Candy Cane No. 9!

9 Dec

 December 9 - Go, Libraries, Go!

I love a mobile library, a bookmobile, and biblioburros! Several years ago, my neighbor introduced me to the Mobile Library Mystery Series by the Northern Ireland author, Ian Sansom. The Case of the Missing Books got me hooked! I love the Little Free Library movement and book trading posts. I loved James Whitmore’s character in the movie, The Shawshank Redemption, as he pushed his book cart down the prison rows, stopping at each cell to ask, “Book?” Yes, I love any and all of the creative ways that libraries and librarians and plenty of plain citizens (or fictional convicts) bring books and literacy to their communities. 

Today’s Candy Cane celebrates the beauty of mobile libraries. Ebook Friendly’s list of the 10 Most Extraordinary Mobile Libraries is a real treat. As the website notes:

From donkey-drawn trolleys to huge ships, you’ll see here outstanding vehicles that are designed to carry the most important cargo in the world – wisdom.

Take a moment out of your busy day to marvel at these and celebrate the wonderful gifts of literacy and books.

More tomorrow …

Candy Canes 6, 7, and 8!

8 Dec

 December 6 - Share and Share Alike!

One of the best characteristics of our profession is sharing. Librarians share things freely and openly. Unfortunately, I’m as guilty as anyone in too often forgetting this fact. Libraries, library organizations, and the like are GREAT places to find archives of useful materials. One of these is the archives of webinars and resource materials from the Association of Southeastern Research Libraries. You’ll find lots of good things here related to data, the digital environment, emerging trends in research libraries, and more. 


 December 7 - “The future of libraries won’t be created by libraries.”

This is the opening line to a column, Let the Future Go, that David Weinberger, codirector of Harvard’s Library Innovation Lab and a senior researcher at Harvard’s Berkman Center for Internet & Society, wrote last September. I’ve written about Weinberger in past posts and really like the way he pushes us to think about information. It rubs some folks the wrong way (as this column did), but I personally like the challenges he presents. If you’re not afraid to think BIG when it comes to information and the role of libraries and other information services/institutions today, you might enjoy this piece. It will, at the very least, get you thinking.


December 8 - Datalibrarians Unite!

Datalibrarians, By Datalibrarians for Datalibrarians is a collaborative blog/website created by Celia Emmelhainz, the social sciences data librarian at Colby College in Maine. It offers up lots and lots of practical posts related to who datalibrarians are, what they do, tools they use, tips and tricks, and more. It’s a terrific resource for those working in and/or interested in this area of librarianship (which might be a bunch of people who follow my blog!). :)


Tune in tomorrow for more Candy Canes! 

Candy Cane Countdown: Day 5

5 Dec

 December 5 - If you can’t beat ‘em, at least show them how to Google better!

We librarians have our love-hate relationship with Google, for sure, but truth be told, we all know that it actually does provide a valuable service in many situations. No, it’s not the first spot I want to see a medical student, doctoral candidate, clinician or researcher going when they’re searching for the answer to a clinical and/or research question, but I also tell the students in our Clinical Population Health Research degree program (the ones that I work most closely with), that to avoid it altogether is likely to find you missing a pretty valuable piece of information or two. Use it, but use it wisely.

Here’s a really terrific infographic from the website,, called Get More Out of Google (Designer: Bobby Bernethy; Published by Hack College). You can see that it provides a number of tips and tricks for better searching with Google, including a whole bunch of operators that most people either don’t know about and/or don’t use. Like many of the infographics on, it’s professional quality and you can easily share it on all types of sites. I subscribe to their email list and get a daily note containing some of the popular graphics on their site for that day. I’ve found a lot that are useful, including this one about Google. You may, too.

Tomorrow may be Saturday, but there will still be treats! Come back.

Candy Cane Countdown: Day 4

4 Dec

Here we are at Day 4, folks. Doesn’t it feel like yesterday was just Day 1? Heh…

 December 4 - Humanizing Medicine

My great friend and colleague, Brandy King (of Knowledge Linking) sent me a nice email, after reading yesterday’s post, telling me that she love the countdown idea. I told her to feel free to share any “candy canes” with me that she might want to add to the project, and she promptly offered up the blog that she puts together for the Arnold P. Gold Foundation entitled, Humanizing Medicine. Each month, Brandy authors the “Research Roundup,” to provide readers with an overview of the latest studies published in the area of humanism in medicine.

During this fall’s annual meeting of the North Atlantic Health Sciences Libraries, Inc. (NAHSL), Haider Javed Warraich, MD, a 3rd year Resident at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, Harvard Medical School, gave a wonderful keynote address on this very topic. (You can find some of Dr. Warraich’s writing here.) I know that it resonated well with those of us in attendance and I’m grateful to discover the “treat” of Brandy’s work and I look forward to the regular dose of thoughtfulness that it will give me each month.

Tomorrow… visit to unwrap another treat!

Candy Cane Countdown (Days 1 – 3)

3 Dec

Candy Cane CountdownWhen I was young, my brother and I each had a “candy cane countdown” calendar to help us count the days until Christmas. It was a long strip of red felt, with 25 pieces of bright green yarn attached, to which my mother tied a candy cane. The last candy cane, Number 25, was a bit bigger than the others, marking the importance of that day for us. I wish I had one of these today. I should make one for myself. I like countdowns. I crazily decided that instead of eating a candy cane each day this month, I’m going to run/walk a 5K each day until Christmas. I’m calling it my “Virtual Jingle Bell 5K Classic.” (Virtual meaning that I’m doing it by myself and on a treadmill, not that I’m making it up.) As I struggled up the steps to my third-floor apartment last night, my spouse asked, “Are you going to survive?” Good question, but so far I’m 2 for 2 and feeling like there’s not much getting in the way of me making it to the gym after work. I think 3 for 3 is a good bet.

While I was wheezing my way towards the 3K mark on the virtual course last night, I remembered my candy cane calendar and, struggling as well to figure out what to blog about lately, decided that I’m going to share a virtual candy cane a day here on my blog, for each of you to enjoy. An interesting tool, topic, article, website… one each day until we hit 25. Then for those who celebrate Christmas, you may open your presents. For those of other faiths and traditions, still consider this a present in the bigger spirit of all of the holidays that roll around this time of year. 

Since I’m starting off on December 3rd, I’m going to have to serve up 3 canes. Don’t get a sugar rush!

 December 1 - Take 2 Cartoons & Call Me in the Morning

Regular readers of my blog know how much I love the use of drawing to retain and/or explain information. I’ve written a lot about visual communication, sketchnoting, and scribing as ways to bring the art of drawing into our work. It turns out, doctors and medical students are also into this. Or at least there’s a segment that sees the value. There was a great story in Vermont’s independent newspaper, “Seven Days,” recently about the cartoonist and recent MacArthur Fellowship winner, Alison Bechdel, teaching cartooning to medical students and faculty at the University of Vermont’s School of Medicine. Drawing from Life: Cartooning in the Medical Arts, is a great read. Check it out!

 December 2 - Speaking of your Funny Bone

Another great resource that floated across the MEDLIB-L listserv recently was Graphic Medicine, a website “that explores the interaction between the medium of comics and the discourse of healthcare.” From cartoons to blog posts to podcasts to an annual conference, the site provides numerous ways to examine how comics and/or graphic novels can help people understand healthcare issues in ways much better than the traditional provider-patient discourse. I was psyched to see someone on MEDLIB-L chime in that she uses part of her collection development money to buy comics of this genre and that they are very popular! 

December 3 - Art School Meets Medical School

I was so intrigued with the Graphic Medicine site, I poked around on it quite a bit and eventually looked into information about past conferences. I noted that one of the sponsors for the 2014 conference in Baltimore, MD was the Department of Art as Applied to Medicine at Johns Hopkins University Medical School. I was FASCINATED!! Here’s a department and program at one of the most prestigious medical schools in the United States offering … an art degree! More specifically, they offer education to “future medical illustrators through a two-year, accredited, Master of Arts program in Medical and Biological Illustration.” Graduates from their program go on to produce … well … comics (see above), but also illustrations for medical textbooks, research materials, graphic designs, and animations. Some students also specialize in making prosthetics (aka, clinical anaplastology) that, when you think about it, is really a pretty specialized type of sculpture. What I loved most about discovering this program is that the students within the art program learn anatomy and physiology side-by-side with the medical students. And really, what’s a better place to really learn anatomy than med school? I sometimes hear students in the biomedical PhD programs of UMass Medical School say that getting the chance to earn a PhD at a medical school was a big selling point for them when they were deciding where they wanted to go to school. I imagine art school students looking at MFA programs – particularly those with an interest and bent towards medical illustration – would say the same about the program at Hopkins.

Tune in tomorrow when I’ll offer up another treat, likely NOT related to the funny papers!  

Why Not Us?

21 Nov
Credit: NIH/NLM

Dr. Donald Lindberg, Credit: NIH/NLM

A couple of weeks ago, Francis Collins, Director of the National Institutes of Health, issued a gracious and thoughtful statement on the announcement of Donald Lindberg’s retirement as Director of the National Library of Medicine. Dr. Lindberg has held this post for more than 30 years and as any and everyone knows, the past 30 years in libraries and/or information science has seen monumental change. Dr. Collins lauded Dr. Lindberg’s leadership throughout this time. He also said this:

Trained as a pathologist, Don re-invented himself as an expert and groundbreaking innovator in the world of information technology, artificial intelligence, computer-aided medical diagnosis, and electronic health records.

Doctors seem to do this all of the time or at least they seem to be able to be many things at one time. We celebrate doctors who are also writers, doctors who are also artists, and doctors who are excellent teachers. We think little of showcasing their ability to be multi-talented. In this statement, Dr. Collins praises Dr. Lindberg for being able to be something else besides a doctor, or better put, to be an expert in medicine AND an expert in informatics. 

I share this because I was recently speaking with a doctor about how I was an expert in library science and something else. More specifically, I was explaining how my expertise in library and information science lent itself to being an expert in something else. And when I said this, the doctor looked at me somewhat quizzically. “Really?” she asked, the implication being, “I can’t even imagine.” 

I was hardly resentful about the encounter because to tell you the truth, it happens all of the time. While we don’t bat an eye at the fact that doctors can be multi-talented, the challenge is always there for us to convince them that they’re really not the only ones on whom this characteristic falls. And that’s part of our job. There’s no use grousing about it or getting all bent out of shape. Instead, we need to simply get out there and demonstrate that librarians can be experts in lots of things, too. Sometimes, we can even re-invent ourselves as experts in completely different areas without forsaking our expertise in librarianship. 

As we celebrate the many skills and talents of our patrons, let’s celebrate them in ourselves, too.

Librarians: Perfectly Aligned to be Opportunity Makers

10 Nov


I subscribe to a couple of TED Talks feeds and thanks to that, I found a link in my email this morning to a talk by Kare Anderson, a columnist for Forbes who writes about how and why people make connections with one another. I took the 10 minutes required to watch the talk and couldn’t have been happier that I did. Not only was it inspiring on a personal level, but also because it was inspiring on a professional level. As Anderson shared a story about how she connected several people that she knew over a shared interest in public art, I couldn’t help but think and see how she’d make a great librarian (if she wasn’t a great journalist already). Bringing people together, connecting them, is what we need to do in our profession today, perhaps more than ever. As I’ve written before, the library long served as a physical place where different people gathered and found connections. If/when you’re working with a patron group who rarely if ever come to the library anymore, they’ve lost that opportunity to connect. We, the librarians who go out and meet them where they are, we bring that connectivity of the library to them. That’s a big part of our job. And as Anderson says, that work is the work of OPPORTUNITY MAKERS.

Near the end of the talk, Anderson lists the traits of opportunity makers:

So here’s what I’m calling for you to do. Remember the three traits of opportunity-makers. Opportunity-makers keep honing their top strength and they become pattern seekers. They get involved in different worlds than their worlds so they’re trusted and they can see those patterns, and they communicate to connect around sweet spots of shared interest.

Can you see where and how librarians fit this mold? I sure can!


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