National Archives and Wikipedia

The continuing development of the US Open Government Plan, first promoted in 2010, and leading, in 2011, to the naming of a Wikipedian in Residence at the National Archives (NARA), is set to go the next step. All of NARA’s digitized content will be loaded into Wikipedia. Already 100,000 images from NARA are available freely and readily via Wikimedia Commons.

This is another alert to us in the library world that we need to take Wikipedia as a serious reference source, help develop our community members’ understanding of how to evaluate its content, and use it ourselves for some serious research.

This new open data reality can save us time and collection money. It furthers our capacity to bring vetted, primary sources to local users. It doesn’t mean that Wikipedia is close to perfect. But it is a strong indication that we need to move our professional discussion of best practices beyond the yes/no evaluation of resources to discover, learn and teach the how and why of discovering the best resource available to respond to the user need.

 

Librarians going beyond Google

In a continuing series of engaging panel discussions hosted by American Libraries, AL Live, the episode presented last Thursday offered a rich mix of observations, insights, and big questions about how library staff–most particularly reference staff–out-Google Google’s popular reputation as the resource par excellance. Going Beyond Google  worked through such concerns as utilizing Google web crawling to reveal library contents for user discovery; recognizing reference staff’s shift from fact-finders to evaluation guides; teaching students the difference between the wisdom of crowds and authentic data; and, most especially, the seemingly irreplaceable role human interaction–conversational communication–plays in getting the person with the question to infomation that best responds to addressing it.

The live webcast itself epitomized the very values being named and addressed throughout it. Panelists engaged each other, through Dan Freeman’s fast paced hosting, rather than announcing positions held individually outside the influence of the ongoing conversation. Virtual participants added meaty remarks, with Dan turning to these text chatters frequently enough to keep the preset discussion questions fluid and evolved under the comments added extemporaneously.

Among the takeaways from this model reference engagement process was the citing of an ACRL document authored by Megan Oakleaf,  The Value of Academic Libraries, which provides–and importantly for public and other libraries beyond academic ones–replicable charting methods for displaying how libraries, and librarian-provided services, provide institutional value.

Other takeaways included the restatement of reference (and other library provisions) in a “Google world” as being one of fruitful addition, wayfinding, mentorship, and authoritative balance rather than an unfruitful competition between librarian and search engine. The incomparable worth of communication–between librarian and information seeker–was highlighted as the epitome of library added value to any knowledge search beyond the identification of simple fact. And to that end, the webcast itself was a model of communication among librarians about where and how to get beyond Google.

Infopeople rolls out staff help on Affordable Care Act

Today at noon, Infopeople presented a well attended webinar to kick off efforts to bring California library staff information about the Affordable Care Act and and assistance in identifying the role of public libraries in the enrollment process scheduled to open on 1 October. If you weren’t able to attend the webinar live, be assured that, like all Infopeople webinars, it will be archived shortly for your access. Be sure to download the speakers’ PowerPoint slides and the two-page document of Resources for Libraries collected to date.

Three speakers addressed the webinar topic of Get Covered @ the Library: Affordable Care Act Resources for Libraries: Oakland Public librarian Barbara Bibel gave an outline of how the health insurance marketplace fits into the 2010 Affordable Care Act rollout; UC Los Angeles librarian Kelli Ham presented the organizing principles and details of the health insurance exchange as well as great resources for staff to access and use; and Covered California’s Diane Stanton was on hand to respond to questions specific to the California health insurance exchange.

High on the list of important take-aways from the hour are clear steps libraries need to be taking now:

  • Make an inventory of resources – staff, computers, time for training
  • Decide types and levels of service
  • Maintain neutrality; act as information providers, not insurance experts or advisors
  • Become knowledgeable about appropriate resources and services

And for library administrators as well as supervisors in information/reference, IT and other specific services: “communicate with staff; ongoing communication between management and staff is key” to any library functioning well during this initial enrollment period.

In the next few days, look for Infopeople’s announcement of free, online independent learning about the Affordable Care Act and the public library connection. A series of six modules will go deeper into the context and content of the Affordable Care Act, the health insurance exchange for individuals and families, the Small Business Health Insurance Options Program, Medi-Cal changes, educating your community about health care and health insurance, and planning programs and partnerships around enrollment.

There will also be future webinars, posters and bookmarks to help alert your library users to enrollment and where to find authoritative information on the Affordable Care Act, and other resources you may need in order to assist your community during this initial enrollment period.

Stay tuned!

Irons in the fire

In spite of some public appearances, Infopeople isn’t limiting our scope of activities to the various projects required in order to get library staff up and aware of the Affordable Care Act. Here are some other initiatives that have us busy—so that we can better help library staff with the variety of training and information needs we face:

The Infopeople website is being updated with the latest Drupal release and with an always improving interface for users. If your interest in coding and content management systems is limited, your attention to this project need not be: presentation of upcoming trainings and webinars are better displayed and the new registration interface should make it easier for would-be training participants to make their selections and go through the enrollment process.

Eureka! has been rolling along for some years now. One effect of that is a growing number of Eureka Fellow cohorts working on specific projects and celebrating reunions. You can dig into the archived webinars Fellows have provided as well–another way to harvest great library leadership info or to access when you mentor someone else in the library field.

And on the topic of webinars, tomorrow (20 August), we have a much needed and welcome one on the boards at 12 Noon, Pacific Time, when Kathy Middleton, Noelle Burch and Alison McKee address Inclusive Library Programming for People with Intellectual Disabilities. As with all Infopeople webinars (including 9 September’s Get Covered @ the Library: Affordable Care Resources for Libraries), there’s no registration fee and the session will live on the webinar archives page after production.

We also have a mostly developed–and rich–slate of online course offerings for the Fall. There are eight online courses now open for registration,  You can also use the Calendar tab on the training page to get a view into September, October and even November. Whether you’re planning your personal professional development, or formulating the training calendar for staff you manage, it’s not too soon to look ahead!

 

Lots of training news!

Is there really a slow time around Infopeople training roll outs?  Nah! And so far, this August is proving to be busy for those of us creating lots of new content areas and formats for library staff training and development!

Here’s an overview of what’s happening, and a glimpse ahead, too:

With the Affordable Care Act approaching a new stage, that of health insurance enrollment, libraries and library staff have been called upon to prepare to assist our community members to accessing information and the tools needed to expedite individual and family enrollments. There is a humongous amount of information for us all to recognize and absorb–and we know you are already busy. So, upcoming very soon is Infopeople’s online resources page dedicated to leading you and your staff to the most urgent Affordable Care Act news and resources. By “soon,” you can think “end of this very week.”

Also in the hopper related to the Affordable Care Act is a webinar featuring our excellent Kelli Ham, along with the ever knowledgeable Barbara Bibel, and another panelist from Covered California. The one-hour webinar is scheduled for noon, on Monday, September 9. Kelli, besides being a librarian at UCLA, is Infopeople’s link with the National Network of Libraries of Medicine, Pacific Southwest Region. Barbara has been certified by the Medical Library Association and regularly provides training to public library staff around health and wellness materials.

As of Sunday, the independent online learning series Infopeople has hosted for UC Davis, titled Health and Wellness Competencies, has moved to Infopeople’s direct aegis.  Any generalist who wants to gain a better understanding of how to deliver health and wellness information to his or her library community, making use of best practices, can enroll in this six-module wholly asynchronous series by registering on the Infopeople training site. While this series does not address the Affordable Care Act, we have another series of independent online learning rolling out in September, titled Affordable Care Act @ Your California Library.

And speaking of independent online learning series, what had been called CORE 2: Subject Area Reference is now titled Subject Area Reference. We’ve returned its layout to that of a single strand with six modules, one evaluation and one certificate of completion.

With two fully developed independent online series already underway and a couple more in development, this is a good time to remind everyone that these series are low cost ($25 for Californian library staff, with free registration for rurals, and $50 for out of state participants). Each series is available for registration any time and each one runs all the time. A participant has two months to work at his or her own rate on any of the modules within the series for which he or she has registered.

Now, if you would like to receive such updates in breaking moment and perhaps more specifically concise way, here’s a reminder that you can follow Infopeople on Twitter (@infotweets), receive updates on Facebook by “liking” us there(facebook.com/infopeople.org), connecting your RSS feed to Infopeople’s home page, and/or making sure you are subscribing to this blog.