Posts by: Thomas Quinn

Hello everyone! It’s been a bit since the last time I did an annual round-up of the data I have for the library, and I thought it was high time to do another one. Especially given how much things have changed these last few years. And what interesting changes!

First thing is first, of course: what were the fullest days in the library this past year? There are actually two answers! On both December 6th and April 4th we counted 950 people sitting in the library. 950! That’s nuts! A neat side fact: both of those days are Tuesdays, and both were the Tuesday after the second weekend of Extended Hours in their respective semester. Either blind chance was on our side those days, or Tufts is big on keeping the same exam style no matter what. Go figure.

Incidentally, this year I became curious about how busy the floors were when compared with each other. The answer is this rather silly looking chart.

See that purple there? That’s the 7th floor. It was twice as busy as the 6th floor. Twice! We counted people 35,000 times on the 7th floor this last year! The others don’t even come close. Obviously, part of this can be explained by the fact that we added so much new furniture last year, but that’s not the entire story. I think it’s safe to say that students around here just really like their quiet space to study.

“But Tom,” you ask, “how do these kinds of numbers compare with past years?” Well I’m glad you asked that, HHSL Blog Reading Person, because I have an answer for you! The chart below is the total number of people we’ve counted in the library, by month, over the last 4 years.

The purple would be this year. It looks like a lot, but you can see the same sort of wave formation every single year – we start off slow in the summer, get busy in the fall, slow down in the winter (we only get about half of December’s days counted due to the break, and January starts off slowly anyway), and then the whole thing picks back up in time for all the exams, only to slow back down in June.

What does this tell us, then? Well, we’ve been busy. We’ve been very busy. As you can see, everything sort of spiked back in 2014-2015, but this year was consistently busier than the year before it. July and August were the exceptions, but I’m certain that March and April more than make up for those.

Seeing these numbers go up and down over the years presents an interesting thought challenge: why do they fluctuate so much? Well, a little of it is human error, a little bit is due to changes in how we collect this data, a little of it is the way the programs on campus have been changing and adapting (which means the student body has been adapting), and part of it is sheer environmental factors. Snow days, for instance, or the way holidays fall – if we’re closed, we won’t be counting anybody!

“Okay Tom, I see. How about circulation? Surely human error is minimized when you have a program doing all your counting for you.”

Note: We got a new circulation system in June 2017, so the numbers got interrupted.

You would be right. And you’re about to really enter the head-scratcher.

Somehow we were insanely full this year, while also having our second slowest year of checkouts since we started collecting these numbers this way. We have a ton of new resources for you, but circulation is down? Let me share the secret answer: the Internet. HHSL is constantly searching out new digital books, journals, and databases for everyone on campus, which means our physical books are not in as high demand as they used to be. So while the overall circulation is down, what is circulating is getting checked out like mad – for instance, our phone chargers alone registered 8,000 checkouts this year. The busiest year yet for them!

In case you were curious (I know you were) the most checkouts we had in a single day was 210 checkouts, which belongs to Wednesday, October 5th. 9 out of the 10 busiest circulation days were in the fall (with February 27th clocking in at #7). That particular information doesn’t really tell us much, but it’s fun to know all the same.

For the record, “busiest circulation day” is only in reference to amounts of checkouts (and subsequent check-ins) in a given day. It doesn’t count all of the times that librarians have a consultation with someone to help with research, or the times that the library staff at the Service Desk troubleshoot or help you find articles, or all the direction given, or printing problems fixed, or on-the-fly assistance with programs like EndNote…it’s a helpful metric, but it’s not the full story. Heck, it’s missing the craft events! You can’t have a complete picture without those.

All of these numbers are pieces to a puzzle, and it’s one we’re always working on here. You’re looking at a few pieces of it, but there are always more to add. And we’re always looking for more of those pieces, be it anything mentioned above or be it School Affiliation data. So as we enter the 2017-2018 year, keep your eye open for people walking around with clipboards and say hi! And who knows, maybe you’ll be part of one of these charts in the future.

-Tom-

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Hello all! Some important news about library hours for the upcoming weekend and days surrounding Independence Day. The hours will look like this:

Friday, June 30th: 7:45 am – 5 pm

Saturday, July 1st: 10 am – 5 pm

Sunday, July 2nd: closed

Monday, July 3rd: closed

Tuesday, July 4th: closed

Wednesday, July 5th: 7:45 am – 11 pm (back to normal!)

Now I know what you’re wondering: “What will I do with all of my time if the library is closes at 5 and then stays closed for 3 extra days?” Well good news, Boston has you covered! There are parades, fireworks, and even a reading of the Declaration of Independence from the balcony of the Old State House! So you can head over here and see all the information about the events this weekend.

Enjoy your time off, make sure to check out some of the celebrations, and don’t forget to put on your sunscreen!

Happy Independence Day, everyone!

Photo: Tom Quinn

Tom

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Hello there. Meet the Block.

What is this Block, you may ask? Well if you haven’t needed to know, consider yourself lucky (or, perhaps, just good with time management). The Block is an ever-vigilant consequence. Kind of like Batman, but without the martial arts skills, money, gadgets, costume, tragic backstory, or even opposable thumbs.

So…not very much like Batman at all, I guess.

The Block is what you face when you return Reserve items too late. All of the Hirsh Library Reserve items (laptops, chargers, many textbooks, all models, etc) can be checked out for 4 hours at a time. As long as there’s no immediate shortage and/or demand, you can even renew your item(s) by coming to the desk! But if you are too late, the Block will find you.

At your first offense, you will lose all borrowing privileges and they will only be reinstated after 24 hours. At your second offense, they won’t be reinstated until a week has passed. Third offense is a month, and the library will send a letter to your Dean.

So be careful, and don’t mock the Block! Set an alarm on your phone, write the due time on your hand, whatever it takes to stay one step ahead of the Block. Bring your items back on time, and you will be able to continue using the library happily! But if you don’t, and you ignore this warning…well.

The Block is waiting.

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Hi everybody! It’s been a little bit since my last statistics post (just about one year, in fact), so it seemed high time for me to do another one of these. Today I’ll be focusing on October 2016 and March 2017, which were our two Affiliation Months this year. For those who are unfamiliar with the term, that’s when the library staff go and ask every person in the library what their program is, so that we can have a general sense of how our space is being used.

Still with me? Good!

Click to see full size

This first chart is comparing the Affiliation Stats from October 2016 and March 2017. To gather this info, we chose 7 days out of each month (one Sunday, one Monday, etc. All were chosen randomly) and on those days went around 4 times a day. This is always an interesting comparison due to the different programs and the way they operate. Dental and Medical students were gearing up for board and class exams, so it’s no surprise that we would see so many extras in March. There was a jump in PA as well (new class means new exams!), but then we saw drops with Sackler, Friedman, MBS, and PHPD. So what happened there? It’s hard to say. Different timing on exams, different demands on the classes, all sorts of things can affect attendance in the library. Ultimately, March was still the busier month: we counted 3,327 people in March, but only counted 3,115 people back in October.

The thing to keep in mind is that these numbers are only a snapshot. To truly know what the individual program attendance in this library is like for a full month we would need to gather this data every single day for that entire month, and that is unfortunately (or fortunately, depending on how much quiet you like) unrealistic for us. Do you know what is quite realistic, however? Collecting a month’s worth of circulation data!

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Bam. That’s a full month of data right there! So what does this show us when compared to the Affiliation graph? Well for one, we can see that the space was occupied more than our things were being checked out to a point, which is actually pretty normal. People do like checking things out (skulls! laptops! books! phone chargers! oh my!), but the library keeps adding more and more space, making it easier to go and hide out and get your studying in.

But here are some thoughts: why are the numbers so similar? We never have had a 1-1 relationship between studying and circulation before, but parts of this are surprisingly close. What’s causing the numbers to fluctuate the way they do? Consider: we have exams in March and April, and Extended Hours at the end of March. Affiliation was overall higher (by 212 people), but Circulation was lower (by 249 checkouts). Weird, right?

There are many factors that affect all of these numbers, but I won’t be going into them in this post. There’s only so much space, and I still need to talk about the floors!

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So. Dental students love the 7th floor. Surprise! Medical and MBS are also huge fans, so it looks like all of those new study carrels we added last summer really helped! Everybody else is spread rather evenly over the floors, although I do find it interesting that the PA students go up to 7 when they’re not in class (I guess to get away from the classrooms – can’t say I blame anyone). It’s good to see people like the furniture and spaces so much! Warms the heart (which is numbered and on a stand, and you can check out from the Library Service desk for 4 hours at a time. I’m not kidding).

The 7th floor has always been the most popular (generally about twice as popular as any of the other floors), and the breakdown after that is always fascinating. Medical students overwhelmingly prefer the 7th, followed by 6 – study quiet, which makes sense. Since the 4th and 5th floors offer some small group opportunities, those are split evenly. Dental may trend toward groups even more so than I used to think – perhaps that’s why there are so many up on 7, and then in decreasing order from 4, 5, and 6?

I would like to state that it is exciting to see Sackler, Friedman, PA, PHPD, and MBS showing up in larger and larger numbers. Hirsh Health Sciences Library is for everyone on the campus, and we want you all to feel welcome! That’s why we have so many study carrels, and the Collaboration Rooms, and craft days, and all the other things that make the days go round. And based on the posts from over the last few years, it seems like we’re only getting more and more popular, which is fantastic. Feel free to keep coming in bigger numbers, we have space for you all!

And on that uplifting note I will leave you for now. Perhaps I will be able to do a look at the full year’s numbers in a few months, so keep your eyes peeled. Until then: good luck with any exams you have left, and I’ll see you all around the library!

Tom

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Hello everyone! This Monday (April 17th) is Patriots’ Day here in Boston, which means two things: the Boston Marathon, and holiday hours at HHSL!

The Library Service Desk on the 4th floor of Sackler will be open from noon to 7pm on Monday, April 17th. The Sackler building will have its regular hours for swipe access.

The Boston Marathon’s finish line is right outside the Boston Public Library, but the route stretches much further! If you’re interested in checking it out, the Boston Athletic Association has you covered.

So enjoy the long weekend and remember to stay hydrated!

Photo by Tom, finish line diorama by Jean!

Hello hello everyone. It’s about that time again: time for the Affiliation Survey!

Twice a year, the Hirsh Health Sciences Library runs the Affiliation Survey, where we walk around and ask every one of our lovely patrons which program they are with (Dental, Medical, Sackler, etc). This is all we ask. We will not ask for your name or even which year you’re in! The numbers we collect are used in aggregate so we can get a snapshot of what the library usage is like. Go ahead, take a gander at my post full of graphs from last year. That should give you a good idea of what we do with this info!

This academic year we’ve done something different: scattered the days. We’re still collecting 7 days worth of data in October and March, but this time around those 7 days are spread out over the whole month, randomly chosen to try and maximize the usefulness of the numbers (in other words, we’re trying not to get skewed by specific exam blocks too much). Back in October you might have noticed that a few times there were big signs on the floors by the entryways and elevators warning you that we were collecting stats.

Well keep your eyes out for them!

We won’t announce ahead of time which days we’re counting (see our need to randomize, above), but we don’t want you to be completely off guard, either. If you come into Hirsh and you see one of those tall signs, please know that we will be coming around a few times that day to ask you which program you’re with.

Don’t panic!

If you don’t want to be bothered (or to speak out loud), you are welcome to leave your ID next to you while you study. If that is still not good enough, you can write your program down on a piece of paper and leave that next to you. If you’re in a group room, feel free to stick a note to the outside of the door (on the wood – the windows must remain clear!) telling us how many people of what program(s) are in the room. Done and done. We will add that number to our count, and we will move on to the next person!

There are pencils, pens, markers, scrap paper, and tape down at the Service Desk on the 4th floor, so you can even make your sign bright and cheerful! If you have any questions or concerns, let us know either in person at the desk, or through Ask Us on our website. We’re here to help and make this quick and easy.

But otherwise, we look forward to seeing you all this next month and finding out just what our beloved HHSL looks like this spring.

Good luck on studying and all of your exams and projects!
Tom

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Hello everyone, it’s Leo here. Happy Valentine’s Day! It’s convenient that day is today, because I’m here to talk to you about a good friend of mine, whom I think you could really learn to love if you gave it a chance. I am, of course, referring to Dongle.

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Dongle is a good friend of mine. We go way back! We’ve been through a lot together, and I want to see it set up with someone who will treat it right, and give it the study sessions it deserves.

Dongle stands 5.5 inches tall (or 14 centimeters, if you prefer metric). It weighs in as “so light that I don’t even need muscles to lift it,” and it has a nice slim profile, which can be seen from any angle you happen to be viewing it from.

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Dongle has two ports: a Mini DisplayPort on its smaller end, and a VGA port on the wider side. The Mini DisplayPort plug is made to slide right into your computer, and the VGA port holds onto a VGA cable on the other end, so you can share images on your computer with the projector and the room at large. Fun fact: Dongle works with all of the laptops we have on Reserve!

Because Dongle is as useful as it is convenient.

And, naturally, Dongle goes by many names. “VGA Adapter,” “laptop adapter,” “projector cable,” “that thing for my computer so I can do a presentation,” “something that plugs into my Mac for the projector but I don’t know what it’s called but I know you have it” – Dongle is not picky, and will answer to all of those names.

So this Valentine’s Day (and any other day of the year, really), why don’t you come by the Library Service Desk on the 4th floor of Sackler and give Dongle a try? Who knows, this could be the start of a beautiful academic partnership.

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Peace, love, and good grades,
Leo

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"Collecting books for readers in the reserve stacks, 1964." LSE Library. https://www.flickr.com/photos/lselibrary/3925726691/

“Collecting books for readers in the reserve stacks, 1964.” LSE Library. https://www.flickr.com/photos/lselibrary/3925726691/

Do you find yourself looking through the catalog at Hirsh Health Sciences Library, thinking how great it would be if we owned that one book that you and a few classmates really needed? Have you found yourself in need of study materials, but the ones we have are outdated? Think there’s just a great database we should try? Well you’re in luck!

If you head on to Recommend a Purchase, you too can suggest material for the library to buy! It’s not just books, either – journal subscriptions, databases, models – HHSL is always looking to support our patrons in as many ways as we can, and this is a perfect way you can help us with that mission!

Plus, if you fill that form out, you could very well be the first person to find out about this new resource we have, and who doesn’t like being the first to something new?

You can always check in with us at 617-636-6706 if you have any questions about what we may or may not have in the library. But otherwise, we look forward to seeing all of your suggestions!

 

Do you want to earn some extra money in between your exciting classes and volunteer work? Have you seen your classmates behind the Library Service Desk on the 4th floor of Sackler and thought that looked like a pretty good set up? Do you just think we have an awesome desk and want to get paid to sit behind it (and help out your fellow classmates)?

Good news! You can!

The Hirsh Health Sciences Library hires graduate students from this very campus to staff the Service Desk, in particular in the evenings and on the weekends. It is a part time job, with all necessary training done on-shift. There is no specific hiring period, but rather occasional hirings depending on staffing needs and school schedules. Students from all programs on campus are welcome!

If you’re interested in applying, you have two easy options: 1) Swing by the desk in some free time and fill out an application in person (advantage: you can ask us any questions you may have about the job), or 2) head here and fill out the online application (advantage: you don’t need to wear pants to fill it out).

We hope we get a chance to work with you in the coming months!

Desk 2

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Turkeys!

Hi everybody!

The Hirsh Library will be closing at 2pm this Wednesday, November 23rd, and will remain closed through Saturday, November 26th. This is for the university-wide Thanksgiving Break.

On Sunday, November 27th, we will be starting our Extended Hours! This is when the Service Desk on the 4th floor is open from 10 am to 10 pm to assist you in any and all of your studying needs. The days are:

Sunday, Nov. 27th

Saturday, Dec. 3rd
Sunday, Dec. 4th

Saturday, Dec. 10th
Sunday, December 11th

We hope you enjoy your days off this week. Make sure to catch up on some sleep, and we will see you bright eyed (if not bushy tailed) on Sunday, November 27th!

-Tom

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