A Quick Statistics Snapshot for the Salmon Library, March 2014

We know that several people enjoyed seeing the information we posted for February.  Without further ado, here is the same sort of quick statistics snapshot for March 2014.

The Salmon Library had 15,938 visitors in March, averaging slightly over 590 per day.  (Note that the library was open for most of Spring Break.)

We checked out 1559 books during the month. We also checked out an additional 164 books/materials through Interlibrary Loan.

For non-book check-outs, we had 114 laptop/iPad checkouts and 304 checkouts of other materials (markers, keyboards, and so forth usually for our study rooms). Also, those study rooms were checked out 324 times.

Some notes:

  • The laptops and study rooms can be checked out at the User Services desk for a period of three hours. Books are checked out based on status, from 28 days for Undergrads to 90 days for grads to 1 year for staff and faculty. See User Services Guide for more information [or call them at (256)824-6530]
  • Also, iPads can be checked out for up to five days.  Again, see the User Services Guide for more information [or call (256)824-6530].
  • If you need a group study area but the study rooms are all in use, there’s still hope!  Check to see if the media:scape study areas or if any of the group study tables & monitors are available.  (Both can be found on the 1st floor of the library, in the North tower.  If your computer or tablet does not have an HDMI output connection, check with the User Services desk at the front of the library to see if we have the appropriate connector in stock.)

Scopus to start expanding indexing back to 1970

An eye on global research:  50 million records, 21,000 titles, 5,000 publishers

“The interconnectedness of all things,” is the mantra of not-quite-detective (debate remains on whether he is quite holistic) Dirk Gently, and rarely does it reach more of a truth than in research fields, where the understanding the state of the art is as much an understanding-the-context as an understanding-the-content.

Here at the Salmon Library, one of our key resources for seeing how articles and research are interconnected is Scopus: an Elsevier product that helps to see which articles are citing which other articles, how they are being cited, how they are being used in other ways (online mentions, social media mentions), how they relate to the author’s body of work, how the journals in which they are published match up with the field as a whole, and so forth.

Whether you are a professor looking to get published or a student wondering which articles you should prioritize with your capstone project, Scopus can help, and it is about to get bigger.

The Scopus blog has just announced today that the team will begin the Scopus Cited References Expansion project. Among other things, this will track citation data back to 1970, giving a better overall picture of how articles and researchers use other articles and research. For any field of research that needs to go back more than the past couple of decades, this will be invaluable.

To quote from their blog:

The Cited References Expansion project aims to increase the depth of Scopus’ scholarly content while enhancing the ability to use Scopus for evaluation and trend analysis. Moreover, author profiles and h-index counts of researchers who published articles prior to 1996 will be more complete.

The increased indexing will “become apparent” in the fourth quarter of 2014, and should be completed in 2016.

Curious about Scopus and how you can use it? Contact the Reference Desk (phone: 256.825.6528 or email: erefq@uah.edu, see link for more options) and we can help!

Library Hours during Spring Break 2014

During this spring break, the library will have a modified schedule.  Please see the full details here.

Of note, the library will be:

  • Open Friday, March 21, until 8 pm (for the Coffeehouse Writers Series – click here for more information).
  • Closed all day Saturday & Sunday, March 22 & 23.
  • Open for reduced hours Monday-Thursday, March 24-27 (7:30 am – 6 pm).
  • Closed all day Friday & Saturday, March 28 & 29.
  • Open for reduced hours Sunday, March 30 (4-10 pm).
  • Resuming normal hours, starting on Monday March 31.

If you are looking for the ChargerBrew coffee shop in the library, please note that ChargerBrew will close for Spring Break at 3 pm on March 21, and will reopen after Spring Break on March 31.

Have a safe and happy Spring Break!

Coffeehouse Writers Series Presents The Coweeta Poets this Friday at the Salmon Library Art Gallery

The Coffeehouse Writers series returns to the library this Friday, March 21, 2014. The featured poets will be The Coweeta Poets. Everyone is welcome to attend. It is 6:00pm in the Art Gallery on the first floor of the library.

If you wish to see more about The Coweeta Poets, AL.com has a write-up about them from last year’s presentation: 10 North Alabama women make up Coweeta Poets. From that article…

The images in their poems come from memory, experience, or the natural landscape of the Benedictine Retreat Center: ducks, pond, bullfrog, trees. Luther says they’ve also written about such diverse topics as aging, cheese, chickens, and the color puce.

