Friday, March 30, 2007

AskDrWiki in the News

This article, "A Wikipedia-style site for medical information?" appeared in yesterday's (March 29, 2007) Cleveland Plain Dealer. I have been busy with a couple of projects so I am just now getting to blog about it.

David Rothman, was interviewed as a librarian opposed to AskDrWiki and that actually shocked me a little. Even though David has criticized the wiki on his blog in the past, he has also discussed the positives of AskDrWiki as well as other wikis. It wasn't until I read David's blog this morning did I get the full picture. In his post, Cleveland Plain Dealer on Medical Wikis he revealed his frustration of being quoted out of context and his decision to publish his interview with the reporter.

I am very familiar with AskDrWiki and I have been watching it with great interest as one the better examples as to how wikis could work in the medical field. It offers a lot of promise as a learning site that can be used in conjunction with other medical information resources. While I share David's concerns about authority control and errors with medical wikis I am not as jittery as many would think.

Perhaps it is just in my mind but I kind of think of wikis, specifically specialty wikis like AskDrWiki, as a virtual discussion room for individuals. As librarians we look at various resources that our patrons use for information. However one resource we often forget about because we often don't see it, is doctor to doctor personal communication. Doctors (as well as other professionals) often consult each other formally or informally. At the basic level what is the difference between the sharing of information face to face vs. online through a wiki? Both methods are a means of exchanging information. Aah.. but there is a chance that the information posted on AskDrWiki is wrong. Yes. But isn't there also a chance the individual you are consulting in person is wrong? People are infallible, including doctors.

Now that AskDrWiki has instituted a credential review policy, it ensures that at least medical professionals are posting and sharing information which does help with some quality control. However, it does not totally eliminate the chance of errors and I don't know of anything that eliminates that chance completely. Textbooks have been recalled for errors, journal articles have been amended or retracted, and treatments medical society once thought to be the gold standard have been replaced. I tend to think of wikis like other information resources (articles, textbooks, personal discussions, etc.) where the onus is still on the user to verify the information. We do it all the time with print resources or through subtleties in conversation.

The medium is not what should be questioned, it is the information within. Learning is all about asking questions. Wikis offer that opportunity to learn.

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Wednesday, March 28, 2007

Third Party Hosting Services

Many hospital librarians complain about the inability to create and implement certain technology projects because of their hospital IT departments policies. Some libraries just want an web page while others would like to do some more involved things such as hosting a few instructional multimedia files. Personally, I think this is one of the biggest areas where hospital librarians see big difference between their work environment and the work environment of academic medical librarians. We see a lot of the cool technology and we can envision how it would work in our hospital if only we got approval from our IT department.

As many of you know I have been working on using Athens for providing off site authentication for my users. I love it. However it has led to a new problem. Now that I have all these products available off campus to my users, how are they going to be aware of these products to actually use them? Most public libraries and academic libraries have web pages on the Internet so that patrons can browse through resources and use them. However, all of my library web pages are hidden to the outside world because they are on the Intranet. My users can't see the hospital's Intranet when they are off campus. So I need an Internet web page.

It took me a while to find the right person to contact for this specific request, but color me surprised that he was open to the idea. We had a great conversation as to how we could do it in the easiest, most logical way. Whoa. I had to double check the phone number to make sure I was indeed calling the IT department.

I was so prepared for failure that I had begun to look at other solutions. Like many other hospital libraries we do not have the budget or time to buy and maintain our own server. So that wasn't an option. One option I was looking at was getting a third party hosting service. There are a lot of companies out there that offer hosting services. You need to do your homework to determine necessary account features like disk storage size, bandwidth, support, programming, etc. You also want to see what kind of technology platform they provide i.e. Windows, Unix/Linux servers, or both, because that can impact what type of applications you can run.

Two hosting services that come to mind are and DreamHost. LISHost started by Blake Carver is librarian focused and already hosts several small public libraries. Cost is a major concern for many small hospital libraries and these services can be actually quite reasonable. For example, DreamHost has multiple package levels ranging from $10/month to $80/month depending on your needs

You also need to start talking to the appropriate people in your hospital. Start first with IT. They may have some ideas and solutions that might work without the need to go to an outside company. If they don't they might be able to give you an idea on technical requirements that you might need. You also want to make sure they are kosher with the library getting services from an outside hosting company. Some IT people I have talked to were fine with it because it is one less thing they had to worry about. You will also probably need to talk to somebody in administration and quite possibly legal. After all, you are putting up a web site with the hospital name on it. They will want to make sure you are not including medical advice or slandering the hospital in any way. You need to stress that you are not going to be dealing with patient information and dispensing medical advice in any way. Try to get them to see it as something similar as university's medical library on the web. They don't provide patient or medical information.

It is second nature for librarians to look outside of the institution to provide articles, books and "library stuff." However, many of us have been so locked into the tunnel vision of what we can't do because of IT policies, that we me have forgotten to look outside of the institution for technology solutions. Perhaps outsourcing and using a third party hosting service offers us a way to provide better electronic services to our patrons.

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Tuesday, March 27, 2007

Ovid's Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews Now in PDF

FINALLY, the PDFs for the Cochrane Database of Systematic Revies are available to Ovid Cochrane subscribers. I know longer have putz around with printing the HTML file in a way to ensure that a chart didn't get split between two pages.

Monday, March 26, 2007

Heart Sounds on iPods

A while back ago I mentioned giving an article on listening to heart sounds using iPods to the curriculum development coordinator. Yesterday, Newsweek also wrote an article on Dr. Michael Barrett and his iPod and heart sounds idea.

What I found most interesting in this article was the statement, "What's amazing isn't necessarily that doctors are using iPods as teaching tools - it's that they've taken so long to catch on. In 2005, Duke University gave all incoming undergraduates their own iPods, and many other schools have signed up for Apple's "iTunes U," which allows them to download podcasts of lectures and other course materials. But medicine, particularly cardiology, has lagged behind, says Barrett."

We often see this with technology. There can be a lag between the emergence of that technology and effective educational (or business) uses for it. When I was in grade school there was the push to have computers in the school and have us using them. (Remember those big Apple IIe's?) What did I do with those expensive, large, tan boxes? I learned how to plot graphs. That was big stuff back then, but I am not sure how much I learned about computers and math from that experience.

It can take some time for innovative people to discover practical uses for technology. Often it is after an "aha" moment. As podcasting, wikis, chat ref, mashups etc. become more mainstream and more people begin to have that "aha" moment, new applications will emerge. The process is cyclical. It will get to a point where those "new" things will be integrated into our lives (education, work and leisure) and we will be wresting with how to adapt other new technologies to work in our world. Just look at computers and the Internet. Twenty or so years ago I was staring at a graph on a green and black screen. Now, I am lobbying for a second computer in my house because everybody but the dog and the 3 month old "need" to use the computer.

So if you are like me and sometimes lack a little in creativity to always know what exactly to do with all of this new stuff, don't worry. There are other people out there who are testing the waters. The key is to keep an open mind and take notes. You may not be a creative innovator but that doesn't give you the excuse to ignore technology and become "that guy." You know, the one who only has 8 track tapes, and not for nostalgic reasons.

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Friday, March 23, 2007

MLA Bloggers Wanted

The Annual MLA meeting is just around the corner. So I thought I would take this opportunity to ask for blogging volunteers for the meeting. I am looking for people who are going to MLA and who would be interested in submitting their thoughts, opinions, and summaries of the programs/meetings they attend. Last year Jennifer, I. Martinez, and Rachel O. did a great job as volunteer bloggers.

You don't have to anything special. Just attend the events as you normally would and when you get a chance write something up on the blog, it doesn't have to be very long.

If you are interested please email me. I look forward to hearing from you and hopefully I will bump into you while I am there and get to thank you personally.

Tuesday, March 20, 2007


What is ReleMed? ReleMed, short of Relevant Medicine is a "Google-like search engine for medical literature," created by researchers at the University of Virginia School of Medicine. ReleMed is intended to provide medical professionals, researchers and the public with "more efficient and targeted way to search PubMed." ReleMed was designed to increase specificity and return more relevant results by finding the query words within sentences and statistical relationship between the them.

Some folks on MEDLIB-L have already begun to look at and discuss ReleMed. David Rothman who has been "playing with Relemed for a few weeks" and is impressed by its relevance sorting, directed list readers to the free, full-text article "Relemed: sentence-level search engine with relevance score for the MEDLINE database of biomedical articles" by Siadaty, M. S., Shu, J., Knaus, W. A. BMC Medical Informatics and Decision Making about Relemed 2007, 7:1 doi:10.1186/1472-6947-7-1.

According to the article, "There are more than 30 retrieval services that use MEDLINE as their data source, some of which are shown in Table 1. Some use MEDLINE as the main or the only data source, such as PubMed, OVID, SLIM, askMEDLINE, and eTBLAST. Others use multiple databases, e.g. MedMiner. Some return articles as their main results (PubMed), while others return some digested form, such as a graph (Chilibot and ConceptLink). Some focus on data-mining, MedBlast and HAPI (High-density Array Pattern Interpreter); others on genomics or proteomics (GoPubMed and iHOP). Some are designed for "literature-based discovery", finding relationships between biomedical concepts from MEDLINE that are not expressed in any article directly, e.g. Arrowsmith and BITOLA. Some are specialized in the classification of articles, e.g. AnneOTate, CISMeF, and MedMOLE." The authors of the article state that the majority of these search engines do not estimate relevance scores and none of them "incorporate relationship between the words in computing the relevance score."

As relationship search engines become more prevalent we need to start evaluating these search engines and comparing them to each other.

Monday, March 19, 2007

Library Journal's 2007 Movers and Shakers

Congratulations to LJ's 2007 Movers and Shakers! Again there a lot of interesting things that librarians are doing and here is just a sampling of some of them. While I think all of the shaker and movers deserve the recognition, I am going to highlight a few of them that might be of interest to the medical library community.

Casey Bisson Have you ever complained about your OPAC and how un-friendly it is to regular library users? Well Casey Bisson, troubled by the fact that most people start their research in general search engines, which usually do not search libraries' content and information, created Scriblio. Scriblio "provides keyword searching, faceted searching and browsing, stable URLs for easy linking, and an easily configurable record display." According to code4lib, Wordpress-based catalog and he source code has not yet been released (current production versions are based off Innovative Interfaces data). You can see the software in action at

Ross Singer
If his name sounds familiar to this blog it is because I have mentioned him and his creation, Umlaut, before. Umlaut is a personalized link resolver. While not a standalone link resolver, "it attempts to bridge library services more efficiently." Usability testing revealed that Georgia Tech's SFX link resolver was confusing to patrons and Umlaut was intended to help ease the confusion. It combines information from an OpenURL Link Resolver program, with web content from and One of the greatest things is that Umlaut is open source and can be used in any library. For more information on Umlaut you can look at OCLC's pages or Umlaut-Trac. Try Umlaut at

Amanda Etches-Johnson
As one of the organizers of the Five Weeks to Social Library, she provides free, online courses devoted to social software and its use in libraries. She is the the User Experience Librarian at McMaster University Library, author of, and set up the Blogging Libraries Wiki.

Denise Koufogiannakis
A former health sciences librarian and creator and former editor of Librarians' Rx, applied her knowledge of evidence-based medicine to become "a key driver in the International Evidence-Based Librarianship movement." As co-founder of the new open access journal Evidence-Based Library and Information Practice, she has provides a "forum for librarians and other information professionals to discover research that may contribute to decision making in professional practice."

Lorely Ambriz
A librarian for Pan American Health Organization, her primary responsibility was creating the Border Health Virtual Library web site. The Border VHL is a "gateway to scientific and technical information on health in the Internet. Its objective is to contribute towards the social development and equal access to information. It provides a collection of sources of information on health in the border line (scientific and technical literature databases, directory of institutions, projects and specialists related to health on the border, etc.).

Jill Grogg
Before the first commercially available link resolver was available, Jill coauthored an article on linking and OpenURL and has since published extensively on the subject. She has become the "go-to person on anything to do with linking," for Searcher magazine. She believes link resolvers offer a patrons an immediate and seamless access to electronic content.

Anita Coleman
With little more than a $5000 grant (for a server), graduate students, and volunteer help, Anita began an open access archive for information sciences called dLIST. She encouraged people to contribute to dLIST by self archiving their work and by serving as subject editors. dList includes journal articles, conference presentations, technical reports, and LIS books and papers.

Again congrats to all of the 2007 Movers and Shakers. If you know somebody who you think is movin' and shakin' the library world, nominate them for 2008!

Thursday, March 15, 2007

Cataloging Changes and Web 2.0 Functionality

All of you catalogers out there might want to take a look at this article (free online) "Catalog/Cataloging Changes and Web 2.0 Funtionality: New Directions for Serials," by Rebecca Kemp.

This article presents an overview of some of the important recent developments in cataloging theory and practice and online catalog design. Changes in cataloging theory and practice include the incorporation of the Functional Requirements for Bibliographic Records principles into catalogs, the new Resource Description and Access cataloging manual, and the new CONSER Standard Record. Web 2.0 functionalities and advances in search technology and results displays are influencing online catalog design. The paper ends with hypothetical scenarios in which a catalog, enhanced by the developments described, fulfills the task of find serials articles and titles.

Kemp mentions that many features of modern day catalogs are still based off of the old card catalog. She says the OPAC is now at a critical juncture in time where there are major conceptual and technological developments occurring. This article will give you an idea of the directions catalogs are heading and their continual evolution.

