Wednesday, June 30, 2004

Bad Online Searches Cost Companies Money

This article "FLAWED ONLINE SEARCHES COSTING U.S. BUSINESSES $31 BILLION EACH YEAR" came across my email and I had to post it right away to my bog.

It seems despite what big business and executives think, we librarians are totally needed. An business research company found that 84% of the people taking the survey felt that their web searchers took longer than ought to due to poor results, which in turn cost $31 billion in wasted time. $31 BILLION!!!!! Holy crap! And I get criticized for reading my daily Dilbert early in the morning, I certainly am not wasting that much time and money even on a really tough search request.

There are a ton of statistics in the article about how confident they are in the searches, how much they depend on internet searches, how confident they are in the resulting information being credible, etc.

The one thing this little lovely article does not even mention is LIBRARIANS!!! How much of an asset we are, how we can save these companies big money (for $31 billion maybe they could pay us a living wage), how we could save time, etc. I would have like to see the survey compare the companies on whether they have librarians, whether they use the ones they have, and how confident they feel in the librarians research results. It would be extremely interesting to looks at those results.

In the mean time, print this article out and post the hell out of it. Wave it from the roof tops. Put it in your executives', bosses', doctors', provosts', next door neighbors' inbox. Blow up the article and post it at your library's front desk or front door. Put it next to the computers. All of them attached with a little note saying, "I can help."


Tuesday, June 29, 2004

More Free Journals on PubMed

I ran accross this press release from the National Library of Medicine. The Wellcome Trust, the Joint Information Systems Committee (JISC), and the U.S. National Library of Medicine (NLM) are working together to provide digitized backfiles of a number of important and historically significant medical journals. These digitized backfiles will be available free on the Internet through PubMed Central.

So far the journals that are participating in this are: Annals of Surgery, Biochemical Journal, British Journal of General Practice, Journal of Physiology, and Medical History. A PDF of each article, editorial, letter, etc. will be in the archive. Additionally, each piece of information will be scanned in using an optical character recognition program so that each piece of information (article, letter, editorial, etc.) will be key word searchable. VERY COOL!

These journals have also made a commitment to include all new issues of their articles to be available once the article has outlived its embargo period.

So what does this mean for libraries?

Well for one these oldie but goodie things will be searchable online. I can't tell you how many times I have encountered researchers and physicians who have turned their nose up at perfectly relevant journal articles simply because they weren't available online. It is as if their legs were broken and they couldn't go back to the shelf and copy the darn thing, or their hands were broken and they couldn't write an ILL request. Lazy and sloppy researchers, I am not advocating it, but it happens. Hopefully this will slowly bring an end to that.

Second, these articles are now going to be available online FOREVER to anyone. Ok that is a strong word. Since I don't know the future, maybe I should say that they will be available online for a really really long long time. This is a permanent archive of an important collection of research. Libraries no longer have to worry about trying to find another library to ILL the old article.

Third, researchers, librarians, and doctors no longer have to go to the moldy old print Index Medicus to look up these gems. Like most typical print indices access points to articles are usually limited by the author, journal, and main subject terms. So if you weren't sure about the author (or the spelling) and you thought the main topic of the article was on ASTHMA but it was actually on and indexed under ANTI-ASTHMATIC AGENTS, you would have a harder time of finding the article. There was no such thing as full text searching in the print index world. As these articles are put online, you can do full text searching, and most likely use wildcard searches to help find the author's article.

(Evil Laugh) Whaa haa haaa. Like it or not but we are moving into the digital age and the written word as once knew it will change. Know what is out there, know how to find it, because knowledge is power.

Monday, June 28, 2004

Spam, Spam, Spam and More Spam

I give up. What is the point to trying to weed out spam? I belong to about 4-5 library email lists. Some like MEDLIB-L are very active, where others I get one message a month (if that many). I also administer all of my library's electronic journals. So every medical journal that we subscribe to electronically, my email is the contact person. Yes every great once and while when I have scrounged up my few pennies and I can afford a trip on Southwest I have it email me my itenerary to my work address.

Point being, my emailing activities (mostly work related) have left me with a work account that is constantly flooded with spam. I go through 100-200 spam a day, just to get 30 or so real emails. When I went on maternity leave I had to come in twice to empty out my email before my account got fried. Each time I went in, I had over 1000 emails (yes I did turn off my email lists) of which 90% were spams. It has gotten worse. We have recently changed from GroupWise to Microsoft Outlook. Good freaking God my spam has increased at an alarming rate.

So this has me thinking about how spam effects libraries and its users.

The obvious is that your email account is huge and you lose real email because you accidently delete it while you are sifting through the junk.

Library alert systems to not cross patrons' spam filters. How many times has a patron gotten annoyed that they were not notified by email when the book they requested was in? Are they using a spam blocker? Do they know if there mail provider is using a spam blocker? Now libraries have to add another helpful reminder to patrons to add the library to the safe list.

Patrons don't want to give you any information for fear you will sell it to spammers. Unfortunately no amount of explaining that libraries would never disclose their patrons' information can soothe some of these users.

Viruses, ack! Users who access their internet mail on the library computers can easily accidently open and unleash viruses. Library staff can accidently open their mail and launch a virus.

Anybody got any other ways spam can make life for libraries a pain? Comment if you got some ideas.

Friday, June 25, 2004

More about Open Access

Ok I promise this will not be antire blog devoted to Open Access. For one my knowledge of Open Access is limited compared to the experts out there. Second there is already an excellent blog devoted entirely to the subject, Open Access Forum. So why re-invent the wheel when they pretty much have the whole car assembled on Open Access.

Anyway, there are two very good things that came accross my email today in regards to open access that I feel deserve mention.

1. There was a press release at BioMed Central that Open Access journals are proven high quality research that can compete and compare well with subscription based journal titles. Here is the lead paragraph from BMC:

"Open Access journals published by BioMed Central have received impact factors that compare well with equivalent subscription titles, it was announced today. The high impact factors, all for journals that are just a few years old, prove that Open Access to research literature achieves impact fast and makes quality articles much more widely visible."

2. There is a new brochure from SPARC introducing Open Access. SPARC (Publishing and Academic Resources Coalition) has created a brochure that "introduces open access to scientific and scholarly research. As with Create Change, the Open Access brochure’s colorful design helps librarians reach out to faculty and academic researchers so they understand an increasingly popular strategy for advancing scholarly communication in the Internet age."

So two new things in the Open Access world and I felt it necessary to post about them. Technology has changed the publishing world vastly. It was not all that long ago that the printing press revolutionized publishing, now the internet is doing the same.

Thursday, June 24, 2004

Library Technology Now

So this site, Library Technology Now, just came accross my email. It sounds interesting and very promising. According to the web site it is going to be, "Your one-stop resource for library technology news and product reviews written by library people for library people."
Darn and I thought I would be that ;)
I thought I would pass along this site and encourage anybody interested to volunteer. Their anticipated launch date is December of 2004.

Wednesday, June 23, 2004

What is Open Acess and Why Should You Care?

Open access is constantly discussed frequently on MEDLIB-L. It is hard not to go a week without some aspect of OA popping up with the proponents and oponents debating about it.
So what is Open Access? Well I sat here and typed and erased at least a hundred times my attempts at explannations. The fact is that while it seems like a simple concept, "Open-access literature is digital, online, free of charge, and free of most copyright and licensing restrictions. OA removes price barriers (subscription, licensing fees, pay-per-view fees) and permission barriers (most copyright and licensing restrictions)." (Peter Suber) However, it is a very large concept that has implication in libraries, scientific communities, and publishers.

With the cost of journals increasing exponentially, libraries welcome Open Access literature and Open Access journals. These scientific papers which are peer reviewed are free to the public. Libraries who have had to provide more with less money do not can easily give this quality information to those who need it.

Scientists can freely access important research anytime without common barriers established by non Open Access publishers. Additionaly authors retain their copyright to their work which is now available to a wider audience which in turn can increase its visiblity and impact.

For publishers, more than anything this is a drastic change in the way literature is distributed, archives, and owned (copyright). It seems the main argument publishers make is that Open Access is not viable for publishers. One argument is that you are taking the costs of publishing articles and receiving no compensation for the distribution and usage of said articles. However, there are Open Access publishers who are distributing quality research articles and have business models that appear to work.

I am neophyte when it comes to understanding Open Access, I find it very interesting. One of the best blogs I have found on Open Access is Open Access News. It is offers a much better overview of Open Access than I can. If the blog peaks your interest you can sign up for their newsletter and forum.

Monday, June 21, 2004

Google and the Library

I was alerted to an article today in the New York Times, the article "Old Search Engine, the Library, Tries to Fit Into a Google World." It just touches on the surface a lot of issues that we as librarians are facing/fearing as patrons increasingly use Google for their research forgoing other library resources (print and electronic).

Why is this a problem? Well many excellent research sites are huge, with many levels and pages. Google only skims the surface of these sites and does not index content that could be in a free electronic research collection. So searchers will never find this good stuff because it isn't indexed.

So I know what you are thinking..."Well not index that stuff?" That is a good start and that is what libraries and research centers are doing, but that is not the cure all.

Are researchers willing to plow through Google's results lists to get to reliable information that might be burried within Google itself? Google's uses specific algorithm, which sorts search results based mainlin on how many pages link to the matching page. So databases such as PubMed (that has been indexed in Google since 2002), which display citations on web pages with few links are going to be burried in the mire of Google results. This is further explained in "Just Because it is Indexed Doesn't Mean You Will Find It."

Do I have any answers? No easy ones. I think it is more important to be armed and know what the public thinks, expects, wants and how they are getting it. We need to think like a patron and look at ways to lead them to lead them to quality information the need and deserve.

Tuesday, June 15, 2004

Ok here I am

The Library Diva got me into blogging. I have decided to give it a go. Bear with me while I figure out my style and what my blogging will be primarily about.

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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: