Monday, February 20, 2012

Time and Space – Taylor Family Digital Library

Photo credit, D'Arcy Norman, Flickr
I had the opportunity to speak with Peter Peller, Head of the Spatial and Numeric Data Services unit at the Taylor Family Digital Library about the unique services provided by that unit to the university community.  Spatial and Numeric Data Services is the new name for MADGIC, a service that started about 12 years ago to provide assistance with academic data as well as the air photo and map collection. Services have developed organically over the years as researchers’ needs have changed and as they adapted to newer technologies such as GIS.  Spatial and Numeric Data Services is home to several collections including air photos, maps, microdata files, geospatial files and specialized GIS and statistical software

Unit staff have assisted health science researchers with their epidemiological research tracking disease occurrences and computer engineering students who had developed an algorithm to help the City of Calgary create more efficient garbage pickup routes or “beats”.  Other projects that they have assisted with include a civil engineer who wanted to create a predictive model for tornadoes for the Canadian prairies and a researcher trying to determine locations where oil spills are more prevalent in order to reduce them.  All of these researchers benefited from the data provided by Spatial and Numeric Data Services staff as well as their assistance in processing their data into meaningful results.

The majority of users of this service are from the University of Calgary community and  in particular the Masters of GIS students, the Geomatics Engineering students, and Environmental Design students and faculty. Community members and students from other institutions can access the air photo and map collection and Spatial and Numeric Services staff can provide assistance with academic data research using free and open source resources like GeoGratis and E-STAT.

Spatial and Numeric Data Services website:

by Laura Koltutsky

Monday, February 13, 2012

Report on NetSpeed 2011

In October I attended the Netspeed 2011 Conference and wanted to share a few highlights form my own experience with members of the library community unable to attend.


On the pre-Conference day I was fortunate to help facilitate the Game-ification of Your Library Session, held at the Taylor Family Digital Library at the University of Calgary. This day-long session featured presentations and discussions around adding digital games to library collections, including:
  • Exergaming by Dr. Katz and Gender & Games by Georgia Gaden, both from University of Calgary
  • A Skype session on games in school libraries with Diane Maliszewski and a group of her students
  • Mini-presentations on Censorship, Intertextual Stories and Managing Games Collections
Delegates also had a chance to play some sample games and brainstorm strategies for introducing and managing games in libraries.

After the session, several games systems - bridging nearly 3 decades of console gaming history - were set up at the conference hotel. All delegates were invited to try out a variety of games at the Gameapolooza social event.


Both keynote addresses this year were excellent.

First, was Jesse Hirsch’s presentation Battle for the Future. Jesse spoke about the evolving dynamics of trust, authority, governance and consent in society, both in online and real world networks. He emphasised the importance developing a multiplicity of literacies and critical thinking in order to be an engaged member of our wired-in, online society.

Closing the conference, was Kevin Franco. Kevin discussed how media convergence can change the nature of publishing. His particular focus was on transmedia stories that engage the reader through text, online communities, multimedia presentations and games.


The sessions, too, were very strong this year. Among the several I attended two in particular stand out:
  • Being Social with Social Media: Jim Dunbar from Shortgrass Library System discussed how libraries can effectively leverage social media to engage their users. My big take away idea: use social media to converse with users, rather than merely market to them.
  • Resistence to Ebooks: Andrew Smith talked about the challenges libraries have with ebooks, such as: managing DRM, growing costs vs. tight budgets and incompatible user devices. Andrew noted that we need to educates both users and staff on the features, benefits and limitations of ebooks if libraries want to get widespread adoption from their users.
All in all, Netspeed proved to be a very informative conference. I hope to see many of you at Netspeed 2012.

by Kristian McInnis

Monday, February 6, 2012

We're All A-Twitter

In the past few weeks, the Mount Royal University Library has made its foray (albeit a bit late in embracing the trend) into the world of Twitter. There are plenty of social media tools for libraries to use to communicate with and engage patrons. There are even more library-owned social networking accounts that fall into disuse. Being well aware of that pitfall (admittedly our blog can fall silent from time to time), a thorough plan was drafted, addressing concerns including who would monitor the account, how frequently it would be updated, what kind of content would be tweeted and how it would be promoted. Most importantly Twitter aligned with our communication goal of being able to share quick items of an immediate nature with patrons.
Some of the things we are tweeting about include:

• Library hours

• Events
• Service interruptions
• Library services

• New resources

• Return of high-demand reserve material

• Other bits of library-goodness

We also use it to monitor what others are saying about us, good and bad, and share it by re-tweeting or replying to users directly. We have already been able to help students we might not have otherwise. A couple of weeks ago, a student tweeted that a book she needed to write a paper was missing from the Library. She wasn’t posing a question to our account, but venting to the Twitterverse. We replied to her tweet that she might ask for help at the Info or Circ desk in locating another copy. She replied a few hours later that they had helped her track down the book at the Calgary Public Library… and that our staff are awesome (which they are).

While Twitter has not replaced our main communication tools, it is an additional way to engage patrons who will follow us (71 followers to date!) Taking the time to draft a plan for implementation and maintenance has made the implementation of Twitter a breeze.

If you’re using Twitter go ahead and follow us @MRULibrary.

by Barb Macleod

Saturday, February 4, 2012

Your Voice - Important Issues

Each issue of this year’s FLAG we hope to share answers to questions related to library work and life by a variety of information professionals.

This issue’s question is:
What do you consider to be the most important issue in librarianship right now?

I think an important issue for libraries is platform fragmentation. With traditional collections a book is a book and most users arrive at the door with basic tool (literacy) to access that resource. However, with new media such as ebooks, streaming video and games being sold in exclusive, siloed packages libraries will severely challenged balance user access across the range of devices users will want to bring into the library.

Kristian McInnis
SAIT Library

Would you like to contribute to this new feature section? The next issue’s question is:

What is the best part of working in a library?

Send your responses with your name, job title, and institution to