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Science Direct Web Editions to End in 2008

Ack! I just discovered that Elsevier has decided to discontinue Web Editions for academic and government customers. New Web Editions customers can sign up until March 31st 2007. However, all Web Editions will be discontinued as of March 31st 2008.

According to Elsevier, Web Editions no longer meet the needs of its customers. ScienceDirect says it has alternative subscription options for Web Editions customers to consider when they are forced to give it up.

Ugh. I am not looking forward to trying to piece together some sort of package that my library can afford. At least we have some advance notice. I am still quite irritated at Ovid's last minute discontinuation of their LWW Hospital Library consortia collection that I struggled to get the previous year, only to see Ovid disband it in December before I went on maternity leave.

Wednesday, March 14, 2007

Library Resources in the EMR

I have gotten a few inquires from other librarians about library resources embedded or linked through the EMR. I confess this topic has been bouncing in my head for the past year or two and just now am I starting really look at to see what is being done and what is out there.

I don't have any answers but I found some interesting articles that I need to read through to become more aware of the issue and I thought I would share the links I have found. The most relevant I found so far is the article by Karen Albert. The other articles listed below look at the use of info buttons and the need for information resources (Medline, full text articles, etc.) at the point of care.

If you know of any good articles, resources, people, etc., about this topic, please feel free to share them through the comments.

Albert, Karen, "Integrating Knowledge-Based Resources into the Electronic Health Record: History, Current Status, and Role of Librarians." Medical Reference Services Quarterly. Vol. 26(3), Fall, 2007 (in press). (subscription required)


Satisfying clinical information needs remains a major challenge in medicine,
underscored by recent studies showing high medical error rates and suboptimal
physician adherence to evidence-based practice guidelines. Advanced clinical
decision support systems can improve practitioner performance and patient
outcomes. Similarly, integrating online information resources into electronic
health records (EHRs) shows great potential for positively impacting health care
quality. This paper explores the evolution and current status of knowledge-based
resource linkages within EHRs, including the benefits and drawbacks, as well as
the important role librarians can play in this process.

Humphreys, Betsy L. "Electronic health record meets digital library: a new environment for achieving an old goal." J Am Med Inform Assoc. Sep/Oct 2000, Vol. 7 Issue 5, p444-452. (free full text)


Linking the electronic health record to the digital library is a Web-era reformulation of the long-standing informatics goal of seamless integration of automated clinical data and relevant knowledge-based information to support informed decisions. The spread of the Internet, the development of the Web, and converging format standards for electronic health data and digital publications make effective linking increasingly feasible. Yet many challenging informatics
research problems must be solved before flexible and seamless linking becomes a reality, and before systems become capable of delivering a specific piece of information needed at the time and place that a decision must be made. Connecting electronic health record to the digital library also requires positive resolution of important policy issues, including privacy, high-speed communications, electronic intellectual property rights, and standards for health data and for digital libraries. Research problems and policy issues should be important priorities for the field of medical informatics.

Cimino JJ, Li J, Graham M, Currie LM, Allen M, Bakken S, Patel VL. "Use of online resources while using a clinical information system." AMIA Annu Symp Proc. 2003;:175-9. (free full text)


Clinical information system (CIS) use is likely to evoke information needs, yet
information resources use during CIS use has not been studied. METHODS: We used CIS log files and a survey to characterize clinicians' use of resources and infobuttons (context-sensitive links from a CIS to specific resources) while using a CIS. RESULTS: We examined 38,763 uses of resources and infobuttons by 2,607 users to identify specific sources and contexts (CIS functions) in which they used them. Laboratory results review was the most frequent context and Micromedex was the most popular resource. Differences in resource use were related to context and user type. The survey confirmed that resources and infobuttons were perceived as useful for patient-specific questions while using a CIS. CONCLUSIONS: Understanding context- and user-type-specific information needs can guide the development of infobuttons for use in a CIS.

McGowan JJ, Overhage JM, Barnes M, McDonald CJ. "Indianapolis I3: the third generation Integrated Advanced Information Management Systems." J Med Libr Assoc. 2004 Apr;92(2):179-87. (free full text)


In 2001, the Regenstrief Institute for Health Care and the Indiana University School of Medicine (IUSM) began an IAIMS planning effort to create a vision and a tactical plan for the first Integrated Advanced Information Management Systems (IAIMS) implementation to cross a large area and include unaffiliated institutions. A number of elements made this planning effort unique. Among these elements were the existence of a network infrastructure that supported the
Indianapolis Network for Patient Care, the existence of a mature medical informatics program at the Regenstrief Institute, and the existence of a wide-area knowledge network fostered by the IUSM libraries. However, the leadership for a strong information technology role in the IUSM that could promote collaboration in support of education and research across the diverse Indianapolis hospital systems had been lacking. By bringing together various groups, each with a commitment to improve health care quality and public health across the Indianapolis metropolitan area, regardless of individual institutional affiliation, the strategic directions for I3-Indianapolis IAIMS initiative have been defined and the foundations for a third generation IAIMS construct have been laid in Indianapolis, Indiana.

Maviglia SM, Yoon CS, Bates DW, Kuperman G. "KnowledgeLink: impact of context-sensitive information retrieval on clinicians' information needs." J Am Med Inform Assoc. 2006 Jan-Feb;13(1):67-73. Epub 2005 Oct 12. (free full text)


OBJECTIVE: Infobuttons are message-based content search and retrieval functions embedded within other applications that dynamically return information relevant to the clinical task at hand. The objective of this study was to determine whether infobuttons effectively answer providers' questions about medications or affect patient care decisions. DESIGN: The
authors implemented and evaluated a medication infobutton application called KnowledgeLink. Health care providers at 18 outpatient clinics were randomized to one of two versions of KnowledgeLink, one that linked to information from Micromedex (Thomson Micromedex, Greenwood Village, Co) and the other to material from SkolarMD (Wolters Kluwer Health, Palo Alto, CA). MEASUREMENTS: Data were collected about the frequency of use and demographics of users, patients, and drugs that were queried. Users were periodically surveyed with short questionnaires and then with a more extensive survey at the end of one year. RESULTS: During the first year, KnowledgeLink was used 7,972 times by 359 users to look up information about 1,723 medications for 4,961 patients. Clinicians used KnowledgeLink twice a month on average, and during an average of 1.2% of patient encounters. KnowledgeLink was used by a wide variety of medical staff, not just physicians and nurse practitioners. The frequency of usage and the questions asked varied with user role (primary care physician, specialist physician, nurse practitioner). Although the median KnowledgeLink session was brief (21 seconds), KnowledgeLink answered users' queries 84% of the time, and altered patient care decisions
15% of the time. Users rated KnowledgeLink favorably on multiple scales, recommended extending KnowledgeLink to other content domains, and suggested enhancing the interface to allow refinement of the query and selection of the target resource. CONCLUSION: An infobutton can satisfy information needs about medications. Although used infrequently and for brief sessions, KnowledgeLink was positively received, answered most users' questions, and had a significant impact on medical decision making. The next steps would be to broaden the domains that KnowledgeLink covers to more specifically tailor results to the user type, to provide options when queries are not immediately answered, and to implement KnowledgeLink within other electronic clinical applications.


Tuesday, March 13, 2007

HLS Wiki

The hospital librarians' wiki, sponsored by the Hospital Libraries Section of the Medical Library Association, is up running and available for people to use. The purpose of the wiki is to provide an area where librarians can share best practices and ideas. It is easily accessed, archived, searched, and modified.

Currently, the wiki has information on Collection Development, Electronic Health Records, Point of Care resources, and Magnet Hospitals. You can add your comments by clicking on "Edit This Page" or start an entirely new topic by “Adding a New Page”.

Help documentation and tutorial videos are available if you should need any assistance with the wiki. Please feel free to add your content. It is a great opportunity to learn how to use wikis as well as sharing information with other hospital librarians.


Friday, March 09, 2007

An Introduction to Mashups for Health Librarians

Dean Giustini forwarded me the link to the article "An Introduction to Mashups for Health Librarians" published in the Journal of the Canadian Health Libraries Association (Volume 28, Number 1, Winter 2007 p. 19-22).

It is a great article for librarians to get a better understanding about mashups and the opportunities they present to librarians and library users.

Mashups have definitely created a sort of programming revolution due to the ease at which they can be created, developed, and improved. Granted, you don't need to be a "programming expert with training in C++ or Visual Basic," but according to ProgrammableWeb. com creating mashups is still "mostly a programmer's affair." There are tools such as MapBuilder and Wayfaring that can help you create basic mapping mashups without any coding. Google also offers some help with their Google AJAX Search API Wizards which allows you to enhance your site with Google search without writing any code. But to create other types of mashup programs you might need to know some programming languages to use the APIs. For example, the API for, a worldwide database of books, "is primarily intended for use by programmers."

Don't be turned off by mashups just because you think you lack the necessary programming skills. There will come a time when it will be very easy for non-programmers to make some cool library related mashups. What is important is that librarians who don't yet have the skills to create mashups, keep them in the back of their mind and keep their eyes open for the mashups created by other techie and programming librarians.


Wednesday, March 07, 2007

March 15 Deadline for HLS Professional Recognition Awards Nominations

The deadline for the HLS Professional Recognition Awards Nominations is March 15, 2007. These awards are given to recognize the significant accomplishments of HLS members. In the areas of:
  • Leadership
  • Research
  • Publication
  • Technological Innovation

Also consider nominating somebody for the Catch a Rising Star award, which spotlights upcoming members who have been in the profession five years or less and have already carved a niche for themselves.

Nominations for the 20007 Scroll of Exemplary Service are also welcome.

For these nominations, think of colleagues with whom you work, members of committees you may be involved in and hospital librarians of note in your local chapter and nation-wide MLA.
Don't be shy, consider submitting your name if you think of your own accomplishments warrent it.

Nomination forms for all awards can be found at
Deadline for receiving nominations is MARCH 15, 2007

Contact Irene Wood, Chair, Professional Recognition Committee with any questions regarding these awards. ipwood(at)childrensmemorial(dot)org.

Tuesday, March 06, 2007

Web 2.0 in Health Information Management

John Sharp reports A Limited Showing for Web 2.0 at the HIMSS (Healthcare Information Management Systems Society) annual conference this year. It appears that healthcare organizations and companies are taking the slow road to adopting these social networking technologies.

In his post Web 2.0 in Health Care - Where's the Value, John mentions that the healthcare industry strives to minimize risk (patients health, legal, etc.) and maximize authority control (clinical trials, peer review, records management, etc.) by ensuring reliable, authoritive, trustworthy information. This mindset seems to be at odds with the principles of open social networking where everyone owns, contributes, and is responsible for information. Essentially the wisdom of a select few vs. the wisdom of the masses. However, all is not lost, according to John social networking in healthcare will eventually come to fruition. "Web 2.0 concepts have been present in healthcare for a long time but at the same time the technology is perceived as a threat. A contradiction? No, just a social trend which will take time to sort out."

I find these two posts particularly interesting because it give medical librarians a small glimpse into the world of healthcare information managers (the IT department) and social networking. Some librarians report their IT departments are fairly flexible and allow them to do some Web 2.0 things such as IM for reference questions. While other librarians report their IT departments are resistant to anything and everything and they can't even create their own library home pages on the hospital's intranet site.

I find it ironic that the very people responsible for technology in the hospital workplace finds social technology a threat. Why? Do they fear it because it is new? Or do they fear the loss of control?


Monday, March 05, 2007

NLM's Long Range Plans 2006-2016

The final version of the Long Range Plan is on the NLM website, currently the plan is in PDF but an HTML version is forthcoming.

The plan states the strategic vision of NLM (derived from the meeting of the Strategic Vision Working Group in Washington, DC on Apr. 11-12, 2005), previous decades of progress (1986-2006, and the Plan for 2006-2016.

The Plan has four goals:

  1. Seamless, uninterrupted access to expanding collections of biomedical data, medical knowledge, and health information.
  2. Trusted information services that promote health literacy, improve health outcomes, and reduce health disparities worldwide.
  3. Integrated biomedical, clinical, and public health information systems that promote scientific discovery and speed the translation of research into practice.
  4. A strong and diverse workforce for biomedical informatics, research, systems development and innovative service delivery.
Goal 1: In order to provide "seamless, uninterrupted access to expanding collections of biomedical data, medical knowledge, and health information," NLM has six recommendations.

  1. Space - "Ensure adequate space and storage conditions for NLM's current and future collections to guarantee long term access to information and efficient service delivery." The no vacancy sign is flashing at NLM, and information, which multiplies about as fast as tribbles, highlights the need for expansion.
  2. Preservation - "Preserve NLM's collections in highly usable forms and contribute to comprehensive strategies for preservation of biomedical in the U.S. and worldwide." NLM looks to continue to digitally preserve and provide access to the NLM print, pictorial, multimedia and archival materials. Digital material presents unique difficulties for preservation (licensing, technology, etc.) but there is a clear commitment to try and preserve that information as well.
  3. Knowledge management - "Structure NLM's electronic information services to promote scientific discovery and rapid retrieval of the 'right' information by people and computer systems." NLM is one the largest collectors of tribbles...uh I mean information, and there is so much of it within NLM systems that while users are highly satisfied they "fail to take advantage of the rich variety of linkages that already exist among NLM related data sets." NLM is looking to improve retrieved information from disparate resources, improve interfaces, measure user behavior, work with outside technology companies, and continue to support and develop advance information retrieval techniques.
  4. Multimedia - "Evaluate interactive publications as possibles means to enhance learning, comprehension, and sharing of results." As more and more multimedia files (video, audio, etc.) are attached to text (for example: a video of heart sounds, CAT scans, or MRIs included in a text reference to clinical coronary angiogram) NLM is looking at NCBI's early attempts of processing multimedia publications into PubMed Central. This is tricky because there are no agreed upon file standards.
  5. Disaster preparedness - "Ensure continuous access to health information and effective use of libraries and librarians when disaster occurs." NLM will continue to ensure information services are available during emergencies. NLM should continue to strengthen and test its emergency response system with RML's and look to possibly provide library personnel and services during emergencies. That includes working with appropriate federal, state, local agencies to have librarians and libraries included in disaster response.
  6. Disaster preparedness continues - "Establish a Disaster Information Management Research Center at NLM to make a strong commitment to disaster remediation and to provide a platform for demonstrating how libraries and librarians can be part of the solution to this national problem." More disaster planning recommendations, and I don't know why this is separate and wasn't a part of 5th recommendation. Oh well.

Goal 2: In order to provide "trusted information services that promote health literacy, improve health outcomes, and reduce health disparities worldwide," NLM has five recommendations.

  1. Outreach to under served - "Advance new outreach programs by NLM and NN/LM for under served populations at home and abroad; work to reduce health disparities experience by minority populations; share and actively promote lessons learned." NLM continues to partner with public libraries, schools, public health departments, etc. to improve literacy and eliminate health disparities. Expand NN/LM to include new members such as community based organizations. The sharing of outreach outcomes and examples through the use collaborations tools (wikis,blogs, etc.) is to be considered.
  2. Electronic resources - "Work selectively in developing countries that represent special outreach opportunities, such as improving access to electronic information resources, enhancing local journal publications of high quality, and developing a trained librarian and IT workforce." NLM to continue special initiatives and collaboration, as well as look promoting library peering, support models, and informatics literacy training programs.
  3. Promotion - "Promote knowledge of the Library's services through exhibits and other public programs." Current methods of promotions to consumers and health professionals should be broadened and intensified.
  4. Technology - "Test and evaluate digital infrastructure improvements (e.g. PDAs, intelligent agents, network techniques) to enable ubiquitous health information access in homes, schools, public libraries, and work places." NLM should be a "significant" participant regarding policies, technical research, guidelines, and innovation for portable and wireless devices.
  5. "Support research on the application of cognitive and cultural models to facilitate information transfer and trust building and develop new methodologies to evaluate the impact of health information on patient care and health outcomes." Increase research on the impact of health behavior and health outcomes, effective health communication, and consumer trust.

Goal 3: In order to provide "integrated biomedical, clinical, and public health information systems that promote scientific discovery and speed the translation of research into practice," NLM has three recommendations.

  1. Linking Databases - "Develop linked databases for discovering relationships between clinical data, genetic information, and environmental factors." NLM's tools must be integrated and searchable across disciplines. Privacy concerns, effective and efficient information delivery, and maintenance of decision support tools must be addressed.
  2. EMR - "Promote development of Next Generation electronic health records to facilitate patient-centric care, clinical research, and public health." Current EMRs are based largely on and resemble the paper records and have limited decision support tools. Large amounts of the current EMR is still stored as free text and the names of drugs, tests, diagnoses and therapies are ambiguously stored. NLM will continue to enhance the U.S. governments attempts at standardization and also investigate other areas for expansion such as the handling of images, sounds, storage, security, and linking to decision support tools.
  3. "Promote development and use of advanced electronic representations of biomedical knowledge in conjunction with electronic health records." NLM should continue to research, promote, and develop approaches to electronic knowledge and decision support algorithms for use with the EMR. "Topics worthy of additional concentration include: drug information structured to interact with personal health records, clinical tirals results reporting, automated summarization of published evidence, representations of knowledge and rules that facilitate sharing and reuse, management and updating of digital libraries of clinical and public health support tools, and methods and timing for presenting knowledge and decision support that have the greatest probability of being used." Whoa that is mouthful, it sounds like that fits under recommendation number 2 and also goes along with my trends in hospital libraries predictions.

Goal 4: In order to provide "a strong and diverse workforce for biomedical informatics, research, systems development and innovative service delivery," NLM has three recommendations.

  1. Recruitment - "Develop an expanded and diverse workforce through enhanced visibility of biomedical informatics and library science for K-12 and college students." I suggest a sexy CSI type of show featuring librarians and biomedical informaticians Perhaps it would cause students to want to become librarians just like how "thousands of students flocking to forensic science courses" as a result of the proliferation of hip forensic shows.
  2. Librarian training support - "Support training programs that prepare librarians to meet emerging needs for specialized information services." Pretty self explanatory.
  3. Biomedical informatics support and training - "Continue support for formal, multidisciplinary education in biomedical informatics to increase the supply of informatics researchers who can work at the intersections of molecular science, clinical research, health care, public health, and disaster management." NLM should look to encourage informatics education and research as well as seek out additional partnership opportunities to build the informatics research workforce.

There you have it, a brief synopsis of NLM's long range plans and goals for 2006-2016. Oh and if they actually get a T.V. deal for the sexy sleuthing library CSI type show, I am available to consult. :)


Friday, March 02, 2007

Survey Confusion

This morning I got a call from a company conducting a survey on various medical and scientific electronic resources and databases. For once it was a legitimate survey and they didn't try and sell me anything, so I thought I would gladly participate since I work with the very databases that they want my opinion on.

They asked for my opinion on various databases such Ovid, Ebsco, UpToDate, MDConsult, StatRef, Medline and PubMed.

One the questions they asked me: "What database platform do you use the most when you conduct research? Ovid, Ebsco, UpToDate, MDConsult,CINAHL, Medline or PubMed?"

Huh?!? Uh Medline is in PubMed. Do they mean Medline from Ovid or Ebsco or PubMed? When I asked this question, the surveyor (who is just paid to conduct the survey and has no knowledge of these databases) didn't understand me. She said, no and asked if I used Ovid, Ebsco, UpToDate, MDConsult, CINAHL, Medline or PubMed first when starting my research.

I tried to explain that I didn't quite understand the question because Ovid had multiple research databases associated with it that you would search depending on the TOPIC and that if I search Medline I can search it from either PubMed, Ovid, or Ebsco. So if I answer Medline that really doesn't reflect specifically what platform I use.

She basically said I had to pick one of those because it was in her computer like that.

So I trudged on trying to answer her questions which became increasingly inaccurate or misleading as they constantly refered to the vendors such as Ovid and Ebsco as individual databases that would could be searched.

The survey questions were poorly written that any librarian answering the survey is going to be frustrated and confused over the questions. I really feel sorry for whatever company paid for this survey because the results they get will not be entirely accurate.

March Database of the Month

It is March and along with the hope that the snow will stop falling and spring is on its way, it also means that GeoRef and INSPEC are Ovid's databases of the month.

GeoRef on Ovid
Established in 1966, GeoRef is the database from the American Geological Institute and contains over 2.4 million references to geoscience journal articles, books, maps, conference papers, reports and theses. The GeoRef database covers the geology of North America from 1785 to the present and the geology of the rest of the world from 1933 to the present. The database includes references to all publications of the U.S. Geological Survey. Masters' theses and doctoral dissertations from U.S. and Canadian universities are also covered.

Try it at Ovid

Learn more about GeoRef from Ovid

INSPEC on SilverPlatter
INSPEC provides access to the world's scientific and technical literature in physics, electrical engineering, electronics, communications, control engineering, computers and computing, and information technology. Primary coverage is of journal articles and papers presented at conferences, although significant books, technical reports, and dissertations are also included in the database's 7.3 million records. Sources include more than 4,200 journals and more than 2,000 conference proceedings, books, and reports corresponding to the following publications: Physics Abstracts, Electrical & Electronics Abstracts, and Computer & Control Abstracts, as well as to the online INSPEC database.

Try it at Ovid

Learn more about INSPEC from Ovid

Thursday, March 01, 2007

Medical Library Technology Trends

Check out the Medical Library Trends blog and read what I and other librarians think will be the top technology trends that medical librarians will encounter. Read and see whether you agree or disagree then add your .02 cents. It is intended to be an open discussion.

(courtesy of Bart Ragon on Medlib-l)

ALA's technology arm LITA has been watching trends for years
and there are numerous trade magazines that annually produce technology watch

These lists, while useful, do not always speak to the needs or concerns
of medical librarianship. Recently I began to wonder, what do medical librarians
think are the top technologies confronting our profession and how might this
differ from other lists . My primary intent is expose emerging technologies and
to hopefully start a conversation within the medical library community about
these technologies, our future, and the impact on the profession.

I asked three technology minded professionals try a little experiment with
me. Wallace McLendon, Gabe Rios, and Michelle Kraft are medical librarians who
do great things with technology. I asked each to come up with a list
technologies that are impacting our profession. I asked for around ten items,
there were no constraints, and each person worked independently.
You can
comment, disagree, or post your technology list on the site!


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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: