Thursday, July 29, 2004

Cuyahoga County Public Library uses Citrix to Improve Access and Cut Costs

This is very cool. Cuyahoga County Public Library has aranged with Citrix to centralize their computing services. Cuyahoga County Public Library has many branches through out the county (29 locations total). By centralizing their computer systems they are able to load software on one machine and still allow staff and users the opportunity to use any pc in the library and move between computers easily. Now IT support doesn't have to load a program like Microsoft Office on every computer. CD Rom database applications just need to updated once on the central computer instead of loading each database update at each branch.

Monday, July 26, 2004

Serials Solution Pros and Cons

Within the last year we purchased Serials Solutions as a product to manage our electronic journals. I decided to write about our experiences with the product.

First you must understand we are a medical library. Originally we had a collection of about 800 concurrent journal titles, of which we had approximately 400 titles available online. Approximately two years ago we became a part of the OhioLINK consortia. With our consortia membership, the amount of journals we had online access to exploded. All of a sudden we had access to over 16,000 journals through various online means. Our simple HTML web page listing our 400 journals was not going to cut it. For about a year we tried running two seperate lists. One list was the 400 titles that we owned and the other was the giant list of OhioLink journals. Simply put our patrons hated it. I can't blame them. I mean who (other than the librarians) would know what is an OhioLINK journal and what isn't which list to really search. Our big problem was how to merge the two lists into something one person could manage. We looked at various other OhioLINK institutions to see how they were handling the issue. At the time most had two lists or just had a list to the OhioLINK journals (not a list of their journals). One library, Cleveland State, was looking into a product called Serials Solutions to manage their lists.

Pros of Serials Solutions:
It was very easy to set up. You check all of the databases and online sources through which you get full text journals. They are flexible enough to allow you to select a whole database of journals as accessible or you can pick and choose various titles within the database. For journals not listed in their large list you create an Excel file listing the journalt title, issn, and the url.

Libraries have the option of using their Web Portal. The Web Portal is hosted on their site and provides; a single point of access for journals, combines your A-to-Z Title List, Title Searching and Subject Browsing functionalities, updates library-specific data daily and content provider data continuously, reduces your time spent managing and hosting HTML reports, includes your electronic and print holdings. No more uploading HTML documents.

Serials Solutions also offers a product called Article Linker. Article Linker is a full-featured OpenURL resolver that provides features above and beyond Serials Solutions' Journal Linker. Article Linker features links directly to the article level (when supported by the content provider), as well as links to ILL and other extended services. A new feature is Article Linker Customization, which provides more control over your Article Linker results pages and end-user experience. These customizations include; results ranking by Content Provider, deduplication of Results Page links, and 1-Click to Article performance.

Currently we do not have Article Linker, we are investigating it for next year to provide full text access to journal articles in Ovid. We have had a miserable time getting Ovid's Links@Ovid to work for us and we hope Article Linker will solve our problems. So far it looks like it will.

Serials Solutions has just added a usage statistics and overlap analysis. Currently the usage statistics only say how often somebody has done a search on Serials Solutions, but they intend to get it to the journal level. Overlap would be helpful for libraries that are broad and not specialized. Since we are a medical library we appear to have a huge overlap in the medical and science areas...huh go figure.

Document delivery programs such as Illiad work within Serials Solutions. As of right now we do not have a document delivery program, but we will be getting one shortly. I will let you know more when I know more about that.

For those people who want to include their electronic journals in their Catalog they offer a MARC service. It allows you to easily and efficiently integrate your electronic serials information into your OPAC. Inclusion of the MARC records returns your OPAC to its central role as the single, comprehensive access point for your library’s entire collection. All of your holdings - print, electronic, microform - will be in one location, allowing you and your patrons to know immediately what is in your collection, and where to find it. We do not use this feature. Because we are a medical library and OhioLINK has electronic journals in all different subjects, we felt we didn't want to include records to non-medical resources in our catalog.

Serials Solutions support have always been helpful. Their support answers email questions, within that day or the next day. They have been easy to get a hold of and seem genuinely interested in constructive feedback.

Cons to Serials Solutions:
You do give up some authority when going to Serials Solutions, especially if you are trying to synthesize a cosortia collection. Before when I found a bad link or a date problem, I would jump into the HTML page and fix it. Of course that is when we had a small list of 400 titles. As our access grew to the 16,000+ journals in OhioLINK I was willing to give up the control. If you are using the Web Portal, you lose some control in how the results are displayed. This can be problematic when a user chooses to "Browse" through journal titles and they click on "J". Users would see, "Jou-Jou, Jou-Jou," as it tries to display navigation to all of the journals that start with "Journal of..." We called Serials Solutions about this and they created a work around which was better, but it is not ideal.

Browsing by title is cumbersome if you have large lists. It just seems like this takes quite a bit of time because they list quite a few journals on a page and their navigation within the chosen letter is not expanded enough.
This is the navigation that the user sees when they click on the letter J:

JAAPA : Official Jou... Journal of accountin... Journal of applied g... Journal of biomolecu... Journal of clinical ... Journal of contempor... Journal of economic ... Journal of evolution... Journal of Geophysic...

From the statistics we see that most of our users Browse for titles, so we would like to see some serious improvement in their browsing navigation.

You can search for titles of journals or the ISSN number. This is the easiest method to search but it can also be the most frustrating. If you search for complete title, you must include the "of" "and" "the" that are present in the title. All too often our users forget to include the "of" in the New England Journal of Medicine. Then they are amazed when they see no results. You must always explain to users to type the complete name. Serials Solutions does offer a search called, "Title Contains All Words" but our users have problems with that too.

All in all we absolutely love Serials Solutions and how it has allowed us to provide as close to possible one stop shopping to journal articles. Serials Solutions always seems to be adding to their product and are interested in library opinions. The cons I have mentioned are minor compared to the ease of which we can now manage thousands of journals. If you are a smaller library with a smaller amount of journals the pros may not outweigh the cons, especially if you like to maintain complete control over your ejournal list.

Friday, July 23, 2004

Would the Copyright Bill Kill Tech?

There is an interesting article in Wired, Copyright Bill to Kill Tech? The Senate Judiciary Committee will be considering a bill holding technology companies liable for any product they create which encourages or aids people to steal copyright materials.

Whoa! I am not a lawyer, I am a meer librarian, but from what I understand this redefines or nullifies previous laws and decisions made regarding this area. The article brings up the example of the Betamax decision.

(Good God is this all that Betamax now is going to be remembered for? How many kids today even know that there was an alternative to VHS)

Anyway, according to the article the Betamax decision said that companies could make products for people who wish to use them for legal reasons. If people used them for illegal reasons then it was the user's liability not the product manufacturers. This ruling led companies to develop all sorts of products such as DVDs, DVRs, etc.

This law they are debating is written too broadly and would essentially make tech companies fearful of creating a product that could be manipulated or used in any illegal activity.

This is other example of how law makers want to dumb down Americans. Apparently we are too stupid not to know that you can no go out and copy and swap Eminem's latest hit.

Hmm now that I say that maybe the law makers are right, we are too stupid. I am constantly appauled and amazed by today's youth and some of their parents. How do they not know that they are stealing when they download from music share servers? Do they not care?! How did the students of Christine Pelton's biology class not know that copying word for word or cut and pasting paragraphs or sentences from the internet was stealing and plagerism?!?! What is even worse is how did their parents support their offending children.

So yes I guess we are too stupid in America to know what is right and what is wrong. But does that mean we need government to hold our hands and create broad laws to teach us, thus risking the entire technology industry and the economy?

Wednesday, July 21, 2004

Library AKA The Idea Store

I just read a lovely article on the BBC's website entitled Is this the library of the future?. It is about a public library that has changed their image from a place centered around books to a place where ideas, information, and multi-media reside. These changes caused usage to increase from 28% to 55%.

Libraries embracing technology and becoming more than just a place for books, causes positive and meaningful changes.

Tuesday, July 20, 2004

What is RefWorks

Recently I have seen some discussion on the library lists about reference manager programs. Insitutions that require a lot of publishing from their employees will be quite familiar with idea of reference managers.

Reference managers allow people to import references from online databases, store them, and then they can use these references in writing their papers. The reference manager works with the word processing software to automatically format the paper and the bibliography in seconds according to the the required writing style. For example I intend to write a paper for the journal Child and Adolescent Psychiatric Clinics of North America on seperatition anxiety and children in daycare. I search the databases and find some citations to articles I want. I download (import) these citations into a reference manager which creates a mini database of my citations. As I write my paper I decide that I want to cite a reference, so I click the apropriate cite button in my Word progam. The reference manager works with my Word program to creat the citation acording the style I choose. Since the above journal uses the AMA writing style, will import the citation and create a bibliography according to the AMA style. Once I am finished typing my paper all of the citations and the bibliography are according to the style the journal requires. No more fussing with writing styles, no more manipulating bibilographies. Ok lets say I get rejected from the first journal and I decide to try my chances with the journal Child Development. However, they want their papers in APA format. All I do is go back into my paper in Word, click on the appropriate button to change citation formats and boom everything is formatted to the APA style. No re-typing, re-working, and re-organizing, where as if I hadn't used a citation manager I would have to do it all by hand.

The most common reference managers used are RefMan, EndNote, and ProCite. It is no surprise that all three of these programs are produced by one company, ISI. These products are costly, around $300 and $100 for upgrades. Additionally, the product only runs on the computer you installed it on. So if you do a lot research on different computers you have a problem.

Enter RefWorks. RefWorks is created by the people who originally created RefMan (before it was bought by ISI). RefWorks does the same thing that other reference managers do and is more flexible. RefWorks is an internet program. So you can do research from any computer and and upload, download, write and cite your citations from any computer that has internet access. There are no upgrades to buy, as it changes and upgrades, it is reflected in the internet program. Finally it is very reasonable. It cost $70 for an individual subscription a year! Since there are no upgrades to pay for, you just have to pay $70 each year. Not a bad deal. RefWorks also does institutional subscriptions. RefWorks works particularily well with institutions, because users can collaborate and share citations with each other and not have to worry about what computer they are one and whether the other user is using the same version of the program.

So you can see RefWorks is a force to be reckoned with.

Saturday, July 17, 2004

Floppy Disks Go The Way Of The Dodo

For a long while (a long while in technology time) the floppy disk had no mortal enemies. Yeah sure it morphed from something the size of a record, to the 5 1/4 inch, to the diskette. But it seemed to keep trudging along despite other forms of file saving such as the tapes, zip disks, and CD-R.

I am not saying the disk dominated file saving. As times changed the diskette lost some power in its bid for global computing domination. With the advent of CDs and then CD-Rs gone were the days of installing a program using 6-10 diskettes. Tapes while used on with servers, never seemed to catch on with general population as a backup method. Zip disks at first seemed to be a the replacement to diskette. It stored way more information than a traditional diskette and it was somewhat more sturdy than a diskette and it was easily portable. However, none of these things really caught on as an easy, portable, inexpensive, storage device. A CD-R wasn't as small and portable. Plus you had to rely on using a computer that had a CD writer, which depending on your organization's capital equipment budget and policy could be problematic. Zip disk were smaller than CD-Rs but they too required your pc to have a zip drive.
"So what," you say, "My organization buys all the latest computers and replaces them every two years. We have all of these latest features on our machines." After I ask you what organization you work for, I am going to ask you if you have a lap top. "Of course, I have to do presentations when I am on the road." Since you have a lap top, how do you like lugging around all those various drives for your lap top. Your CD drive, zip drive, oh and that little ol' floppy drive, can make for a bulky lap top bag.

Along came the USB flash drive. Call it a pen drive, memory stick, thumb drives, jump drives, keychain drives, etc. These little guys are small, portable, and can come in various data storage sizes, 16 Mbyte to more than 4 Gbytes. A true advesary to the diskette. It is about 3 inches long and an inch wide and thick. Truely a portable storage devices, with enough memory to blow away the puny diskette.

The USB flash drive can be used with almost any older computer that has a USB port. Almost all new computers come with USB ports right in the front of the computer. No more crawling on the floor, pulling out the computer, and groping around for the USB port in the back of the box. One would think these little guys are pricey. Nooooo. You can get one with 128M for about $30 bucks. Heck I filled out a survey last year and was thrilled to receive (free upon completion of the survey) a 64M drive. You can pretty much call it a portable hard drive. For more information check out Fred Langa's article,"What's Behind The USB Drive Revolution.

These USB flash drives are not without controversy. There are IT departments around many companies world wide decrying their use due to security reasons. For the most part the security fears seem to be centered around corporate theft, viruses and malicious software. To read more about possible security issues with USB drives check out

Natural selection will cause the diskette to become extinct like Dodo bird.

Wednesday, July 14, 2004

WebJunction, A Great Library Technology Web Site

I wanted to share a site that I found when I was looking for information on redesigning our library's intranet pages.

WebJunction is a site I found that specifically all about libraries and technology. It is partnered OCLC, Colorado State Library, Benton Foundation, Isoph, TechSoup, and it is funded with a three year grant from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.

While the site appears to be slanted toward the public library side of things, there are still tons of pages and information resources that many types of libraries can use.

So what type of information is there? I will briefly list out the sections that are featured in WebJunction . It is a pretty thorough site and my meager blog can not do it justice, so check it out for yourself.

The site has six main subject areas: Policies and Practice, Technology Resources, Buying and Funding, Services to Libraries, Learning Center, and Community Center.

Each of these main subject areas are further subdivided into narrower sub-sections. For example, the Technology Resources section is further subdivided into Accessiblity, Basic Computer Support, Hardware, Software, Internet, Networking, and Security.

Within each of these sub-sections are articles (under Section Contents) on pertaining to issues within that sub-section. Also included are a list of Related Resources for that sub-section. The articles appear to be written by WebJunction contributing authors or by WebJunction partners. The Related Resources appear to be links to good web sites on the sub-section for you to explore. For example, if you look in Policies and Procedures and then in the sub-section Marketing you will see six articles (listed as Section Contents) posted by WebJunction .

A sample of the Section Contents in Marketing: (Note there are more things listed in the Section Content, in the interest of space I only listed two)

Marketing Guidelines Template
Developed for virtual reference services, this downloadable PDF file contains a set of marketing guidelines that is easily adaptable for marketing any library service.

What Libraries Can Learn from Bookstores
Chris Rippel of the Central Kansas Library System offers a thoughtful, sometimes provocative comparison of libraries and their retail cousins. In the spotlight are sounds, layout, staffing costs, and even smells.
- Chris Rippel
A Sample of links from Related Resources: (Note there are more things listed in Related Resources, in the interest of space I only listed two)

Marketing the Library: Web Training for Public Library Staff
Online learning resources on marketing for libraries commissioned by the Ohio Library Foundation and developed by the Ohio Library Council.

Five Star Presentations: Bringing Your Message to Life
This guide, in PDF format, was written by professional trainer and facilitator Guila Muir for the Washington Library Association. Using the guide, you'll learn how to give great presentations to a variety of audiences. Topics include: assessing the needs and interests of your audience, writing presentation objectives, developing interactive content, body language and gestures, how to deal with nerves, preventing "death by panel," and demonstrating Web sites effectively.

So as you can see this site has a ton of information. I have found it very helpful to browse through and get ideas from a library perspective. Check it out.

Monday, July 12, 2004

More Links on PDAs in Libraries

Here are a few of the links that spurred my three blogs about PDAs in the library. These are in no particular order.
The Handheld Librarian is the blog spot for everything PDA and libraries. It is run by seven librarians and is the place to share ideas, news, and all sorts of stuff about working with PDA. A brief look and you will see blogs on Creating Content for Handhelds, Recommended PDA sites, Evaluating Handheld Medical Content, Online e-book Technology Talk, etc. In my humble opinion this is the one stop shopping of PDA info.
The Wireless Librarian, while not exactly devoted to PDAs is a great blog as well. As technology allows libraries to become wireless, more and more people will be using their PDA and expecting the libraries to have PDA resources.
This links to a nine page word document entitled "Library Handheld Programs: Providing new levels of service" by Joe Williams MSLS of Texas A&M and Laura Osegueda MSLS from North Carolina State University. It was presented at the 2003 LITA National Forum held in October 2003. It explores PDAs and their projected usage increase and how libraries are supporting PDAs and their users. Case studies of library PDA projects are presented along with the challenges and rewards associated with the projects.
Megan Fox the Web & Electronic Resources Librarian at Simmons College Libraries, explores PDAs in academic libraries. This web page is full of links to other libraries that are doing a variety of PDA stuff. One word of warning, this web page is excellent but was last updated in October of 2003 so some of the links might be outdated.
Megan Fox's PowerPoint presentation entitled "PDAs in Academic Libraries: We've Got the Whole World in Our Palms." It was presented May 2003 at the ACRL Western NY / Ontario Chapter meeting. This presentation dives into the question of why PDAs are so "in" and what libraries are doing with them. has a nice web page with links on PDAs and wireless technology for libraries.

Friday, July 09, 2004

PDAs in Medical Libraries

Ok now it is time for PDAs in Medical Libraries.

Since I am a medical librarian I am a little more familiar as to how PDAs are being used in the medical profession. Please know that the hospital that I work for has NO PDA initiative and that is really sad. We are a vary large and well respected hospital that is constantly listed as one of the top hospitals by US News and World Report. Unfortunately we are seriously behind the times when comes to using PDAs in a clinical setting and hospital support. So, while I am more familiar with PDAs in medicine, I am by no means an expert, and unfortunately I can not give you many examples as to how our hospital and library work PDAs.

That being said, lets get on to the blogging.

Just to a simple Google search PDAs and medicine. Doctors everywhere are grabbing PDAs and practicing medicine. JSOnline has an article entitled "Doctors take PDAs on rounds" which profiles doctors who take their PDAs on rounds as a quick reference tool to help in the diagnosis and management of patient care.

PDAs are loaded up with medical software that make diagnosing patients easier, provide drug information, lab test values, and medical reference texts. Instead of flipping through multiple pocket handbooks stuffed into their lab coats, doctors can easily look up the name of drug they might prescribe to find out its contraindications, dosage levels, adverse effects, price, and reactions with other drugs (including herbal).

Depending on where the doctor practices can determine how much their PDA can do. For example some hospitals have instituted a wireless system that allows doctors to have the patient's medical record on their pda. These doctors can easily look at their record make notes and write prescriptions and have it all uPDAted with the hospital as soon as their PDA syncs. Glens Falls Hospital is one such hospital that does this.

So what are medical libraries doing? Again this varies from library to library.

Currently, our library provides a list of medical software products that were/are suggested for people in the medical profession. We list these products by subject (pediatrics, drug info, emergency medicine, etc.) so that our users have a list of recommended products. We do not buy any products for them nor do we do any site licensing of such products.

Other libraries (it seems to be mainly medical school libraries ) offer medical software and software packages via site licenses. Users then can download these products on to their PDA and use them in their hospital. Some libraries also provide sync stations and printing to users.

Ovid, MDConsult, UpToDate, eMedicine, as well as other vendors provide database access to their products (for a fee of course). Users can query databases and get information when they sync.

So there you have it. I very briefly explored the use of PDAs in public, academic and medical libraries. Monday I will list a bunch of links that are good resources or reading on the use of PDAs in libraries. Until then, have a good weekend.

Wednesday, July 07, 2004

PDAs in Academic Libraries

Today I am going jump into the Academic Library pool an swim around with PDAs in college and university libraries.

It seems if medical college libraries are waaaaay ahead of the general college and university libraries in the PDA market. For this blog entry I have chosen to separate medical schools and colleges from the general academic world. Medical colleges and PDAs will get lumped in with medical libraries.

That being said. There are quite a few PDA initiatives and programs just getting afoot in the academic world. One such example is the University of South Dakota. They require all incoming freshman to purchase Palm PDAs. Professors at the University of South Dakota have incorporated class schedules, syllabuses, practice quizzes, and various other educational degree unique programs. (Examples: pitch training for music students, water acidity measurements science students, and storing news clips for media studies students) has a nice article on a professor of the University of South Dakota and his perspective on implementing the PDA project. One crucial point he makes is the adoption of technology must be a "use-centered design." Too often people are required to use technology for the sake of using it, despite it not being well suited for the task. When that occurs the technology will fail. By using a "use-centered design" you focus less on the technology but the tasks associated with the use of the technology. It is a very interesting read.

Also check out The Chronicle of Higher Education "Are Personal Digital Assistants the Next Must-Have Tool?"
for another article on colleges experimenting with use of PDAs on campus. The article profiles the University of South Dakota from the student and professor perspective. It also mentions various other colleges that have started to incorporate PDAs in their programs.
These programs are:
Drexel University which installed a wireless web allowing students to use their PDAs more easily.
Stanford University law students and putting legal study materials on PDAs.
Bentley College use PDA's as clipboards during market-research assignments.
Dartmouth College, the University of Iowa's business college, and Duke and Brigham Young Universities all require students to have hand-held devices for some classes.

Ok so where are the academic libraries and their involvement? Academic library PDA involvement varies widely.
Some libraries have made their pages PDA friendly:
The University of Missouri-Kansas City Leon E Bloch Law Library
Western Kentucky Library PDA Library Portal

Some Libraries have made their resources available and searchable to PDA users.
Cunningham Library, Indiana State University
University of Alberta Libraries The PDA Zone
Other libraries are lending out hardware and peripherals for PDAs. One special academic library has six PDAs (Handspring Visors) for checkout, each are loaded with core programs that are needed in the college. Another library will lend out keyboards, digital camera, and voice recorders to use with PDAs.
Then there are libraries who provide syncing and printing spots within the library.

Ok so lets say your library would like to dive into more traditional library products that are now available to PDA users.
Some of the products are Ovid@Hand, Westlaw Wireless, and JournalToGo.

Ok there you have it. Quite a few things going on from the academic side of things. Again, I am sure that there are libraries that are using PDAs behind the scenes or in other ways that didn't mention. I would love to get feedback to hear what you are doing.

Tuesday, July 06, 2004

PDAs in Public Libraries

Sorry for the my posting absence, it was the holidays and I was on vacation. When I am on vacation I disconnect from the wired world, and it is nice.

As a medical librarian I am somewhat familiar with the uses PDAs in medical institutions and libraries. But I was wondering how other libriares have jumped onto the PDA train. So I decided to take a look at PDAs in public libraries, academic libraries, and medical libraries.

Today I will explore PDA and their use in public libraries, through ebooks.

A great many public libraries have information pages on how to use a PDA to read online books along with links to download the needed software such as Adobe or Mobipocket. Then there are public libraries who are actively acquiring and promoting ebooks to their patrons. Patrons can browse the library's ebook collection, "check out" an ebook, and read it on their PDA, smart phone, or PC. Only one person can "check out" one copy of the ebook at a time, just like if you were checking out regular printed books. The nice thing is that ebooks are never overdue. Once the loan period expires, the book is automatically "returned" to the ebook collection. What is to stop a person from printing off all of the pages of an ebook? It is kind of impractical to print off all of the pages of an ebook. Most ebook distributors allow you to print off a page or two, but if you engage in printing off multiple pages in a single sitting the distributor sends you a message about copyright and to please stop printing. If you persist, then your account is disabled.

Ebooks enhance the public library's image as being the place to go to get information resources and it further strengthens the idea of a virtual library. From a patron's perspective it is easy to "check out" and "return" ebooks. The patron doesn't have to find time to go to the library. Patron's no longer have to wait for somebody to return a long overdue book.

Ebooks are gaining in popularity. According to eMarketer, "the number of e-books sold worldwide increased by about 130,000 from the first quarter of 2003, from 228,440 to 421,955 e-book units sold, representing an increase of 46%." Wow, that is a huge increase. Granted that total is nothing compared to the traditional print publishing industry, but the percentage increase is quite impressive. It clearly shows that ebooks are on the rise and demand is increasing as people get more tech savvy, have more time constraints, and as the prices of the viewers (PDA, smart phones, etc.) lower.

So what kind of books are these ebooks? Places like NetLibrary (a distributor of ebooks) have over 40,000 titles available for libraries to purchase and they constantly adding titles each day. Some ebook distributors carry only specific subject while others are more general and carry a wide range of subjects. According to eMarketer the top five selling ebooks for May 2004 are: The Da Vinci Code by Dan Brown, Van Helsing by Kevin Ryan, Angels & Demons also by Brown, The Da Vinci Code: Fact or Fiction by Hank Hanegraaff and Paul L. Maier, and The Rule of Four by Ian Caldwell and Dustin Thomason.

Obviously ebooks are just one of the many ways PDAs are used in a public library setting. It is probably one of the most visible to patrons. What are other ways that PDAs are involved in public libraries. I have heard of librarians using them to store book list information, to help in doing inventory, help with scheduling. Email me, let me know how you are using your PDAs in your library.

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The Krafty Librarian has been a medical librarian since 1998. She is currently the medical librarian for a hospital system in Ohio. You can email her at: