Library Day in the Life: day 5

Posted on August 1, 2009
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Sat down at my laptop about 7:45 AM. It was month end, so I had administrative tasks to tackle.

My day went something like this:

  1. 10 Myths About Canadian Health Care, Busted
  2. Why we learn more from our successes than our failures: MIT study sheds light on the brain’s ability to change in response to learning
  3. TweetDeck and Hootsuite – Better Together (From April – and it appears some of the features on the blogger’s wishlist have been instituted in the new version of HootSuite.)
  4. A silly pat on the head helps seniors remember daily med, study suggests (My mom, at 90, forgets to take her medications sometimes, despite having a bubble pack from the pharmacy – I wonder if this could work for her?)
  5. Farewell to e-mail: E-mail’s shortcomings are hard to ignore as new collaboration tools take off (I’ve used Google Docs on occasion, but some folks I’m working with still cling to emailing back and forth)
  6. Building a Collaborative Environment on the Medical Education Blog

That’s it – 5 days in the work life of a librarian working outside the traditional world of a library with walls. There are a few things left undone, which will get done on the weekend – but since they aren’t of an urgent nature, they’ll get done when they get done.

I’m off to enjoy the BC Day long weekend. A few of the Vancouver events going on over the weekend, in roughly chronological order:

  1. World Police and Fire Games: Started Friday night with the Opening Ceremonies and a parade. 10,000 participants from around the world. Events taking place throughout the Lower Mainland and up the coast. (I’m taking a vacation day on Thursday to attend the Police Service Dog events open to the public: Agility, Obedience, Protection and Search. Events on Friday are closed to the public: Explosives Detection and Narcotics Detection.)
  2. Critical Mass: Cyclists take over the streets in protest. Took place Friday evening, with lots of negative press beforehand; about 3,000 cyclists attended. Photos available at the Vancouver Sun gallery.
  3. BC Cultural Crawl: Month-long celebration of the Arts in BC starts on Saturday, with several Vancouver galleries/museums participating.
  4. Dyke March: Took place Saturday at noon on Vancouver’s Eastside.
    Celebration of Light: Fireworks competition. Finale takes place Saturday evening in English Bay. Videos of the previous 3 nights this year – the entire almost half hour each – can be found at Global TV’s website.
  5. Pride Parade: Takes place Sunday in the West End during the Pride Festival this weekend.
  6. Powell Street Festival: Takes place Saturday and Sunday, celebrating Japanese Canadian arts, culture and heritage.

I hope to spend some time over the weekend reading some of the other Library Day in the Life posts.

Library Day in the Life: day 4

Posted on July 30, 2009
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Sat down at my laptop about 8:30 AM. This is a relatively quiet week for me, after an intense several months. I have two research projects set to start early August (for one, the advisory committee is still hammering out the scope; for the other, we’re waiting on one of the investigators to return from vacation). I’m also waiting with other researchers on the outcome of several grant applications we submitted. If the proposals are successful, it will be a busy fall.

Here’s a recap of my day:

Semi-retired office assistant Ceilidh is enjoying our favourite appliance in the heat

Semi-retired office assistant Ceilidh is enjoying our favourite appliance in the heat

  1. It’s A Search Party! Twitter Revamps Home Page. (Change aimed at highlighting Twitter as a research tool and at new users to experience Twitter’s immediacy.)
  2. Using pen and paper workarounds could boost EMR efficiency. (Comment on Twitter “integrating tech w/ what ppl do” from @pat_devine. I like the use of visual aids to help identify people with high blood pressure when they arrive in the ER)
  3. Is Vancouver About to Become the Greenest City in the World? (From the website. From the standpoint of a Vancouverite, this article paints the good and the bad and is pretty well balanced.)
  4. Mentor Yourself article on Inside Higher Ed.(Some good advice here.)
  5. 8 reasons I love Zotero on fellow librarian Tara Robertson’s blog
  1. Canada Values Health: Dialog on Health Care.
  2. Encyclopedia of Life (From homepage: “Imagine an electronic page for each species of organism on Earth…” – Edward O. Wilson. Visitors to site are invited to contribute photos by adding to the Flickr photo pool, EOL Flickr group. Already over 30,000 images. Makes me want to start the onerous task of scanning all my travel/wildlife photos! A quick search indicates I might actually have some to offer up.)
  3. Looked over the conference website for the International Congress on Peer Review and Biomedical Publication here in Vancouver in September. (Looks very interesting – I’m going to register tomorrow, after I contact them about what seems to be an unsecure registration page.)

What started out to look like a quiet day rather quickly became a rather hectic one instead. That’s one of the things I enjoy about consulting – you never know quite what’s coming down the road. I’m hoping to spend some time on the weekend reading through other librarians’ descriptions of their Library Day in the Life, as I haven’t really had a chance to do that yet.

Decided to quit early today – 4:15 PM – and move on to some personal projects, like working with my photos. Tomorrow promises to be a day of administrative tasks given that it’s month end.

Library Day in the Life: day 3

Posted on July 29, 2009
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Sat down at my laptop just after 8 AM. Today looked pretty much like this:

Left campus at almost 7 PM. Home, dinner, quick email/Twitter/AIIP-L check, bed! Another day comes to an end. Listening to the third night of Celebration of Light fireworks competition – we live very close to English Bay where they’re held. Another night I might be out on the street watching, but with this heat and such a long day, I decided not to.

Library Day in the Life: day 2

Posted on July 28, 2009
Filed Under Libraries, Library Day in the Life | 1 Comment


I had an earlier start to my day than yesterday – on my laptop just after 7 AM. Today looked pretty much like this:

  1. An opinion piece on cross-border medicine (tagline “Canadians could do with less waiting – Americans with less cost”) in today’s Globe and Mail (This I added as a news item on my website, since it deals with health policy issues).
  2. An interesting editorial in Open Medicine: Medical research and social media: Can wikis be used as a publishing platform in medicine? (Something I’ll be watching to see how it develops. Had a brief conversation going about this on Twitter this afternoon.)
  3. Social Media in Plain English video from CommonCraft (Was looking for plain English technology discussion for a very non-techy colleague. This video is just the kind of overview I was looking for – quick and punchy and gets the message across in an entertaining manner.)

Stopped the main work of my day about 5:30 and walked my office assistant very slowly around a couple of blocks before dinner, in as much shade as we could find. Chatted with neighbours about the heat – we’re all flagging in it. Work definitely spilling into the evening today.

Library Day in the Life: day 1

Posted on July 27, 2009
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I’m taking part in the Libary Day in the Life project (the concept is described here), second annual, which runs this week and started today.

I’m a consulting librarian/information specialist, so my library is a virtual one. It’s been some years since I worked in a physical library, and in those days it was several small libraries that I managed as a consultant – one in a non-profit (community mental health services) and one in an academic research centre (health technology assessment/health services and policy). Now, I spend my work day in one of three main areas:

My day started with a walk with one of my office assistants – Freckle, one of my dogs – before the heat of the day settled in. I then returned to my office, powered up my laptop, and with coffee in hand, settled in to the work of the day about 9:30 – a late start since I worked over the weekend and decided I could start later today. Roughly, my day looked like this:

Stopped the main work of my day about 5:30 and walked the same office assistant again before dinner. Work often spills into the evening, and I suspect I’ll continue looking at tag cloud widgets later on. (If anyone can suggest a good tag cloud widget, I’d love to hear about it.)

Help save funding for British Columbia’s public libraries

Posted on July 27, 2009
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Recently the BC government announced it was cutting back on funding for some key programs – including the yearly operating grants for our public libraries. This comes at a time when libraries are experiencing increased use, perhaps because of the state of the economy and the fact that our public libraries provide an amazing free service to our population. If you live in BC and value our public libraries, please read about the cutbacks at Fraser Valley Regional Library’s “Stop BC Library Cuts” website and consider signing the “Don’t Pull the Plug on Libraries” online petition. There are links to a toolkit on the library workers page.

“Article of the Future”: New direction for scientific publishing?

Posted on July 25, 2009
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Article-Future-screenshotPrediction  in some circles is that scientific publishing will become more interactive in the future and will take full advantage of the web’s interactive capabilities. Elsevier and Cell Press have launched “Article of the Future,” a collaborative project with scientists, to explore the potential of this publishing model. It looks like it could be an exciting development, with integrated audio and video being one of the most intriguing to me. Take a look at two prototypes posted by Cell Press.

The abstract and introduction tabs in these online articles produce a look that’s familiar – pretty much what we see in print and PDF formats, other than the author interview audio link. Clicking on the results tab, however, yields something impossible with these static media. Here, we have a subset of tabs along with hyperlinked diagram(s) that drill the reader down into the paper to the point where discussion occurs. There is also a tab that brings up additional figures and another that takes the reader to the references cited in the results section.

While the figures in Prototype #1 were easily viewed, I found those in Prototype #2 to have less clarity. Prototype #2 relies more heavily on photographic figures. It may be my laptop screen, but I found the “high quality” images a bit fuzzy. This may be a limitation for researchers if they don’t have high resolution monitors (and many researchers I know don’t). They may miss the high quality photographs in the print scientific journals. I also found them slow to load despite having a high speed connection.

The references tab provides links for each reference – View at Publisher [if applicable], View at PubMed [if applicable], Cited X times, and most interestingly to me, Context. Clicking on the Context link produces a popup window featuring the text where the particular reference is being cited.

There are many more features of this “article of the future” highlighted in the prototypes. It seems the publishing revolution may well be forging ahead, and if we don’t want to get left behind, we’ll have to plunge in and get up to speed. Personally, I find this exciting, but wonder how long it will take for this model to be fully accepted by the scientific community. And, I confess to a preference for reading in hard copy – it’s far less tiring for my eyes.

Several questions that come to my mind:

  1. For those who tend to approach reading in a linear fashion, how will this hypertext form of publishing affect their keeping up with new developments in their field? (See q. 4 below.)
  2. Will there be generational differences in acceptance and adoption of this new model? (I think this is likely.)
  3. Will readers lose sight of the big picture and the overall discussion? (Maybe, maybe not.)
  4. Will publishers provide printable versions for those who like to read, review, and mark up with pen in hand? (I see the two prototypes offer this option.)

The “Article of the Future” is receiving mixed reviews:

Keeping an avocado green

Posted on June 21, 2009
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Ever cut into an avocado and discover it isn’t quite as ripe as you’d like it to be, and then worry about it going brown while you wait for it to ripen? We discovered a low tech way to do this, even if you don’t have a lemon in the larder. Get yourself a nice wide elastic, wrap it around the avocado with the pit still in, pop the whole into the fridge and wait it out. Below is an avocado we opened and then popped into the fridge for a few days – it was perfectly ripened and green without the unsightly brown oxidation that usually takes place.

Low tech avocado saver

Low tech avocado saver

U.S. government blog: GovGab

Posted on June 11, 2009
Filed Under Government | 1 Comment

Today, I discovered and bookmarked the U.S. government blog, GovGab.  This blog is authored by five federal employees (along with two substitutes as needed), each taking one day of the work-week as their own. Posts cover a mix of issues on health, finance, travel, family and other topics. Today’s post is on ways to save on your next vacation. Links are to American information, but the tips can be applied pretty much anywhere by checking out local museums, parks and other closer-to-home venues.

A sampling of recent past posts includes:

I’ll be adding GovGab to my arsenal of resources to watch.

Screening test for canine cardiomyopathy now available

Posted on June 6, 2009
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You can now get your dog tested for the gene mutation that causes boxer cardiomyopathy, Arrhythmogenic Right Ventricular Cardiomyopathy (ARVC). I blogged about this earlier this morning, saying that the test would be available later this year – well, it’s now available through the College of Veterinary Medicine at Washington State University. You can send in a blood sample or a cheek swab. Details are available on the College’s website here. I’m cross-posting this information to spread the word as widely as possible.

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