The Coweeta Poets are talented women. All are teachers or former teachers. All have passion for the written word, and most have published in journals and anthologies. Many of the poets have won state and national awards and some have come out with poetry chapbooks of their own. Their 2010 collaborative work, Something More Solid than Earth, features the poems of seven of the poets.

For more information about the CoffeeHouse Writers Series in general, you can contact Marylyn Coffey by phone at 256-824-6114 (email her at coffeymt@uah.edu) or you can visit uah.edu/womensstudies.

Coffeehouse Writers Series, The Coweeta Poets

Coffeehouse Writers Series, Spring 2014

SMP Database Trial through April

Security Management Practices (SMP) is an expert resource on the Web for learning about how to confront and manage organizational risk, plan for disruptions, deploy network security appliances, employ biometric technologies, safeguard intellectual property, establish security best practices, protect and train students, staff and much more. Click the link below to try it out!

SMP Trial

Sneak preview at the library!

Would you like to potentially meet your next Reference Librarian?

The UAH Library is currently interviewing candidates for a new Reference Librarian.  We have two applicants scheduled to visit the UAH library on March 20 & 21, and they will each teach a short library presentation.

We would welcome the input from any faculty, staff, or students who are available 9-10 AM on either March 20 and/or March 21.

If you are interested, please join us in the library in the FRC room in North-2 (the Faculty Resource Center, at the far end of the 2nd floor), at 9 AM this Thursday/Friday.

A Quick Statistics Snapshot for the Salmon Library, February 2014

Here is a quick statistics snapshot looking back at some numbers for February 2014.

The Salmon Library had 16, 940 visitors in February, an average of slightly over 675 per day.*

We checked out 1293 books during the month. We also checked out an additional 158 books/materials through Interlibrary Loan.

For non-book check-outs, we had 131 laptop checked out and 240 checkouts of other materials (markers, keyboards, and so forth usually for our study rooms). Speaking of our study rooms, those were checked out 267 times.

Some Notes,

  • the laptops and study rooms can be checked out at the User Services desk for a period of three hours. Books are checked out based on status, from 28 days for Undergrads to 90 days for grads to 1 year for staff and faculty. See User Services Guide for more information [or call them at (256)824-6530]
  • Interlibrary Loan allows our students, faculty, and staff to request materials to which we do not have immediate access. See the Interlibrary Loan Guide to see more.
Study in your Comfort Zone

* As a special note, keep in mind that the library was closed along with the rest of the campus on February 11-13 due to snowstorms. The “per day” average will be figured for 25 days due to this (naturally). The weather for the month in general would have had other impacts on our system, but I’ll avoid speculation.

Engaging Reference: How Now, Snow Cloud? Or, researching weather data for Alabama (and beyond!)

Well, today is kind of mucky, but the two days before that were sunny and bright and warm and it’s weird to picture that just a few weeks ago, the local weather looked this:

Snowy Field in Alabama

Snow is not unheard of around here, though it can be quite uncommon. But maybe you are researching how uncommon, or how often it rains, or what the average daily temperature around here might have been in the mid-20th century. How do you do that? Well, there are a number of ways, some of which have close ties to UAH, and I figured I’d share a few of these with you.

Let’s start with the resource most local to us. You have The Alabama Climatologist, which is a kept by State Climatologist and UAH Professor, Dr. John Christy. It has links to lots of other data and keeps up regular reports on climate data. For instance, right now in the link list you have such reference sources as Climate Normals and Extremes for 1971-2000 at 141 Alabama stations (which is a pdf). It also links to several of the standard resources that I’m about to discuss more in a bit.

Keeping local, the NSSTC has an extensive collection of local climate data. Using that, you can click on, say, the monthly data only tab, and then select Huntsville [or another city from Alabama from a drop-down box], and then look at Huntsville’s data back in 1975, which looks like this (after clicking the “more” arrow):

1975 Huntsville Climate Data

The mother of all weather data sites, at least for the US, would be the National Climatic Data Center. From there, you can view monthly climate reports, local data, and other datasets. You have to “order” the data in some cases, but is free. You just have to make your selection of the data you want and then wait for the email. Returning to the Huntsville example, here is a 1995 screen from their Huntsville Airport Substation dataset (you’ll probably have to click on it to see a larger version to actually read it):

Huntsville weather data from the NCDC

There is also the old standby of Weather.gov. While it is my (and probably should be your) go-to source for forecasts and weather alerts, you can also often see weather station data for a region if you click on the city name after searching. For instance, after searching for Huntsville, AL, I get the current conditions, and then a link to see Huntsville’s local forecast office (here’s a quick diagram explaining, also showing the current conditions as I write this post!):

Huntsville conditions

This takes you to http://www.srh.noaa.gov/hun/, which gives lots of data about the current condition, the weather stations, some information useful to the local area, and the history of the stations. Other cities have similar pages, so give that a try.

One of the most interesting sites is the CoCoRaHS – Community Collaborative Rain, Hail, and Snow Network. What it does is take personal observations about the current conditions, include such things as the shape of flakes or size of hail, and collects them. For instance, if you want to see some data from the mid-February storms that inspired this post, you can do a search on the Daily Comments page, and see records like this, useful if you want specific contexts to conditions going on over a wide area:

CoCoRaHS Daily Comments

So how about that original question? The snow around Huntsville. Well, looking through all the various bits, I was noticing it was not exactly easy to find a good table of data about just snow [I was finding plenty about general precipitation] so I contacted Dr. John Christy, the State Climatologist mentioned above, and he graciously shared this PDF of North Alabama Seasonal Snowfall.

And what does it show? Well, take a look for yourself. This post is about the fun of finding data, what you do with it is up to you.

Of course, don’t forget our resources like ScienceDirect, Proquest: Science and Technology, and OneSearch. If you need help with any or all of these resources, feel free to contact us at the reference desk.

Before you go, though, why not look at a couple of more awesome snow pics. They are quite pretty.

Snow in Alabama, (c) Heather Floyd

Snow Covered Tree (c) Heather Floyd

Engaging Reference aims to be a series of posts about the ways you can look up types of data, information, research, files, and so forth. If you have a type of data or information you would like us to go into more depth with, you can email me at doug.bolden@uah.edu and I’ll see what I can do. 

All the images in this post are copyright 2013, Heather Floyd.

All UAH Grad Student are invited to attend our Graduate Workshop. Enjoy free pizza as you learn about the library and meet our newest librarian, Ron.

We at the Salmon Library are proud to be hosting a pair of drop-in workshops aimed at all of UAH’s wonderful graduate students, featuring:

  • free pizza and drinks,
  • demonstrations of our resources [including Interlibrary Loan, our books and databases, and more!],
  • help with looking up Dissertations/Theses,
  • demonstrations with Zotero,
  • answering whatever questions you have about us or about research in general [and how we can help you with research, naturally],
  • giving you a chance to discuss your thoughts and feelings about the library and what we can do better for you,
  • and you get to say hey to Ron Schwertfeger, our newest librarian!

    Ron Schwertfeger

    Welcome, Ron!

These are drop-in sessions, so all you have to do is pick whichever session is best for you, either March 11 (next Tuesday) or March 12 (next Wednesday), with both being from 10am to noon, and then stop by Library room 207 (inquire downstairs if you need directions). No appointment is necessary, and you do not have to stay for the whole thing. Grab a bite to eat and stay for a bit is all.

And if you can’t make this session, then feel free to drop Ron a line and he can work out a more one-on-one session with you. Or stop by the Reference Desk anytime and say you are looking for information about us or would like to have a look around the library. Or contact us in many other ways. Sure, you’ll miss the free pizza, but most of the rest still stands.

Two drop-in sessions for UAH Grad Students, March 11 and 12, from 10am to Noon.

Why We Weed: A quickish look at librarians’ seemingly most un-librarian task

If you were to stack up the things librarians do, most of them would seem very library-like in what you might call the stereotypical manner: checking out patrons, ordering books, cataloging, helping with research, organizing shelves, maintaining subscriptions, designing library instruction, hosting programs, and so forth. Depending on the size of the library, the type, and so forth, a handful of librarians might do all of those things or each task may have its own team who specializes in it.

One task that often strikes people as weird, those who even know about it, is weeding. This is when a librarian chooses which books to remove from the collection. To some, it seems counter-intuitive: librarians are meant to stockpile knowledge, to archive information, to protect the old documents. And we do those things. Or, more accuratley, those things reflect a portion of what we do. Weeding actually helps to enhance these tasks. That’s why I am going to show you a quick glance into why we do it and how.

Take a look at this Venn Diagram (more for terminology, and not to scale of any of its parts):

Considerations that go into books being kept vs weeded

As you look at those broad qualities – Useful Books, Well-Used Books, Books Otherwise Considered – I want you to take note of something the eye might have missed. There are well-used books that may not be useful, there are useful books that may not be well-used, and there are books worthy various considerations that might not be useful or well-used, but, for now, pay attention to the diagram above and notice that there are books that are not useful, not well-used, and not otherwise unique; and sometimes these books take up room on the shelves next to books that are much more fitting as resources.

And that is, very quickly, why we weed. By weeding down the books we have, we make room to order new books, we guarantee the quality of our materials, we help to provide more precise searches – you do not get 100 results where 40 of them are out of date – and it also helps with focusing the mission of the library and to address the many ways the many fields of research on our campus are constantly changing and growing and adapting to more factors than could be easily listed in a blog post of this size. It also helps to find the damaged books [covers torn or pages missing] or otherwise soiled books [it happens]. This helps to cut down on the time we might waste moving these books around, or cleaning/repairing them, or how much time is taken to organize them or to make room around them.

It, of course, is not quite that simple. Rarely is a book completely unique to our collection, completely unused, completely without merit, and so forth [though you might be surprised at how poorly some books weather a decade or two of changes in a field]. So, with the caveat that every librarian has his or her own way of handling the issue [and every type of library has its own general methodologies], something that I use kind of looks like this [with apologies to the Drake Equation]

k = 2(U*Q*R)/O*P

Where K = a book’s keepability, U = how often the book is used, Q = the quality/importance of the book, R= rarity/special considerations, O = other books on the same topic [especially those of higher quality like later editions], and P = physical defects of the book.

The more used, the higher quality, and the more unique the book, the more likely I will keep  it while the more “better” books there are out there and the more physical defects, the less likely I am to keep it. However, due to issues like budgets and with actual use by people trained in the field [professors and students actually using the book] being a better indicator than a review or two posted online, I tend to weigh the top half more than the bottom. I say “twice as weighted” in the equation, but really it is not so easy to sum up. It is always a process of consideration, and multiple factors play into it.

Before I finish, let’s take a quick look at two things that weeding is not.

First off, weeding is not censorship. It could definitely be used for such, but around here the process is used to clean out old books with out of date information that is not being used by our patrons [or is being used by our patrons when we could be identifying and providing more up-to-date information]. As an academic library, we are primarily concerned with staying in line with the needs of the campus, and some of our collection does not fit that. It might have ten or twenty years ago, but two decades is five or so wholly new classes of students, and we have to respect that. We have no interest in keeping certain viewpoints from students’ or professor’s or researcher’s eyes, we are more concerned with the statistics being forty years out of date than espousing a particular worldview. The second part of ALA’s Code of Ethics reads

We uphold the principles of intellectual freedom and resist all efforts to censor library resources,

and we respect and uphold that.

Secondly, weeding is never a faultless panacea. With collections of any size, you have to rely on certain bits of data to generate a list for focus, from which a librarian goes through a number of books [generally related to the librarian's field of focus] and uses various judgments and considerations, but in every case books tend to be seen in a collective. One stack of books on a topic might have a higher density than books in another stack, and having a dozen choices to weed versus two or three can sometimes lead to books that would not have survived one stack being kept in another. And sometimes there are overlooked elements that might have kept a book if the librarian had time to go page by page or do a complete review of all the literature about the book. That sort of thing. There is also the very real possibility that books may be being used by a number of people, but then placed on the shelf with no record of the use. Believe it or not, this is one of the reasons why we request people not reshelve their own books, it allows us to at least glance what they are taking down from the shelves [the obvious other reason being that if people shelve them wrong, it becomes a disaster fairly quickly]. In the end, the weeding process is only as good as time and data allows, but here at the Salmon Library, we try to use as much of both as possible.

For those curious about the topic and would like to read more, here are some links:

Awful Library Books, whose post, there, has the same rough title as mine [by coincidence of alliteration, I presume], is a great resource to see sort of the semi-humorous side of the weeding process. They show a number of books that have survived being weeded for years, and then discuss why those books should have been long gone. Their discussion brings up many good points. In general, think of their tagline: “hoarding isn’t collection development”. It’s good advice.

Any topics about libraries or this library in particular you would like to see? I’ll do best to show some more information from behind the scenes and why we do some of thing we do.