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So nannte mich letztens ein Verlagsvertreter. Und es wurmte mich eine lange, lange Zeit. Was war passiert? Ich war gegen Flash, weil ich auf iPads stehe. (Zur Erklärung: iPads mögen kein Flash wegen Steve Jobs. Verlage mögen kein PDF wegen Pirate Bay.)

Will ich rüde sein? Was ist überhaupt „rüde“? Fragen wir mal den Vater aller Synonymverzeichnisse, A.M.Textor: „Sag es treffender“:


Hmmm, „bäuerlich“ ist nicht so mein Ding, auch nicht „rücksichtslos“. Aber ich habe doch nur meine Meinung gesagt, war ich wirklich so rücksichtslos? Vielleicht ohne Rücksicht auf die Interessen des Verlags. „Grobianisch“? Tool, was es alles für Vokabeln gibt! Aber als Beschreibung für mich? „Kernig, deftig, drastisch“ – ja, so komme ich bestimmt ab und an bei Anbietern rüber. Wenn mir etwas nicht gefällt und ich es in medinfo hinausposaune, kommt manchmal mein Ärger hoch, auch wenn ich den Rat von Jenny Levine (oder war es Krafty?) befolge, es erst am nächsten Tag zu veröffentlichen. Im großen und ganzen – denke ich -, bin ich bei den Anbietern aber als „rauh aber herzlich“ bekannt und so mag ich es auch. Die rauhen Kanten sollen ja bei zunehmendem Alter immer runder werden, habe ich mir sagen lassen – und dann heißt es bald nur noch über mich: „direkt und herzlich“ …

Library Advisory Boards


Nachdem jetzt der dritte oder vierte Bibliotheksvendor nachfragte, ob ich nicht an derem Library Advisory Board teilnehmen möchte, frage ich mich so langsam: Bin ich jetzt in das Alter gekommen, wo man nicht mehr produktiv arbeitet, sondern nur noch in Gremien tätig ist? Eine weißhaarige und -bärtige Eminenz? Ich weiß nicht, wie es bei den Gorillas ist: Da gibt es doch auch die Kaste der Silberrücken, die nicht mehr arbeiten sondern nur noch entscheiden, oder?

In den Boards habe bisher eigentlich ganz positive Erfahrungen gemacht. In aller Regel befindet man sich in einem internationalen und inspirierenden Umfeld. Die Beiräte von Nature, UpToDate, NEJM oder Thomson Reuters setzen sich – getreu den jeweiligen Hauptmärkten – hauptsächlich aus US-Bibliothekaren zusammen, d.h. als Europäer (geschweige Deutscher) ist man hier der Exot. Wenn man das mag, kann das sehr lohnenswert sein. Je nach Board ist der Arbeitsaufwand sehr unterschiedlich. Manchmal muss man nur einmal im Jahr was beitragen oder aber hat vierteljährliche Telefonkonferenzen und trifft sich darüber hinaus noch mindestens einmal jährlich in der (amerikanischen) Firmen-Zentrale.

Und genau hier liegt der Knackpunkt: So interessant und spannend ich es auch gefunden hätte, auf dem renommierten NEJM-Board zu sein: Zweimal im Jahr in die Staaten zu fliegen nur für NEJM ist einfach zuviel des Guten. Die übrigen Verpflichtungen und Konferenzen lösen sich ja nicht in Luft auf, und dann ist man schnell drei- oder viermal unterwegs. Man sollte also genau gucken, was man sich alles aufbürdet, „einfach interessant zu sein“ reicht da als Grund nicht aus. Ausserdem habe ich was gegen Nacktscanner und erkennungsdienstliche Behandlungen. Aber mein Vorschlag, doch eines der Board Meetings hier bei uns in Münster stattfinden zu lassen, stieß leider nicht auf Gegenliebe.

Foto: Mila Zinkova, Wikimedia Commons

Public Relations can really be so easy

Foto: Helmut Etzkorn / Münsterische Zeitung

Dear Librarians,

Public Relations can really be so easy. Nowadays we worry so much about public relations, but sometimes success comes unexpectedly and without advance strategical planning.

