Monday, May 28, 2007

From Orchestra Composers to Jazz Musicians: Our Challenge Ahead

Librarians have traditionally been concerned with preserving and providing access to formally recorded knowledge. This is just as important as it has ever been. However, an additional responsibility today is to provide access to the informal ideas and communication channels that are plentiful on the Web. We should not become too rule-bound as we do this, or we could miss the potential of the Web to link people to knowledge.

In short, we should be less like orchestra composers and more like jazz musicians. We'll still make beautiful music.

Opportunities in Second Life

1. Explore point-of-use instruction in Second Life. Are some patrons more comfortable with accessing library resources as an avatar? If so, how can we reach them?

2. Observe and participate in the Second Life activities in the Virtual Home. Although not yet certain, the Virtual Home could have an additional presence in Second Life. If this becomes reality, there will be many opportunities to collaborate with the Virtual Home team.

I hope this collection of ideas is inspiring. I very much welcome your perspective on the feasibility of these ideas, as well as other ideas about how to utilize Web 2.0 tools. But before that discussion begins, please allow me to offer some closing remarks.

Folksonomy in the Legacy Tobacco Documents Library

As a prized collection, the Legacy Tobacco Documents Library benefits from sophisticated search tools. How about providing the opportunity for users to create and search social bookmarks, as another way to tap into this library? In addition to facilitating access in a new way, this would offer a research opportunity about the comparative benefits of searching pre-structured and post-structured vocabularies.

Once all this work is completed, our First Life may seem stale. So we should also hedge our bets and enter Second Life.

Partnering with the Science Cafe

The Science Cafe is UCSF's "weekly conversation about the culture, conduct & community of science." It is one way to make science more accessible to the general public. The Science Cafe lectures are podcasts, and could be added to Podcasts@UCSF. As the number of lectures increases, librarians could facilitate social bookmarking. People could see which topics are connected to each other and identify others who share similar interests.

The Legacy Tobacco Documents Library could also explore the use of social bookmarks, as a research endeavor.

Lecture Series at the Library

Partnering with the UCSF School of Pharmacy, librarians could host a wide-ranging lecture series about the impact of pharmaceutical industry marketing practices on pharmaceutical education. All lectures would be available through Podcasts@UCSF. Librarians, students, faculty and invited speakers could author blogs as supplements to the lectures.

Podcasts also have exciting potential for community outreach.

Blogs and Wikis in Moodle or Sakai

As UCSF migrates to Moodle or Sakai for its course management system, UCSF librarians and faculty could host an innovative collection of blogs and wikis in which students develop and refine their skills in literature searching, critical appraisal, and evidence-based healthcare. The wikis would be anarchic "sandboxes" where anything goes, while the blogs would be more formal spaces for students to share their thoughts and learn from each other.

To support this PLoS ONE approach to medical education, librarians could gradually build a "master" online curriculum that students would access in discrete amounts. Online access to this curriculum could be controlled by slide bars, similar to the PubMed Slider Interface.

These are both major, somewhat daunting endeavors. In a pinch, just remember: "perpetual beta."

So far I have only focused on access to text. There are many other products that librarians could provide access to, such as podcasts of lecture series.

GALEN Toolbars 2.0

1. Today's toolbar links directly to PubMed@UCSF. How about also providing UCSF links for the Google Scholar searches? And providing ways for users to tag and store their search results, using their own terminology, for easy retrieval at any time? While they're at it, they could also import search results into EndNote or RefWorks.

2. Could the GALEN Toolbar also be accessible from within the UCSF 2011 Facebook group?

3. How about building a new toolbar to facilitate and manage searches in Relemed, which arranges PubMed results by relevancy?

Toolbars facilitate knowledge gathering. But new knowledge creation requires a process synthesis and refinement. This is the province of blogs and wikis.

Sunday, May 27, 2007

UCSF Library and Center for Knowledge Management--Innovative Tools and Projects

1. Customized browser-integrated toolbars for general library patrons, clinicians, and researchers in the biological sciences. The GALEN toolbar is the most recent occupant of my Firefox browser.
2. Podcasts@UCSF--New initiative with an attractive interface that provides clear information about what a podcast is and how to subscribe to it. The library-produced tutorials available through Podcasts@UCSF are both informative and aesthetically pleasing.
3. Tobacco Control Archives--An award-winning collection of papers, grey literature, and digital resources about tobacco control.
4. CTSI Virtual Home--The online hub for collaborative efforts at UCSF's Clinical and Translational Science Institute. The soon-to-be-staffed Virtual Home will provide access to a customer-friendly Concierge Desk and a full suite of collaboration tools.

Building on this foundation, it is possible to envision many exciting projects that would improve the library's already strong education and information services. Let's start with those toolbars.

Friday, May 25, 2007

Some Web 2.0 Tools

1. Blogs--Web pages typically arranged as journal entries in reverse chronological order. May or may not allow comments by readers.

2. Wikis--Infinitely editable web sites, sometimes by anyone with a Web connection and sometimes by restricted communities of users. Wikipedia is the most famous wiki of all; the UCSF Library uses Confluence--an "enterprise wiki"--to manage internal processes and documentation.

3. Podcasts--Audio files that people can subscribe to using services such as ITunes.

4. Social bookmarks--Exemplified by sites such as or flickr, which allow users to apply their own labels to written documents or to photos. As multiple users apply the same tags to different resources, those resources cluster together. The formal term for this phenomenon is "folksonomy."

5. Second Life--A "3-D virtual world entirely built and owned by its residents." People select avatars, alternate personalities that represent themselves in Second Life.

Several projects at the UCSF Library and Center for Knowledge Management already employ sophisticated communication technologies. These successes could be built upon to enhance informatics education and information services at UCSF.

Introduction to Web 2.0

Although something of a contentious buzzword, "Web 2.0" generally denotes the use of pre-existing Internet technologies to build tools that leverage the interactive capabilities of the Web. Web 2.0 is marked by the spirit of flexibility and improvisation inherent in creating mashups in a state of perpetual beta. For librarians, becoming experts in these open source tools may become the most important legacy of the open access movement.

Health sciences librarians are historically well placed to maximize the potential of Web 2.0. Perhaps "Library 2.0"--harnessing the energy of Web 2.0 to foster "user-centered change" in libraries--is just another buzzword. But whether it's trite or revolutionary, Library 2.0 reinforces the reality that librarians must possess technological dexterity. In his Master's paper "Toward Academic Library 2.0", Michael Habib offers an extremely comprehensive examination of our emerging professional landscape.