Become an Embase Screener

The Cochrane Collaboration is looking for people to help identify reports of randomized control trials (RCTs) and quasi-RCTs from Embase for publication in the Cochrane Central Register of Controlled Trials (CENTRAL).

The Cochrane Collaboration wants to develop and implement a screening task that is crowd sourced.  A web-based screening tool has already been created.  No prior experience is necessary.  “A quality-control system has been developed so that all records will be viewd by at least two screeners. Records viewed by ‘novice’ screeners will need three consecutive agreements on the record’s relevance for it to then be either published in CENTRAL or ‘rejected.”

This project has been designed to work with people’s “busy lives” in much the same way as other crowd-sourced endeavors.

For more information go to


Hospitals Still on Windows XP Could Mean Loss of HIPAA Compliance

Roughly two weeks ago MLA released a new version of its website.  Right away librarians stuck (due to institutional standards) on IE 8 started complaining that the new MLA site did not display properly on IE 8.  The good news is that the folks at MLA know of this problem and are working with the web developer to fix it and others.  The bad news….the number of librarians stuck on IE 8 might be indicate a bigger problem for hospitals as a whole.  My guess (and this is totally hypothetical) is that a many people who are stuck on IE 8 are stuck because they can’t upgrade to IE 9+ because they are on Windows XP.

My husband works for a company that creates an enterprise content management software system that is used by over 1,500 healthcare provider organizations representing more than 2,500 facilities.  Sometimes our jobs deal with similar issues, sometimes they do not.  This is one of those times that they did.  I happened to mention the whole IE 8 problem with my husband and I think I started to see smoke billow out of his ears.  Since the kids were already asleep for the night, I figured I touched on a hot topic.  He told me that this has been a big problem in healthcare and banking for several years.  Many of the hospitals running IE 8 are also the same organizations that are still running Windows XP.  (While IE 8 can run on Windows 7, IE 9+ cannot run on Windows XP.)  Not only did his company decide to stop supporting XP they recently decided to no longer support IE 8.

Windows XP is NOT supported by Microsoft. Being on Windows XP is a security risk.  Just yesterday the Wall Street Journal, reported on a newly discovered security hole in Internet Explorer versions 6-11 in the article “New Browser Hole Poses Extra Danger for XP Users.” According to the article the “coding flaw would allow hackers to have the same level access on a network computer as the official user.”  Yeah I echo the WSJ in saying “that’s really bad.”  Microsoft is working on a fix, but that fix will not be available to XP users.  The Forbes article title “Microsoft Races To Fix Massive Internet Explorer Hack: No Fix For Windows XP Leaves 1 In 4 PCs Exposed,” pretty much says it all.  A 13 year old operating system still represents 25% of the world’s PCs.  The cyber security software company, FireEye,  revealed a “hacker group has already been exploiting the flaw in a campaign dubbed  ‘Operation Clandestine Fox’, which targets US military and financial institutions.”  While the WSJ article says FireEye said attacks were mainly targeted at IE 9-11, this security flaw is still a major problem specifically because Microsoft will not offer a patch for XP.  Basically once Windows Vista, 7 and 8 machines are patched….what system is left to hack? One that doesn’t even have a patch and users refuse to upgrade.

It isn’t like the XP rug was pulled out from under users.  On the contrary, XP users have know for 2 yrs that XP would be unsupported.  According Forbes, Microsoft “repeatedly sent a pop-up dialog box to reachable Windows XP machines” with end of support information.  Software developers including my husband’s company have warned customers that XP will no longer be supported by Microsoft and as a result they will no longer write software for XP nor support software on XP machines.  My husband told me how they have contacted their hospital clients of regarding XP yet the clients haven’t upgraded nor have any real plans to upgrade immediately.

So we get the fact that have a operating system that is no longer support is bad and could lead to security problems.  But when your a hospital and the security of patient information is paramount to your existence, second only to treating patients, then you have a major problem. The HIPAA Security Rule section 164.308(a)(5)(ii)(B), organizations with sensitive personal health information are required to protect their systems from  malicious software.

Several articles have stated that failure to upgrade from Window XP is a violation of HIPAA.

