Sometime ago I read about going out and learning about your own surroundings. Sorry, I’m completely blank on the actual resource and whether I read from one of those motivational emails or tweets or websites or image meme. The point is, we should not stay inside our own bubble.
How much do we actually know the kind of awesome services or initiatives available in our own library or within other units on campus? I only know a little, to be honest. Many times I found out a cool set of collection in the library because somebody mentioned it, a local newspaper wrote about it, or from the newsletter sent to the library supporters. Kinda embarrassing, but, hey, better late than never. Same thing with many initiatives happening around campus. With so many units established on campus, I am sure I miss many of them. But I would like to highlight several of them:
First, MSU Libraries is gathering text and data aimed for digital humanities (DH) projects either through our own digital collection or collaborate with vendors. It’s all started with a request from a research faculty wanting to work on a topic that would require Congressional data. This collaboration with the faculty prompted our Digital Humanities librarians to pursue other text or data collections that we could offer to our users (and, in some cases, to the public).
Another one that I’d like to highlight is Enviro-weather, a weather-based tools for Michigan Agriculture’s pest, natural resources, and production management decisions. This is a collaborative project between the Michigan Climatological Resources Program and the MSU Integrated Pest Management Program. Each yellow dot on the map represents an Agriculture Station. If you highlight the dot with your cursor, you’ll see the latest weather data pulled from the weather station positioned around the state. Click on the dot and you’ll see a more complete information on the area. You could, of course, go further and get the raw data itself by going to their Enviro-Weather Automated Weather Station Network site.
The Geographic Information System (GIS) unit on campus created cool and useful GIS-based applications that they developed to showcase the MSU campus. My favorite applications are these two below:
The Historical Imagery provides aerial photography of the MSU campus from 1938 to 2010 (I hope they’d add more for the later years.) While interacting with application, I, of course, couldn’t resist checking the area where the current MSU Libraries is located. By moving the slider slowly, I could see the changes happened from an empty slot to its current structure. Not all images are available; sometimes you get an empty section due to image unavailability. Still, it’s really cool to see the changes happened during the last 60 years or so.
The Environmental Stewardship (requires Adobe Flash Player 11 or higher, unfortunately) allows one to check the energy consumption and/or waste reduction effort around campus. You can pick a building and generate the report based on the data for current or past fiscal year. One can see that they made the information available for the public to see and download due to MSU’s status as a public and land grant university; the application allows the public to inspect and interact with the information themselves.
There are more great projects and initiatives around campus like the ones that I highlighted above. It would be nice if I could do a “cool stuff on campus” search on the university website instead of relying on the serendipity. But, hey, I probably should go around and ask instead. :-)