Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Changes to PubMed SOON

There are going to be some big changes to PubMed happening very soon. Actually some of the changes are happening already. They are going live with changes as they come about. In January I blogged about some upcoming changes and the updates that many of the NN/LM regions scheduled to help inform us of the new look and searching methods.

For those of you who missed the updates, the MidContinental Region (MCR) has a recording of one of their sessions at https://webmeeting.nih.gov/p67806081/
For people who need a good video for patrons to show them the changes and how to search PubMed, check out Melissa Rethlefsen's tutorial at Mayo Clinic. http://liblog.mayo.edu/2009/03/04/pubmed-advanced-search-an-introduction/

Some of the big changes:

  • The Single Citation Matcher will be gone! -They are no longer maintaining this link and it will go away in the future. You can do a citation search right within PubMed's search box and it will realize that you are looking for a citation and display the citations of up to three articles in a light yellow box that appears above the search results..
  • The tabs (Limit, Preview/Index, Clipboard, History, etc.) will be gone. These functions will be available on Advanced Search.
  • Full text icons are already gone. Remember the little icon of a green page (indicating free full text)? That has been replaced by a link at the bottom of the citation indicating full text ability.
  • Term Young Adult has been added as an age term for articles 2009 onward. This term represents 19-24 year olds and will be available as an age limit when more articles are added that fit within this limit.
  • Citation display is slightly different. The title is now displayed first instead of the authors.
  • Gene Senors. Operates similar to the new Citation Sensor. The example the MCR used was braC1. When that is typed into the search box, it displays gene information in a yellow box just above the citations results.
  • The Drug Sensor detects whether a drug name is present in your search, and if it detects the drug then it gives information from the NCBI bookshelf. But don't get too excited about this sensor because it currently only detects about 200 drug names. MCR's example was lovastatin, if you type that in you will notice lovastatin results on the right hand side of the search page.
  • The Patient Sensor provides patient level information for drugs on the right hand side of the search page, title Patient Drug Information and is from 2 million citations
  • Automatic Term Mapping (ATM) -Basically this is just Googlizing the search process. PubMed used to have a specific search process for mapping search terms. It went first to MeSH and if it found a MeSH term then it would stop. The ATM still searches the terms as a MeSH but then also searches for the term in All Fields and if it is a multiple word term such as gene therapy, it will break up the term and search each word in All Fields. Personally that is a big pain in the neck and another reason why I am sticking with Ovid Medline.
  • My NCBI will have changes. You can change your password and email. Additional highlighting features have been added. PubMed Preferences will be where you turn on your filters for full text and free full text results (as well as other typical limits such as English and Humans).
  • My Bibliography is meant for authors to bring all of their publications into one place. You can only create one bibliography and is really only meant to be a save citation search place. It isn't meant to work with or as a citation manager.

In summary, Advanced Search is the way librarians are going to want to search. Librarians should bookmark this page. Librarians will have to determine what page they want their patrons to use and select that one for their recommended links.

There are a lot of other changes happening and unfortunately after watching the webinar, I have more questions regarding the changes rather than answers.

My questions and thoughts:
  • For institutions that don't use filters but use a special URL to show their holdings, how will the institutional icons be displayed in this new style.
  • I am not a big fan of Automatic Term Mapping (ATM). It just makes a big mess and adds way more citations to the results than you really need to deal with. But since we are in a Google world and people expect Google results, I guess we are stuck with ATM.
  • I am not quite sure why My Bibliography is useful. Most authors would want to have more than one bibliography and they would want something that works with or as a citation manager. Perhaps I am missing why this is an enhancement.

Why doesn't PubMed create the changes and show us the new version AHEAD of time while simultaneously running the old version? That way we can get used to it and test it ahead of time? That would make sense. Ovid did it with OvidSP, Ebsco did it with their new version. It isn't that hard and it gives users time to figure out the changes BEFORE they officially go live. Remember when the institutional icons displayed at the bottom of citations? That whole uproar could have been prevented if they had beta trialed it first along side the old version. It boggles my mind that we are supposed to imagine the changes that will be coming and we don't get to try them out before hand. I think is an unprofessional way to do updates and I don't know why PubMed does this. The librarian community would scream to heaven and hell if Ovid or Ebsco just all of a sudden made changes without first showing and offering the beta version first. Just because PubMed is free doesn't mean they shouldn't be held to many of the same operating standards as the pay database companies.

Anybody have any more changes to add or answers to some of the questions I have?

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Thursday, March 26, 2009

My Work Life Balance

Mike at a Browns game
Originally uploaded by mak1173
Yesterday I watched MLA's Work Life Balance Webcast and I was glad they mentioned life at home. A majority of the webcast focused on the workplace and what employees and employers are doing to make things more balanced. Because employees with a healthy work life balance are more productive and usually stay with a company longer.
While the workplace is an important factor in one's work life balance, the home is the most important factor for me. Simply put, I could not do half of the things I do professionally without my husband, Mike. Since January I have been doing a lot of traveling. I am very thankful to my work and my colleagues who cover for me and take up the slack when I am gone. But my husband is the one taking sick children to the doctor when I am in California, singing Elmo songs, and trying to make sure the 2 year old doesn't do a header off the beachers at the 6 year old's soccer game. Without him acting as the single parent on the days I am out of town, I wouldn't be able to travel and meet the people I do.
We truely have 50/50 marriage where each of us chips in and does what needs to be done to keep the house and family running. Some days the scale is tipped 70/30 depending on who is working late and who is picking spaghetti out of the kids' and dog's hair. But in the end it all balances out.
Mike will be coming with me to MLA in Hawaii. He deserves it and he is looking forward to meeting my librarian friends. When people ask me, "How are you able to find time and do the things you do?" I have to say it is all because of Mike. Without him it wouldn't happen. If you see him while we are in Hawaii, know he is what makes the Krafty Librarian, krafty.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Facebook for Awkward Adults

MSNBC.com has a Facebook survival guide for awkward adults. MSNBC.com quotes a Pew Internet Research poll stating the fastest group on Facebook are the 35-45 year olds. The likelihood of this age group using these sites has quadrupled in the last four years. The tips are a tongue and cheek but they got me thinking about social protocols in Facebook.

What are some dos and don'ts in Facebook that should be taught to new Facebookers or to veteran Facebookers who could use a hint?

What do you like about Facebook what are your pet peeves? Are there things that librarians or libraries on Facebook doing that they should or shouldn't do?

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Libraries, Vendors and the Economy

Yesterday I attended my first meeting with the New England Journal of Medicine Library Advisory Board and it was very interesting. We discussed a lot of issues such as the future of medical journals, libraries, technology, and users/readers.
One of the more interesting discussions centered around the future and the transition of libraries becoming more than just repositories holding books and journals (printed matter) and the transition of journals to something more than just the printed hard copy.
This transition has been happening for some time but the economy and tightening of budgets has expedited this process. It has forced all of us to evaluate our ideas about our purchases, services, and roles. Do we really want buy print journals anymore when it costs so much in personnel time and salary to check them in, process them, and claim them. There is also the cost of binding and the cost of housing them. Keeping them on your shelves has a cost, because that space could always be put to use in other and possibly better ways. Printed material isn't the only resource facing scrutiny, databases, ILS, and other online resources must prove their worth as our role changes. Questions like, "Why are we paying for $ a database when we can get it free or cheaper from another company," are taken seriously. One librarian made the comment that libraries that have focused on and built themselves as large repositories could possibly have a lot of problems coming. Because the focus is turning away from the resources within the library and turning even more to the amount and the type of user services provided. Librarians have always provided services, but outreach is even more important now. Services gets you out of your library, gets you and your library noticed and better illustrates your value to the institution than a collection of books, journals and databases does. As libraries begin to increase the type and number of services they still need some resources. But librarians are now more focused on what resources support their services in the most economical way. This might mean that certain sacred cow resources and collections might be cut to keep other more useful or profitable resources.
Obviously this impacts vendors considerably, those hurt by the economy as well as those who have made profits despite the down turn. Just like the large repository institutions facing some very tough issues, I have got to think that the larger vendors are going to be in for some interesting times. Elsevier, Springer, Wolters Kluwer, EBSCO, etc. all are fairly big companies within publishing and library world. They each have various diverse subsidiaries. For example, did you know EBSCO also makes fishing lures? Some vendors have other non library and publishing interests, such as EBSCO, others do not.
There are vendors that are not as diverse and are still very heavy in the publishing and library world. These companies may find themselves in the same boat as libraries. This might get especially interesting when the subdivisions or subsidiaries of the parent company do not communicate. If they don't communicate well then they may not have created a plan as to how the subsidiaries can work together instead of against each other. For example, a significant increase in journal prices might not only cause a library to cut journal subscriptions but it might also impact the textbook division because the library may not also buy as many textbooks in order to afford the journals they didn't cut.
This happens with the purchase of databases. If a needed database becomes too expensive yet is critical to the mission of the library/institution the library usually offsets these costs by cutting other databases, journals, and textbooks. For example, if EBSCO significantly raised the price of CINAHL (which cannot be purchased elsewhere), many libraries who need CINAHL may end up cutting their journal titles (which would impact EBSCO if they were also that library's subscription agent) or quite possibly drop full text Medline in lieu of PubMed.
We are sort of used to seeing this happen with journal collections. For example, if you decide to purchase the online full text of LWW titles and cancel the print, it will cost more to get the online title. If you subscribe to a publisher's collection of titles you might be able to drop a few titles but you are obligated to spend the same amount of money on titles, essentially switching out or trading or titles. However, this method is viewed more as punitive measure among libraries and a preventive measure within the subsidiary, it usually only helps that division not the whole company.
Times could be difficult for these big companies. The reason I think this is that many libraries have already made quite extensive cuts in publications. The scuttlebutt around the library world is that libraries will be faced with even more budget cuts next year and quite possibly into 2011. Three years worth of cuts makes me think that nothing will be safe.
Therefore it is probably more essential than ever that large library vendors with subsidiaries increase their communication and partnership efforts so that they can work together. Because if one division increases their prices significantly they could be cutting the nose off despite the face of the overall company. Yeah that division is pulling down big profits but the other divisions suffer and the overall company suffers. When large companies buy out competitors and assimilate them, there will be some growing pains and communications issues. Once the dust has settled some companies have done a better job than others at communication, letting the left hand know what the right hand is doing. Some companies have not done so well and the subsidiaries appear to be completely independent of the larger corporation. These are the companies that will have problems.
Of course this is just all just my own speculation generated by a very interesting discussion about the economy speeding up the transformation libraries and journals. The examples I provided were just examples showing how almost everything is tied together. How the price a company's product can impact and directly influence (consciously or unconsciously) whether their other products are bought or cut. In this economy it is essential that we all investigate options.

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Friday, March 20, 2009

Publishers' Agreements More Liberal Than Authors Think

There was an interesting post on LIBLICENSE-L yesterday, apparently many authors are unaware of their rights with publishers. The authors tend to believe the publishers' agreements are a lot more restrictive than they really are. Publishers' agreements are more liberal than authors are aware of, but the agreements do not allow self archiving of the published PDF.
According to series of reports (listed at the end of this post) the majority of publishers' agreements allow authors of the articles to provide copies to colleagues, to incorporate them into their own works, to post them to a personal or departmental website or to an institutional repository, and to use them in course packs. Yet many authors don't think they can do any of these things when if fact many are allowed to do so.
The PDF is what people and authors want. Again, publishers' agreements exceeded author expectations regarding the PDF and copies to colleagues, incorporation into their own works, and usage in course packs. However, many authors (more than half) think publishers' agreements allow them to deposit the final PDF for self archiving. In reality less than 10% of publishers allow this.
So why is there such poor understanding of the agreements among authors? The PRC concludes that publishers need to do much more to clarify the terms of their agreements. However PRC also believes that certain terminology like "preprint" may be misleading to authors and the term should be dropped for the standard NISO terminology.

So why are publishers' agreements as clear as mud to most authors? I decided to look at Elsevier's Authors Home. (I picked Elsevier because they were the first publisher who came to mind.) I clicked on Authors' Rights, then "What rights do I retain as an author?" A lot of the information about what an author can and can't do is stated pretty clearly. I agree it gets a little confusing regarding "pre-print" version and "the right to post a revised personal version of the text of the final journal article." But, for the most part the authors' rights are stated fairly clearly. This makes me wonder whether authors even read these agreements? And perhaps the reason for poor understanding of their rights is a result of the authors' failure to read the agreements in the first place.

When we travel by plane we all hear the flight attendant giving the safety demonstration. How many well traveled passengers tune out thinking they know everything? How many published authors tune out when it comes to their rights?


Thursday, March 19, 2009

Why 2.0 Tech Fails

Meredith Farkas wrote an interesting post about the failure of some 2.0 technologies in libraries. She had a lot of good reasons but I think the most important reason is lack of strategic planning.
She states, "Some libraries jumped on the blogging bandwagon because they thought (or were told) that every library must have a blog. Other libraries started wikis because staff were really excited about the idea of having a wiki. Neither are good reasons to implement a technology. We first need to understand the needs of our population (be it patrons or staff) and then implement whatever technology and/or service will best meet those needs. We need to have clear goals in mind from the outset so that we can later assess if it’s successful or not. These technologies may be fun, but they’re simply tools. We don’t walk around with hammers looking for nails to smash in."
Exactly. I have been saying these things for quite some time. Just because you can do something doesn't mean you should. There are a ton of blog and wiki corpses littering the Internet these days and libraries have their fair percentage of them. Knowing about these tools AND when we need to apply them is the important message that gets lost sometimes. However, we can only do that if we keep our eyes and ears open. Running out and starting a blog just because everybody has to have a blog is about as helpful and effective as burying your head in the sand regarding technology. Neither extreme is good and libraries suffer as a result.
If you run out and adopt every new technology without a plan or some clear parameters, you increase the likelihood that your new endeavor might never take off or worse just hang in limbo like all of those out of date blogs, wikis, and delicious pages. How is that helpful to your user population? More importantly what else could you have been doing with that time and effort that would have been better for your patrons.
If you bury your head in the sand you run the same risks of not effectively helping or addressing the needs of your patrons. How many people would like to have a search feed sent to them or the table of contents? Without knowing about RSS and its possibilities you are limiting your patron and your options.

I think sometimes we would be better off if we just stripped the term 2.0 off of technology. We evaluate and plan other technologies, services, and upgrades in our libraries. Sometimes we plan them to death (but that is another topic). But when you throw in the term 2.0 it seems that sometimes we forget ourselves and jump to extremes. We either run out and adopt it automatically without question, or we bury our heads in the sand thinking "not another 2.0 thing."

Forget buzzwords and 2.0 terms. We need to know about the tools but we also need to remember to let the need choose the tool, not the tool choose the need.


Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Journal of Hospital Librarianship Looking for Article in the Technology Column

Hope Leman, the section leader for the Technology Column is looking for articles to for the November 2009 issue of the Journal of Hospital Librarianship.

Articles need to be with the editor by July 1, 2009.
Specifically looking for an article such as "My Favorite Web 2.0 Tools: Why I Love Them and How I Use Them." Ideally, the articles should relate to tools likely to be used in hospital library settings. Think firewall concerns.

Hope states, "This is a wonderful opportunity to showcase to your peers in our field what you know and to gain experience in writing for publication. And it never hurts to have a published article or two on your resume. There is no payment for the articles, but the visibility is well worth the effort and so is the gratitude you will receive from readers who will benefit from the know-how you will exhibit in your article."

Columns should be 8-10 pages in length, 12 point type, double spaced.
Please submit article proposals as soon as possible to Hope at

Submission of a manuscript to this Journal represents a certification on the part of the author(s) that this is an original work and that neither this manuscript nor a version of it has been published elsewhere.

Monday, March 16, 2009

Hawaii on the Cheap

CNN just published the article Traveling to Hawaii on the Cheap. It mentions, "Pleasant Holidays, one of the nation's largest privately owned travel companies, is offering vacation packages that include flight and three nights hotel stay in Oahu starting at $299." I am not sure if this is an option for anybody thinking of going to MLA.

The article states that flights from the East Coast (Boston) are about $460 and West Coast flights are under $340. Hotel occupancy numbers have hit a down turn and hotels are offering discounts on rooms as well as upgrades, free nights, and dinner coupons. "For example, Outrigger Hotels and Resorts, owned by Outrigger Enterprises Group, is offering the third night free for travelers who book a stay in Waikiki this month for $159 a night. A year ago, the lowest the rate at the hotel was nearly $100 more."

For my vacation after MLA I am going to the Big Island. The Outrigger (ocean front location) has a deal for $130/night for a partial ocean view which includes wifi, fridge and breakfast buffet each morning.

There are deals to be had. If you have been waffling back and forth it appears now is the time to book.

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LJ's 2009 Movers and Shakers

Congratulations to all of Library Journal's 2009 Movers and Shakers. Here are the medical librarians that were in this year's group of library shaking people. If after reading about these people it makes you think of somebody who also deserves to be Mover and Shaker, consider nominating them for the 2010 because LJ has already started compiling their own personal lists for next year. Yeah Medical Librarians!


Rachel Walden, Vanderbilt University Medical Center, Nashville: Rachel writes and contributes to women's health issues on Our Bodies, Our Blog, Women's Health News blog, and for the newsletter of the National Women's Health Network, Women's Health Activist. Walden is also well known for her actions regarding the POPLINE abortion controversy, where she spread the word regarding the issue through her blog and by contacting reproductive rights and feminist activists.

Dean Giustini, Vancouver General Hospital, BC: Dean is a blogger, twitterer, and wiki-er, and is actively looking at technology and librarianship and created the UBC Health Library Wiki for health librarians to store and share the information they were using to teach. Is also an active participant in Web 3.0 and Semantic Web discussions, and he recently helped secure a $1 million donation toward improving the Biomedical Branch Library and starting a clinical librarian program at Vancouver General Hospital.

Melissa Rethlefsen, Mayo Clinic Libraries, Rochester, MN: Melissa is the education technology librarian at the Mayo Clinic. She and another colleague developed three online courses for faculty; Mayo Clinic Libraries 2.0 (for library staff), Web 2.0 for Faculty (for Mayo Clinic faculty and staff), and Web 2.0 for Nurse Educators. She is has written many articles and coauthored the book Internet Cool Tools for Physicians (which I have been reading during my lunch breaks).


Friday, March 13, 2009

Ethics in Librarianship and Conflicts of Interest

T. Scott writes an interesting post on the MLA Connections blog about MLA President Mary Ryan's task force looking into MLA's Code of Ethics for Health Sciences Librarianship. Specifically Mary is interested in conflict of interest issues and how they might apply to the Code and MLA disclosure policies.
It would seem that institutions' policies on conflict of interest are varied across the United States. Scott mentions a story about a vendor withdrawing their sponsorship of a conference because of the organizing library's institutional conflict of interest policies prohibit it. I remember going to a conference (can't remember where and when) there was a bunch of us librarians on the airport shuttle going to the hotel. Once we found out we were all librarians we got to chatting. The topic came up about the free shuttle bus transportation, sponsored by a vendor, that provided attendees with a ride to/from the conference and the hotel. One of the librarians mentioned as a government employee she was not allowed to take the shuttle bus because it would be considered a conflict of interest. She had to either walk (too far), take public transportation, or rent a car.
I am all for full disclosure and trying to prevent conflicts of interest but this instance just seemed to be taking the policy to the extreme. I think MLA's Code of Ethics and disclosure policies are important. However, as Scott mentions "each of has to live within the rules established by the institutions that employ us" and I wonder how effective or helpful MLA's policies would be to deal with the broad range of institutional policies that its membership adhere to.

