Social Media and #Medlibs

Last Thursday the #medlibs group met on Twitter to discuss social media and medical libraries.  As usual it was a fun and interesting discussion.  We primarily discussed three areas of social media and medical libraries.  The transcript can be found here.

Vendor Communication 

It should come as no surprise that companies monitor what is said about them on social media.  What used to be a word of mouth activity, “Did you read that blog that blasted that company” has now become quite automated and much easier to find even brief mentions.  Twitter is a perfect example.  Personally, I have TweetDeck and HootSuite set up to look throughout the Twittersphere to find any tweets that say krafty.    I want to know if anybody is asking a question, has an issue, or just how my re-tweets are represented.  I also have those two programs looking for any tweets that mention the terms medlib, medlibs, or mlanet.  The reason I have the term medlib or medlibs is because medical librarians often send out a tweet about medical library stuff by using the hashtag #medlibs.  We are all human and we sometimes mistype it as medlib and there are always new people who don’t remember to use the hashtag, so my search filter catches those as well.  You can do this for any number of words, people, hashtags, etc.  It may sound complicated but it is extremely simple to do using either of those two Twitter programs. 

So if I am doing it for my own personal reasons, you can bet your bottom dollar that library companies are doing it.   It honestly is easier set Twitter to catch all of the tweets on a company’s name than it is to monitor Medlib-l for a company’s name.  The reason, TweetDeck and Hootsuite automate it, and to my knowledge there is no automated way to monitor the listserv.  As a result, a company like SpringShare is notified as soon as somebody tweets their name.  If I mentioned SpringShare on MEDLIB-l either a company rep has to read the post or somebody has to forward it to them. 

Here is what I am talking about:

TweetDeck Search
TweetDeck searches for all instances of #medlibs and puts them into a seperate column for me to look at.

So companies like SpringShare can do something very similar to what I do (depending on their Twitter software) and instantly become aware of anybody talking about them. This results in fairly quick communication between twitterer and the vendor.  For me it is often faster than when I have posted in MEDLIB-l

Don’t get me wrong, MEDLIB-l definitely has a purpose and Twitter can’t replace the longer discussions that happen there.  However, if you are looking to state a quick question or comment such as “What is going on with Ovid Medline? @WKHealthOvid” or “Having problems with stats @SpringShare LibGuides, anybody else?” Twitter is an excellent way to get quick answers.

As with all companies, there are ones who “get it” and ones who don’t.  Regardless of the method of communication; email, MEDLIB-l post, Twitter, Facebook, etc. there are companies that have poor communication skills or take every critique as an attack.  As I mentioned, in my post “Embrace Your Critics,” there are some companies who don’t see criticism as an opportunity for growth and improvement.  Yet there are other companies that are open to hearing from their customers.  For the most part the same companies that I have encountered as open to hearing from people (good and bad about their product) on MEDLIB-l are also the same on Twitter.

Companies that have responded in positive ways to tweets directed at them:

I follow A LOT of other companies, the above list are just ones I have had very good conversations with via Twitter regarding their product, services, etc.  Note, I didn’t always lavish praise either.  There were a few times where I complained about something not working correctly or suggested an improvement and still they responded in a very positive manner.  

Patron Communication

Some librarians monitor their own library feeds and respond to patrons questions or provide information.  Many on the list mentioned that their hospitals or institutions had people in marketing or PR who were monitoring the institution’s name.  This area of discussion wasn’t explored as much as I think it could have been.   Perhaps it is because this sub-topic often seems to creep into other #medlib discussions.  I know @CarolinaFan1982 does a lot with Twitter and his School of Nursing users.

Professional/Personal Information Bleed

Finally the group ended with a discussion on whether there was a need to keep professional/personal divide when tweeting.  I think it depends a lot on who is following you, what you primarily tweet on, and your institution.  More and more institutions have social media policies so it is best to read through those and adhere to them. 

For me, I let some of my personal life bleed into my professional life.  So far it seems to be ok.  If I decide to make the official split I can always have two accounts. One personal and one professional.  I know several librarians who have two Twitter accounts. 

I think it is also important how you respond to tweets.  For example if I tweet:

@EagleDawg Great to see you on #medlibs chat

Only people who follow both me AND @EagleDawg will see that conversation.

BUT if you put an character, even a period at the beginning of the tweet then everyone can see that tweet.


[email protected] How was the mocha milkshake?


#medlibs @EagleDawg How as the mocha milkshake?

Those two tweets can be seen by everyone.  The #medlibs just ensures that the tweet can be seen by people following the #medlibs discussion.  Knowing this information might be helpful regarding personal and professional tone within Twitter. 


It was a very interesting and fun chat last Thursday.  This Thursday is Thanksgiving, so there will be no #medlibs chat.  We always welcome new people to the group, so feel free to join us November 29th.  Twitter isn’t just wasting time, it can be used for professional communication and we who chat on Thursdays are the perfect example.

Medlibs Tweet Chat: Social Media

Last week the #medlibs chat focused on disaster planning and @NLM_DIMRC (NLM’s Disaster Information Management Research Center) participated in the discussion.  Disaster planning seemed to fall into 2 primary types, personal and professional.  You need a personal disaster plan so that you and your family are safe.  Once you are safe then you can deal with your professional disaster plan.  In this case since it was the #medlibs chat most of the professional disaster plan stuff dealt with medical library disaster plans.  The #medlibs chat transcripts can be found online. 

This Thursday the #medlibs chat will be on social media.

Website? Check. Facebook page? Maybe… is it your library’s or your public relations department’s? What  about Twitter? Are you using Twitter solely for your personal professional development (and fun)? As an automatic electronic news channel? Engaging with your users via their hashtag chats?

Come to the Thursday, November 15, 2012 #medlibs chat at 6pm Pacific/9 Eastern as we explore together how things are evolving for medical librarians and libraries in social media, including these chats! 

Never participated in a Twitter hashtag chat before? Check out this overview and come on in, we’re a supportive community.

Believe it or not I use Twitter to communicate with medical librarians now more than I use the listserv MEDLIB-L.  I get quicker responses from librarians AND library vendors.  If I posted something on MEDLIB-L about a database flaw, it would often be several days before I heard from the vendor’s rep.  However, when I tweet about it I get a response within a day (usually within a few hours).  When the government was about to shut down I had a patron ask mewhat would happened to PubMed if the government shut down.  I sent the question out to MEDLIB-L as well as Twitter.  I got a response within an hour from somebody working at NLM via Twitter.

So if you are interested in discussing social media within libraries, join us tomorrow on Twitter.

Getting The Internet During Disaster

Hurricane Sandy sucker punched the Cleveland area last week leaving me and others without power for 6 days. As frustrating as it was to deal without power, a very cold house, no fridge and rising sump pump waters threatening to flood my basement, I was lucky.  We were safe and my house was fine (no falling tree damage or worse). Additionally there were pockets of areas within the Cleveland area that had power back on within a day or two.  So while we were without power, I could go to the neighboring suburb rec center to warm up, charge my phone, and let the kids run around the basketball court or swim in the indoor pool. 

We also had a basic little camping generator that we used to power the sump pump intermittantly and to power a TV or recharge cell phones.  (Remember it is a camping generator, it was meant to power a small TV and light. A sump pump definitely had it at its limits.)  We have been off cable and satellite for almost 2 yrs.  We get our TV over the airwaves and use Netflix or Amazon on Demand to get other cable type programs.  We have AT&T Uverse for phone and Internet, just not TV.  We save a bundle doing this.  We also learned that it can also help in an emergency.  Sandy not only killed the power but it killed AT&T service as well as other cable and phone providers.  That meant no Internet for us, but for a large portion of our neighbors that also meant no TV as well as no Internet, even if they had power.  With only a small radio, you feel cut off from the outside world. 

Thankfully we had our cell phones and we could charge them.  While Sandy took out a bunch of cell phone towers, there were still enough left  for us surf and find information via 3 and 4G.  However, this is not the case for many on the East Coast.  With fewer cell phone towers left standing and a larger population, people’s smartphones aren’t very smart.  People aren’t always able to call somebody, their data stream has gone down to a data drip and their battery is quickly moving toward dead because the phone boosts battery power to try and help the signal.  The only thing that works is good ol’ reliable SMS texting. 

However texting can only do so much. Right?  Wrong! I read an article yesterday about how people can leverage SMS texting to surf the Internet (Google), get email, even use Twitter and Facebook.   Doing this allows you to stay in touch with events without relying upon your phone needing a decent data stream from a cell tower.

How to use the Internet when the Internet is gone” is a good step by step article on how to do all of the things I mentioned.  Some things like Facebook and getting your email via text requires you do some things while the Internet is still up, so if you did it Monday morning before the storm, or if can find a place where you can get online then you can set yourself up.  Google and Twitter doesn’t need any advanced set up, it can be done all via texting.

Here is what I got when I Googled the hours of the rec center in a nearby suburb.


While I didn’t get the hours I did get the phone number to call them.  It isn’t perfect but if you can’t even get online, it is better than nothing.

I am not sure how medical libraries can leverage this information to help provide services during a disaster.  However it is something good to know and librarians might want to add it to their disaster plans or at the very least let their users know about it.

Share Your Tools

Have a cool tool, website, article, or idea that you think other medical librarians could benefit from?  The MLA Technology Advisory Committee (TAC) is working to help shape MLA’s social media presence by promoting and mentioning things that are useful to medical librarians.  One idea was for people to share what things they find useful for their job and then we would mention it on MLA Facebook or other social networking venues.  Basically create a crowd source resource that can be distributed to others. 

Sharing your cool tools has never been easier.  There are several ways you can do it. 

  • Tweet #mlatools with your favorite or newly discovered tool.
  • Comment on my blog or EagleDawg’s blog and mention MLA Tool somewhere in the comment.
  • Post on the MEDLIB-L email list and mention MLA Tool in the subject line.

Our hope is that we develop a repository tools, ideas, websites, etc. useful to medical librarians and we can profile them on our social sites for people to learn about and further discuss.


Is NetVibes Your All In One Social Media Resource?

A while ago I discussed the usefulness of third party apps like Hootsuite and TweetDeck for integrating Twitter into your workflow.  Twitter apps like Hootsuite or TweetDeck vastly improve the social nature of Twitter.  Due to their design they allow people to better participate and follow tweets and conversations than the website Twitter can.  If you decide to use Twitter for professional communication I highly recommend finding a third party Twitter app like HootSuite or TweetDeck.

Catherine Voutier approached me shortly after my post, about using Twitter on Netvibes.  I am a Netvibes user for my RSS feeds and while I know they have a Twitter integration, I always used the integration to share stories from my RSS feeds with people on Twitter.  I had never considered using as I would TweetDeck or Hootsuite.  I was intrigued, so I asked Catherine to write up something about her experiences and I repost it here.

Catherine’s Netvibes and Twitter:

I first came about Netvibes earlier this year when I took up the challenge of Library Day in the Life, hosted by Bobbie Newman. This biannual project captures the daily doings of librarians working in all sorts of information environments across the globe. Many social media tools are used and to keep track of them, Bobbie created a public Netvibes dashboard. Netvibes is a monitoring tool which can be used to capture social media updates, rerun search alerts in search engines, keep track of new videos in YouTube and other services, and it can even keep track of incoming emails from various accounts. I was redesigning the evidence section of the RMH library website and I had left the various RSS feeds and other alerting services til last. I hadn’t included videos at that stage either. What could I use to bring all of these together? I tried using Yahoo Pipes but various experiments were unsuccessful. Then I remembered Netvibes – perhaps that would work? So I created an account and made a public page. It was immediately populated with items which were not useful so I went about redesigning it. There are tabs across the top which cover individual social media tools: Twitter, Podcasts and Videos. To add a new page, click on the + on the top right. The tab will be highlighted and this is where you can choose layout. On the top left is a button which says ‘Add Content’ – this is where widgets and feeds are located. You can also add pages that are already populated by choosing topics. To select a widget, click on it and it will ask you if you want to add it. Once added to your dashboard, click on the wheel to edit content. You can easily move the content on the page around by click and drag.

I then read Krafty’s post about using Twitter in everyday workflow and how she prefers to use third party software to read and send tweets. I thought – I wonder if I can use Netvibes to read Twitter conversations? I have a Twitter account but didn’t use it because of its clunky nature. I had to find instructions on how to do it but once I did, it was easy enough to replicate. This is how I did it: I made a basic page for myself and added a Twitter widget to bring up my own account. I then dragged and dropped Krafty’s name onto a blank section of the screen which brought up all her tweets. Krafty participates in a #medlibs chat on Twitter that has had some promotion and she participates and sometimes leads, so it was bound to be mentioned. Looking through Krafty’s tweets I found the #medlibs conversation link and dragged and dropped that onto an empty space on my dashboard – success!! Hooray! Now I can’t wait until the next live chat happens.
Below is a snapshot of my still-to-be-completed Netvibes page:
Catherine Voutier is the Clinical Librarian at the Royal Melbourne Hospital Health Sciences Library.
Catherine also posted about her experience (also has better, clickable image of her Netvibes page) at
Interesting!  It definitely gives me some ideas as to how to use Netvibes.  I am kind of busy these next two weeks but I may just try and play with it while I am traveling to Chicago later this month while waiting in the airport. 

What You Missed on Last Thursday’s TweetChat: Alternative Reference

Last Thursday we had a lively discussion about reference services, more specifically alternative reference.  At first we had a little discussion about the definition of alternative reference and what really is alternative.  Is eliminating the reference desk alternative?  Is embedded librarianship a type of alternative reference.  Lots of people discussed their ideas and I think the term alternative reference for this chat pretty much determined to be “anything outside what has been viewed as traditional roles for reference services” and included things people are doing different with reference.

(Please let me know if I misunderstood any tweets, I am using the transcript along with my memory to provide this brief synopsis.)

@Eagledawg mentioned how they used to have on call reference hours but have moved to chat based reference & consult appointments.  She also mentioned how they are working on providing reference based on the READ scale

Some like @CarolinaFan1982 has done such a great job extending his reference services outside of the traditional library that he cannot even be on Twitter without the nurses he serves asking him questions. But some like @hurstej find their users just aren’t interested in connecting/asking questions via social media.

Much discussion (at least to me) seem to center around abandoning the reference desk and going to something like office hours, consultation services, etc.  There were a few of us like @blevinsa and me who spoke up about doing reference (as well as other things) at our single service desk. 

@BerrymanD and I had a very lively discussion about the importance of the reference desk.  I believe in my institution it is still very important. In his institution it is not used as much.  During the discussion I often referred to the reference desk at our institution.  That was sort of misleading.  We have a single service desk from where patrons can ask reference questions, check out a book, or ask for the bathroom.  In my institution we all call it the reference desk.  I don’t think we ever considered it anything more or less than a reference desk. So part of the reason our desk is so busy is that it is the ONLY desk in the library you can ask questions or get service from.  I think if we had a reference desk and circulation desk our reference desk would be slow. 

It was also mentioned that reference is reference and one doesn’t need a desk to provide it.  That brought up the topic of roving reference and whether anybody was doing that with mobile devices, which would make that ideal. 

All in all it was a great discussion. Very interesting.  I admit I got a bit too focused on the reference desk part of the discussion.  I have a lot thoughts and opinions on the benefits of having a single service desk and every library staff member staffing it at times.  I think that makes an excellent post for next week.  So sometime next week I will write about the things I see at our single service desk and why I think it works for us. 

In the mean time, don’t forget about tonight’s #medlibs chat 9pm est. It is on embedded librarianship.  I hope to see you online.  If you are new, don’t sweat it, just say hi and lurk for a bit.  We are a great group and willing to help you out if you are hesitant with the technology.

How To Integrate Twitter into Your Workflow

Last week I posted that Twitter can definitely be used as a form of professional communication.  I mentioned how Twitter is just as important as email to me. I discuss library related things on Twitter just as much as I do via email.

How do I do this without it being a huge time committment?  Personally I believe a lot of it boils down to the Twitter program I use.  I use TweetDeck or Hootsuite.  These two programs are very similar and are light years better than the regular Twitter page for everyday Twitter use. 

TweetDeck is installed on a computer and can be an app on the iPhone or iPad.  I use TweetDeck on my personal PC and really it is my preferrred Twitter program.  However, it is a bit buggy my iPhone and iPad and since it must be installed I can’t use it on other PCs.  So when I can’t use TweetDeck I use Hootsuite.  Hootsuite lives on the web and doesn’t require installation.  It also seems to work best with my mobile devices. 

Many people like myself have their email program up and running in the background, so when they are working on something a small pop up box flashes on to the lower corner of their work screen. (Shown below)


TweetDeck does something similar in the top right of my screen.


This allows me to go about my daily work without having to switch between applications to try and view tweets or conversations.  If the box pops up, I glance at it quickly to determine if I am interested or need to respond, which is exactly what I do with an email pop up.  For me, this auto pop up feature has made TweetDeck as integrated in my work flow as email. 

Hootsuite behaves a little differently, it doesn’t have a pop up box (which is the whole reason I LOVE TweetDeck) but it does have a little audio alert (much less annoying than TweetDeck) that tells me there was another tweet. (Always be considerate and where earbuds at work if you are going to have audio alerts.)

There are a whole host of features to TweetDeck and Hootsuite that making following groups of people and conversations easier and more effective than the plain old Twitter page.  You can sort groups of people and topics into columns, making it easier to follow similar people (librarians) or topics (#medlibs). Below is my a picture of the columns I follow in TweetDeck and Hootsuite.

At first glance this looks like  A LOT of information and tweets, but the important thing to know is that  only my Home Feed is moving a lot and showing a lot of tweets.  The other columns only show a tweet every once and a while.



The Home Feed are the tweets of everyone I follow that is why it is so active. It like view hundreds of chats all at one time.  I don’t follow a ton of people so I still have my home feed viewable.  Some people who follow thousands of people don’t have their home feed viewable at all.  They choose to monitor conversations by creating columns based on people or topics.

The column with #medlibs is every tweet where somebody uses the hashtag #medlib, which has become the standard method about medical librarianship questions, issues, etc.  In my TweetDeck image you can also see the column General Health Sci Tweets, this is an example of a column of people I follow. I created  a list of people/companies that tweet on that subject.  I have a General Health Sci list, Medical Librarians list, and Non Medical Librarians list. I usually always have the General Health Sci list going because that include librarians, doctors, vendors ets.  The other lists I check once or twice a day just to see if anything interesting has been tweeted. Creating and lists and adding them as column is a great way to manage your twitter discussions if you follow a variety of different people and subjects.

I hid the DM (Direct Message) column, but that is a listing of all the people who private messaged me.  The Mentions feed (@Me on TweetDeck) is a list of every tweet where somebody includes @Krafty in their post.  This is very helpful if somebody asks a question and you don’t follow them, this feed will catch it and I can respond to them.  It also helpful if a person mentions somebody in tweet because they often include their Twitter name.  I use this method often when I am talking about vendor products. 

Examples of this are:

  • Widgets available for #OvidSP @WKHealthOvid
  • Anybody know how to bold a word within the widget screen of libguides @SpringShare

Vendors monitor their @’s on Twitter and they respond quite quickly.  I have gotten a quicker response posting on Twitter like this than I have on Medlib-l.

It sounds like a lot of work, but it is quite simple to create the columns because TweetDeck and Hootsuite feature column display.  As I mentioned the Home feed is the fast moving active feed and I really don’t sit and stare at it the whole time.  I really rely on the pop up box (in TweetDeck) to view things as they come.  The other columns have tweets but usually those don’t come that often (at most 1 an hour) unless I am monitoring a very active discussion.  For example the #medlibs column is often quiet with about 1-2 tweets an hour, but Thursdays at 9pm that column is very active because that is time when we have a #medlibs tweet chat.

People sometimes tell me that while Twitter is neat they find it hard to follow conversations and discussions.  There are several ways to help make that easier. First, use the hashtag like #medlibs if you are tweeting about a topic or something that would be of interest to a group.  Second, click on the conversation link that is displayed on TweetDeck.  *Note this feature only works if there is a conversation. If it is a single tweet there obviously isn’t a conversation so the conversation link does not show.

Here are two screen shots of how you can follow converstations within TweetDeck and Hootsuite.



 Viewing the conversation prevents me from having to scroll around and search for each individual tweet in the conversation thread. 

There are several other features to both TweetDeck and Hootsuite that make using them far superior to the plain old Twitter page.  I rarely go into the Twitter site because it lacks functionality for everyday use.  There are other programs that you might find are better for your workflow.  For me the pop up notification of TweetDeck is the most important feature for me, it allows me to do my regular job and just look at tweets as needed. 

If you have tried to do Twitter for professional communication but you use it through Twitter’s site and it hasn’t gone well, try TweetDeck or Hootsuite.  A perfect way to see if it fits into your work flow is to go to Twitter create an account (if you don’t have one) and then create a Hootsuite account or download TweetDeck.  Use it for 1-2 weeks and experiment with it.  Maybe it will work for you. 

Finally, I know a lot of what I just wrote about can seem pretty technical and in depth for those new to Twitter.  My advice is to take it slow, get your feet wet, experiment, and follow some great medical librarian twitters like me @krafty, Nikki Dettmar @eagledawg, PF Anderson @pfanderson, Eric Rumsey @ericrumsey, and Sally Gore @mandosally. We can help you along the way as you experiment.

A great way to experiment is to participate in the #medlibs chat every Thursday 9pm est.  Tonight is “Free Range Thursday” where the topic is up for grabs and it can be on anything related to medical libraries. Still nervous about participating in a Twitter chat, here is a great article on The Chronicle, “How (and Why) to Participate in a Tweetchat” to get you started.

Social Media: Employers and Professionalism

Hopefully by now those of you on social media know that employers and other people looking to do work with you are looking at your presence on social media sites such as Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, etc.

I found an interesting article on Mashable social media traps that people should beware of.  Believe it or not, the picture of you with alcohol (provided you aren’t doing your best Prince Harry in Vegas impersonation) isn’t as frowned upon as poor spelling.  In fact four other things were worse (in recruiters eyes) than picture of you with a beer. Drug use, sexual posts/tweets, profanity, and poor spelling were worse than pictures of alchohol consumption.

Other things that are considered a negative are:

  • Political posts/tweets
  • Overly religious posts/tweets
  • References to Burning Man festival (anybody have any idea as to why?)

So if they are snooping around, what do you want them to see besides a blank page with your picture, indicating you have locked everything down like Fort Knox?  According to Mashable, recruiters want to see membership in professional organizations and volunteering/donating to charity.  Obviously locking down certain content and making other content openly available is key and requires some careful attention to Facebook, Twitter, etc. security controls. 

What I found to be the most interesting tidbit of information was one of the tips Mashable provided in this piece.  It suggested that people should start including links to their LinkedIn, Facebook and Twitter profiles on their resume so that recruiters don’t accidentally mistake somebody else’s profile with yours.  Huh…I never thought about that.  I can see where that could be a big problem, especially with common names and in professions that aren’t as small and tightly knit as librarians. 

In the past it has been all about locking your social network down so nobody except for those few approved people can see it.  Now there are suggestions that not only do you unlock positive activities for all to view but you actually include your profile information to recruiters.  Have we turned a corner in social media?  Is it now assumed that everybody has a social media presence? Do those who don’t have one or have one so locked down that it isn’t easily viewed run the risk of being mistaken for somebody else or possibly hiding something?

What are your thoughts?

Notes from the #Medlibs Chat

Last Thursday (August 30, 2012) the #medlibs chat on Twitter discussed issues around ebooks.  The full transcript can be found here: 

We had a few new people join us in the discussion and some lurked, and we were glad to have them.  I want to thank everyone who participated, not only was it a great chat but you all made my job as moderator easy.

So what was discussed about ebooks?

  1. Findability – Most people reported this to be a big problem.  Some are using libguides to direct people to subject books. Some are cataloging them.  Others are doing web lists (either home grown or through EBSCO or Serials Solutions).  It seems that many are doing a combination of approaches that are sort of piecemeal and as @mscully66 mentioned “it’s inefficient as all get out!”
  2. Usability – There was a bit of a disagreement whether findability impacted usability or whether usability was its own issue.  Some said if they can’t find it they can’t use it, while others like @RyloLH think “usability is it’s own issues.” Regardless of whether findability is a part of usability, everybody could agree that ebooks are not user friendly.  Many mentioned the confusing packages like Dynamed/Skyscape, user confusion over single user licensing vs unlimited access, and inability to download.  @CarolinaFan1982 believes  the download process as usage barrier, he thinks the “download process needs to be more like it is for books I get from the pub. library, relatively easy”
  3. Portability and Devices -CarolinaFan1982’s tweet segued nice to ebook portability and devices.  It seems the biggest issue was multiple platforms causing the problems.  Patrons don’t know what book is on what platform and if it can be downloaded from that platform and if so in what format.
  4. PDA (Patron Demand Acquisition) – I erroneously labeled PDA as Purchase on Demand Access (what can I say it was 9:40pm and the Cleveland Browns were playing in the background.) Lots of people mentioned they were experimenting or beginning to start trials on PDA.  I think the best tweet during this discussion was changing the name PDA to DDA. @jannabeth tweeted “DDA = demand driven acquisition. We decided PDA had too many alternate meanings!” Many of us like using DDA instead of PDA.
  5. Usage – We finally discussed usage of ebooks.  A few discussed getting the usage stats on packages but not individual titles.  There was some interest in knowing the usage stats for individual titles within the larger packages.  

All in all it was a very interesting discussion.  I want to thank @eagledawg for giving me the opportunity to moderate, it wasn’t as scary as I thought it would be.  I was just more nervous that I would forget so I set every reminder and alert possible so I could remember.   In fact I became so engrossed in the discussion that I lost my husband for a brief period of time.  Long story, but I found him again.

If participating in the #medlibs chats sounds interesting, we will be doing it again next Thursday 9/6 (and every Thursday) at 9pm est.  Join us!

Professional Discourse Can Happen on Twitter

Professional discourse can and does happen on Twitter.  In fact, I find Twitter as important as email for work communication.  I know, I can practically see your eyeballs rolling and the murmurs through the Internet as I type this.  But it is true. 

Years ago, I remember saying that I couldn’t think of a reason to be on Twitter.  I didn’t say there wasn’t one, but at the time I just didn’t see any.  Today it is a totally different story.  I probably discuss librarian issues and ideas more often over Twitter than I do on Medlib-l.  Yep you are reading that correctly. 

In fact the 140 character limit doesn’t inhibit me at all.  I am able to ask quick questions and have them answered fairly quickly.  What kind of questions do I ask?  Some of the same things I might ask on Medlib-l like:

  • Is PubMed down?
  • How do I bold a line in LibGuides?
  • What other MeSh term can you think of to represent X?


I also make little comments about things I am encountering while I am at work or doing librarian stuff.  Some of these things are just my comments  while others are passing along helpful or interesting websites.  Some recent examples are:



As you can see all of that stuff is related to librarianship.  Doesn’t Twitter get all cluttered with junk about people’s cats, lunch, etc.?  Yes and no.  In fact, I do a little bit of off topic chatting…


I am not a robot, some of my life and personality filters through on Twitter just like it does on email.  The key to Twitter is the you people follow.  Follow other librarians (medical and non-medical), doctors, patient advocates, technology gurus, etc.  Find the people who mainly tweet about professional items and your Twitter feed will mainly be about professional information that you can use.  Yes there will be some personal bon mots that fly through, but that is life.

I have also found it HUGELY helpful to follow my vendors.  Yep, I follow @SpringShare, @WKHealthOvid, @EBSCOInfoSvcs, @NEJMTeam, @ClinicalKey, @MDConsult, @MHMedical, etc.  Not only do I find out about new things like I did the other day with Ovid…


But I have gotten pretty darn good tech support and responses from problems and complaints.  Honestly I have gotten faster responses than I have ever gotten when I post on Medlib-l.   @SpringShare has been very helpful and responded quickly whenever I mentioned I have a problem.  @EBSCOInfoSvcs responded quickly when I was asking people about an A-Z quirk.  @ClinicalKey responded very quickly when I brought up an issue regarding personal logins for PDFs. 

Twitter isn’t for everyone but it isn’t just the realm of Charlie Sheen rants and lunch updates.  It is a valid method of professional communication.  The key is how you use it and how you integrate it in your workflow.  Next week I will share how I have integrated it into my work flow so that it takes no more time out of my day than regular email.  In the mean time, don’t forget about the #medlibs Thursday chats at 9pm est. which is a perfect example of professional Twitter communication.  You are free to lurk and see what is going on. Any questions about Twitter #medlibs chat feel free to contact me.