Monday, June 15, 2009

Add-ons, Toolbars, & Videos, Oh My

Academic Library Internet Information Provision Model: Using Toolbars And Web 2.0 Applications To Augment Subject Reference
E. Michael Wilson, Ohio University, proposed a new library internet provision model which is very complex and has many pathways for users to find information. He compares this model of information retrieval to a proposed Google Research Model: Google > Search > Results.

Staff at OU administered a University Technology Survey in 2008 which 17% of their students participated in to gather information from students. Results indicated that students almost 80% of students were interested in using a toolbar to access research tools. So, since Wilson is a programmer he created a browser toolbar add-in which allows users to get to library chat and wiki easily as well as to simplify their research process. The toolbar includes the ability to perform searches in many engineering research databases, the calalog, etc. Some databases “are bootstrapped through metalib” their multi-search tool in order to make it work students see results within the metalib interface. Wilson also created an engineering wiki which is where users can download the toolbar. They have had 210 installations of the toolbar since 2008, or a little more than 1/3 of the engineering population at OU. Wilson has built in a proxy check to determine whether or not users are on or off campus. This toolbar does require some maintenance of links, etc. but overall Wilson feels it’s a good use of time to develop a subject specific toolbar for researchers. His toolbar can be adapted for use by other libraries.

His model of the subject toolbar information provision model demonstrates a much more simpler method of information retrieval than the typical library web site:Search Toolbar > Search > ResultsWilson used to spend 35% of his instruction time teaching students how to locate resources, he’s been able to trim down this time by referring students and faculty to the toolbar.

Check out their EngrWIKI .

Pimp My Browser: Next-Generation Information Literacy Demands Control of the Browser
Andrew Wohrley from Auburn University Libraries discussed browser add-ins, which extend browser capabilities and may be open source so could be customizable. LibX, Zotero, and Google Translate have been adopted at AU Libraries. See their installation page for LibX which they've dubbed "Auburn Anywhere."

Wohrley also recommends Google Translate which is a free translation plug-in which supports most languages. Upon browsing the AU Libraries web site during the session, I found the folks at AU have linked from various flags on their home page Google translations of their portal. It’s not perfect he warns, but very useful nevertheless.

Finally, he suggests use of Zotero for open source citation management. Zotero supports various output styles, instant footnotes and bibliographies, instant downloading of citations and documents/articles.

FYI: It came up in Q&A that Zotero and EndNote may not play well together. You may need to turn off Zotero in order to use EndNote on a computer. People were interested in the variations and benefits of EndNote Web, EndNote, Zotero, and RefWorks, among other citation management tools. A new version of Zotero coming out may allow users to collaborate and store references remotely vs. on the computer they are using. For anyone actually paying attention, this would be a great paper topic for next year!

Online Tutorials in Engineering Libraries: Analysis And Discussion
Yue Xu from Mississippi State University Libraries described her research analyzing libraries using online tutorials. Benefits of tutorials include providing opportunity for self-paced learning, 24/7 access, releasing the challenges of staffing shortages, and they can also supplement classroom instruction. Xu’s research focuses on web-based instruction in engineering libraries in order to help librarians develop tutorials.

Characteristics of good tutorials, according to Nancy Dewald ‘s paper Transporting good library instruction practices into the web environment: An analysis of online tutorials include use of active learning, media, navigational aids. In addition, those that are course-related, collaborative, and offer instruction on concepts vs. mechanics are good practice. Xu compared ELD libraries to find out if they had online tutorials and the types of tutorials that were created for the engineering libraries. She found that 69% of engineering libraries provide online tutorials, she looked only at library’s web sites so some may not have been discovered due to inclusion within course management systems. Tutorial content included six categories ranging from information literacy, to advanced research skills or course related.Engineering subject categories covered included: specific engineering databases such as PubMed, Web of Science, etc. and topics included patents, standards & specifications, engineering web sources, and one was found on engineering staff training.

Active Learning Components: 15 libraries included features such as interactive quizzes and exercises within. Xu suggests librarians modify existing tutorials, increasing active learning, and adding games for instance to add engagement for tutorial users. She suggests checking out U of Louisville Libraries tutorial which incorporates a game.

BTW, I found while surfing during the session the interesting and kinda fun Library Squares Game on the U of L libraries site. Some librarians mention that they include their tutorials into YouTube and other university video streaming sites which gives you the benefit of grabbing embedded code to post these tutorials easily in various sites.

See also: Dewald, et al article on Information Literacy at a Distance and Hrycaj’s 2005 article Elements of active learning in the online tutorials of ARL members. Also, check out ANTS, Animated Tutorials Service and include your tutorials if you wish to share them for reuse.

Michael Wilson suggested that using “video help” and other terms instead of using the term "tutorial" on the library’s web site makes more sense to students, as they analyzed how users got to their video tutorials at OU.

All points are good ones: let's share and collaborate if possible to reuse tutorials and toolbars that will benefit our engineering library users.

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