Friday, April 13, 2007

Mapping & Datasets @ ACRL

Attended the Association of College & Research Libraries (ACRL) Annual Conference a couple of weeks ago. There were a few mention-worthy poster sessions and vendors related to mapping and datasets and I will outline these here.

Poster Sessions
  • Historic Images, Google Maps, and Your Digital Collections
    • Presenters:
    • Download handout
    • These guys showcased the Google Map interface they "used to increase the visibility, browsability and usability of [their] Historic Des Moines digital collection." Their project is entitled: Map of Historic Des Moines. They assigned a Google marker for a digital collection of app. 115 photographs. The marker info windows contain the photograph title, a thumbnail image, and a link to a details page. The details page contains a zoomable image and metadata.
    • Scott told me that they programmed the API themselves, and their poster/handout showed how YourGMap can also be used without any need to bother with javascript at all. Of course, this was before Google created My Maps.
  • Who's Counting? Using the US Census to Introduce Information Literacy into a Beginning Statistics Course
    • Presenter:
    • This was a nifty idea where the library teamed up with the statistics instructor to show the students how to access census data from the American Factfinder website. The students, then, performed statistical analysis on actual data they gathered as opposed to sample datasets provided by book vendors.
    • I like this idea very much as it is an outreach approach I have not yet tried. I do not believe I have yet had any interactions with undergraduate math students.
  • Documents Directly to the People: Using Podcasts to Promote Government Documents Collections
    • Presenter:
      • Newkirk Barnes, Assistant Professor/Government Documents Librarian, Mitchell Memorial Library, Mississippi State University
      • Download handout
      • "This poster session describes the Mississippi State University (MSU) Libraries’ podcasting activities, and the Government Documents and Microforms Department’s contribution to these efforts."
      • I was intrigued by this as I have often toyed around with the idea of creating a geospatial podcast geared toward our researchers here at UT Arlington. I have always been skeptical whether anyone would even listen to us. I am also a bit daunted by the workload. So many of the datasets we use are government-produced, and so it is encouraging to see a successful government documents podcast.
      • Newkirk stated that the project is relatively new, but that it shows promise. I plan on following up with her to see how well it goes.
      • Here is a link to Mississippi State University Libraries Podcasts.
Vendor Booths
  • Geographic Research
    • They have a product entitled SimplyMap which allows online and interactive access to Census data, as well as EASI and AGS data. The interface is an interactive map environment, where users can easily view demographic distributions down to the block group level for anywhere in the US, and then export reports and maps.
    • The demonstration of this product was very impressive. The potential of this product is quite high and I am looking forward to playing around with it.
    • We are in the process of setting up a trial. I will post more about SimplyMap after the trial starts up.
  • LexisNexis
    • Was told by the rep that there is a new product planned to be released this summer called the U.S. Serial Set Map Module. This module will be a separate product from their Serial Set collection, containing high resolution images of maps from the Serial Set in full color.
    • Currently, Lexis-Nexis' digital Serial Set product allows users to search the map collection and retrieve low-resolution black/white images. Now, my library has not purchased this product, and I only know this because the reps were kind enough to let me play.
    • It would be incredible if there can even be an Export to GIS function...
    • The rep told me there would be more information and perhaps even a working demo at ALA this June. I will not be there, however, and so will beg one of my colleagues to ask them about the product for me.
  • Proquest-CSA
    • There is a new intriguing product called Illustrata.
    • "Researchers can now specifically search information presented in tables, figures, charts, and other illustrations within scholarly articles"
    • Independent of any other CSA product a library subscribes to, Illustrata individually indexes and provides access to tables, figures, charts, and even maps. The demo shows that each item returned also contains a brief abstract of the source article and a blurb about the image or table returned.
  • ESRI
    • Spent a few minutes chatting with the ESRI rep about GIS in libraries/education, and about new software applications. Most notably their new (relatively) Image Server. I do not foresee a need for the library as ArcIMS is meeting our image serving needs, but I passed along the materials to various faculty who might be interested.


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