It is something to mull over. If you have any thoughts, consider registering with MLA Connections and commenting on the topic.

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Thursday, March 12, 2009

2009 Annual Meeting

Rikke Ogawa posted on Medlib-l today that there are some pretty good airfare deals right now to Hawaii. I found similar priced deals at airfarewatchdog.com.
Here are some sample fares:
  • LA $335
  • NY $593
  • DC $499
  • ST LOUIS $451
  • DALLAS $503
  • CHICAGO $479
  • CHAPEL HILL $523
  • BUFFALO $500
  • ATLANTA $533
  • SEATTLE $322
  • PHOENIX $327
  • COLUMBUS $484
  • ST PAUL $579

It is getting close to crunch time. If you were on the fence and you were waiting to see if you could get any good airfares, now is the time to jump.

Don't forget: WE NEED BLOGGERS!!!

If you are going to MLA and would like some AHIP points please consider blogging about your experiences. For those of you traveling with a laptop this an opportunity to get free wifi via a wireless card courtesy of MLA, you just need to make two posts per day to the blog during the meeting.

You can find more information about blogging at the MLA 2009 Blog http://npc.mlanet.org/mla09/. The application is http://tinyurl.com/b74lbm.

Deadline is April 24, 2009. Results will be announced May 1, 2009.

Please consider blogging. There will be a lot of people on the main land looking to the blog as a method to stay in touch with the Annual Meeting's events and information.

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Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Next Big Generation Already Using Your Library, Are You Ready?

When people talk about generations and demographics the Baby Boomer generation usually gets quite a bit of attention. They are a large group of people who buy or use resources. This has also been true in the library world. Baby Boomers are a group of 85 million people who were born between 1946-1964. They are between 45 and 63 years old and represent 23% of the US population. Most of these people are solidly in the middle of their careers or they are planning retirement in the next few years (depending on the economy).

There is a new equally large group moving in right behind the Boomers and they are already in the work force and possibly using your library. They are the Net Generation. The Net Generation is made up of some Gen Xers (1965-1980) and Millenials (1981-2000). The Net Generation according to Don Tapscott is a group of 88 million people born between 1977-1997 and they represent 27% of the US population. Many of the Net Generation is already in the workforce starting their careers or established and close to mid career.
As librarians we have always known there are different user groups in our libraries. We have doctors, nurses, therapists, administration, patients, etc. using our facilities and services. So we should be used to serving different user groups. Well, yes we are and no we aren't. You see we medical librarians are good at serving different user groups based on careers but we are somewhat poor at serving different age groups. This is the direct opposite of public librarians who have services targeted at age groups.
So why does this matter? A 32 year old doctor is going to want a journal article and get information just like a 55 year old doctor. Right? Sort of. The difference is not in their careers but in how they as individuals have evolved independent of the career.

Here are some characteristics of the two groups:

Net Learners (Baby Boomers and Seniors):
  • Had to learn technology, usually along side the Net Generation
  • Tend to communicate via phone or email, usually still has a land line phone
  • Prefers individual work
  • Used to receiving information linearly
  • Prefers instructions and less experimentation

Net Generation:

  • Born with or had technology at very early age
  • Always have known cheap, quick communication, often communicates via email or text and it is not unusual for them to never have a land line installed or to drop their land line service
  • Prefers to work in peer groups
  • Extreme multi-taskers
  • Prefer to gain experiences through experimentation
These two groups of people no matter what their professions process and learn information and communicate entirely differently. We as librarians librarians need to recognize this and adapt to fulfill their needs because these two groups conduct research, search learn, study and communicate differently.

This generation prefers to learn through experience and they tend not to read instructions. Last March (2008) there was a bit of hoopla on MEDLIB-l and in the blogosphere generated by a PhD student's hatred of PubMed. The student said, "I don't think I should have to be, or enlist the services of, a medical librarian in order to do a simple search on a literature search engine. PubMed should be an intuitive search engine such as Google, or others. I don't know of many researchers, either MDs or PhDs, who have had extensive training in computer science or search algorithms." While I don't know how old the student is, this is the typical mentality of many in the Net Generation. All of our hands on library search classes where we take them step by step through the search process are not effective for this group of people. It is effective for the Baby Boomers, not the Net Generation. The Net Generation people are usually the people in the hands on class that are busy typing email while we are talking about difference between OR and AND. They are usually 4 steps "ahead" because they like to skip ahead and think things are moving to slowly. Net Learners tend to follow teacher based instruction while the Net Generation view teachers more as sideline coaches to be consulted.

The Net Generation expects almost everything online while the Net Learners don't. Not everything is online and to a certain extent the Net Generation understands this to some degree but they don't know where to draw the line. Certain journals are now available online starting at volume 1, 1962 (Journal of Cell Biology) and Google has put many books online. To be fair the line of what is online and what isn't is constantly moving, but the key thing is that the Net Generation expect more from that moving line than the Net Learners.

The Net Generation communicates far differently than Net Learners. The Net Generation has taken multi tasking communication to a whole new level. Where Net Learners tend to carry on one conversation and will primarily call or email, they usually do these events one at time. The Net Generation will text while they carry on a face conversation with somebody. They will be on a cell phone, emailing and discussing a group project with somebody next to them. I see this all the time working at the service desk. The Net Learners usually excuse themselves for a second to to take an important call. The Net Generation will chat with you while they are talking to somebody on the phone. Another example would be how I schedule two of my babysitters. Both girls are in college watch my boys when they are in town. Getting in touch with them is difficult, unless I use Facebook. Due to spam they change email accounts like they change clothes and they keep their cell phones off during the days they are in classes. But they live on Facebook. If I send them a message in Facebook I get a much quicker response than if I emailed them (assuming I got the right email address) or if left a voicemail on their cell.

The Net Generation prefers to work in groups. That is not to say that Net Learners don't work in groups, but you will see more of the Net Generation grouping for studying and projects. Consider the recent trend in libraries to provide more group study rooms. Many medical and academic libraries are scrambling to provide more group study rooms in their current space while some are doing some building projects and creating new space or retrofitting old space. At my old library, I noticed a trend. Younger users preferred to work in the groups in the main library while some of the older users preferred to go in the silent study areas to read or study alone.

So what do we do? Do we chuck the old ways out the window because a new group of users is using us. No. We should try to serve both populations the best we can. It really isn't that hard to do some very simple and effective things to make our services and resources more relevant to both groups.

Teaching and hands on instruction:
Tailor your teaching methods to the age of the group as well as their subject discipline. This might be difficult if you have a mixed age group. But if you're doing a lot of classes for medical students, incoming residents, etc. they tend to fall within an age range and you can adjust your class to meet their needs. Instead of doing step by step instruction, try giving them the search question and have them do the searching right away on their own for 15-20 minutes. Remain in the room and roam around so that you are available to answer questions as the come up. Believe me, they come up and they ask questions. This is the perfect method for them to learn through experimentation, to get the error messages, etc. After 15-20 minutes of independent searching discuss the pros and cons of each of their search strategies. This is the teaching opportunity, this is where you hit upon the points that you normally would have before they started searching. I have tried this method many times and found that I have far less sleepers in class and I have noticed the students tend to seek me more when they are doing a search and get in trouble.

Online Expectations:
This is hard, because that line is always moving. What used to be only in print one day is now online and conversely what used to be online one day may not be any more or it might be at another site. That makes having link resolvers, IP access, branding, and connecting your resources even more important. There will always be someone who searches Google for something and if you journals are IP validated they might be able to trip over the full text of one of your online journal subscriptions with your institution's name as provider in the corner.
A lot of what you can do depends on the type of library you are and what resources you have. Larger academic medical libraries might have more people who can do more education, online documentation, increase access points, and use other methods to guide people to resources. For example it might behoove a library to add their library holdings to Google Scholar.
Hospital libraries NEED TO GET ONLINE! Sorry to use all caps, and probably most of the people reading this blog already know this. But I can't tell you how many small hospital librarians I run into who don't have any online presence (even to free journals) and are still using card catalogs. These librarians have told me there isn't a need to go online because their users haven't asked for it. I don't want to go down that whole path in this post, so I will try to say it quickly and simply. They don't ask you for an online catalog because they expect it online. They are going to Google and not coming to your library and since you have no online presence they aren't using your resources. The people you see coming to your library are the same people you have seen for years and your user base is not growing. Getting resources online will grow your user base.

Recently there was a great discussion on MEDLIB-l about sharing one's elevator speech. I hope everybody took note and grabbed some good ones. You might need to adjust your elevator speech to not only the person's profession but their age as well. Net Learners like to know they can save time by using your services. The Net Generation thinks they can save time by doing it on their own. It is up to you bridge that communication gap. Other ways might be to look at your news and information services. How do you inform your users and your community of resources and events? What is the most effective method for which age and professional group? Mass emails, do they work, are they deleted or are they automatically put in the spam folder unread. I have noticed that a lot of people are giving me their personal email accounts rather than their work accounts because they can't access their work account from home. How does Yahoo, Hotmail, Gmail, etc. deal with receiving email from your OPAC or from you? Does it "know" you and keep the email in the in box or do you have to tell the person to look in their bulk or spam folders and then tell them to add you as a trusted address?

Just because we are looking at different methods to serving the Net Generation it doesn't mean we should ignore the Net Learners. On the contrary, I think we need to serve both, as librarians we are already familiar with serving different populations. We just have to think a little bit differently and adjust some of our approaches. I recently gave a presentation and some more ideas can be found in the PowerPoint slides at http://www.slideshare.net/michellekraft/the-evolving-library.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Thinking of Moving From Blogger To WordPress

Back when I started blogging, I chose to use Blogger because it was free and easy. At the time I didn't know how this "blogging thing" would work and whether I would want to keep it going. Well fast forward five years (yest it has been that long) and I find myself thinking of moving my blog to WordPress. WordPress has a few more bells and whistles that I would like to take advantage of. If I were starting a brand new blog today, I would probably use WordPress.

But I am not starting brand new. I have five years worth of posts that I would like to keep and quite frankly I am a little nervous about moving platforms and losing everything.

So if you have ever move from Blogger to WordPress I would love to hear from you to hear how you did it and whether it was at all painful.

Wednesday, March 04, 2009

Midwest Chapter MLA Call for Papers and Posters

For those librarians like myself who are in the Midwest Chapter, the Midwest Chapter of MLA is now accepting poster and paper submissions for the Midwest MLA Annual Meeting October 2009 in Columbus.

If you are Midwest Chapter librarian and are unable to go to the Annual MLA Meeting in Hawaii this year, this a great opportunity to attend a professional meeting to learn and network with other libraians.

Featured Speakers:
Clifford Stoll, astronomer, computer expert and author
Stoll's bio PDF and the YouTube Video "18 Minutes with an Agile Mind."

Lorcan Dempsey, OCLC VP and Chief Strategist
Dempsey's bio and his blog On Libraries, services, and networks.

For more information about the Midwest MLA Annual Meeting go to http://www.midwestmla.org/conference2009

(reprinted from MEDLIB-l)

The Program Committee of the Midwest Chapter of the Medical Library Association invites proposals for contributed papers and posters for the 2009 Midwest MLA Annual Meeting in Columbus, Ohio from October 3-6 at the Hyatt on Capitol Square.

The conference theme of "Seek, Discover, Explore" lends itself to a variety of topics, and provides opportunities for presenters to show how they endeavor to seek out new and improved ways to provide cutting-edge library services, to discover innovative techniques for using technology and the Internet, or to explore how libraries connect people to information in creative ways. Papers and posters may highlight practical problem-solving approaches, report on research in librarianship, document collaborative efforts or outreach activities, or describe innovative programs, resources or services. Contributed paper and poster topics are as unlimited as your imagination, talents and creativity can devise.

Contributed papers will be presented on Sunday, October 4 from 2 pm until 4pm.
Posters will be on display on Monday, October 5 from 11am until 5pm. Presenters should be available to discuss their posters from 11am to noon on October 5.

For contributed paper proposals, submit a 250 word abstract to describe your paper. Include your name, position title, address, phone number and email address.
The abstract should be sent to: Leslie Schick, University of Cincinnati Health Sciences Library, PO Box 670574, 231 Albert Sabin Way, Cincinnati, OH 45267-0574 or emailed to

For poster proposals, submit a 250 word abstract to describe your poster. Include your name, position title, address, phone number and email address.
The abstract should be sent to: Linda DeMuro, Director of Library Services, Nationwide Children's Hospital Library, 700 Children's Dr., Columbus OH 43205 or emailed to

The deadline for abstract submission is May 31, 2009.
Notifications of paper/poster acceptance/rejection will be made by June 30, 2009.

Tuesday, March 03, 2009

The Passive and Active Library

There is a trend underfoot. Libraries are moving away from being a passive to more active.
By passive, I don't mean that the librarians or staff were passive and just twiddling their thumbs. I mean that in the past the vast majority of library resources were housed within the library. Books, journals, databases, etc. were all inside the library. There wasn't electronic access. It wasn't too long ago that our databases were on CDs loaded on to individual computers. Even the most active and outgoing librarian who conducted many outreach programs, participated in grand rounds, taught educational sessions, and knew every patron's name still had a passive library, because the patrons had to come to the library to use the resources. The patrons were more active in their research, they came to the library, because they had to.

Now libraries are now becoming more active and the patrons are becoming more passive. With advances in technology a library's collection is no longer restricted to the confines of the library's physical space. The Internet allows librarians to create web pages to showcase resources. IP validation and open URL resolvers make it so anybody on the institution's network (physically or remotely) can access library resources. Patrons don't even need to be searching the library databases to get connected to the library's online collection. A Google search could bring up results from BMJ, JAMA, NEJM, or any other online journal and thanks to the "miracle" of institutional subscriptions and IP validation, the patron can get the full text without even realizing they were using the library. Essentially it is more like the library resources coming to the patron instead of the patron coming to the library, and I haven't even touched upon all the 2.0 technology tools which are supposed to reach out to the patron even more so.

Why is this such a big deal? Well the reason is that we are in the middle of a generation shift within the workplace. Ellen Detlefsen in MLA News (members only) writes about this generation shift within the library workforce. This is also applies to the library users as well. Seniors are defined as being born between 1925-1945. Baby Boomers were born between 1946-1964. Gen Xers were born between 1965-1980 and Millennials were born between 1981-2000. Now if my math is right, we have large chunk Gen X doctors and nurses working in our hospitals, and depending on their age and their chosen profession we have some Millenials too. The oldest Millenial is 28 years old. The vast majority of medical students straight out of undergraduate studies are Millenials. The oldest of the Boomers is 63 years old and looking towards retirement, maybe not in this year with the economy, but sooner than the Gen Xers.

So we have younger patrons, why is this such a big deal. This happens every generation. True, and with each generation are changes in society and technology that the previous generation did not experience. This is very noticeable right now the relationship our patrons have with technology. According to Forrester Research, technology is pervasive the life of a Millennial, using multiple communication devices is essential, and technology replaces the workaholic style.
Millenials are used to receiving information quickly from multiple sources and like process it immediately and have little tolerance for delays and expect speed from the Web. Older workers would rather receive information linearly, think about, digest it and have more patience when dealing with the Web and technology. If you think about it, this is how they use the library and search for information. You all have seen it, the resident who jumps onto Google stating they just need one quick good article on a topic. If they use the library for this, they are in and out of there and off to their next thing before you can glance at their badge to learn their name. Millennial patrons want information more at their finger tips, they don't want to have to go and get it. If they could upload information like the characters in The Matrix, I think many would think the giant plug in the back of their head would be an adequate trade off.

As our patron population has become more passive, preferring information to come to them or at least obscenely easy to find, our libraries have become more active by pushing access to resources beyond the physical boundaries and either finding patrons (RSS feeds) or making access easier.

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Monday, March 02, 2009

Libraries Using Different 2.0 Technologies

Saturday I spoke about the promises and perils of web 2.0 technologies in special libraries. I focused on all of the ways special libraries are using technology and the common barriers that librarians encounter trying.
I think showing examples of what others are doing can be extremely helpful. It helps others see new applications of the technologies and perhaps can get them thinking about how some things might work in their institution. One size does not fit all, not every technology works with every library, but just seeing what others are doing can get the mind going. In preparation for the talk, I looked around the web to find examples of what other libraries are doing. I took screen shots of what was I thought was interesting and I added them into the presentation slides.
Librarians are busy! Most use these technologies in three ways general communication, current awareness, and reference.

Here are just a few of the examples I found of how librarians are using blogs, wikis, Twitter, IM, tagging, videos, etc.

Many libraries use a reference desk wiki or blog for internal or external communication such as listing the desk schedule, active issues, tick sheets, product reviews, policy changes, user education, and news and general information.

  • Jenkins Law Library - Their home page includes an information/news blog front and center. People can easily subscribe to these feeds by clicking on the orange RSS box.
  • medlibs and mla2009 - I haven't found anybody specifically using Twitter to communicate to library users I have found quite a few examples of peer to peer communication or chat collab. Medlibs and mla 2009 are two examples of librarians twittering back and forth sharing information and collaborating on ideas. The principle is similar to the listserv medlib-l but conversations are short.
  • Courthouse Libraries BC - They have produced YouTube videos demonstrating research techniques and strategies.
  • Cleveland Clinic Health System Libraries Wiki - The nine hospital system is using an external wiki as their web page for employees to use when they are off campus. It is still in beta as some of the kinks are being ironed before it is officially live and marketed to patrons.

Current Awareness and RSS:
Librarians are using RSS to keep themselves and their users up to date on information. This is seen most often in table of contents feeds, saved searches on databases, new additions to the catalog, and news (from the library blog as in Jenkin's Law Library's home page).

  • Ebling Library - They provide access to over 2400 RSS feeds to biomedical and health sciences journals.
  • PubMed, Ovid, EBSCO, and Scopus - These databases and many others allow users to save their searches as RSS feeds which will help notify them of any newly published research on their topic.
  • Lillian Goldman Law Library - New additions to the catalog are profiled on the library's blog page

Reference Aids:
Wikis and social booking marking tools make great reference aids. Libraries have created subject guides in wikis, subject guides within delicious, added tags within the catalog, and are helping users manage bookmarking the journal literature by using tagging sites like Connotea and CiteULike.

  • University of Florida Health Science Center Libraries - Their LibGuides page contains subject guides, course guides and other resources browsable by Subjects and by Popular Tags.
  • Health Sciences Library, Stony Brook - They use delicious as another tool to guide users to subject resources.
  • Courthouse Libraries BC New Catalogue - (in beta) Doing a search in their catalogue brings up the usual results but also brings up a word cloud on the left hand side that shows you related terms, spelling variations, translations, etc. Clicking on the words in the cloud allows patrons to explore the catalogue contents from that perspective.
  • Duke University Libraries - They have a nice getting started guide for Connotea and FAQs. They also have instructions for users to configure Connotea take advantage of Duke's full text article system, "Get it @ Duke.

As I mentioned these are just a sampling of what other libraries are doing out there with these new technologies. I am sure there are more great examples. If you know of another library doing something neat please be sure to comment to this post so that we may be able to learn from each other.

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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: