and SecondLife
  • Flickr
  • Social Bookmarking Software
  • Selling Social Software @ Your Library (no live Webcasts on this topic)
We want the presentations to be as practical and useful to as wide a library-related audience as possible. Preference will be given to presentations that 1) are very “nuts-and-bolts” or 2) describe a successful use of the technology that could be replicated in different types of libraries.

We are looking for presentations in the following formats:

  • Webcast – a one-hour live online Webcast that will be archived.
  • Screencast/Vodcast – no more than 30 minutes (please note: most commercial screencasting software offer a 30-day free trial).
  • Podcast – we welcome proposals for podcast presentations, podcast interviews with innovators in the field or podcast discussions between innovators in the field.
  • Text presentations – we will accept a very limited number of text presentations, but we greatly prefer presentations that incorporate audio and video.
In addition to developing a presentation, presenters must also make themselves available via AOL Instant Messenger (AIM) for questions from students for one-hour during the week their presentation is shown.

All presentations will be made available under an Attribution-NonCommercial- ShareAlike 2.5 License.

Format of Proposal: 250 – 500 words, written. Proposals are a way for the review team to assess your contribution quickly. Please do not submit full presentations.

Proposals should include the following:

  • Full name of presenter
  • E-mail address of presenter
  • Web-site and/or blog URL of presenter
  • IM screenname(s)
  • Institutional affiliation
  • Brief biographical information (under 150 words)
  • Include same personal information as above for any additional presenters after the lead presenter (if applicable)
  • Presentation title
  • Format(s) you are willing to present in (if you are flexible about the format you are willing to present in, please note that)
    Presentation Abstract (250 – 500 words)
Proposals must be submitted by September 22, 2006 via e-mail to sociallibrary@gmail.com. Any questions about the CFP process can be addressed to the Planning Committee at sociallibrary@gmail.com.

Proposal Review: Proposals will be reviewed by the planning committee.

Planning Committee:

  • Michelle Boule
  • Karen Coombs
  • Amanda Etches-Johnson
  • Meredith Farkas
  • Ellyssa Kroski
  • Dorothea Salo
Key Dates:
  • Deadline for Proposals: Friday, September 22, 2006.
  • Notification of Acceptance: October 1, 2006.

August 10, 2006

Conference Report: ASEE Engineering Libraries Division - Chicago June 2006 - by Susan Salo

.: With her permission, I am happy to present Susan Salo's report from the ASEE Conference in Chicago in June 2006. Susan is a CISTI Information Specialist and is Head of the NRC Information Centre in London ON, and is a member of the Engineering Libraries Division of ASEE.

Conference Report : American Society for Engineering Education, Engineering Librarians Division, Chicago, June 18 – 21, 2006
Susan Salo, NIS, NIC London

ASEE Main Plenary, Advancing Education: Launching a Year of Dialogue
Not unique to the librarians division, this panel session was set up to launch a dialogue on key issues and concerns in American engineering scholarship and education.
Key points of interest (not political):
Promotion of K-12 engineering is and should be occurring
ASEE is sponsoring its 5th Global Colloquium for Engineering
Teachers are getting out into industry and virtually having coop terms; the faculty are learning to be engineers

Get Acquainted Session
I found myself deep in a discussion on library assessment. Some things that came up:
(University of New Mexico) During a particular assessment project they had great support from the University management, the Regent(s) showed up, other very important people provided support and funds during the planning phase. However, during the assessment phase, they only had 4 people volunteer to participate.
(Colorado School of Mines) Same complaints on a regular basis over the years: printers, weak collection, hours.
(Penn State) They tried giving questionnaires to every fifth person who logged in. They were successful with a one-minute questionnaire given to people as they were leaving the library.
(Missouri-Rolla) Bring in a consultant.
(MIT) 1.5 hour student interviews
(Texas A&M) They did usability studies. Problem: Pre-tested on grads, then found out undergrads did things very differently

Taking Back What is Ours
Charles Steele, Professor Emeritus, Stanford: Experience with an alternate engineering general
Was the editor of the International Journal of Solids and Structures, a Pergamon title, then an Elsevier title, with a price tag of $7,000. He decided to go on a search for a new publisher.
Elsevier pricing is generally twice as high as other major publishers and when Elsevier takes over a title from another publisher the average price increase is 26%.
He talked to Highwire Press, SPARC, Sage, World Scientific, Duke, Cambridge University Press and finally, Mathematical Sciences Press.
Result: Journal of Mechanics of Materials and Structures, $500/year
High quality, no page charge to author, color pages encouraged, free universal back access, support for additional, optional, non-print material, downloadable pdf files with full links, license to publish model, low subscription price
Rob Kirby, mathscipub.org
Publisher is a non-profit California organization run by journal editors and a math librarian. Publish at 15 cents per page hard copy, 10 cents per page electronic. In comparison, IEEE publishes at 80 cents per page
It was noted by Mel DeSart (U. Washington) that only one-quarter, to one-third of scientists know the price of their favourite journal. An IEEE rep noted their prices were about a third of Elsevier’s, with notable exceptions of course where the difference was greater.
It was noted of course, that when typesetting disappeared, there was no decrease in price.

Engineering Librarianship 101: Mastering the Craft
Bob Schwarzwalder
Anita Colby
Deborah Kegel

Key Points
As a mentee: Don’t go where you don’t want to go; don’t believe for a minute that this place can’t be all that different (It is!); Have the confidence not to be put off.
As a mentor: One of the most important things you can do is help with introductions – who can help, who to avoid, facilitate e-mentoring (best list-serves, good threads, where to post, etiquette)
Keep up with new tricks – skyping, blogging, text abbreviations, RSS
Libraries stagnate when they accept current practice, don’t innovate, don’t spend time with users, don’t take risk; libraries succeed when they question the status quo, connect with users, integrate instruction, act as a centre of innovation
Real needs, Low cost, Scaleable Programs
Develop a scaleable pilot as a “demonstrable”
Leverage these programs to get funding using the pilot as proof of concept, to win key constituencies
If necessary be willing to abandon control of the effort to some other authority
How do we get our clients to use materials that aren’t on the web? Desktop delivery
(There was a lot of talk about who was paying for it, and such. No talk of copyright. That’s OK for the articles since it was UC San Diego, but they were talking about desktop delivery of theses as well. I didn’t think of this at the time or I would have asked.)

Staying Relevant to Our Users: How New Technologies are Redefining the Role of the (Engineering) Librarian
Darcy Duke: Moderator
MIT libraries received a letter from the MIT graduate students with 10 demands
Is this what we’ve come to? And yes, they were taken seriously.

GIS in the Realm of Engineering and Science Librarianship Anne Graham, Civil and Environmental Eng Librarian, MIT As GIS Liaison librarian, she was given 5 hours a week to explore GIS needs. There were 8 departments using the software. Year one, she worked with experts to learn the software. Year two, she prepared and taught 2 classes using the specialized software. The library now houses the GIS lab. It takes many people to make the model run as such. Equipment is still purchased by the techie group. The software is complex and non-intuitive. Eight different workshops are provided.

A Systems Approach to Designing a Customized Information Delivery System
Amy Van Epps, Purdue University
University librarians are relevant to their faculty through teaching about library resources as guest lecturers, having content integrated into student assignments or teaching collaboratively. We can assist in guiding the researchers search, and perform mining/analysis of the literature. But what about being part of the research team, customizing information interfaces, librarians as co-PI’s.
At Purdue, librarians became involved with two interdisciplinary projects: a Health Information System and a Distributed Institutional Repository.
A goal is being “in the users’ space”. For researchers this means different technologies and different levels of needs. For librarian it is using technology to be relevant to users in their space.

Librarian 2.0 Using New Technologies
Michael Stephens, St. Joseph Public Library, South Bend Indiana
• Using Social Sites on the Internet - the web as a platform for harnessing and collecting intelligence.
• Commonalities of 2.0 Tools – Open, participatory, tags, comments, RSS Feeds, Access and API, Memes and Discussion
• Weblogs – organized chronologically, can be updated regularly, can provide to an RSS feed, create a “What’ New” blog for programs or materials
• Podcasts – Enhances library web presence with multimedia, can be time-consuming to create
• RSS – Create content in one place and display it by subscription (free) in another
• Chat
• Wiki’s
• Flickr (Image Sharing) http://www.flickr.com
• Millenials are nomadic and format agnostic

Assessment of Information Literacy/Fluency
Linda Musser , moderator
There were three speakers on this topic, but they kept relating everything to ABET (The US Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology). Any points of interest follow:
Definition A: Information Literacy: the fusion or integration of library literacy, computer literacy, media literacy, technological literacy, critical thinking, ethics and communication skills.
Definition B: Information Literacy encompasses knowledge of one’s information concern’s and needs, and the ability to identify, locate, evaluate, organize and effectively create, use and communicate information to address issues or problems at hand: it is a prerequisite for participating effectively in the Information Society, and is part of the basic human right of life long learning. US National Commission on Library and Information Science, 2003
The term Information Fluency may be preferred as it reflect the process of acquiring a proficiency by degrees, as part of an ongoing process, where “fluency” is relative to the context in which performance occurs
Effective research assignments
• Originate from subject matter
• Show the purpose and benefit of the research
• Emphasizes analysis over answers
• Assists with planning of research
• Is progressive with opportunity for feedback at stages
• Discusses the process itself
• Project/portfolio assessment at various stages
• Interviews
• Observation and monitoring
• Surveys

Forum on Collaborative Information Literacy Programs
Angie Locklear, moderator

The Literate Engineer: Infusing Information Literacy Throughout the Engineering Curriculum

Lisa G. Bullard and Honor N. Ekridge, North Carolina State University
Freshman students get training and exercises on the library web site (catalog, key databases, citation searching)
Chemical engineering students in their sophomore year select a chemical and provide basic physical properties, industrial applications, toxicity data, environmental hazards, manufacturers, demand/sales and unit pricing.
Senior year for their capstone design project they create a research map based on: scope of project, books, journals, internet resources, engineering standards, patents,
Unfortunately, this program is too new to evaluate its effectiveness.

Integrating Information Literacy Concepts into an Upper Level Biomedical Engineering Design Course
Christine Drew, Worcester Polytechnic Institute
Provided library instruction labs within the biomedical design course. Very hands-on.
Goals were to find background info and choose keywords, understand info venues and
Resource types, search USPTO, identify and search key databases, understand how to obtain full-text and learn that reference librarians can assist them.
Seventeen (of 50) agreed or strongly agreed that the library help their project. Twenty-four felt the course improved their research skills.
(There were two more speakers but along the same line.) However one had a few interesting participant comments:
• Only used google prior to training and never did Boolean searches. I knew it existed but I always assumed that eventually I’d find what I wanted
• Learning to use specific searches and creating advances searches has helped me write class papers. I wish I’d taken this class sooner.
• I had no idea databases like EI Compendex existed
• Course has improved my catalogue searching too

Poster: Integrating Outreach, Collaboration, and Information Literacy
Eric Resmis, (now formerly of) Miami University Libraries
The Brill Science Library at Miami University wanted a unique way to promote and provide an orientation to their library. They chose to use the theme started by the University Center for Russian and Post-Soviet Studies: The Silk Road. It was a campus wide initiative, so in fact, it provided external support and funding. There was required attendance for first year engineering students at the event.
• Form an event working group/committee
• Create clear goals/objectives
• Obtain funding (in the University case, look for grants from University Centres)
• Pick a date (suggest later in the semester/quarter than other orientations)
• Create a session plan
o Denote layout of event
o Include information literacy learning objectives
o Provides learning objectives for attendees
o Defines process until event day
• Partnerships
o Faculty for students to attend
o Departments to provide materials, displays
o Other universities entities (greenhouses for plants)
o Funding source (extra publicity)
• Devise methods to bring attendees in
o Extra credit, food, Prizes
• Publicize
o Create a blog/wiki, campus newspapers, calendar, website, posters, advertisements
• Assessments
o What was learned?
o Did we reach our goals?

Another interesting poster (Here is the abstract. Unfortunately, I can’t read the tables or much else from the PowerPoint copy, and of course, its all statistics which I didn’t write down)
Eastern Michigan University
Google Scholar: How Useful is it In Finding Information in Engineering?

Google Scholar, Web of Science and Scopus were used to find engineering information.
The three databases were searched from 1/1/96 to 11/22/05 for results on the following topics: aerospace engineering, biomedical eng, chemical eng, civil eng, electrical eng, industrial eng, and mechanical eng. The first 50 record results were analyzed as to type of resource and date and showed that Google Scholar compares favourably with Scopus and Web of Science, but varies as to date coverage and type of resource listed.

August 9, 2006

Worldcat.org Opens Up Access To The World

.: OCLC has announced the release of WorldCat.org, featuring 1.3 billion items from over 10,000 libraries worldwide. From the OCLC site:

This site—and a downloadable WorldCat search box you can easily add to your Web site—opens the complete WorldCat database to the public, not just the smaller data subsets utilized by Open WorldCat partner sites such as Google, Yahoo! Search and others. WorldCat.org builds on the success of OCLC’s Open WorldCat Program that has elevated the visibility of library materials on the open Web since the summer of 2003.
The key feature is the WorldCat search box, which can be downloaded and installed on any site:
The main attraction of the new site is the WorldCat search box. Web users can now search the entire WorldCat database with the method most familiar to them: simple keywords. As in Open WorldCat, each linked result leads to a "Find in a Library" information page. From there, users can enter geographic information such as a zip or postal code, receive a list of nearby libraries that own the item, and link right to a library's online catalog record to initiate circulation activity or access electronic content directly. Users can also create their own WorldCat account and add book reviews, table-of-contents information and notes to many WorldCat items, helping to personalize their library search experience.

August 8, 2006

The Four Evolutionary Stages of Nanotechnology

.: Very interesting column from the August 2006 issue of Scientific American, called "Nanotechnology's Future: Over the next two decades, this new field for controlling the properties of matter will rise to prominence through four evolutionary stages", By Mihail C. Roco, "...senior adviser for nanotechnology to the National Science Foundation and a key architect of the National Nanotechnology Initiative." Dr Roco expands on the following "four overlapping stages of industrial prototyping and early commercialization", concluding that by 2020, nanotechnology will benefit all industrial sectors and health care fields.

  1. The first one, which began after 2000, involves the development of passive nanostructures: materials with steady structures and functions, often used as parts of a product.
  2. The second stage, which began in 2005, focuses on active nanostructures that change their size, shape, conductivity or other properties during use.
  3. Starting around 2010, workers will cultivate expertise with systems of nanostructures, directing large numbers of intricate components to specified ends
  4. After 2015-2020, the field will expand to include molecular nanosystems--heterogeneous networks in which molecules and supramolecular structures serve as distinct devices
Worth the quick read.

August 2, 2006

SAE and Digital Rights Management - Commentary by Larry Thompson, Virginia Tech

.: What follows is a commentary by Larry Thompson, Engineering Librarian at Virginia Tech, regarding the sever restrictions SAE is imposing on accessing its Digital Library. This is especially frustrating for those who have subscribed to the hard copy of the SAE Handbook, no longer available in print, requiring subscribers to either purchase online access to the Ground Vehicle J-Standards, or buy it on CD-ROM. CD-ROM? That is SO last century. Seriously, I have zero interest in buying reference tools in CD-ROM anymore, it's not a sustainable media, requires maintenance and updating, and unless networked, restricts the user to a single station. Completely ineffective in 2006. My take on this is that SAE has little interest in its educational and institutional customers, suchg as academic libraries. This is unfortunate, because it is we who are teaching SAE's future customers. - Randy

Larry Thompson writes:

During the past few months the new SAE DRM has caused me some concern. I've been peppering SAE with questions, and I think I've gotten the final word on most of the issues, although some are still hanging.

I have attached documents explaining the SAE position, which SAE has said are OK to release.

A conference call between librarians and SAE took place on June 20th. I was supposed to take part in the call, but wasn't available because I was at the ASEE conference. I was given a transcript of the conversation, although I don't include it here because SAE asked me not to release it.

I can say that many of the issues I was concerned with were raised by librarians during the call, such as:

  • the difference in research methodology between corporate and academic users
  • the annoyance of not being able to save SAE documents to a computer; online access is necessary to view
  • the difficulty, or impossibility, some institutions have of excluding walk-in traffic from accessing SAE
  • the concern about the license with respect to limits on the number of downloads
Here at Virginia Tech, our license will come up for renewal in October, and we're beginning to wrestle with what to do.

Do we want to spend thousands of dollars on digital format papers that users can't save to their computers? The professor who wants to read an SAE paper while jetting to Europe for a conference will need to print out the paper. He can't save it and read it on his laptop. If one publisher does this, it may not be too bad. But what if every publisher adopts this policy, and the professor wants to take 50 papers to read during the flights? It quickly becomes burdensome.

Do we want to pay roughly double the cost for a corporate license, in order to legally cover the walk-ins who might use the product, because as a land-grant university our library computers are open to the public? Many other publishers have a clause in their licenses which gives walk-ins access to material. SAE has chosen to take the opposite approach, and say that if you can't guarantee that walk-ins will be excluded, then you should get the higher priced corporate license.

Do we want to go through the hassle of loading the plug-in on computers? It's not just the ones in the library, but it will be necessary for every computer in every lab in the university that the engineering students might use. We'll also need to get the engineering faculty machines updated.

I'm still waiting to see what's happening with the SAE CD-ROM product. Up until 2002 we used that, and were quite happy with it. I was told that the CD would use something called Hexalock for DRM. I don't know what this is, or how restrictive it is.

One other observation. Elsevier tried this same technology a while back with their reference collection, and got so many complaints that they abandoned the idea. Why is it that Elsevier "gets it", and SAE doesn't? And, if SAE succeeds in implementing it with not much objection from libraries, will Elsevier (and others) be looking at the possibility of implementing the same thing?

Have fun.

Larry Thompson 540-231-8693 (Voice)
Engineering Librarian 540-231-7808 (Fax)
Virginia Tech larrytATvt.edu

The documents of which Larry writes are: