Materials Science Resources

Today’s Resources in Materials Science

Highlights from the roundtable overview of new & updated materials resources.


CORE-Materials — many use creative commons license, although a few are copyrighted. Not really easy to search, but resources are interesting, if not too advanced.

MIT OpenCourseWare–Can find graduate and undergraduate resources by topic, instructional approach, and type of materials used.

nanoHub–Community portal and open resources for nano science. Includes simulation tools and learning modules, as well as a workspace to collaborate.


Other resources:

TRAIL – Technical Report Archive and Image Library:  unrestricted access to over 61,000 digitized federal technical reports.

MatWeb: searchable database of materials properties.

We finished the meeting with a roundtable discussion on how we use non-materials focused resources to find materials information, but I had to leave early to go to another session. I’ll post the slides here when the get published.


Happy Birthday, Frankenstein’s Monster

The Frankenstein Bicentennial Project: Science Fiction as a Lens for Examining Science and Society Issues

2018 will be the 200th anniversary of the publication of Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein, which is considered the first science fiction story and Shelly’s polemic on what was happening in the world at that time.

The speakers, Bob Beard and Peter Nagy, both from the ASU Center for Science and the Imagination, talk about the projects they embark on for the Frankenstein Bicentennial Project as a tool to engage the public in conversations about science *in* society.


  • Transmedia–Frankenstein is reproduced in almost all forms of media
  • Intertextual reference–can be a story about the environment, loneliness, hubris, science ethics

(Transmedia is a 21st century skill. How we access the information effects how we evaluate it.)


Frankenstein 200

The project has 3 parts:

  1. Workbench has activities designed for use at home
  2. Footlocker is a tabletop kit for museums that will help learners develop STEM interest, developed digital literacy, and raise awareness of issues around science and society (example: use pool noodle & motor to design the Scribbler: who is responsible for writing on the table? The Scribbler or who was controlling the Scribbler?)
  3. ARGH–an alternate reality game that combines digital narrative with real world on/off ramps.

Takeaways & final thoughts:

  1. Science artifacts for critical reflection: make people think through the impact of their creations.Being accountable beyond what you best interests are.
  2. Science identity development through playful engagement.
  3. So much of our fiction can be a Frankenstein story!
  4. There are unexpected Frankenstein’s everywhere!
  5. There is an open edition of Frankenstein has lenses by disciplines. (Except I can’t find it! Comment here if you do!)



Water, Water, Everywhere!

Water in the Southwest: History, Policy, and Data

There were two speakers for this session, Sarah Porter, Director of the Kyl Center for Water Policy, and Grant Weinkam, Research Analyst at the Water Resources Research Center, University of Arizona.

Porter outline the history of the “water problem” in the southwest, going back to the ancient indigenous peoples who “engineered” water by digging canals. She went on to William Augustus Hancock, the “father” of Phoenix, who saw the usefulness of the canals. Then to John Wesley Powell, first director of the USGS, who mapped the Colorado River and was partly responsible for the Newlands Reclamation Act of 1902 (Pub.L. 57–161), which helped established irrigation efforts for the 13 western arid states. Then to Babbit’s Groundwater Management Act of 1980. Areas of high growth aren’t supposed to develop unless they have the water to support the growth. Biggest challenge are areas where there isn’t CAP.

Weinkam (slides) presented on the Desert Flows Database, a database of available articles and agency reports on the environmental flow needs and flow responses for flora and fauna in watersheds of the deserts of the U.S. and Mexico. To gather the data they surveyed land managers and water managers throughout the Western US and Mexico. They currently have data from over 400 studies including depth of groundwater,legal or regulatory requirements for the species that are being considered and species abundance and age structure.

Miscellaneous notes:

Why has agricultural needs for water decreased in recent years? AZ ag is focusing more on reuse, is becoming more efficient, and overall, there is less ag.

There are obvious issues with people who can’t afford to upgrade their systems (Najavo)


Books mentioned

Stegner, W., & De Voto, B. (1992). Beyond the hundredth meridian: John Wesley Powell and the second opening of the West. New York: Penguin Books.

August, J.L.,Jr. (1999). Vision in the Desert: Carl Hayden and Hydropolitics in the American Southwest. Fort Worth : Texas Christian University Press.

Fleck, J. (2016). Water is for fighting over : And other myths about water in the West. Washington, DC: Island Press.

Analytics with Library Data

What do I do with all these numbers? Improving libraries through data analytics (slides)

I was hoping this session would again be more practical, but it was very technical! Basically, the question was how do we make meaning from all the data we gather? The slides are pretty through, so I will list a few things that I thought were interesting:

  • ASU ILL — looked at article borrowing because demand was increasing, but needed cut costs. Goal was fill 80% w/in 3 days. Used DMIAC. Found that using document supplies to speed up process wasn’t worth it.
  • Six Sigma — set of techniques and tools for process improvement.
  • DMAIC: structure problem solving technique; drives Six Sigma–Define; Measure, Analyze, Improve, Control

Books mentioned:

Farmer, L., & Safer, A. (2016). Library improvement through data analytics. Chicago: ALA.

Showers, B. (Ed.) (2015). Library analytics and metrics. London: Facet.

Hernon, P., Dugan, R., & Matthews, J. (2015). Managing with data: using ACRLMetrics and PLAmetrics. Chicago: ALA.

Brassard, M. et al. (2017). Six Sigma memory jogger II. Salem, NH: GOAL.

George, al.(2005).Lean Six Sigma pocket toolbook. New York: McGraw Hill.

Tague, S. (2005). Quality toolbox (2d ed.). Milwaukee: ASQ.

Opening Session: Lulu Miller

You typically won’t find me in general opening/closing sessions at conferences…something about the endless awards and the “How Great Are We” presentations in a crowd of 1500 people just doesn’t do it for me. SLA 2017 lured me in, however, with Lulu Miller! One of my favorite NPR programs is Invisabilia, hosted by Lulu, so I had to go!

Miller began with an interesting story about the late Robert W. P. Cutler, retired Stanford professor, who had been doing some research on mining in the library archives when he found a bill from the Henry Morse Detective Agency related to the death of Jane Stanford (whom it was believed had died on natural causes). Much research & work with librarians later, Cutler published The Mysterious Death of Jane Stanford…I won’t reveal what happened (although Miller did), read the book!

Another story involved a small town in Belgium that took in mentally ill strangers so they would have someplace to live and learn to be productive. (Invisabilia story here; JAMA article here.)

She went on to talk about issues facing journalists…including  the desire for a “good” story, herding, and the problems with oversimplifying (“The act of journalism is simplifying”).

Finally, she presented what she felt were tangible ways we as librarians could help “engineer” the research process. Among them were:

  • Do your job worse! Disobeying your research instructions, providing outside-the-box info. Be disobedient for 10 minutes a day! Librarians and disobedience seem to go hand in hand.
  • throw in 1 wildcard for your researchers; add in one thing (database, article, keyword) that might set them off in a new direction.
  • Create more serendipity! Use the Kafka method: Confusion primes the brain and makes you alert to the world.


Resources mentioned:

Cutler, R. W. P. (2003). The Mysterious Death of Jane Stanford. Stanford, Calif.: Stanford General Books.


Wearable Technology

Library Applications for Wearable Technology and the Internet of Things

Although I expected this session to be about practical ways to take advantage of wearable technology, it was  more an overview of what wearable technologies are out there and why we (librarians) should care. The speaker, Tom Bruno is popularly known as the Google Glass Guy around Harvard, MIT & Yale.


  • “The Fad Factor”– librarians love to jump on the technology bandwagon even before there is a known value.
  • Wearable technology feeds the impulse to augment humanity (armor, glasses)
  • Bought 3 google glass for his library. Users have to write project proposal about what they want to do with it. This helped manage expectations. (Had a Google Glass Petty Zoo to introduce).
  • Privacy is a big deal with wearable technology…be mindful!
  • Go Pros: GET ONE! Easy to use.
  • YOUmedia (Chicago Public)–teen digital learning space

Big question: how do we ensure that our digital services are easily discoverable and usable by our patron base? Using things like NFC, QR codes, and iBeacons (BluuBeam), but it is all QR codes all over again…smartphones can’t read QR codes without another app! (See Andrew Wilson’s article in Journal of Access Services & The QR Code Minute with JP and PC)

Google Cardboard for the win! It can turn almost any smartphone into a Virtual Reality headset.

So there is Augmentive Reality vs. Virtual Reality vs. Blended Reality. Which should we support? Libraries need to be a place where patrons can discover….


Books mentioned:

Bruno, T. (2015). Wearable technology : Smart watches to google glass for libraries. Lanham: Rowman & Littlefield.


SLA 2017, here we go!

As a proud member of the Special Libraries Association, I was totally looking forward to visiting Phoenix, AZ for the 2017 Annual Conference. My first in a few years. I have to say, it was the best conference I have attended in awhile. Folks, I even went to the opening and closing sessions! The following posts are highlights  of sessions I attended. You can also learn more using the Twitter hashtag #sla2017 or checking out the conference recap. (FYI, the conference recap focuses more on the big picture and social things…the things I normally wouldn’t go to.)

Celebrating Marie Curie’s 100th Anniversary of Her Nobel Prize in Chemistry

Patricia A. Baisden, Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory
Marie Curie, the Premier Chemist, Co-Discoverer of Radiation and Radioactivity

Julie Des Jardins, Baruch College, City University of New York
The Marie Curie Complex: The Hidden History of Women in Science

Pnina G. Abir-Am, Brandeis University
Historical Perspectives on the Public Memory of Marie S. Curie (2011, 1911)

Three papers presented outlined the technical and social accomplishments of Curie, as well as the impact she had on American women in science. The session is a detailed account of her life and work. Much to much to recount here, so I thought I would share a few of the interesting tidbits:

  • her second paper was the first time the word “radioactive” was used in the literature, and was probably the birth of radio chemistry
  • she chose not to patent her work because she felt all scientific research should be freely available to the public
  • In 1903, Pierre won the Nobel Prize for Chemistry, but refused to accept unless Marie was included.
  • In 1910 she applied to the French Academy of Sciences. She lost by 2 votes and then refused to ever publish in their journals again.