Thursday, September 28, 2006

NIH MedlinePlus Magazine

NIH MedlinePlus Magazine from the National Institutes of Health will be distributed to thousands of doctor’s offices and clinics to provide unbiased information about prevention, diagnosis, treatment and research of common diseases to a wide audience.

The first edition features tips on easing arthritis, understanding the flu, and details Mary Tyler Moore's battle with diabetes. Dr. Donald Lindberg, director of the National Library of Medicine, said patients want more information about their health concerns and often obtain it from the Internet, and it’s important information be accurate and authoritative. Much of that is available on a popular NIH Web site, but not in a print format.

Sen. Tom Harkin of Iowa, the top Democrat on the Senate Appropriations subcommittee that oversees the National Institutes of Health, said the NIH produces research of great usefulness but "it doesn’t do much good if patients and doctors don’t know about it." The magazine, created from a recent bill authorizing funds for the institutes, is ideal because it can be picked up and read in doctors' offices. Officials said 40,000 to 50,000 copies initially will be printed at a cost to the non-profit of about $60,000.

For those interested in obtaining copies of the magazine, please follow this URL for a printable request form as well as a link to download a full-text copy:http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/magazine.html

Working From Home

I admire people who can work from home and do it so well you would never know they weren't in the office. For the past two days I have been home because one kid has coxsackie and the fur child had surgery to remove and biopsy some strange lumps we found. So in between answering emails from work I have been part nurse, trying to get the one with blisters in his mouth to drink a little bit (including his dosage of Tylenol) and part vet, trying to keep the other from licking at his stitches. I settled for giving one ice cream and popsicles for his meals and the other is fitted with a cut-up child's t-shirt around his middle covering his sutures. So I now have a sugared up sick kid and a dog that walks sideways because he doesn't like the t-shirt around him.

And I thought the battle to justify and increase my library budget was hard.

Wednesday, September 27, 2006

MLA Midwest Conference Blog

Clare Leibfarth and Allan Barclay have put together a blog covering MLA's Midwest Chapter Annual Conference in Louisville. If you are unable to attend the conference check out this resource to find out what is happening. For those of you at the conference, take a look at the blog and get caught up on anything you may have missed.

View the blog at: http://65.181.189.143/ConferenceCall/
or subscribe to its feed: http://65.181.189.143/ConferenceCall/atom.xml

Tuesday, September 26, 2006

Vital Pathways Hospital Library Survey

(from IHSLA News blog)

The Medical Library Association (MLA), the MLA Hospital Libraries Section, and MLA's Vital PPathways Task Force are conducting a joint survey concerning the state of hospital libraries and librarianship. No national survey of this kind has been done since 1990. The survey is designed to gather data regarding the number of hospitals that have professional librarians on their staffs and the types of library services that are available hospital and medical staff, patients, and consumers.

This survey is part of a larger initiative by MLA to determine the current status of health sciences librarians who work in hospitals. About 550 librarians have already provided us with data; a listing, by state/territory and by city.

Please take the short 10 minutes survey. If you aren't sure whether you have already taken the survey, a list of institutions that have already responded is available at http://www.mlanet.org/survey/hlsr.html.

Please submit only one report for your library. Institutional and library statistical information will be kept confidential and used for aggregate statistical reporting only.

Survey deadline is October 30, 2006

The survey results will be made available to survey respondents, the health sciences library field, and other interested parties and will be used for future strategic initiatives. Thank you very much in advance for your participation in this important survey!

TAKE THE SURVEY NOW: http://www.zoomerang.com/survey.zgi?p=WEB225NCSFRUDJ

Healia Initial Review

Nancy, one of Dean Giustini's LIBR534 students, has written an initial evaluation of Healia on the Consumer Health Forum blog. It is a good review and as Dean mentions in the comments, the next step is functionality with head to head comparisons of other consumer health information vortals.

Friday, September 22, 2006

Library Elf

I found another library related mashup. Library Elf - your personal library reminder service. How patrons register. They create their own Library Elf username and password then they select their library and then they give Library Elf their library card number and pin number. If the patron's library is not listed they can recommend it to Library Elf to have it listed. Library Elf users then can receive emails, text messages, and RSS feeds for renewal reminders, overdues, and hold items.

Library Elf is independent of the library's on the list. It has no affiliation with the libraries and it operates on its own. Libraries who have catalogs that allow their users to access their accounts online using a username and pin are all eligible to be included in Library Elf's list. It is patron initiated not library initiated, although many libraries do recommend Library Elf to their users. I don't know of any who actively discourage its use because I think that would be counter productive, show their patrons how little they care about their service needs, and ultimately be pointless because Library Elf is not beholden to the libraries.

The thing I like about Library Elf can be a really great service for many smaller libraries (especially special and medical libraries) that do not have the ultra expensive and talented ILS from Innovative, Sirsi, etc. Some libraries are using open source catalogs while others are using more affordable catalogs that haven't yet developed all of the bells and whistles of the big guys. If your catalog already allows users to go online into their account and view their record, renew, place holds, etc. then they can sign up for this alert service even if your own catalog doesn't have the alert service yet. What a great thing for your users.

Thursday, September 21, 2006

Phrases We Don't Want to Hear...But Are None The Less True

I was reading Michael Stephen's Tame the Web blog this morning and I ran accross his post, South Carolina Tech Express: new Blog & Phrases I Never Want to Hear Again! The image, which you can see full size on Flickr is Michael next to a screen with five phrases he never wants to hear again.

These phrases are:
  1. We've always done it this way.
  2. He or she is a roadblock to anything new.
  3. The IT department won't let us.
  4. I don't have time for_______.
  5. Our director doesn't like technology.

I like reading Michael's blog and I find a lot of what he has to say on Web 2.0 and Library 2.0 very interesting. I try to learn about the things he mentions and tweak them to fit in the medical library world. Unfortunately for Michael and the rest of us, while we might be tired of hearing excuses like IT won't let me, the director doesn't like technology, etc., that doesn't make those excuses any less true. What I think is more important and talked about less often by many Library 2.0 pushers is what to do after your IT department or director says no. Because I got news for you, when you are asking a hospital IT department (who has to deal with way more than just the library...like confidential patient data and upgrading to electronic medical records) to do something and they say no, it means no.

The key thing is what to do AFTER they say no. Do you throw up your hands and roll over and die using it as an excuse not to do anything? Or do you try harder with more evidence and more supporters at later date?

Example:
My hospital has a crummy and stiffling intranet content mangement system. The content management system forbids me from creating any sort of meaningful library webpage for my users. I cannot do any HTML coding, Javascript, etc to my webpage. It is essentially a neutered version of Microsoft Word for the web or a glorfied bulletin board. I cannot even add a search box to my library's catalog on the page, so forget about anything "new" and Library 2.0-ish like blogs, RSS feeds, wikis, etc. going on the hospital's library intranet page. It is just text and links. I am also not allowed to create anything for the library on the hospital's Internet page. To put things in perspective, this content management system is used by my hospital and three others in my system. My IT department (which is a part of the whole multi-hospital system's IT department) is not going to change content management systems just for the one librarian in the one hospital. We may not like to hear that, but that doesn't make it any less real.

Now I could take my ice cold coke, sulk and go on and do something else. After all, it is just me and my assistant running the library and there are plenty of things needing attention. Or I could be a gracious but tenacious little librarian and arm myself for another assault on the hallowed halls of the mighty multi-institutional IT department. I do a little of both. I sulk and drown my sorrows in caffiene for an hour or two and I kibbitz with my best friend who is a librarian. After that, I gather information on new web technologies and services that I and other hospital departments could provide if we were privy to using these on our intranet. I build a new case and present it yet again a couple of months or so later, from a different perspective to my IT department. If I get smacked back down, I pick myself back up and go to the soda machine and start building a file for a future case.

What has this gotten me? Well my IT people know who I am and they know that I am a technology forward kind of person. As one person said in regards to the intranet page as well as other major technology hurdles/barriers that are shared among the four hospitals, "you are the only one of the librarians to bring these problems up, and make us aware of them." I harbor no illusions that despite this compliment there isn't also a dart board with my picture on it covered in tiny holes, but I do have some small victories to count from my battles.

As F. Scott Fitzgerald said, "Never confuse a single defeat with a final defeat." That is what I personally think Michael's slide should have been titled, instead of "5 phrases he never wants to hear again." One phrase empowers, while the other sounds like my four year old holding his ears shouting at the top of his lungs because he doesn't want to hear what I have to say.

Libraries and Google

If you do not subscribe to Internet Reference Services Quarterly you might want to make it a point to look at their special issue, Libraries and Google. It is in volume 10, issue 3/4, the cover date is listed as 2005 but the publication date is 2006.

Side note: Come on Haworth this deal with publication dates and when they are actually published/available is getting freaking ridiculous. Example: Vol 11 Issue 1 is in prepublication but it is supposed to be the Spring 2006 issue...hmm we're comming into fall guys. Let's not even go to the combined 1/2 issue and 3/4 issues of volume 9....uh that is not a quarterly publication, despite what your website says. Its annoying.

Any way, back to the cool special issue.

All of the articles focus on some aspect of Google and its impact or relationship with libraries. There is a little something for everyone Google Scholar, Google books, or using Google for reference, whatever you find interesting about Google and libraries chances are you will find an article on it in this issue.

Normally I would just mention a couple articles of interest, but the whole issue looked so good I just couldn't.
So here is the table of contents:

Introduction Libraries and Their Interrelationships with Google
Pages 1-4 William Miller

Disruptive Beneficence The Google Print Program and the Future of Libraries
Page 5 - 22 Mark Sandler

The Google Library Project at Oxford
Page 23 - 28 Ronald Milne

The (Uncertain) Future of Libraries in a Google World Sounding an Alarm
Page 29 - 36 Rick Anderson

A Gaggle of Googles Limitations and Defects of Electronic Access as Panacea
Page 37 - 44 Mark Y. Herring

Using the Google Search Appliance for Federated Searching A Case Study
Page 45 - 55 Mary Taylor

Google's Print and Scholar Initiatives The Value of and Impact on Libraries and Information Services Page 57 - 70 Robert J. Lackie

Google Scholar vs. Library Scholar Testing the Performance of Schoogle
Page 71 - 88 Burton Callicott, Debbie Vaughn

Google, the Invisible Web, and Librarians Slaying the Research Goliath
Page 89 - 101 Francine Egger-Sider, Jane Devine

Choices in the Paradigm Shift Where Next for Libraries?
Page 103 - 115 Shelley E. Phipps, Krisellen Maloney

Calling the Scholars Home Google Scholar as a Tool for Rediscovering the Academic Library
Page 117 - 133 Maurice C. York

Checking Under the Hood Evaluating Google Scholar for Reference Use
Page 135 - 148 Janice Adlington, Chris Benda

Running with the Devil Accessing Library-Licensed Full Text Holdings Through Google Scholar
Page 149 - 157 Rebecca Donlan, Rachel Cooke

Directing Students to New Information Types A New Role for Google in Literature Searches
Page 159 - 166 Mike Thelwall

Evaluating Google Scholar as a Tool for Information Literacy
Page 167 - 176 Rachael Cathcart, Amanda Roberts

Optimising Publications for Google Users
Page 177 - 194 Alan Dawson

Google and Privacy
Page 195 - 203 Paul S. Piper

Image Google's Most Important Product
Page 205 - 209 Ron Force

Keeping Up with Google Resources and Strategies for Staying Ahead of the Pack
Page 211 - 223 Michael J. Krasulski, Steven J. Bell

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

Research and Writing

Here are a couple of opportunities to dip your toes into the pool of publishing and contributing to the library profession.

MLA has posted the MLA 2007 Section Program Themes and the call for posters and papers is out and the deadline is November 6, 2006. Here is the chance to showcase what your library is doing and share your ideas with the library community. I did a poster for MLA in Arizona and it was a relatively painless way to get start writing. In fact the thing I liked the most about doing the poster was meeting all the people who came up to look at the poster. I learned so much from them.

If you are thinking about writing an article, the Patchwork column of the Journal of Hospital Librarianship is currently accepting articles for submission for its upcoming January 2007 issue. Past topics have included: The impact of culture and tradition on health, revitalizing your library, accessing consumer health information, career development, and collection management. Articles for this column are not limited to a particular theme, but should be pertinent to the field of Medical/Health Sciences Librarianship.

Feel free to email the editors of the Patchwork column for further information: Jeff Perkins [email protected]or Nandita Mani [email protected]

If the idea of a whole article is a little intimidating to you, try writing a review for JMLA. Do you know about a website, database, PDA product or software package that would be of interest to other medical librarians? You should write an electronic resources review for JMLA!

Please contact Chris Shaffer [email protected] if you're interested in writing a review.

Information for reviewers can be found at: http://www.mlanet.org/publications/jmla/jmla_eresource.html

Here are some potential review topics:
TRIP Database http://www.tripdatabase.com/
MEDEM Medical Library http://www.medem.com/medlb/medlib_entry.cfm
InterDok Directory of Published Proceedings http://www.interdok.com/dopp/
Thompson Gale Health & Wellness Center and/or Health Reference Center Academic http://www.gale.com/title_lists/
CSA MultiSearch http://multisearch.csa.com/
Helia http://www.healia.com/

Here are three opportunities to share your knowledge and help strengthen and expand your profession. Hospital librarians we need you! There are a lot of you out there. Judging from the previous chatter on the hls-list regarding interest among hospital librarians attending a symposium on open access for MLA 2007, you feel your thoughts, needs, wishes, interests are not always being heard. Here is a chance to do something about that. Please don't say that lack f time is the reason for not publishing. How hard is it to write one thing a year?!

Monday, September 18, 2006

Mashups...Some Medical

Talis announced the winners of their first competition on library mashups, intended to "openly encourage innovation in the display, use, and reuse of data from and about libraries"

Eighteen entries were submitted to the competition. These mashups included everything things like simple enhancements to existing library functions to mashups that provide library services inside the Second Life 3D online digital world. Entries came in from public and academic libraries, as well as from the commercial sector. (No Medical Libraries!? Come on medical library techie people, there has got to be something you can create using available APIs.)

All eighteen entries are described in detail at www.talis.com/tdn/forum/84

Winners of Mashing Up The Library 2006

First: John Blyberg of Ann Arbor District Library in Ann Arbor, MI. His entry, Go-Go-Google-Gadget, shows how simply library information can be integrated into the personalized home page offered by Google. Talis' Paul Miller, described it as "an excellent example of taking information previously locked inside the library catalogue and making it available to patrons in other contexts where they may spend more time than they do in their catalogue." Available information includes new and the most popular material in the library, and patron-specific information on checked-out and requested items.

Second: Alliance Library System in East Peoria, IL, and their global partners in the Second Life Library. Their entry, the Alliance Second Life Library 2.0, was described by Talis' Miller as "both a testament to international co-operation amongst libraries and a compelling demonstration of the ways in which traditional library functions can be extended into cyberspace, reaching new audiences in ways exciting and relevant to them as they live their lives."

As I mentioned in my August 31, 2006 post I am going to be writing an article on mashups for medical libraries. Here are some that I have discovered or others that have been submitted to me.

pgcomments.user.js - is a Greasemonkey script that adds blog post trackbacks to PubMed. The blog Flags and Lollipops describes the mashup a little more and provides a page to try it out on. (update: today this is giving XML related errors on the PubMed side - that's nothing to do with the script, really.)

http://www.biowizard.com/search.aspx PubMed Wizard - allows you "save, share, rank, and discuss your favorite papers." Take a look how the search results are displayed identical in style to PubMed. However, PubMed Wizard includes little links at the bottom of the citation indicating the discussionussion threads, and sharing the sharing abstract. The links Related, Email, and Save are all available on PubMed but they are located in a convenient location for doctors to notice.

http://www.gopubmed.org/ - "Your query is submitted to PubMed and the resulting abstracts are classified using Gene Ontology terms. Gene Ontology is a hierarchical vocabulary for molecular biology covering cellular components, biological processes and molecular functions. You can use the Gene Ontology to systematically explore your search results."

http://ebounce.info/ -"ebounce.info is an (experimental, "garage band" quality) website offering free online tools for purposes related to gathering, sorting, presenting and digesting of information, mostly related to health and science. They are all in evolving phase (plus more information sources are on their way to be added)."

http://www.healthia.com/pricing/ -Healthia mashup for comparing hospital prices and different medical procedures. Displays hospitals and their charges.

I do not endorse any of the products nor have I had much time to really review them (I am in the hunter gatherer phase of my research). But as you can see all of these mashups are directly related to the medical world and also the medical library world. A mashup is an application using APIs from multiple websites and merging them to form new, innovative applications. One thing I have noticed is that it is sometimes hard to discover whether something is a mashup or not. Because truly good mashups appear to be seamless. You don't realize that the application you are using is actually made from multiple other application and websites. So please continue to submit any mashups that you have discovered.

Athens and Off Campus Access to Electronic Resources

David Rothman has an interesting post about providing off campus access to library resources. Easy off campus access to library resources is kind of like the quest for the holy grail fro many hospital libraries. Most hospital libraries unlike academic medical centers are unable to provide off campus access to electronic resources through proxy servers. For example, at my institution doctors using the proxy server are able to get into the hospitals intranet to check lab values, the EMR, etc. However, the IT department has made it so that once those users are "in" the hospital system, they are not able to go "out" to an outside resource or web page. Despite the doctors having our IP range while they are at home, the IT department has made it so that they are blocked from external sites while using that IP range. From what I can tell this is not unique, many hospitals do this. Even my previous employer (a very very large hospital system) did not allow off campus access to resources using the proxy server.

So much like the knights of the round table (ala Monty Python) I have been chasing the ever elusive holy grail of off campus access. The best way I have been able to give off campus access to my users is to get off site usernames and passwords from my vendors and distribute them appropriately to my users. While technically this is a method for providing off campus access, I think it is a scatter shot and inefficient approach. The list of unique usernames and passwords for each resource can get quite huge. You have one username and password for Ovid, one for StatRef, one for MDConsult, not to mention all of the usernames and passwords for the electronic journals. Good God, printing off this list of these resources is almost akin to printing off James Joyce's Ulysses. Not only is the list long but as much as I desperately try to make it easy to read and user friendly, it is often confusing to patrons as to what resource belongs to what password. Part of that is the inbreeding of library vendors. My users don't always know that the American Journal of Clinical Oncology is a LWW title, only available on Ovid, and therefore must use the Ovid password. I try to make it easy for them, I put the username and password right next to the listed resource. However I often get calls resembling Abbott and Costello's "Who's on First" comedy.

Enter Athens. First let me say that I do not have any financial interests in Athens, nor do they employ me. I am merely just a poor hospital librarian. For an extremely reasonable fee (1000 users=$1500, 1001-2000 users=$2750, 2001-5000=users $4000) Athens will make it so all of my users have access to my electronic resources off campus. Additionally, each users only has to remember their own username and password. They don't have to remember one for Ovid, another for StatRef, another for MDConsult, and so on. Their one username and password activates access to everything. The nice thing is that you can set user permissions as well. For example, You have medical students who leave in one year, you can set it so their account expires in one year. You have nursing students who have certain databases licensed only to them and not the rest of the hospital, you can set it so that only your nursing students can get access to those databases. Athens is just really starting to get its foot in the door here in the U.S. It has primarily used through out the U.K.

From what I understandMillenniumm users can provide off campus access to resources by using WAM (Web Access Management). I would be interested in hearing more about that. However do to costs or other factors there are many hospital libraries who do not have Innovative Interfaces so WAM is not an option for them.

I have applied for a trial account to use for my library and I am lookingforwardd to seeing how this might help me attain my goal of medical library world domination...oh no I mean off campus access to electronic resources.

NCBI Course Available

The NCBI Course, Introduction to Molecular Biology Information Resources will be offered regionally.

The course is offered this 2006-2007 academic year at the following locations and dates:
  • November 1-3, 2006 National Library of Medicine Bethesda, MD
  • November 6-8, 2006 University of Arizona, TucsonTucson, AZ
  • March 12-14, 2007 Purdue University Lafayette, IN
  • March 14-16, 2007 Emory University Atlanta, GA
  • May 30-June 1, 2007 Massachusetts Institute of Technology Cambridge, MA

More information including course description, modules covered, complete address of each location, and registration can be found on the "upcoming courses" page of the course Web site, http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/Class/MLACourse/. There is no registration fee and the course is approved for 20 MLA.

If you have questions or need additional information, please contact:
The National Training Center & Clearinghouse at [email protected]
Web site: http://nnlm.gov/ntcc/
1 800-338-7657 (press 2) or 212-822-7396

RSS Feeds

I consider David Rothman the RSS feed advocate for medical libraries. He does so much with RSS feeds and he is constantly looking for instances where they are applicable to medical libraries. When I have an RSS feed question I pick his brain. His post How to: know when your organization appears in the news is a perfect example of how medical librarians can help their hospital administrators, marketing department, media relations department, public relations department, etc. how to easily keep up to date on news related to the hospital. It can also be used to keep an eye on what your competitors are doing.

These users aren't doctors and may not always think of your library right away, providing this service just expands your services to that many more people within your organization. It also gets them thinking that the library might be helpful for more than just books and copies of journal articles.

For those of you interested in adding RSS feeds to your website check out Grazr, which the Librarian in Black describes as a "tool that will take an RSS feed and turn it into a neat little widget that you can put on any webpage." With the use of Javascript, Grazr allows you to specify which feed you are interested in and how it is displayed in your website (width, height of box, font, etc.) I will have to experiment a little bit with this to see how it works, or perhaps somebody else who has used it (David have you?) can fill us all in on how they use it and how can be integrated into the medical library webpage.

Thursday, September 14, 2006

MeSH Changes

For all of you MeSH heads, the NLM Technical Bulletin has announced changes to the MeSH Category V terms. These terms will no longer be MeSH Headings but will be identified as Publication Types in Medline and NLM Catalog records.

The Limits screen will display these terms under "Type of Article." PubMed searchers who use search tags will need to use [PT] as the search tag for these terms. Don't forget to look at your My NCBI saved searches and make the appropriate changes if they contain any of the terms.

For more information go to:
http://www.nlm.nih.gov/pubs/techbull/so06/so06_pt_catalog.html
and look for a future article in the NLM Technical Bulletin on how similar changes will occur in LocatorPlus.

Wednesday, September 13, 2006

Docline

The NN/LM Middle Atlantic Region Blog has a message forwarded from the Docline Listserv stating that NLM will be looking at ways to route requests using cost as a factor. They will be working on the redesign of the Requests and Serials Holdings modules throughout the next year. They are encouraging libraries to review and update their institution record annually or as changes occur. Specifically they would like to review and update your library's cost information found in your institution record. Not only to fellow librarians need this information, but NLM will be analyzing library cost information as part of their design process.

On a somewhat related note, we decided to update our routing tables recently. Did you know that you can add the whole Free Share Group in your routing table, not just individual Free Share Libraries? Perhaps, I am late to this discovery. If so I apologize my assistant handles all of my library's ILL tasks and my background has been a techie reference librarian so Docline (and its changes) don't always ping my radar. However, I thought I would share this little gem for all of you out there who may not have known either and those of you who haven't updated your routing tables in a while. Bye the way I noticed a dramatic decrease in ILL bills. I got just two bills for July!

Next on my ILL "to do" list is to get my library set up with EFTS. Currently I have to get multiple signatures to pay the $11.00 ILL....fun. It would be a huge savings on time and money if I could join EFTS. I just have convince my institution's accounts payable department that this is a good idea. Any other librarians interested in EFTS, go to: http://www.nlm.nih.gov/services/doc_efts.html

Monday, September 11, 2006

Consumer Health Literacy

A lot recently has been bounced around on blogs and email about consumers and health information literacy. The YSN Library blog has two posts, Health Literacy of American Adults and Comments on Health Literacy of America' Adults - NEJM.

The Health Literacy of American Adults post references the results of the 2003 National Assessment of Adult Literacy (NAAL) report (download PDF of report) that measures health literacy among American adults including their ability to read, understand, and apply health-related information in English.

Findings include:
  • The majority of American adults (53 percent) had Intermediate health literacy.
  • Fewer than 15 percent of adults had either Below Basic or Proficient health literacy.
  • Women had higher average health literacy than men.
  • Adults who were ages 65 and older had lower average health literacy than younger adults.
  • Hispanic adults had lower average health literacy than adults in any other racial/ethnic group.

The NEJM comment YSN Library blog points to is about a 64 years old man, with a "history of noncompliance," who was seen several times through out the year for diabetes and heart related issues. Finally, after several visits a medical student discovered he was illiterate. All the written instructions typed in large letters weren't able to help this man because he left school before the second grade and couldn't read.

The NEJM comment states the NAAL reports that "12 percent of U.S. adults are estimated to have below basic "document literacy," the ability to read and understand documents such as transportation schedules and drug or food labels - they may be able to sign a form, but they cannot use 'a television guide to find out what programs are on at a specific time.' In addition, 22 percent of adults are estimated to have below basic 'quantitative literacy,' the ability to perform fundamental quantitative tasks - they may be able to sum the numbers on a bank deposit slip, but they cannot compare the ticket prices for two events. Older adults fared poorest on the NAAL: 23 percent of those more than 64 years of age had below basic prose literacy, 27 percent below basic document literacy, and 34 percent below basic quantitative skills."

So I guess it should not be very surprising (although it was to me) thaaccordingng to a report by Brown University researchers (D. West and A. Miller) published in the Journal of Health Care for the Poor and Underserved (subscription required), state health department web sites are inaccessible to many (free news article). West and Miller examined state government health web sites on readability levels, disability access, non-English accessibility, and the presence of privacy and security statements.

Their findings:

20% of state health department websites were written at an 8th grade level (half of Americans read at that level).
62% of the sites were written at the 12th grade level in the same year
58% of the state sites did not meet the minimum accessibility standards recommended by disability advocates
10% of state health sites provided any kind of non-English materials

West and Miller state, "Unless these concerns are addressed, public e-health will remain the domain of highly educated and affluent individuals who speak English and do not suffer from physical impairments."

This is all important information to remember for a public librarian, consumer health librarian, or anybody else who is responsible for consumer health resources and web information. In my August 25, 2005 post, a medical center, it's community learning center, and libraries are working together to help patients understand their health conditions, provide computer and Internet training and offer tutoring for people with a range of reading skills. I think one of the key things to note is that they offer reading skills tutoring. In the case of the 64 year old man (and others like him), printing off more information or handing him a pamphlet aren't going to help.

Friday, September 08, 2006

Printing Update with AccessMedicine

September 6, I posted my complaint about how a wonderful resource like AccessMedicine did not allow users to easily print a chapter out of their books. Well they responded to my post and I thought I would forward it along to you.

AccessMedicine said...
We value your feedback on AccessMedicine and are constantly looking for new ways to improve our users' experience. As a result, you will be able to print complete chapters on AccessMedicine in just one click by mid-October. Please note that AccessSurgery, our latest Access online service for surgical education, currently enables users to print the complete chapter. We welcome your comments and suggestions. And thanks to Kraftylibrarians for providing a forum for this discussion.
Sincerely,
McGraw-Hill's AccessMedicine Team

Thursday, September 07, 2006

Dialog Adds New Health Database

Dialog has announced the addition of EMCare, a new nursing and allied health database. EMCare is produced by Elsevier and provides access to scientific and professional literature that is relevant to the development of healthcare: from hospitals and educational settings, through academic and research-oriented facilities. It has more than 2,700 international source titles, a 10-year backfile, and more than 200,000 new records will be added to the database each year.
EMCare provides coverage of various aspects of the healthcare profession, including but not limited to: Biomedicine; Clinical, medical and healthcare social work; Emergency services; Evidence-based healthcare; Midwifery; Nursing development and management; Nursing education and training; Nursing specialties including coronary care; HIV/AIDS, hospice, palliative care, neonatal nursing, and others; Physical therapy; Psychiatry and mental health; Surgical technology; and Traumatology, emergency and critical care medicine.

Go to Diaglog for more information on EMCare.

Ovid's September Resources of the Month

September, it is time for the kids to go back to school and for Ovid to feature Pascal Biomed and Social Policy and Practice as the two resources of the month.

Pascal Biomed
Pascal Biomed is a subset of the Pascal Database, and contains 6 million references to medicine and life sciences world wide. It covers over 6500 major international journals, reports, periodical articles, doctoral dissertations and conference proceedings in medical sciences. Pascal Biomed complements MEDLINE as it has special emphasis on European literature. Pascal Biomed incorporates tri-lingual indexing, meaning that keywords can be searched in English, French or Spanish. This is a useful tool for finding important documentation in other language publications and is an invaluable aid to researchers in all fields of medicine.

Try it free at Ovid

Learn more about Pascal Biomed from Ovid

Social Policy and Practice
Social Policy and Practice is a resource for applied social science policy-makers and practitioners working within human resources, public safety, social services, social administration, economic and social development, social work, social work education and care management.

Try it free at Ovid

Learn more about Social Policy and Practice from Ovid

Wednesday, September 06, 2006

Printing Within AccessMedicine

I was so excited recently to participate with other Ohio Health Science Libraries in a consortia deal to get AccessMedicine. It was such a good deal we jumped at the chance. I had users singing my praises that I was providing them with the online version of the Lange textbooks, Harrison's Online, Schwartz Principles of Surgery, etc.

Unfortunately this otherwise great product has a major usability flaw. Printing. Printing a chapter out of one of the books is absolutely painful. You are only allowed to print one page at a time! How incredibly frustrating and annoying. There is no way to easily print off a chapter of a book. So if somebody wants to quickly read through a chapter away from the computer they have to spend a good chunk of time printing off the stupid thing page by page. What a complete waste. Obviously there is a better way around this right?!

Wrong. I called McGraw-Hill AccessMedicine technical support and customer service and both people informed me the only way to print off a chapter is page by page. When I complained they said it was due to copyright. This is probably true, but it is a poor excuse. First of all, the books are published by McGraw-Hill. Second, there are plenty of online textbook vendors (MDConsult, StatRef, Ovid) who allow users to easily print off a complete chapter in one step (not page by page). If those vendors have worked it out so that users can print off a chapter, AccessMedicine should be able to do the same.

I am disappointed, what could have been a great resource has turned into a bit of a lemon. My users simply will not use it now. Originally, I was thinking of canceling some of my Ovid texts that were duplicated in AccessMedicine. Now, I am considering not renewing AccessMedicine for next year. What is the point in paying for a product my users won't use.

Tuesday, September 05, 2006

The Library 2.0 Stuff, How it is Relevant to Medical Libraries

David Rothman post, Library 2.0 and promoting new services mentions how he thinks that medical libraries are faced with question of whether our audience will ever want to participate in the creation of "both physical and virtual services" in the library. However, he believes that even the most technophobic clinicians will use new library services if they are easy to use and they are relevant (save time, money, hassle, prevent errors, etc.).

That is where I think we come in. We need to show how these new technologies are easy and relevant to our users. It is kind of like today's comic strip Unshelved, it is how we sell it that is going to get people to line up to use a product (virtually or in person). The problem is some things are so new to us (librarians) that we aren't always sure how to sell make it relevant to our patrons.

Think of electronic journals a ten years ago. Many were on CD Rom's, those on the web were far and few between, full text articles were difficult to find, and many articles were not in PDF. Many medical library users were still coming to the library to copy the articles from the bound issue. At the time quite frankly it was a pain in the butt to try and find the article online and print out 16 HTML pages, when it was just easier to walk over to the library and copy 6 pages of the same article. My how have times changed.

RSS feeds, mashups, podcasts, wikis may not be on the forefront of our patrons minds and these "new" technologies may not fit exactly into our library at this moment, but to ignore them and not look at ways we can make them applicable to our users, is great disservice.

UBC HealthLib Wiki

The UBC HealthLib-Wiki is up and running. Check it out along with Dean Giustini's two posts about it. UBC Health Library Wiki as Encyclopedia and Here is UBC HealthLib-Wiki.
It is interesting to look through. Just click on the Table of Contents to see some of the things they include:
  • Associations
  • Bloggers in health and medicine
  • Citation managment
  • Classification and indexing
  • Collection development
  • Complementary Medicine
  • Consumer Health
  • Databases in biomedicine

and many more topics...

Meebo and Hospital Chat Ref. Potential

I am taking the Meebo Krafty Chat off of my blog. :( I did it primarily as a low tech. experiment to see how something like this would work in a hospital library for ref. chat. The nice thing is that I got to work with it off and for about three weeks and it has been fun.
For those of you who don't know what Meebo is, it is an "IM unifier." A one stop shop for all instant messaging.

There are a number of problems with instant messaging. There are a lot of options for people who like to chat, (skype, msn, AOL, Yahoo, Google Talk, Meetro, etc.) each with their own chat client to install on your computer. Meebo allows you to log into AOL, ICQ, MSN and Yahoo instant messaging services from their web page, eliminating the need to have an IM client on the user's computer.

The newly released "meebo me" (Aug. 2, 2006) librarians can sign up for an account and embed a version of Meebo chat on their web page. Chatters (those seeking reference help) are anonymous and librarians (registered users) have the ability store the chat logs for their training or statistical purposes.

Meebo me is a low tech way to offer chat ref. You can not "push" websites to users/other chatters (show a chat patron a specific website). However, depending on your users, your money, and how much use you get, you may not need a more expensive chat program that provides those bells and whistles.

Unfortunately while I was experimenting with meebo me as a method for providing low cost, low tech chat ref to a hospital library, my institution blocked Meebo :( My institution is not the only one who has done this. Meebo released Meebo repeater which allows users to set up their own proxies for accessing Meebo on Window PC. Because I like my job and do not want to get in trouble with the IT people and my institution, I have not touched repeater.

If your hospital allows you to access Meebo, it might be worth checking into as a way to offer cheap quick chat ref. It would be interesting to see if other hospitals (not academic medical centers) are offering chat ref and how it is being used. As I mentioned when I was a librarian for OhioLink's HealthSci chat, I did not see it getting used as much as it could have. Of course things could have changed since then.

Another Medical Podcast List

Wow lots of has stuff happened while I was in St. Louis having my end of the summer Ted Drews concrete (Mmmmm Dutchman Concrete...yummy). If I could only get them to ship it to me in Cleveland....still nothing compares to going there sitting in the parking lot joking with friends and family eating your frozen custard before it turns to soup from the St. Louis heat.

Things have been busy for me, I have been asked to participate in a webcast and also write an article on mashups all for November. I haven't forgotten about the medical podcasts, I have been trying to search for the ideal way to compile a list of medical podcasts (is a wiki the way or a searchable database better). In the mean time, Chris Paton of New Media Medicine has added to my medical podcasts list. :) All of this, including my regular (and paying) day job of running and improving a two person hospital library has got me hopping. Thankfully, I have a wonderful supportive husband and a four year son old who goes to bed early.

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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: