The degree, being a professional, some options... stop whining

(by Christina Pikas) May 07 2017

Notable library school lecturer and bird, Gavia Libraria has had it with this whole whiny business of fussing that the library school people attended 5, 10, 15, 20, 30... years ago didn't offer x or y or z.

If you know anything about our field, or any other profession, you know that the degree is very much a beginning. It gets you the foundation, the jargon, and a method for acquiring more. It is not, nor could it ever be the end. That's just crazy.

Now, there are no doubt library school classes that are better than others.  Also ones that are more relevant than others for the thing you need to do today. I am one of the few who actually believes in "core" classes because there are some standard things you should be able to at least look up how to do if you all the sudden become a solo librarian. Like a reference interview. Searching a library catalog, a research database, and the web. Cataloging a book. Unjamming a stapler, a copier, and a toilet 🙂

The other piece of her argument is that libraries often think grass is greener and want to hire someone in with the needed skills instead of developing staff to meet new needs. This is pretty crap if you're the existing staff who is running as fast as she can to move into a new position.

So you're now out of school, what next? Are you in your professional associations? Are you engaging online? Are you attending training given by the vendors - free online! Are you reading? Are you thinking critically?

I, for one, went to an awesome library school that gave me an excellent foundation. I also work very hard to learn all the time.

Here's an example: I am forever trying to learn Python and R and bibliometrics. I can do some things but I'm very slow. My boss didn't tell me to learn. I'm not mad at my library school for not teaching me. I don't even know if either one really existed when I was undergrad (we used Mathematica and Pascal but I'm old).

So here I diverge greatly from some of my librarian colleagues who really hate code academies and MOOCs. I think they are awesome for people like me. I've done a couple Google ones. Some R ones and some Python ones. I abandoned two on machine learning.  The R ones from JHSPH were fine but the one that was really good was the intro to programming with Python from MIT on EdX. It was by far the best platform and the best instruction.  I'm messing with a Michigan one on data science now and it is not as good at all.

Anyway, pull up your big girl pants and get to work learning. While you're at it, work with your leadership on where you see things going and how to best meet the need. If you're in some level of management, work with your librarians to make sure they are moving ahead and advocate for them to upper management.

Remember, I'm pulling for you. We're all in this together. Keep your stick on the ice. Good luck with the staplers.

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I will be going to the March for Science (DC)

(by Christina Pikas) Apr 21 2017

I, like many others, have been more than a bit put out by the DC organizers. When I first heard of the march I was all for it. Then I heard an organizer on Science Friday. OMG. Really? "if they just knew science was cool they would fund it!" Um. No.

And the absolute mess they made of trying to be inclusive and support diversity - although they have come a long way.

Anyway, I will be going and I will be bringing my children. So, fwiw, they will have the opportunity. Wish us luck!

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Animating a graph

(by Christina Pikas) Apr 21 2017

What I really want is an interactive network graph that my viewer can click on, slide things, flip switches, etc. I'll get there someday. In the mean time, this was fairly easy to show the evolution of a network over time.

The network is a company network generated in Quid*. I used the time filter and exported a png every 3-5 years for this network. The point being that there has been a lot of growth and in particular clusters of companies.

Here it is:

Probably need to click to enlarge to see the animation

ImageMagick is an awesome open source image tool. There have been other ways to get to it from R or python, but the magick package is the easiest I've seen. The vignettes and a blog post from rOpenSci were helpful.

 

library("magick", lib.loc="~/R/win-library/3.3")
setwd("I:/Christina's/person")
newcomp_files<-list.files("folder", pattern="*.png", full.names=TRUE)
newcomp<-lapply(newcomp_files, image_read)
#need image_join because the above produces a list instead of a magick vector 
#dispose deletes previous image
newcomp_animate<-image_animate(image_join(newcomp), fps = 0.5, dispose = "previous")
image_write(newcomp_animate, 'newcomp_animate_82-.gif')

 
Note: the final version you see also used magick to crop (not great) and to annotate with the year. I slowed the frame rate down quite a bit.
 

I tried morphing and it was pretty slow and really not worth it so much.

*not affiliated and not endorsing

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Who are my researchers citing? A quick and dirty way to find out

(by Christina Pikas) Apr 21 2017

This probably shouldn't warrant a post, but a few very experienced and up-to-date librarians didn't immediately know so probably worth sharing. Also, it turns out that Scopus* has hidden or removed a lot of the useful stuff and made it confusing to even know where to enter the search.**

In Scopus, search for your researchers. In my case, an affiliation search works.***

 

The affiliation search is a tab from the home page. There's no way to know it's a tab. It's just an underlined word. You actually then click around on the page until you find some place to type your query.

From the results list - and mind you I do this exact search regularly so yours might not be so precise - go ahead and click on all the documents. If you're at NIH then crap, because you have more then 10,000 journal articles per year so you have to do some major slicing and dicing. I just limited to 2016 and journal articles just because.

Then you look  for the "..." but then you realize it's grayed out and you can't actually click on it.

So then you click to highlight all, and then you click on "..." and you see view references.

From here, you can list the top sources and, theoretically, analyze them. They're not completely clean though. My set had JGR as well as the spelled out and the specific ones. Likewise with ApJ. So how quick and how dirty is ok? For collections development, you're probably cool with reading off. Otherwise you could export and then use OpenRefine or similar to clean.

* Not affiliated, not endorsing!

** plus - this thing in advanced search in which it is forever putting in codes I do not want ... anyway...

***hey, all the branding for my larger institution is gone? aw come on.

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What *are* guides for?

(by Christina Pikas) Apr 17 2017

https://pixabay.com/en/contact-direction-green-guide-help-2910/Libraries of all flavors have these things that gather together resources on a topic for their users/patrons/customers. In a huge portion of academic libraries, these are database driven lists of online resources managed by a web content management system separate from the rest of their web page. Other libraries do these on blog software or their regular web content management system.

These things have been around forever, from mimeographed or even typeset bibliographies available as handouts to these web things.  The old thinking was the only people who learned from guides were their creators. But that's not fair. They can be a real lifesaver if you find the perfect one that addresses your need when you actually need it.

Obviously, that's also the major problem: What to include, what to say about the things that are included, and how to get the guide where it's needed, when it's needed? Of course there have been a million studies and there are best practices but you do see a lot of variety in the wild.

Some guides are for classes in response to a particular assignment so are targeted. A lot of guides are for entire fields of study: physics, geosciences (not even breaking atmospheric sciences from geology), etc.  In certain fields there are standard tasks students have to deal with like in business, industry and company research. There are basic steps to be taken and for each step, there is a preferred resource.

How about those general guides? What to include, in what order, with what verbiage? No point in writing too much if it causes the guide not to be read. Yet you want to really make the point of exactly in which situations that resource will help and how it can be used most efficiently.

Or maybe not for that last part - tips and tricks can go on a blog and in classes or demonstrations.  If you get the chance... and if you can get that training opportunity to the people when and where they need it.

On LSW there was some discussion about this recently and a member brought up a screenshot of a famously poor guide that, if printed, would have been 36 feet long at 75 dpi. Another guide had 38 tabs (basically menu across the top in this software everyone uses) and many of the tabs had dropdown menus.

At MPOW we have to have ours on SharePoint and we are not actually allowed to edit or design them... but I really, really think these database driven ones are often not the best information design to get the point across. I mean, there's no way to keep up with the URLs if you hand code something but at the same time, it's really awkward to try to make various pieces of content stand out. It's often difficult to embed training information, tips, and links to these things. In addition, resources are often listed in alphabetical order which may not really make sense depending on what they are.

For my news guide, I went off the rails and have it divided differently: by time, by location, by topic.  But I don't actually know that ours are any use, either.  Theoretically our pages were tested and users were able to "find an e-book" (they weren't asked to find a particular ebook, mind you)

My professor for my business reference class made a point of saying how guides (and training) should be problem oriented... So maybe, we should leave the lists of resources to the A-Z lists (with topic tags?) and guides should be reworked to be problem based? We do try to make our training problem based not just here's-a-laundry-list... but alas....

 

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Nebulous Connections Presentation: Using bibliometrics to keep up with the Joneses

(by Christina Pikas) Apr 04 2017

I presented this today, April 4, 2017 at the SLA Maryland event held at NASA Goddard's Library

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Oh scientists, writing a letter about a publisher platform upgrade gone awry...

(by Christina Pikas) Apr 01 2017

Apparently, Oxford University Press' recent journal platform upgrade (details pdf) got super screwed up. A bunch of scientists are (rightfully) quite upset about various issues such as missing years of archives, access being denied for certain subscribers, misdirected and non-directing urls and dois, and missing supplemental data.

Don't get me wrong, this is pretty horrible. What tickles me is the response of writing an open letter.

Typically, when these upgrades go wrong, the scientists scream at us, their librarians. We in turn call and e-mail and fuss at the vendor who then eventually fixes it and then sends an apology to our acquisitions team and sometimes relevant listservs. I don't think we ever actually get any credits on our bills, though.

What a pleasant surprise that the scientists are actually blaming the publisher!

When I say typically, I mean like probably every month or so something like this happens to some extent. Some vendor platform upgrades are smooth, but I think most have some subset of the issues OUP has had.

Sage gave free access for like a month and then redirected all URLs. RefWorks is running 2 platforms in parallel for like 3 years.  LexisNexis is going to SOOPRIZE change us all over during the summer to a completely new platform... It is more typical to change over during the summer instead of screwing things up during prime paper writing season. Of course, OUP did start this late fall ... so...

Anyway, I hope OUP gets their stuff squared away quickly.

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Reflection on librarians and bibliometrics

(by Christina Pikas) Mar 25 2017

I only attended a few of the sessions related to bibliometrics at ACRL2017, but I talked with a bunch of new people and I saw what was presented. This confirmed my view that:

Librarians are sophisticated and nuanced producers and consumers of bibliometrics

Last Fall, as I sat in  a presentation by Ludo Waltman (slides pdf) in which he talked of librarians as "citizen" bibliometricians who are, essentially, only able to uncritically use the JIF and h-index because they are all we understand. We are only able to look up metrics when carefully handed to us by vendors.

I was irate, because I do not see myself in that category at all. Nor do I see my colleagues at CMU, NYU, UIC, Northwestern, ARL, NIH, Cornell, and CWRU that way. But maybe I live in a bubble?

No. It was clear from ACRL that there are librarians everywhere who follow these things, care deeply about them, think critically about them, and who are sophisticated in creating and using metrics.

So I'm blowing a raspberry at your "citizen" bibliometrics. We are not the citizenry; we are the insurgency.   Ok, that's too dramatic. Let's say we're the army of the less-well funded ally that nevertheless has lots of troops in the battle.

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ACRL2017: When Tradition and Reality Collide: Metrics, Impact and Beyond

(by Christina Pikas) Mar 25 2017

Friday morning Abigail Goben, Meg Smith, and I presented at the Association of College and Research Libraries conference in Baltimore. I am not an academic librarian but I do serve researchers. I would say that SLA is probably more appropriate for librarians serving researchers in government, industry, and other settings. This was local, though!

The polls yielded some interesting feedback.

  • Our audience members were overall fairly experienced in metrics, with some experts. They knew most of the terms we threw out
  • Many of their libraries have informal support for metrics with a few libraries having formal support
  • Librarians sometimes have an uneasy role with metrics:
    • Frustrated with inappropriate use or use by uninformed people
    • Difficulty working with researchers and with administration: who should pay for the tools? who should do the work?
    • Librarian as neutral vs. metrics for competition
  • Many organizations do have RIM thingies, but they are mostly at the office of research or provost's office. There is a need for more help in how librarians can work with these offices.

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Getting SXSW Schedule Information

(by Christina Pikas) Mar 13 2017

I asked around if anyone had this already - but no luck. So I did it myself and posted to github and now here.

This gets a csv file with the basics of the interactive panels in it. Seems like a conference like this probably should offer this info in various formats? Maybe I just didn't look hard enough

Also, a chance to test rvest vs. Beautiful Soup. Actually worked pretty well.

library("httr", lib.loc="~/R/win-library/3.3")
library("rvest", lib.loc="~/R/win-library/3.3")

#get the session page urls from the schedule page

interactsess<-GET("http://schedule.sxsw.com/2017/03/10/events/conference/Interactive/type/panel")

interactsess.text<-rawToChar(interactsess$content)

interactsess.links<-getHTMLLinks(interactsess.text)

hold2<-interactsess.links[grep("PP",interactsess.links)]

sessionpages<-paste("http://schedule.sxsw.com",hold2,sep="")

#test all the individual pieces
session<-sessionpages[2] %>%
  read_html() %>%
  html_node(".event-body")

name<- session %>%
  html_node(".event-name") %>%
  html_text()

date<- session %>%
  html_node(".event-date") %>%
  html_text()

speaker<- session %>%
  html_node("h4") %>%
  html_text()

organization<- session %>%
  html_node("h5") %>%
  html_text()

description <- session %>%
  html_node("p") %>%
  html_text()

getsessiondetails<-function(url){
  session<- url %>%
    read_html() %>%
    html_node(".event-body")
  
  name<- session %>%
    html_node(".event-name") %>%
    html_text()
  
  date<- session %>%
    html_node(".event-date") %>%
    html_text()
  
  speaker<- session %>%
    html_node("h4") %>%
    html_text()
  
  organization<- session %>%
    html_node("h5") %>%
    html_text()
  
  description <- session %>%
    html_node("p") %>%
    html_text()
  
  item<-c(url, name,date, speaker,organization, description)
  
  return (item)
}

sessioninfo<-data.frame()

for (i in 1:length(sessionpages)) sessioninfo<- rbind(sessioninfo, getsessiondetails(sessionpages[i]))
colnames(sessioninfo)<-c("url","title","date","speaker","organization","description")
write.csv(sessioninfo,file = "sxswinteractivepanels.csv")

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