Friday, January 28, 2005

Electronic Medical Record and Technology

President George Bush visit the Cleveland Clinic yesterday to speak about improving healthcare through the use of technology. (See article from Reuters).

He proposed increasing federal funds to promote computerized medical records, which he said would increase quality of care, save patients' lives, money, and help overhaul the health care industry.

Regardless of your politics this initiative should be interesting to librarians. Why? We don't deal with patient's medical records?
True, but what kind of computers will the doctors be using to deal with patient's medical records? Some hospitals are giving doctors PDAs to use at patients bedsides. These PDAs have the patient's medical record on them so the doctor can evaluate the patient, make notes, order prescriptions, and treat the patient.

So if doctors are carrying these things around, don't you think it would be wise to have some basic PDA services and programs for the doctors? For example what about the library getting an institutional subscription to something like ePocrates or another drug information program. That way the doctor can easily look up current drug information while he is meeting with the patient and before he actually orders the prescription.

There are other library related programs that are available on PDAs. MDConsult, StatRef, FirstConsult, Ovid, PubMed, etc. These are already established library programs/vendors who are familiar with library demands.

What better way to promote the library usefulness and ability to help health professionals treat patients, than to tie your services in with this initiative.

Keeping Up on Your Blogs

Bloglines is an services that allows you to manage and monitor news feeds, blogs, and other web content. Best of all it is free.
It collects the information you want and arranges it on a web page for you to read at your convenience. You select the blogs you enjoy reading and it will monitor them. If you install their notifier you can be automatically notified when your favorite blogs are updated. One nice thing about Bloglines is that they over notifiers for many types of applications like Mozilla and Firefox. For those of you who do not want to install the notifier on your machine, you can use their web notifier. It is a pop up that displays an image notifiying of you new postings.

For those of you who are finding yourself monitoring more and more blogs this is a handy tool.

Volunteer to Edit JMLA

Major Leadership Position Available at MLAMLA seeks the next volunteer editor to lead the Journal of the Medical Library Association (JMLA). The digital archives of the JMLA on PubMed Central have given the editors of the JMLA an opportunity to greatly expand its influence. Submission rates to the JMLA have climbed steadily.

For more information got to JMLA.

Tuesday, January 25, 2005

Content Management Systems and Libraries

Ok I have been faced with a beast that for now, I can not best. My hospital uses a Microsoft's Content Management Server for their intranet pages. Now if I did not know how to do web pages this would be a wonderful quick and easy way to get something up on the intranet.

The problem....I know too much. I have designed a large medical library intranet and internet site. I have done javascripting, css, and such. By no means am I am the ultimate web designing guru, but I know more than the average bear.

Try as I (politely) might the intranet gatekeepers will not allow me to do my own intranet page independent of the content managment server. I even explained how libraries are unique and sometimes require a lot different types of pages compared to regular hospital departments. They understood this and said that in these unique cases they OUTSOURCE the design and then they (the gatekeepers) make updates if they are needed according to their time table.

I feel naked. All control of an intranet library page is stripped from me. This hits very hard. However, I decided to at least put something up on their system for the library. Some sort of web presence was better than none.

The nice lady on the phone said, "It is easy it is just like using Microsoft Word." I wanted to cry and scream at the same time. Microsoft Word is great for word processing, but hideous for trying to web pages! Heck, FrontPage isn't much better! ...sigh....

I can't express how frustrating it is for me to not be able to go into the code and change something that doesn't do what I want it to. For example, the stupid content management system kept linking a word that I didn't want it to. In my mind I knew I was accidently typing on the wrong side of the slash a, but I couldn't go into the code and move things around. Even more frustrating I could resolve the issue within the manager. As hard as I tried it just kept linking everything. I had to scrap the page.

Ah which brings me to my next point. I CAN'T DELETE my own pages!!!! Zool...I mean the intranet gatekeepers are afraid people might delete their whole site so they disabled this option to all contributors. We are only allowed to make the page inactive.

So my questions for all those out there....
How many libraries (medical or any other types) are forced to suffer with web content management systems?
How have you justified not using the content management system?

Thursday, January 20, 2005

Hospital Library Advocacy Blog

Here is a blog ( by Jeannine Gluck, that "brings together many resources related to hospital library advocacy: standards and their promotion, making the business case for library services, promotion of library within hospital and to outside organizations, etc."

For those of you who are interested in hospital library advocacy and promotion this is a wonderful site. I think this is a particularily valuable resource for small to medium size libraries who must justify and fight for each penny. I also think that it is a good resource for those well funded libraries so that they may keep their skills and knowledge base sharp. Things may be comfortable for them now, but it is best to be prepared. As in any industry, buy outs, coporate restructuring, and bad economies can happen and bring drastic changes.

Friday, January 14, 2005

Cyber Tools for Libraries....Library Automation for the Small and Medium Medical Libraries

Currently my medical library is still using the card catalog and my assistant is checking our serials in on a rickety home grown program. So, I am investigating various library automation products.
I am in the very very beginning stages of looking at products, so I have not come down with my top choices for evaluation. However, one product, Cyber Tools for Libraries is making it my short list of top choices.

Here are some of the things that made Cyber Tools for Libraries stand out:

  1. Complete, automated integration with MeSH: True, concurrent MeSH integration updates authority files and bibliographic records with National Library of Medicine Medical Subject Headings changes, including qualifiers.
  2. OpenURL for link resolution from databases such as Ovid, EbscoHOST, and Serials Solutions.
  3. You can choose to run on your own server, or to access your database via the Web with our popular ASP Web Hosting.
  4. Has an integrated Serials Management.
  5. Prices are according to the number of concurrent library staff users.

Most of the library automation systems that I have discovered so far target small public or school libraries. While small medical libraries share the some similar needs with public and school libraries, we also have some unique requirements for automation systems.

Like I said I am still in the very beginning of looking at various vendors, but I was so intrigued by Cyber Tools for Libraries that I felt I needed to blog about it as I have never heard of the company until now.

If you are interested in what others are saying about Cyber Tools for Libraries, check out this email on the Medlib-l archive.

When I have created my short list of products I will blog about my top choices and why they made it into the top choices list. Until then have a good weekend.

Tuesday, January 11, 2005

List of Library Related Listservs

I have finally gotten my new email address and I wanted to subscribe to a few listservs. Now I know the tried and true MEDLIB-L, but I wanted to subscribe to a few others and perhaps browse a list. You see I will be doing new things in my new job and I wanted to benefit from the wisdom of others through the email list. However, it was kind of a pain to find one centralized list. After a little sloshing around, I found it, The Library Oriented Lists and Electronic Serials page. This page makes subject browsing through library listservs easy. It may not be the end all be complete source, but it makes life just a little easier.

Monday, January 10, 2005

PCs of the Future (from a 1995 perspective)

I am currently in the process of organizing the files in my office that were left behind by the retiring librarian. Good news is she kept a lot of stuff, bad news is she kept a lot of stuff. While I was cleaning things out I found a section of an old USA Today paper from 1995 and the headline was, "PCs in the year 2000."

This gave me something to smile about and reflect upon. Here are some quotes from the article for you.

"Monitors will be bigger- play more prominent roles in computing. Monitors will have liquid crystal displays as technology improves and prices shrink. That will allow screens to be lighter and thinner. Some experts envision the thinner screens hanging on living room walls and embedded in cars."

Memory/Hard Drive:
"Five years from now, hard drives might store 100 gigabytes. Some hard drives in more expensive PCs might be replaced with high-density CD drives that let you record and re-record hundreds of gigabytes of data. Another possibility: a removable memory card that lets you take important programs and files with you."

"Today a modem that can transmit data at the rate of 14,400 bps or 28,800 bps are considered speedy. By late 1996, modems that transmit data over cable lines will work up to 1,000 times faster than phone modems. Modems will also be able to handle wireless signals and the Rolls-Royce of phone lines -Integrated Services Digital Network (ISDN)- which also two way transmission of video and interactive services."

Computer Size and Style:
"The PC of the future may come in many different shapes. AT&T already has monitors that look like rear-view mirrors, stick on eye glasses that get power from plugging into a belt pack. Bill Gates likes to talk about wallet PCs which can fit in your pocket and be whipped out t handle financial transactions."

These are just a few quotes from the front page of the section. The whole section is a great read. There is even an inside section on issues on the Internet and in 1995 the issues were: what is it, why the hype, having business site on the web is a status symbol, and many web sites lack substance.
Just a fun little read to see where we were and how far we have or haven't come.

Thursday, January 06, 2005

Confessions of a Young Librarian

Ok I am going to be showing my age a little bit here, but not in the way most people usually complain about showing their age. You see, believe it or not I feel really young...for a librarian that is.

As you all know I have a new job as director of a medical library. It is smaller than my previous library, but then again most medical libraries are smaller than my previous library. Any way my generational shock came when I was faced with the card catalog. Dear God, I felt like a neophyte. I haven't used a card catalog since I was in grade school. I have never used one or maintained one since I have been a librarian. In library school we cataloged books and materials online. Now I am in charge of a library where all of the books are in the catalog and as we acquire new books, they too go into a catalog. I confess, I don't even know how to type out a card for the catalog. I feel very unsettled by this.

What is more frustrating is that I feel like I am currently a subpar librarian or at least look like one. Not because I am unfamiliar with cataloging for card catalogs, but because I can't find anything in my new library. I can only search by author, title, and subject. I can't do any wildcard or keyword searches. I can't quickly search alternate spellings or titles. I feel neutered and powerless. I am so used to coming up with creative online searching strategies for finding those books where my user has little identifying information.

Essentially, I feel like my mojo is gone, like I am Wonder Woman without my bracelets and my lasso of truth. I am just plain ol' Diana Prince (without the big glasses).

However, there is a light at the end of tunnel. I was specifically hired to bring my new library into the digital age. So, one of my first tasks will be to get a library automation system. Eeeee I just get giddy thinking about it. Soon, I will be back to my bullet deflecting self and I can't wait.

Wednesday, January 05, 2005

Life Without a Username

Hello from my new library world. I apologize for not blogging, but I had to go to the required orientation and now that I am at my new library and my office, I can not get on to the computer.

I feel as if I am in a parking garage wandering the rows and floors looking for my floor, as I am lost without a computer. For those of you who are not in medical libraries you may not have as strict security measures regarding computers. In a hospital you need a login name and password to even breathe let alone access a computer.

Rest assured I have "applied" for a user name and password and I will get one within the next couple of days. This causes some culture shock for me as I am used to calling the IT department up and politely saying "help" and things are done within the hour. Well I am not at my old library and I better get things figured out learn to work the new system.

So, ta ta for now and I will blog more when I am actually up and running with a computer.

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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: