Friday Fun: Medical Library Helping At Risk Youth

The  A.R. Dykes Library of the Health Sciences serves at the University of Kansas Medical Center is open to the public and within walking distance from a neighborhood middle school.  Students would often come to the library to use the 4 public PCs after school.  As students were sometimes disruptive and disrespectufl to staff tensions rose among them.  There were no other appropriate and safe places within walking distances for at-risk youth to go besides the library.

They describe the situation at A.R. Dykes Library of Health Science as unique yet I personally think it is more common of situation that we don’t hear about  as often or with positive approaches.  I am assuming (and please let me know if I am wrong) since they are open to the public, they cannot just kick out or prevent a large portion of the public such as middle school students from the library.  They probably can only ask them to leave as individual(s) presented problems. 

The librarians decided to create a positive and safe environment (instead of just a hagnout with free computers) where the students could learn vocational skills and “expand socially, emotionally, intellectionally, and physically.”  As a medical library they were not for a lack of resources but a lack of experience as to how to apply these resources effectively with teenagers. Through partnerships with various organizations they created a “community within a community at the Medical Center.”  Students participated in hospital department tours, tutoring sessions, activity days, and guest speakers. 

For more information on their program or contact information go to:

Internet Librarian Conference: Discount Available

The 2011 Internet Librarian Conference will be held October 17-19 in Monterey, California.  Uusally the cost for the 3 day event is usually $499 but you can get a group discounted admission of $299 (a savings of $200) if you register through Marty Magee, NNLM MidContinental Region.  You must register no later than September 1, 2011.  For more information on how to register for the conference at a discount and contact information go to the MidContinental Region News blog post, Internet Librarian 2011 – Conference discount available at $299.

Even at a discounted registration price, you may want your institution to help fund some of the conference.  Check out the, “Why I Must Go To Monterey” document on the Internet Librarian 2011 site. As they say, “Sometimes all it takes to get permission is using the right words.”  They have created a draft memo for you to use to try and sell your administration on paying for you to attend. (I am sure also explaining how you are able to secure a $200 registration discount can’t hurt either.)  The draft memo is a bit long for memo to your boss, it is definitely a draft.  You will need to edit it so that it takes on the proper tone of your administration yet still convey the importance of attending the meeting.  Personally, I would also edit it so that it is no more than 1 page.  In my experience, memos longer than 1 page don’t get read.  But I applaud the Internet Librarian conference for providing a sample memo, and I would rather that sample be longer with as much information so that potential attendees can edit it as necessary.  Better to have more information and cut down than not enough information.

Finally, since I am talking about discounted registration and justifying your presence at the Internet Librarian Conference, I am going to make a shameless plug promoting MLA 2012 Fund Your Meeting Contest.  Two $400 awards will be given out to help pay for registration or travel expenses to the 2012 meeting in Seattle.  All you have to do to win is submit the most original, funny, interesting, or beth method you used to get funding from your institution to attend a meeting.  Go to to enter before November 1, 2011.  To read other people’s submissions to get ideas as to how you can try and convince your administration to pay or help pay for you to go to MLA, go to

When Good Enough Just Isn’t Good Enough

David Rothman wrote a very interesting post Thursday, “Voltaire & Information Services: ‘Good Enough’ – ‘Excellence’ – ‘Perfection”, saying while the quest for perfection may not be attainable, good enough might not be…well….good enough.  He described how he once worked for a CIO who told him “never let ‘perfect’ get in the way of ‘good enough.”  While he understood the CIO’s intent, he felt something just wasn’t quite right with using “good enough” as a good standard. 

“On the other hand, I don’t think ‘good enough’ is an acceptably high bar. When we deliver services to our customers/patrons/clients, should’t we be shooting for ‘excellence’? Excellence is do-able.

It seems to me that, most of the time, the amount of effort that would bridge the difference between ‘good enough’ and ‘excellent’ is small and that ‘excellence’ pays dividends in extra-satisfied customers/patrons/clients that it is absolutely worth investing.

On the other side of that is that users/clients/customers/patrons are usually savvy enought to know ‘good enough’when they see it. It tells that that their needs really aren’t the priority. Rather than paying dividends, it costs.”

I recently went on cruise for vacation.  Niether me nor my kids nor husband had ever been on a cruise.  It was extended family cruise, and members of my extended family had previously been on cruises. Prior to the cruise they spoke on and on about how wonderful cruising was.  The whole time they were telling me these things I kept thinking, “Yeah I get it, it is fun.  What isn’t fun about being on vacation and relaxing.”  It turns out I really didn’t get it.  Yes, being on vacation was fun but what made the cruise different from a week at the beach, last year’s trip to Hershey Park, or going to Meramec Caverns?  Service.  The service on the cruise was excellent.  It wasn’t just good enough, it was freaking phenomenal.  You want a second helping of lobster on lobster dinner night, bam you get it.  Three helpings? Bam my brother got it.  Midway through the cruise while we were playing and lounging around the pool, our assistant waiter (who we really only saw at dinner)  happened to be on the pool deck for something else and also happened to overhear my brother-in-law mention he would like to get an ice cream.  Important to note, my brother-in-law did not ask the him to get it, he was merely telling us of his plans to go get ice cream.  Not only did our assistant waiter overhear these plans, but he recognized my brother-in-law and told him to relax that he would get it for him.  We were at one of the bars late at night chatting with the family and my husband ordered a beer.  It turns out that bar was out of that specific beer and when the waiter returned with the rest of our drinks he appologized to my husband and told him it would be a few more minutes for his beer because he was going to go down to another bar to get his beer because they were out of it.  We were on deck 14, the closest bar was on deck 11 on the pool deck (if it was open late at night).  These are just a few examples, the entire week the service on the cruise cruise was excellent.  It wasn’t perfect, but it was light years beyond good enough. 

Hospitals aren’t perfect, but “good enough” isn’t good enough either.  As the Cleveland Clinic’s Chief Experience Officer, Dr. James Merlino mentions in an interview with Beckers Hospital Review, hospitals must focus on providing a more patient-centric approach to provide a better patient experience.  Soon part of Medicare reimbursement will be tied to HCAHPS scores, but that isn’t the only reason to be excellent.  The amount of Medicare remibursement is small, the biggest ROI are repeat customers.  Hospital administrators don’t want people to be sick or hurt, but if they are, the administrators want them to choose their hospital to receive treatment vs. a competing hospital. 

“As healthcare continues to become increasingly competitive it is also experiencing greater consumerism. Patients start paying attention to how well they’re treated. Generally now if you go to a top medical center, you’re going to get good outcomes. Medical care is becoming very good, and people now want more than just outcomes. That’s why it’s critical to implement programs that drive service.”

I think librarians in general have been very good at providing excellent service.  Perhaps I am biased because I am a librarian or maybe I am just surrounded by excellent librarians.  But I would say one of the things I have noticed that drives us batty is when we are unable to provide excellent service.  Perhaps it is because the only copy of a book a patron needs is missing, stolen, in repair, etc.  Maybe there is a database that we know our patrons want and need but we can’t get it because it is too expensive, won’t work on the network, restrictive license agreement, etc.  Providing excellent service can sometimes be difficult but it doesn’t mean we still can’t strive to be excellent. While we don’t have HCAHPS score, we do want repeat customers.

PMC Has a New Look

PubMed Central has gotten a new look, according to the July 15th NLM Technical Bulletin, the “interface-lift” will “not only enhance its overall look and feel but also provide users with easier access to PMC resource and information.” 

Improvements include:

  • New homepage, offering better navigation and direct access to resources such as the Users’ Guide and NIH Public Access Information.
  • Redesigned Advanced Search and Limits pages
  • An updated search results format
  • Direct access to images in PMC articles
  • A new organization structure and appearance for PMC’s informational pages, including drop-down menus for navigation links

For more information about these changes and pictures go to

RDA and You

So The Library of Congress, the National Agricultural Library, and the National Library of Medicine have issued a statement from the Executives of those three libraries regarding the Report and Recommendations of the U.S. RDA Test Coordinating Committee on the implementation of RDA—Resource Description & Access. The report is long, 192 PDF pages, but there is an executive summary for those librarians (like myself) who know they should know something about RDA.

The Coordingating Committee of the three libraries evaluated RDA to see whether it met certain goals.

Goals it met or partially met:

  • Provide a consistent, flexible and extensible framework for all types of resources and all types of content.
  • (Partially) Be compatible with itnernationally established principles and standards.
  • (Partially) Enable users to find, identify, select, and obtain resources appropriate to their information needs.
  • (Partially) Be compatible with descriptions and access points in existing catalogs and databases.
  • Be independent of the format, medium, or system used to store or communicate the data.

Goals it did not meet:

  • Be optimized for use as an online tool
  • Be written in plain English, and able to be used in other language communities
  • Be easy and efficient to use, both as a working tool and for training purposes.

Wow. Um the goals it didn’t meet are pretty important.  Personally I think the partially met goal of enbling users to find, identify, select and obtain resources should have been classified as a failed to meet goal.  Librarians are more tolerant of library things. Users are not.  If it only partially meets this goal then it failed it.  The Coordinating Committee says “User comments on RDA records indicate mixed reviews on how well new elements met user needs.  The test did not fully verify all the user tasks above.”  This tells me two things. 

