Thursday, August 28, 2008

Starting Kindergarten

I will not be posting Thursday and Friday because it is the start of Kindergarten. So much has changed since I went to grade school. While my son's school isn't a virtual Kindergarten, they do use the computer lab and have a smart board instead of the chalk board in the classroom. I guess you can scratch banging the erasers off the list of jobs that each kid gets to do. I think Line Leader and Milk Distributer are still safe though.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

PubMed Now Indexes Videos of Experiments and Protocols in Life Sciences

I read an interesting little article today in The Chronicle of Higher Education, PubMed Now Indexes Videos of Experiments and Protocols in Life Sciences. The Journal of Visualized Experiments is now indexed in PubMed.

Journal of Visualized Experiments (JoVE) is a peer reviewed, open access, online journal dedicated to the publication of biological research in a video format. JoVE states, "Visualization greatly facilitates the understanding and efficient reproduction of both basic and complex experimental techniques, thereby addressing two of the biggest challenges faced by today’s life science research community: i) low transparency and poor reproducibility of biological experiments and ii) time and labor-intensive nature of learning new experimental techniques." Recently JoVE an agreement with various science publishing companies such as Current Protocols for joint protocol publication. This video on the "Preparation and Fractionation of Xenopus Laevis Egg Extracts" was jointly published by JoVE and Current Protocols.

According to JoVE's official blog it is "first video-journal to be accepted in PubMed." Well that is probably because JoVE is a unique journal. I don't see that many peer reviewed protocol video journals out there. Don't get me wrong, it is good that they are indexed in PubMed and that helps speak to their content and their credibility, but it their videos aren't the only ones to be indexed in PubMed. There are now quite a few videos from index journals that show up in PubMed. For example you can find the citation to the video "Placement of a Femoral Venous Catheter" by Janet Y. Tsui in the New England Journal of Medicine. The indexing of the videos shows NLMs commitment to medical information beyond the printed word.

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Monday, August 25, 2008

Online Registration

One of the regional associations I belong to is looking at online registration and dues payment. It makes sense, you can register online to be a member of MLA and you can register online to attend the annual conference.

There are several companies out there that do this sort of thing. Here are a few of them:

They all have different fees associated. Some look cost prohibitive for a small group of 100 members, while others' fees look promising. Something as little as $30/month is $360 year just to maintain the site, that doesn't take into other costs like credit card processing.

I am looking for something that is easy to use so future Treasurers/Membership Chairs can use it without a lot of training. I would like it to be easy for our membership to use as well and I while all of the sites I am looking at offer secure transactions, I want it to be obvious so that our users know things are secure.

In addition to managing and renewing memberships, I would like something that would also serve as our event registration and payment system. Our members would no longer have print off the registration form and remember to send it along with a check into our Treasurer. This will help minimize the number of people who email the Programming Chair and the Treasurer that they will pay and register on site because they forgot to mail in the form.

Lots of things to consider and I feel like I am just touch the tip of the iceberg on this is, so if your library organization already uses something like this I would love to hear from you.

Friday, August 22, 2008

Congrats to Spectrum Scholars

MLA is pleased to announce two new MLA/National Library of Medicine (NLM) recipients of the 2008/09 American Library Association Spectrum Initiative Scholarship. Each winner will each receive $6,500 in funds, pledged jointly by MLA and NLM. MLA and NLM are committed to supporting minority students in their goals of becoming health sciences information professionals and to addressing the vital need for minority representation in health sciences libraries.
Rhonda J. Allard is the patient resource center manager, Myra Mahon Patient Resource Center, Weill Cornell Medical College, New York, NY.

Evone Jeffries is employed as a library technician at the Cleveland Clinic Alumni Library, Cleveland Clinic, Cleveland, OH.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

External Funding

I had been working on a project for quite some time only to see it get killed due to money. We originally thought it would be funded but unfortunately the powers that be did not see things at the same level as we did. Very frustrating, very.
After a few Dr. Pepper, chocolate, and few choice words (said inside my head) we began to regroup. Lots of ideas and plans were proposed and I think we have a general idea of the new direction we plan to take to try for funding again next year.

This whole process reminded me of the need to think outside of the box. Sometimes it is hard for us to do this. One way many librarians fail to look outside the box (myself included) is that we forget to look at outside funding as a potential source to help fund a project. NLM and MLA have quite a few grants available to help libraries. One perfect example is the National Network of Libraries of Medicine, Greater Midwest Region (NN/LM-GMR), Technology Improvement Awards which can go towards the purchase, installation, and/or upgrading of information technologies that enhance access to health information.

