Friday, November 21, 2008

Friday Blogging Fun

I won't be posting all next week because I will be in Dallas celebrating Thanksgiving with my family at my brother's house. Cross your fingers that he has already bought the turkey and has it thawing in the fridge. He is single and for him cooking means picking up a phone an ordering out.
Since this is my last post until December, I thought I would have a little fun about some blog analyzing sites first profiled on LibraryBytes and later on Walt at Random. As Walt publishes his book The Liblog Landscape 2007-2008 and others attempt to analyze the State of the Blogosphere, it can be fun to look at blogs from a different and not too serious perspective.

For all of you who love those Myers-Briggs tests, Typealyzer is a site that will do a Myers-Brigg analysis on a blog. The Krafty Librarian is ISTP, a Mechanic.

ISTP - The Mechanics

The independent and problem-solving type. They are especially attuned to the demands of the moment are masters of responding to challenges that arise spontaneously. They generally prefer to think things out for themselves and often avoid inter-personal conflicts. The Mechanics enjoy working together with other independent and highly skilled people and often like seek fun and action both in their work and personal life. They enjoy adventure and risk such as in driving race cars or working as policemen and firefighters.

You caught me, I do wish I could drive a race car. To my husband's horror at his company Christmas party, I threw a bunch of raffle tickets into the hopper for a chance to win The Richard Petty Driving Experience. I didn't win. So it is still just me and my little Civic on I-90, at least it is a stick shift.

The Genderanalyzer use artificial intelligence to try and determine whether the blog is written by a man or woman. Apparently I am a man, which is news to me. Perhaps it is the race car thing.

The Readability Test evaluates your blog to determine "what level of education is required to understand your blog."

I am ok with that, my mind still believes that I am still the same age as a typical undergraduate.

How much is your blog worth determines the value of your blog's worth using a link to dollar ratio based upon Technorati ranking and advertising potential. The Krafty Librarian blog is worth $26,533.38, which offsets my 401k losses nicely. It still means I should keep my day job unless I can convince my husband to create the must have iPhone App which will make us $250,000 in two months.


Thursday, November 20, 2008

MeSH for 2009

Happy New Year a little early to all of you MeSH heads. The NLM Technical Bulletin has published the 2009 changes and additions to MeSH. Don't forget to check your SDIs, your saved MyNCBI searches, and any other ongoing searches that may have some vocabulary changes that might effect the outcome of your search.

Here are the list of descriptor changes:
New Descriptors - 2009
Changed Descriptors - 2009
Deleted Descriptors - 2009
New Descriptors by Tree Subcategory - 2009

If you are interested in how things sit within the Tree, there were some major changes related to fungi, disciplines, and occupations.


Build Your Own Rep.

Some of you with kids may be familiar with Build-A-Bear, where children can go into a workshop choose a type of bear (or other stuffed animal) to make themselves. Children can pick out sounds and phrases, clothes, and a name for their new personal stuffed animal.

If you could take a library resource vendor rep (company isn't important) and create them from scratch like a Build-A-Bear, what would you include? What do you like to see and hear from the people who come to visit your library to sell you their product? What is an automatic turn off? Are there certain types of reps that make you cringe when you see/hear from them? Are there others that you have lovely conversations with and enjoy their presence? What makes a good rep good?

I realize we can get hung up over prices and we tend to either love or hate certain companies as a whole. Obviously things are easier on a rep if they have good product and work for a company that is well thought of in library circles. But, what makes a good rep good even when the company is not so popular within the library.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Next Generation Web and Bibliographic Tools

I found an interesting article, "Defrosting the Digital Library: Bibliographic Tools for the Next Generation Web," by Duncan Hull, Steve R. Pettifer, Douglas B. Kell in PLoS Computational Biology 4 (10) e1000204 doi:10.1371/journal.pcbi.1000204, discusses the issues researchers have with storing bibliographic citations and PDF articles in digital libraries. They examine tools researchers can use to help. Specifically they look at Zotero, Mendeley, MyNCBI, Mekentosj Papers,,, and HubMed. They mention that these tools help "make data and metadata more integrated, personal, and sometimes more sociable," but still face considerable obstacles.

It is an interesting article and I think it would be helpful to librarians who help researchers with bibliographic management software.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Barriers to Library Resources

I ran across this post on the Rural Doctoring blog, Library Research, Then and Now, by Theresa Chan, a family physician who describes her experiences doing library research in 1996 and in 2008. Of course she knows that things have changed and many things are online compared to back in 1996. Once perfect example is her Twitter consultation with her Twitter buddies about the best way to go about getting library articles. But what struck me the most was even with today's technology making access seemingly easier and faster, patrons still encounter many barriers to getting library information.

She is doctor in a rural area with limited access to library resources. She mentioned she was able to get articles from nearby medical library for $15/each. While this was cheaper than the publishers' price, it was still pretty pricey to her. While she was in San Francisco she decided to visit the UCSF library to get the articles she needed. Not only was the cost of parking a barrier but the UCSF library required that she use "general public" computers and she could not download a PDF to a USB drive. While she wasn't a UCSF employee or student, she was their library user while she was in the library at that moment.

What kind of barriers do we (libraries in general) have that make it more difficult to access information? What policies have we enacted that make it more difficult rather than easier for patrons to access information? Costs, location, license agreements, technological logistics, language etc. are all barriers we and our patrons encounter every day. How many times do we librarians mentioned ILLing an article or talk about databases? How many of our patrons know what that is and can ask for the appropriate service when needed? Sure the regulars may have been trained in library jargon and the "library way" of doing things, but the casual user may have problems. Sometimes we are too close to our own situation to be able to see the obstacles. Sometimes we need a fresh perspective to see the roadblocks.

Things like parking may be truly out of the library's ability to change. While license agreements are a common barrier, they can be negotiated. Are you doing that, or are you just accepting of whatever the license agreement says? What one person feels is a barrier may not be for another. For example, I have encountered a few patrons who must have absolute quiet while studying in the library. They find even the clicking of people typing on keyboards and the hum of printers printing to be a distraction. I don't know of a library that can get rid of all of their computers (and the access they provide) to accommodate these users, but they might be able to set aside silent areas or study rooms. Unfortunately there will never be a time where all of the obstacles can be removed. But, it is our job as librarians to reduce the number and type of barriers so that all of our users, expert and casual, can easily get use library resources and information.

Friday, November 14, 2008

PubMed Advanced and PubMed Basic Changes

According to the NLM Technical Bulletin, the PubMed Advanced Search soon will no longer be in beta. It will be the place for people to do field searching, limits, and other features.

IMPORTANT: In the near future the tabs for Limits, History, Preview/Index, History, Clipboard and Details will be REMOVED from the basic PubMed search pages.

I don't think I am going to be a big fan of tab removal "improvement."

For more information on the changes go to

Labels: ,

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

You Still Need a Librarian Even If Everything is Online

In my previous library life I was a medical librarian for a community hospital. When I applied for that position I discovered that it was the perfect match for me at that time in my life. They needed/wanted to take that next step and get their library online and I wanted/needed experience in other areas of medical librarianship. Prior to that position I had worked at large medical institution where every librarian had a specific role. I needed to spread my wings and the position at the community hospital provided that opportunity.

I knew it wasn't going to be easy when I took the job. The library had a c-a-r-d catalog. Yes you read it right, a card catalog. Not an online catalog that we sometimes accidentally still refer to as a card catalog, but the good ol' fashion one where you flip through the actual cards. Nobody knew how to use it, the medical students and residents only exposure to one was through Pottery Barn. In addition to the card catalog, the library had only two online journals (NEJM and JAMA) through Ovid. There were no links to open access journals, and they had not even activated their online free with print paid subscription. The library's Intra and Internet sites were nonexistent.

However, I wasn't completely starting from scratch. They had a subscribed to a solid group of online databases and the administration was interested and enthusiastic with taking the library to the next level. I had an assistant who handled some of the day to day things like ILL, two good volunteers to do photocopying and shelving, and library school down the road that furnished me with students eager to do practicums.

Within the first year and a half I got a union online catalog up and running with three other affiliated hospitals. (Thank you to all of those library students who helped catalog the books.) I activated all of the online journals that came free with a print subscription. I created a very rudimentary A-Z online journal list on the library's Intranet page, it included the online journals as well as a few popular open access or embargoed titles. I also added our titles to PubMed's LinkOut. Gradually bought a few relatively cheap online journals. I entered into consortia agreements to help pay for online access to books and journals such as NEJM, JAMA, and AccessMedicine.

How did I pay for all of this? The first year I had no extra budget, I inherited a library budget already in place prior to being hired. So I had to get creative. I saved a lot in ILL costs by reworking the Docline tables to include the Freeshare libraries at the top. That saved enough money to offset the majority of the new online catalog. In the case of AccessMedicine, I decided not to buy some of the printed versions of the books that were also in the AccessMedicine collection. I actually saved money by dropping NEJM and JAMA from Ovid and joining a group of other libraries that purchased them from the publisher.

In the second year I looked at printed journal usage and bought a few slightly pricier online journals. (I realize the definitions of cheap and pricey are somewhat subject to the library and the budget.) My big accomplishment, I got a grant to fund the library's purchase of an A-Z product, a link resolver, and Athens off campus authentication system. The A-Z product opened up access to a whole slew of open access journal titles and it easily listed and maintained links to online journals I had purchased as well as those that were full text through our subscribed databases. The link resolver worked within PubMed and Ovid and patrons were able to easily access the full text or request an article using an ILL form (which came to the library assistant as an email). For the first time library users were able to access almost all of the hospital's library resources from off campus through the use of just one username and password. Athens made this possible. I know longer had to print out a large list of usernames and passwords to the various online resources and distribute it patrons.

In addition to the technological improvements I walked and talked my little butt off, singing the praises of what the library had and could do. I talked to just about anybody who would listen. I talked a lot with the IT department and the IT people, because a lot of what I was doing was new to them. I did in service trainings, I did one on one instructions, I gave mini lectures, and taught hands on library instruction classes. I pimped my library.

The beauty of it all was that I began to see real results. It came in many forms: The head of pharmacy told one of his colleagues that the journal list (A-Z) was like an all you can eat candy store. Doctors I had never seen before came into register to access resources from home using Athens. Somebody within the IT department told another colleague, "Oh yes, I know that Michelle, she is always doing something."

The results were also reflected in the online usage statistics. Administration loved getting this information. All of the anecdotal evidence was just the icing on the cake of statistics. In the first year we had approximately 800 full text downloads. The second year ended with over 1400 downloads, and the third year ended with over 3000 full text downloads. Some of the difference between the first and second year numbers could be attributed to the increase in online journal acquisition. But the library did not buy a whole lot of online titles within that time, less than 10. I would say that most of the usage could be attributed to making access much easier and more available.

At the end of my third year, I accepted a new librarian position at another institution. I loved what I was doing, but the new job was just too good to pass up. I felt confident though that I was leaving the library in good shape for the next librarian. There was still a lot of outreach to do and the print collection still needed a lot of weeding and adding to. But the heavy lifting of getting a library online was accomplished.

Despite leaving the library in good shape, I am sad to say that it has deteriorated significantly and I worry about its future. The librarian who replaced me did not even stay a whole year in the position. Perhaps she was a square peg and the library was a round hole, I don't know the entire details nor would I like to speculate. But one thing is for sure, without a knowledgeable librarian maintaining the electronic resources and promoting them, usage dropped for the first time. How do I know this? When the librarian left, my previous library asked that I help them out until they could find a replacement. I agreed. I had poured so much of my librarian soul into that library, that I felt I had an obligation to try help out until a replacement was found.

Working full time in another institution, I can only do so much to help. I am not on their IP ranges, I don't have access to the files, license agreements, etc. Really I can only serve as contact person for vendors and the library. I have noticed that things are breaking, linking is not always working, and off campus access is spotty for certain users and certain resources. I try and trouble shoot the problems to the best of my time and ability, but really the library needs a new full time tech savvy librarian to take the reigns. Worse yet I don't see this happening in the near future. They still have not posted the job and I fear that my sense of duty and helping has enabled them to stall the recruitment process.

Walking by the library you would never notice, people still go in the library and use it. But unlike printed books and journals sitting on the shelves, the slow decay of the online collection goes unnoticed by the regular outside world. If a link is broken or an online resource is mysteriously gone, it isn't as obvious as seeing bare shelves. However, the impact is just the same as if the material was missing from the shelves. Unavailable is unavailable.

The Duke Magazine Article, Brave New World, by Jacob Dagger said, some of the traditional methods of library collection, development, and education are changing and have changed with technology. Just because it can be found online by students doesn't mean that it is the best or right resource. I think that is especially true with medical resources. The people are accessing things online, the librarian needs to be at the forefront of this. Because if the library resources aren't available online, searchers are going to find it from another online resource which may or may not be a good one.

The online library is just as important as the physical library people see every day. Just like the physical collection it requires a certain amount of maintenance and work. Just because it is online doesn't mean that a library doesn't need a librarian anymore. Who works on the license agreement, sets up access, maintains access, fixes problems, enhances access, promotes access (nobody wants to pay money for something that isn't used), and works to get better resources online? A librarian. Just because librarians aren't seen stamping, shelving, and copying books doesn't mean they aren't doing their jobs. The role of the librarian has changed, it has become more of an online facilitator to information. The work is more behind the scenes and not immediately apparent. Just because people haven't heard of any problems regarding online access doesn't mean it is all free or easy, it just means librarians are doing their jobs and so that it appears easy and available. Just because people see the physical library doesn't mean that they see the entire amount of library resources.

The library is more than just the books on the shelves, unfortunately that still many people's perception. That can unhinge even the best of efforts, plans, and libraries.


Thursday, November 06, 2008

The Mobile Web

Ok, I am back in Cleveland after my brief one day trip to Boston. I wish I could have stayed longer but previous plans kept me from extending my trip. As it was, I almost didn't make it back home. Me and six of my airplane buddies literally had to run from one terminal to the end of another terminal to try and make our connection to Cleveland departing in 15 min. (It also happened to be the last flight of any airlines to Cleveland.) The airline industry has definitely changed, no help from gate attendants who handed us a new ticket for a flight leaving at 7:00am the next day and told us we weren't going to make it in time to our gate last night. My six new friends and I decided we would rather give it a shot and see the door closed rather than accept defeat. While the airline was less than helpful, I have to say other travelers and airport personnel were very helpful as we sprinted to our gate.

Now after a few Advil and a mental note to workout a little bit more, I have begun to think about some of the other speakers and their presentations.

I found the presentation from Andrew Yu, the Mobile Devices Program Manager for the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, especially interesting. Andrew and his team are responsible for developing MIT's integrated mobile web site, The site is designed work on several mobile devices (i.e. smartphones) to assist with basic services on campus. Here he describes his vision for mobile computing at MIT. The site focuses on providing faculty and students with necessary information at their finger tips. It is not research information, it is information that makes working and attending school at MIT just a little easier. Shuttle bus schedules, class information, professor contacts, maps, etc. are all available and very very easy to read and access.

They recorded our presentations and I will link to it when it is available, because my little description just won't quite capture how cool his project is.

I found his presentation so interesting because I could immediately see how hospitals could implement something similar for patients and families. Many of these people spend lots of time in the hospital with their sick relative. Think of how helpful it would be to have a map of the hospital (interior and exterior) along with parking information, cafeteria information, doctor and appointment contact information, all available on the phone. Hospitals could expand that by including a map of the nearby surrounding with hotel and restaurant information.

Take a look at the site, see how easy it is to navigate and how potentially informative it is. Then think about the possibilities something similar might do for your hospital or quite possibly your library.


Wednesday, November 05, 2008

Mobile Medical Applications

Today I am speaking in Boston at Simmons College for the New England Chapter of the American Society for Information Science and Technology (NEASIS&T). The program, Mobile Mania: Developing Information Services for Portable Devices, will have five people (including myself), speaking about portable digital devices. I will specifically be speaking about mobile medical applications. I want to share one very good and interesting article that I found while preparing for this talk. (Here are my slides if you are interested. I just found out that they will be recording me. If it works out I will try and add the audio of my presentation to the slides.)

Surfing the web: practicing medicine in a technological age: using smartphones in clinical practice. Clin Infect Dis. 2008 Jul 1;47(1):117-22. PMID: 18491969. (not free full text)


Mobile technology has the potential to revolutionize how physicians practice medicine. From having access to the latest medical research at the point of care to being able to communicate at a moment's notice with physicians and colleagues around the world, we are practicing medicine in a technological age. During recent years, many physicians have been simultaneously using a pager, cellular telephone, and personal digital assistant (PDA) to keep in communication with the hospital and to access medical information or calendar functions. Many physicians have begun replacing multiple devices with a "smartphone," which functions as a cellular telephone, pager, and PDA. The goal of this article is to provide an overview of the currently available platforms that make up the smartphone devices and the available medical software. Each platform has its unique advantages and disadvantages, and available software will vary by device and is in constant flux.

I like this article for two main reasons:

  1. It specifically speaks about smartphones. Most of the research out there is about 2-3 years old despite having 2007 and 2008 published dates. These older articles mention PDAs as the main handheld devices in use. This is no longer the case, we are in the midst of a major change from PDA's to smartphones. In 2007 PDA sales fell by 43% while smartphone sales increased by 60%.

  2. They review 6 out of the 7 smartphone operating systems, Google's G1 Android and the 3G version of the iPhone were unavailable. The authors mentions each operating system's strengths and weaknesses as a whole. Additionally they mention which systems tend to have the most medical applications available.
If you are helping a doctor or nurse decide what smartphone they might want to purchase you might want to forward them this article. In addition to the phone's operating systems and medical resource compatibility, they have to be aware of cell phone plans/charges and what their institution supports. Interesting note: A lot institutions only support Blackberry's for institutional email access, but according to the article, "Blackberry devices still lag somewhat in availability of medical software." So one might have to make some trade offs in functionality and institutional access depending on the device and institutional support.

For those of you who have IT's ear or any IT department readers, you might want to check out the following article:

CIOs will need to support an array of mobile devices and applications. With no dominant applications, healthcare IT executives must provide clinicians with maximum flexibility for their mobile needs. Healthc Inform. 2008 Feb;25(2):54, 56. PMID: 18320880 (free full text)

Perhaps those IT departments that only support Blackberry access might take a lesson from this article as well as from Yale who supports email access for several types of phones but does say to those who "have a need to use a PDA or SmartPhone to send or receive ePHI or other information that may be considered confidential or sensitive, please consult with their IT support provider for recommendations."

Labels: ,

Tuesday, November 04, 2008


Today is Election Day in the United States. Although many states (including Ohio) allow registered voters to vote prior to the actual day, there are other states that don't allow this, and there are people who specifically wait until election day to cast their votes. So for all of you registered voters who haven't voted yet, get out there and vote.

Speaking of voting, don't forget that MLA has announced the Slate for the 2009/10 MLA Election. All MLA members with email addresses on file will receive ballots electronically.The election will be held November 5–December 10, 2008. Paper ballots will be mailed to members without email addresses on file.

Members will be voting for the MLA President-elect, two positions on the MLA Board of Directors, and nine representatives on the MLA Nominating Committee.

Go to MLANet for more on the election and a complete list of candidates


Monday, November 03, 2008

Strategic Plan Comment Period Extended

The time period for commenting on the MLA Strategic Plan Comments via MLA Connections Blog has been extended. Visit MLA Connections today read more about the plan and to register. After some initial comments, the MLA Board has decided first start with the vision and core values statement.
Specifically they would like your opinions on whether the vision statement still relevant and whether the core values are still appropriate?
Think about them and think about whether we need add or change them in some way.

Register to comment and post your comments before Nov 14th. Then they will move on to review the Strategic Plan's Goals.


RSS Button Subscribe to this feed.
Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 2.5 License.
The Krafty Librarian has been a medical librarian since 1998. She is currently the medical librarian for a hospital system in Ohio. You can email her at: