Friday, September 28, 2007

Brick Walls

I happened to be going through my news feeds and I saw a funny little post on Clinical Cases and Images about a 1949 TV commercial More Doctors Smoke Camels Than Any Other Cigarette (YouTube video). I went directly to the blog to read more about the video but the post was just a video clip and two sentences. While on the site I happened to notice a post far more interesting and inspiring that hadn't made it to my feed reader yet, "Professor with pancreatic cancer gives his last lesson on life."

Randy Pausch is a 46 year old father of three and a computer science professor at Carnegie Mellon University, has incurable pancreatic cancer and only has months to live. Carnegie Mellon's "Last Lecture Series" invites top professors to think of something that matters deeply to them and to a give talk as if it is their final lecture. Unlike other healthy professors, Dr. Pausch's lecture will be his last lecture.
In his lecture, "How to achieve your childhood dreams," he shares what his childhood dreams were.

  • Being in zero gravity
  • Playing in the NFL
  • Authoring an article in the World Book encyclopedia
  • Being Captain Kirk
  • Winning stuffed animals
  • Being a Disney Imagineer

He achieved most of them and he spoke on how he did it and about living life. So while this post isn't exactly on medical librarianship it is a reminder that in work as in life there will be obstacles. Your library's budget was cut. Your IT department merged all your IP ranges. You didn't get that "perfect" job that you applied for. You bought a house in this real estate market and now you can't sell your old one. There are brick walls in front of the goals in our lives. But you can overcome them. "Brick walls are there for a reason. They let us prove how badly we want things." -Randy Pausch Ph.D.

Just something to think about on a Friday afternoon.

If you are interested in seeing Randy Pausch's truly inspiring and humorous lecture go here on Google Video.
Video snippets can be seen from Good Morning, America, Wall Street Journal online video coverage and followup video.
Articles are available from The Wall Street Journal article their follow-up article and the Pittsburgh Post Gazette.
A transcript of the lecture will be available shortly and posted on Randy Pausch's home page, at his request Carnegie Mellon will not copyright the lecture and will be available through public domain.

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Publishing: Where do Blogs and Wikis Fit In?

Two recent blog postings discussing blogs and wikis have had me thinking for a while. Eric Schnell's "Scholarly Communication Metrics Must Change," discusses how scholarly communication has changed since the Internet. Prior to the web, scholarly communication was primarily done through publishing. Articles were written edited and published, then readers would write comments, letters to the editor, or another article citing the original. Not only was this the most common way for the dissemination of scholarly research and information but it was also considered in determining tenure.
Melissa DeSantis post "Web 2.0 Technologies and AHIP," discusses how MLA members can receive AHIP points (up to 20/year) for editing a Section, Chapter, Regional or State newsletter. Many of these newsletters are often created and distributed online to members, and the move to put them on blogs or wikis may be a natural progression. However, blog and wiki editors do not receive AHIP points.
The content of the message is often the same but the medium is just different. The technology lets people share information at faster rate. Should all blogs and wikis be considered for tenure or AHIP points. Of course not. But those that meet professional standards or replace a previously accepted method of communication (such as regional newsletter morphing into a blog) should be considered for appropriate recognition whether it is tenure, AHIP points, etc. As our methods of scholarly discussion, communication and research evolve, so should the institutions' and the profession's perceptions.

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Activating Athens Access for Journals

I have a lot of praise for Athens. I think the services they offer allow hospital libraries to finally make online resources available for their patrons to use outside of the library. Hospital libraries often cannot offer proxy access to their online resources because their hospital IT departments do not allow it. Now hospital librarians have the opportunity to provide the same type of remote access to their users as academic medical libraries have been doing for years. Hooray!
The only problem I have are the online journals. Blah.

First, I think there should be an easy standardized method for telling journal publishers that we use Athens and inform them of our ID. Why can't I just tell my subscription agent when she activates our online journal titles to include our Athens ID? Why should I go to every single journal publisher and contact them about our Athens ID!? I have 150+ online journals, that takes a lot of time for a solo librarian or 2 person hospital library.

Second, why isn't everybody allowing Athens authentication? This is my biggest frustration. There are some publishers who do not allow Athens authentication. However, they have no problem allowing academic medical libraries to provide proxy access to their journals.
For example: I contacted the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition about Athens access and I was told, "Unfortunately The AJCN does not participate directly with Athens Authentication, so I am unable to activate this service for your online subscription." But they allow proxy server access, "if only your institution has access to a proxy server." Hello...that is the whole reason I have Athens, I can't have a proxy server.
You would think the Annals of Internal Medicine or Mary Ann Liebert would allow Athens authentication. Nope. Yet JAMA, NEJM, BMJ, Elsevier, Ovid (LWW), Ingenta, and Oxford, have all been very helpful and have allowed us to use Athens for offsite authentication.

I realize Athens is rather new to the United States so I guess I will have to live with the idea of slowly activating access one by one to electronic resources until somebody comes up with a better system. However, I fail to see any good excuse as to why a publisher will not allow Athens access yet they will allow academic medical libraries to use proxy servers for off campus access.

Students Searching Medline

I recently finished the first of three classes on searching Medline for medical students. I confess I set them up to fail in the first part of the class. Previously when I taught Medline, I found that if I jumped right in and told them everything about Medline and walked them through searching step by step, they fell asleep. They are medical students they have mastered the art of sleeping with their eyes open.
So, right away I give them a simple topic to search using Medline and tell them to start searching. Wow it is interesting to see the methods they come up with. After they muddle through and "finish" the search they begin to compare results with each other and wonder why some got 88,567 results while others got 2. That is when I step in and begin to teach. I explain to them that searching Medline is NOT searching Google. Google is great for a lot of things but you can't use the same search strategies on Medline. So far so good, at least they seemed to be awake.
We will see how it all works after the last class.

Friday, September 21, 2007

Social Networking Survey Results

The results from the MLA Social Networking Survey are available. You can view the summary data as well as the charts and graphs. Don't forget to check out the Task Force Blog for further analysis and discussion of the results.
I happy to say that the hospital librarians put in a good showing, 30% of the respondents were hospital librarians. One other interesting tid bit is that a diverse group of library sizes responded. Both solos and libraries with 2-5 staff represented 19% of the responses each and libraries with 20-40 staff represented 20% of the responses.

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Call for Papers & Posters MLA 2008

(forwarded from Medlib-l)
The 2008 National Programming Committee of the Medical Library Association invites current students and professionals who completed the MLIS in the past five years to submit an abstract to the "Building Connections to the Future". We are looking for submissions that highlight your vision of how libraries can change to serve our patrons better. We are interested in your insights on innovations in the delivery of web-based library services (such as web 2.0 technologies like wikis and social networking software), as well as plans for the redesign of library services and spaces. The 2008 NPC is interested in your vision of the priorities and major issues facing medical libraries in the future.

Complete descriptions of the program themes can be found at the bottom of this message. Information about submitting an abstract can be found at

Call for MLA '09 CE Course and Symposia Ideas

(forwarded from Medlib-l)
MLA is now accepting ideas for exciting & innovative courses and symposia to offer at MLA '09 in Hawaii.

Courses and symposia would be held on May 15, May
16 and May 20, 2009.
Suggestions must be submitted by Friday, December 14, 2007, for consideration by the MLA Continuing Education Committee (CEC) at its Midwinter meeting, in January 2008.

MLA's CEC would like to present a variety of courses, covering the seven Professional Competencies for Health Sciences Librarians described in MLA's Educational Policy Statement.
MLA CE courses are four, six, or eight hours in length. Active participant involvement must be built into the course to qualify. For ideas, look at MLA's Education Clearinghouse or offerings at other meetings.

What new topics or courses have caught your eye? Who is teaching a class or has expertise you would like to tap into? What classes from past meetings would you like to see offered again? The MLA CEC wants to hear from you! Are you currently a course instructor or would you like to create a new course? You may nominate yourself.

For more information check out the MLA annual meeting course selection process or contact Kathleen Combs, continuing education coordinator at mlapd1(at)mlahq(dot)org.

Sections, chapters, or other MLA groups may choose to cosponsor (with MLA) a symposium at the annual meeting. MLA defines a symposium as a "learning opportunity organized for the purpose of providing a forum for discussion of a well-defined topic." Typically, it consists of a series of presentations by experts, followed by an exchange of opinions among participants. Active involvement of the attendees must be built into the symposium schedule to qualify as an educational opportunity.

If your idea is chosen by the CEC, you will be asked to submit a proposal, using the official MLA Symposium Guidelines for final consideration at its May 2008 meeting.

Send in Your Ideas
Ideas for courses or symposia must be submitted by Friday, December 14, 2007, to ensure consideration.

Use the simple forms at:

Course Idea Submission Form for MLA '09
Symposia Ideas Submission Form for MLA '09
Send your submission form to:

Dan Kipnis, MSI
CEC Liaison, 2009 National Program Committee Thomas Jefferson University Scott Memorial Library
1020 Walnut St Suite 410
Philadelphia PA, 19107
Fax: 215.923.3203

Monday, September 17, 2007

Money, Money, Money

I won't try and sing the O'Jays song, because dogs and cats might howl in pain, not to mention any humans within earshot. But that song has been going through my head while I have been working on the library budget for 2008.
This is the time where administration starts to "realize" how much their library is costing. Of course they think of it as cost and it freaks them out. The journal budget is just one area that seems to consistently confound them. It seems that everybody from the CEO to the unit secretary believes journals are free online, or at least cheaper than the print. If I had a nickel for every time I explained the "wonderful" pricing intricacies of journals, I would be retired by now at 34. After all why would any normal person think that The Lancet which costs $850 in print would cost over $2000 for the online version. Of course the library would still have to pay both for the print ($850) plus the online ($2000) because they are usually penalized and end up paying more if they try and get an online only subscription.
This is not normal thinking and pricing for regular people. We have become accustomed to getting things for cheaper online. Airline tickets are cheaper if bought online. allows us to buy books and other goods for a better price than many brick and mortar stores. Ebay and craigslist allow us to buy used or discounted new things for less money. Medical journals may be a far cry from ebay auctions, but online discount buying has helped shape our mentality. No wonder many people including hospital administrators believe journals should be cheaper online than in print. After all, they can get most major newspapers for free online, why should medical journals be much different? They just are and their prices increase 10% each year.
That is where education and communication come into play. As I mentioned if I had a nickel for the amount of times I explained why online journals cost extra or a lot more, I would be retired. Well that is because I tell everybody who will listen about online journals and their quirky pricing issues. I don't want anybody to think that my journal budget is excessive because everything is on the Internet now...for free.
Journals are just one example. Everything costs money and it is part of our responsibility as hospital librarians to try and get our administration to no longer think of the library as expense, but an asset. This is tricky because we don't bring in money in ways that are easy to see. Not only do we need to educate our users and administrators on our expenses but we have to show them that we are a value added asset through the services we provide. Speak the same language as the administration and show them the return on investment. Sadly, I am not very good at this. I am business 101 challenged. My brother who has his MBA from Kellogg and works at a competitive venture capital firm just shakes his head and rolls his eyes at my ignorance. I try, but I could do better.
I feel my library is well funded for a community hospital, but I would always like more money for resources, staffing, etc. Who wouldn't? So, as I prepare my 2008 budget and I try explain and justify my future expenses, I wonder if I spoke the same language of money as administration whether I would do better.

Friday, September 14, 2007

Share Your Knowledge

Mark Funk commented on my recent post pleading for hospital IT departments to rethink some of their blocking policies. Blocking policies tend to affect hospital librarians more than academic medical librarians. Honestly I don't understand it. Don't academic medical centers deal with the same type of patient information and other security issues that hospitals do? I would argue that an academic institution may have to deal with more security issues than a hospital because they tend to have more people on their network and have more possible entry points for hackers. Is it more of bandwidth problem then a security problem? If so then why am I sporadically blocked from AltaVista's Bablefish and other libraries are blocked from Blogger? Do they fear viruses? I was told by somebody the reason our hospital used to block Yahoo Mail, Gmail, etc. was because of viruses.

Not every hospital library is the same. Some hospital librarians experience little or no Internet blocking problems. Perhaps we can learn from them. Mark's idea is to share information from the IT side of things. Try and understand what their rationale is for allowing certain technologies even though other hospital IT departments prohibit them. He states, "If you are a hospital librarian with little or no Internet blockage problems, talk with your IT people. See if they might be willing to write a few paragraphs explaining their choices, and how the hospital is still standing nonetheless." That information can be posted and shared and others can learn from it.

What I would think would be really nice is to eventually have an open dialog between librarian(s) and hospital IT personnel. Where representatives from both areas would be able to work together sharing concerns while trying to address the rapid changing environment of information and balancing the needs of the hospital. Ok that may be a little lofty. Some librarians consider themselves lucky they were notified in advance (2 days) that their institution's IP addresses will change (and be shared among other institutions). But it's Friday and I am allowed to day dream just a little...even if it is of an IT/librarian utopia.

Thursday, September 13, 2007

YouTube for Scientists

SciVee, is being billed as YouTube for scientists. It produced by the National Science Foundation, the Public Library of Science, and the San Diego Supercomputing Center and they hope it will "move science beyond the printed word and lecture theater taking advantage of the internet as a communication medium where scientists young and old have a place and a voice."

"SciVee allows scientists to communicate their work as a multimedia presentation incorporated with the content of their published article. Other scientists can freely view uploaded presentations and engage in virtual discussions with the author and other viewers. SciVee also facilitates the creation of communities around specific articles and keywords."

So what can you find on SciVee? Well I clicked on a few words in the tag cloud and here are some of the videos I found:
Interesting project.

Get Well David

Things have been a little topsy turvey around my life. Just when I got really frustrated about my house languishing on the market, my dishwasher, microwave, and my car's a/c decided to die within the span of a week. After I finished my GIANT bowl of Snickers icecream (thank you Bryers) I went onto the Internet and discovered that David Rothman was in the hospital with a collapsed lung. Youch! It put things in perspective.
Get better David.

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Stop Blocking YouTube....Please

Today I was trying to help a physician find a video of a beating heart. Downloading videos is hit or miss around here. Sometimes it is allowed and sometimes (usually when you really need it) it is blocked. One day you might not be able to download a video from Google Video, the next day you can download it. Who knows why the blocking is sporadic, I have given up trying to find a pattern.

I guess I should count myself lucky, because today we could download videos. Unfortunately, we couldn't download anything from YouTube. Even on days the best of days, YouTube is stritctly verboten. The doctor did not want a surgical video, he wanted something very simple. There was a lot of nice quality videos on Google Video, but the ones we found did not fit his needs. It turns out there also appeared to be some nice videos on YouTube, but I couldn't tell you about them and whether they fit his needs because they were blocked.

So this is my plea to hospital IT departments....

Please stop blocking YouTube you are only hurting your doctors, nurses, and other employees from finding and using quality medical or consumer health videos. Trust us when we say that we really don't want to see how horribly Brittney Spears performed at the VMAs.

Elsevier’s Free Journals to Doctors

The New York Times article, A Medical Publisher's Unusual Prescriptions: Online Ads, talks about the web portal, The portal gives doctors free access to the latest articles from 100 Elsevier's medical journals. It supplements this "service" by selling advertisements against the content. Doctors must give their personal information to access the journals. The article states that Elsevier hopes to have 150,000 professionals sign up within a year. They want to attract advertising and sponsorship from pharmaceutical companies, and they want to "cash in" and sell the information from doctors who signed up for the "free" journals to more advertisers.

Blah where do I begin…
I guess besides all of the ethical questions about advertising from drug companies subsidizing access to medical research literature, one of my other questions is would a doctor be willing to sign up for a service only to have their personal information resold to advertisers who will also turn around re-sell to hundreds of other companies? I have already blogged about how people are fed up with their information being available online for spammers and everybody else, giving your information to somebody who says they are going to sell it is a sure fire way to get more spam and increase your online footprint.

The other thing that bothers me is this quote in the news article, "Looking at OncologySTAT for the first time, Dr. Yi said he liked the features it offers, like chemotherapy regimens, conference reports, drug interactions and the ability to search by cancer type. 'Having it all under one roof makes it easier,' he said." The first thing that pops into my mind is… It already is under one roof! Hello, use MEDLINE! If you have privileges at a hospital then that hospital library supports you and can get you the full text of the article FOR FREE and WITHOUT annoying advertisements. Pick up a phone give your librarian a call and find out how it is done. You may be surprised to learn how easy it is.

One thing is for sure it will be interesting to see how this pans out.

Thursday, September 06, 2007

Facebook Wants to go Public

Bart posted on the Social Networking Task Force blog about Facebook's intentions to allow search engines like Google and Yahoo to search user content. The article says that Facebook is a potential goldmine to advertisers who would love to get their fingers on the users' data (birth date, interests, events they plan to attend, phone numbers, etc.).

So what does this mean? It means that Big Brother is always watching. Just like the librarians who were unaware their MEDLIB-L posts (and possibly their email addresses) were available online to anyone, people must realize we are more "visible" in this world. It all boils down to convenience and social responsibility. With modern networking and computer conveniences there is the potential for a certain loss of anonymity, and with that comes greater responsibilities to secure and present you and your information. Everybody has a bad day, but if your bad day is immortalized online, everybody else knows about your bad day and how poorly or well you dealt with it.

Like Bart said in his post, "As a general rule we need to all keep in mind that if you don't want it out there, don't write it down. This includes, email, blogs, wikis, etc."

Mashups What Happened?

I recently read where the Journal of Biomedical Informatics recently had a call for papers for their special issue on Semantic Biomedical Mashups. I look forward to reading it when it comes out. However, this has me thinking. Where are all the library mashups? Talis had the Mashing up the Library competition last year, but I haven't seen any information on it for this year. The Talis Mashing of the Library competition boards are silent. The last post was made by David Rothman over 27 weeks ago. The Second OCLC Research Software Contest ran from July 1, 2006 through September 2006, however I haven't heard anything about it this year.

Where have all the mashups gone? Of all the Web 2.0 things out there, I honestly thought mashups would be BIG. A mashup combines two or more other applications creating another application that can help you better perform different activities. Some examples are: "A Customizable 'Mash-Up' for Model and Disease Organisms" (presented at MLA 2007), (online real estate valuation guide), Umlaut (OpenURL mashup), Slidecasts (mashup of PowerPoint slides and audio).

So what happened? Are the mashers too busy working on their latest creation to be discussing it online? Are mashups still too technical for the average person to create to be popular in the library world? Are librarians victims of their closed systems, thus limiting the amount of mashups created and used?

Wednesday, September 05, 2007

Walking Books

If I was around when they built my library I would have done a few things differently. One major thing is I would have limited the number of exits/entrances. I have three exits/entrances in my small library. I don't have a security system. First, it would be too expensive to cover three different locations. Second, there just isn't enough room.

The books seem to disappear just as I finish cataloging them, leaving only a cartoon puff of smoke where they briefly sat on the shelf. It causes me great frustration. What is the point of having a collection if it isn't available? I have beefed up my online textbook collection, but that doesn't keep things from going AWOL. People still would rather read the book than the computer screen.

Sometimes I think my books are as well traveled as the Travelocity Roaming Gnome, however they don't send me pictures of where they have been. I just see their battered condition after they have mysteriously been found on a study table.

I can't put all of the books on lock down in my small office, nor can I chain them to shelves. How can I provide the most recent print resources and keep them from disappearing? Or am just doomed to daydream about my own "special" anti theft devices for book thieves?

Monday, September 03, 2007

Ovid's September Resources

INSPEC Archive
The Inspec Archive is the entire collection of Science Abstracts Journals digitized (back to volume one) dating from 1898 to 1968. The subject coverage is: All aspects of physics (originally published as Physics Abstracts), Electrical and electronic engineering (introduced as a separate journal in 1903, and originally published as Electrical and Electronic Abstracts), Computing and control engineering (introduced as a separate journal in 1966, and published initially as Control Abstracts, later renamed to Computer and Control Abstracts).

Try it now at Ovid
Learn more about INSPEC Archive from Ovid

Global Health Archive on SilverPlatter
Global Health Archive contains over 800,000 records covering 1910 - 1973. Global Health Archive covers subjects including public health, tropical and communicable diseases, nutrition, helminthology, entomology, and mycology. This database puts current international and public health problems into a historical context.
Try it now from Ovid
Learn more about Global Health Archive from Ovid

New Look for MLANet

MLANet has got a new look. There is an RSS feed that keeps people up to date on the MLA news and provides a link to MLA blog feeds for members.
I looks very nice, check it out.

RSS Button Subscribe to this feed.
Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 2.5 License.
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: