New Resource! American Influenza Epidemic of 1918: A Digital Encyclopedia

by Julie Judkins

The American Influenza Epidemic of 1918: A Digital Encyclopedia (AIE) is an undertaking by the University of Michigan’s Center for the History of Medicine (CHM) in partnership with the University of Michigan Library’s MPublishing division, to create an open source, digital collection of archival, primary, and interpretive materials related to the history of the 1918 influenza pandemic in the United States. The materials in the AIE collection originated as research for two commissioned reports for the Defense Threat Reduction Agency (2005) and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (2007). This virtual collection documents the experiences of diverse communities in the United States in fall 1918 and winter 1919 when influenza took the lives of approximately 675,000 Americans. The National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) awarded the project a prestigious “We the People” designation for its contribution to the teaching, study, and understanding of American history and culture.

The AIE collocates an estimated 50,000 pages of digitized reproductions of archival materials gathered by CHM staff at over 140 national institutions. It is intended for a wide-ranging audience that encompasses high school and college students, historians and social scientists, epidemiologists and public health practitioners, journalists and writers, as well as casual internet users interested in the period.

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Guest Post: Speaking Our Users’ Language

by Mary Pagliero Popp, Vice-President/President-Elect RUSA, Indiana University Libraries

My job revolves a lot around thinking about users and their needs.  But even after nearly 40 years in the profession (or perhaps because of that), I realize that what I know is a drop in the ocean compared to what there is to know.

Recently, my colleague Anne Haines has been talking about good practice for writing for the web.  It struck me that many of these same best practices—thinking about the listener or reader and the reader’s knowledge, being consistent in the language used to refer to common library services and resources, and speaking with a clear and unambiguous voice–apply to the answers we give to users at the reference desk and in email/chat reference contexts as well as in instruction settings.  We all need to be mindful of the words and concepts we use.

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Guest Post: The Carnegie Medals for Excellence in Fiction and Nonfiction

by Gary White, Penn State University Libraries, RUSA President

We at RUSA are extremely pleased and excited about two new awards sponsored by the Carnegie Corporation, the Andrew Carnegie Medals for Excellence in Fiction and Nonfiction. RUSA and Booklist are co-sponsoring and administering the awards. The first winners of these new annual literary prizes will be announced at the Awards Ceremony at the ALA Annual Conference in Anaheim.

The awards will be given to the author of the best book for adult readers in two categories—fiction and nonfiction— each year. Two additional authors will be shortlisted as finalists in each of the categories.  Winning authors will receive a $5,000 cash award, and finalists will each receive $1,500. The list of this year’s finalists were announced in May.  The awards are made possible by a grant from Carnegie Corporation of New York on the occasion of the foundation’s centennial and in recognition of Andrew Carnegie, one of the greatest benefactors of libraries both in the United States and around the globe, who recognized libraries as indispensable to the progress of society.  The 50 titles under consideration for the prize are being drawn from the annual Booklist Editors’ Choice and RUSA CODES Notable Books lists.  Nancy Pearl is serving as the chair of the awards committee and will bring national recognition to this award.

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Guest Post: The Search and I (and You and Our Patrons)

by Mary Pagliero Popp, Indiana University Libraries, Vice-President/President-Elect, RUSA

I have been working on issues related to “search” for several years.  We have implemented two resource discovery tools here at Indiana in the last few years, bringing users search results that include books, video and other materials from our catalog, journal articles, and information from the broader web.  We are now hard at work developing a Blacklight open source version of our library catalog.  In each case, it was important to look at the way our users interact with our online resources and at the way they do their research.

A March 2012 Pew Internet and American Life study entitled Search Engine Use 2012 caused me to think about this more specifically.  In their overview, the authors note that “Though they generally do not support targeted search or ads, these users report very positive outcomes when it comes to the quality of information search provides, and more positive than negative experiences using search.”  Search experiences are more positive than negative and users report that they are confident about their results. Continue reading