Tuesday, September 30, 2008


As it gets closer to the end of the year and libraries with CINAHL Ovid are forced to switch to CINAHL EBSCO, we are seeing more frustration from librarians regarding the differences in searching the two different search platforms.

I admit I am a die hard Ovid user. But I have been playing around with CINAHL on EBSCO ever since they released EBSCO 2.0. There are some things I really like about EBSCO's platform, but there are some things I really hate and find clunky when I am searching CINAHL. I am not the only one who feels this way, just browse through some recent MEDLIB-L threads and you can see plenty of others comparing searching on the two systems. David Dillard wrote very extensively about the differences between the two systems and how they handle multi database searching, nesting terms, field searching, and truncation.

Here are some of the things I noticed that have been giving me minor headaches:

There is a big difference for saving, print, emailing, and downloading. While I am not a big fan of Ovid's Citation Manager box and I tend to like EBSCO's folder system for selecting citations to print, email, save, etc. EBSCO's has not built into its system a method for saving all results in the set. EBSCO's system is set up for the individual searcher who can easily go through the results on their own and select relevant ones while conducting the search. It is not set up for librarians who conduct a search and then want to send the results to a patron. I just went to the eye doctor yesterday and my prescription changed, so perhaps I am just not seeing it, but there is no icon or link to select all search results. Therefore the librarian must click on every single citation to save to the folder. A slightly faster method to this would be to display 50 citations and then click on the link to add 1-50 to the folder. Then you click on the folder to send the citations via email. This is annoying and time consuming.

PDFs email out separately. If you are emailing a search that contains citations with full text articles in PDF form, those PDF articles and their citation are sent as individual emails. This method of emailing results is the default. Again this great for the individual searcher who will expect to see multiple emails in their account, but it is a poor method for a librarian sending a search results email to a patron. It is best for librarians conducting searches for patrons to uncheck the send PDF and send HTML as separate emails boxes. Leave the box, "current search history" checked. This will send all of the citations in one email and provided a persistent URL to each citation that the patron can click on and view their full text options.

While I take issue with EBSCO's method for emailing PDFs and HTMLs, please note that citations emailed from OVID are STILL lacking persistent URLs. This improvement is WAY OVERDUE from Ovid.

A few people have mentioned that thesaurus searching or searching using the subject heading is very clunky (at best) in CINAHL. I completely agree. This is one area that Ovid by far outshines EBSCO. We have the "Suggest Subject Terms" box checked as our default setting so when you type in a term like heart attack you are taken to the subject mapping screen where you can either check the box to search it as a keyword or check the box for Myocardial Infarction. Once you check a box (or boxes) you must click the search database button at the top of the screen. This is a little confusing because people tend to want to click on the browse button instead. The search box next to the browse button for searching the thesaurus not for specifically for searching or adding terms to your search. It is a poor location and poor design for this tool because it is easily mistaken as an add to search button.

If you want to add more terms to your original search then you must hit the Clear button at the top of the search button and type in a new term. This is extremely confusing! Everybody's first inclination is to type your new term in the box that says, "Add the following to your search: Term(s)." If you do this you will not be sent to the thesaurus and you will be doing a keyword search!

Some libraries have tried to prevent this confusion by using Advanced Search as their default screen. Advanced search gives the user multiple search boxes. This really doesn't help the problem, it just adds more search boxes to the confusion. EBSCO still defaults to searching terms as keywords when there is already a term in the first box. So if you want it to search your term as a subject heading then you must ALWAYS delete whatever is in the first/top search box and put the new term in.

Since you are doing a lot of single term searching (to ensure that you are searching using subject terms), you will have to click on the Search History/Alerts to combine your individual subject searches together. For example if you did three separate subject searches on cholesterol, myocardial infarction, and congestive heart failure, you must click on the Search History/Alerts link, delete everything in the search box and then check the boxes representing each subject search and combine them appropriately. If you do not delete everything in the search box prior to checking the boxes and clicking the "Add" button you will get whatever term is in the search box (usually the one leftover from your most recent search) combined with the items you checked. This is frustrating.

I am really going to miss Ovid's easy subject mapping and combining of terms.

Every database company creates their own platform and user interface. The methods you would use to search PubMed may not always be appropriate for Ovid Medline and vice versa. In the past librarians had the option to search CINAHL through different companies, Ovid, EBSCO, Proquest, and they usually picked the interface that was the right price and met their searching needs. Soon people will only be able to use EBSCO and they must adjust their methods and style of searching to best accommodate the interface. Not every difference is a shortfall, some things are better and some things are just different. EBSCO has a lot of nice features that Ovid and other platforms do not have such as the hover abstract and persistent URLs in emailed results. Only by experimenting with the systems will we learn the best methods for ourselves and our users.

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Friday, September 26, 2008

Surveys, Are We Hitting the Right People?

Yesterday the Associated Press reported on a study that omitting cell phone users may be excluding a growing population of cell phone only users from public opinion phone polls and might slightly skew the results.

Pew Research Center for the People and the Press conducted three election surveys calling both cell phones and landline. A pattern began to emerge from these three surveys. The cell phone interviews resulted in slightly more support for Obama and slightly less for McCain. "In each of the three polls, the cell-only respondents were significantly more supportive of Obama (by 10-to-15 percentage points) than respondents in the landline sample. For example, in the September survey Obama led McCain by a 55%-to-36% margin among cell only voters, but the candidates were tied at 45% in the landline sample."

The US government estimates that about 15% of adults had only a cell phone (no landline) in 2007 and the rate of increase since 2004 has been at least 2% a year. Which means that the rate of cell phone only users could be as high as 17% in 2008.

These findings have me thinking. When we conduct surveys are we hitting the right people or we missing a chunk of the population. For example, paper library satisfaction surveys that are only distributed to people in the library will only reach the people who actually come to the library. You might be missing a large chunk of dedicated users who use the library resources electronically and rarely step foot in the physical space. Do you even want to survey your own users? Perhaps your true goal is to survey the people who don't use the library to find out why. Then where do you distribute that survey? Certainly not by having a paper survey form in the library.

I think many of us understand these concepts, but it starts to get a little fuzzier when you go beyond distributing and land into technology. Should you have an online only form? Should you send out a mass email? Text messages?

As demographics change and your user groups change, we need to think of the best way to reach them so that we can have most accurate results that represent our targeted population.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Papers and Posters Deadline For Hawaii Is Soon

The dealine to submit a paper or poster for MLA 2009 Annual Meeting in Hawaii is October 6, 2009. That is less than two weeks away!

For more information go to http://www.mlanet.org/am/am2009/call.html

(courtesy of MLA)
Contributed papers can explore the newest ideas, best practices, and fusion-related themes. Consider what is best in local practices, valid research results, current trends, use or development of innovative technologies, and future projects that highlight what is best about health sciences libraries and information centers and the role librarians and information professionals play in making health information available to all. Handouts and electronic presentations from the paper presentations will be posted to MLANET. Plan to submit your abstract, using the structured abstract guidelines at www.research.mlanet.org, by Monday, October 6, 2008.

Posters or Electronic Demonstration:
The 2009 NPC also invites proposals for best ideas expressed as a poster or electronic demonstration. The range of opportunities for self-expression is unlimited. Consider the use or development of innovative technologies, local best practices, valid research results, current trends, and future projects that highlight the power of partnerships, the best about health sciences libraries and information centers, and the roles that librarians and information professionals play in making health information accessible to all. Posters will be available for viewing during MLA ’09. Posters and related handouts will be posted to MLANET prior to the meeting. Plan to submit your abstract, using the structured abstract guidelines at www.research.mlanet.org, by Monday, October 6, 2008. Posters should not repeat information submitted for papers.

Are you working on a project that would make a good poster or paper but you aren't completely finished to have the results or the conclusion yet? Will you have the results by February 16, 2009? If so then please consider submitting a paper or poster based on your project. Authors of accepted papers or posters have the option to input the results and conclusions sections, not to exceed 150 words, to add them after acceptance no later than February 16, 2009.

