Olin Library Updates

Since moving to work from home (WFH), I’ve enjoyed working on several projects that might be of interest to Bio folks.

When PubMed moved to a new interface on May 18, I created a guide to searching and using the finer details of the database. You can find it on the Libraries’ Research Guides at: libguides.wustl.edu/pubmed. I would be happy to set up a one-on-one Zoom meeting with you or your lab, if you’d like a short demo or have questions about how to conduct searches, view your results, export to citation management systems, or any other functions you miss from the old interface.

Back in March, as stay-at-home orders were beginning to take effect, I collaborated on this COVID-19 resource guide with a library colleague when so much mis- and disinformation was trending in the world and online. We were subsequently interviewed by Library Journal to talk about how libraries are working to fight misinformation associated with the Coronavirus. That time seems so long ago now, although the amount of COVID-19 misinformation continues to proliferate.

I’ve also been working this summer with students attending colleges and universities across Missouri through the MOLSAMP program. I form a group of four librarians from WU and Mizzou that have been meeting with these students weekly to talk about sources for locating research on COVID-19 for their summer research projects. This is typically a hands-on program with students working in wet labs at Washington University and Mizzou. It’s great that the program could continue in the virtual realm, but I suspect the students are missing the personal contacts they could be making here at WU.  

Last summer marked the first time grants were offered to faculty through the Information Literacy Learning Community, a partnership between the Gephardt Institute, the Center for Teaching and Learning and the University Libraries to help support faculty in incorporating information literacy and librarians into their courses. I was an organizer and also a participant last summer, when a senior lecturer in Psychology applied and was accepted into the program. This summer, I continue to serve on the planning committee and would like to encourage any interested faculty to apply and/or learn more on the Information Literacy Learning Community website.

Recently, a small number of library staff have been allowed to return to Olin to begin checking in books and a new curbside service for checking out WU physical materials has begun. I’m not one of those staff, but you can learn more about that service on our website. Although the Libraries don’t yet know what the status of our FY21 budgets will look like, we have started ordering eBooks and streaming videos based upon faculty and graduate student requests. Please email your suggestions to me at mvetter@wustl.edu.

On a Personal Note

These past 4 months I’ve enjoyed working from my dining room table with my co-worker, Tyler, a 7-year-old Yorkie mix and constant companion at my side. With my laptop perched on a cake stand (and the kitchen a little too close for comfort), I’ve been able to settle into a pretty comfortable work routine. My WFH situation improved when our children, 14 and 11, finished their own remote learning (which included a 3-week summer course in Civics for my son, a rising high school freshman). Having this uninterrupted time with my family has been a real bright spot through an otherwise difficult year.

There have been other new freedoms for me associated with this WFH scenario. The ability to answer a quick question through Zoom or send a short video via email to demonstrate a process are just some of the skills I’ve added to my remote work toolbelt—services I plan to continue to utilize in the future. However, Zoom fatigue is real and I find an afternoon spent hopping from one Zoom meeting to the next can be quite draining. I look forward to face-to-face encounters again with colleagues and students and seeing the campus in its seasonal beauty.

In the meantime, I am trying to cultivate a little beauty and bounty at home. Plants and flowers in our yard are enjoying more focused attention than in years past, as are a few vegetables we planted this spring. It’s amazing what a 10-minute break to weed and water can do to help alleviate stress and improve focus. I’ve also taken up my knitting needles to make dishcloths for friends and adopted a pen pal at a local assisted living facility. I enjoy crafting her handmade cards with her favorite insect—the butterfly.

Please drop me a line (mvetter@wustl.edu) if you need anything, and especially as you plan your courses for the fall. I am happy to create online guides to library resources, offer instruction on using tools like PubMed and Zotero (citation management)—either synchronously or asynchronously— or you can suggest other topics that could support your research and teaching. Stay safe and be well!