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.

Happy Holidays: Build Your Own Bookmas Tree

In case any of the librarians in your library want to get into the holiday spirit and are looking for something beyond holiday window clings, take a look at Texas Medical Center Library’s Bookmas Tree.

They even have a “How To” guide available should you want to try it in your own library next year.

Enjoy the holidays with family and friends, I will resume posting after the new year.

Librarians Needed to Participate in Study

Librarians, are you conducting any literature searches supporting systematic reviews or plan to conduct one in the near future?  If so the reference librarians at the University of Pittsburgh Health Sciences Library System need your help and would like for you volunteer to participate in their study. 

Their study is to “identify trends in conducting literature searches to support systematic reviews. Results will help systematic reviewers and information professionals to better plan resources to search and allow a more accurate estimation of time and effort required for the literature search portion of a systematic review.”

If you are interested in participating in the study and helping out your fellow librarians as they conduct research, the results of which they hope to present at a meeting or publish in a peer reviewed journal, then please go to for their contact information.

50 Years of MeSH

Several librarians at my institution were interested in seeing/listening to the MeSH at 50 – 50th Anniversary of Medical Subject Headings by Robert Braude at NLM a few weeks ago.  Unfortunately at the time, we couldn’t get it to work correctly for some reason. 

Good news, the program is now available under Past Events on the NIH’s videocast site.  One of the librarians here has already viewed it and said that much of the talk is about “what was (and wasn’t) available/used BEFORE MeSH, and about the initial development of MeSH itself.”  The program lasts about an hour and according the one viewer, there aren’t a lot of “visuals” so it is easy to listen to while multi-tasking at your desk.