Phx Friends of UA SIRLS

News and info about librarianship, UA SIRLS, and libraries…

Bryan Heidorn’s Visit to Phoenix

Posted by Editor on October 21, 2010

Seven of us enjoyed super quality time with the new (since 2009) SIRLS Director, P. Bryan Heidorn. He shared his recent travel experience (Africa and more), and passions (many!) as outlined below. I perceived that he encourages library students and librarians to see their skills as valuable beyond what is generally considered to be bibliographic. Our skills and talents can be use to organize and make available items other than books, journals, and articles, and can and do include items defined as “gray”,  items such as animals, bugs, realia (other three dimensional items), etc.

Bryan’s SIRLS bio is here

Brief UIUC bio…(from ) … Professor Heidorn’s recent research interests include scientific information extraction as well as information infrastructure to integration of scientist’s data, sensor data and citizen participation in biodiversity informatics. In his research projects, scientists, teachers and K-12 students use advanced information technology to gather and analyze information about the environment. His work includes a redefinition of the book into electronic format with higher functionality for different user groups.

I was/am currently a Program Manager in the Division of Biological Infrastructure at the National Science Foundation spending one week a month at UIUC. At NSF I work with the following programs: Advances in Biological Informatics (including CAREER), Biological Informatics PostDocs, Assembling the Tree of Life, Cyber-enabled Discovery and Innovation, INTEROP, DataNet, Data Working Group. Program Officer for the Plant Science Cyberinfrastructure Center (IPlant).  Some of Bryan’s other interests are described below.  Per Ardua Ad Naturaleza


Bryan reported that SIRLS is going strong despite some student applicant withdrawals due to economy and difficulty getting professional jobs.  He noted that the AZ unemployment rate is lower than originally predicted. He is working to develop more face-to-face classes. Will consider offering hybrid courses in the Phoenix area. He teaches research methods himself.   Is looking forward to commencement and the speaker who will be  Tom Burnett from the Smithsonian…watch for news of this!  New adjunct faculty are being added. He is working withh all faculty to be creative with new class delivery methods.

BH has been busy:

Arizona Library Information Center for the Environment and the Arizona Museum Information Center for the Environment; ( ALICE and AMICE): Celebrating the Past, Present and Future  of the Arizona Environment

An example of Arizona activity includes a BioBlitz,  a 24-hour initiative to convince the public to participate in the identification of all of the plants and animals in a public area that is admired by its citizens.  Wikipedia definition here.

Speaker Series Possibilities

Teacher Workshops

Museum and Library Exhibits

Arizona Environmental Portal

Legacy Project Criteria

The Encyclopedia of Life (EOL) is an unprecedented global partnership between the scientific community and the general public. Our goal is to make freely available to anyone knowledge about all the world’s organisms. Anybody can register as an EOL member and add text, images, videos, comments or tags to EOL pages. Expert curators ensure quality of the core collection by authenticating materials submitted by diverse projects and individual contributors. Together we can make EOL the best, most comprehensive source for biodiversity information.

Over the next five years, the EOL aims to:

  • Generate a million species pages, most of which will be authenticated by experts
  • Digitize a large portion of biodiversity literature
  • Generate educational materials for students, schools and universities
  • Use the EOL resource to generate new synthetic knowledge about the world’s biodiversity
  • Involved in the Biodiversity Heritage Library-
  • Bryan has great photos here.  He showed us wonderful photos from his travels as well.
  • One of Bryan’s fascinating publications is called Shedding Light on the Dark Data in the Long Tail of Science, and is found in Library Trends, Volume 57, Number 2, Fall 2008.  DOI: 10.1353/lib.0.0036

Abstract:  One of the primary outputs of the scientific enterprise is data, but many institutions such as libraries that are charged with preserving and disseminating scholarly output have largely ignored this form of documentation of scholarly activity. This paper focuses on a particularly troublesome class of data, termed dark data. “Dark data” is not carefully indexed and stored so it becomes nearly invisible to scientists and other potential users and therefore is more likely to remain underutilized and eventually lost. The article discusses how the concepts from long-tail economics can be used to understand potential solutions for better curation of this data. The paper describes why this data is critical to scientific progress, some of the properties of this data, as well as some social and technical barriers to proper management of this class of data. Many potentially useful institutional, social, and technical solutions are under development and are introduced in the last sections of the paper, but these solutions are largely unproven and require additional research and development.

I was encouraged for our profession before I listened this evening, and even more so afterwards!  Bryan has a way of generating and sharing his many passions, which he told us began with an interest in indexing. He believes that librarians can organize, make accessible, and present in a variety of ways, any type of information, that we have the skill set to do that and need to think more widely than perhaps we have been thinking!   He talked about a “barcode of life”, of intensifying slurries, monitoring and keepomg track of all kinds of spoecies and more.  He  remimnded us that most scientific data is NOT in journal article or books, but in all manner of data banks often held by the scientists who created them, not sharing it with the scientifc universe, thereby limiting exploration and discovery.  I thought it all most intriguing and exciting and most of us were smilling broadly when he wrapped up.  We had a lively Q/A session as well!

Thanks, Bryan, so much for driving to Phoenix to share your wisdom and interests with us! IF any attendees from Monday’s gathering remember more (there was a lot!), please add your comments to this post!

I will be working to plan the next meetings to include, perhaps, a visit to a new Scottsdale Public Library branch, an archives or AZ Foundation Visit and a law librarianship speaker! News to follow!


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