Thursday, November 30, 2006

Tick Tock Tick Tock

As some of you may already know, I am expecting my second krafty kid in mid December and I will continue to write until the little one arrives. When that time comes, I may post a few entries, but they will few and sporadic. I want to let you all know that I fully intend on keeping this blog going, and it will be back to business as usual sometime around the end of February (when I will start to get at least 5 hours of uninterrupted sleep and can form a complete sentence).

Have a happy holidays and a peaceful new year.

Library 2.0

T. Scott has a great post about the term Library 2.0. Like him, the term tends to send my set my teeth on edge. You might think that funny since I was one of the presenters for MLA's Emerging Technologies Webcast. What sets his teeth (and mine) grinding about the term is its definition in an article by Michael Casey and Laura C. Sevastinuk where they refer to "Library 2.0" as a "new model for library service." Also stating, "the heart of Library 2.0 is user-centered change." They define a Library 2.0 service as "Any service, physical or virtual, that successfully reaches users, is evaluated frequently, and makes use of customer input..."

It seems to me that this is a definition that is used by many of the Library 2.0 pundits. No wonder there are librarians whose ears start to bleed when they hear the term Library 2.0. Because according to that definition and the feeling I get from many of the pundits is that if you are not on the Library 2.0 train then you are not providing services to your patrons and you are opposed to reaching your users (and have been this way under whatever and whenever Library 1.0 was around). I have actually talked to other librarians who start to get angry when they hear the term Library 2.0. As one told me, "The Library 2.0 people talk about providing services like I have never been providing them in the past. To add insult to injury, if I am not providing every possible Web 2.0 service imaginable I get the feeling from them that I am a bad, bad librarian and should be put out to pasture."

Personally, I use the term Library 2.0 to mean that you are using Web 2.0 technologies to enhance your services. I don't think it is an entirely new way of thinking, I think librarians have always tried to provide services to our patrons using new tools. I really enjoyed reading Scott's post because I think it summarized (way better than I ever could) some of the thoughts of librarians about term Library 2.0.

Emergency Preparedness: Upcoming Webcast

(courtesy of Dragonfly)
On December 12 at 12:00 – 1:00 PM (Pacific), the Northwest Center for Public Health Practice (NWCPHP) will broadcast a webcast called "Emergency Plan Implementing Procedures for All Hazards Preparedness and Response".

This session is one of a series of "Hot Topics in Preparedness" offered by NWCPHP. It is geared for local health departments but general principles about planning and implementing emergency preparedness plans will be useful for any type of organization.

Registration is limited to 55 computer connections throughout the Northwest United States area (Alaska, Idaho, Montana, NPAIHB, Oregon, Washington, and Wyoming). They encourage participation by groups at central locations. If you are interested in this free session, first contact the appropriate state coordinator at your state health department.

If there are no seats (connections) available from your state coordinator, Nicola Marsden-Haug at the NWCPHP regional office might have extra "seats".
Please contact her at: [email protected].

For those of you who can't watch the session, it will be available later to be viewed via the NWCPHP archives for the "Hot Topics in Preparedness" presentations at:

By the end of this session participants will be able to:
  • Describe the purpose of an emergency plan.Differentiate between a plan and a procedure.
  • Explain the relationship between an all hazards emergency plan and the Emergency Plan Implementing Procedures (EPIP)
  • List the steps for developing EPIPs
  • Summarize how to organize a set of EPIPs.
  • Discuss the need for a process for administrative review and approval.
While this doesn't focus on emergency preparedness and libraries it might have some good information to use. If possible I plan on watching the video later from the archive. My library actually serves as one of the hospital's command centers during an emergency, because we are centrally located, have lots of computers and telephones in one area, and we are accross the hall from many lecture rooms where groups can gather and work. It will be interesting to hear what they have to say, perhaps what I learn can help our emergency preparedness team in some small way.

Wednesday, November 29, 2006

What is AJAX

What is AJAX? No I am not talking about the household cleanser, I am talking about Asynchronous JavaScript and XML, a set of technologies is used to create interactive web applications. It is used in Google Maps, the table sorting capabilities of Gmail, and many mashup applications.

AJAX is primarily comprised of the following technologies:
  • HTML + CSS for presenting information
  • JavaScript for dynamically interacting with the information presented
  • XML, XSLT and the puzzlingly-named XMLHttpRequest object to manipulate data asynchronously with the Web server.

According to Ask Dave, XML, XSLT, and the XMLHttpRequestor make up the set of application programming interfaces (APIs) that allow Web applications to transfer data with a Web server using the standard HTTP protocol. "In a nutshell, this alphabet soup works together to allow JavaScript scripts to send data requests to the server and receive responses, all without having to load or reload a page."

In Enhancing Web Life with AJAX, November/December 2006 issue of MLA News, Win Shih explains that AJAX is a set of tools for rapid communication between web browsers and servers. "Instead of waiting for the users to click on a link or submit data, AJAX lets the browser communicate behind the scense with the web server each time new data is entered or received, eliminating the need to refresh or reload an edited wep page."

Another common example of AJAX in action is online shopping sites that allow you to drag and drop your items into your shopping cart or quickly updating and calculating shipping fees (without refreshing the whole page) when you type in your address. According to Shih, libraries and library vendors are lagging behind and have yet to really incorporate AJAX into their web sites and their products. There could be many reasons for this. It could be because it is a relatively new trend in web technologies and libraries (especially those within large institutions with rigid IT departments) have yet to adopt them. Other reasons might be that AJAX support is browser specific and security issues.

However, it does offer a lot of promises and opportunities for creating enhanced user centered services and support. Shih lists several library systems and vendors already using AJAX and I found some that either use AJAX or are looking at using it.

  • Georgia Public Library Service -AJAX enabled OPAC called PINES
  • Virginia Tech -AJAX enabled OPAC
  • New York University Division of Libraries - has a job opening for a programmer/analyst who must have "current knowledge of important library standards and protocols" and "recent experience designing and developing web based user interfaces using technologies such as XHTML, JavaScript, AJAX..."
  • Internet Librarian 2006 Conference -Workshop #5 dedicated to AJAX in libraries (handout available)
  • Innovative Interfaces - Encore, a unified search and access tool, uses AJAX among other Web 2.0 technologies
  • Polaris -has online catalog system based on AJAX
  • OCLC -DeweyBrowser uses AJAX to help users search for books in WorldCat

Like every tool it, AJAX may not work for everything and in every situation, but given the recent buzz about it on the Internet and its use in mashups, it is a good idea to have an idea of what it does and what it might be able to do for your situation. Just because you aren't a programmer doesn't mean you shouldn't know it exists.

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Email Overload 10 Years Later

Revisiting Whittaker & Sidner's "Email Overload" Ten Years Later
Danyel Fisher; A.J. Brush; Eric Gleave; Marc A. Smith
November 2006
PDF (free)

Ten years ago, Whittaker and Sidner published research on email overload, coining a term that would drive a research area that continues today. We examine a sample of 600 mailboxes collected at a high-tech company to compare how users organize their email now to 1996. While inboxes are roughly the same size as in 1996, our population's email archives have grown tenfold. We see little evidence of distinct strategies for handling email; most of our users fall into a middle ground. There remains a need for future innovations to help people manage growing archives of email and large inboxes.

Interesting report, no wonder we are all looking at ways of managing the flow of information and looking to things like aggregators, blogs, and wikis to try and make sense of the influx of incoming information.

Monday, November 27, 2006

Brief Note on Mashups

I hope all of you in the United States had a nice Thanksgiving Holiday and all of you outside of the United States had a nice weekend. I took a long (for me) break from blogging and work to celebrate and be with my family. This year we did not make the 10 hour Griswald-ish trip to St. Louis, we stayed in Cleveland and feasted with my inlaws. I brought the Christmas lights down from the attic, they are still in their boxes by the front door.

I recently finished and submitted my article to MRSQ on mashups. Here is a brief synopsis about the article and what I learned writing it.

Mashups are blended applications combining two or more existing programs to produce a third program. To simplify, think of it as the technological equivalent of making brass. You have two separate fully functioning programs that have specific properties and do specific job, such as the case with copper and zinc. When you combine copper and zinc you get brass. When you combine two (or more) computer applications to for another program you get a mashup.

As is the case with combining copper and zinc to create brass, your supplying data sources are key to your end result. If you combine 60% copper and 40% tin you actually get bronze not brass which is similar but different than brass. If there are any impurities in your metals you will either have to select a new source metal or work very hard in the firing and hammering the impurities out. This is the case with mashups. Your resulting program is only as good as the programs supplying the data. If you have a flawed data you will have a flawed mashup. If you have hard to extract supplying data, your mashup may not be as flexible and as timely as you want it to be.

Like all new technologies, the rules and standards have not quite kept up. There are ongoing issues and questions with data such as security, privacy, copyright, and licensing. If anybody is curious about the security and privacy of data in mashups I highly recommend reading "Data Mining 101: Finding Subversives with Amazon Wishlists" where Tom Owad was able to create a list and view a map of their home of people who had "controversial" books on their wishlist, all from publicly available data, no extra money, and 30 hours of his time.

In addition to security and privacy other issues regarding the availability of necessary data is a central theme for some mashups. As Declan Butler (creator of Avian Flu mashup) mentions in his blog, not all data is easily available or in machine readable format. Thus certain mashups might be difficult to create or maintain based on the data that supplies it. Think of all the biomedical and scientific databases we libraries have to pay to subscribe to and all of the potential data within those databases.

However, this is just the beginning for mashups. With the emergence of the Talis Mashup Competition, OCLC's Research Software Competition, and Mashup Camp, expect to see many more mashups coming in the future in mainstream life as well as in medical and library arena. Perhaps you are already using a mashup and don't know it. Take a look below to see some of the mashups I stumbled upon while writing the article.

Everyday life mashups:
  • 1001 Secret Fishing Holes -(probably not so secret now) Over a thousand fishing spots in national parks, wildlife refuges, lakes, campgrounds, historic trails etc. This mashup uses data from Google Maps and
  • -Comparison shopping site with deal, rebate and coupon information. Customer reviews and product information from and This mashup uses data from,, and
  • -An online real estate service providing you tools and information on home prices, locations, etc. This mashup uses Google Maps and provides APIs of its own data for others to use.

Medical and Scientific Mashups:

  • Avian Flu Mashup -Maps the spread of the avian flu worldwide including human cases and poultry outbreaks. The map also provide additional data on each event, and additional datasets, such as poultry densities worldwide. *You must install the latest version of Google Earth (for complete instructions go to This mashup uses data from Google Earth, WHO, and UN Food and Agricultural Organization.
  • Vimo -Formerly known as Healthia, allows users to search for information on doctors, hospital costs, and insurance plans. This mashup uses "variety of private and public data sources so that shoppers can find a physician and compare hospital prices for medical procedures."
  • PubWindows -Searches PubMed as well as three other PubMed text mining tools: Chilibot, XplorMed, and BioIE, while also including SFX linking information for two institutions.

Library Mashups:

  • Umlaut -Winner of OCLC's Research Software Competition, very cool open source mashup (so you can grab it tweak it and use it at your library) for finding full text articles, books, and information. It combines information from an OpenURL Link Resolver program, with web content from and
  • Book Burro -Web 2.0 extension for Firefox and Flock. When it senses your are looking at a page that contains a book, it will overlay a small panel which when opened lists prices at online bookstores such as Amazon, Buy, Half and whether the book is available at your library.
  • Go-go Google Gadget -Using Google Gadgets API it allows patrons to put customizable panels on Google's personalized home page containing library OPAC information such as books checked out, new arrivals, hot items, and requested material.

Monday, November 20, 2006

Googling vs. PubMeddling

There is still a lot of conversation about the BMJ article regarding Googling for a Diagnosis which I and other have previously blogged about. One interesting letter, posted on BMJ's site, PubMed vs. Google -a brief comparison by Reinhard Wentz, indicated that searching PubMed (even without using MeSH) identified potentially relevant studies in 23 cases, an 88% success rate.

In a MEDLIB_L post Wentz said, "I was astonished to see that in some contributions to medical librarians' discussion lists it was suggested (among other criticisms) that Tang and Ng's results are no better than 'flipping a coin'. Surely, during a case presentation or when ‘conducting a diagnostic exercise' more than two possible diagnoses are discussed. A success rate of 58% on Google is impressive and better than just flipping a coin."

I guess I would be one of those coin flipper people... My point was that when you flip a coin you have a 50% chance of getting heads, so 58% success rate of choosing the right diagnosis still does not give much better odds than if I flipped a coin. My thought was that a 58% success rate is miserable when I know there are better tools out there. I chose the "flipping a coin" to illustrate my point, of course I know when conducting a diagnostic exercise there are more than two possible diagnoes available.

I am glad that Wentz, illustrated how a simple quick PubMed search produced better results than Google, but I have to respectfully disagree that "a success rate of 58% on Google is impressive." I still think it is rather pathetic for something being used as clinical decision tool.

Friday, November 17, 2006

Are College Students Techno Idiots?

Confessions of a Science Librarian directed me to the article Are College Students Techno Idiots? by Paul Thacker at based on a report by a report by the Educational Testing Service. The report is tells the story that we librarians have been trying to tell that students are not effective at finding and evaluating information and research.

Here are some highlights (or low-lights?) of the report:

  • When asked to select a research statement for a class assignment, only 44 percent identified a statement that captured the assignment’s demands.
  • When asked to evaluate several Web sites, 52 percent correctly assessed the objectivity of the sites, 65 percent correctly judged for authority, and 72 percent for timeliness. Overall, 49 percent correctly identified the site that satisfied all three criteria.
  • When asked to narrow a search that was too broad, only 35 percent of students selected the correct revision.
  • In a web search task, only 40 percent entered multiple search terms to narrow the results.
    When searching a large database, only 50 percent of the students used a strategy that minimized irrelevant results.

UGH. Here is another example of how students who might be able to text message at the speed of light and find obscenely low air fare deals, can't do research correctly. I have had many conversations with education adminstrators who don't get it. When I asked about providing some Medline classes to a group of incomming medical students, one administrator told me, "These incomming students are pretty smart and savvy, they grew up with technology, they know how to find everything online already." Guess what they didn't and we (librarians and the students) were left playing catch up.

Thursday, November 16, 2006

Hospital Librarian Awards

(courtesy Hls-list)
Hospital Librarians don't forget to nominate a HLS colleague for a professional award. Nominations deadline is March 2007.

There are three types of awards.

Professional Recognition Award
Awards given in the four areas of Leadership, Research, Publications, Technological Innovation to individuals who have contributed to the field of hospital librarianship. Criteria for the Professional Recognition Award and the Nomination Form.
-Just a note, if you look at the list of previous winners you will see that in the past two years awards were not given in all four areas, so think think about nominating somebody you know who might fall in one the categories.

Catch A Rising Star
This award honors members who have been in the profession five years or less and have already carved a niche for themselves. Nomination Form

Scroll of Exemplary Service
An award recognizing exemplary service from 1997 to present. These are activities that made a difference; for example, serving on or chairing a local, regional, national committee, managing a project for an institution or community, contributing to the betterment of those around, taking charge to solve a problem, or offering easier access to quality information.
Nomination Form

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

NHS patients choose hospitals through local libraries

Here is an interesting bit of news about the Partnership for Patients Project in the UK that will allow members of the public as well as under-represented minority groups in the community, older people, rural communities and people with disabilities to access choice of health provider through their local library.

According to the news release, "GPs will be able to direct patients to their local library for their hospital appointment if patients need more time and information to choose their provider. At the library, patients can research their choices and then book their appointment through the 'Choose and Book' system using the broadband enabled library computers. Librarians will also be available to help support patients accessing information and technology"

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

ACP's PIER Named Number One EBM Tool

The South Central Chapter of the Medical Library Association conducted a study to determine evaluated EBM tools at the point-of-care and ACP's Physician's Information and Education Resource (PIER) was selected as the leading evidence-based medicine point-of-care tool.

The study, "Systematic Evaluation for Evidence-Based Medicine Tools for Point-of-Care," rated PIER highest in all four categories (general information, content, searching ability, and results) of the evaluation compared to 13 other major evidence-based medicine resources. In addition to receiving the highest composite rating, PIER ranked first in all three subcategories (characteristics of evidence, importance, and level of content and features).

Hmmm very timely news item, I would like to know what the other 13 EBM resources were and how they scored in comparison and why.

Just When You Got an iPod

Microsoft enters the personal digital audio/video device wars with the Zune. The Zune is priced comparatively with the iPod but has a bigger screen, an FM tuner (love that!), and built in wireless for sharing songs. It is not a sleek and nice looking but it does have the same memory and battery life as an iPod. The built in wireless only allows you to beam songs to share, you still have to plug into your computer for downloading.

Music and video downloading is odd. First of all the you don't have as many song and video selections as you would through iTunes. Second you buy music and videos using points which you buy in bulk. Basically it costs 79 points to buy a song which is roughly the same as the 99 cents it costs in iTunes. Great, just what I wanted to think about when buying songs. Just like those summer fairs that you attend but require you to buy tickets to buy any food or drinks. A simple bottle of water cost 2 tickets ($4) and at the end of the day you always end up with one ticket left over.

I am not rushing out to buy a Zune, in fact there are waaaay more things on my personal technology Birthday/Christmas wish list that are ahead of a Zune (hint for husband: think laptop). But it is another player on the portable media scene and it is from Microsoft (who rarely does anything half way or small) so it is best to at least be aware of it and keep it in your peripheral vision.

For more information and reviews on the Zune simply go to Google News and type in Zune, you will find enough reviews to read.

Monday, November 13, 2006

The Changing Library

Biomedbiblog directed me to the article The Changing Library: What Clinicians Need to Know (free full text)
Mount Sinai Journal of Medicine 2006 ; 73 (6) : 857-863

Over the last two decades, changes in technology have allowed academic medical center libraries to bring the world of biomedical information to the physician's computer desktop. Because digital libraries have grown so rapidly and in so many ways, some clinicians may be uncertain about the services and resources that are available to them. This article explains how clinical faculty can best utilize their library to support their research and patient care. It addresses some of the most common myths about the "new" medical library, and it highlights innovations in library resources and services that can help physicians to better access, use and manage medical information.

One of my favorite quotes from the article:
"Because digital libraries have grown so rapidly and in so many ways, clinical faculty may underestimate the services and resources that are available to them. The converse is also true: physicians may feel overwhelmed by the range and variety of information and uncertain about which resources are the most useful in their specialyty areas." So true.

I also like the "Top Ten Tips for Getting the Most from Your Medical Library." I think I might tweak and adapt that list and put it in my Library Leads column in the hospital's physician newsletter. Whoo hoo my December newsletter column almost done, and ahead of time. :)

Friday, November 10, 2006

Medical Feeds

So you want to start putting a few nice medical feeds on your library's website. RSS4Lib suggests you might want to check out this list of medical and health RSS feeds. This site (supported by ads) provides subject listings of RSS feeds, covering medical journals and news sites. You can search by keyword or browse through subjects. For example a library at a dental school can browse through the subject and choose from feeds such as, BMC Oral Health - Latest articles, Dentistry News From Medical News Today, The European Journal of Orthodontics - current issue, etc. Or if you ware looking for more general feeds to dispaly you might want to look through the general Medical News Feeds. There is also a Medical Podcasts feed for those interested in find some more podcasts to listen to or collect.

Googling For A Diagnosis

This morning while I was getting ready for work I heard a brief snippet about searching Google for medical answers and I reminded myself to find out more when I got into work. So when I log into my computer what do I see, at least four emails right off the bat about this issue. I guess that is the beauty of Medlib-l, when some of us are sleeping, librarians in other parts of the world have their ears open and are sharing the information.

The article in BMJ "Googling for a diagnosis--use of Google as a diagnostic aid: internet based study" (free, so far) had doctors search in Google for the correct diagnosis to 26 cases. Google brought up the correct diagnosis only 58% of the time. The article also states,
"Clinical decision support programs have been reported to be valulable aids in diagnosing difficult cases...... We think Google is likely to be a useful aid in diagnosis too. It has the advantage of being easier to use and freely available on the internet."

What, What, WHAT?!?!?!?!?

First, the authors just stated that Google only displayed results to the correct diagnosis 58% of the time, and now the they are ready to use it as a clinical decision tool! Those odds are slightly better than flipping a coin! Well with those stellar odds and the doctors' perceived satisfaction why are we even bothering plunking down big bucks for clinical decision tools? That's it I am getting rid of UpToDate and telling my doctors to use Google, after gets the right hit a whopping 58% of the time which is great....if you are a baseball player!

I am not anti-Google, I use it to find the answers to some bizarre or tricky questions/searches. If I am striking out with traditional and more reliable databases and methods, Google might point me in the right direction. HOWEVER, I use that information I found in Google and then re-run my search in the appropriate medical databases. I don't use it as the method by which to gather all medical information, as one might if they were using it as a clinicial decision support tool.

Like it or not, Google is not going away and as a librarian on the Medlib email list said, "Whatever we think, it does impact the way we teach our patrons and provide reference." I guess we need to really start brushing up our teaching techniques because not teaching how to use Google (as is the case with some libraries because they want to support the use of Medline) ain't cutting it. They are using it anyway and they are thinking they are the Albert Pujols of medicine with a slugging percentage over .500.

Thursday, November 09, 2006

Podcast Environmental Scan and Folksonomy...things I learned from the webcast.

Guess who's back, back again, Krafty's back, tell a friend.....

I hope those of you who watched yesterday's Emerging Technologies Webcast yesterday were able to learn something you could take home with you. I also learned a lot as a presenter. While synthesizing all of our individual presentations I learned from Bart Ragon that Nadine Ellero has a pretty extensive Podcast Environment Scan list that looks at what Health Sciences Libraries, Academic Libraries, and other Networks and Academic Medical Centers are doing with podcasts. Very cool.

Bart also spoke of how he discovered that Nadine was using social bookmarking (such as to try and justify additions and changes in MeSH headings to augment cataloging record and make materials easier to locate. For example, the term nutrigenetics is not a MeSH term but it is used in social bookmarking and it is in medical literature. I know some people get twitchy (myself included at times) when talking about folksonomy, medical information, and our patrons, but here is a nice example of how we can make folksonomy work for us as well.

Well, I better get back to digging out from my email, mail, and other stuff that piled up while I was gone.

Monday, November 06, 2006

No Posts Tuesday and Wednesday

I will be in Chicago as one of the presenters for MLA's "Moving at the Speed of Byte: Emerging Technologies for Information Management" telecast, Wed. November 8, 2006, 1:00pm central standard time. If you are interested in watching, the registration deadline is November 6, 2006.

Since I do not own a laptop :( I will not be posting until I get back lovely Cleveland.

MLA '07 and '08

MLA 2007
Monday November 6, 2006 midnight central standard time is the deadline to submit your abstract for MLA '07 in Philadelphia, PA May 18-23. Join the "Information Revolution" by submitting abstracts for both papers and posters.

For more information go to MLA's:
Paper FAQ and Poster FAQ

MLA 2008
It is not too early to be thinking about MLA 2008 in Chicago. MLA is looking for "exciting and innovative courses and symposia" to offer at MLA '08. Submit your ideas by Friday, December 15, 2006, for consideration by the MLA Continuing Education Committee at its midwinter meeting in January 2007. More information and forms are available on MLANET

Friday, November 03, 2006

UpToDate Uproar

It is hard to think that there would be competition in the "love to hate" vendor category, but UpToDate seems to draw more fire and bitter words among librarians than even the traditionally criticized Elsevier Science. So is it a surprise that another librarian is sounding off on MEDLIB about UTD's rather heavy handed and callous business practices?

Come renewal time, UTD called a librarian and questioned the accuracy of the hospital supplied statistics in the American Hospital Association Guide (UTD bases its costs on those statistics) and UTD demanded an extra $10,000 because 27 part time physicians in two satellite research facilities (that don't see patients) technically have access on the same hospital computer network. So this librarian and her hospital must either fork over an extra $10K for these 27 doctors to have access at their research offices or she along with her IT department must determine a way to prevent those research offices from accessing UTD. Thus, create the unequal access to institutional resources situation where the librarian says, "a doc standing on our main campus can use UTD, but when she's standing in her research office she can't." The librarian discovered at the end of her conversations with UTD that her hospital's usage was "three times greater than other hospitals of our type, implying that either there was some kind of malfeasance going on, or that we must be prepared to pay for our crime of actually using their product." I guess UTD believes those 27 part time research physicians are really responsible for the large usage, or the hospital is lying to the American Hospital Association by downplaying their statistics in an effort to get better UTD pricing.

So why not collaborate and try collective bargaining? Many librarians (including myself) have noticed that UTD is rather apathetic or outright dismissive of consortia agreements and pricing. One librarian's opinion was that UTD doesn't even want institutional pricing, citing that her hospital's institutional price jumped up by $22,000 in one year forcing her hospital not to renew. When she told the national sales manager they were not renewing, her response was simply, "Really. All right. Goodbye." Doctors, librarians, and hospital administrators who want off campus access to UTD are most likely in for a sticker shock. A librarian shared that the quote for her hospital's UTD access was $24,000 for on campus access and $262,000 for remote access (almost 11x's more expensive).

Many other librarians expressed similar frustrating stories and mentioned that when push came to shove they had to choose (for financial reasons and for restrictive access reasons) other competing products. DynaMed, FIRSTConsult, eMedicine, among others were all mentioned as possible alternatives to UTD. David Rothman recommended two links, and (on DynaMed), and Ellen Westlin recommended as resources for librarians to evaluate point of care tools and other products similar to UTD.

In my October 20, 2005 post "Are there adequate alternatives to UpToDate" I listed Denison's comparison chart of eMedicine, FirstConsult and UTD and I asked why doctors love UpToDate so much? It almost seems that they are blind to a fault on UpToDate's shortcomings. Shortcomings such as: prohibitive off campus access restrictions, no institutional handheld applications, still not integrated with an EMR, not technically Evidence Based information, and the fewest number of medical specialties covered (16, three of which are in development) compared to its competitors.

So despite the doctors' love for UpToDate are we coming upon a time when hospitals are saying enough is enough and choosing to force doctors to use another product other than UTD? If so are doctors concerned? If they are concerned are they communicating their concerns to UpToDate? Or does UTD treat them with the same disdain and apathy as they seem to treat hospital administrators, IT, and librarians? As a librarian I am wondering when their business practices will catch up to their bottom line, because until it does we will not see a change from them.

Thursday, November 02, 2006

CBioC: Collaborative Bio Curation

I discovered CBioC from the article "Software to improve efficiency of medical research," on Arizona State's news web site. CBioC (Collaborative Bio Curation) was created by a team of ASU researchers to analyze vast amounts of biomedical data to located and extract specific information. The program is a browser plugin that interacts with PubMed. It helps researchers who are looking through the literature to find data on protein interactions and their connection to a disease.
Once you have installed CBioC, it will run in a small frame at the bottom of the browser while searching PubMed and when an article is selected, CBioC extracts and displays the facts reported in the article. For example, extracted facts that a certain gene has been found to be linked to brain cancer are added to the CBioC database. Then those facts and other similar ones can be searched from within CBioC. Individual researchers vote on the correctness of CBioC's extracted facts and can share notes and comments about the data with colleagues and other PubMed users.
Researchers at ASU are looking at adapting the software to look for sugar and gene relationships as well as using it with the TGen (the Translational Genomic Research Institute in Phoenix ) for cancer research.

The program is free to download, more information can be found at the CBioC site.

You can also find more information about it through two articles.
Mining Gene-Disease Relationships from Biomedical Literature: Weighting Protein-protein Interactions and Connectivity
Graciela Gonzalez, Juan C. Uribe, Luis Tari Colleen Brophy, Chitta Baral; Pacific Symposium on Biocomputing 12:28-39(2007)

Collaborative Curation of Data from Bio-medical Texts and Abstracts and its integration. Chitta Baral, Hasan Davulcu, Mutsumi Nakamura, Prabhdeep Singh, Lian Yu and Luis Tari. Proc. of he 2nd International Workshop on Data Integration in the Life Sciences (DILS'05), San Diego, July 20–22, 2005. 309-312.

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

Browser Updates

I realize that not all of us have the ability to pick and choose what browsers the IT gods allow on our work computers, however that doesn't mean we shouldn't be aware of what new things (cool and not so cool) the updates will bring to our world. Additionally there is nobody telling you what you can and can't install/upgrade on your home computer.

Just recently two popular browsers have released two big upgrades: Firefox 2.0 & Internet Explorer 7.0. These upgrades have been talked about extensively in the blogging world. David Rothman who hasn't "needed to use" Explorer in over a year gives his views on Firefox 2.0 and its IE Tab extension which will let you open a page in a Firefox tab using the IE rendering engine. The Librarian in Black directs us to two different sites, Forever Geek which looks at IE 7.0 beta and eyblog which looks at OpenSearch, IE7 and the OPAC.

The tech pages have been poking and prodding at the two browsers as well. CNET which reviewed IE 7.0 on 10/18/06 and Firefox 2.0 on 10/23/06 gives the Good, Bad, and Bottom Line information as well as a nice in depth look at both browsers. Wired's 10/26/06 article, A Tale of Two Web Browsers, compares both IE 7.0 and Firefox 2.0.

Here is some information for those of you looking for some quick notes about the two browsers.

Internet Explorer 7.0 New Features:

  • New look and new toolbar
  • Tabbed browsing (already present in Firefox)
  • Built-in RSS feed reader
  • New favorites center
  • Phishing blocker
  • Enhanced printing
  • Attemps to fix many bugs in 6.0

Interenet Explorer 7.0 Not So Happy Things:

  • Only for Windows XP SP2 users -You must upgrade your operating system if you aren't using Win XP SP2.
  • Security -CNET does not find "IE 7 to be substantially more secure than IE 6"
  • IE 7 is still a slower browser than Firefox
  • Does not comply completely with web standards designers use
  • Still missing many cool features and widgets found in FireFox and Opera such as live feeds within bookmarks, spell checking, and the ability to read web pages aloud.

Firefox 2.0 New Features:

  • Antiphishing protection
  • Enhancements to browser tabs
  • In-line spell checker for multiple languages
  • Search engine suggestions
  • Session restore in case your Windows crashes
  • Live Titles (microsummaries) allows sites to stream updated data to your bookmarks
  • Security -opens a dialog box informing you of cross domain scripting

FireFox 2.0 Not So Happy Things:

  • Some of your 1.5 extensions may not work in 2.0
  • Thumbnail previews of tabs still requires an extension
  • Uninstall very yucky -so don't remove it
  • Does not comply completely with web standards designers use

Personally, I haven't installed IE 7.0 or Firefox 2.0 at home or at work. I tend to wait a while before I update these things on my home computer, partly out of laziness and partly out of the belief that the bugs will be fixed by the time I get to it. Right now I do have both old versions of IE and Firefox on my home computer. I tend to use Firefox more often at home because I think it works a little better in than Explorer.

Ovid's Database of the Month

It is November (where has the time gone) and Ovid's free databases of the month are CAB Abstracts and Archives and Drugline.

CAB Abstracts and CAB Abstracts Archive provide access international agricultural and applied life sciences information. The CAB Abstracts (1973 to present) contains over 4 million records from over 11,000 journals. books, conferences, reports, and other kinds of literature published internationally. The CAB Abstracts Archive combines 17 printed abstract journals produced between 1910 and 1972 (the equivalent of 600 volumes) into a single electronic database. The Archive, previously only available in print, provides access to that had been 'lost', 'forgotten' or 'ignored'. CAB Abstracts Archive is fully searchable and has been re-indexed with modern terms to allow today's researcher full and immediate access to the research of the past. CAB Abstracts and the Archive contains English abstracts prepared from papers originally published in over 75 different languages.
Try it at Ovid
Learn more about CAB Abstracts from Ovid
Learn more about CAB Archive from Ovid

Drugline contains evaluated drug information representing responses from clinical pharmacologists to specific patient cases. It is produced by the Karolic, Department of Clinical Pharmacology, Karolinska University Hospital in cooperation with the regional drug information centers in Sweden, Odense in Denmark and Turku in Finland. The database is indexed using the MESH thesaurus. Currently the database contains 12691 records in English & Swedish. The database originates from the answers to complex clinical questions posed by physicians. An extensive literature search is carried out and answers to the questions are produced after discussion by a team of specialists. Questions cover side effects, teratogenicity, feasibility of nursing by drug-treated mothers, kinetics, drug interactions, pharmacy, therapy and choice of drugs.
Try it at Ovid
Learn more about Drugline from Ovid

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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: