Picture This

27 Jan

My gosh, it’s still only January and I missed a weekly post already. Argh! But back at it this afternoon.

This past week has been about data (data sharing, data visualizations, data love), sketchbooks, and artificial intelligence. Some things to share:

The beginning of a new calendar year means it’s time to pay association dues. The time to pay association dues also tends to bring out some grumpiness in folks. Why does it cost so much? What do I get for all that money? Why is MLA so much more expensive than ALA? Ahh, yes. Every year. So I got to thinking about the cost and decided to start brushing up (off?) my skills to compete in the upcoming NNLM Data Visualization Challenge. How much does an MLA membership cost this year? $245 or approximately sixteen 4-packs of decent craft beer. For me, put that way, it seems pretty reasonable. My professional home is worth that to me. No complaining here.

And speaking of that Challenge, be sure to check it out! Per the website, the contest is open to “anyone who has taken part in NNLM activities (e.g., training or grant programs), any health sciences library staff, health sciences librarians working in non-library settings, library or information students, or NNLM staff members are eligible to apply.” Find some data from an open data source and have at it! Should be a lot of fun. Thanks to the National Evaluation Center for the NNLM for bringing it to us.

Another thing for your calendars, the National Library of Medicine is hosting daily events during Love Data Week next month, February 13-17. Love Data Week is sponsored by Inter-university Consortium for Political and Social Research (ICPSR), part of the Institute for Social Research at the University of Michigan.

I received a sad email last week. The Sketchbook Project, a wonderful, global, artist-driven effort is ending its run. The physical library in Brooklyn, NY closed last year and during the move of the collection to Florida, a fire broke out in the trailer carrying the books. That was but one set-back that helped founder, Steven Peterman, make the difficult decision to wrap it up.

I participated in several projects of The Sketchbook Project over the years. I had 2 sketchbooks in the Brooklyn Art Library, plus one in a traveling exhibit. I also did themed artist exchanges; wonderful ways to give and receive art with others around the world. With news of the end, I was able to get my sketchbooks back from the Library. One has water damage from the fire, but it’s still readable (and digitally archived – word to the wise). The other was untouched. They arrived back to me this week. It was fun to see them again.

My question of the week is prompted by all the recent news of ChatGPT. What is the purpose of writing a paper or taking an exam? Is is simply to write the paper and pass a test? If so, then what is the purpose of learning?

One Response to “Picture This”

  1. Joe Harzbecker January 27, 2023 at 4:29 pm #

    Why is MLA more expensive than ALA? Good question. Yes, MLA is smaller. Also, many hospital libraries have closed (so fewer members), and so on. ALA is much bigger with other factors such as a plethora of membership types. But, if one wants to belong to the Association of College and Research Libraries (ACRL) division (which includes a Health Sciences Interest Group) and many other divisions ( see https://www.ala.org/aboutala/divs) one must first pay the base membership of ALA. So the total ALA cost will rise.

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