October 30, 2008

For Prospective LIS Students

I've talked to a couple of prospective LIS students this week and wanted to give them all sorts of information about what it's like to be a librarian.  Librarians show their affection and support with information, right?!

So I made a short web site with material I'd share with these two students ... and any others that may come along.

Take a look, and pass it on!

October 29, 2008

4-page Tip Sheet for PsycINFO

The American Psychological Association and EBSCO created a handy 4-page tip sheet on searching PsycINFO through the new EBSCO interface.

Using the magic of Adobe Acrobat, I was able to modify the document slightly, so that it contains UConn-specific information, including my name & contact info. and the direct link to get to PsycINFO (for both on- and off-campus access).
If you're a UConn student & want to easily access PsycINFO off-campus, try this link.  Did you know you can search PsycINFO & Medline at the same time?  Also from off-campus!  As usual, if you have any questions about this, please ask!

For More Information

October 28, 2008

Audiology Lectures @ California's Commonwealth Club

I've been listening to some terrific audiology lectures thanks to the Commonwealth Club of California, "the nation's oldest and largest public affairs forum." In May 2008, they offered a "Hearing Miniseries," in which three hearing specialists spoke for about an hour each on various aspects of hearing and hearing-related issues.

1. "How Hearing and the Brain Changes with Age," by Robert W. Sweetow, PhD, Director of Audiology at the UCSF Medical Center on May 15, 2008. Sweetow explains how hearing works, and notes that some age-related hearing problems are due to deterioration of the hearing systems in the ear. Other issues, he says, are more brain-related, because the brain is slower to process information as we age, and this includes processing sound and turning it into something meaningful. You can listen to the audio on the Commonwealth Club web site in real audio, purchase a CD of the lecture ($15), or look for it in iTunes (mp3). His part starts about 5 minutes into the ~66 minute lecture.

#2: "Cochlear Implants: Where Are we in 2008," by Lawrence Lustig, M.D., Division Chief of Otology, Nuerotology and Skull Base Surgery, UCSF, on May 22, 2008. Lustig explains what cochlear implants are and how they work, providing some history and some ideas of the future of cochlear implants. He brought two patients with him who talk briefly about what it was like to get cochlear implants and what effect the implants had on their hearing. You can listen to the audio on the Commonwealth Club web site in real audio, purchase a CD of the lecture ($15), or look for it in iTunes (mp3). His part starts about 6 minutes into the ~65 minute lecture.

#3: "The Future of Hearing: A Sound Investment," by Rodney Perkins M.D., Founder and Chairman of Sound ID, on May 28, 2008. Perkins talked about "hearing devices" (he abhors the term "hearing aids") in general, and then about two devices that his companies are working on. I liked his speaking style -- and I really liked his discussion of why dogs (and, I would argue, cats) perk their ears in different directions (to pinpoint the location of sound). You can listen to the audio on the Commonwealth Club via iTunes or via mp3. His part starts 4 minutes into the ~59 minute lecture.

I'd recommend these lectures to people who are personally interested in hearing -- either because they or someone they know is suffering from hearing loss, or because they are studying hearing / audiology and want some basic information presented in an engaging way. Of course, they're also very helpful for librarians supporting hearing professionals of all stripes.

October 24, 2008

Psychology Podcasts @ UConn

UConn psychology professor Dr. David B. Miller is recording small group discussions which enhance his two large psychology classes. One podcast is called iCube ("Issues In Intro"), about which Miller says:
[These] are informal discussions with students on course material following each week's General Psychology lectures. Students who participate have the opportunity to ask questions for clarification, as well as expand on course material and discuss issues not necessarily covered in class.
He supports the General Psychology class with two other audio sessions, called precasts ("short, enhanced podcasts previewing material before each lecture") and postcasts ("re-explanations of concepts that might be important and/or detailed and, therefore, justify repeating" which are created following some, but not all, lectures).

I am a regular listener to both, and find them very useful. First, the explanation of psychology topics is fun because of my interest in cognitive science. Second, the podcasts are a fascinating insight into how one of "my" professors works with his students in my liaison department. Finally, they are a great example of how all educators can use new technology to enhance our teaching.

Yesterday, I had the opportunity to sit in on his recording session and it was a delight. There were about 20 students sitting around two tables, and virtually all of them were engaged with the conversation. I felt that I could see them learning, and that was a wonderful sight. The podcasts are a great, tech-oriented but not tech-dominated, way for Miller to provide additional information to students in his large introductory class. The beauty of them, it seems to me, is that they are helpful not only to the students who are able to attend the recording session, but also that they are available to other students as a podcast to listen to at their convenience, and as often as they like.

I liked the idea of podcasts-supporting-classes very much in theory, and I was even more impressed with the idea after having seen them in action. I am inspired to try to apply this to my own classes; instead of running exclusively text-based chat "office hours" for my GSLIS classes, I think I'll try Skype sessions next semester. Students who want to do text-based chat can do that, but students who learn more from hearing could benefit too.

But back to Miller: he has discussed his podcasts at various conferences and print publications; check out his 2006 article Podcasting at the University of Connecticut: Enhancing the Educational Experience in the October 16, 2006 issue of Campus Technology. Oh, and he's written his own theme song, PsychoBabble, which he discusses in a standalone podcast. For real!

For More Information

October 19, 2008

Searching for Reliable Medical Information Online

My medical librarian buddy David Rothman created a nifty Web search box that "searches authoritative and trusted consumer health information and patient education resources recommended by the U.S. National Library of Medicine and/or by CAPHIS (the Consumer and Patient Health Information Section of the Medical Library Association)." It's techically a Google Custom Search Engine (CSE),which is a nifty opportunity to create a Google search box that searches only web sites you select.

CAPHIS maintains a page on how to evaluate health infomation, which is useful, and it also lists some of the web sites they recommend. They also list the Top 100 Health Websites You Can Trust.

I've used David's search box for my own medical searching -- I was scrolling through commercial and vaguely unreliable results thinking "hmmm, there's got to be a way to search reliable health information on the Web. Then I remembered David's search engine and tried it with great success. I was happy to easily search medical sites that I know are reputable -- like medlineplus, the mayo clinic, and others. The search looks & works like Google, but it only searches those trusted sites.

For my CogSciLibrarian readers, I thought I would search some of the health-related topics that I've blogged about, such as
  • diabetes: see results from Medline and MedlinePlus, the CDC, the Harvard diabetes center, the Mayo Clinic, and familydoctor.org (the American Academy of Family Physicians). Not surprisingly, there are few results for feline diabetes, since the search engine is focused on human health.
  • vision therapy: see results from Medscape/WebMD, HealthCentral, MedHelp, and more.
  • concussion: see results from kidshealth.org (created by The Nemours Foundation's Center for Children's Health Media) and an interesting article by the CDC about their campaign with the Seattle Seahawks & the Brain Injury Association of Washington to help prevent young athletes from sustaining concussions, and information from the Medical College of Wisconsin.
Of course, there are terrific library resources for consumer health as well, such as:
  • Alt HealthWatch (from EBSCO) - the "alt" stands for "alternative & complementary"
  • Health and Wellness Resource Center and Alternative Health Module (from Cengage Gale)
  • Health Reference Center Academic (from Cengage Gale)
  • Health Source Consumer Edition (from EBSCO)
... and many more ... ask a librarian for assistance!

So ... if you or someone you know is doing consumer health research, check out David's Consumer Health and Patient Education Information Search Engine and browse the list of trustworthy general health web sites, or head to your local public library.

October 16, 2008

Library License Plate in Mass!

The Central Mass Regional Library System is reporting that the state of Massachusetts is offering a library license plate. CMRLS says that 
The idea for the plate emerged during a ‘promote libraries’ brainstorming activity at a CMRLS Executive board workshop.  After a joint meeting with RMV officials in April and consultations with other library organizations, CMRLS decided to launch the drive to gather the required prepaid applications to produce the specialty plate.
CMRLS states that "proceeds will benefit public, academic, special and school libraries across the state that belong to a Regional Library System" and notes that "funds will not be used to supplant library budgets."

The initial cost of the plates will be $60:  $28 for the Library Grant Fund; $12 to the RMV for manufacturing costs, and a $20 "swap fee" when you pick up the plate.  Renewals will happen every two years & will cost $81 ($41 RMV registration fee and $40 for the specialty plate fee that continues to go to the Library Grant Fund).

The RMV must have at least 3,000 pre-paid applications before they will commit to making the plates; after they get 3,000 applications, it will take approximately 6 months to manufacture the plates and for them to reach the RMV branches.

What an ingenious fund-raising idea!

For More Information

October 14, 2008

Interesting Research @ UConn

I'm catching up on some old issues of the UConn Advance, the newspaper of news and events at the University of Connecticut, and I noticed some interesting cognitive-related research going on -- in different departments, as you might expect.

Closest to me as the library adviser to the department of communication sciences, is the Sept. 29 article on assistant professor Melissa Tafoya, highlighting her research in "the dark side of human behavior," or as she elaborates: "the real-life stuff - infidelity, jealousy, aggression, and conflict." The Advance article describes her work in several areas, including assessment of the long-term relationships between step-siblings, and the physiological effects of communication. The Advance says:
In one study, she examined how people’s stress levels were reduced by expressing affection through writing a letter.

The participants’ cortisol levels, heart rates, blood pressure, and blood glucose levels were measured. “We found that participants’ stress levels were significantly reduced when they wrote a letter of affection to somebody they cared about,” she says.

I was also interested to read the October 6 article on the creation of a database to compare international sign languages. Linguists Harry van der Hulst and Rachel Channon are developing a database called SignTyp -- which will eventually be available on the Web for all to peruse -- that contains information on nearly 12,000 signs from six different sign languages. Van der Hulst is a phonologist who says “When I started studying sign languages, it changed my perspective on what human languages are. Sign languages are extra interesting in the domain of phonology, because the medium is not sound but visual display.” He adds that since linguistics has traditionally focused on sound, the field has to redefine what it means by phonology to allow for the fact that sign language doesn't have consonants and vowels.

Check out the Advance article for images of Van der Hulst demonstrating the sign for "recognize" in ASL; presumably a taste of what's to come in the SignTyp database.

For More Information
  • Citations to Professor Tafoya's publications are available on her CV.
  • UConn Linguistics Department SignTyp site.

October 01, 2008

Library Tip o' the Month: ILL *rocks*

There's a great library service for UConn community members who want library materials but don't have the time / energy / physical ability to come over to the Homer Babbidge Library

The Library's DD/ILL staff (library jargon for: "if we don't have it, we'll get it for you" department) is now scanning items at the Babbidge Library as well as items we don't own. 

What does that mean to you?  

If you want a journal article or book chapter, and it's not available online through UConn Links, request it through InterLibrary Loan (ILL) ... you should have a pdf of the item within 2 business days. My experience with this terrific service is that scanned items can come even more quickly than that.

There is currently no charge to UConn students and faculty for this!  (There is a charge to the University to do the scanning, so please ILL responsibly.)

Let me know if you have any questions or comments about this service.