  1. Mixed reviews equals a fail
  2. They had a poor test(s) and didn’t test it appropriately. 

First you need to come up with appropriate tests to verify ALL tasks and second you can’t have mixed user reviews.  If it is mixed you have accomplished nothing, and users will find other ways to find their information.  They don’t care that RDA is supposed to better than MARC AACR2 (sorry mistype that commenter caught).

The Coordinating Committee came up with many recommendations and timeframes to improve RDA so that it meets its goals. When they make the improvements I hope it does significantly better on its test, because the Committee’s Business case report said,

 “The test revealed that  there is little discernable immediate benefit in implementing RDA alone.  The adoption of RDA will not result in significant cost savings in metadata creation.  There will be inevitable and significant costs in training.  Immediate economic benefit, however, cannot be the sole determining factor in the RDA buisness case.  It must be determined if there are significant future enhancements to the metadata environment made possible by RDA and if those benefits, long term, outweigh implementation costs.”

Ok, that doesn’t sound good for RDA, right?  Oh no, “it is, nevertheless, the decision of the Coordinating Committee to recommend implementing RDA.”  Huh?!  I know MARC is not working but is RDA the answer for MARC?  Yet according to the Coordinating Committee, despite costs, no short term benefits, and yet to be determined long term benefits, RDA is the way the catalog is going.  (No sooner than January 2013).

It is nice that these major libraries tested RDA, but these major libraries have lots more cataloging staff than the average library and certainly a lot more than the average solo librarian library.  One of the major barriers to implementing RDA is not only training and easy to read English (or other language) documentation, but it is staffing.  In this day and age where libraries are barely able to keep the number of FTEs they have, they don’t have catalogers are already swamped, what happens when they move to RDA?  Budgets are shrinking so the cost of training may be prohibitive.  So are you just going to sit them down with the Tool Kit and the hopefully improved easy language documenation?  Small libraries are are going struggle, but think of solo librarian libraries. They are your cataloging department, reference department, circulation department, education department, and outreach all wrapped up in one person.  I don’t see the transition going well for the solo librarian who must be a jack of all trades. Will it lead to more outsourcing of cataloging (at a price of course)?  O r will there be some enterprising librarians who will “catalog” their collection their own way just so it is even accesible.  Will librarians use something like LibraryThing for organizations to display their small non-circulating or lightly circulating collection to patrons

When faced with shrinking staff, libraries closing, and other cutbacks, is RDA what our organization should be focusing on?  Think of our sales pitch to our funding organizations when there are no short term benefits and the long term ones have yet to be determined.  I would think it would be more beneficial for us to focus more on high touch personalized services rather than a cataloging standard that failed some major goals. 

Now I am not a cataloger, nor do I play one on TV, so perhaps I am totally missing something.  If I am please comment and help me out because I would really like to learn.  But I just don’t see how regular librarians in regular or small libraries are going to be able to deal with RDA at all and how RDA will help us in the long run.  Are we just too hung up on MARC format and whatever we use AACR2 or RDA is just dealing with an antiquated format?

MLA MIS Survey

The MLA  Medical Informatics Section has developed a survey for its members in order to capture communication and continuing education preferences.  So if you’re a member of MIS, please make your voice heard and take this 10-15 minute survey!  The survey is anonymous.

As mentioned, the first part of the survey focuses on different communication channels, and the 2nd part asks for detailed info on various aspects of possible CE.  We will be analyzing the results of the survery before the MLA annual conference in order to present them at the MIS business meeting. Therefore, we ask that you please complete the survey before May 5th, 2011.  Thank you!  Your participation is greatly appreciated. If you have any questions or comments, you can reach the survey creators by e-mailing Amy Donahue.

Survey for Librarians

The University of Florida Health Science Center Libraries is collecting information on the personal experiences of librarians within the clinical environment (including all types of rounds, case conferences, tumor boards, morning reports, and morbidity & mortality conferences) in order to better understand the challenges that they face and facilitate the development of training and resources.

The survey will be open until May 2, 2011 and is available at

Happy National Library Week

I thought about posting this as a Friday Fun, but then if I did National Library Week would have been almost over, so I decided to post it today.

If you are looking for the perfect gift for that special librarian in your life, check out The Bargainist Gift Guide for Librarians.  Of course if none of those things hits there is always chocolate.  Chocolate in the library staff area disappears faster than the library’s ACLS Provider Manuals. 

Of course if you are a librarian and you are looking for a little pick me up, try reading CNN’s article, Librarians: Masters of the info universe. It is written by Kerith Page McFadden, a UNC-Chapel Hill Librarian and talks about different librarians that you might not have known about.

So Happy National Library Week!

Diversity at Conferences?

Sarah Milstein is TechWeb’s General Manager, Co-Chair for Web 2.0 Expo and a tech writer.  In a recent post on radar O’Reilly she writes, “Would I attend my own conference? Why conferences need more diversity.”

Sarah specifically mentions technology conferences where the slate is heavily slanted with men.  She points to popular conferences like TechCrunch Disrupt’s NY 2010 show and the Web 2.0 Summit where 10% or less of the speakers were women.  This is no surprise to Sarah, she says “It’s well-documented that women are underrepresented in the tech sector.” 

As a techie librarian who responsible for some of the section programs for this year’s annual meeting and as a co-chair for the 2012 meeting, Sarah has me wondering about MLA and other library conferences.  Are we diverse enough?

The library world has more women than men, and I like to think that we try and think about physical diversity (women, men, cultural, ethnic, etc.).  But are we providing diverse enough speakers regarding their library background (hospital, academic, special medical, government, etc.)?  Do we provide enough diversity in the program or is it too tech heavy, consumer health heavy, or reference heavy? 

Since I am librarian who likes to work with technology, I tend to focus and attend tech programs, but I do have other interests and I realize there are other librarians who are not as interested in technology.

So in your opinion do medical library conferences (MLA, regional, local) have diverse topics and speakers, or are we trotting out the same people with the same topics?  If you think we could be more diverse, then what are you looking for and in what ways can you think we can accomplish this? Let me know.

Share Your Elevator Speech and Win a Nook

We have all heard about creating that all important elevator speech on the benefits of the library to institutional power players and others.  Having a quick little speech is also helpful in regular social situations, being able to tell a person you just met at a party what you do without having their eyes glaze over or hearing another joke about the Dewey Decimal System is a nice thing.   Your speech has got to be quick and to the point, yet convey a whole lot of meaning, because people are busy and they don’t have time to hear you wax poetically about the finer points of MeSH (plus we are probably the only people who know and care that MeSH is Medical Subject Headings not a woven fabric).

Well the folks from the Cancer Librarians Section have created a video contest to showcase “tried and true” elevator speeches. 

Check out the details below (from MLANet).

To encourage participation of those librarians who may or may not be able to attend MLA ’11, the program will include video submissions. While public services, reference, clinical medical librarians, informationists, library directors/managers, and other frontline people may be those who might normally use an “elevator speech,” think about ways you might send out a consistent message when answering questions on budgets, access issues, and anything else. Let those viewing the submissions know how well your message works!

Videos submission will be accepted until February 11, 2011.

A peer-review panel will judge the videos. The top nine videos submitted will be shown during the program session. All submitted videos that meet the length requirement will be available after the conference on the Cancer Librarians Section YouTube Channel. 

What will determine the top nine?      

  • Technical requirements (good lighting and sound, length requirements met)
  • Content
  • Originality

At the program session, those attending will have the opportunity to vote for their favorite three videos. A combination of the peer review ranking score and the program session participation votes will determine three prizes that will be delivered after the meeting. Certificates of participation will be given to all those who submit a video that meets video guidelines. 

  • First Prize: Barnes and Noble NOOKcolor
  • Second Prize: Barnes and Noble $50 gift card
  • Third Prize: Barnes and Noble $25 gift card

To submit a video complete the form and then email your video. If the form is not completed, then the video cannot be loaded to the mlacls2011 channel (due to legal issues). Videos must be received and the form completed by February 11, 2011.

Video Guidelines

Videos must be no longer than three minutes. Elevator speeches should be no more than 30–60 seconds of the video. Spend the remaining time quickly describing the reception of your elevator speech. Videos must be in Apple QuickTime Movie .mov, AVI Format .avi, Windows Media Format .wmv, or MPEG Format .mpg or .mpeg formats. You can film your elevator speech and comments on your iPhone or other mobile device. Informal videos are fine but please ensure that there is adequate lighting and that you are clearly audible on the video. Videos over three minutes will not be reviewed for inclusion in either the 2011 MLA Cancer Librarians Program session or the Cancer Librarians YouTube Channel after MLA.

We encourage larger libraries with many hospital and other smaller libraries around to host a Recording Day. University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center is encouraging librarians to bring their speeches and reflections to their research medical library on January 14, 2011. They will record the videos and give a copy of the video to the person. That individual will have to actually submit the video. However, keep in mind that the videos do not need to be studio productions.  Good lighting and sound and meeting the other guidelines are the only technical requirements. The speech and how the message was received are the more important parts of the video judging criteria.

Interested in learning more about revitalizing your message?  Explore the resources on elevator speeches bookmarked at These resources include tools for creating an elevator speech and the positive and negative reasons for using an elevator speech.  

Want to see an elevator speech? View Julie Esparza’s elevator speech. She uses this message when new faculty, residents and medical students join the internal medicine team each month. If you have any questions feel free to contact Stephanie Fulton, chair-elect and program planner for the Cancer Librarians Section Program.

So whip out those flip cams and upload your video to YouTube, you just might be able to score yourself a Nook while helping other librarians.