But there are other places to look and investigate pursuing. Your own hospital or institution most likely has an institutional advancement department or some department that deals with philanthropy. They might be able to help you locate potential outside sources of money that you had never considered. Hey, where do you think the all those hospital wings and departments get those family names over their entrance? Who do you think brokered that kind of deal? You may not be able to get that kind of money, heck you may not get anything out of it, but it is worth a try. It might be worth looking at other foundations outside of the traditional library world. There are organizations that support education and health initiatives that might work for your situation.

Sometimes half the battle is just trying to get resources you need funded. To get your foot in the door so that you can prove to your administration that this resource is indeed needed and heavily used by your patrons. Perhaps these might areas might get you a big enough crack in that door for your foot.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Scopus Frustrations

I have found Scopus to be a great resource when conducting author affiliation searches. All too often an author's institution is listed several different ways. Sometimes it is the author's fault or the publication's fault, and at times it is the institution's fault with many variant names.

For example
A.B. Smith's works at Good Health Hospital System, here are some of the ways he lists his affiliation in his publications:

  • Good Health Hospital System Department of Biostatistics and Epidemiology
  • Good Health Hospital Department of Quantitative Health Sciences
  • Super Medical School, Department of Quantitative Health Sciences
  • Big Money Donor Name Cancer Center, Department of Hematologic Oncology and Blood Disorders

All four "institutions" are a part of Good Health Hospital System. Super Medical School is the medical school affiliated with the hospital and the Big Money Donor Name is the name of department that is within the hospital.

If you are searching for just one author it is pretty easy to go through and select appropriate institutions. However, if you need to find out what the entire department (or hospital) published within the last year, it gets a little tricky. You have to come up with all of the various ways your institution can be listed. If your institution is very large and has undergone some name changes, this can be difficult and time consuming. However, Scopus allows you to do an affiliation search using zip codes. For large institutions where it is it's own zip code this method of searching can be very handy.

Even with this handy dandy zip code searching. I found myself frustrated with Scopus. I got a call from the head of a department wanting a search to be done to see what all 95 people in his department have authored. He wants this search to be continuously updated. He would like to receive the information as an RSS feed that you could view on his BlackBerry using Viigo. I instantly thought of Scopus. It does author affiliation searches and you get an RSS feed of your search. I tested it briefly using a few names and thought it would work perfectly.

I was wrong. According Scopus, "RSS feeds are not available for all Scopus search results. RSS availability is also dependent on settings determined by your librarian or system administrator." The odd thing is that the small little test searches I conducted were RSS-able. Even a larger affiliation search which yielded 33,000 citations was RSS-able. But when I added all 95 potential authors and combined it with my affiliation search, it was no longer RSS-able. At first I thought it was because I combined searches. Nope combined searches were RSS-able. Then I thought it might be how I searched for (and later combined) all 95 names, so I typed it all out through the advance search box and it still didn't work.

I could email the results and get automatic updates email updates to my search. But that is not the point. The point is that he and I both want it in an RSS feed. This person just wants to read it on his BlackBerry, but he could easily want to display the results on his website and RSS feed makes that easy.

So I am back to square one looking at other ways that I can get this search in an RSS feed. Any ideas?

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Friday, August 15, 2008

Ovid Updates

I am sure some you loyal Ovid users have already noticed the most recent update that went live yesterday (August 14, 2008). Ovid's enhancements will be delivered in two phases, workflow improvement (first) and new features (second). This most recent update was to fix a lot of the workflow and interface issues that many have been bugging Ovid about.

So here are the updates:
  • Search Tab Additions and Enhancements - New Multi Field Search Tab which according to Ovid it will "allow for a more targeted and specific search experience." Basically this tab reminds of searching in EBSCO, it allows you to easily search for multiple things within multiple fields all at one time.
  • Seach Aid Box is collapsible
  • Results Manager Box is collapsible and is available above and below the search results.
  • Search History Box can be moved either above or below the green Search Box.
  • Limits can be customized to display on the main search page.
  • Ability to create, edit, and add multiple annotations to a citation. (You must be logged into your personal account section for this to work.)
  • Browse Books and Browse Journals links are now on the Select a Database page
  • Font size is now adjustable from your browser
  • Users logged into their personal account area will now see their name and institution.

Coming Soon:

  • My Projects - a workspace area for saving and managing files
  • Ovid Universal Search - a cross platform search solution

I am happy with the new release. Heck I am just happy that the jumping screen was fixed. But the improvements on this new release are nice. However I have got to wonder why Ovid still clings to that Results Manager Box. Many other databases have a much nicer method for saving results. I especially like EBSCO's method. The reason I like it is that is clear and simple. It resembles how many Internet commerce sites allow you to shop and easily add things to the basket. In my opinion the Ovid Results Manager is confusing to regular patrons and it takes up space, they should go to the add to basket approach.

Enhancements I would like to see:

  • Cited References - MUST have the ability to add the cited references from a citation to your search results. I don't know why this ability was in place when searchers were given the ability to look at cited references. I would think this is an important feature. I know a lot of researchers who routinely look at the cited references for article.
  • HTML Email – This is another MUST HAVE improvement that is long overdue. Currently librarians or regular users are only able to email the search as a text file. That means all of the full text links to the articles are gone. People no longer want the citations just emailed to them, they want to view the full text of the article to the citation they like. Therefore you need to have the ability to send the email in HTML and preserve the full text links. PubMed already does this and frankly I don’t know why Ovid doesn’t.
  • Search Box For Journal Browser – How time consuming is it click J then click Next a bunch of times to finally get to the listing for the Journal of the Royal College of Physicians of London. A search box would speed up and make the Browse Journal process so much better.
  • Sharing Notes – I think it would be neat if two researchers working on the same topic could view each other’s retrieved searches and have the ability to include their personal account notes they made on the citations. I am not sure how that would work and whether Ovid’s My Workspace enhancement would do this, but I think it would be a cool enhancement.

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Thursday, August 14, 2008

MLA Connections Blog

I am sure a lot of you are familiar with Mark Funk's OnlyConnect blog. Well MLA will soon debut the MLA Connections Blog as a method to keep memebers and others informed about MLA as well as generate discussions. According to Scott Plutchak, the blog is "another experiment in trying to make the organization more open and transparent. "

It will probably come as no surprise that I am all for the blog. I am the type of person who likes to pop the hood of a car to see what is going on. I like transparency. I like hearing other people's perspective on things. The blog will be open members as well as non-members allowing for discussions to be truely open (through comments) to the medical library community. Hopefully openness will generate some truely interesting discussions. As Scott mentions transparency and submitting posts can only go so far. It is a two way street. The Board members and headquarters staff will be posting, but for it to be a truely communicative process, readers must share their thoughts and perspectives through comments.

I think it is an exciting and interesting time to be involved in MLA.

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Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Should MLA Allow Votes on Dues To Be Voted on Electronically?

I admit I kept forgetting to vote on all of the proposed MLA by-laws changes. With this cold that I am battling, my Olympic viewing obsession, and a whole host of life's daily events it just simply slipped my mind. Thankfully the good folks of MLA have reminded me once more by email to vote and I did. If it had been a snail mail ballot, it might not have made it back in time.

I received an interesting email on the Medlib-l listserv shortly after I voted. The email was from Jonathan Lord the MLA Mid-Atlantic Chapter Chapter Council Representative Alternate and it was about voting on dues increases.

According to the email, MLA has been gradually moving into the electronic age like electronic balloting for elections and bylaws changes. It was brought up at the September 2007 MLA Executive Board meeting to allow members to vote on dues increases electronically rather than in person at the Annual Meeting. While the motion was introduced, it was defeated. However the motion to take the idea into consideration and report to the Board at the September 2008 Board meeting was approved.

Jonathan feels voting on dues increases at the Annual Meeting is unfair to a majority of MLA members. Those who are unable to attend the Meeting are excluded from voting. I have to say I agree with him. There are many valid reasons why some people are unable to attend MLA each and every year. I don't want to get into all the reasons why somebody cannot attend, instead I the focus should be more on how those who cannot physically attend can still participate. Voting is one small but important way to participate. Allowing all voting to be done electronically not only allows more MLA members the opportunity to participate in MLA's direction but it gives everybody an equal chance at submitting their vote, not just the fraction that happen to attend the meeting.

Am I totally missing something? Is voting on a dues increase any different than voting online for the MLA elections? What are your thoughts on this?
If you have an opinion on this issue, Jonathan recommend you contact your MLA Chapter Council Representatives and let them know.

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Friday, August 08, 2008

MLA Hawaii

It is never too early to get your Nenes in a row for Hawaii. The MLA '09 Meeting schedule is available to glance at. It has been adjusted so that attendees have more open time in the afternoon to plan their own activities. You may want to consider visiting the USS Arizona Memorial, shopping for gifts, learning to surf (yours truly is planning on trying that), or just simply sipping your BOC (beverage of choice) and watching the surf.

Don't forget if you want to participate and present a paper or poster, you must submit your structured abstract at by October 6, 2008.

After the meeting you want to do a little touring around Hawaii but you don't know where to start, where to go, or what to see? You might consider going on a cruise of the Hawaiian Islands. MLA has arranged for discounts on a post meeting boat cruise touring some of the other islands. For more information go to:

For more information about the meeting, travel tips, sight seeing, etc. don't forget to go to MLA '09 Wiki and MLA's website.

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MLA Elections and Committees

Just when you think you have heard enough about cadidates and elections, you are hit with it from another side, MLA. Rest assured you will not have to suffer through Paris Hilton commericals or talking heads on CNN. All you have to do is view the list of candidates, make some decisions, and vote between November 5 and December 10, 2008. You don't even have to go down to a polling place and wait in line, it is all done online. For those of you without email addresses on file a paper ballot will be mailed to you.

You will be voting for the MLA President, MLA Board of Directors (two positions), and members of the Nominating Committee (nine positions).

For more information including the list of candidates go to:

If you are looking for additional ways to be active in the profession, consider joining a committee. Do you want certain programming or do think MLA needs to focus on certain things? Change the system from within, join a committee.
Committees help create many of MLA's activities and policies. Check out the committee descriptions and apply is via MLANET. You will need your MLANET username/ID and password to enter this members-only section. Applications are due October 31, 2008, and appointments will be made beginning in February 2009. If you want more information about serving on a committee and answers to frequently asked questions, check out the article in the August issue of the MLA News by President-elect Connie Schardt, AHIP.


Monday, August 04, 2008

PubMed Instruction: Classroom vs. Online Instruction

I meant to blog about this earlier when I made the post about the reviw of Zotero, Skype, and PBWiki, but I got side tracked. So better late than never.

Do you teach a lot of PubMed classes? If so you might be interested in the recent article, Measuring Medical Student Preference: A Comparison of Classroom Versus Online Instruction for Teaching Pubmed published in the Journal of the Medical Library Association. 2008 July; 96(3): 217–222. doi: 10.3163/1536-5050.96.3.007.

The author, Laura Schimming decided to compare medical students' satisfaction with PubMed instruction taught in the classroom with an online tutorial. She found that students were more satisfied with online tutorials and the students who took the online tutorial passed the PubMed skills assessment at the same high rate as students who learned PubMed in the classroom.
I think it is interesting to know that the librarian used Dreamweaver instead of Camtasia or Captivate to create the online tutorial. The online tutorial was a split screen tutorial where the instructions and information was at the top and PubMed was below. This allowed users to read the information while actually practicing on a live PubMed session. It truly was more of a hands on tutorial.
So what does this mean for librarians who teach PubMed? I think it gives librarians more options and flexibility. Having an online tutorial for students to use can free up the librarian to teach other classes that may not lend themselves as easily to an online tutorial format. It also allows students to take the online class on their own time. An additional benefit is that unlike a traditional classroom the tutorial is available to use again should they need a refresher. No wonder the students preferred the online method.

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Zotero, Skype and PBWiki Reviewed

The July 2008 issue of the Journal of the Medical Library Association has Electronic Resource Reviews on Zotero, Skype, and PBWiki.

Zotero is a free citation and research management tool which only works with the Firefox browser. According to Thomas Vanhecke, "At first glance, Zotero appears similar to older citation management software such as EndNote or ProCite; however, there are many differences." These differences are how Zotero works within the Internet browser and its enhanced searching and remote library access. The complete review is interesting, to read more go to

Skype is an Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) program that can function as a chat tool, telephone, and videoconferencing. Siobhan Champ-Blackwell and Teresa Hartman think it can be used by solo librarians who might feel isolated from the library community. You can read the complete review at

PBWiki is a free wiki software with over 400,000 buisness and educational. The reviewers mention the premium plans start at $9.95/month. Which is true, but PBWiki just announced (after this review was probably submitted for publication) that it will be offering free premium accounts to librarians and teachers from August 19-November 30, 2008. To read the full PBWiki review go to and scroll down.

Friday, August 01, 2008

PBWiki Offers Free Premium Account to Librarians

Thank you MidContinental Region News for alerting me that PBWiki is offering free premium accounts to librarians and teachers (a $250/year value). According to the folks over at PBWiki they want to make 2008-2009 the year of collaborative learning. "We know that budgets are going to be tight, and we don't want a lack of funds to deter educators from using collaborative technologies like wikis with their students." This offer is good for each teacher or librarian who signs up to be a part of the program from August 18 through November 30, 2008.

The free wiki subscription lasts one year and each Fall PBWiki plans to offer additional programs allowing program participants to retain their premium status free of charge.

For more information on the difference between the traditional free account and the premium account as well as participation information go to

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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: