photo by K. Constant
We received the following report from Kathryn Constant, Librarian at Birthingway College of Midwifery, who received a Technology Improvement Award from NN/LM PNR in the spring of 2010. You can be like Kathryn! Proposals for the next round of Technology Improvement Award funding are due on August 12.
Birthingway College of Midwifery Library is a small, one-person-run library in a small non-profit accredited school in Portland, Oregon. Technology is not a word usually associated with midwives. So it really was astounding to receive a Technology Improvement Award from the NN/LM PNR in 2010 for Sharing the S.T.O.R.E. of midwifery-related material.
Sharing the S.T.O.R.E created a new digital health information collection and service to Birthingway College of Midwifery’s Library and the birth-related community the library serves. The project initiated the digitization of the 15 year plus collections of slides, original research-based student theses, sound and video instructional recordings, diagrams, handouts, etc. (S.T.O.R.E.) While this project is far from being completed, its debut has proved very successful.
The project really began with a revised Statement of Work from the NN/LM PNR reviewers. Their wisdom was immediately apparent and appreciated. The proposal was written to include digitization of everything and dissemination to all. The reviewers appreciated the enthusiasm and worthiness of this plan, but realized it was far beyond the scope of a one-year project. “Yes” to digitization of many, but the dissemination could wait. First lessons learned— keep it real and make good use of advice from experts.
In the beginning, the award check arrived and the spending was fun. The library acquired a lovely, fast new computer with a high quality wide screen monitor and an 8 TB Network Area Server (NAS), complete with cables to connect and distribute. It was set up library centric, shiny and new. Then, the technology-here-today-gone-tomorrow phenomena reared its ever-changing data. The all-in-one photo/slide/auto-fed document scanner budgeted for the project not only went up in price, but couldn’t be found in stock anywhere! The scanner, of course, was key to digitizing almost everything. Many deep breaths were had before a solution appeared. We had to get another brand, and it seemed we waited just long enough since an even better all-in-one-do-it-all scanner came down in price to make it within our budget. It even came with some software we knew we needed. Scanner in place, we purchased Adobe Acrobat Pro to covert, copyright-protect, watermark and make our student research projects/thesis Section 508 accessible. Additional modules for the library automation software also arrived and were installed to handle our new media types, tasks, and demands. Most pieces assembled, the digitization experiments began.Summer arrived and the scanning was fine! The tech dude and I giggled with glee with how easy this would be. The research project/thesis papers flowed through the scanner like water. Photographs and slides lit up the computer screen like sunsets. Tests run, we were ready to digitize the S.T.O.R.E.
At first, the copyright assistant for the college was enthused to gain permissions for the S.T.O.R.E. project. It was summer and slower at the college than usual. We would begin by asking for permission of the students to digitize and disseminate their completed thesis/research project papers. Students were emailed and many replied quickly in the affirmative. By the start of fall term, we had more than a dozen papers completed and available in digital format through the library catalog. Birthingway College Library had entered the 21st century!
Fall term was the perfect time to test our project. Fall term is the quarter I teach Research Methods to the advanced students. I use completed research projects as a teaching tool to provide examples of concepts and to show finished products. The problem with using the papers this way was that students always wanted to take the papers home to use as examples when completing their homework tasks. Library policy was that these papers did not circulate. In fact, the only time research papers were ever out of library was for one evening of Research Methods class each year. Students could look at them inside the library, but could not copy them without the authoress’ written permission, which they had to acquire themselves. The disconnect between resource sharing/protecting is obvious by now.
The “test” class started as usual. I walked in carrying an armload of research papers. At the appropriate moment, I passed the papers out to students and everyone started going through them with intense interest. They passed them between themselves. “This is so cool.” “They are all so different-you’d love to read this one.” “Now that I see them, I totally get the idea.” Before I even asked to collect the papers, it happened. “Kathryn, can we take these home with us?” For the first time, I didn’t feel dread when I answered this question. “Sorry to say you can’t take the originals home with you, BUT they are available online through the library catalog.” “No way! That’s awesome!”
And awesome it was and continues to be. Fall term the dozen papers were accessed over 45 times and there were only 8 students enrolled in the class. Without a doubt, I received the best quality assignments in the history of teaching Research Methods. The level of enthusiasm from the students was also remarkable. This class had often been sleeptime for over-tired midwives-in-training.
As the school year continued and these students moved forward into doing their research projects, an unforeseen benefit and measure of success appeared. “Now that my paper is going to be published on the Internet, I really want it to be excellent and meaningful. Midwives from all over the world could see it.” “I was so excited to show my family my research paper. When they saw it download from the library catalog, read it, and saw how much work went in it, they were really impressed and proud of me.” Success? I’d say so and this is just the beginning of Sharing the S.T.O.R.E.