Wednesday, September 29, 2004

Legacy Content for Online Journals

So we have decided to get the Legacy Content for the American Journal of Physiology. For the bargain price of $2000 we have access to all of their content back to 1898. The nice thing about this is that price is a one time fee. You pay it and you have access, there are no yearly subscription fees, no maintenence fees. It is a you bought you own it kind of a deal. I love the simplicity in that, I wish more publishers could do it this way.

Nature Publishing offers their back files online. However their content only goes back to 1987 and you are required to pay, a base fee (based on the total FTE institutional employees) + ongoing annual access fee. Yuck! that doesn't very simple or predictable. There is no idea what your base fee is because that is a magical number (that they have) based off of the total number of FTE's in your institution. So your food service workers are considered readers in this pricing model.

Of course then there are journals like the Journal of Biological Chemistry. JBC makes all of its content freely available after one year. Right now that means content from October 1905 through October 2003 is free to anyone. What is even nicer is that JBC also In Press papers are also free!

There are many access models being used by publishers for online access to the back issues. That is why you often see those responsible for online journals off in a corner rocking back and forth mumbling themselves. Because it is very hard to keep up with the industry and just when you think you have got it, they throw something new at you.

Tuesday, September 28, 2004

Innovative Interfaces and Hardware Problems

Ok I am trying not to vent. When I set up this blog I wanted to approach issue of technology in libraries objectively.

But I have had it with our III system. We purchaed our III server and system 2 years ago. Just this year we have expierenced a sudden rash of tape drive failures. We have gone through no less than 4 tape drives in one year. We have replace the hard drive, 2-3 scsi cables, and the modem. Still we have had multiple tape back up failures. I litterally replaced one tape drive only to learn that it was a bad tape drive. III sent us a bad tape drive. I could overlook this once, but this has happened with 3 other tape drives.

To make matters more frustrating, our III server is not in library. It is located in the data center of the institution. The data center is a 30 minute drive from main campus to a building that is a less than flourishing area of the city.

So you can understand my frustration when I am sent a new tape drive to replace the old and I drive 30 minutes (through an area where my Honda Civic looks like a Lexus) only to learn that the "new" tape drive doesn't work either. Thus dooming me to repeat the procedure 2-3 more times.

Well about 3 months ago we finally got our system up and running. (That was after one hard drive replacement, 4 tape drives, numerous scsi cables, and a new modem.) Guess what, early this week our freaking tape drive failed AGAIN!!!! And to make matters even more delightful our CPU is throwing out exception errors causing the server to go down.

This is all happening to a system that we pay for III for support and it is supposed to be a simple turnkey system. GOD it makes me shudder to think what would happen if we didn't pay for support.

So I have a question for anybody out there in library land who uses III. IS THIS NORMAL!?!??! Are other libraries having this much bad luck with their III system? Because honestly I am really getting seriously ticked off by their shoddy hardware.

Monday, September 27, 2004

Innovative's Millenium and their Electronic Resource Management Module

****update*** check out my May 5, 2005 blog for an article on Millennium's ERM.

I went to a the Eastern Great Lakes Innovative User's Group meeting on Friday. One key module that really grabbed my attention was the Electronic Resource Managment module. It supposed is a new way for librarians and libraries to manage their electronic resources.

The old way (or current way) we manage our electronic resources: We have files with invoice dates, subscription information, contact names, phone numbers, and journal coverage overlap. Or we have an ugly and odd Excel spreadsheet with all of the names, numbers, contacts, notes etc. Either case neither method really allows us to have easy click access to a database of all of our electronic resource vendors containing necessry subscription information and also allowing us to view coverage and overlap analysis to journal titles within the catalog.

The Electronic Resource Management way: It enables libraries to keep track of their e-journal licensing and purchasing details using a single system, streamlining workflows, and eliminating the need to maintain separate databases. You can manage licensing and purchasing details in a single interface, provide additional fields for storage of relevant data (such as URL, username/password, IP addresses, contact information, etc.) You can display information about electronic resources in the Web OPAC for public services staff and patrons. Additionally you can define relationships between aggregators or publishers and the resources they provide to determine an overlap analysis. Finally you could manage payments and other financial and subscription details.

Ok this sounds very cool. It almost sounds too good to be true. I currently manage all of our electronic journal collection (which I am sure will ensure that I will go prematurely gray and lose my mind). How do I manage these little beauties? By no slick method at all. I have a large scary Excel spreadsheet that has every known bit of information known to man about each journal we have electronic access. The coveted subscription number, along with contact information, payment, provider, and admin usernames and passwords. If this file ever dies I might die with it. So as you can see this module might be a wonderful addition to our III lives.

I am skeptical however. First the person demonstrating this gem was the salesperson for III. She kept refering to Science Direct as database that one could search...(where do I start with that?). Next, I was told that you could have all of your journal records linked to the resources records and provide a nice A-Z and subject list of electronic databases and journals. Sounds wonderful (you don't want to know how long it took us to create an A-Z list of databases). However, it was discovered that you must have Serials Solutions in order to do this. Well ok we have that, but she didn't really go into any exact detail as to what we would need Serials Solutions to do and what Millenium's ERM would do.

I am excited by this new module, but I want to know more. I would like to hear from anybody who uses it and can tell me of their experiences.

Tuesday, September 21, 2004

Seven Deadly Sins of Library Technology cont.

Apparently, I am not the only one who was bothered by this article. Karen Schneider, director of the Librarian's Index to the Internet writes in her blog (http://freerangelibrarian.com) that even she was frustrated by the article. (See blog entry Such a Week)

Well now I don't feel like I am taking crazy pills (nod to Mugato in the film Zoolander), others were bothered by this article too.
I am going to keep an eye on Karen's blog to see her well thought out response to the Seven article.

Monday, September 20, 2004

SEVEN DEADLY SINS OF LIBRARY TECHNOLOGY

One thing that has caught my eye and ire is an article in American Libraries, Sep2004, Vol. 35 Issue 8, p40. It is The Seven Deadly Sins of Technology by Nancy Maxwell.

It is only three pages long and unfortunately is anti-library technology. The article apparently was written as a result of one librarian's library's failed virtual reference experience and then further vilifies many other forms of library technology. It is a very frustrating article for me, considering I think technology is essential to providing good library service. However, I just returned from a trip to Dallas and I am tired and my brain is dead. So I will leave it up to you gentle blog reader to read the article and comment. Perhaps I will blog more about this article later when I have gotten more sleep and my back unkinks.

Friday, September 17, 2004

Google Will Answer Everything....

God, help me. It is a wonder that I am not prematurely gray and actually haven't pulled my long hair out by now.

Our hospital has a new medical school which is in conjunction with an already established medical school program. The difference between the established medical school's students and our new students is in their curriculum. Our medical students are being trained as physician investigators. The college's mission is "to educate a limited number of highly qualified persons who seek to become physician investigators and scientists committed to the advancement of biomedical research and clinical practice."

So you can see why I almost spontaneously combusted when I heard one student (echoed by others) that they just go onto Google to find the answers to all of their medical and science questions that present during their classes. Wow, I am just stunned.

I love and hate Google.


Wednesday, September 15, 2004

Web Search Garage, Google Hacks, and the Google Pocket Guide

Yes you are on the correct blog, I am talking about books today. Ah but they are technology books.

I wanted to share the titles of a couple of good books on internet searching.

Google Hacks, by Tara Calishain and Rael Dornfest is a great book on the time tested real life ways to search Google. How to harness Google's searching power by searching advance searching tips and methods. Even an expert searcher can be improve their Google searching skills by using the features and tricks that other power users do. Amazon.com has a nice description that goes into more detail.

I have read this book. I found it very useful and written for all experience levels, but there are some areas for more advanced Google users involved in scripting. It is book we carry in the library and I actually should just buck up and buy a copy for myself.

Google Pocket Guide, by Tara Calishain, Rael Dornfest, DJ Adams is based of their popular book Google Hacks. It is only a 129 pages (Hacks is 300+). The Pocket Guide is not the mini version of Hacks. Both are about Google and both explain various ways at getting information from Google, but the Pocket Guide slightly more geared toward normal people. It also makes for a better desk reference book than hacks due to its size and tutorials. A nice feature that it has is its, where-do-I-go-now guide to finding specialised stuff that Google doesn't turn up.

This is a book that on my desk and I think would be a great read for those normal users who think they already know how to search Google. (I won't go into all the people who are stunned when I tell them that Google can't find everything, about its complicated page ranking, and about how they must capitalize AND. In their minds, only a senile, mute, blind, centatarian would not know how to search the internet using Google, right?)

Web Search Garage, by Tara Calishain is just out (September 9, 2004) so I haven't read it. There is a great description on ResearchBuzz. On her site (ResearchBuzz) Calishain provides a few freebie excerpts, Four Things Yahoo Can Do that Google Can't (PDF, 300K) , Seven Ways to Save Time Searching (PDF, 250K), and The Principle of Onions.
Here is the Table of Contents.

I just ordered this book so I look forward to reading it and telling you all about it.


Tuesday, September 14, 2004

The Flamenco

I am not referring to a style of dancing. I am talking about a new search engine.

UC Berkeley researchers have created a new style search interface which allows users to easily search through large amounts of information without feeling overwhelmed. You can read about it in an article entitled Flamenco Makes Info Search Easier, published in the Daily Californian.

It is intended to allow the user to browse through results and expand or narrow their search while "maintaining a consistent representation of the collection’s structure."

They used an art history collection to illustrate Flamenco's abilities. As you all know image searching is quite difficult using traditional search engines. Flamenco allowed a user to search for bridges, then group the art into certain centuries or decades. Images then can be narrowed down according to the artist, type of media used and colors that are present. A user can further modify search by adding keywords to the search such as "sunset" to find images containing both bridges and a sunset.

Hmm sounds like a nifty little search interface. They hope to have it available in Dec. of 2004.

Friday, September 10, 2004

What Do Your Web Users See?

There is an interesting article entitled The Best of Eyetrack III:What We Saw When We Looked Through Their Eyes. Researchers tracked users' eye movements on mock news-oriented web pages and generated maps indicating where the readers paused and for how long.

Oooh doesn't that make you wonder how well your library web site page would have done?

Some Interesting Findings:
  • Upper left section of page gets most attention.
  • Dominant headlines get more attention than photos
  • The standard one-column format performed better in terms of number of eye fixations
  • The first words of a headline, or the left 1/3 of a blurb, get mostattention.
  • Summary descriptions (extended deck headlines, paragraph length) were popular
  • Photos larger than 230 pixels wide & deep, showing people's faces, do best.
  • Short paragraphs get more attention than long ones.
  • Top of page is the best location for nav bars.
  • Underlined headlines discouraged testers from viewing blurbs on the homepage.

One really interesting discovery was, "Smaller type encourages focused viewing behavior (that is, reading the words), while larger type promotes lighter scanning. In general, our testing found that people spent more time focused on small type than large type. Larger type resulted in more scanning of the page -- fewer words overall were fixated on -- as people looked around for words or phrases that captured their attention." Huh, well I wouldn't change my whole website to tiny font, it is interesting that if I want people to closely read a paragraph, I shouldn't make it in large font.

So how did your website do?

Thursday, September 09, 2004

Focus on Systems Librarianship

This month Web Junction is focusing on systems librarianship.

Currently, they have a nice selection of readings from being a systems a librarian, computer usage by patrons, support strategies, and networks. Additionally the have a Learning Center that has over 40 online tutorials. The tutorials are mostly on technology such as networking, HTML, Office applications, and operating systems.

If you are itching for conversation, they have discussion board where WebJunction members can post questions and answers.

Finally, I highly recommend participating in live chat session with Rachel Singer Gordon, author of the Accidental Systems Librarian, September 30 from 3:00-4:30. Space is limited to 50 participants.

Wednesday, September 08, 2004

Library Technology Now Needs Help

Hi all this came accross my email and I thought I would pass it along to all of you in blog land in case anybody might be interested.

Library Technology Now, a one-stop resource for library technology news and product reviews written by library people for library people, needs your help!

Located at www.librarytechnologynow.org, the site will include product reviews that will outline features and functionality of library technology products. The reviews will also summarize the reviewers' own personal experiences with the products. In addition to the reviews, library technology news will be gathered from around the world and disseminated on a daily basis.

The site's target launch date is April 2005.
We are seeking volunteers for the following positions:
  • Editors: approve the content of reviews before they are published
  • Copy Editors: proofread the reviews before they are published
  • Thesaurus Team Members: create the Library Technology Now indexing terms
  • Researchers: assist with locating news sources and third-party reviews
  • Web Designers: design the look and feel and build backend applications


If you are interested in volunteering, please email [email protected] for more information. Library Technology Now is funded by The North Texas Regional Library System, Inc., and the Automation and Technology Round Table of the Texas Library
Association.


Tuesday, September 07, 2004

Other Virtual Reference Ideas

So after reading the articles about chat ref and its rather abysmal numbers and success it has got me wondering a couple of things. What other libraries out there also notice the same results as these two articles discussed?

Could it be that chat is just not an effective medium for the reference encounter?

If the chat is not an effective medium, what about other types of communication? One that comes to mind is a bulletin board. Would a bulletin board be more effective or would it have the same usage as chat ref?

I can see in some instances where a bulletin board would seem to work better. First, there isn't an implicit idea that you expect "real time" responses. You post something and then wait for somebody to post back. This would allow the librarian to answer the question without having to worry about time constraints (to a certain extent). Second, other patrons are free to browse the bulletin board for answers to their questions. We often answer the same question many times, this would be an excellent place that people could find the answer to a popular question. Finally, I see this working really well with book discussion groups or reader's advisory. The librarian could post a book and others could give their opinions and thoughts on the book.

I do see some drawbacks to online bulletin boards. First would patrons want their question to be seen by the public? Sure there are ways to mask ones' identity by using non descriptive user names. Even with that, are patrons going to want to post personal questions? We tend to think of a reference encounter as a one on one kind of relationship. What is to stop the other bulletin board useer from entering in the encounter?

These are just some random ideas I have bouncing through my head today. It is hard to get up and running after having a 3 day weekend. I hope everyone enjoyed their weekend and are ready to face the work world.

Friday, September 03, 2004

Have a Nice Long Weekend

No library technology blog for today, my brain has already gone on vacation for the Labor day weekend. :)

Have a nice weekend everyone.

Thursday, September 02, 2004

Sometimes PubMed Is Just So Much Better Than Ovid

Ok I know Ovid has been my "list" lately. I actually really like Ovid as a product for searching Medline. I honestly think the way they have it set up so that users are guided/forced into using the MeSH terms is better than how PubMed (more or less) hides their MeSH searching abilities.
However, most end users have NO CLUE as to what MeSH is and why they should use it when searching Medline. We do our best as librarians to educate, but you can reach everybody. Therefore a many users look at Ovid and then look at PubMed and decide on using PubMed. To them PubMed looks like a glorified Google (shudder....). But there are other cool things that PubMed does that Ovid hasn't done or done well that is really creating a great divide between the two.

Related Articles Link:
Ok say what you want as a librarian about the Related Articles link. But who hasn't run a really cool and perfect search Pub Med that yields 3 citations. You click on that little link to see what other stuff "pops up" if it is good then you look at the indexing to see what other terms that you are missing or other ways you should express and form your search question. Ovid has no such thing. You have to look at the indexing of the citation you already retrieved and try and expand from there. What good is it to look at something you already retrieved to find something you think is missing?

LinkOut:
I realize Ovid has Links@Ovid and LinkSolver, but really those are overkill. Ovid has yet to match the simplicity and ease of LinkOut in PubMed. I am sorry but when takes me, the Systems Librarian, and Ovid help desk months to try and figure out how to get Links@Ovid working correctly with our OhioLINK consortia journals and STILL NOT COME UP WITH A VIABLE SOLUTION, then you really have a cumbersome unfriendly product. All we wanted it to say include OhioLINK journals, check a box and then the electronic journal collection would be available full text through Ovid. It would be updated and I wouldn't have to touch it ever again (just like PubMed). But nooo it wasn't going to work like that. Additionally, it was a serious pain in the butt to add journals to Links@Ovid. If it wasn't in their preset list of journals then you had to create or provide the dynamic html for the journal. Huh, I don't have the time to do that for every journal that is not on their "list."
I realize PubMed's LinkOut is far from perfect, but the beauty of it is in its ease of use and overall simplicity. Ovid has yet to create something so easy and simple. They try and make their two linking products do more than the average library needs. Why can't they have something as simple and as easy as PubMed's LinkOut and then create the whole kit and kaboodle with their pay product LinkSolver.

Interesting note: When I was struggling to make Links@Ovid work for our library I asked many questions to one of the people in charge of the product. One of the questions was about why does PubMed's product does X and Ovid's can't do X. The response I got was, "I haven't ever looked at PubMed's LinkOut so I don't know why." You would think they would look at the major competition when building their products...HELLO!!!!

Email:
Yes, yes I know both products allow you to email searches. However, only PubMed allows you to email in HTML. Now I am a big fan of text email. I am tired of getting all off those busy spam page emails. But, the nice thing about PubMed's ability to email in HTML is that all of the full text links to the emailed citations are active. So you can email a search to a doctor and he can click on the link of the article he wants and get the full text of the article. He doesn't have to email you again and ask you to copy the article and he doesn't have to do a search in your journal holdings to get the article. Full text access is right at his emailed finger tips. Ovid only allows you to email text. So they have no direct one stop access to the full text of the article. The doctor now either has to take the time to search our holdings or (more likely) call us to get the article.


Listening to other librarians and lurking on email lists, I have heard many librarians saying they are dumping Ovid because they can no longer justify the cost when PubMed does so many other things. Hmm it appears to me that Ovid better start looking at PubMed as competition and focusing on improving their product.

Wednesday, September 01, 2004

Ref Chat

Tomorrow I am going to be do Ref Chat training...so that kind of got me in the frame of mind for these a two part article on Information Today.
The first article is "To Chat Or Not to Chat — Taking Another Look at Virtual Reference," Part 1 and Part 2.

It explores the big picture of reference chat and how it is a little used tool among patrons.

Hmm interesting...It doesn't sound very encouraging for our forage into the great chat wide open. Food for thought.

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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: