Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Disaster Planning for Health Sciences Libraries

Dan Wilson, Susan Yowell, and Steve Murphy have created the Disaster Planning for Health Sciences Libraries blog. The primary mission of the blog is to promote disaster planning in health sciences libraries and to serve as a disaster planning resource for the University of Virginia, the community, and the nation.
The blog not only has a listing of current incidents and alerts, but it also lists some interesting resources like model disaster plans.

It is a great resource if you are interested in disaster planning.

Thursday, October 25, 2007

Ovid's New Interface...Not Sure I Like It

*Please note this is an older post*
After talking with Ovid and looking at the product, I have changed my opinion. Please look at this more recent post about OvidSP.

I have been playing around with Ovid's new interface, OvidSP. I know my users will like, but I can't say that I will. My dislike has nothing to do with the general look and feel of the database, that is fine. I do not like how it searches. As a librarian, I want to know why and how things are searched for and retrieved. So it bothers me greatly, when I see odd and completely different results for searches.

To illustrate my point, here is a sample search on asthma and ragweed in children.

Here is what you get in old Ovid.

For search statement #1 I typed in asthma and ragweed and children, similar to how many of my users incorrectly search Ovid. I got 32 articles.

Search statement 2-7 are how I normally would conduct an Ovid search. Ragweed maps to Ambrosia which became a MeSH term in 2003. I did not explode Asthma as I was not interested in Exercised Induced nor Status Asthmaticus. I limited the search to English and All Child. I got a nice set of 59 articles in Medline 1950-Present.

This is the search I did in OvidSP.

First of all you don't see your search statements right away. You are defaulted to Basic Search. I don't have a problem with that because it is very easy to click on the link to see your search statements.

Search statements 1-3 are all examples of how library users usually search for literature. As you can see "And" and "In" make no difference in the results. Since people now search Google like this, it makes sense to replicate it.

Search statement #4 is identical to #1 EXCEPT the Include Related Terms box was checked. As you get different results. But, according Ovid the Include Related Terms box is supposed in BROADEN your search not NARROW it like it did here.

This was confusing problem number one for me. I thought perhaps something was wrong with the related terms and it was maybe "anding" Ragweed and Ambrosia together instead of "oring" it like I thought it would/should.

Search numbers 5-9 are how I would think a librarian would normally conduct an a search while checking the Include Related Terms box. As you can see in searches 8 and 9 when I started to combine Ambrosia, Ragweed, and Asthma together, I only got TWO ARTICLES. I hadn't even had a chance to limit it to children yet! These results are different from the 59 in old Ovid and a totally far cry from the 887 or 702 in OvidSP. I used OvidSP's check boxes and hit "Or" and "And" accordingly

This was confusing problem number two for me. I thought perhaps something was wrong with OvidSP's combining. So in search #10 I literally typed out 5 and (6 or 7). Ok that got me an odd results (more than my largest search term asthma) so I thought perhaps having the Include Related Terms box checked meant that it was also searching the numbers as numbers instead of just as search statements.

Search number 11 is my attempt the search 5 and (6 or 7) typed out without the Include Related Terms boxe checked. Still odd results. This became confusing problem number three for me.

I thought perhaps I needed to add the # sign in front of the numbers, similar to PubMed. Nope. That produced a nice red error message (not pictured) which told me the wildcard character is not supported. Hmmm. This is confusing problem number 4.

Finally for search number 12 I decided to just type in Asthma and (Ragweed or Ambrosia) which I limited English and Children. I got 103 results. Which is totally different from the number of results I got in old Ovid. Which brings me to confusing problem number five. Why are their completely different numbers for every single search result between old Ovid and OvidSP? Does this bother anybody or is it just me?

I would like to know why we have different results between old Ovid and OvidSP results. I want to know why the combine feature seems completely broken. I want to know what we are getting or what it is looking for when we click Include Related Terms, because it DOES NOT ALWAYS broaden a search as the imply.

I would love to learn more about OvidSP and how we can get RSS feeds and TOC for online journals (all journals, not just Ovid online journals) but until I have answers as to why I get drastically different search results I can't really recommend using OvidSP. I will cling to old Ovid until February then be forced to used PubMed. I don't know. But I would sure like some explanations.
Anybody have any ideas or thoughts as to why this works like this? I would love to hear them because frankly I am stumped.

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Blogging the Difference Between Academic Medical Librarians and Hospital Librarians

Melissa Rethlefsen has a very interesting and in depth post analyzing the Social Networking Software survey. The Social Networking Survey looked at many types of social networking software and medical librarians opinions and usage. In her post Melissa just focuses on blogs.

After analyzing the data on blogs she found:
  • Hospital Librarians are significantly more likely to never use blogs in their professional lives
  • Academic Librarians are significantly more likely to use blogs daily in their professional lives
  • Hospital Librarians are more likely to think blogs are of little importance to the MLA.
  • Academic Librarians are more likely to think blogs are very important to the MLA.
  • Respondents with less than 3 years of library experience were twice as likely to use blogs daily in their personal and profession lives

So what does all of this mean? As David Rothman writes, What do hospital librarians have against blogs?

I have some ideas.

Hospital librarians are usually in small one or two person libraries. A big hospital library has more than three employees. Why does this matter? Hospital librarians feel they are always pressed for time. Since there is only one or two of them around to run the library, then they must make the most of their time. Ironic. Since I think reading blogs through a feed reader is a quick and efficient way to stay up to date on library trends, news, and information. Apparently not everyone feels that way. However, I have a question. How often are these same people on email reading their listserv email? That is one valid method for keeping up to date, but that too takes time and it probably takes more than you think. Try going one whole day without checking email and see how much you can accomplish. I am not advocating that busy librarians junk their email lists in favor of RSS feeds. On the contrary, I am just stating that keeping up to date in the profession takes a little bit of time out of your day, I think librarians perceive blog taking more time blogs they are a new thing. Email has been around for a l-o-n-g time and I am sure there were librarians out there who said they didn't have time for it when it first came on to the scene.

Academic medical and hospital librarians also seem to have completely different relationships with their IT departments. I confess, I drool like a little kid looking into a candy store every time I go to conferences or read about academic medical librarians doing really cool things with technology. Academic medical librarians tend to have more flexibility when dealing with IT issues. Because they are a part of a university environment they have a more open system. They are surrounded by young people continually discovering and adapting new technologies. They also are more likely to partner with a programming geek in IT or computer services who can help create cool programs, add ons, and things for the library. Hospital librarians, not so much. Most hospital librarian reports regarding their IT department are often adversarial. Some hospital librarians were unable to even have an OPAC until ASP hosted models eliminated the need for a library or institutionally maintained server. Many hospital librarians cannot use web based email systems, view online medical videos, use or view wikis, listen to or download podcasts, store files on the web server, create flash or Captiva type instructional programs, offer proxy services for off campus access to resources, or even create their own Intranet or Internet library web pages. So it isn't surprising that hospital librarians are probably less likely to use new web tools. Additionally, these restrictions can have a negative impact on a hospital librarian's willingness to learn new technologies. Think about how you would feel if at every opportunity to try and do something new you are told no and barriers were erected to prevent any attempts.

These are just some of my thoughts as to why hospital librarians are less interested in blogs than their academic counterparts.

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Check Your Domain Name Expiration Date

Since I last talked about web page design, I thought it was timely to forward Blake Carver's post from LISNews reminding people to check their domain name expiration date.

Unfortunately the people over at Ocean County Library were unaware their domain name expired and a squatter jumped all over it causing a big mess for patrons and for the librarians. It can be tricky trying to find out who snapped up the name because many squatters do not always purchase sites using their legitimate name and identification. The library is trying, through its attorney and a domain name broker service, to purchase the domain name back again.

Don't rely on renewal notices or bills. Christine Matteo of Ocean County Library says she never received any. Blake, who also runs LISHost, mentioned he has seen this sort of thing happen "at least six times to LISHosted sites." I have been a part of two non-profit groups who recently lost their domain name within the last year.

Snatching up expired domain names isn't hard, or else there wouldn't be people doing it. For example Network Solutions has a service allowing people to buy already registered domain names through their "Premium Resale Domain" service and place backorders on a name, making that person first in line to get the name should it ever become available. They aren't the only ones doing this either, many other companies like GoDaddy.com offers domain name appraisals in addition to buying lists of soon to expire names.

I have a couple of guesses as to why people forget to re-register their domain names. Many people by their name for a long period of time, 1-5 years. A couple years down the line they forget when they bought their name and figure that a renewal notice will most like show up when it is due. Some places issue renewal notices, many do not. To complicate matters, nonprofits often have high volunteer turnover rate. The volunteer who bought the domain name and set up the website probably is long gone. The turnover problem can also happen among small businesses and institutions. It is probably a good idea to check your domain name and mark it on your calendar. So what if it expires April 12, 2011. Just mark it every year on your calendar on that date, and again in January so you remember to put it on the next year's calendar. A more techie way to do it is use something like Google Calendar and set it as automatic event reminder.

Monday, October 22, 2007

Web Page Design

Now that almost everybody can make a web page we need to remind people of some basic principles of good web page design, including good Intranet web page design.
I think the best way we can make a good web page is to look at the bad web pages. The easiest way to do that is go to Web Pages That Suck. The authors of the site have compiled list of what they feel are the worst web sites and why.

A couple of things I think libraries, universities, and hospitals are continuously guilty of are:
  • Having a splash page
  • Using the site more for marketing than for information for your users
  • Too many links (especially in one area)
  • Too much text on a page
  • Confusing navigation (just because you understand your navigation doesn't mean everybody else does)
  • You have to click more than 4 times to get the information you want
  • Content has industry related jargon (ILL, database, OPAC, etc.)
  • You don't know what content is popular
  • You don't conduct user testing, or you test it on people who are not your real users

Some places are more guilty of these things than others. For example universities and hospitals are more likely to use their web page for marketing than perhaps a library would. However, a library may accidentally use jargon such as ILL and OPAC which are words largely unknown to the average person.

Links, links, links.... Large organizations (especially their Intranets) and libraries easily fall victim to the over abundance of navigational links and the clicks mistake. It is a problem that creeps up. Libraries and institutions want to provide access points to everything under the sun and soon the navigation becomes a tangled web of multiple clicks.

For example: My hospital's intranet site now has a lovely and annoying splash page that is now the default on every hospital computer. Change the home page default on your computer? Sure but it changes right back in a few minutes. Not only is the splash page annoying but it adds to the number of clicks needed to find information on the hospital intranet site. It takes four clicks to get to the library page, assuming users understand they need to first click on Departments to find us.

It is always a good idea to re-evaluate your web site every year. Get some guinea pigs to test it, pay them in food. Fix small problems, and if you have some glaring problems accept that you probably will have to do a whole site re-design. While they are a pain, site re-designs are a necessary evil as technology, standards, and policies change. Content management systems are helpful but some of them are little better than the Microsoft Word for the web design and actually enable you to commit the sins of bad web site design.

If you are hospital librarian like me with no hope of changing the system and are forced to use a poor content management system, just try and do your best to make your page the best possible.

Thursday, October 18, 2007

Librarians Can Help Decrease Hospital Length of Stay

I have sat in on my fair share of the state of the hospital addresses given by the CEO and there always seems to be one recurrent topic, decreasing the length of stay. Our CEO always shows us the average length of stay for the hospital system, the nation, and us. They explain that as reimbursement rates will change, we will need to bring our length of stay down closer to the national average to make money. We are a non-profit institution, but even the non-profits don't want to lose money.

When I went to those meetings I would often wonder what the librarian could do about the hospital length of stay. Well the October edition of the Journal of the Medical Library Association just crossed my desk yesterday and I noticed the article, "Decreased Hospital Length of Stay Associated With Presentation of Cases at Morning Resport with Librarian Support." (J Med Libr Assoc 95(4) October 2007 381-7. Available free soon at PubMed Central)

The authors decided to study whether a librarian and a computerized literature search at case discussion in residents' morning report affected hosptial charges, length of stay, and thirty day readmission rate. They found that the length of stay for cases in the librarian attended morning report group was 3 days while it was 5 days for the control group. The median hospital charges for the morning report group were $7045 while the control group's median charges were $10,663. However the number of readmissions within 30 days was not significantly different between the two groups.

It is an interesting study and it is worth reading to determine if it might work in your hospital. It is also another way for hospital librarians to demonstrate their value to the organization that is meaningful to the suits, through saving money.

Monday, October 15, 2007

Publishing Opportunities

If you are interested in publishing, you might try wiiting for the MLA News Technology section in 2008. It is the perfect opportunity to share your knowledge and expertise with other medical librarians.

MLA News Technology section is looking for two specific types of articles:

1. Write an article for our TECHNOLOGY column.
It can be a topic review, a case study, or a report on the state of a technology. Recent topics: distance education applications, data mining, Web-based reference management tools, and library podcasts.
Some of the topics we're interested in for 2008 include:
  • GIS for health information
  • Responsible disposal or reuse of equipment
  • The InfoButton
  • Anatomy of a query URL: If I run it again tomorrow, will it still work?
  • Productivity software: alternatives to Office

Your own topic suggestions are, of course, welcome as well. Maximum
length: 700 words.

2. Develop an annotated webliography on a single topic for the Internet Resources column.
The topic can be clinical or something of interest to information professionals. Subjects for 2007 have included melanoma, personal health records, nursing theory, and answering clinical questions. Columns contain 6-10 URLs, with 1-3 sentence annotations each.
Maximum length: 500 words.

New Job

I have accepted a new job with another institution in the Cleveland area. I will miss the folks and the library at South Pointe Hospital. When I first started, our books were listed in a card catalog, we had two online journals, and we didn't have much of an online presence. In three short years we have moved all of our books to an online catalog (CyberTools), added a lot of electronic journals (both paid and Open Access), improved access to the online journals (Ebsco A-Z and LinkSource), boosted our online textbook collections (MDConsult, StatRef, AccessMedicine), and made everything available online from home (Athens). While I hate to leave the place just when I feel like we are really coming together, the new opportunity was just too good of a position and I had to go for it.

My old job is available. If you or anybody you know is interestest in a hospital librarian position in the Cleveland area, go to http://www.cchseast.org/Careers/default.htm and apply online. The only way you can apply is online through their website.

Thursday, October 11, 2007


I am in Baltimore speaking at the MAC MLA Annual meeting, so regular postings will resume when I return Monday to Cleveland.

Tuesday, October 09, 2007

Mark Funk Visits Conference Call 2007

Conference Call 2007 is the blog for MLA's Midwest and Midcontinental Chapters joint meeting in Omaha, NE. The meeting is from October 12-16. Librarians in the Midwest and Midcontinental chapters should definitely bookmark it or subscribe to its feed to find out what is going on at the meeting.

Conference Call has an interesting interview with MLA President, Mark Funk, where he discusses his what he feels are significant issues facing medical librarians, social networking librarians, and the various meetings he has attended.

It looks to be an interesting conference, unfortunately I will not be able to attend so I will checking Conference Call 2007 blog frequently to stay informed.

Monday, October 08, 2007

YouTube is More Than Just Funny Videos and Watercooler Fodder

The University of California at Berkeley now provides a number of full course lectures and other special events on YouTube. The school has its own YouTube channel with over 300 hours of video. Some of these videos his include lectures on bioengineering, physics, chemistry, peace and conflict studies, as well as other topics.

The university has been offering webcasts of its courses and events online since 2001 and added podcasts in 2006. It also offers a number of audio lectures through iTunes U. According to Berkeley, it is the first university to make full courses available through the YouTube.

Offering audio downloads or webcasts of lectures is not new to academia. Many colleges partner through iTunesU or host their own sites for students to access lectures. Some universities offer the lectures free to everyone not just their students.

Unfortunately many hospitals still block YouTube despite the ever growing amount of helpful, educational, and medical related content. If they are blocking it because of bandwidth that is one thing. However, there are IT departments that block YouTube while allowing other media downloads from other less popular/infamous sites. One has to question whether it is bandwidth issue or content issue.

Friday, October 05, 2007


Last year I mention that the Network for Continuing Medical Education (NCME) programs would only be available online via streaming video. The VHS and DVDs were no longer going to be produced. Yesterday I received an email regarding NCMEtv and I thought I would check out a little bit.

New NCMEtv programs are posted online each month, physicians receive email announcements about the program and then view it online and complete a self assessment quiz. NCMEtv is only available through an institutional subscription. Their is a special Charter Subscriber rate for a 1-year subscription for $795. NCMEtv says this Charter Subscriber rate is a savings of $700 off the regular subscription rate. There is no additional charge for CME certificates, and no limit on how many physicians may participate within your hospital system. Healthcare Systems with multiple hospital affiliates, the subscription fee is $795 plus $250 for each additional hospital.

I was a little confused about access. According to NCMEtv, physicians use a personal password to access the online program and receive CME credit for viewing it. Since it is an institutional subscription I was wondering if it required IP validation as well. I called NCMEtv and I was told that an institutional subscription does use IP validation. Physicians can view the videos anywhere they wish using your insitutional code.

While I am slightly disappointed they will no longer be offering DVDs, at least institutional subscribers are not restricted to viewing it only on campus.

If you are intersted in NCMEtv they are offering a free trial.

MLA Awards

Congratulations to Diana Bang and Natalie Pulley who have been chosen as the 2007-2008 MLA/NLM Spectrum scholars. For more information on the Spectrum initiative go to the ALA website.

Congratulations to the 2007-2008 class of the NLM/AAHSL Leadership Fellows Program. The program will be entering its sixth year and was developed to prepare emerging leaders for director positions in academic health sciences libraries.

Nominate a Colleague for Lois Ann Colaianni Award!
Do you know a hospital librarian who has made an impact on the profession? If so, nominate them them for the 2008 Lois Ann Colaianni Award for Excellence and Achievement in Hospital Librarianship. Nominations are due November 1, 2007. Nominees must be hospital librarians with at least 5 years' experience immediately preceding MLA '08. Nomination forms are on MLANET or you can contact the jury chair, Elisabeth Rowan, with any questions.

Tuesday, October 02, 2007

Patient Reading Service

Our hospital is beginning a big patient satisfaction initiative and each department has been asked to come up with ideas to help boost patient satisfaction and make their stay as comfortable and as pleasant as possible. One of the many ideas was to create a patient leisure reading service.
Our library used to have this service a few years ago but it died. At the time, it needed to die. We had outdated and damaged materials, (Reader's Digest books from 1950 and Sports Illustrated magazines from 1989) and the volunteers who used to circulate the book cart on the floors had left.
Now the powers that be have asked me to look into this service again. I sent out a email to the HLS-list asking librarians about this type of service in their hospitals. I asked what was successful, who maintained it, where was the collection housed and how did you aquire the collection?

Here are the results:
  • About the same number of people responded that it was/is successful as those who said it was unsuccessful and eliminated.
  • Most of those who responded said this type of service relies heavily on volunteers.
  • Most donated books and magazines came from hospital staff donations.
  • A few people mentioned getting books from public library donations (books sale leftovers and multiple copy discards).
  • Some people mentioned getting magazines from the post office and undeliverable and unforwarded mail.
  • This program relies very heavily on volunteers. In general programs with few volunteers are limping along while popular programs have a good pool of reliable volunteers.
  • A large part of the collection is often housed in either the library or volunteer office.
  • Some hospitals have the collection out on the floors on bookshelves or carts in waiting rooms while the unsorted donations are stored in the library or volunteer area.
  • Successful programs had volunteers regularly bring the cart around to patients during the week. Off hours (evenings and weekends) the books were still available on carts or shelves on the floor.
  • One librarian responded that their hospital circulates DVDs and VHS tapes.
Where do I go from here?

While I think it would be great idea to circulate DVD and VHS tapes, I don't think it is practical for the hospital at this time. Rooms at our hospital do not have DVD or VHS players. That is most unfortunate, because I think this service would be very popular.

I have already met informally with our volunteer services coordinator and she has informed me that they have no problem getting recent magazines and they have one volunteer chomping at the bit to get the program started. Now we have to have a more official meeting to discuss the number of volunteers, housing of the collection, circulating the collection, acquiring and weeding materials, and the sustainability of the program.

My homework before that meeting is to contact public libraries in my area to see about donated books. I will keep you up to date on my progress. But in the mean time if anybody has some ideas or suggestions feel free to comment so that we all can learn from what is said.

Yahoo Podcasts Ending October 31st

Yahoo will be closing down its podcast site October 31, 2007. Yahoo launched this service just two years ago as a podcasting search, directory, and listening service. This is just one of the many Yahoo products that have been eliminated recently.

Yahoo podcasts join the ranks of Yahoo Bill Pay, Yahoo Auctions, WebJay, and Yahoo Photos. Yahoo is expected to drop more services before things settle out. Many industry experts believe its music subscription service is next on the chopping block.

I wouldn't count Yahoo out. I think they are doing some major re-tooling. Yahoo Photos was killed off (rightfully so) because Yahoo acquired Flickr. Yahoo also has a new deal with DivX, an online video compression software company. The Yahoogle war is an interesting one to observe especially when you add Microsoft as a major player sticking its nose in.

Monday, October 01, 2007

National Networks Looking for an Editor

National Network, the official newsletter of the Hospital Libraries Section of the Medical Library Association is looking for a new editor.

(forwarded from HLS-list)
Wanted: Interested in publishing? Looking for a new challenge? If you are interested in putting your interests to work, contact Amy Frey (amyfrey[at]hfsc[dot]org) regarding the editorship of National Network. This is a great way to serve HLS as well as to earn AHIP points.

National Network is ready by 1,500 librarians world wide, selectively indexed by CINAHL, is published four times per year and past issues are available online.

Medicine 2.0

Clinical Cases and Images Blog has posted the 9th edition of Medicine 2.0 a blog carnival about Web 2.0 and medicine. Previous editions can be found in their archive.

Here are some topics librarians might find interesting:

Many of us are familiar with Web 2.0 or new technology applications in libraries, here are some of the same applications and ideas only directed towards medicine. It is interesting to see what others within the medical and hospital fields are doing and thinking.

Resources of the Month

Where has the summer gone!? It is October and along with the pumpkins and crisp autumn air is Ovid’s October resource of the month.

Disaster Medicine & Public Health Preparedness on Ovid
A joint publication with the American Medical Association (AMA), this journal translates science into practice, and integrates medical and public health perspectives to bridge all health care communities and constituents. The journal covers a wide range of relevant topics, including applied epidemiology, health care services and systems research, clinical management issues, population-based triage, educational curriculum development, and testing and evaluation.
Try it now at Ovid
Learn more about Disaster Medicine & Public Health Preparedness from Ovid

CAB Abstracts Archive on SilverPlatter
CAB Abstracts Archive combines 17 printed abstract journals produced between 1910 and 1972 (the equivalent of 600 volumes) into a single electronic database. CAB Abstracts Archive makes accessible and online important research in agricultural science, veterinary medicine, nutrition and natural resources that was previously only available in print.
Try it now at Ovid
Learn more about CAB Abstracts Archive 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: