Happy Holidays Citizen Scientists!


Everyone knows that birders, or nerders as I like to call them, are a dedicated bunch, willing to spend hours in one spot waiting for a sighting of an elusive species.  For those of us with self-diagnosed ADD, that seems like a true test of fortitude!  Birders play in an important role in the scientific community and each year act as citizen scientists, collecting invaluable data that helps to further research and fuel conservation efforts.  These efforts are mobilized each year during the Annual Audubon Christmas Bird Count.

CBC Santa

The 113th Annual Audubon Christmas Bird Count will take place Dec 14, 2012 to January 5, 2013.  The longest running Citizen Science survey in the world, Christmas Bird Count provides critical data on population trends.  Data from the over 2,000 circles are entered after the count and become available to query here.

112th chirstmas bird count

The first year,in 1900, 27 birders participated, counting in 25 North American locations.  Last year, more than 63,000 volunteers in more than 2,200 locations took part.  Counts were held in the U.S., Canada, Latin America, the Caribbean and the Pacific Islands.

1936 chirstmas count

The original counters tallied about 90 species. Last year volunteers recorded nearly 2,300 species among more than 60 million birds.

Audubon’s chief scientist Gary Langham points out that the counts’ purpose goes beyond tallying birds.

“Data from the Audubon Christmas Bird Count are at the heart of hundreds of peer-reviewed scientific studies and inform decisions by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, the Department of Interior and the EPA,” he said.


From all accounts it’s also a lot of fun!  Find a circle near you…


Getting Resourceful

There is no doubt that the internet is full of useful tools and tutorials, but as we all know it can be aggravating reading and sifting through countless web pages to find the most valuable resources.  To coincide with my post from last week, I have compiled a list of what IMHO constitute the best of the best!  I hope that these links are useful and allow you to continue to “skill up” and develop into a well-rounded information professional.

First of all some tools to help you unravel the mystery of website design, content management, and ever-changing software

Lynda Online Training Library

This site has hundreds of tutorials on all sorts of software as well as photography and videography.  Many academic institutions, including FSU, offer staff and students access to these tutorials free of charge.  If you aren’t so lucky you can sign up for a month long free trial and if you find the tutorials useful, you can subscribe for $25/a month.  Definiely worth pokking around!


They also have about 10% of their content on YouTube for free


Free Drupal Training

Very comprehensive 4 week course!


Receive a new Drupal lesson each week in your inbox!


Fedora and Dspace

Extensive Wiki maintained by DuraSpace



Awesome free site that offers training on JavaScript, HTML/CSS, Python, and Ruby.  An invaluable resource!


Next up, ways to improve your teaching, e-learning resources, and social media platforms

Instructional Design


Some good reading…



First a little background information…


Lots of great online tools for educators and ideas on how to incorporate them into instruction sessions


A short list of E-learning tools from the University of Oregon Libraries


Finally every year the Center for Learning and Performance Technologies puts out a list of the Top 100 tools for learning.  This is a great and succinct slideshow!

Time to Skill Up

There is no doubt that the librarian of today is required to be a jack of all trades.

In addition to traditional duties, those of us dedicated to a career in information science must also be highly skilled at instruction, outreach, scholarly communication, web programming, database management, etc.  A perusal of recent job listings shows a variety of terms that were not in the lexicon of common vocabulary even a few years ago!  I looked at 10 current openings on the ALA JobLIST, in the specific fields of science librarianship and data management services.  Here are a few of the required and preferred qualifications that jumped out at me:

 –Demonstrated proficiency with HTML/XHTML/CSS and current trends in web development.

-Demonstrated experience developing user-centered digital projects.

-Experience with digital library, institutional repository and/or content management software such as CONTENTdm, DSpace, Drupal, Archon, Archivists’ Toolkit.

-Demonstrated ability to efficiently manage multiple projects and priorities.

-Ability to work collaboratively in a team-based environment.

Experience with creating and maintaining web pages.

-Demonstrated strong commitment to professional development.

Ability to develop instruction sessions and to instruct users effectively both individually and in the classroom setting.

-Candidates should have demonstrated knowledge of current and emerging technologies as they contribute to meeting the needs of student and faculty researchers in the sciences.

 –Demonstrated understanding of the issues involved with data management and curation, including format migration, preservation, metadata, and data retrieval.

-Knowledge of research data lifecycle concepts and issues.

-Familiarity with federal funding requirements for data management.

A variation on these preferred qualifications was found in all of the job postings that I perused.  In a nutshell, to be an attractive candidate in today’s over saturated job market it is necessary to continue to work towards furthering our education and training to meet the demands of a changing profession.  A working knowledge of web design, data management, and emerging technologies is a key component in staying viable as a profession as well as furthering your own career.  In addition to gaining the hard skills necessary to continue to develop the infrastructure for the digital libraries of our future, it is also important to not neglect the soft skills that make librarians such a valued member of the academic community.  Striving towards increased collaboration and furthering efforts in outreach and instruction are also key components in the process of “skilling up”.  Next week, I’ll be posting some links and resources for free and inexpensive continuing education opportunities.  So stay tuned!

Vizualize it

I have been guilty of infographic envy lately.  They are such a great visual and I want to learn how to make one!  What does this have to do with e-science librarianship?  Well for one, infographics can bring all of that big data to life in the form of a few pictures.  They are also a great marketing, outreach, and social media tool that librarians should be hip to.

How about I let an an infographic do the talking?

There are many ways that librarians can incorporate infographics into their instructional sessions

Here for example is an Infographic created by Mashable, that tells you, “How to Google it”.

We are constantly trying to say more with less and do more with less and infographics allow you to do just that.

I was curious about the tools that are available to assist in the creation of an infographic and I found this great article on edudemic.com highlighting “10 Fun Tools to Easily Make Infographics“.  Definitely worth a read!

I chose to investigate the site, Easel.ly which allowed me to chose one of several templates to tweak as I so desired.  It was pretty fun, I’m not going to lie and I am definitely going to keep playing with the format and try to get better at it!

I ended up creating an infrographic on metadata schema.  What do you think?



One More Tool for your Kit

Have you grown weary of sifting through the countless bits of information about how to manage research data? Well, not to worry because, SURA (Southeastern Universities Research Association) has recently launched an institutional tool for Research Data Management (RDM), developed by a working group formed with the Association of Southeastern Research Libraries (ASERL).  The working group brings together CIOs and library professionals from SURA member institutions to explore collaborations for improving their ability to manage the rapidly growing volume of research data.

The 5 page document, entitled the “Step-By-Step Guide to Data Management” is succinct, to the point, and provides links to all relevant outside sources.  The document was developed as a result of a survey of SURA membership to identify goals and projects for improving the management of institutional data.  The authors took their inspiration from the DataONE Best Practices Primer  and while it breaks no new ground, it does provide a clear and easy to digest picture of current trends and best practices in data management at universities.  To truly ensure the accessibility of data it is important to reach a consensus on best practices and methods for optimum accessibility in the future.

Of course it comes as no surprise that the university library is highlighted as resource not to be overlooked. As one fellow blogger put it, “while this may not come as a shock from a group that is half comprised of Research Library professionals, towering or expansive university libraries often have a significant amount of data to handle. Creating a database that can be searched hundreds of different ways of the myriad titles that exist is no small data feat.”  The argument can be made, and has been multiple times, that libraries are uniquely suited to play a pivotal role in the research data management process.  Now we have one more resource to offer our patrons to assist them in managing all that sexy data.

Making Data Accessible to All

In honor of Open Access week, I’d like to take a moment to highlight the work that the World Bank has done in the last several months to make their data freely available.   An Open Access Policy for its research outputs and knowledge products was formally implemented on July 1, 2012 and will continue to be expanded and improved upon over the course of the coming year.

The policy implicitly states that, “The World Bank supports the free online communication and exchange of knowledge as the most effective way of ensuring that the fruits of research, economic and sector work, and development practice are made widely available, read, and built upon. It is therefore committed to open access, which, for authors, enables the widest possible dissemination of their findings and, for readers, increases their ability to discover pertinent information.”

The Open Knowledge Repository, the centerpiece of the policy, is the new home for all of the World Bank’s research outputs and knowledge products. The Repository currently contains works from 2009-2012 (more than 2,100 books and papers) across a wide range of topics and all regions of the world. This includes the World Development Report, and other annual flagship publications, academic books, practitioner volumes, and the Bank’s publicly disclosed country studies and analytical reports. The repository also contains journal articles from 2007-2010 from the two World Bank journals WBRO and WBER.

The repository will be updated regularly with new publications and research products, as well as with content published prior to 2009. Starting in 2013, the repository will also provide links to datasets associated with research. While the vast majority of the works are published in English, over time translated editions will also be added.

Last week the latest effort in the World Bank’s push for transparency and open access was unveiled in the form of Health Stats, a new database featuring information and data on  health, nutrition and population topics.

According to their press release, “Health Stats provides access to more than 250 indicators on health, nutrition and population in 200+ countries, covering topics such as health financing, HIV/AIDS, immunization, health workforce and health facilities use, nutrition, reproductive health, cause of death, non-communicable diseases, and water and sanitation. Users can pull data by country, topic, or indicator, and view the resulting data (and wealth quintiles) in tables, charts or maps, or access pre-made tables for quick query.”

The site draws on a variety of data sources, including administrative statistics and household surveys compiled by the World Bank Group and its client countries, the World Health Organization (WHO), the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF), the Food and Agricultural Organization of United Nations (FAO), the United Nations Population Division, the United Nations Statistics Division, the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) and the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD).

One new feature that I particularly like is the Data Visualization Map, which allows you to animate data to show how indicators have changed over decades.  For example, this is a map of worldwide female life expectancy from the year 2011.

Additional Resources

Updated information and helpful resources


Examples of user generated data visualization


Useful information on accessing World Bank data