Wednesday, August 31, 2005

Listen to PDFs?

The Librarian Loose on the Web mentions an article in PDFzone on the ability to convert a pdf document to an audio file. Using Scansoft software, it’s very possible. "By integrating RealSpeak text-to-speech technology—which ScanSoft acquired in its 2003 merger with SpeechWorks—into OmniPage, it's possible to make PDFs (or pretty much any document in any format) talk to you through your iPod. And that's not just electronic files: OmniPage can make paper (provided you have a scanner) or image PDFs—bitmap files of scanned text—into WAV files as well."

So you now it is theoretically possible to listen to research articles while commuting, jogging, etc. However, as the Librarian Loose on the Web points out, the opitcal character recognition softare may have problems with medical terminology and words unique to the health environment.

It would be itneresting to see how this works for scientific and medical literature.

Tuesday, August 30, 2005

Podcasting and Audio Books in Medicine

The Librarian's Rx post about podcasting and the article on Technology, Libraries Offering Audiobook Downloads, about the state of audio books and podcasting in the medical world. Is this something we as librarians need to be paying more attention to?

Recently I renewed my Audio Digest subscriptions to come in audio CD instead of audio tape. The reason for this switch is that more and more cars now come with CD player but not tape players. A majority of my Audio Digest users listen to the CD on their commute to and from work.

Of course there are those people (myself included) who have a car that has only a stereo, no CD player or tape player. I get by with my mini iPod and iTrip (a little device that attaches to your iPod and enables you to listen to your iPod through your radio on an unused frequency, wirelessly) and I love it. My brother who is getting his MBA at Kellogg had to drive from Dallas to Chicago and decided to buy the audio CD of a required book which he transferred to his iPod and listened to in the moving van for the looooong drive.

I was curious to see if Audio Digest, "the gold standard of audio CME and CE," would have podcasts or audio files to download on your MP3 player or iPod. They don't. They have web broad casts for paying subscribers but nothing that you can take on the road with you.

So, I decided to investigate a few more areas of the web to see what is out there in audio books for medicine. This is by no means an exhaustive search, but it gives you some areas to look into if you are interested.

First let me say that unfortunately not all audio books are downloadable to iPods. Apple's proprietary software can not play audio books from NetLibrary and OverDrive (two large audio book suppliers to libraries). So you have two types of users, iPod users and MP3 users, and currently iPod users can not use a majority of audio book providers.

I found two internet sites that have medical podcasts: -Present Doctors On Health Audio Newsletters. These medical podcasts offer a way for you to hear current health news and trends in medicine on your iPod, MP3 player, or on your computer. They include commentary from MedicineNet doctors on current health news related to medicine, viewer questions, doctors tips and suggestions, and the latest medical research.
The audio newsletters include segments on:
  • Health Beat - MedicineNet doctors will put the news in perspective and clarify the often conflicting issues presented by popular media.
  • Monitoring Medicine - covers condition specific health trends and tips based on patient questions and concerns experienced in the daily practice of medicine.
  • Research in Perspective - translates leading-edge research into valuable information you can use.
  • Checking Your Pulse - MedicineNet doctors answer viewer questions and discuss important viewer comments. -The audio web site of the Journal of Medical Practice Management, "First Blog and Podcast Site Dedicated to Medical Practice Community"

Their podcast library includes:

  • Time-of-Service Payment: Customer Service and Cash Management
  • What Patients Say They Want, and What They Really Want From Their Private Practice Physicians by Professor Carl E. Schneider from The University of Michigan Schools of Law and Medicine
  • The Importance of Effective Communication with Patients, Colleagues, and Staff with Dr. Michael S. Woods
  • The Three Things Every Private Practice Should Do Immediately with Dr. Maulik Joshi, President and CEO of the Delmarva Foundation

SCCM Syndication -The Society of Critical Care Medicine (SCCM) iCritical Care Podcast now allows anyone to access an audio companion to the only newsmagazine dedicated to critical care through an iPod, portable music player or personal computer.

Their podcast library includes:

  • Pharmaceutical Dilemmas in the ICU Cancer Patient Cancer patients present with a number of complications that can affect how medicine is prescribed and administered to them. Learn about the challenges of medicating an ICU cancer patient and how to overcome these dilemmas.
  • PICU Care of Children with Cancer Mortality rates for most pediatric cancer patients in the PICU are approaching those of the general PICU population. Learn about the history of PICU care and find out how new attitudes have improved outcomes for this population.
  • Critical Care of Cancer Patients Thoughts on how and when to treat the critical ill cancer patient have evolved throughout the last three decades, possibly leading to better care for those admitted to the intensive care unit (ICU). Educate yourself on theories behind treating critically ill cancer patients and on how the multiprofessonal approach enhances the quality of care for this population.

There seems to be a growing selection of places for podcasts and medicine. Most of the podcasts tend to be like newscasts (hence the name podcasts). I could not easily find any audio books in medicine. My theory to this is that perhaps most of your medical books are image heavy, which really don't come through well in an audio book form.

The most advancements made in audio books and online books seem to be in the public library area with popular books. Podcasts seem to be popping up all over the place but with a few exceptions they tend to news related information.

So I think the long and the short of this post is that podcasting and audiobooks have not quite enjoyed the immense popularity seen in the public library sector. It is definitely worth keeping an ear/eye out for podcasts as an emerging technology. As far as audio books go, I am sure there are some medical books out there that aren't heavy with images, perhaps those might lend themselves to audio books, but I wouldn't lose any sleep over it.

Monday, August 29, 2005

How Does Your Library Web Page Measure Up?

The Librarian in Black has two posts regarding web design and usability in libraries.

In her post, Library Websites and Usability, she discusses how Laura Solomon (webmaster for the Cleveland Heights-University Heights Public Library) had conducted a usability survey of Ohio public library websites, using Jakob Nielsen's usability criteria. Solomon's study, "Sinking or Swimming: The State of Web Sites in Ohio's Public Libraries," shows that many libraries haven't focused enough attention on putting the information their patrons want up on their websites.

In her post Design for Webmasters w/o Design Backgrounds, mentions how most library web masters do not have graphic design backgrounds but have more of a techie background. Clearly knowledge of both takes for a good web site. She directs us to two articles from Digital Web Magazine to help you get a "designing eye."

Even though we are in health/medical libraries we should be just as concerned about our web presence to our customers as our public library brethren. I have designed and re-designed my previous library's web site three times over the course of my 6 years there. Each time we designed the web site with the best available resources and knowledge at the time. Guess what? Things change, your website must change too.

Some of you might be saying, well I am on the Intranet I really don't have to worry about the outside world. PHOOEY! Your Intranet users will use outside resources when doing research, it is up to you to make sure that your site (whether on the Intranet or Internet) is where they want to come first when starting the information research. After all, what is stopping them from just book marking the outside resources, never to look at your page again for more information?

You say that your institution currently uses a content management system so you are forced to "design" your pages according to the way "they" say you must. Sigh... I feel your pain. That is my current situation. It pains me that as somebody who is skilled with Dreamweaver, CSS, HTML, and knows enough Javascripting to be a little dangerous, must be forced to design my Intranet "web site" using Microsoft's Content Management Server...BLECH! But if this is the case, work within the system and if possible be that buzzing bee who wants to create change. I have lobbied my institution so that I can have a search box on my web pages and a few other enhancements. Try your best to design your page using as many of the best design principles as possible.

Do You Know Your Users?

Do we understand our clientele? What do their experiences, attitudes and expectations mean to us as librarians or to health care providers?

You have a medical student listening to a podcast lecture, a resident furiously scribbling and tapping away on their PDA, a patient's family member IMing and text messaging updates, and another staff physician scratching his head staring at computer screen.

In libraries and through out hospitals you have a different digital generations co-existing trying to find and disseminate relavent health information. Obviously you can not have a one size fits all approach when it comes to helping these people. Each group has unique needs, therefore you need to get to know more about your users to help them the in the most effective way possible.

Below is an older article (FREE) on getting to know these different user groups. It primarily looks at current college students and gives some comparisons of the traditional young college with those who are older and returning/starting college later in life.
"Boomers, Gen-Xers and Millennials: Understanding the New Students," by Diana Oblinger (EDUCAUSE Review, July/August 2003).

This article is from the same author who wrote, "Feb 25, 2005) as an interesting look at Net Generation students who will be the next medical students, interns, doctors, and eventually administrators. To know what they know, learn how they learned, is essential so that you and your library can be relevant in their continued learning.

Some things learned:

Computers. Older generations including Gen-Xer's can view computers as technology, but Millennials who have always grown up with computers and the Internet do not view these things as technology but as an assumed part of life.

Connectivity. Every generation wishes to stay connected to family and friends, however the way each does so is entirely personal and usually falls accroding to age. Younger generations rely on cell phones, PDAs, and computers to stay in touch at all times. In an hospital environment where cell phones may not be used on patient floors many patients may turn to the email and instant messaging. However, many hospitals block access to such communication avenues out security and virus fears.

Little tolerance for delays. This would seem to be something that every generation has in common, but it is actually the type of delay that each can define each generation. Older generations may be more willing to wait for an article to come from another library or for test results. Younger generations have grown up with "on demand" service. They want to watch a movie, they order it. They want their information and test results immediately. They don't expect to have to wait 2 months to get an appointment at the Dermatologist's office for a consultation.

Getting to know your clientele can help you in the long run and lead to better communication.

Friday, August 26, 2005

NEJM 2006 Pricing Tiers

Well I am in the final throws of getting the finishing touches on my 2006 journal renewal and as I mentioned in yesterday's blog, I am seriously considering dropping NEJM online from Ovid and picking it up from the publisher. As I mentioned in an earlier post NEJM has changed their Tiers for pricing. However, I could not find anything online about their 2006 Tiered pricing. Of course I emailed NEJM for an official price quote.

Well color me surprised when I was told that online access to NEJM would be a good $1200 more than I thought it would be. Institutional sales at NEJM emailed me the new 2006 Tier prices, and because my hospital is technically within a system we are bumped up to a higher price. Unfortunately our hospital library nor any other hospital libraries in the system share their online resources, we have separate IP addresses and we pretty much function as independently. But we are still penalized for being a part of a system.

So I have re-evaluate online access to NEJM again. I am guessing these new Tiers are going to be a problem for quite a few hospital libraries that are in the same boat as we are.
NEJM 2006 Pricing Tiers

NEJM has gotten back to me after I questioned why I would need to pay $6000 for online access when our the different hospital libraries within the system do not share access to online resources. According to NEJM I am allowed to go down to the $1900 level because we have seperate IPs and do not share our online resources. Still this goes to show you that you should double check your price quotes and challenge the provider.

Thursday, August 25, 2005

Physicians and Health Libraries Helping Patient Literacy

The Santa Clara Valley Medical Center is training physicians to recognize patients who might need more help understanding medical information and refering them to the Community Learning Center. The medical center, it's Community Learning Center and the Plane Tree Health Library are working together to help patients understand their health conditions, provides computer and Internet trainging and offers tutoring for people with a range of reading skills. Materials are available in English, Spanish, and Vietnamese.

Here is a great example of doctors, medical librarians, public librarians, and others working together for patient health information.

Are you doing something like this at your hospital? Share and tell us about it. Give us ideas as to what we can do and what not to do.

If you aren't doing something like this, why not? Shouldn't you? Isn't this something that directly effects patients and their health that you can do? Granted this project involves more than one medical librarian, but things have to start from somewhere.

Check out this article if you are interested in more information on health literacy.
Health Literacy: The Medical Librarian's Role
Page Range: 17 - 27
DOI: 10.1300/J186v05n03_02
Donna L. Beales
Journal of Hospital Librarianship Volume: 5 Issue: 3 Cover Date: 2005

Walter Reed Medical Center to Be Closed

A federal commission has voted to close the Walter Reed Army Medical Center. The Pentagon's plan is to move the hospital's staff and services from Walter Reed to the National Naval Medical Center in Bethesda, Md. which will be expanded.

According to the news release, "the president can accept it, reject it, or send it back to the commission for revisions. Congress also will have a chance to veto the plan in its entirety but it has not taken that step in four previous rounds of base closings. If ultimately approved, the changes would occur over the next six years."

University of Chicago 2006 Price List

The University of Chicago Press-Journals 2006 Institutional Price List is now posted on their

Wednesday, August 24, 2005

Blackwell Launches New Cardiology Journal

"Blackwell Publishing announced plans to launch a new journal, Congenital Heart Disease: Clinical Studies from Fetus to Adulthood starting in January 2006. This specialized, clinical journal will address the latest research developments in congenital heart disease in children and adults."

"Congenital Heart Disease will cover all specialized studies in this field, such as fetal, infant and child-based care, as well as adult care, and will explore the growth of technology in treatment for congenital heart disease. The journal will include clinical studies, invited editorials, state-of-the-art reviews, video clips, case reports, articles focusing on the history and development of congenital heart disease, and CME material."

What is a Librarian's Responsibility?

The LibraryDiva has a post about the quack book Natural Cures "They" Don't Want You to Know About. She mentions that after reading my post (8/8/2005) about the book, she went to see if her library (a public library) owned a copy. Sure enough the library she works at has a copy of the book and it is very popular, it has been checked out 16 times and currently has 54 holds.

So I checked the Cuyahoga County Public Library, Cleveland Public Library, and OhioLink. Ugh. Cuyahoga County Public Library has 10 copies, all of which are checked out, on hold or in transit. Cleveland Public has over 166 copies just as popular. Two universities (Ohio U. and Cedarville U.) have copies on order and Westerville Public Library has 8 copies listed in OhioLink.

The Library Diva also talks about how she feels she in a bit of a dilemma as to whether the book should remain in her library. She says, "As a librarian, I don't have a choice. Although I might view the contents of the book to be complete garbage (not to mention dangerous), I have a long line of patrons who want to read it. And while I might choose to not purchase or remove a certain book from my personal collection, that does not give me the right to remove it from the public's collection (i.e. my library's collection). I would never censor the fiction my patrons elect to read, so why would I ever presume to censor their non-fiction reading? I wouldn't."

My question for the Diva: Would you keep outdated or incorrect legal guides?

I am not a public librarian, I am a medical librarian so for me it is clear and easy, I have a policy statement that would make it easy for me to eliminate or never purchase materials that do not support my hospital's patient care goals and objectives. Clearly a quack book does not support it.

However, what about community health libraries and public libraries with health information, shouldn't there be a policy regarding health material? As health information becomes more and more prevalent and with the increasing acceptance of alternative medicine, shouldn't non-medical libraries start to beef up their collection development policies regarding medical/health information?

Tuesday, August 23, 2005

Ovid and Electronic Journals

I am in the middle of finalizing my journal renewals for 2006. Previously my library had no real online initiative. Before I started this year, we had no electronic catalog (just a card catalog), 2 electronic journals, and a teeny tiny presence on the hospital's Intranet page.

In my first 8 months I have gotten a new online catalog, expanded our Intranet presence, activated 40 online journals, and added access points to the collection of online books in MDConsult and StatRef. My little library has come a long way, but it still has a very long way to go.

In my quest to provide the best electronic and traditional access I can afford I have been looking at the online journals provided by Ovid. Currently my library pays for a one concurrent user license to NEJM and JAMA. Out of curiosity I checked out the online access prices at both publisher's sites. It turns out that online access to JAMA from the AMA is only $250 more expensive than Ovid. NEJM is approximately $100 more.

This discovery makes me wonder about online journals through Ovid. Is Ovid's ejournal model outdated? Ovid likes to point out that we will always access to what we bought, that we will retain the archival rights to the journals. However, is this a concern for libraries? Would you rather have unlimited user access, PDFs (as is the case with NEJM in Ovid) and access to the most recent articles, or would you rather your library have one person access and "permanent" archival access? I would think it depends upon your library.

However, I have got to think that Ovid's concurrent user license for electronic journals is quickly becoming or is already outdated. After all, unless it is an LWW title, I don't understand why libraries would pay for online access to a journal unless the cost for one user access is SIGNIFICANTLY cheaper than the publisher's online access price.

You also have to think of your users. Do your users even like using Ovid to access journal articles? I am not talking about using Ovid's databases and getting an article through a full text link. I am talking about going directly to a journal because they want to retrieve an article from that just came out. From my unofficial observations, my users will try every method and link possibly before clicking on the Ovid full text journal link. They absolutely hate the whole set up. My users want something simple and direct like Highwire journals. Has Highwire found a design "standard" for online journals? It seems to be that way. If your users would rather click on everything but Ovid to get the full text of a journal, then why are you getting and paying for it when they don't want to use it and the costs may not be justifiable?

Just a few things to think about when you are renewing your databases and journals. It is so easy to sign the form to renew and only look to acquire the "new" things. You have to remember to figure out if you are getting the most bang for the buck on your "old" things. Who knows you might save a little bit of cash and be able to afford something new.

Monday, August 22, 2005

Another New Evidence Based Medicine Journal

"Newswise — Reflecting the increasing reliance on evidence-based measures for medical decision-making, Core Medical Publishing Ltd has launched Core Evidence, the first international peer-reviewed journal to assess drugs by critically evaluating evidence on clinical effectiveness and outcomes."

Friday, August 19, 2005

Harry Potter and Recessive Allele

The Mackenzie Library Blog found a fun little thing in Nature which I think is perfect for a Friday.

Harry Potter and the recessive allele p776
Jeffrey M. Craig, Renee Dow and MaryAnne Aitken
doi: 10.1038/436776a

"We are bombarded with news of genetic discoveries on an almost daily basis, but people without a formal knowledge of heredity and genetics can have difficulty in deciphering and applying this information. Education and debate across all ages would undoubtedly help, but how can we teach children these concepts? . . . Most children are familiar with J. K. Rowling's stories about the young wizard Harry Potter . . . [in these stories] wizarding ability is inherited in a mendelian fashion, with the wizard allele (W) being recessive to the muggle allele (M). According to this hypothesis, all wizards and witches therefore have two copies of the wizard allele (WW). Harry's friends Ron Weasley and Neville Longbottom and his arch-enemy Draco Malfoy are 'pure-blood' wizards: WW with WW ancestors for generations back. Harry's friend Hermione is a powerful muggle-born witch (WW with WM parents)."

Just a little something fun on a Thursday morning.

Thursday, August 18, 2005

Investigating the Biblioblogosphere

The Cites & Insights 5, Number 10: September 2005 has a very good and interesting article, Investigating the Biblioblogosphere, which looks at the top 60 library blogs (they found approx. 230).

After identifying blogs by individuals or a small group (up to four) of self-identified library specific people that have at least one posting in 2005 and at least one RSS/ATOM feed, the author tries to identify the reach of each these blog using information from Bloglines, Google, MSN, and AllTheWeb. Thus the "top" 60 blogs came to be.

What I found most interesting are the brief comments made about the blogs. For each blog, he provides the motto or subtitle, the mission, the author as named in the blog, and his impression as to the overall nature of the blog (professional, topical, and personal postings).

It is interesting to read through the listing of blogs and discover new blogs that I haven't discovered and some most definetly will be going to my Bloglines list for reading.

So, where is the Krafty Librarian? If you look at his analysis spreadsheet you will see all 232 blogs he evaluated and I am happy to say I was evaluated and I am at 144...which I don't think is too bad for this little medical librarian, there are some very prolific and impressive bloggers above me.

CrossRef Deploys Free OpenURL Resolver

(courtesy of ResourceShelf)
"LYNNFIELD, MA August 15, 2005. CrossRef, the reference-linking service for scholarly and professional content, is pleased to announce the launch of a freely available OpenURL resolver to facilitate navigation to the 17+ million items now registered in CrossRef. The resolver, described at, allows users to enter an OpenURL as one way to be directed to publications from the hundreds of publishers and societies that participate in CrossRef by registering Digital Object Identifiers (DOIs) for their content."

Wednesday, August 17, 2005

Case Western Reserve University / SVCH Medical Residents Blog

Ok people ask me all the time how blogs are being used in medicine besides just the personal diary of what a doctor sees every day.

I have an interesting and excellent blog site to show you just how a group of Internal Medicine Residents are using blogs. The Case Western Reserve University St. Vincent Charity Hospital (SVCH) Blog ( is "for the residents by the residents."

This blog contains the usual current events which are common to many blogs, but also contains information the sections, Clinical Cases and Images, Question an Answer, Physical Exam, Procedure Skills, and Hit the Road.

Clinical Cases and Images, "a case-based curriculum of clinical medicine" offers clinical cases and images by topics, Cardio, Pulmo, GI, Nephro, Endo, Hem/Onc, Rheum, ID, Neuro, Other.

Question an Answer, provides questions answers (with links to the sources) to the morning report questions.

Physical Exam, lists free web sites where residents can "brush up your physical exam skills."

Procedure Skills is resource for residents to learn more on various procedures such as Central Line placement, Arterial Line placement, Thoracocentesis, and ACLS refresher.

Hit the Road is the rest and relaxation section where places to go and things to do in Ohio and elsewhere are profiled.

Example of some of the posts found through out the site:

I am very excited to share this blog site with people. I think the section Clinical Cases and Images is worth looking through to find great places for images and cases.

This blog site very similar to the type of site I mention in my article, The Use of Blogs in Medical Libraries which scheduled to be published in the Journal of Hospital Librarianship Vol 6 No 1. In the article I mention that blogs offer a perfect place to enhance medical student education. Weblogs offer students an opportunity for easy distribution and dissemination of collaborative information. A blog would serve as a centralized resource area where students could post notes, link to medical resources, and discuss questions and topics would help organize the onslaught of information. In my article I mentioned it would be particularly help for medical students in PBL classes but here is another perfect example where residents are using blogging technology to enhance organize the medical education and residency program. WOW! I wish I had found this site when I was writing my article. The reason I don't think I found it is because I was looking for what librarians/libraries are doing with blogs and it doesn't appear that there is a librarian contributing to this site. Great site, I think a librarian within their program/hospitals would be able to contribute valuable content. See if you don't get out there and do something, somebody else will.

Tuesday, August 16, 2005

MLA Hospital Librarian Nominations

Do you know a hospital librarian who has made significant contributions to the profession? If so nominate them for MLA Hospital Librarian of the Year!

Nomination forms are available at:

Email completed form to: [email protected].
Deadline for nomination is November 1, 2005!

Monday, August 15, 2005

Flaws in Validating Medical Studies

An article in the Boston Globe, Flaws are found in validating medical studies: Many see need to overhaul standards for peer review by By Michael Kranish (August 15, 2005) looks at the way medical research is published and questions reliability of the peer review process.

Prestigious peer reviewed journals published articles that declared that women who underwent hormone replacement therapy, and people who ingested large amounts of Vitamin E, had relatively low rates of heart disease; only to discover later on that subsequent research refuted and contradicted those highly regarded studies. Researchers are wondering whether the peer review process has failed and whether it needs to be re-tooled so that more reliable research can be published.

Peer review is only as good as the person doing the review and their quality and expertise can vary. "There is no governing body that defines what constitutes good peer review, or that demands that certain standards be followed."

The Boston Globe article also cites John P. A. Ioannidis, Why Most Published Research Findings Are False. PLoS Med. 2005 Aug 9;2(8):e124 [Epub ahead of print] PMID: 16060722 who says that "flaws" in the peer review system may only be ''part of the puzzle" that should be examined to improve research.

According to Ioannidis:
  1. The smaller the studies conducted in a scientific field, the less likely the research findings are to be true.
  2. The smaller the effect sizes in a scientific field, the less likely the research findings are to be true.
  3. The greater the number and the lesser the selection of tested relationships in a scientific field, the less likely the research findings are to be true.
  4. The greater the flexibility in designs, definitions, outcomes, and analytical modes in a scientific field, the less likely the research findings are to be true.
  5. The greater the financial and other interests and prejudices in a scientific field, the less likely the research findings are to be true.
  6. The hotter a scientific field (with more scientific teams involved), the less likely the research findings are to be true.

Given the high number of studies the Globe and Ioannidis state as either wrong or flawed, it is no wonder that many in the medical profession, as well as patients, can be easily confused as to what really is the best course of treatment. Who do you you trust? Don't forget it wasn't so long ago that HRT was considered the cure all.

Canary Database

Here is something that is a little different and interesting.

Yale School of Medicine has launched a new database, funded in part by the National Library of Medicine, called the Canary Database named for the concept of a canary in a coal mine is a database that contains scientific evidence about how animal disease events can be an early warning system for emerging human diseases. Additionally, animal health experts at the USGS National Wildlife Health have provided background on potential disease transmission between humans and wildlife for emerging diseases such as monkey pox, SARS, Avian influenza, West Nile Virus and Chronic Wasting Disease.

For more information visit

Friday, August 12, 2005

Send Your Position Description

MLA is compiling the position descriptions of professional, paraprofessional, and technical positions available in the contemporary health sciences library for a DocKit.

This MLA DocKit will include representative samples of these documents from all types of health sciences libraries and provide a systematic overview of traditional, nontraditional, and emerging library jobs and is intended to be used as a resource for library directors, managers, and staff

The editors (Jane Blumenthal, AHIP, Vani Murthy, Ivonne Martinez, and Laurie Silver) ask that you send, in electronic format, the functional titles and accompanying descriptions of positions in your library including professional, technical, paraprofessional, clerical, and significant student jobs. Please also send, if available, an organizational chart and any descriptive narratives you can provide on the evolution of positions at your institution. Send submissions or questions by August 21, 2005.

Thursday, August 11, 2005

Journal of Medical Practice Mangement Blog and Podcast Huge Success

Greenbranch Publishing, publishers of The Journal of Medical Practice Management developed, "Sound Ideas for Your Medical Practice from The Journal of Medical Practice Management." It is the first podcast and blog service of its kind to focus on the medical practice community.

"The Journal of Medical Practice Management has a 20-year track record of providing the information that physician and administrators need to help their practices thrive. With the addition of we are pleased to provide practice management content as podcasts and RSS feeds. Greenbranch Publishing has the opportunity to lead the change of how the medical practice management community gets their information, and we feel very strongly that we have an obligation to educate our community about these technologies."

According to a Yahoo News report,
"When asked about SoundPractice from his role as interviewer and as a physician, Kent Bottles replied 'The daily act of blogging and interviewing thought leaders for podcasts has really transformed the way I try to keep up to date with subjects and ideas we all need to better manage our practices and care for our patients. I was pleasantly surprised when a blog about physician salaries attracted eight comments from readers, including one from Uwe Reinhardt, the Princeton economist." provides free podcasts as well as blog entries from various contributors.

Example of free downloadable podcasts on
  • Time-of-Service Payment: Customer Service and Cash Management, Tom Hajny
  • The Business Case for Complementary Medicine Services with John Ritch, Exec. Dir. of The Wege Institute
  • Perspective from Both Sides: Provider and Payer - Shaun Soller, Blue Cross/Blue Shield of Michigan
  • Levels of Care Discussion with Kent Bottles and Lori Portfleet
  • Bonus and Profit Sharing in The Medical Practice, Interview with Bernd Kutzscher, MD
  • Medical Blogs: An Interview with Kevin Pho of KevinMD
  • Physician Workforce Issues: Interview with Atul Grover, M.D., of The Lewin Group
  • The Importance of Private Practitioners in the Education of the Next Generation of Physicians, Interview with David Leach, MD, Ex. Dir ACGME launched in May of 2005 and appears to already be very popular.

Do You Deserve to Keep Your Job?

The :30 Librarian boldy states in her blog why she thinks "Many Medical Librarians Deserve to Lose Their Job."

(brief excerpt)
"The problem is this: because of the way most medical librarians work, the number of times their work truly makes an impact are few and far between. What does the average hospital librarian spend most of her/his time doing? Much of the day is spent on circulation, processing materials (checking in journals, etc.), and processing interlibrary loans, both incoming and outgoing. This is clerical work that takes time away from activities that truly make an impact. Any librarian spending most of their time on clerical work deserves to lose their job and be replaced by a clerk. Modern healthcare cannot support an expense that cannot be justified."

I am sure these are fighting words for medical librarians who read her post and if you feel inclined she encourages you to respond and "start a conversation."

Wednesday, August 10, 2005

PubMed Help Now Available Only on the Bookshelf

The NLM Technical Bulletin for August 3, 2005:
"The PubMed Help is now available only on the NCBI Bookshelf. The former PubMed Help document has been retired. Links created to the former Help will automatically go to the Bookshelf Help."

For further information on PubMed Help on the Bookshelf see:
PubMed® Help Added to NCBI Bookshelf. NLM Tech Bull. 2005 May-Jun;(344):e16.

Tuesday, August 09, 2005

Thoughts on CyberTools Cataloging and Web OPAC

CyberTools For Libraries Training Update:
Ok I have had two days of training under my belt. So far so good. I have two more days to go so we will see what other neat tricks I can learn.

Things I like about CyberTools system so far:

I am not a cataloger, in fact I think I would rather have a tooth filled rather than sit in front of a computer and catalog books. CyberTools has a very easy method to import books (either one by one or using Z39.50). It is simple and relatively painless. Additionally I am able to print labels for books that I have just finished adding to my system. It maybe takes me 5 minutes at most to import a record, tweak it, print labels, and process a book. I have not done original cataloging yet, however CyberTools offers a fill in template as easy way to do original cataloging. CyberTools also has complete MeSH integration including automated MeSH updates. So when NLM changes their MeSH CyberTools updates their headings and the headings on your bibs.

Improvements to the Cataloging feature:
If you have a union catalog, there will be times when you attempt to add a book into the system and it is already there. CyberTools asks you if you want to overlay the record, create a new separate bib for the catalog, or cancel the bib import. Since the bib record is already in there you most likely want to hit cancel the bib import because all you want/should do is add your item record to the bib.

You get upload the canceled bib record batch then you must create an item record for the bib record that is already in the system. If this happens while you are updating one record it is a few extra steps but it is not that big of a deal.

However, if you are doing a batch of records this can be frustrating because you have to write down the information for every bib record before you hit that cancel button. What would be very nice (and efficient) is once you hit the cancel button CyberTools would automatically ask you if you would like to create an item record for the bib already in the catalog. That way you don't have to constantly write down canceled bib records that you must later go and add items to later.

Things I don't like about CyberTools system so far:

The Web Opac:
It is not very customizable at all. I may not be much of a cataloger, but I did A LOT of web page development at my previous library position and I worked at branding my old library's Innovative Interfaces Web OPAC. So this was one area I was really looking forward to working on.

CyberTools Web OPAC is frustratingly difficult to customize. Part of this has to do with their back office platform. The input box for you HTML code in their back office user interface only holds so many characters and then automatically carriage returns your code to the next line. For example if you have a really long URL (which happens often) their system will cut it and send it to the next line. What is more frustrating is that it cuts it and doesn't always correctly put the rest of the URL or code onto the next line. Sometimes you are missing bits of code (makes you wonder where it went) and sometimes it also adds a space in your code between lines.

(Note: Blogger treats this as code if use the <>

It could break your code to look like this:
[font color="#000099"][a href="
Nucleic Acids Research Article [/a]

When the real code is
[font color="#000099"] [a href=""] Nucleic Acids Research Article [/a]

Notice how in the top example everything after cgi/cont disappeared but Nucleic Acid Research Article remained? God, knows where it went to but when the back office interface wrapped it, parts of it disappeared.

What is equally frustrating and hard to detect is sometimes your code appears correctly in the box, but it adds a space when your code spills on to the next line. There might not be a space to your eye in the code in the input box but when you go to the live catalog and try and click the link you notice that you have a broken link because there is a space in the URL. So your URL looks like this: http://www. Note the the http://www is on the first line and is on the second. It looks good in their system but when you go live, the URL is broken and that is when you noticed that it added a space between the w. and the yahoo.

Given the system's limitations for for plain ol' vanilla HTML, forget about doing anything nifty to customize library catalog. Don't even think about adding CSS, roll overs, drop down menus, or RSS. It will just give you a giant headache. Save your programming skills for your library's intranet or internet pages.

While I understand some small libraries may not have librarians who have the time or skill to do any in depth web programming, so this may not be as big of an issue for some. But for many libraries the catalog is the major doorway to the library's online world because they may not have publishing rights to their institution's Intranet or Internet. So the catalog is the first impression users have of the library. Right or wrong many users make snap decisions about a web site based on its look. So you should have the ability to make it as visually appealing and functional as you can.

Well I am off to fix the things I have botched in my system by playing with it. I look forward to the other two training sessions which will be Serials and Circulation.

Monday, August 08, 2005

Popularity of Quack Book is a Reflection on the Public's Health Information Searching and Evaluation Skills

Natural Cures is the No. 2 best selling book (second only to Harry Potter) in USA Today's Best Selling Books list, and is ranked as a top seller by The Wall Street Journal, The New York Times, and

Here comes the shocker....
The author, Kevin Trudeau, is not a medical professional but is a convicted felon (1990 grand larceny and 1991 stealing credit card numbers from those who bought his products) and banned by the FTC. The FTC banned him from "appearing in, producing, or disseminating future infomercials that advertise any type of product, service, or program to the public, except for truthful infomercials for informational publications. In addition, Trudeau cannot make disease or health benefits claims for any type of product, service, or program in any advertising, including print, radio, Internet, television, and direct mail solicitations, regardless of the format and duration." (FTC press release)

Trudeau touts the value of coral calcium and has erroneously claimed that a JAMA study on calcium showed that coral calcium had cured many cases of terminal cancer and claimed that a product called Biotape could permanently cure or relieve severe pain. (transcript of 30 minute infomercial courtesy of

Despite all of this, people are buying his book. With the popularity of this book one has to wonder as to the true Internet searching skills of the public. Constantly medical librarians are told by others, including patrons that everybody knows how to search for information on the Internet. Why would you need a librarian to find information on something, when you can just hop on Google and find the answers to everything?

Desperate patients and families grab for whatever straws they can find and some think the natural products that are en vogue right now are the panacea for their ailments. These are exactly the type of people who could benefit from the research of a medical librarian. We are skilled at sifting through gobs of information online and elsewhere. We can help these people find the needed information which they can share with their doctor concerning their health. It is very frustrating as a person to see there are people who I can help but who don't think to seek me out.
The next time the critics claim that everybody knows how to find health information on the Internet so why bother teaching a class on it, you might ask them.... If everybody is so good at it, then why are they buying books like Natural Cures, authored by a known convicted criminal?

Check out more blog threads on this and an article on librarians and quacky alternative medicine.

The Good, the Bad and the Ugly: Adventures in Quacky & Alternative Medicine
Page Range: 43 - 54
DOI: 10.1300/J186v05n03_04
Michael J. Schott, Shelda Martin
Journal of Hospital Librarianship Volume: 5 Issue: 3 Cover Date: 2005

Blog Threads:

Elsevier Changes URLs for Some Journals

Elsevier has consolidated their Harcourt eJournal into their newer platform which rolled out in October 2003. Elsevier's has effectively migrated all its websites to a single platform.
This single platform is for individuals and society members. (Please note: The platform migration is not related to, and has no impact on, access to ScienceDirect Elsevier journals.)

Some institutional customers who had online access to some of the journals on the former Harcourt platform can continue to access their entitled journals using the same username and password as they had previously. Unfortunately, as part of the platform integration, the URLs that institutions had used to access these journals have changed.

As I mentioned earlier the new single platform is intended for individuals and society members, Elsevier is currently developing a permanent solution to address the online needs of these institutional journal customers. While the old URLs appear to re-direct you to the new platform, institutional have some problems.

For example go to an article in the August issue of Gastrointestinal Endoscopy.
A prospective study comparing endoscopy and EUS in the evaluation of GI subepithelial masses. Hwang JH, Saunders MD, Rulyak SJ, Shaw S, Nietsch H, Kimmey MB pages 202-208

You are directed to a sign on page. Immediately your institutional users are going to try and sign on in the username and password field. However, in the right hand side box it says,

"NOTE TO INSTITUTIONAL SUBSCRIBERS: Institutions with subscriptions to Gastrointestinal Endoscopy should NOT log in or register at this site. Please visit and bookmark to access full-text journal articles. Contact Elsevier Customer Service with questions or concerns."

BUT when you click on the institutional link to access the full-text, you are directed to a page that says, "The requested media does not exist."

Friday, August 05, 2005

NEJM Pricing Structure Changes for 2006

According to Swets August eNotes newsletter, the New England Journal of Medicine has "significantly" changed its tiered pricing for 2006. I could not find anything on NEJM's website regarding this change. But according to Swets, "some tier definitions may allow some existing customers to fall into a lower priced tier. Additionally, separate rates have been established for Hospitals. These 2006 rates are effective July 1, 2005. The 2006 hospital rates supersede the following 2005 Tiers: 2, 4A, 5A and 5B."

Thursday, August 04, 2005

New Issues of Medical Reference Services Quarterly and Journal of Hospital Librarianship

The new issues of Medical Reference Services Quarterly (volume 24, issue 3, 2005) and
Journal of Hospital Librarianship (volume 5, issue 2, 2005) are available.

Each journals had one article were of particular interest to me:

HOSPITAL INFORMATION SERVICES Marketing the Hospital Library
Medical Reference Services Quarterly volume 24, issue 3, 2005
Page Range: 81 - 92
DOI: 10.1300/J115v24n03_07
Jane Bridges ML, AHIP

Many librarians do not see themselves as marketers, but marketing is an essential role for hospital librarians. Library work involves education, and there are parallels between marketing and education as described in this article. It is incumbent upon hospital librarians actively to pursue ways of reminding their customers about library services. This article reinforces the idea that marketing is an element in many of the things that librarians already do, and includes a list of suggested marketing strategies intended to remind administrators, physicians, and other customers that they have libraries in their organizations.

Reinventing the Library Catalog: Making Your OPAC Indispensable to the Organization
Journal of Hospital Librarianship volume 5, issue 2, 2005
Page Range: 73 - 81
DOI: 10.1300/J186v05n02_07
Christina Wallace

Justifying budget money for OPACs, Databases and other immaterial items that hospital boards don't understand is difficult. Instead of making administration understand how important the cataloging module is to the library system, reinvent the system to fit the needs of the hospital and increase OPAC usage. Corporate dependence on the library OPAC will ensure budget money for product renewal and system upgrades. This article discusses creative ways to use the hospital library OPAC and the corresponding issues hospital librarians should consider arising from the reinvention of the OPAC.

I think both are timely articles that actually fit into the whole idea of making you and your library indespensible to your hospital. We librarians don't do enough marketing and it seems always to be something that is done as after thought as we pass out paper bookmarks.

Wednesday, August 03, 2005

Compare Drugs Online

Best Buy Drugs produced by Consumer Reports magazine and funded by the National Library of Medicine and the Engelberg Foundation is a web site to help patients learn about more affordable drug treatment options which they can discuss their physician. The site compares drugs based on current scientific evidence and provides easy-to-read reports about the effectiveness, safety and cost of many widely used prescription drugs.

Currently they have published reports on:
  • Antihistamines: Drugs to treat allergies and hay fever
  • Calcium Channel Blockers: Drugs to treat angina & blood pressure
  • NSAIDs: Drugs to treat osteoarthritis and pain
  • ACE Inhibitors: Drugs to treat high blood pressure & heart failure
  • Beta-Blockers: Drugs to treat high blood pressure & heart disease
  • Antidepressants: Drugs to treat depression
  • Statins: Cholesterol-lowering drugs
  • PPIs: Drugs to treat heartburn and ulcers

Upcoming Drug Reports:

  • Drugs to treat Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD)
  • Estrogens: Drugs to treat symptoms of menopause
  • Drugs to treat Alzheimer's Disease
  • Drugs to treat diabetes
  • Drugs to treat urinary incontinence

Drug categories will be added at the rate of about one per month after the initial launch. Over time that will have reports on drugs in approximately 24 categories, including those to treat allergies, diabetes, infections, pain and depression. According to Best Buy Drugs, as early as 2006,it will have information on most of the most commonly used prescription medicines in the U.S. today.

This site looks like it has some real potential for patients, community health libraries, and some public libraries. One criticism I have is that you can not search individually for a drug, you must search according to the condition for which you are taking the drug. It will be very interesting to see how this site shakes out.

Tuesday, August 02, 2005

CyberTools for Libraries...some thoughts

Recently we have begun to move our card catalog into an online catalog. We evaluated many online systems and eventually decided upon CyberTools for Libraries. They offered an online web catalog, and easy cataloging component, and an integrated serials module for a very reasonable price. One of the main factors for choosing CyberTools was their integrated serials module. Many companies that were in our price range did not have an integrated serials module or had one that we felt wasn't as flexible or as powerful as the CyberTools product.

So far I have been using the product without any official training and I have developed some first impressions.

CyberTools Support is AWESOME!
I can't tell you how many products that I end up waiting days/weeks for an answer to a simple problem. Some companies (journal publishers especially) don't even seem to answer their help desk email.

We were encouraged to test and play with the product before our training so that we could get to know the product better. That is what I did. I followed their Getting Started Manual and consulted their vast amounts of help pages on their site. For the most part I could understand and follow their documentation. The couple of times was confused or could not find my answer I would email their support and I would get a response usually within the next couple of hours and always within the same day. They were very patient with me and helped me through a few areas I was having problems with.

One thing I would like to see is a search box for their documentation pages. You remember reading about something in the Getting Started Manual but when you encounter the problem you can't remember where within that manual you read it. A simple search that would direct you to the help page would make the already strong documentation that much easier to navigate.

Over all use:
I like this product. As with all systems there is a learning curve. With the help of support, their documentation, and some slow hours at the library, I have begun to feel fairly confident using the system. By all rights I have not done much, I have just been working on our journals so that they are set up correctly within the serials module, and I have cataloged a few books (I am not a cataloger, so I was happy to download the records from NLM and import them into my system).

However, there are a few things I would like to see in their product that I think would make the product easier to use and navigate overall. These are picky things, I would not dump this product based on these things, I just think they would make the product that much more slick.

Small working window. I am still trying to get used to the small yellow window which the product is displayed in. You can not really enlarge the window and if you move the window to the right of your desktop, as soon as you hit a button and it moves to another window which is then placed at the top left of your screen.
In a world where we are getting larger and larger monitors and where people might want to operate multiple windows to see two products at the same time this type of display is a little annoying.

These are just some of my thoughts. I would like to put down more but alas I have run out of time because I have to get to training. I will keep you updated on my thoughts about CyberTools and the pros and cons to using it. My hope is that somebody interested in the product will stumble along my little blog and get a better understanding of this system from a librarian who is using the product. I know when I was searching for an ILS system I had wished there was somebody who wrote about the positives and the negatives of each product I was interested in.

Monday, August 01, 2005

Google Scholar Late Indexing PubMed Content

The nn/lm scr blog referenced Sitelines blog who conducted tests on Google Scholar and determined that Google Scholar is missing the most recent full year of PubMed records.

Sitelines conclusion: No serious researcher interested in current medical information or practice excellence should rely on Google Scholar for up to date information.

At the time of the test, Sitelines found that Google Scholar failed to retrieve any PubMed content after February-March 2004!

For further information, including the details of Sitelines Google Scholar test:

I highly recommend reading this. As our physicians and students are interested in finding information fast we need to know the limitations of the tools they are using because often they do not know themselves.

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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: