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November 1, 2007

Game On at the Undergraduate Library

While gaming in libraries has become an increasingly hot topic in the library field over the past year, the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign Library's Gaming Initiative has been bringing together gamers, gaming researchers, and gaming collections for almost 2 years. One of the signature annual events sponsored as part of the Gaming Initiative is Gaming Night.

The Gaming Collection was launched during Spring 2006 as a response to interest from students as well as faculty researchers and instructors, who began a game research discussion list the year before. The collection includes all major current consoles and handheld platforms and is complemented by a growing set of public services to assist users with the collections and the integration of gaming in courses.

Gaming Night also began in Spring 2006 to advertise the birth of the collection and connect with faculty and student gamers and game researchers. That game night included a DDR competition and open gaming (the later has become a staple of all gaming nights as has Mountain Dew). Campus gaming groups were specifically invited and the Video Gamers Alliance took up a donation of vintage games and consoles for the Undergraduate Library, which holds the core of our vintage gaming historical collection.

The Fall 2006 gaming night was the first to feature a guest speaker, Dmitri Williams, formerly of the UIUC Speech Communications department and an expert on gaming research and literature. He held a 45 minute Q + A with students covering legal, economic, social, and other issues involved with gaming. This event also featured a contest and open gaming.

The upcoming November 3rd event is co-sponsored by the Undergraduate Library and the Sousa Archive and Center for American Music and is part of the celebration of American Music Month. The evening will focus on music in gaming and will include speakers from the Department of Music as well as industry experts from Volition, a growing gaming company in Champaign. The event will also introduce a game created by campus researchers (Musiverse).

Gaming at the library - come to play, come to learn. Game On!

Posted by swalter at 9:17 AM | TrackBack

August 2, 2007

More (Digital) Ink for New Services

The University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign News Bureau has published a news release on our new digitization project blog (Digitized Book of the Week).

Posted by swalter at 11:28 AM | TrackBack

July 27, 2007

Digital Dailies Draw Demand

Earlier this month, I mentioned the ways that digitization projects were spawning new service programs. Today, we see that there is nothing the media likes more than stories related to the media.

As proof, see the stories in our local paper, the News-Gazette and on our local NPR affiliate, WILL, about the launch of the Digital Urbana Daily Courier project.

While both stories aim at strong local interest, the radio segment, in particular, provided Mary Stuart, Head of the History, Philosophy, and Newspaper Library, with an opportunity to discuss issues such as digital preservation, best practices for providing ongoing access to endangered information resources, and the range of academic inquiry and popular interests that might be supported through support for digital newspaper projects like this one.

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July 17, 2007

Digital Engagement a Deux

In earlier posts, I've talked about the importance of digital engagement with the community, and about the importance of building service programs for digital initiatives. The hazy days of summer bring us two more excellent examples for the UIUC Library.

First, our digital books project (produced in collaboration with the Open Content Alliance) has a new blog: Digitized Book of the Week. If you are an Illinois alum, a citizen of the State of Illinois, or simply a fan of great books about Illinois, its people, or its concerns, there is something in here for you. Books featured so far include: The Dance of Death (1892), the Historical Encyclopedia of Illinois and Champaign County (1905), and Practical Corn Culture (1914). Illinois buffs can even receive weekly updates through the RSS feed.

And, if that wasn't enough, you can find even more digital content for local historians at the launch of the digital version of the Urbana Daily Courier (1916-25) at the Urbana Free Library on Saturday, July 28th, at 10 am. Digitization of the important source for the study of Illinois history has been coordinated by our History, Philosophy, and Newspaper Library, and made possible by support from a grant from the Illinois State Library under the Library Services and Technology Act, with additional support from the Clifford Family Endowment.

Both these projects will help to bring the rich resources of the UIUC Library to our users across the State of Illinois, and around the world, and we look forward to helping you use it for your research, teaching, and study.

Posted by swalter at 11:27 AM | TrackBack

June 13, 2007

Digital Engagement

In an earlier post, I talked about the ways in which content digitization projects allow us to pursue a variety of new (or enhanced) service initiatives. As the content available through Illinois Harvest continues to increase, we are already seeing this potential realized. Today's example demonstrates how digitization projects can enhance public engagement programs at the University of Illinois.

Earlier this month, Betsy Kruger, Coordinator of Digital Content Creation, and Mary Stuart, Head, History, Philosophy, and Newspaper Library, joined other Library colleagues in making presentations about digital content to the Third Annual Illinois Teaching American History Conference and to the "School Library Day" program sponsored by the Lincoln Trails Library System. Just as the Spencer Research Library at the University of Kansas demonstrated with its contribution to the Territorial Kansas Online project, the combination of digital content and subject expertise can form the basis of powerful partnerships between academic libraries, allied cultural heritage organizations and professional groups, and members of the community.

Kudos to Betsy, Mary, and Kurt Groetsch for helping us to build on our existing relations with librarians and teachers across the State of Illinois, and to give us a taste of those library services that we will (continue to) build on the platform provided by our large-scale digitization projects.

Posted by swalter at 10:06 AM | TrackBack

May 27, 2007

What Really Matters in Mass Digitization

One of the topics addressed at the recent ARL Membership Meeting was mass digitization. That comes as no surprise, as more and more research libraries (including Illinois) begin to contribute digital content to projects like the Open Content Alliance. But, while the topic of discussion was the negotiation of mass digitization agreements, what caught my attention was a detour into the question of how research libraries will continue to maintain their distinctive character in an environment where we all have access to millions of volumes of digital content. The answer, to my delight, was service.

To paraphrase one of the speakers, in an environment in which we share access to digital content, "competitive advantage" among research libraries will no longer come from the breadth of individual collections, but from the "unique services that add value to those collections."

The content delivered through mass digitization projects, in short, becomes the focal point for expert library services designed to make certain that this content has the greatest impact on research, teaching, and learning on our individual campuses. The research library of the 21st century will be defined not only by what it "has", but how effectively it aids its patrons in making use of that content.

I wasn't looking for a strong statement in support of the key role of library services in the future of the research library in a discussion session where I expected content and metadata to be king, but I was happy to get it! Looking at the infrastructure that we've created at UIUC for targeting content of greatest interest to our users and our State to be the foundation for our mass digitization projects, I know that we're setting the stage for the UIUC Library to remain as "distinctive" by this new measure as it has always been by every other.

Posted by swalter at 3:50 PM | TrackBack

April 20, 2007

"Serious Games"

UIUC faculty Christian Sandvig (Speech Communication) and Karri Karahalios (Computer Science) will be joining "The Players of InnisMod" for a special presentation sponsored by the Center for Advanced Study entitled Serious Games: Video Games in Undergraduate General Education.

Dr. Sandvig has been one of the faculty whose teaching and research needs have been served, in part, by resources brought into the University Library through the Gaming Initiative.

Serious Games will be presented on May 2, 2007, from 12-1 pm, in the Spurlock Museum's Knight Auditorium. Come to see (part of) the future of library services.

Posted by swalter at 12:01 PM | TrackBack

April 18, 2007

Health Information Literacy

An alert by way of the DIG_REF discussion list to the attention being given to a study by a faculty-librarian team at Central Michigan of the way in which people search for health information online. As they report, based on their study of user behavior:

These people will be at greater risk of making bad health decisions based on non-credible information if they conduct a basic Google search than if they search a scholarly library database . . . . We’re talking about potentially harmful information on such subjects as cancer rates, smoking cessation methods and fever management in children. People need advanced skills and knowledge to find high-quality health information on the Internet.

The importance of information literacy instruction for those conducting searches for health information was a key piece of the State Library of Washington's Information Literacy Initiative a few years ago, and it remains an essential service that academic libraries can provide to members of campus and community. At UIUC, we are hard at work designing a new approach to providing access to health information and support for health researchers, health professionals and users of consumer health services as part of our strategic plan.

This study suggests that we are none too soon!

Posted by swalter at 9:56 AM | TrackBack

April 12, 2007

Library Services "on the Horizon"

If you are not already making a regular habit of reading The Horizon Report, the time has come to put it on your list.

Each year, the New Media Consortium and the EDUCAUSE Learning Initiative prepare a report on the technologies most likely to shape change in the teaching, learning, and research environment. The report groups these technologies by the timeframe in which they appear most likely to become "very important to higher education." The 2007 Report focuses on the following technologies:

*User-Created Content
*Social Networking
*Mobile Phones
*Virtual Worlds
*The New Scholarship and Emerging Forms of Publication
*Massively Multiplayer Educational Gaming

The Report further connects student and faculty adoption of these technologies to a key trend in higher education of relevance to library services, i.e., the need for a renewed commitment to (and an expansive view of) information literacy instruction in a world defined by "a sea of user-created content, collaborative work, and instant access to information of varying quality."

Here at UIUC, we are poised to contribute to these ongoing discussions of the evolving higher education environment thanks to the active commitment to address these trends and adopt these technologies seen in our: information literacy program, digital learning projects, scholarly communications program, provision of library services in social networking environments, and exploration of the place of gaming in libraries and higher education.

Next stop (we hope): mobile library services and SecondLife. Stay tuned!

Posted by swalter at 1:16 AM | TrackBack

April 9, 2007

Interest in Gaming Grows

Jeff Trzeciak, University Librarian at McMaster, has a strong interest in gaming and the application of research on gaming to library services.

He has articulated his interest in enhancing support for gaming in academic libraries in the McMaster University blog, and has added a related post to the Designing Better Libraries blog, in which he asks:

. . . what is the library community doing about getting into gaming in significant ways? Who are the leaders in this area and what are they doing to make library resources and services more accessible through game environments?

While we may not have quite cracked the nut of how to provide library services through immersive environments like Second Life, the University Library is clearly helping to provide leadership for the critical question of how academic libraries can "[get] into gaming in significant ways." UIUC librarians Lisa Hinchliffe, David Ward, and Karen Schmidt have been on the conference circuit this Spring (CIC, CNI, ACRL) proving just that and letting our colleagues across the country know about the work of the UIUC University Library's Gaming Initiative (which, yes, supports its own blog).

UIUC faculty from a number of departments are interested in gaming research, and many of our students are interested both in research and practice (lots of practice!). Thanks to the work of the Gaming Initiative group in the library, we are moving into new areas of collections and services that both meet their needs and allow us to provide leadership for national discussions of these issues in the academic library community.

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