A brief history of mouse time

The story starts in the year 2011. Occasionally, there are mice seen in the library. They are tolerated as they are not harmful. Until one day, on New Year’s Day 2011, in the early morning, a disaster descended on the library: The alarm went off, warning that there was an intruder in the library. Immediately the clinic fire brigade crew and three (!) police patrol cars were on their way, with screeching tyres and wailing sirens. At the same time, the shrill tones of the telephone woke up the Director of the library. Half asleep, he received the message: Burglar in the Library! As he frantically dressed, thoughts flashed through his mind: “Is there really a burglar or has lightning triggered the alarm? Did he in fact leave a window open and maybe a bird flew in? Did the cleaning lady once again forget to turn off the alarm?” But a few minutes later the all-clear is given: a mouse has been identified as the culprit.

So far, so good. Here the story could have ended. No one would have heard anything more about the mouse. The library would have gone back to its everyday routine – many would have wished this. But not the library director: in his imagination, hordes of rodents were appearing, playing cat and mouse with the burglar alarm and getting him out of bed at all hours. He rightly was worried about his well-earned sleep. That was the top priority now! He presented his version of events (Google’s Translation) on the homepage of the library and threatened the demise of the mouse:

“The mouse will no longer be tolerated: the library as a rodent asylum is finished!”

And now the hunt was on – although initially only with live traps and chocolate cakes, but the exterminator had his rifle at the ready. The poor mouse became very anxious and feared for her life and wrote this in the news system Twitter. This triggered an avalanche of solidarity: by the Twitter news chain @v_i_o_l_a, @monasterium and @wwu_muenster. Then the local press heard about it and started its first reports. The hashtag #librarymouse was born. It brought the mouse (and the library) into the headlines of local newspapers. By now it had become daily news: three days after the alarm, a tubby mouse was trapped in the library’s kitchen. Fortunately, this was documented by a student: prime mouse portraits and mouse names were circulated on Facebook. The mouse was a „he“ and was given the name „Jerry“. When Jerry was released back into the wild safely, the press was jubilant. Finally, the mouse had an identity and pictures were taken out of our hands.

However, it turned out that Jerry was not the Library Mouse. Three clues suggested that: 1. Jerry was male, and the Library Mouse was female. 2. Jerry was caught in the small kitchen in the administration area, whereas the Library Mouse did mischief in the user area. 3. The Library Mouse had watched Jerry’s capture from a safe distance and commented on it on Twitter.

The press was very excited and already addicted to the mouse chase. The most important task assigned for the library director was now to inform the press in time when there were new images or captures. Then a television crew applied for an interview and we agreed to one on the 11th January. That same morning, two mice were caught in the trap and all phones began ringing like crazy: “Under no circumstances should the mouse be released; the TV team requires moving pictures!” The local press phoned to say it was on its way too, as fast as it could, but asked for our patience. The clinic’s PR was content with any pictures we get. The mouse, meanwhile, tweeted in real time out of the trap: „You have me. How could I be so stupid!” No sooner had her 80 followers on Twitter read this, they established a Facebook fan group “Free the Library Mouse in Münster”. Anxious minutes and hours passed by: what was the fate of the two mice?

The male mouse was released immediately: the press was only interested in the Twitter mouse. The female mouse had to still hold out a little longer and was fortified for the photo session, meanwhile, with tasty carrot shreds. But then it was all over: she performed very well in front of the cameras and was released under the watchful eyes of the TV crew. Everyone was by then sad, but the mouse was fine. Back in freedom she twittered gaily, „Yippee! I am free! At last!“ The next day dawned with big headlines in the local press, and a family-friendly, three minute report on TV.

What makes the mouse story a success?

As I said in the last issue: people love to be told stories. They do not necessarily have to be nice stories, but if there are nice (and mysterious) stories, that’s a great advantage. Three ingredients made this special story a newsworthy one: 1. the witty portrayal of the confrontation between the mouse and the library staging a David – Goliath relationship: the mouse had become the disadvantaged in an asymmetrical battle against a mighty and relentless enemy. 2. In a second – and even more brilliant – step, the victims‘ perspective was exploited by giving the mouse a public voice: “the mouse tweeted for her life„. Now the gentle readers had a tangible and audible counterpart, which made its identification and their compassion much easier. 3. from the very beginning, there was a mystery about the whole case. Not knowing who was behind the Twitter account @LibraryMouse, was fascinating, even adventurous. Was it the friendly man at the lending desk wearing the mice shirt? Or was it a medical student who just saw a media opportunity? Or was it even an animal rights activist? In the end no one was sure who it was, perhaps it was the mouse itself… ?

Public relations, which focuses on the dynamics of social networks is often referred to as viral marketing. VM can begin with very little, such as a small report on the homepage, and expand rapidly – without any reason – to a real press tsunami, that strikes you and leaves you quite passive. Press and television will stop at nothing to get such “human interest stories”and are more than happy to spin sequels (and the press officer of the library becomes somewhat redundant). The so called silly season is ideal for spreading of such news.

The moral of the story

The library can breathe again. A media invasion can be quite exhausting without a Press Officer who governs everything. But, could a press officer have even made even more out of this? He could have invited even more newspapers and TV stations, or asked all citizens of Münster to take a vote on a name for the mouse, or sell T-shirts with “Save the Library Mouse”, or continue to spin the story further again: the Library Mouse found a family with Jerry, they had children, reoccupied the library, and tweeted about everything in abundance – the possibilities are beyond imagination.

But how can we evaluate this return on investment? Does it give the library what they want? Has the library benefited long term from this event? Some readers may have thought: Doesn’t the library have anything better to do?” or “The mice may transmit many diseases” or “The library should be in the news for their user services, not because of something like this!” Indeed, one reporter even apologized that he did not come to report on our reader services, but came only for the mouse story as user services were just not interesting for them. But … in the midst of the mouse hype … a reporter did accidentally discover our iPad rental service and encouraged a colleague to write about it. We were interviewed and an informed report appeared the next day with a circulation of 220,000 issues. This was one of the rare cases in which lead was turned into gold.

But for the time being we are satisfied with the hype it caused. Because of the mouse, we are now much better known and linked in the media landscape. Press editors became fans of our Facebook page and pursue our messages now directly. It seems more likely that they will write something about us again, even if it is not about the mouse.

You will find all links at

This article was published in the March issue 2012 of the JEAHIL.

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Humour and Clowns in the Library

The Web enables access to the resources of a library for doctors and students from anywhere but the library. As a result, libraries are closing their doors. [1] The weakening connection between librarians and users is currently the great challenge of our profession. Frequently, libraries try to strengthen the connection by promoting feel-good factors such as providing food & beverage, nice furniture, architecture & facilities, and a good atmosphere. Sound and positive relationships with users are not only build by harmonious environments in which students feel comfortable, but also by emotional competent librarians, who accompany students from enrolment to exam. The connection can be maintained and improved by various means such as joint task forces, focus groups, library instruction via working lunches (or coffee & cakes), walking around, be open-minded for conversations, be present in social networks, and not only supporting users at study related problems, but also in a holistic way. As a result, students will feel themselves valued – not just as a user or customer, but as human beings.

Humour is both, a catalyst and an indicator for healthy, lively, and enjoyable relationships. In the following I would like to show, that by integrating humour into the library, the connection between librarians and users could become not only light-hearted but also highly rewarding.
There are many articles about the benefits of being humourous in library instruction courses, and even one which made it into PubMed [2]. In 2006, Walker gave an good overview of the topic, [3] and Trefts & Blakeslee delighted the reader by their increasing efforts to become funnier. Here is their motivation for using comedy in the classroom:

Most instruction librarians know that library instruction can often be boring to teach, and boring for students, but we also know the value of library instruction and its importance to our students. So what innovative approaches can we take to spice up our instruction and make the topic more appealing? The authors decided that using humor was the best approach. [4]

They learned about comedy, they became funnier, and incorporated it sucessfully into their library instruction. Many teachers will agree, that fun is as important for learning success as content: „If your students not having fun getting better, they’re not keeping it doing.“ [5]

One excellent way of bringing humour to the library is the clown. In hospitals, “clinic clowns” or “doctor clowns” are well known for delivering “clown care”. As successors of Patch Adams they bring joy and laughter to small patients (but also to the elderly). Dr. Jerko (aka Bowen F. White) provides an insight on his work:

The Clown creates an environment for people that it is save to laugh and have fun and [as a results] they drop their defences. We don’t educate students in ways that are playful. We tend to not honour as a value for adults. When we’re valuing playing more, then […] we paying attention in new ways with beginners‘ minds, and see options and possibilities. To be playful, to game is a way to connect to people more fully, in a holistic approach. That’s make you feeling more fully alive, and a dull frontal presentation becomes a lively performance. [5]

The clown is capable of giving important impulses and acting as an icebreaker. Playing games is an important method for knowledge transfer in the educational process and can be used by anyone. Especially interesting is the absence of a hierarchy between the players:

The mother is doing stuff the kids can’t quite do by themselves, but the mother isn’t thinking ‚Oh, the kid can’t do it.‘ Instead, they’re playing a game together. And out of that game the kid gets exposed to stuff from which it can learn. [6]

The playful manner of the clown and his inborn neglect of any hierarchy makes him perfectly suitable for any educational purpose. In the library, he has the great advantage: he is definitely not a librarian. He stands outside the hierarchy of knowledge and saying “Ssshhhh…” He has a red nose, and with a magical smile he conjures the anxiety away, which prevents many students from connecting with librarians. [7] Overall, the clown brings a new quality into the relationship between the user and the library.

Recently, at the medical library in Münster, Germany, a librarian dressed up as a clown interacted with students. He walked around, sat with the students and asked them which beautiful books they were reading and for what purpose. And what actually were they doing. Studying? He suggested that it looked more as if they were lazing around… 🙂

The library clown also handed the students sweets and roses, and some even returned his kindness with their own sweets. Within 1½ hours, the clown had had some 40 interactions, through which he obtained a detailed overview what exactly the students were doing, if they were satisfied with the library, and last but not least about their sense of humour.

Usually clowns perform as duos, in which one acts as the “Auguste” or “Redface”, while the other is the “Joey” or “Whiteface” character. Redface has good intentions and is good-natured, but foolish (but he thinks he is highly knowledgable). He is naïve, like a child and as curious as one. On the contrary, Whiteface is quite normal; he acts as the watchdog, and tries to prevent Redface from making mistakes (if he is not too angry with him) – similiar to Stan Laurel and Oliver Hardy, who acted that scenario to perfection. The library clown, acting as Redface, had a nice play with the students, which behaved quite normal. This character is perfectly suited for the study of information needs and satisfaction rates, because Redface is not only interested in everything but he is also very much welcomed by anybody to be curious and ask ‘stupid’ questions. [8]

The clown not only examine needs or delivers a course, but he tells a story. His costume and his makeup is already a story in itself and tells much about him. People love that, they pay attention and memorize better, what he is telling – a perfect premise for successful connecting with customers.

People love to be told stories. They don’t necessarily have to be nice stories, but they must be memorable. Whether you’re babysitting kids or closing a big deal [or explaining PubMed limits!], telling a story that’ll stick with your audience is the key: a story is a soft shell that seals in the facts and livens up hard data. [9]

Humour makes things easier in the workplace, as has been proven several times in libraries. Some may act as a clown even if they do not want to admit it [10]. And yet the obvious idea of a clown, who acts as a catalyst for customer relationships, is quite new in the field of librarianship. Nevertheless, as shown above, the library clown can improve many areas such as marketing, needs assessment, contacts and customer relationships, and avoiding clichés. Because the clown is not afraid to fail, he helps us to be brave and overcome our anxiety. Like Mevlana Rumi said: „Start a huge, foolish project, like Noah… it makes absolutely no difference what people think of you.“ To be a clown once in a while, prepares us to take risks, to be experimental and creative, and as such to live more fully, and eventually make work more rewarding. Remember: „Everybody is a clown, but only a few have the courage to show it.“ (Charlie Rivel)


  1. Kelley, Michael (2011): Major Medical Library Closing Its Doors to Patrons and Moving to Digital Model. In: The Digital Shift 27.10.2011.
  2. Maggio, LA et al (2009): A case study: using social tagging to engage students in learning Medical Subject Headings. J Med Libr Assoc. 97(2) 77-83
  3. Walker, Billie E. (2006): Using humor in library instruction. Reference Services Review 34(1) 117-128
  4. Trefts, Kristin; Blakeslee, Sarah (2000): Did you hear the one about the Boolean operators? Incorporating comedy into library instruction. Reference Services Review 28(4) 369-378
  5. a) Bowen F. White (2000): Why Normal Isn’t Healthy: How to Find Heart, Meaning, Passion, and Humor on the Road Most Traveled. Center City: Hazelden
    b) Bowen F. White (2000): Bowen White in El Salvador
  6. Brooks, Rodney (2002): Flesh and Machines: How Robots Will Change Us. New York: Patheon
  7. Mellon, C.A. (1986): Library anxiety: a grounded theory and its development. College and Research Libraries, 47(2) 160-5
  8. Obst, Oliver: Was macht ein Clown in der Bibliothek? Aktuelles 4.3.2011
  9. Torley: Life Lessons You Can Learn From The Joker. In: Stepcase Lifehack 31.7.2008
  10. Schott, Michael J. (2008): A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Library: 20 Years of (Mostly) Humor in Medical Libraries. Journal of Hospital Librarianship 8(2) 230-236

This article was published in the November issue 2011 of the JEAHIL.

Sex, Jogging and the iPad: Lost in distraction

Electronic book reader laying outdoors

I have to confess. Seriously. I have to confess you about my working habits. My working habits are a great challenge for me (and my boss) because I am not working, instead “I am actually distracting myself from work. I notice these days that I can spend hours at my computer, in a cloud. A swampy blur of digital activity, smeared across various activities and media and software. Emailing, writing, tweeting, designing, browsing, taking calls, Skyping, Facebooking, RSS Feeding – all blurred into a single technological trance. I seem to switch randomly from one to the other.” [1]

The Swiss physicist and philosopher Eduard Kaeser explains this habit with an example by himself: “Multitasking. We are hardly in the Web; the temptation is stirring to do just not what you have to do. We are browsing, blogging, chatting, googling, texting, twittering as the persecuted. I saw it the other day, ironically, by writing this text. I did what tens of millions of desktop-workers do today. I googled for a small article about multitasking, thereby discovered three other relevant articles that interested me. While printing them, I checked my e-mails en passant, glanced at the website of the „New York Book Review“ and stucked on an essay by Amartya Sen on an entirely different issue. The running jazz program on the radio presented simultaneously an interesting Italian pianist, whom I liked so much, that I looked him up at iTunes, found various pieces of him, bought them immediately, downloaded them and burned them onto a CD. Rather than continue working on the article, I began to hear the music, not without telling me at the same time on the website of the pianist about his biography and discography. Before I knew it myself, my main attention was scattered on two or three adjacent lanes. I was not able to gain back my concentration on the original work. I call this ‘Cogitus interruptus’.” [2]

McCandless hits the nail on the head: This habit is fancy, addicted, devastating. I could not describe it better.

Is there a remedy for us hypersurf lunatics? Kaeser recommends two agents, unfortunately both not much appropriate in library settings: sex and jogging. But there is a third agent, even better: The iPad. And it’s perfect for the office! I actually managed to read Kaeser’s pretty long text in one piece without interruption and distractions on the iPad! That speaks well for the author but even more for the device. Due to the singularity of the applications and open windows, the iPad/iPhone (much like the printed book) creates an almost distraction-free interface, a space with a single focus. [3]

In order not to get “lost in distraction”, I need a lot of motivation. The best motivation for me are deadlines. I would never finish this column without strong deadlines. As a friend of mine used to say: “You have to create constraints for yourself” …

[1] David McCandless “The hierarchy of digital distractions” Information is beautiful 8.9.2009
[2] Eduard Kaeser “Cogitus interruptus: Googeln, Bloggen und Twittern“ NZZ am Sonntag, 31.5.2009
[3] Adam Hodgkin: “Why the iPhone is a better Reading Environment I” Exact Editions 8.5.2009

This article was published in the September issue 2011 of the JEAHIL.

Foto: © andreykr by

There’s an -oodle for that …

In January, we had to elect new EAHIL councilors for Germany. We examined the possibility to vote by email, but what a hassle of to- and for-ing and counting emails this would have been! By chance I had used Doodle [1] a lot in the last months for scheduling meetings and found this web tool very helpful. It is straight forward, easy to use, and registration-free. I was surprised to learn that Doodle offers also voting, named “Make a choice”. After some trial and error we set up an election site with hidden and one-time-only voting. It made the election process an easy and playful experience. It’s not an exaggeration: in social networking, everything is like that. No matter what your task or demand is: on the Internet is a (free) service can be found for it! In the following I will point out some of them, which may be useful for your library. I will omit the most obvious ones such as free blogs, bookmarks, or wikis, because I had described them already in detail in former columns.

Make PDFs from your documents and publish them on Scribd [2] “so others can read them online or download them. It’s also a great place to find articles and papers written by others.” [3] Upload your PDF on Issuu [4], they will convert it to a high quality output with animated pages. Let them do the usage statistics for you as well.

Are you looking for a place to publish your PowerPoint slides? The default is SlideShare [5], where there are literally tons of presentations. It offers not only storage capacity, but you can share, comment and follow the presentations of hundreds of people as well. You may even add a recording of your speech and customize it, so that the slides change in accordance with your speech.

At Google documents, you can store, edit and share almost anything, from PDF and text files to spreadsheets to drawings or presentations. But Google is a big brother and you never know what they do with your data. Google documents may not be evil on their own, but in combination with Google Mail, Google search, and their other services, they can know you better than yourself. So maybe it is wise to use others services such as DivShare or myDrive [6].

When it comes to paper, presentations and citations, you need bibliographic software too. The former killer appliances such as Endnote or Reference Manager have gotten very strong (and free) web competitors such as Citavi, CiteULike, LibraryThing, Mendeley, or Zotero. [7] These offer almost all features of commercial bibliographic managers, and may even exceed them with services such as metadata extraction from PDF (Mendeley).

Web Conferencing
You are working with someone on a shared document? Put it on Google documents and discuss it side by side with a Skype “group conversation”. Or use Elluminate (ex-Wimba) [8] and start in 50 seconds your own online classroom (free for up to three people). WebEx from Cisco is a wide spread commercial web conferencing tool offering free trials. [9]

Cloud Computing
Google documents, SlideShare, Flickr and a lot of the other mentioned services make use of cloud computing to offer file sharing, but in the following I would like to address some specialized tools which act as your remote hard disk. The most used is obviously Dropbox [10]. It comes for free and offers a data plan of 2 Gigabytes (50 GB for $ 99 a year), which you can upload on there servers and share with anybody (including your iPhone or iPad of course). SugarSync offers 5 GB for free (30 GB for $ 50 a year) and offers more privacy [11], a least in the “terms of service”, than Dropbox. [12] Frequently, smartphone apps are accustomed to use Dropbox, SugarSync or Boxnet [13] as file folders.

What you do, if your Professor of Sports Medicine requests an RSS feed from you, which should alerts him on scientific papers as well current news items for “Sports and COPD”, “Exercise and Elderly” and so on? Just go to Yahoo Pipes [14], where you can embed, filter, merge, and manipulate feeds from PubMed, SportDiscus or Reuters Health in a variety of ways. If you want only to merge some feeds or put them on the Web, Google reader [15] or Feed Informer [16] may do the job quite well too.

There are many, many web tools targeted to doctors or patients. AIRO is a system for clinics / hospitals / medical centers to record incidents, problems, and changes [17]. For patients, there comes Mentaline, a booking system for online therapy or coaching sessions with +275 coaches, psychologists, psychotherapists and other therapists – you can choose between audio/video through Skype and phone sessions [18]. Or ReliefInsite, a secure online pain management system, for helping patients “take a more active role in their health” and better communicate with their doctors. [19] Slogan: “Tracking your pain is one of the best things you can do to treat it.” Patient record management systems (much needed and much offered) are usually subscription based.

Some more tools

  • is a free mind mapping tool on the web;
  • is for animated, breathtaking presentations;
  • is for creating comprehensive worlds of information, updated automatically;
  • offers little html snippets, which will tell you how much your web site is used (Google analytics is better, but in some countries it is illegal to collect personal information. And see above: “Google is not evil”);
  • Host discussion groups on;
  • Publish surveys and analyze answers with (coming with basic services for free and subscription plans for bigger surveys with more options);
  • for online project management and collaboration. I tried it not by myself, but there is certainly a big need for that;
  • Lobbying for your library? Use for collecting votes against the closure of your library.

If this short but not comprehensive list did not suit your demands and you are still seeking something, I can recommend two especially valuable directories:

Top 100 Tools for Learning 2010 List
Compiled since 2007, the recent list derives from the contributions of 545 learning professionals worldwide [20]. Among the top 10 you will find pretty much every tool that I described in past issues. Moodle, a prominent course management system, comes in at rank 10.

Webtools Directory of the UK National Health System
The NHS Web Tools [21] „is showing you, what’s out there. As the Web changes fast these days, it’s hard for busy NHS managers and clinicians to keep track of what’s out there. NHS Web Tools is for helping this special clientele by selecting and annotating useful web tools.”


3. Carol Skyring in [2]

Wir verkaufen nicht den Sekt, sondern das Zischen

Wer sich vom stundenlangen Shopping erholen möchte, geht ins nächste Cafe und bestellt sich ein Heißgetränk. Nicht etwa, weil er akut Durst hätte, sondern weil er in angenehmer Atmosphäre ausruhen möchte oder weil der Kaffee zum Shopping eben dazu gehört. Es besteht kein direktes Bedürfnis nach dem Produkt, sondern nach der Atmosphäre bzw. den Gefühlen, die mit dem Konsum des Produktes verbunden sind. Jeder kennt das. Der überdrehte Werbefuzzie Nat Kaplan brachte es in der Marty Feldman-Komödie Haferbrei macht sexy auf den Punkt: „Wir verkaufen nicht den Sekt, sondern das Zischen!“

Cleveres Marketing appelliert direkt an diese Gefühle, die mit dem Konsum (bzw mit früheren Konsumerlebnissen) verbunden sind. In der Branche ist dies als Neuro- oder Gefühls-Marketing bekannt. Es wird gezielt versucht, die Trampelpfade im Gehirn zu finden und zu bedienen, die den Kunden zum Kauf bewegen.

Selbst in den stark content-lastigen Bibliotheken wird das Umfeld wird immer wichtiger, wie eine kürzliche Umfrage in Münster zeigt. Neben dem richtigen „Bücherumfeld“ (64%) waren auch Wohlfühlfaktoren stark repräsentiert wie „in der Bib kann ich am besten lernen“ (56%), „hier lernen auch andere, das motiviert“ (47%) und „hier sind die Leute, die ich kenne“ (24%).

Emotionales Marketing für Bibliotheken heißt, ein stimmiges Umfeld zu schaffen, in dem sich die Studierenden wohl fühlen. Über den Content will ich hier nicht sprechen, der ist selbstverständlich. Zu dem „richtigen“ Umfeld gehören nette, respektvolle und nicht pushige Mitarbeiter (kompetent natürlich auch). Dazu gehört ein angenehmes und ergonomisches Mobiliar. Eine stimulierende Architektur. Zahlreiche und saubere Toiletten (keine Selbstverständlichkeit). Essen und Trinken: Nicht nur ein Automat irgendwo in der Lobby, sondern ein Ort, wo in angenehmer Atmosphäre konsumiert werden kann. Und schlußendlich: Dazu gehört die Vernetzung in den Sozialen Communities der Studierenden.

Nachtrag: Ich wurde von meinen Mitarbeitern gefragt, was denn „pushig“ wäre. Als pushy werden im anglo-amerikanischen Bereich Bibliothekare bezeichnet, die Nutzer nerven (im negativen Sinn). Z.B. „People don’t want pushy librarians in their face all the time trying to „sell“ them stuff.“ [Annoyed Librarian]

iPad lending project: First Results

Foto: pixelio / ULB Münster

In the last issue I mentioned the plans of my library to lend out iPads “preloaded with a pleopthera of learning tools”. Now I would like to share our first experiences with you (because I know that many of you are curious about the project and its outcome). [See Footnote 10 for other libraries lending out iPads]

Back to the future
We may laugh at the hype about the iPad [1], but tomorrow’s world is just not imaginable without ubiquitous and comfortable access to the Internet and sophisticated applications, which not only facilitate our life but have become a part of it. The iPad is not the absolutely perfect device, but it is a significant step towards one. A successor or competitor with half the size and double the power may come close to the magical capabilities of the all-knowing personal librarian “Mister D.”, which Morgan had described in a visionary essay [2].

When I first heard the rumour about this new gadget from Apple, I was not only fascinated but electrified by the news of a tablet PC with that extraordinary features. Such a gadget could completely change the way we handle information, the methodology of reading books, and how we consume other media! The iPad may well foster the transition from a printed to a digital learning environment and if so will have a great impact on libraries.

Back to practice
With my naïve enthusiasm, I applied for 24 iPads from tuition fees, but was turned down – fortunately (obviously we could not handle that much at that time). After some phone calls, three iPads were sponsored to start with. In August, we began lending them out for a period of one week to researchers and physicians.

With the iPad, it’s pretty much the same as lending out Personal Digital Assistants (PDA). [3] The devices are lent out and withdrawn by a single, appointed staff member, and the lender has to sign a loan contract in advance. [4] In the beginning, only faculty members, not students, were allowed to put their hand on an iPad.

Lending is a great way to whet the appetite for a new way of using library resources. Our underlying strategy works like this: “the library will bring the user to the iPad and the iPad will bring the user to the library.” Let me explain this in a little bit more detail:

The core of building sustainable customer relationships is to tie the clients in some way to the library. Usually this will be achieved be a good book collection, kind and supportive staff, expertise in searching, etc. In the web 2.0 age this is backed up by promoting services via interactive social media such as Twitter. Another way to attract users is by lending out cool gadgets such as Personal Digital Assistants. But essential for the success of such a service is that the library not only lend out these things, but also provides users with applications and build an expertise around this devices with the result, that the users will always turn to the library for support, new apps, etc. Our PDA project from 2004 to 2008 proved this: the lending part was not our greatest success but in fact the support part of the project was, where we distributed an impressive number of 1,013 apps to 382 clients. I think the iPad project will evolve in similar ways.

What will be our next steps?

  1. Lending iPads to students too, but in a slightly different approach, only for one day, like they use a reference book of the non-lending collection. (Librarians do not like to take risks and one never knows how students will handle “iPads to go”). Our slogan will be: “if this printed book is not available at the moment, you can use it on this iPad.” Once they use an iPad, they will notice these wonderful interactice multimedia apps for anatomy or pharmacology or whatever. As a great media device, the iPad is a perfect companion for the great content libraries have to offer. This combination is supposed to do an excellent job helping students to pass their exams. For this purpose 15 additional iPads will be provided.
  2. We shall build a strong base of support for the growing iPad community in our faculty, including newsfeeds of new iPad apps [5], classification of apps according to the NLM [6], promotion of apps at our library blog, writing wiki entries on how to make the most out of your iPad, etc.
  3. A group of iPad faculty members has been founded, which work professionally with iPads, and which lend iPads to students, patients, physicians. There are 35 iPads in use for endodontic learning classes, 18 in the library, 15 in the study hospital, and some more for patients to fill out questionnaires. This iPad group is especially useful for getting first hand information, support, and knowledge. It enhanced significantly the library’s embedding and networking within the faculty.

Preliminary results
We had a wonderful start in the first 2 months with people virtually jumping on iPads as bears to honey and the feedback has been remarkably positive [7]. All users were clinicians; departments ranging from cardiology, ethics, gynecology, neurosurgery, to pediatrics. Among them were the usual “early adopters” but also newbies. All in all there were quite technophile as more than 80% had smartphones or PDAs already. The service was propagated by word of mouth very well: anybody using this gadget was asked: “Where did you get that from?”

For about 60% of the lenders, iPads proved to be very useful, but for 40% not at all. The reasons why the iPad did not stand the test for almost half of the lenders has to be examined in detail. The lenders used the iPad and its apps for a great variety of purposes: most often E-Books were used, followed by literature search, literature management, lectures, lecture videos, and games. Patient education, diagnostics, or music were not used so often and podcasts or movies rarely.

Magazines and journals, such as Macworld, MedPage, Nature News, NEJM, and PLoS were used more often than communication tools such as newsreader, social networks, and chat apps. Half of the lenders used E-book-reader such as GoodReader or iBooks quite frequently, while the other half did not use them at all. Lecture videos from iTunes University, which we had synced with the iPads, were used only a few times.

From the 75 medical apps preinstalled on the iPads, the well-known literature management app Papers was the most used one, followed by UpToDate (as a app-icon on the home screen), German pharmacopeiae, The Elements, DDx Differentials, PediSafe, and ColorTest.

Overall, more than 80% were satisfied or very satisfied with the opportunity of lending an iPad at the library.

Providing mobile access to library resources is a top trend in academic libraries [8]. Mobile phones are the communications technology of the future [9]. Digital natives expect every information (and person) to be immediately available, e.g. mobile. The iPad is an important step in the direction of an all-mobile world. By lending out iPads, the library can increase their reputation and networking among faculties and clinics. This is an invaluable and easy to achieve opportunity. Building a solid base of expertise around this cool gadget will put a “coolness factor” on the library itself and make it a light house. Hi-tech users accept librarians as peers on the same level and our participation in pioneering projects, such as e-lecturing with iPads or accessing electronic patient records on iPads, has been highly appreciated.

This article was published in the November issue 2010.

Foot Notes
1. Facebook VP Christopher Cox: “We laughed at every new technology because we are grounded in the perspective of the media we use today.” in Ryan Singel: Silicon Valley Lacks Vision? Facebook Begs to Differ. Wired 8.10.2010
2. Eric Lease Morgan: “A Day in the Life of Mr. D” In: Thinking Robots, an Aware Internet, and Cyberpunk Librarians, The 1992 LITA President’s Program Presentations by Hans Moravec, Bruce Sterling, and David Brin. Chicago 1992.
3. O.Obst: “Evaluation of the PDA-project at the Branch Library Medicine at Münster” GMS Medizin — Bibliothek — Information 2008;8(2):Doc16 and Wissens-Wiki: PDA Projekt:
5. You find new apps at
8. ACRL Research Planning and Review Committee: „2010 top ten trends in academic libraries: A review of the current literature” Coll Res Libr News 71(6):286-292 (2010)
9. Helen Blowers: “Reality Check 2010: 5 Trands [sic] Shaping Libraries”

Things worth to know [not in the printed issue]

PS: iPads on loan are easily trackable with MobileMe now iCloud, provided the user didn’t delete the respective Account in the iPad settings.