DAHSL: Developing Academic Health Sciences Libraries


a collaboration to create the 21st century academic health sciences library…

How Physical Does the Library Need to Be?

by: James Shedlock, Director of Galter Health Sciences Library at Northwestern University COM in Library Notes

The announcement that the Johns Hopkins University medical school will close its health sciences library starting January 1, 2012 has stunned many in the library world. A posting on the Welch Medical Library website describes their new reality. As surprising as the news is, the Hopkins staff and their director, Nancy Roderer, deserve credit for making a tough but reasonable decision.

One take away from the Hopkins announcement is that it’s time to rethink our terminology about libraries. The library building may be closing but the library is still open … online. The physical library is less relevant at Hopkins but the electronic library is what users want, need, appreciate and actually use.

You may wonder if this will become more common at other medical schools. Because this is happening at Hopkins, a top ranked research-intensive medical school according to the U.S. News and World Report, I’ve already been asked by NU faculty if this is a trend. I doubt it for established medical schools, and particularly for Northwestern. Hopkins developed separate student facilities for their programs in medicine, nursing and public health and as a result, the students didn’t need to use the physical Welch Medical Library. At Northwestern, the Galter Library is one of the chief education and collaboration facilities for our students, and the medical school has invested money to make the library a versatile space for study, research, resource storage and social functions. Read the rest of this entry »


Filed under: Administrative Issues, Issues and Challenges, , ,


Librarians at Johns Hopkins Unversity in Baltimore, MD are turning their focus to digital delivery of library materials, noting that they will be able to spend more on online materials by closing the doors on the physical facility.  As of January 1, 2010, they will be completely online.  Read more in the  The Digital Shift or Out of the Jungle: Johns Hopkins To Close Its Medical Library.

Filed under: Administrative Issues, Renovating, user experience, Virtual Library,

Evolution of the Textbook, in the HHMI Bulletin

Publishers are beginning to go digital with textbooks, pushing boundaries to give students a personalized, interactive experience.

The ink hadn’t dried on the first edition of Molecular Biology: Principles and Practice when its scientist authors began dreaming up ideas for the second. They would go way beyond words on the page to give students a front row seat to science in action.

It was the summer of 2010, and the collaborators had just met with Adam Steinberg, the book’s artist. On his newly minted iPad, Steinberg showed them a splashy periodic table application called The Elements: A Visual Exploration that rocked their world.

The app included cleverly worded facts and scintillating periodic table trivia. But its real impact was visual. Its creator, scientist Theodore Gray, had gathered a mini-museum’s worth of fascinating objects to represent each element—from an iridescent hunk of bismuth to a dimestore dragon figurine made of copper. App users could see the objects in 3-D and rotate them, front to back and front again, with the swipe of a finger.

It wasn’t quite holding an object and turning it over in your hand, but it was pretty close.  Read entire article here.

Illustration: Keenan Cummings

Filed under: Administrative Issues, ,

New Health Sciences Libraries (NHSLG) at AAMC in DC – Finally, meeting notes!

Sunday, November 7, 5:30-7:30 pm

Location: Marriott, Room 8209

Complete minutes are found HERE:  NewLibGroup_Minutes_AAHSL_2010rev2.

Attendees: Read the rest of this entry »

Filed under: Administrative Issues, New Libraries Group (NLG) Gatherings,

You Know How To Capture Your Good Ideas But How Do You Get Others To Support Them

Seems like there’s a lot being written about good ideas these days. If you follow what’s been written here in the past about design thinking, creativity, innovation – and capturing your good ideas when they come – chances are you are already improving at coming up with good ideas and capturing them as well. But just coming up with good ideas isn’t enough. How do you get others – mostly your work colleagues – to buy into your good idea? That’s where most of our ideas tend to run into the proverbial brick wall.

Consider this example based on a rather simple idea – a good one on the surface – that a library worker developed that he thought would make a small, but noticeable difference for some members of the library community. What I like about this idea is that it provides a great example of how we can come up with a good idea by keeping our antennae up so that we more acutely observe and listen in our library environment for ways to design a better library. The staff member noticed that in this one part of the library where there was nothing particular going on, students would gather in small groups to study. They would sit on the floor or pull some chairs together. They might make some noise. The staff member thought the library could do better for these students, but knew the library needed great flexibility to make the most of every piece of real estate. The simple observation lead to a new idea for a better library – create a flexible study space by installing a set of folding room dividers. Not only would it give the students more privacy, cut down on noise and make for a better study space, but it could be enhanced with a flat panel monitor on the wall for collaborative work. Great idea, right. Well you know what happened next. Of course, lots of reasons why that’s a bad idea. Too much foot traffic in that area already. Students who like the current setting will complain. The reference desk will be swamped with students asking how to use the monitor. When the walls are closed we won’t know what the students are doing in there…and so on. Certainly the project will require some funding, but it’s hardly what Jim Collins would refer to as an “above the waterline risk”, not to mention that if any of the imagined problems actually surface the room dividers can easily be removed. Still, there is opposition to the idea. Why does this happen and what can we do about it? Read the rest of this entry »

Filed under: Administrative Issues,

Differentiating The Information Commodity

From DBL: http://dbl.lishost.org/blog/2009/12/11/differentiating-the-information-commodity/

One of the core components of creating a unique user experience is making it clear to the end user or customer that a product or service is differentiated from competitors so that it compels the individual to seek out this different experience. At DBL we’ve discussed the importance of identifying ways to differentiate the library. From the end-user perspective, what is it about the library that makes it different and unique from all other potential sources of information – especially the ones that are more convenient to use.

One of the challenges librarians face is that their primary product, information, is a commodity that is difficult to differentiate. It used to be that academic libraries could emphasize their scholarly content as different from what search engines offered, but Google Scholar changed all that. The end user perceives all information as relatively the same, especially when they can find it on their own, and it all seems to relate to the question or topic of choice. And even if it isn’t the highest quality information, if finding it is convenient and fast then it’s good enough.

The Branding Strategy blog explores how one might go about differentiating or branding a commodity. In fact, one of the bloggers there, Brad VanAuken, said “I am a firm believer that everything can be branded/differentiated. I have never encountered a product or service that I could not brand/differentiate”. In that same post he provided some examples of branding products for differentiation. In a more recent post VanAuken wrote more specifically about how to differentiate commodities. Commodities, like the information contained in articles and books, is difficult to differentiate. What is different about the information found in a book in the local public library and the same or a similar book found online via Google books or Amazon? Read the rest of this entry »

Filed under: Administrative Issues,

Going Mobile in Academia – From Roy Tennant in LJ

by Roy Tennant, August 31st, 2010 here: http://blog.libraryjournal.com/tennantdigitallibraries/2010/08/31/going-mobile-in-academia/

iPhoneThe California Digital Library has been studying the use of mobile devices among the University of California faculty and students, and this month they released a report on that work.

A few of their findings:

  • Slightly more academic survey respondents own mobile phones without internet (61%) than mobile devices that with internet (53%). Faculty were the most likely respondents (63%) to own a mobile device with internet, followed by graduate students (53%) and then undergraduates (41%).
  • Of academic survey respondents who own mobile devices with internet, the majority own iPhone (53%) or iPod Touch (20%) devices. The next highest device was Blackberry (10%), and then Droid (9%).
  • Some of the most common uses of mobile devices with internet include finding information and accessing email. They are used less for academic purposes, such as accessing campus or library websites or completing coursework.
  • Few survey respondents are using eBook devices and tablets for academic reading. Read the rest of this entry »

Filed under: Administrative Issues, user experience,

Academic Library Futures, from Stephen’s Lighthouse

by Stephen Abram…

Thanks to Frank Cervone for pointing to this video and commenting on a session entitled “The Future of the Academic Library: Space, Digitization, Access, and Curation in the New World of Information” (available via streaming video) where Susan Perry pointed out 10 major issues libraries need to consider as they plan and develop services. The entire list of issues can be found at Tracy Mitrano’s post The Future of the Academic Library – Law, Policy — and IT? (highlights below). Frank’s top 4 are:

  1. Within ten years, most academic information will be available in digital format, so the need for space for collections really will markedly decrease;
  2. Librarians today need to be: intellectually curious, collaborative, technologically sophisticated, good teachers, and adaptable because things are changing to quickly to not be all of these things;
  3. While the Open Source movement is making many learning materials and computer applications freely available, maintenance of the applications requires staff. It is completely unreasonable to think you can build an infrastructure based on open-source without developing the necessary skills within your staff to maintain these applications;
  4. Digital asset management and production is the name of the game for the archives of the future;
    Helping students find and evaluate accurate information is probably the most important roles for librarians now. In order to do this librarians, instructional technologists, as well as faculty, must work together.

The Future of the Library — Ten Things to Keep in Mind

  1. Within ten years, most academic information will be available in digital format.
  2. The campus network is vital to your information delivery system/library. Now is the time to assure that it is robust and can remain so.
  3. Librarians today need to be: intellectually curious, collaborative, technologically sophisticated, good teachers, and adaptable.
  4. Purchasing and cataloging functions are changing rapidly and the need for traditional technical services staff is shrinking.
  5. Licensing, rather than purchasing, material is prevalent.
  6. The Open Source movement is making many learning materials and computer applications freely available. However, maintenance of the applications requires staff. It is a trade-off between purchased applications with support and open source applications that you have to support yourself.
  7. Digital asset management and production is becoming the name of the game.
  8. Helping students find and evaluate accurate information is one of the most important roles for librarians now. In order to do this well, they need to work closely with faculty.
  9. Libraries are becoming the group study and social centers for many campuses, as well as the place to explore new information, tools and ways of developing and sharing information. Some library areas are beginning to look like Apple Computer Stores. These are often the most heavily used areas within the library.
  10. To support these new learning centers well, librarians and instructional technologists, as well as faculty, must work together.

Read the two posts and watch the video for some conversation starters about the future in academic libraries.

Stephen — Here!!

Filed under: Administrative Issues, Issues and Challenges, New Libraries

MLA 2010 NEEHSLs Poster #2 of 3 or more

Filed under: Administrative Issues, Multi-Institutional Partnerships, New Libraries, New Schools, ,

MLA 2010 NEEHSL Slides – # 1 of at least three!

Data Grid MLA 2010 poster grid 20100406.

Filed under: Administrative Issues, Issues and Challenges, Multi-Institutional Partnerships, New Libraries, ,



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