Mike Semel’s article states, “Just having a Windows XP computer on your network will be an automatic HIPAA violation— which makes you non-compliant with Meaningful Use— and will be a time bomb that could easily cause a reportable and expensive breach of protected patient information. HIPAA fines and loss of Meaningful Use money can far outweigh the expense of replacing your old computers.”

Sound a little drastic?  It doesn’t seem so when you look at Laura Hamilton’s interview with HIPAA attorney James Wieland,

Additive Analytics: Let’s say that a hospital computer is still running Windows XP after the end-of-life (EOL) on April 8. Then a virus compromises the machine, and attackers steal personal health information (PHI). What are the legal ramifications for the healthcare provider?

James: On those facts, it would certainly appear to be a breach, reportable under the HIPAA breach notification rules to the individuals and to the Secretary. Breaches are subject to investigation and may result in penalties.

Hmmm we just found out that there is a major security flaw with Internet Explorer which could lead to a breach and machines running XP will NOT have a fix from Microsoft. What happens when the hacker group that FireEye discovered (or any hacker group) decided to exploit the healthcare side of things?

To me the IE 8 design problem for opened my eyes to the greater XP problem within healthcare.

Presidential Priorities

I am starting very early on my priorities as President. I am not yet officially President elect (that happens at this MLA) and the current President elect (soon to be President) Linda Walton has not officially released her priorities. But, ever since I was nominated I have been thinking about my priorities.

As I mentioned I am early to the Presidential priority party, but I want to start early because I think it will take me a while to refine them.

Here is very unofficial rough timeline of the Presidential priorities.

  • President Elect year – Attend MLA Board meetings to get familiar with current issues happening within MLA. Work with the rest of the Board to help the current President and with his/her priorities.  Start thinking of and create my own Presidential priorities and present them to the Board.
  • Presidential year – Present the priorities to the membership and create task forces or have committees assigned to help achieve the priorities.
  • Past Presidential year – The priorities work from the task forces, committees, etc. either wind down or evolve.  With the help of the rest of the Board, work with the task forces or committees as they wind down or evolve.

In a nutshell I have one year to think of my priorities, one year to get them started and see them to their completion or evolution.  In reality not every Presidential priority is able to finish in that timeline.  It would be difficult and unwise to abandon unfinished priorities from previous Presidents. Some priorities can be finished within a year, but others require several years to finish, or they evolve into regular, ongoing MLA activities (committee charges, HQ staff assignments, etc.)

While I am looking at my predecessors’ Presidential priorities I want to also take into account the MLA membership’s thoughts on what my priorities should be.

I am asking MLA members to think about what my Presidential priorities should be as they relate to MLA’s mission.  Please keep in mind, I will also be working on previous priorities AND there is a bit of time crunch unless I go mad with Presidential power and throw the bylaws out the window and declare myself the Monarch of MLA. (Just kidding…but it is a catchy name)

Rome was not built in a day. My ultimate goal, independent of any priority, is to help others and inspire them to be active and work to better MLA and medical librarianship.  I think of it a bit like this…. One snow flake is small and easily melts by itself, but when it is packed in a snowball with other snow flakes as it rolls down a hill, it becomes a stronger force to be dealt with.  I cannot do it alone.


Call for Virtual Projects for JMLA Column

(cross posted in a lot of places)

Virtual Projects for JMLA Column by March 15, 2014

The Journal of the Medical Library Association (JMLA) Virtual Projects Committee is seeking innovative and notable projects for the upcoming JMLA Virtual Projects column. The annual column which was launched in October 2013 ( focuses on library virtual spaces that extend the library “presence” outward to support users in their digital spaces, wherever and whenever needed.

The JMLA welcomes submissions of recent projects for the Virtual Projects column that will be published October 2014. To be considered for this column, please submit a 200 word abstract of your virtual project or a link to your project web page that describes the project and why it is innovative/notable. Send your submissions to Susan Lessick, AHIP, FMLA, [email protected], by MARCH 15, 2014.

Some examples of virtual library projects :

  • projects that demonstrate the integration of evidence and/or digital content and library services into the institution’s Electronic Health Record (EHR) as part of the treatment and care process
  • projects related to providing new technologies, such as libraries providing collections and tools to support 3D printing or offering 3D services (‘makerspaces’)
  • projects that improve the quality of the library’s web presence through the implementation of a new web design, feature, or tool, such as animation, user interactivity or webpage/site builders
  • projects that facilitate information discovery and content delivery (e.g, use of web-scale discovery or knowledge bases)

Please consider sharing your knowledge and experiences with implementing virtual projects in your library to inspire and encourage your peers, partners, and communities!

JMLA Virtual Projects Committee:

Kimberley Barker
Janis Brown, AHIP
Michelle Kraft, AHIP
Susan Lessick, AHIP, FMLA
Eric Schnell
Elizabeth Whipple, AHIP

#Medlibs: Love & Hate in Medical Libraries

(post duplicated on

One day you are Katrina and the Waves and you are “Walkin’ on Sunshine” everything is good and falling into place.  Your searches are matching up just perfectly with MeSH, patrons are writing thank you emails, the CEO just praised you, and a new project is going like gang busters.  Life in the library is perfect.

BUUUT the next day (or week) you are Joan Jett growling, “I Hate Myself for Loving You” as nothing you do seems to be working.  PubMed keeps crashing, patrons are upset because you can’t get the article from the  Journal of Big Toe Science written in Hindi rushed the same day and translated into English, your budget was cut more than expected, and administration or IT (take your pick) throws cold water all over your pet project.  Life in the library is like a bad relationship.

Like any career, medical librarianship has its ups and downs.  Friday is Valentine’s Day and to get in the spirit the #medlibs Twitter chat group will be having fun discussing our love/hate relationships with medical librarianship.

So grab some wine and chocolate, after all it is the day before Valentine’s Day and curl up with your laptop and chat with us this Thursday 9pm eastern.  Don’t forget to follow the word #medlibs to watch and participate in the discussion.  Lurkers and late arrivals are welcome.  Nikki Dettmar and I will be moderating and we look forward to seeing you online.

For more information or questions tweet @eagledawg or @krafty or drop us an email.

The Disappearing Medical Library

Recently there has been a lot of discussion on the medical library email listserv about the closure of another hospital library.  Also in the news the CBC reported on the reprehensible state of their Health Canada library.

“Health Canada scientists are so concerned about losing access to their research library that they’re finding workarounds, with one squirrelling away journals and books in his basement for colleagues to consult.”

Not only are the collections missed by researchers but the librarians as well.  Multiple researchers commented to the CBC on how important the librarians are to their research.

“My staff can do so much in sort of Googling around and trying to find this and that or stuff that may come into us. But being able to use the experts and to get their assistance makes a world of difference.”

Like the cuts made to hospital libraries, Health Canada states the cuts were made to save money.  However there is a question as to whether those cuts indeed saved Health Canada any money. The CBC reports, “One of the stated goals of Health Canada’s contracting out of library services was to save money. According to the report, though, the new arrangement is more expensive.”

I have seen this happen in American hospitals that cut libraries AND American hospitals that don’t understand how to work with their librarians.  A hospital cuts the library believing it is a way to save money.  They often end up licensing duplicate online databases, journals, or delivery services.  Fail to understand the nuances of negotiating library resources and end up with a poor deal.  They fail to to get a decent ROI because they haven’t properly supported and integrated the resource into the system.  Why pay thousands of dollars for an online journal that nobody knows exists because you didn’t set up the IP addresses and just handed out the username and password to a few physicians that asked?  Another favorite of mine is a department buying a database for several thousand dollars, hoarding it among their employees in their department and then wondering why it was only used once a month.

The discussion on the medlibs listserv seemed to center around the question about what can be done about the situation and who should be doing it.  What can individual librarians do and what should MLA be doing to get hospitals, administrations, governing and standards organizations to keep libraries in hospitals.  Several people wrote that MLA should be doing more for hospital librarians and work to get the library back in the JCAHO standards or other accreditation organizations.

First I want to say that any medical librarian that believes the our salvation lies with getting JCAHO to reinstate the library as a requirement in hospitals is waiting for something that will never happen.  JCAHO has moved on.  It is a dead issue.  It isn’t even going to be re-animated as zombie issue. It is dead, dead.

So now that we have cleared the air of the JCAHO thing….

I will bring up the issue that some librarians think MLA should be doing more to ensure our survival.  Let me just say MLA staff (all 16 of them) are doing as much as the cany for the MLA members including advocating for them.  The MLA President and Board are doing as much as they can too. However it is unfair to compare the advocating clout of ALA (which has a staff of over 300 and over 56,000 members) to that of MLA.

The only way I see medical librarians continuing on is to work together to get our message out.  As many said on the listserv, medical librarians are too often preaching to the choir about our value and benefit.  We need to take our message out to our patrons.  Not only do we need to do this locally but nationally.  As much as I am in favor of our medical library journals, we need to stop publishing about the value of library services in them and start publishing those kind of studies in our patrons’ journals which is what they read.  Our patrons don’t read our professional journals.  We need to attend and present at their meetings.

One librarian noted that publishing articles and attending their meetings is a little lofty of a goal for the part time librarians who are just struggling.  I get it, you don’t have a lot time and some of that can be difficult.  But we aren’t asking everybody to do everything.  Work to your strengths. I am not good at research but I am good at social media and I am think of ways to get our word out via social media. (BTW at the suggestion of a person on the list, I have already tweeted Dr. Besser MLA’s 2013 speaker about the plight of medical libraries.  It isn’t perfect but it is a start somewhere.) (*update* Dr. Besser responded and retweeted my message to his 33,000 followers. It is a baby step, but you have to take steps before you walk.)

Just because you are part time doesn’t mean you can’t do something when you aren’t in the library and you are at home.  I am a working mother of 3 young children.  My work on my blog, tweeting on #medlibs, writing journal articles, teaching MLA CE classes, and some of my work on the MLA Board often is done during my PERSONAL time.  Almost everything I write is done when the kids are in bed and I’m watching TV.  I have often had to take my own vacation time to teach CE classes or attend some meetings.  Believe it or not I still find time to have a normal life with my family for vacations, kids activities, movies, and life.

If you doubt what regular ol’ working librarians can do please do a little looking into Ohio Public Libraries, 2009, budget cuts, and Governor Strickland.  In 2009, out of the blue the Ohio governor proposed a 50% cut funding to public libraries.  This type of cut would close many public libraries and leave many irreparably devastated.  Within 1 hour of the announcement the story hit Twitter and the hashtag #saveohiolibraries was created to categorize the Twitter messages.  A Facebook site was created and had over 50,000 followers in less than 3 weeks. Another librarian created a website,  Not only did they get national attention but the Ohio legislature received between 37,000-45,000 emails in one week regarding the budget cuts.

(I live in Ohio so I remember much of this but I was able to find the specifics in the Introduction of Laura Solomon’s book the Librarian’s Nitty Gritty Guide to Social Media)

The thing to note was that ALA didn’t get involved within an an hour of the announcement.  Much of the ground work was done by regular librarians like you and me who saw the immediate need to advocate for their jobs.  Given the differences between the funding of medical libraries and public libraries, I think we medical librarians can’t afford to wait for the budget cut announcement.  We need to advocate for ourselves now!  MLA is helpful and they will do what they humanly can to support us. But we need to stop looking to them to make everything all better, we need to get the message out in whatever way possible.

I understand, we all are worried about the future of medical and hospital libraries.  Just because I have a full time job and and I’m active in the organization doesn’t mean I am not worried.  In fact it makes me more worried because I have seen how easily it can turn.  But I refuse to sit back and subscribe to what some of the “realist” librarians have said, “It doesn’t matter how proactive we are; it doesn’t matter who gets involved; it doesn’t matter how many people come to our defense; it doesn’t matter how much evidence we have to justify our positions; it doesn’t matter how much time we save for others; it doesn’t matter that after we are gone there will be problems for people who need our services. All of that weighed against the decision of the ‘powers that be’ that they can cut the librarian will not help. They will not change their minds.”  To those realists I say, “There’s no fate but what we make for ourselves.” I see you what you have made for your fate.  Your fate is not mine.


New Year, New Job Directions?

Don’t think of it as a New Year’s resolution, think of it as just taking inventory of your career path.  Whether you are looking to find a new job in a new organization or just trying to add a new direction to your current job, it is a good idea to think about, evaluate, and discuss (pick people’s brains) your ideas and options.

So tune in to #medlibs on Twitter tonight at 9pm Eastern.

See you there. :)


Reposted form (

Join Heather Holmes (@LaMedBoheme73) and Michelle Kraft (@Krafty) for this week’s #medlibs talk as we discuss all good things related to jobs, such as: looking for a new job, preparations to move (yourself, your family, etc), learning or brushing up on skills, transitioning to a new position in the same institution, or transitioning to a related but totally different position. What are some of the positive reasons you are looking for or have accepted a new position or are seeking new skills and abilities? This won’t be a rant session, we want it to be a positive and constructive discussion so please join us and spread the word – we’d love to welcome library students and others interested in learning more about the field!

Some resources to consider:

Librarians, Welcome to the New Age

Perhaps I have been listening to my son’s music a bit too much or perhaps I am just overly tired from celebrating the New Year with friends and family.  Whatever the cause, when I heard Imagine Dragon’s “Radioactive” this morning it really hit a my librarian brain.

Granted, the lyrics have a post apocalyptic vibe to them that is more akin to Walking Dead or Terminator than the state of libraries. But it just hit a chord with me this morning.  I feel like we are in a new age of information and completely revolutionizing the way people find things.  Things have completely changed, and are still changing. The old way of doing things (the old world) is gone. We are waking up to the new age of information.

Just to prove I am not completely cracked (only half cracked), the singer, Dan Reynolds said the “song is about having an awakening; kind of waking up one day and deciding to do something new, and see life in a fresh way.”  We have to see librarianship in a fresh way if we are going to continue.

According to Reynolds, “A lot of people hear it [Radioactive] in a dark way.” The song is meant to be an empowering song, and I definitely hear it that way.  The changes in libraries can be empowering as well. Like music, it is all up to interpretation. Some may “hear” the library changes in a dark way.  Some may “hear” the changes as an anthem to wake up and do something new in the wake of all the changes.  They will end up shaping their world the way they hear the changes.

To quote a favorite line, “there’s no fate but what we make.”



Perception of Libraries

I heard someone say, “Change the way you look at things and the things you look at change.”  This is easier said than done, especially for librarians.  The results from the Pew Internet and American Life survey “How Americans Value Public Libraries in Their Communities” were recently released.  I have seen many in the library world praising what are definitely good results. Such as:

  • 95% of Americans ages 16 and older agree that the materials and resources available at public libraries play an important role in giving everyone a chance to succeed
  • 94% say that having a public library improves the quality of life in a community
  • 81% say that public libraries provide many services people would have a hard time finding elsewhere

These are definitely things to be proud of.  However, there are some statistics that concern me and I don’t seem to be hearing about them from the library world as much.

  • 52% of Americans say that people do not need public libraries as much as they used to because they can find most information on their own, while 46% disagreed.
  • 54% of Americans have used a public library in the past 12 months
  • 77% of those who have ever used a public library said they know only some of what it offers.  (Of that 77% about one in five say they don’t know very much about what is offered, and 10% say they know “nothing at all.”)

If 94-95% believe libraries are so important then why have only 54% used a library in the last year?  Doesn’t quite make sense.  So while people love their libraries, they don’t know much about their offerings and they don’t use them very often.

This is frustrating because it seems as though people like the idea of the public library as it exists in their heads, but have no idea what it does in practice.  Sounds familiar medical librarians?  I think in order for us to survive we have to do a better job of changing their perception of the library.  Thankfully they like us….but liking us isn’t going to get the tax levy renewed or the keep administration from cutting our budget.  We need to do a better job of demonstrating to our users and non-users how we can help them.  Informing users is tricky enough, but non-users…yikes!  But that is needed for us to turn the perception of a library and the know more about our other services and resources (not just that we have books).

This Thursday #medlibs will discuss the what we see coming to libraries in 2014 and beyond. What is the future of the library?  What do we need to do and where will be going?

Some ideas for the discussion are:

These are all important things to consider, but I also believe part of our future rests with changing perceptions.  If we don’t do that we are going to be the Norman Rockwell of professions. Nice to remember, or as somebody on Twitter said,  “an emotional remembrance.”So tune in on Thursday as we discuss the library of the future.

Killing Cows: #Medlibs Summary

Last Thursday a group of medical librarians got together online via Twitter to discuss the issue of change in libraries.  Specifically they discussed evaluating the sacred cows in libraries and librarianship within our institutions and whether they should be continued (successful programs) or killed (unsuccessful programs).

I thought I would briefly summarize the discussion for those who were unable to participate. Transcript is available here.

We had 30 people who participated in the chat and each participant tweeted an average of 11 tweets.  (Lively discussion.)

In an effort to set the tone or get some context for the discussion. Nikki Dettmar (@eagledawg) reminded us of Mark Funk’s (@funkme77) 2008 Presidential Address, where the gist, “We Have Always Done It That Way” is not the way we want to continue the business of libraries.

Several librarians gave examples of sacred cows they have either killed off or would like to kill off in their libraries.  These include:

  • Reference desk
  • Checking in hard copy journals
  • The catalog and cataloging
  • Regularly scheduled classes
  • Face to face classes
  • Table of contents lists
  • Reference collection
  • Printed books

Many had various thoughts on each of the above topics.  For some getting rid of the refernce desk was a sacred cow that was killed or needed to be killed. However, for others, their library’s reference/front desk was still doing a brisk business and killing it would be unwise.

The topic of cataloging while a lively topic at other discussion venues didn’t draw as much ire or skepticism.  Several thought small hospital libraries with solo librarians may want to re-consider the idea of an online catalog in favor of something easy, agile, and less time consuming.  Almost everyone agreed that the act of cataloging could be done much more quickly and simply that librarians stop fussing with minute details of cataloging and look at user tagging/catalgoing. Tony Nguyen (@TonyNguyen411) mentioned he was “Totally ok with collective cataloging. Original, just the easiest access points to get it quickly on the shelf.”

The rise of electronic collections caused many in the group to discuss alternatives to book and journal purchasing, collection development and management.  Teressa Knott (@tlknott) mentioned their circulation numbers has caused her to start thinking of a “strictly e-book collection.”  I mention how our institution got rid of our reference section.  Reference books were shelved next to the circulating collection.  Patrons don’t have to go to different shelves or locations within the library to find books on a topic depending on the book’s loan rules (which patrons don’t know).  All of the books are together making them easier to find.  A red dot on the spine indicates the book doesn’t leave the library.

The library classes seemed to be a bit of a problem among the #medlibs librarians.  As Amy Blevins (@blevinsa) stated, “(I) have mixed feelings about schedule classes. Love them when people randomly show up. Not so much when 0 show.”  This seems to a problem shared by several in the chat.  There were some librarians who got rid of their scheduled classes and only taught classes by appointment while others tried to get rid of them but had to bring them back because “admin wants to bring (them) back b/c other AAHSL libs do it.” I am not sure whether Stephanie Schulte’s (@s_schulte) referrence to admin was institutional administration or library administration.

In the second half of the hour the discussion seemed to venture away from the library and on to the profession itself and sacred cows within the profession such as:

  • The name librarian
  • Associations, organizations, societies, and certifications
  • Academic journals
  • Impact factors
  • Peer review

Besides our job title of librarian, I’m not sure how much impact we have in with the other sacred cows within the profession.  Additionally there were many that said the issue wasn’t the title of “librarian” but it was people’s out dated notions of librarians.  The issue of librarian vs. informationist, vs PubMed Whisperer, vs information specialist is probably a larger issue that could be discussed on another Thursday.

Overall it was a very interesting and fun discussion.  I challenge all librarians, not just the 30 on the chat, to think about our sacred cows.  I want to quote Mark Funk’s last Presidential blog post, “Remember that ‘We have always done it that way’ isn’t an answer, it’s an excuse. Boomers didn’t like that response in the 1960s, and we shouldn’t like it now.”