December 6, 2006

ACM Computing Reviews Launches Blog

.: From an e-mail circulating about:

Computing Reviews has launched a blog. We invite you to take a look:

The blog lets you know about the latest Computing Reviews news. Here, you can find out about new features on the site, featured reviewers, the latest Hot Topics essay (and sneak peaks of those to come), conferences, and more. We also want to spotlight the computing community and link to your news and sites. So please send your latest our way - use comments, trackbacks or even email us! Contact Mary-Lynn Bragg of at We are looking forward to hearing from you!

June 21, 2006


.: It's been two weeks since the last post. I was in Baltimore for SLA, and spent a few days there afterwards, visiting DC and Annapolis. I returned to Edmonton on June 18th.

The pace of dealing with two concurrent jobs is consuming much of my time these days, so I will be taking a brief respite from posting on STLQ until further notice. You may see posts from other STLQ contributors in the meantime. Thanks to all who continue to read and support this blog. - Randy

April 12, 2006

Chemical & Engineering News Blogs ACS Meeting

"C&EN reporters attending the ACS national meeting in Atlanta last week ... filed a series of lively blog entries that appear exclusively on C&EN Online. " C&EN April 3, 2006 [Editor's Page] p.5 [subscription required]

March 3, 2006

Open Access Authoring@Caltech: OA Advocacy Without Attitude

Open Access Authoring @ Caltech is a new venue with a new strategy for communicating observed Open Access behaviors by campus researchers to campus researchers.

Have you ever noticed that advocacy is a concept fraught with potential conflict? Advocacy routinely involves pushing for change, not merely hinting or suggesting. Pushing is a strategy which is most usefully employed by those with a strength or elevation advantage. Sisyphus is a classic(al) example of lacking the strategic elevation advantage.

Campus politics is an intensely local game and is, in all respects, intense. Libraries and librarians are rarely power players in this realm. Advocacy, as such, "you should do thus and so..." will need to have resonance, momentum, the height advantage, to have any real impact. A documentary blog, asserting observed items of fact, may help to create momentum.

Continue reading "Open Access Authoring@Caltech: OA Advocacy Without Attitude" »

November 2, 2005

Students Using Blogs

.: Interesting short piece from News in Science, 2 Sept 2005 on use of blogs by students. Excerpt:

Blogging is helping students to think and write more critically, says an Australian researcher, and can help draw out people who would otherwise not engage in debate.

These are the preliminary findings of PhD research by Anne Bartlett-Bragg, a lecturer at the University of Technology, Sydney, who has been using weblogs or blogs in her own teaching since 2001.

"[The students] are thinking more critically," she says. "They are learning to be responsible and they're communicating outside the boundaries of the classroom and the institution, and they like that."

Since the fall of 2003, I have been introducing blogs as project managmenet tools as part of my information and research skills sessions offered to design students in chemical, materials and mechanical engineering. To date, quite a few student design groups, usually with four members, have made good use of blogs in this way.

October 26, 2005

Scientists and Blogging

.: Interesting column from a couple months back in The Scientist. In The Power of the Blog, Author David Secko looks at blogging in the scientific world, and asks, "Few scientists have caught on to the Internet's power of posting, commenting, and debating – where are the rest?" Excerpt:

Blogs aren't all about business opportunities; some academic researchers find a haven in them as well. "I get a lot of ideas and feel I'm at the edge of science news [because of blogs]," says Michael Imbeault, a virology PhD student at the CHUL Research Center in Quebec. Imbeault formerly ran The Scientist Blog (not related to The Scientist magazine) and now manages BiologyNewsNet. Tyrelle says that his blog also helps him sort out overflowing biological information, helping him think through its relevance to his research in the process.

Kevin Kubarych agrees, but also considers blogs a better way to use information in the lab. "As a collaboration tool it's absolutely prefect," says Kubarych, who runs The Plexus blog and will soon join the chemistry department at the University of Michigan as an assistant professor. "I expect to have a blog in my new group where we can have a collective conciseness," says Kubarych, "so when someone leaves, their work is still there in the blog."

As more academics pick up blogs, scientific publishing may also change. Not only can you bypass traditional publishing with a blog, but also tools are becoming available to better organize information. One example is Connotea, which turns PubMed and numerous journals into a social environment where researchers can organize and comment on references together, says Ben Lund, a scientist who helped design the site at Nature Publishing Group.

My thanks to Rafael Sidi for this information.

July 29, 2005

Christina Pikas on Using Blogs for Information Management

:: Christina Pikas is a Research Librarian at the R.E. Gibson Library and Information Center, Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory, Laurel Maryland, and a fellow scitech library blogger. On June 29, 2005, as part of the Emerging Information Technologies Lecture Series at the Welch Medical Library at JHU, she presented the lecture Using Blogs for Information Management.

In her presentation, Christina used screenshots from STLQ to highlight standard weblog and individual blog post components and characteristics. (Thank you, Christina!) In addition to her lecture handout and lecture slides, you can watch a video of her 30-minute presentation. Together with the handouts, this is a nice package to offer someone who wants a detailed but concise introduction to using blogs for managing information. Christina's post on her presentation is here.

April 25, 2005

Comment Problems

:: I've learned today that the comment function on my blogs isn't working. Comments can be submitted successfully, but never reach the site for approval. I'm working to repair the problem asap. My apologies to those who have posted messages and may have thought I was late to approve them, or was deleting them.

April 19, 2005

Village Voice on Academia and Blogging

:: Interesting article in the April 12th Village Voice, called PH.Dotcom: What if professors could lecture 24-7? Blog culture invades academia:

Imagine if the great thinkers of the past could have blogged, bouncing ideas off each other in real time, engaging in rapid-fire debates across borders. Would it have led to some kind of intellectual utopia, or total chaos? Would we be regaled with post after post from Adorno complaining about what he had for lunch that day?

Even if Blogger and Movable Type had existed back then, Adorno still might not have blogged about anything at all. Despite the ongoing media blitz about blogging, and the eye-popping stats—according to a recent report from the Pew Internet & American Life Project, 7 percent of the 120 million U.S. adults who use the Internet said they have created a blog or Web-based diary, and blog readership jumped by 58 percent in 2004—the majority of professors and academic types still don't have blogs. Academic bloggers are increasing in number, but they're still a distinct minority.

Certainly blogs have moved into academia, but what interests me is the use, by students, of blogs for project management.

April 7, 2005

Weblogs: Their Use and Application In Science and Technology Libraries - Article Available

:: I have uploaded the article co-authored with Geoff Harder, "Weblogs: Their Use and Application In Science and Technology Libraries". The pdf version is here. The article has also been added to the category, "Articles and Presentations", in the right hand column of STLQ.

Please note that Haworth allows for preprint distribution rights, "including posting as electronic files on the contributor’s own Web site for personal or professional use, or on the contributor’s internal university/corporate intranet or network, or other external Web site at the contributor’s university or institution, but not for either commercial (for-profit) or document delivery systems." (Full details here.)

April 6, 2005

Weblogs: Their Use and Application In Science and Technology Libraries

:: I am pleased to report the publication of an article1 co-authored by your humble correspondent and the amazing Geoff Harder, my friend and colleague (on the other side of the wall). The article, "Weblogs: Their Use and Application in Science and Technology Libraries", briefly covers the history of blogs and considers how they can be put to good use in the science and technology library setting:

Weblogs, or blogs, emerged in the late 1990s on the Web, quickly becoming a new way to communicate ideas, opinions, resources and news. Since that time, the community of blogs has grown to encompass specific subject areas of study and research. This article briefly discusses the history and background of blogs, including blogging software. Literature searches suggest very little has been published on subject-specific blogs in scientific and technical publications. Applications in science and technology librarianship are discussed, including team and project management, reference work, current awareness, and the librarian as blog mentor for students.
Please note that my work e-mail address listed in the article and on the Haworth web site is incorrect, and should read

1. Reichardt, Randy and Geoffrey Harder. 2005. "Weblogs: Their Use and Application in Science and Technology Libraries." Science & Technology Libraries, 25(3), p105-116.

April 5, 2005

Revisiting The Blog People

:: Jessamyn West links to the editorial and letters in the latest Library Journal, written in response to the Michael Gorman's vicious attack on weblogs in the previous issue, "hopefully putting it to bed once and for all". I don't think it's going to go away that quickly.

:: Also of note: Walt Crawford has come over to the dark side, and is now blogging. Check out Walt at Random.

March 24, 2005

Engineering Students and Weblogs

:: I've written previously about working with engineering design students (in mechanical, chemical, materials engineering classes) by helping them create weblogs to use for project management. The students are working in groups of four, and I've helped a number of groups set up weblogs for this purpose. My campus doesn't yet support weblogs as a teaching tool, so each one must be set up individually.

The process I developed was somewhat tedious, involving setting up a blog on Blogger, moving it to the U of A server on one of the students' accounts, and then showing them how to uploaded documents, create posts, etc. Rewarding work, despite the time consumption.

Continue reading "Engineering Students and Weblogs" »

March 17, 2005

State of the Blogosphere March 2005

:: Via Rafael's site, a link to David Sifry's "State of The Blogosphere, March 2005, Part 1: Growth of Blogs". He reports that Technorati is tracking >7.8 million blogs and 937 million links. The Technorati site today lists 7,926,598 weblogs watched, and 950,105,944 links tracked. The blogosphere has increased in size 16 times in the past 20 months, and ~30,000 - 40,000 new blogs are being created daily. It's not all good, Sifry reports, as part of the growth can be attributed to spam blogs.

March 5, 2005

A Thoughtful Response to Michael Gorman

:: As previously noted, Michael Gorman is receiving considerable, and frankly, well-deserved criticism for his Library Journal column, Revenge of the Blog People. Feedback is coming from not only librarians, but those outside the field. This response to Gorman's column in the LA Times and his LJ column, by non-librarian CJ Nieman in LA, is one of the best I've read yet. It is thoughtful and articulate, and I encourage you to read the complete post, Nieman writes:

Digital books will never be a perfect substitute for real books, but they can complement each other. No one is suggesting replacing one with the other.

Michael Gorman needs to trust readers to know how to read a book the way they see fit, and not worry about how the book is presented.

He was heavily criticized online for his views, and he wrote a response titled "Revenge of the Blog People!" In the piece, Gorman dismissed his detractors, many of whom were bloggers who characterized him as a Luddite. He also makes several subtle insults at blogging culture and those he believes are obsessed with technology.

The reason Gorman's opinions have a slightly musty odor to them -- something that smells of technophobia -- is because he believes advocates of digital libraries, such as Google, want electronic media to "supplant and obliterate all previous forms," according to his Los Angeles Times article.

His comments are deeply rooted in his profession as a librarian.

I'm not knocking the trade -- I have a lot of respect for librarians as patrons of literature. They have an admirable and often thankless job.

But his suggestion that Google and others like them want to replace brick-and-mortar libraries is the sound of an alarmist.

I'm not an apologist for technology -- I may have a degree in Management Information Systems, but my difference with Gorman is in how information is used, not in what mode it is delivered.

Gorman should remember that the book itself is a technology -- and it remains the greatest technology in human history.

So I chose to make remarks here in a blog -- another technology -- because I think of a blog as another way to deliver information efficiently, nothing more, nothing less.

LIS News has gathered together some of the responses to Gorman's column.

March 3, 2005

Engineering Resources: The New Weblog from Hagerty Library at Drexel University

:: Congrats to Jay Bhatt and Andy Wheeler of Hagerty Library at Drexel, on the creation of the new blog, "Engineering Resources":

An informative blog that lists new print and electronic resources available from the Hagerty Library at Drexel University. It will also include new and useful web resources on engineering information retrieval.

February 27, 2005

ALA President-Elect Michael Gorman Slams "The Blog People"

:: Michael Gorman, Dean of Library Services at the Henry Madden Library, California State University, Fresno, President-Elect of the American Library Association, and considered by many to be a leader in our profession, is taking a beating online for his Library Journal column, Revenge of the Blog People. The column begins with (and maintains throughout) a condescending tone, as he writes:

A blog is a species of interactive electronic diary by means of which the unpublishable, untrammeled by editors or the rules of grammar, can communicate their thoughts via the web. (Though it sounds like something you would find stuck in a drain, the ugly neologism blog is a contraction of "web log.") Until recently, I had not spent much time thinking about blogs or Blog People.

Ostensibly, Gorman's column is a response to criticism leveled at him by bloggers for an op-ed piece he wrote for the LA Times ("Google and God's Mind," December 17, 2004), in which he questions "the usefulness of Google digitizing millions of books and making bits of them available via its notoriously inefficient search engine." However, he also chose to use his column to condemn anyone who dares to blog:

It is obvious that the Blog People read what they want to read rather than what is in front of them and judge me to be wrong on the basis of what they think rather than what I actually wrote. Given the quality of the writing in the blogs I have seen, I doubt that many of the Blog People are in the habit of sustained reading of complex texts. It is entirely possible that their intellectual needs are met by an accumulation of random facts and paragraphs. In that case, their rejection of my view is quite understandable.
I do not recall ever reading something so hard-edged and mean-spirited in its dismissal of a new, exciting movement, There is little point in defending Weblog Nation, or the many diverse applications of weblogs being utilized in libraries today. In my library system, at least fourteen blogs are used for applications including dissemination of library news, project management, e-journal maintenance, software working groups, digital projects, management of our knowledge common, and more. My guess is that none of the participants consider him- or herself a charter member of The Blog People. The weblog, for what it's worth, has provided a new way for rapid distribution and exchange of diverse ideas, new ways to communicate, to share information and opinion, and create communities of like-minded librarians interested in sharing their knowledge and experiences with others. (As an engineering librarian, I introduced the weblog as a project management tool in 2004 to a number of engineering design classes in which I teach sessions on library and information resources, and continue to do so this term.)

The larger concern, however, is that he is the next leader of the largest library association on the planet, which means he is moving into a position of major influence in the profession. On his website, he stresses that he hopes to be "an effective advocate for our shared values and a leader who can help the association to seize its opportunities and rise to its challenges." In acknowledging his adamant disdain for weblogs and those who create them, I wonder how he plans to accomplish this without alienating a growing population of intelligent, articulate, and passionate librarians, committed to their profession, and who are already among the converted. I also wonder, what about younger librarians, those new to the profession or about to enter it, what might their reactions be to the dismissal, by one of its noteworthy leaders, of a relatively new but growing component of librarianship?

Of note, Jessamyn West reports that Gorman has since indicated his column was intended to be satirical, but does state that he is not a fan of blogs, and notes that he has "an old fashioned belief that, if one wishes to air one's views and be taken seriously, one should go through the publishing/editing process." Times have changed. That process still exists, and must continue to do so, but it should not be the only way to air one's views and be "taken seriously."

One of my favorite of many responses to Gorman's column appeared on library_grrls:"Despite the fact that this is indeed a satirical piece, I resent being compared to a B movie." Imagine the sequels... The Blog People vs Larry Flynt. 24 Hour Blog People. Ordinary Blog People. The Blog People That Time Forgot. Darby O'Gill and The Little Blog People. The Curse of the Blog People. Games Blog People Play. An Enemy of the Blog People. Where Have All the Blog People Gone? Blog People Who Die Mysteriously In Their Sleep. I Like To Hurt Blog People. Blog People Hate Me and They Hate My Glasses. The Best of the Village Blog People. All Power to the Blog People. Let My Blog People Live. Man of the Blog People. The 7 Habits of Highly Effective Blog People. Blog People are Dead. We The Blog People. The War of the Six Million Blog People. OK, enough. Thanks, IMDb.

Jessamyn, who supported Gorman for the ALA Presidency, wrote the following in his website guestbook:"Lovely website, have you considered a blog?" My guess is, no. Then again, who knows?

February 1, 2005

RealClimate - Climate Scientists Use The Blog

:: RealClimate is new blog, launched in December 2004 by a group of concerned climate scientists, which describes it as a commentary site:

RealClimate is a commentary site on climate science by working climate scientists for the interested public and journalists. We aim to provide a quick response to developing stories and provide the context sometimes missing in mainstream commentary. The discussion here is restricted to scientific topics and will not get involved in any political or economic implications of the science.
Nine scientists contribute to the blog - er - commentary site, and do so of their own volition, as expressed in this note on the page:
The contributors to this site do so in a personal capacity during their spare time and their posts do not represent the views of the organizations for which they work. The contributors are solely responsible for the content of the site and receive no remuneration for their contributions.
RealClimate was covered in Nature, v432, n7020, December 2004. In the editorial, "Welcome climate bloggers: A group of just nine climate scientists is trying to change the media coverage of their discipline. Thanks to an ongoing revolution in electronic news, they might just succeed", the Nature applauds the group for using the blog format as a means to provide quick rebuttals to groups such as think tanks, who consistently downplay the concerns of global warming. The contributors must use caution, however, not to oversell their own opinions on issues which divide scientists. In other words, the editorial concludes:
The site needs to balance speed with objectivity, readability and accuracy. That’s no mean feat. Fail, and the blog will be dismissed as no more trustworthy than the myriad lobbying groups already writing on climate.But if the site’s founders pull it off, they could change the coverage of climate change for the better. Good luck to them.
Another article in the same issue of Nature, "Climatologists get real over global warming", by Jim Giles, repeats the concern for caution mentioned in the editorial. Will the site begin to appear as a "party line", and what of the peer-review process, absent from the comments posted? Another concern raised is, will respected scientists who disagree with global warming concerns be able to join the group? As for the absence of the peer-review process, of the site's founders, Gavin Schmidt of NASA’s Goddard Institute for Space Studies in New York notes "that postings are not academic papers and so do not need full peer review. Comments are instead e-mailed to researchers contributing to the site, and their suggestions are incorporated before the piece is uploaded." Peer-review was address on RealClimate in two posts: Peer Review: A Necessary But Not Sufficient Condition, and in a followup post. Check both posts, and note that each post includes references to peer-reviewed journals. Very cool. I do not recall seeing a blog post which included references. Also of interest, check out selected posts, all of which are open to comments (which will allow dissenters to opine at will); note that many of the comments include a response in the same comment from one or more site contributors - again, a novel approach.

I am not a scientist or engineer (and I don't play one on tv either), so cannot comment on the scientific content of the posts on RealClimate. Nonetheless, it is interesting and encouraging to see scientists seize upon the blog and use it as a means for rapid communication and exchange of ideas. How long will it take for more blogs with a solid scholarly foundation to appear?

January 4, 2005

The ACM Reports on Blogging

:: The December 2004, v47 n12, Communications of the ACM was a special issue devoted to "The Blogosphere." From the introduction by Andrew Rosenbloom:

Weblogs are a relatively new form of mainstream personal communication, like instant messaging, email, cell phones, and Web pages. They're also a new voice for traditional mass-market newspapers, magazines, and broadcasters.

A blogger needs only a computer, Internet access, and an opinion. It also helps to have a personal obsession and total confidence in your own voice. In need of someone else's opinion, the options are equally open ended.

Less than 10 years ago, practically all media was still a one-way street. Then early self-published online journals, or Weblogs, began to let bloggers bypass the corporate media gatekeepers to say and show practically anything they could think of to tens of millions of computer users around the world. Having to please no one but themselves, these bloggers began enthusiastically linking and cross-linking to and referencing one another's sites and commentaries. These links drove development of blog technology, as well as user curiosity and ultimately creation of the worldwide blogosphere. In contrast, today's generation of bloggers mainly wants to be heard or seen—instantly, throughout the Internet—even as they tend to ignore everything else.

The issue features five articles on blogging, covering stucture and evolution, semantic blogging, reasons why people blog, the impact of blogs on the online community, and how blogs contribute to filtering of information, and what the consequences might be in a democratic society.

October 26, 2004

Blogs In Design Engineering Classes

:: We haven't posted for a few days. Geoff and I attended Netspeed 2004, where Geoff and James Rout of The Banff Centre presented an excellent session on RSS. Geoff also took "rough notes" from some of the sessions he attended, which are available for viewing on his web site.

Yesterday I presented a session on information resources in chemical engineering for students in the fourth-year chemical engineering design class. As with my October 12th presentation to the fourth-year mechanical engineering design class, I took a few moments to mention blogs as a project management tool.

Since the Oct 12 class, four groups approached me for help setting up a blog for each, and all are making good use of them. After my chem eng presentation, I helped one group set up their blog, and another is meeting with me today.

Unlike other schools such as U Minn or Harvard, we have no campus-wide support for blogs as instructional technology. We are fortunate to have a campus-wide support unit called Academic Technologies for Learning, who work with instructors to develop best practice teaching and learning environments. ATL is aware that some instructors are incorporating blogs into their teaching, and is in the preliminary stages of addressing the need for campus-wide support.

With no blog support at the University of Alberta, students can be directed to Blogger. What I am doing is taking it one step further. Blogger offers the option of hosting the blog on your own server space. I am suggesting to students that one of the group members hosts the blog on her or his server space, provided by the U of A to all students and staff. One benefit locally is that the blog can be password protected, permitting only team members, and anyone else so designated, to have access to and/or post to the blog.

I provide the information necessary to do this, to each group. Last year, when I set up blogs for the mech eng class, it wasn't too difficult. Changes in programs used to access and maintain Unix accounts have made the process more complicated, so much so that I realized I needed to create my own cheat sheet, still in draft form to this day.

That said, the rewards of helping set up blogs for group project management outweigh the time it takes to set each one up. The students are grateful for the support, and see the immediate benefits of using a blog to manage their work: less e-mails, text messaging, phone calls, scheduled meetings, which saves time to work on their designs. In addition, the blog lets them upload and store critical links and documents to one location.

Another challenge for me, and any librarian who chooses to provide such support, is time management. More on that later, if warranted.

September 18, 2004

A Weblog for Every Student?

:: Stephen Downes, via David Davies, noted in OLDaily that the University of Warwick in the UK is giving every student the option of creating their own weblog once they register. What we don't know is how or why they decided that providing every student with his or her own weblog, as mentioned by Will R. on Weblogg-ed.

In my upcoming library and research skills instruction classes in chemical and mechanical design engineering (sorry, I refuse to use or say "bibliographic instruction, or even worse, information literacy classes"), I plan to advise the students about setting up their own weblogs for use as a project management tool, as they will be working in groups of four. It would be a lot easier to set this up if our institution offered a campus-wide blogging service like Warwick or Harvard or U Minnesota.

September 13, 2004

Bloglet Problems

:: My thanks to Mary Ann Tyrrell at Michigan State U, for advising me that Bloglet was not sending updates to the 175+ STLQ subscribers. I checked the Bloglet site, and indeed, STLQ had been disabled. My apologies to everyone who subscribes to this humble blog for not catching this sooner, and I will keep a closer eye on Bloget to ensure that this doesn't happen again. Many thanks again to Mary Ann Tyrrell!

August 11, 2004

Use of Blogs in Instruction and Student-Recommended Web Resources Guide(s)

:: Gerry McKiernan, Science and Technology Librarian and Bibliographer for Mechanical Engineering, Iowa State University Library, is looking for instructional activities which make use of blogs, as well as web resource guide featuring student-recommended resources. In a recent cross-posted e-mail, he writes:

The coming Fall semester, I will be collaborating with a faculty member for a Semester Project assignment. For the project, several groups of ten students (or so) from a graduate class and an undergraduate class in different mechanical engineering courses, will be required to address and propose reasonable solutions for a real world issue.

In addition to a WebCT component for reach class, I've proposed the use of a Blog to facilitate communication and documentation among the various project participants, as the two classes will not formally meet.

In addition to a proposed Blog, I am considering the creation of a Web Guide of relevant Web resources that have been identified and recommended by the *students* (not The Librarian (Me) {:-)).

The philosophy of this approach is that as part of their training in proposing solutions to areal-world problem, students should Think Creatively and Think Critically about The Issue at Hand. Within this framework, the role of the Librarian and Instructor is to provide guidance to the students in assessing the quality/credibility/authenticity (not to prepare The Compilation of The Ten Sites).

I' d very much appreciate learning of Any and All instructional activities that have employed Blogs in information literacy initiatives in engineering/science/technology (or other disciplines)


I would also appreciate learning of examples of Student-Recommended Web Resource Guides that have been Aided and Abetted by librarians, but not Controlled primarily by The Librarian {;-)

Thanks in Advance!

Gerry McKiernan
Science and Technology Librarian and Bibliographer for Mechanical Engineering Iowa State University Library Ames IA 50011
gerrymck AT iastate DOT edu

I have thought about embedding blogs into individual courses, and am aware of at least one professor, a good friend who teaches at U Lethbridge, who uses blogs in his classes. Last year, I began suggesting to students in some of the fourth-year engineering design courses that they consider using blogs as a means of communication between design group members. In other words, pure project management. This fall, in my library and research skills instruction sessions, I will be encouraging the students to use blogs from the outset to manage their design projects, thus reducing the number of phone calls, e-mails, text messaging, and other means of communication, as they work in teams on their capstone design projects.

June 1, 2004

STS Signal, Blogging SLA

:: The v19 n1, Spring 2004, issue of STS Signal, newsletter of the Science & Technology Section of ACRL, is available.

:: Editors and writers from Information Today will be blogging SLA beginning this weekend in Nashville.

Next week is the 95th annual conference of SLA—that's the Special Libraries Association for those of you who prefer the traditional name—and several Information Today, Inc. editors and writers will be there ready to blog. The official dates are June 5-10, 2004, but the Board of Directors holds meetings both before and after the main conference. The Live from Nashville blog ( will cover as many aspects of the conference as the bloggers can handle. That would include association business meetings, conference sessions, the exhibit floor, and social events. Plus, we’ll have backup from some editors not in Nashville.

Why blog SLA? According to Tina Creguer, director, communications, ProQuest Information and Learning, “The Special Libraries Association conference is an exciting event, with news, gatherings, and an exchange of ideas that help shape the library world. The blog hastens the speed of information sharing, and we’re always enthusiastic about improving access to information.” ProQuest is sponsoring the ITI Live from Nashville blog.

I'll be attending the SLA conference, and am looking forward to the many good sessions, panels, and meetings, as well as some well-deserved downtime with a few good friends who also attend the conference.

April 8, 2004

University of Minnesota Libraries Launches UThink

:: And away they go!! University of Minnesota Libraries has officially launched UThink, the first campus-wide blogging initiative I know of to be undertaken by a library. I've been following their progress for some time and will be very anxious to hear more about the reactions they get from their user community and the best practices they discover re: the administration of such a system. Well done UML!!

January 9, 2004

Get thee to a library school!

There is no question that we need to continue to promote the strengths of our profession if we want to recruit the brightest and the best. ACRL has put together a very useful recruitment page with a number of interesting resources for both recruiters and recruitees to use. There is even a very well done streaming video on academic librarianship, Faces of a Profession@Your Library, which is available for download (requires Real Video).

Recruiting to the Profession Video (streaming file, requires RealMedia player)
Streaming video highlighting the role of academic librarians and the satisfactions to be realized in the profession. Includes interviews with academic librarians who discuss what they do and why they made their career choices. This video is also available for download as a zipped file. After downloading the file must be uncompressed and can then be played using RealPlayer.

[Found via a path of links originating with the newish blog, Beyond the Job - Professional tips for librarians: Articles, job-hunting advice, professional development opportunities, and other news and ideas on how to further your library career. Compiled by the Library Job People, Sarah Johnson and Rachel Singer Gordon.]

January 2, 2004

US Navy tries blogging for team communication

Yet another example of blogging making its way into organizational communication strategies... ScienceDaily News Release: Blog, Blog, Blog: The Navy Tests Web Logging For Team Communications

Blogging, or keeping a weblog, is often seen as a solitary effort. An individual can type frequent updates onto their log, sharing opinions or ideas with anyone with Internet access. The future of blogging could look a lot different. The Office of Naval Research and the Naval Undersea Warfare Center (NUWC) are testing out the idea that weblogs can be powerful communication tools to bring together teams of people.

The ONR and NUWC are leading a government-industry team to develop a blog as a promising new approach to speeding up the exchange of information on new defense technologies--and thereby speed up getting the technologies into the field.

The blog is one of 12 pilot programs, selected for funding from a field of 120, for demonstration through the DoD Rapid Acquisition Incentive-Net Centricity (RAI-NC) initiative. The RAI-NC, managed by the office of the Pentagon's chief information officer, aims to demonstrate processes to speed up the development of net-centric, "transformational" approaches to defense technology development and acquisition. [Blog, Blog, Blog: The Navy Tests Web Logging For Team Communications]

November 6, 2003

Using Weblogs for Library News

:: A few days ago, the University of Alberta Libraries converted its library news page to a weblog. This is a relatively new use of blogs in academic libraries, and I think it's a good one. There are dozens of library-related blogs out there, but not too many being used to distribute news and information of interest to their users. Most of them exist for purposes of sharing news of interest to other librarians (like this one.)

Georgia State University Library uses a weblog for their library news, and also has a "sub-weblog", if you will, called Science News, for the science students and faculty at GSU. For those unfamiliar with blogs, GSU provides a page called "About Our Library Blogs", with definitions and background information for the interested searcher, a brilliant move, in anticipation of those who want more info on blogs. Doug Goans and Teri Vogel, both of GSU, have written a timely article in the Nov/Dec 2003 issue of Computers In Libraries, called "Building a Home for Library News with a BLOG, about the development of the GSU Library weblogs.

A few examples of other blogs being used as a news source in a science and technology library setting include the Rowland Institute Library Blog. The blog doesn't link back to the library (odd, really), but the library supports the Rowland Institute At Harvard, as it is officially known, in its work in experimental science over a broad range of disciplines. The news blog of the Engineering Library, University of Saskatchewan, is embedded into the library's home page.

The academic scitech library blogs mentioned above are the only ones indexed in the list of 71 organizational weblogs for libraries on the DMOZ site. Are there others out there?

October 30, 2003

Using Blogs in Student Projects

:: It is becoming more evident to me that students working in groups can make good use of a blog as a project management tool. Two weeks ago I helped a 4th-year mechanical engineering student create a blog for his design project group (four students). To date, he has uploaded URLs, meeting minutes, patent links, links to companies producing devices related to their project, and more. It's a simple and effective way for the team to stay in contact with each other.

We are experimenting with an onsite reference service in the main engineering building, which began in late September. This afternoon while working in the engineering lab providing reference service, I helped three more students in the same course set up blogs for their design groups as well. We ran into some glitches, but I solved them before I left for the day. Afterwards, I considered how offering blogging assistance to students could consume large amounts of my time both in the lab, and back in my office as well. I want the students to be able to make good use of blogs as a project management tool, and therefore want to ensure that they begin using them properly by giving good instruction from the outset.

The logical step: for the University of Alberta to make the creation of blogs a one-step process by offering such a service to its students and staff. It's happening already at Harvard and MIT.

September 17, 2003

Engineers and Weblogs

:: Karen Auguston Field, Chief Editor of Design News, describes Why Every Engineer Needs a Weblog.

August 12, 2003

Using Newsblogs To Get The Word Out...Now! - SLA Chemistry Division Poster Session, June 2003

:: Teri Vogel, chemistry librarian at the William Russell Pullen Library, Georgia State University, offered a poster session on blogs in a science setting, at SLA in NYC in June, 2003. Her presentation focused on using blogs to communicate with patrons, as well as librarian colleagues working in the same subject areas. Using Newsblogs To Get The Word Out...Now! is available online with handouts and the ppt presentation. And yes, the blog in Slide 6 of Teri's show is this one! (Thanks, Teri!)

The Pullen Library publishes a blog, Science News, "A library weblog for the science faculty and students at Georgia State University."

June 25, 2003

STM Lit Access, Corporate Blogging, Project Halo

:: Bonita Wilson's editorial in the latest issue of D-Lib Magazine, v9, n4, June 2003, discusses improving access to STM literature.

:: From the NYTimes: The Corporate Blog is Catching On. (via Karlin.)

:: From Roland Piquepaille's Technology Trends, mention of Project Halo, a research effort by Vulcan Inc (founded by Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen in 1986).

"Project Halo is a staged research effort by Vulcan Inc. towards the development of a Digital Aristotle, an application capable of producing user and domain-appropriate answers and justifications to novel (previously unseen) questions in an ever-growing number of domains.

The Digital Aristotle will differentiate itself from current search engine technology in a number of important ways. First, search engines require that a specific text containing the answer to a user’s query reside somewhere in the searched corpus. Next, the document containing the correct answer must reside fairly high among the ranked lists of documents it returns given the user’s specified keywords. And finally, the user needs to scan each document for the appropriate passage."

More information is available from this article in the Seattle Post-Intelligencer. What is of interest to scitech (and all) librarians is that the success of this project will have long-term implications for basic reference service. Digital Aristotle would provide a custom answer to each question, and "produce user and domain-appropriate justifications " each time, eliminating the production of ranked lists and the need for the user to scan them. Is this the next step in the evolution of virtual or chat reference?

May 30, 2003

Mixed-Bag Special 03.05.30

:: Thank you to Teri Vogel (William Russell Pullen Library, Georgia State University) for bringing to Randy's attention the following: The Chronicle of Higher Education's Colloquy Live for Wednesday, June 4th, 1:00 pm EST, is about Academic Blogging: "Do Web logs, or "blogs," contribute to academic discourse? What should academics who want to blog know about the medium?" Join in for what promises to be an interesting discussion. The June 6 issue of TCOHE also features the article, "Scholars Who Blog: The soapbox of the digital age draws a crowd of academics", by David Glenn. Teri mentioned that she is doing a poster session at SLA (see Tue at 11:30 am) on the Pullen Library science newsblog, and that she is using The (sci-tech) Library Question as one of her examples of a librarian-to-librarian blog. Thank you, Teri!

:: The latest issue of Issues in Science & Technology Librarianship in now available. Among the many interesting submissions:

ViFaTec Engineering Subject Gateway, reviewed by Thomas G. De Petro;
Hands-on Learning for Freshman Engineering Students, by Julie Arnold, Robert Kackley, and Stephen Fortune, University of Maryland;
Connecting Engineering Students with the Library: A Case Study in Active Learning, by Brian D. Quigley and Jean McKenzie, University of California, Berkeley;
Developing an Information Skills Curriculum for the Sciences, by Eleanor M. Smith, North Carolina State University

Continue reading "Mixed-Bag Special 03.05.30" »

May 27, 2003

A civil engineering departmental blog/BlogTalk Conference in Vienna

:: BlogTalk, A European Conference on Weblogs, was held on 23-24 May 2003 in Vienna. Among Dave Weinberger's brief postings from the conference was a report about the presentation on BauBlog, a blog (in German), developed by Ulrich van Stipriaan, public relations specialist, from the Dept of Civil Engineering (Fakultät Bauingenieurwesen) at Technische Universität Dresden. van Stipriaan spoke on his attempts to make a blog work in the department, its purpose being to inform people outside the university about what's happening within the department. Has anyone else considered this? van Stipriaan noted that it was difficult to "cajole" 50 faculty members into trying this, but it has developed a small following. I'm wondering if it is easier to try to start a departmental blog with such a purpose if the blog creator works within the department, rather than outside of it, like a librarian.

van Stipriaan's presentation is available here.

Weinberger's reports of the conference begin here.

May 23, 2003

Blogging Presentation for Faculty at the University of Alberta

Randy and I presented a session this afternoon on edublogging to various faculty, teaching staff, and librarians at the University of Alberta. I think the session went very well, and we were grateful to have so many questions and to see so much interest in blogging tools. I've posted an HTML version of the presentation for others to look at. Thanks to Jenny Levine and a few other websites that served as great examples of blogging done right. Also worth noting, Randy has posted a .pdf of Throw Another Blog on the Wire, an article we co-wrote for Feliciter. Feel free to toss comments and feedback our way. For a little less of a library slant, you might be interested in a similar article we wrote for Dispatch, Weblogging on Campus and Beyond (p.13).