SLA 2009 Biomedical and Life Sciences Division Contributed Papers Breakfast

As this is my first time at the Special Library Association conference, I didn’t really know what to expect.  This early morning session set a wonderful tone with some great talks that makes me very excited to be here!

Presentation slides and descriptions can be found on the DBIO website.

The first talk was by librarians from Cornell and the University at Florida about creating an online space to encourage research collaboration by allowing researchers to easily find collaborators.  This talk couldn’t have come at a better time.  Right now, at my institution, we are looking for ways to encourage collaborative research.  In our first meeting about the subject, we discussed the fact that our current website makes it very difficult to find out what anyone else is doing.  Could the Cornell model be possible at our institution?

The Cornell system creates researcher profiles, and is searchable.  Faculty, alumni, prospective students  can easily search or browse the site to see what research is being done at Cornell.

One of the main strengths of the system described, Vivo, is that much of the data is automatically harvested:  you don’t need to rely on faculty to edit their own profiles (although that is possible).  The system harvests data from HR, publications, grants and other sources to automatically populate researcher profiles.  Their software is also open source.

The second talk of the breakfast meeting focused on a survey about the use of ebooks by faculty and graduate students. While graduate students were more likely to use eBooks than faculty, the message was simple:  make them easy to use and discoverable (get them into the catalog).

The final talk was all about instruction, and paralleled (in some ways) what I’ve been doing in chemistry and what we are hoping to develop in biology.  I got some good ideas for practice assignments and strategies for teaching about the different types of literature.