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Monday, September 22, 2008

ebrary and Matthews Books Team Up

Matthews Book Company and ebrary have joined together to distribute medical and allied health ebooks. Titles are available for purchase under a single or multi user access model. some of the titles include the following:
  • Advancing Your Career: Concepts of Professional Nursing
  • Mayo Clinic Concise Textbook of Medicine
  • Molecular Targeting in Oncology
  • Pharmacotherapy Principles and Practice
As of September 15, 2008, more than 11,000 e-book titles are supposed to be available through Matthews. Despite this, it does not appear Matthews and ebrary are ready for libraries to start purchasing e-books.

I went to the Matthews web site and unfortunately you can't browse the list of e-book titles. The only way you can see if something is available electronically is to search by title and if it comes up and says single user or multiple user then it is available electronically. (Example: Mayo Clinic Cardiology) Unfortunately when you click on the title for the single or multiple user version you get kicked back out to Matthews home page, so you have no idea about price or licensing.

According to the press release on ebrary's site, libraries will have the ability to purchase individual titles or subscribe to subject collections. Unfortunately I do not see where customers have that option. Their most recent title list for their Academic Medical Collection is from April 2008 (before the Matthews and ebrary joint venture).

I can't give you any details about pricing or licensing for individual titles or collections since neither Matthews nor ebrary decided to have information readily available on their websites despite going live with the project a week ago.

Electronic books are really becoming quite popular and I think consumer demand is slowly starting to rise. I am always interested in learning more about various electronic collections from different companies. It would be nice to have a specific link on Matthews web site just for the e-titles and collections. I think searching for the e-books individually through Matthews as one would typically search for a traditional print title is a poor search and retrieval method for e-books. It is additionally poor planning not to have the links to the e-books active. Dumping the person back to the main page does not encourage somebody to buy a title. I think ebrary should have updated their electronic textbook list with the additional titles and Matthews information. Their current (April 2008) list is just a PDF, it should not take that much time or effort to create the same type of PDF list.

I will keep ebrary and Matthews on my radar screen for now. Hopefully they will get their act together, update their sites and fix the ordering (i.e. when I click on e-book title, I go to the title not back to the main web page) and I can give you more information. If that occurs soon then I will write an update post.

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Thursday, September 18, 2008

September 17th Should Have Been National Librarian Appreciation Day

I ran across this blog entry, "September 17th Should Have Been National Librarian Appreciation Day" and thought I would mention it as a nice way to end the week. The blog is from a third year pre-med student who just learned how to use PubMed and RefWorks from a librarian who did a session with her class.

If you think all of your college students know about RefWorks (RefMan or EndNote), they don't. I continually run across medical students, residents, and other graduate students who are still trying to type papers and format their references on their own. Believe me they will be happy to learn about it. Although, I can't guarrentee that you will get an ovation like this librarian received. "My whole row in the lecture hall started applauding when she showed us that. (Yes, we're just a little bit nerdy, but do you have any idea how much time I normally spend agonizing over making sure that all of my referencing is done correctly?!?!) I have never in my life wanted to hug a librarian as much as I wanted to today."

Congrats to the librarian who received the applause, I am sure it her day. I know if would have made mine.

iPhone or iPod Touch and Medical Applications

It just so happened that last Friday when John Halamka posted about the iTouch for his "Cool Technology of the Week," I also happened to come across the abstract to the journal article "The iPhone in Medical Libraries," by Colleen Cuddy. I just received Cuddy's article from ILL and both Halamka's post and Cuddy's article are interesting and compliment each other nicely.

In this post Halamka primarily writes about the iPod Touch which is similar to the iPhone but with that pesky (and expensive) AT&T phone plan. Halamka describes the iPod Touch as a "game changing device." He lists several reasons, but I think the primary reason is consumer choice. I think as new students and residents come up, you will see people who are already familiar with iPods and less familiar with Palm and PocketPCs. Many probably had iPods before and they see the iPod Touch as familiar device that can fulfill their needs better than previous handheld devices. Essentially they have grown up with the technology. Just as they were needing a handheld device for information retrieval, the iPod line evolved and grew with them to include wifi enabled device for information retrieval. While the Palm and PocketPC devices were around, they did not become ingrained into and evolve with that generation.

So we have a cool new toy, but are there any real medical applications that people can use on them? Cuddy's article lists several companies that have been keeping up with mobile technology and have products for the iPhone and the iPod Touch. The two big providers are Unbound Medicine and Skyscape, who also happen to be some of the first companies dealing with medical software for the Palm and PocketPC. As Cuddy notes, the iPhone does not allow for programs to be uploaded or external memory cards. Therefore all of the applications must be online and Safari (Apple's browser) compatible. Both Unbound Medicine and Skyscape have many titles listed for the iPhone. The popular product Epocrates however is behind the game regarding the iPhone. The only version to work on the iPhone is the free version of Epocrates, which according to Cuddy is "essentially a basic drug look up." She also states that Epocrates will be doing more in the future for iPhone users, but I just looked on their website today and it appears they still only have the free version available to iPhone users. UpToDate released a Safari compliant version of their product. Since UpToDate off campus is fairly cost prohibitive to most institutions, I only see doctors using it while at the hospital or their own personal copies.

Don't forget about Apple's own download site. While programs cannot be physically installed like one does with a Palm or Pocket PC, they can be download from a variety of places like Apple's download site. One such program is OsiriX, an image processing software dedicated to view images (MRI, CT, PET, PET-CT, etc.). It is fully compliant with the DICOM (Digital Imaging and Communications in Medicine).

The iPhone may have started out as a fun toy but it appears to be making strong headway into the medical handheld arena.


Wednesday, September 17, 2008

International Librarians

I am forwarding the National Program Committee invitation to the 2009 MLA Annual Meeting in Honolulu Hawaii as a reminder to North American librarians as well as other librarians around the world to attend. For some people who live in other parts of the world such as China, Japan and Australia, Honolulu is closer than if they were to attend an MLA meeting on the mainland of the United States.

(forwarded from the NPC)

On behalf of the Medical Library Association's National Program Committee (NPC) we invite you to participate in MLA's 2009 Annual Meeting and Exposition, May 15-20, 2009, in Honolulu, Hawaii, USA.

The meeting promises to be one of the most important gatherings of medical librarians and related health information professionals. MLA's programming and exhibition hall have grown in size and scope, attracting over 2,300 attendees. Interest has already been expressed from librarians and information professionals from China, Korea, Japan, and Malaysia.
MLA'09 will be your opportunity to explore new trends and paradigms in today's professional environment. Programming will focus on your concerns ranging from work-life balance and environmental issues to the impact of social networking, scholarly communication, space planning, curricular design, and strategic initiatives.

The NPC encourages international attendees to submit an International Poster abstract, which is due early December 2008. To submit an abstract, request a letter of invitation and view other important meeting information please see http://mla.hawaiiconvention.com/index.cfm

If you have not attended an MLA meeting and would like to see a session from MLA'08 see http://mlanet.org/am/am2008/events/plenary_webcast.html

The tropical island of Oahu, known as the gathering place, is the ideal global setting for MLA'09. From the moment you arrive you will be energized by fusions of floral air, breathtaking natural beauty and the warmth, charm and sincerity of Hawaii's people and aloha spirit. The theme "iFusions" connects our island to the fusions of events, opportunities and technologies that we face in today's explosive information world.

We look forward to seeing you in beautiful Hawaii for an enjoyable and professionally rewarding experience.
Best regards,
National Program Committee

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Monday, September 15, 2008

LJ Movers and Shakers Nominations Sought

Library Journal is looking for Movers and Shakers for 2009. The Library Journal Mover & Shaker Award recognizes approximately 50 individuals in the United States and Canada who are considered “emerging leaders in the library world.”

Check out the winners from last year in the medical/health library world.

The deadline for submission is November 10, 2008. So if you know somebody is "innovative, creative, and making a difference," nominate them. Nominees can be from all walks of library life, from "librarians to vendors to others who work in the library field."


Friday, September 12, 2008

Wiley Promoting EndNote Over Other Citation Management Programs?

One of my colleagues was looking up the Instruction to Authors information for the American Journal of Hematology. Right below the heading Instructions To Authors is, Wiley's Journal Styles and EndNote.

Clicking on that link, you will see the page below:

The image is kind of small on my blog for space purposes, but if you click here you can see
a larger screen shot I saved on Flickr.
"Use EndNote software to simplify and streamline your research. EndNote's bibliographic management tools let you search and download from databases like Medline, and save you time by keeping your reference collection organized. Use EndNote to instantly output your bibliography in any Wiley journal style!"
Now to me that certainly sounds like Wiley endorsing one bibliographic management tool over another. It would be one thing if they said something like, "Use a bibliographic management tool such as EndNote, RefMan, or RefWorks to simplify and streamline your research..." But they don't.
Not only are they endorsing the product but they are displaying a woefully out of date version of EndNote.
I am all for an Instruction to Authors page having clear citation and reference instructions with links or mentioning the style used in various bibliographic management programs. After all our own professional journals often have confusing and various styles listed. They rarely mention bibliographic software at all, let alone allow you to down load the style for use. I just find it slightly hinky when a publisher promotes one product over others in order to submit an article.
Perhaps Wiley just wanted to clear up confusion and decided it was easier to link to one style for one program. But is seemingly endorsing specific product to be used by authors the way to do it?


Thursday, September 11, 2008

Library Blog Study

Walt at Random is conducting a study on library blogs, The Liblog Landscape, 2007-2008: A Lateral View (may or may not be the final title). He is just finishing up Phase 1 of the study which is to identify liblogs that should be a part of the study and doing blog level metrics for those blogs.

If you know of a blog or blogs (perhaps your own) that meet the criteria for the study and aren't currently on his list you can send him an email and request it to be included. Deadline for submission is this Friday, September 12, 2008.

For more information check out his blog post New libr* blogs? A one-week limited-time request. Let's make sure the medical librarian blogs are represented. :)

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Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Calling All Hospital Librarians

(courtesy MEDLIB-L)
Do you have a scenario (story) about how your library has significantly helped the hospital financially or in other ways in one of the following areas.

  • Research and Innovation -example: helped the hospital get a large grant (millions of dollars,) or integrate an innovative service
  • Education -example: provided educational support services that saved a residency program
  • Clinical Care -example: supported critical patient care, or provided information at the point of need
  • Management of Operations -example: save a large amount of money, positively impacted the bottomline, or negotiated a great return-on-investment
  • Service -example: contributed to customer service or patient safety in a significant way

The MLA Vital Pathways (Document Group) Task Force intends to include some of these scenarios in the Large Vital Pathways document. This is your chance to toot your own horn and let your colleagues know what a great job you are doing supporting your hospital. Please consider helping to identify supporting evidence to accompany the many skills and talents that we have identified in our document that substantiate the value of the hospital library and most importantly the hospital librarian. They are looking for stories about a paragraph or two in length.

Forward your stories to Rosalind Lett to share them with the group. If you will send your story by September 20th to mfprotts[at]yahoo[dot]com with the subject VPP Scenario, to send the collected works to the VPP group before their next meeting on Sept 24th.

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Monday, September 08, 2008


John Sharp added to my Word of the Day Calendar by asking what my thoughts were on apomediation in health care. Apomediation is a new scholarly and social technology term that characterizes the process of disintermediation.

Disintemediation is the removal of the intermediary from the process. In other words "cutting out the middleman." A common example is consumers using the Internet to purchase goods or services directly. Before the Internet, many people relied upon travel agents to get the best deals on airline tickets and vacations. Now days people often book directly online, bypassing the travel agents. Of course the Internet also has acted as intermediary or enabled a different type of intermediary to develop.

An intermediary is a third party who stands in between a consumer and a service, often acting as sort of middle man for the consumer to obtain goods or services by a supplier. For example Autozone serves as the middle man should I want to buy new window wipers. I can't exactly go to the factory and plunk down my credit card and purchase a set so I rely upon Autozone to purchase some from the factory and have them availble for sale.

Apo is latin for spearate or off. An Apomediary would be somebody who is seperate from the process but available should the consumer need help. Gunther Eysenbach goes into great detail about apomediation and Medicine/Health2.0 in his post, Medicine 2.0 Congress Website Launched (and: Definition of Medicine 2.0 / Health 2.0).

In the health context, disintermediation (cutting out the middleman) means
a more direct access of consumer to their personal data (e.g. in web accessible
EHRs – left circle of the diagram) and general medical information (on the web –
right circle of the diagram) with all its advantages and hazards. The main
problem of cutting out the gatekeeper is that the traditional role of the
middleman is to guide consumers to relevant and credible information (the
intersection of both circles in the center of the diagram
) and that by bypassing
the middleman consumers/users may “get lost” in the vast amount of information.
Apomediation theory conceptualizes that “apomediaries” (which includes Web 2.0
approaches) can partly take over the role of the intermediary and “push” or
“guide” users to relevant and accurate information.

As you can see from the diagram librarians and health professionals are labled as intermediaries. While Eysenbach lists friends and online users as apomediaries (the blue green dots sprinkled around the dotted funnel) he primarily focuses on online programs and tools which act as the middleman. Some of the examples he gives are Digg, CiteULike, and the Amazon.com ratings. Eysenbach further states, "health professionals now partly bypass traditional intermediaries such as information brokers or librarians. I remember that when I was in medical school I had a summer job as information broker, where health professionals or scientists would call or see me and I would do an online Medline search for them. "

He acted specifically as an intermediary funneling informaiton to people. He believes things have changed since then. "Today, people obviously use PubMed and other Internet tools directly, and search the web and/or the library for relevant information. But what is "relevant", and how can we deal with the onslaught of information? The "apomediaries" here are shared bookmarking tools such as CiteULike or Connotea, where people receive pointers to recently published relevant literature based on what others with a similar citation/bookmarking behavior have cited/bookmarked." Of course can use CiteULike to your heart's content but if your library didn't purchase the online access to the journal you aren't going to be able to read it to cite it. So merely pointing to the relevant literature may not always fulfill your informational needs.

While I agree that these type of online tools have helped guide people to information and have served as a sort of apomediation function, I disagree that librarians are all intermediaries. I have always thought of my self as an apomediator (even though I had never heard of the word until now). Health professionals do not have to come to me get information, but when they do I guide them (or provide them) to the needed resources and information. Those health professionals that do not specifically come to me for my services are using resources that we create or provide that help them find the information. We are not directly consulted but the tools we have created, paid for, licensed, displayed, are in fact still used to find information. One example is Ebling's Library Tool Bar which is a tool bar plug in to help find information using tools that other Ebling users have found useful. Other librarians have created del.icio.us accounts for users to peruse and help patrons get RSS feeds to searches and journal table of contents. So does that mean librarians are still intermediaries because the tools we create are guiding the users, or are we apomediaries who stand by and create products and guides to push people in the direction when needed?

Are librarians truely intermediaries or are we a combination of an apomediary and intermediary?

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Friday, September 05, 2008

Call for Nominations

Is there somebody you know within MLA who you feel is an "unsung hero?" Perhaps you know somebody who deserves to be honored for outstanding international achievement in promoting, enabling or delivering improvements in quality health information.

MLA has a call for nominations for the Virginia L. and William K. Beatty MLA Volunteer Service Award, the T. Mark Hodges International Service Award, and the Louise Darling Medal.
Nominations are also being accepted for the 2010 MLA Janet Doe lecturer.

For a nomination form and more information go to MLANET.

Thursday, September 04, 2008

Wolters Kluwer to Buy UpToDate

This just popped up on my feed reader, "Wolters Kluwer Health Reaches Agreement to Acquire UpToDate." According the bulletin, Wolters Kluwer Health has reached an agreement to buy UpToDate. The terms of the acquisition were not disclosed, but the bulletin reported UpToDate will be a part of Wolters Kluwar Health "creating opportunities not previously available." According to yesterday's Wall Street Journal, "Wolters Kluwer plans to expand the UpToDate service to cover neurology, immunology and other medical fields."

The transaction is expected to be completed in the fourth quarter of 2008 pending regulatory approval.


Wednesday, September 03, 2008

Virtual House Cleaning

The school year has started and in our family that means that it is time to put away some of the summer play clothes and begin to make room for fall and winter clothes. Determine what will get packed away for next year, what will get donated to charity, and what will get handed down to the little brother.
The same is kind of true with my online world. Instead of packing up the sunscreen and swim suits, I am looking at my RSS feeds, SDIs, and del.icio.us account. I find that I need to do this once or twice a year to keep things fresh and current. Those of us who have SDIs on MEDLINE are well aware that we should look at them once a year after NLM has finished with their Year End Processing. The same can be said for RSS feeds and del.icio.us.

I subscribe to about 150 feeds. That is a lot, but there are quite a few feeds in that list that are probably dead. The blogger stopped blogging long ago and like that favorite pair of jeans that I can't quite fit into I am reluctant to give it up. Usually these dead blogs didn't just cease all of a sudden, posts gradually became more infrequent until one day they stopped all together. There was something that attracted me to each blog, it could have been funny, insightful, or it covered a topic of my interest. I hold on to the feed out of hope that the author will some day begin posting once again. Just like those old jeans in my closet, the dead blog feeds hang in my Bloglines account taking up space and adding to the clutter.
In addition to the dead blogs are active blogs that I really don't read any more. Sometimes they have served my informational needs and I no longer need them. Most often my though, I find that my tastes have changed and I am not as interested in them as I once was. Like the totally cute green sparkly high heeled shoes that I had to have last year, they have been pushed to the back in favor of my new interests. Not to say that the blog or the green sparkly shoes aren't still great, I am just not as interested in them any more. Should I keep the blog in Bloglines on the off chance that it piques my interest again, or should I remove it from my collection like I did to make room for the sleek little patent leather peep toe pumps?
There is also the matter of organizing this information. My Bloglines is simple, it is broken into 4 main categories, medical library stuff, library stuff, fun/humor, and searches. Every blog within the category is arranged alphabetically. It is in much better shape than my closet. My del.icio.us account is my dirty little librarian secret. It is almost in worse shape than my attic was a year ago. As a librarian I love the concept of adding tags and organizing my Internet sites. I love how I can call them up on any computer and share them with friends and family. As a librarian you would think that I would stick to my own controlled vocabulary style and have some method to my madness. Alas, this is not the case. While my inner librarian took control and organized the attic, it was snoozing big time when it came to del.icio.us. I have about 100 or so tagged items and my top tag (NIH) only has been used 6 times. The next closest term is web2.0 used 4 times. There is no rhyme or reason as to why I did or didn't use the tag social_networking for things I indexed with terms like twitter, wiki, blog, or blogging. Yes, I have blog and blogging as tags, why I did this I have no idea. The best way I can describe this mess is that my del.icio.us account is my Internet attic. I find a page and if I love it I put it in del.icio.us. I know I will use that page, but probably not often enough to immediately type its URL from memory. That is why I put it in del.icio.us. I find that I am usually in a hurry when tagging something so I just slap a few tags (often just one tag) on there and save it. Since the items are usually displayed in order of when it was tagged, the most recent are in front while the older and increasingly no longer used items creep to the back. Only after I try and retrieve a long ago tagged item, must I remember where stored it. Is it under blog or blogging? What about web2.0? I fear that in order to straighten this mess out that I will have get down and dirty like I did with the attic. I will look at each tag and figure out what the item is, whether it should be kept or removed. If I am keeping it, then it needs to assigned some predetermined terms and assigned a location (bundle).
Finally you can't forget about your searches. At this time of year I am on the look out for a winter coat for son. I scan the Sunday ads and my email account for sales and deals. Right now it is a winter coat, last November it was a new dishwasher. My needs change with my life. My current awareness searches change as well. Many of my personal current awareness searches are created from PubMed, Medworm, LibWorm and a few other places, the RSS of the search is saved and I read it in my Bloglines account. I find that each year as new trends emerge and others lose favor, I must adjust my searches so that I can stay on top of the information. For example, what good is it to have a current awareness search on Ovid CINAHL when it has moved to EBSCO? Probably just as effective as ads and sales on infant clothes going to my email account when I have six year old and a two year old.

Virtual house cleaning is important in managing the information overload. If you don't do it every once and a while you are going to be met with a ton of information and you won't know what to do with it nor will you be satisfied with what you have. Just like opening the closet to find that among all of those clothes, you can't find anything to wear.

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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: