Libloggy 753

Sunday, November 26, 2006

Blog Post #5: Health Information

In LIS 745, Searching Electronic Databases, we have been doing a lot of searching of medical databases. The professor discussed a survey that had been done in public libraries in the south suburbs of Chicago that showed half (!) of the questions taken at the reference desk to be related to health information. I was shocked to hear that figure, but then I thought more about it...the state of our country's health care system, the confusion and anxiety that follows illness, the tense moment when you finally get to talk to the doctor or nurse about what is going on in your body and the response that often doesn't seem like enough information.

There is an overwhelming amount of health information out there on the Web. Dr. Saperstein, the devilish doctor, from Rosemary's Baby would be hard pressed to keep Rosemary from looking up information on womenshealth.gov. Doctors and nurses now expect patients to be packed with info they found online and in other sources. However, the health information that can be found online is not tailored for your needs or situation and professionals should always be consulted before adjusting your treatment plan or health regime.

I asked a classmate who works at a patient health information library about finding information on colon cancer. In that conversation I saw what a special job helping patrons with health information is, and why he is a great person for it. He calmly asked about what stage of colon cancer I was interested in finding out information about, and since I didn't know, he evenly asked me for further information. Then he assessed my question, and suggested I first look at sites sponsored by the American Cancer Society www.cancer.org and The National Institute of Health www.cancer.gov. He suggested I take a look at those sites first, and then gave me his contact information, in case I had anymore questions and wanted to speak with him as I found out more information. He explained that he felt it is often important not to overwhelm the patron with too much information in the initial interview. I really saw him open up the door for more questions. This made me think about the importance of establishing a relationship between the librarian and patron where the patron has the opportunity to ask more questions, but also where the librarian is able to gently push the patron to the point of learning and discovering information on his/her own, which is a rich part of the library experience.

Here are a few useful sites for health information:

http://caphis.mlanet.org/consumer/index.html
Consumer and Patient Health Information Section of the Medical Library Association

http://www.pubmedcentral.nih.gov/
Information from the National Institute of Health

http://medlineplus.gov/
Patientcentric version of Medline, a free database from the National Library of Medicine

http://www.cdc.gov
Information from the Center for Disease Control

http://www.mayoclinic.com/
Information from the Mayo Clinic

Blog Post #4: Worldcat.org

I recently came across an article about worldcat.org in the OCLC newsletter NextSpace. Illinois libraries have had access to the Worldcat records for years through the FirstSearch databases, but I find that getting to the FirstSearch page and isolating Worldcat can be a multi-step and confusing process. It is not very clear from the FirstSearch page what Worldcat is other than the word (books) in parentheses next to the link for Worldcat. In contrast, the Worldcat is a database that is very useful, and the concept of it is easy to understand, especially in today's search engine world. I think if more library users knew what Worldcat is and what it can do, including interlibrary loan applications, they would be interested in using it.

One valuable way that Worldcat.org is marketing its new site is an ever-present search box feature, like the popular Google and Yahoo boxes on the toolbar. The box has the Worldcat logo, the simple phrase, "Search for items in libraries" and "Enter title, subject or person:" above the search square. Having this box on the library website and catalog would be valuable.

After entering a search term in Worldcat.org, the site asks you to enter in location information, like a zip code. This aids the site in bringing up libraries close to you that have the book you are looking for and links you directly to their online catalog records. The catalog also provides space for users to add reviews, tables of contents, and notes, along with the full bibliographic information from the Worldcat database. The advanced search limiters are less cumbersome than the FirstSearch applications. In general, I found the site easier to use than the FirstSearch's Worldcat, and I look forward to seeing the other FirstSearch databases converted to this new approach, as the article mentioned for a future project.

Saturday, November 04, 2006

Blog Post #3: Choosing a website topic for class

I had several ideas in mind before choosing a topic for my website topic for class. One idea was for a website for a public library giving voters links to sites where they can find out what district they’re in, information on the candidates, how to register to vote, etc. I argued myself down from that one, deciding that I may place a bias on one candidate or party over another that I may place an endorsement that may get my hypothetical library in trouble. I do think this is a good idea for libraries to have voter information, and in the end I decided not to do this because I thought many of the links I would choose would disappear after the election. It would have been a good exercise in trying to remain neutral.

Another idea I had was to work on a list of Readers’ Advisory sources I had created as a pathfinder for an earlier class. I would have divided up the resources among pages that are geared toward romance, science fiction, and mystery. Then I thought about the limiting nature of a site like this. Genre fiction seems to be blurring boundaries more and more and creating separate parts of a page for these types of fiction would inhibit readers of sci-fi to look at mystery or young adult or graphic novels, which they may also enjoy. After half a semester of 753, I couldn’t imagine creating a page for Reader’s Advisory that didn’t have some sort of patron participation like a bulletin board, blog, or wiki. If I didn’t, I would feel that I would be playing library god, bestowing the best books upon you, reader of genre fiction. Adding user content to a Reader’s Advisory site would enable the real experts (avid readers and enthusiasts) to post their comments at a local level, which may inspire the establishment of a community of readers. So often in public libraries, book discussions focus on literary fiction and non-fiction title, and the genre fiction readers are overlooked. This could be an outreach to them. I felt that this may be a little too complicated for my first webpage, and I was unsure about the effectiveness of creating a link to a blog from a separate website.

I decided to make a site tentatively called Video Projects 101 that would provide a checklist for a video project and sources for information on planning, filming, and editing. I thought that the three steps would be a logical way to break up the page, and a checklist would allow me to stress issues like copyright and permissions, and basics like, “Did you make a back up copy?” I hope this will be a useful tool for future use, since students are often given the option to create a video for class projects. I am also interested in the topic, and would like to expand my experience with making videos.

I had several other ideas, but I hope that this one will work and be something that I would use again. The things I found myself considering while deciding on this project were the library’s point of view, my capabilities of web design, the time I have to complete the project, and how deep do I make the content of my site. While brainstorming on the topics, I found myself mentally and physically drawing the site in my head. I have also been looking more critically at websites to flush out what I find easy to use and pleasing to the eye from what I do not like. Isn’t it amazing how your brain works to pick out things like that, even when you are not concentrating on it?

Monday, October 16, 2006

Blog Post #2: DOPA

I recently came across an American Libraries article regarding the Deleting Online Predators Act. The article indicated that the bill passed the House with a vote of 410-15!! Only fifteen Representatives did not vote for the bill. While reading through the responses from the Representatives and text of the bill on govtrack.us I found out that the bill did not get a full House committee mark-up, and I realized the emotional weight of the issue. Perhaps if the bill had been titled something to the effect of blocking social networking websites from computers in educational and library settings, the vote would have been different.

One of the main arguments in favor of DOPA is the statistic that one in five children have encountered an unwanted sexual approach on the internet. This statistic has been widely distributed throughout the mainstream media in network news programs dealing with online predators. The number comes from a Department of Justice survey of approximately 1500 kids between the ages of 10-17 who noted that they received unsolicited sexual exploitation in the past year. This figure includes talk between teens about sex (see Youth Internet Safety Survey). Another figure that has been floating around discussion of this topic is that 3% of children between 5 and 17 have been solicited. Regardless of which number is correct, it is an alarming figure that should be addressed. The other main argument is the dramatic increase in child pornography, which is also alarming and should be addressed.

Reading the response from the Represantives has been very interesting. I had honestly never tried to look up what the Congress had to say about why they were voting. The GovTrack.us site allows you to see what they have to say, which I think is great, especially in light of the coming elections. Here is one response I found regarding DOPA from a House Representative of Texas : “I believe that it is hard to keep sexual predators away from our children, but with this bill, it will be easy to keep our children away from sexual predators.” Interestingly, the site contains a profile for each member of congress that pops up with their name, picture, political party, birthday, and religion. Does this format look familiar? Like social networking software, the congressional representive can choose what they would like to include in their profile. I noticed some that do not include religion or birthdate.

Who doesn't want to protect children from pornographers? Who wants to be seen as someone who would not vote for a bill that is seen as being a way to single handledly squash the horrible mess of teenagers meeting up with older, creepy people they found on MySpace? In many ways the surface of the bill looks like a legislative no brainer, but the implications are deep and complicated. What will happen to the students in classes that communicate through blogs? I know of a high school international studies class that has a blog that acts in the fashion of a model UN with other schools. Think of how current enriching a project like this is to a student's education. What about libraries using instant messaging to provide reference or MySpace to communicate with readers? There are thousands of examples where social networking software is providing valuable, innovative and fun services to library patrons. The bill does state that these applications may be used under adult supervision for educational purposes, but who and how will that line be enforced?

I agree with the letter that the ALA wrote to the House regarding the measure. Libraries and schools can be a place where education for using social networking websites can occur. DOPA, like CIPA, will be another stipulation in receiving e-rate funding, and will further wedge a divide between libraries with differing budgets. As a side note, I also feel that children may feel more comfortable engaging in risky behavior on the internet at home when they know someone will not be around, rather than in a public place where anyone may walk by at any time.

I encourage everyone to read up on DOPA and write to your senators. If DOPA passes the senate some of the most popular, vital and up-and-coming internet resources may be blocked from our libraries.

Barack Obama

Dick Durbin

Saturday, October 07, 2006

Blog Post #1: Technology Hurts My Head Sometimes

“The amount of information in the future will double every 11 minutes by some estimates.” writes Judy Luther and Stephen Abram in their Library Journal article “Born with the Chip.” This statement triggered me out of that article reading haze. After some searching and thinking, I believe it has to do with the idea that technology will increase exponentially in the future. This seems very reasonable when you think about how much has happened from the beginning of the Industrial Revolution to the time computers were invented to now.

What type of information growth will be happening? I imagine information growth will be influenced by all the connections between sources of information on the Internet. Each connection, say each time you subscribe to an RSS feed or add a friend to your Myspace, you are adding a unit of information. At this point much of the new information may be new units made of old information. This is how discoveries are made--connecting existing concepts in a new way. Perhaps some time in the near future information growth will have increased so much that we will outgrow the Internet.

One of the things that I came across while pondering and searching on the growth of the amount of information was the theory of Singularity, which seems to have many different views, but begins with this notion of exponential technology growth. The ending is varied, but writer, inventor and visionary Ray Kurzweil states in “The Law of Accelerating Returns” that the current century “will see almost a thousand times greater technological change that its predecessor.” Some Singularity theorists claim that the future machines will be more intelligent than humans, and humans may somehow grow to live through machines in an immortal cyborg kind of thing. This is my first exposure to Singularity, but this is definitely not a plot I am unfamiliar with thanks to popular movies like Terminator, AI and Robocop. One Singualrity anticipated date of the machine uprising is 2045, which may be about the time that things will really be getting out of control as a result of peak oil. It is a little past the date of earthly destruction that Doomsday Asteroid is expected to produce in 2039. So, then is Singularity the the next step in evolution?

I guess the most important thing I have gathered from these transgressions is that technology is going to keep changing and the amount of information is going to keep growing. They feed each other, and we (humans (and machines?)) feed both ends. Web 2.0 applications, metadata aggregators, and RSS stimulate the growth of information to move exponentially. The philosophy, ethics, parameters, and expectations of it all has caused my brain to spiral and spark—what’s going on inside of my computer and the millions it is connected to right now?

Sunday, October 01, 2006

sample post #2

RE "Born with a Chip"

I think there is a danger of the millenials to loose normal social interaction, but maybe normal is changing. I wonder what the impact on attention span is?

Hello!

Welcome to my blog. My name is Kelly and I am new to the blog thing. This is a part of a class for the Graduate School of Library and Information Science at Dominican University.