Research Impact Part 1: Moving Away from Tracking Authors’ Articles

I have been toying with this post for quite a while, trying to think of a good way to present the information without it being to long.  Well the only way to do it is to break it into parts.  I will link all of the parts together once I have finished writing and posting them.

Part 1: Moving Away from Tracking Authors’ Articles

Before I was a medical librarian my library had been tracking every article, book, and book chapter that somebody within the institution authored.  It used to be a list that was published then it evolved into a database that was on a citation management software.

In the beginning it started with finding citations in PubMed.  But it evolved over the years to finding citations from other databases.  Basically the librarian in charge of finding the citations had MANY saved searches on PubMed, Scopus, Web of Science, etc. that had the institution’s name in address of the author.   She would then download the citations, verify the author, and then add the name(s) of the department(s) that the institutional author(s) belonged to as a keyword field in the citation management software.

Books and book chapters were always a booger.  Their is no PubMed for books so finding those relied on a lot of web searching, notifications from our book suppliers, and from the from institutional authors themselves.  That information was also uploaded into the citation database.

However this practice was unsustainable for many reasons.

There are over 1800 variations of my institution’s name in PubMed.  From what I understand PubMed does no authority work for institutions.  Whatever the author writes is what is used.  This a HUGE problem if you are searching for all of the citations written by people in your institution.

In 2015 we had over 43,000 employees of which 3,200 were staff physicians, 10,965 nurses and over 1,500 research personnel in labs.  That’s a lot of citations to find.  While the saved searches were automated, the rest of the process needed to be to.    As the hospital system grew it made finding, verifying, indexing (adding the department names) uploading citations and maintenance a full time job for one librarian and became part of the duties for 3-4 other people.

At some point in time during the years of compiling a list of all the articles, books, and book chapters our authors wrote, administration decided to try to rank the citations.  Administration decided to compare the department(s) list of published articles.  Because we were still hand coding departments and loading the citations into a static reference database (like EndNote, RefMan, RefWorks) there was no way to add a continually changing variable like h-index, impact factor, or other metrics.  So they did the imprecise method of just having somebody sort all of the department(s) articles by the impact factor of the journal it was published in.  (Yes, that sound you hear are librarian teeth gnashing.)

As you can imagine this always presented issues, specifically for disciplines whose top journals don’t have huge impact factors like NEJM or JAMA.  Yet we were limited by our retrieval and storage capabilities and administrations (understandable) demand to quantify quality.

Something had to give, and it did.  Our entire database was housed on RefMan.  (Hey RefMan was state of the art when we started down this path.) RefMan was no longer supported by its maker as of December 2016.  We couldn’t migrate the data over to EndNote for two major reasons. One, all of the indexing we did to make sure we could sort people by department was done in the notes field.  We used other fields in RefMan for other “notes” and purposes.  This was all done by a cataloger so there was really good consistency, but the notes field and other fields did not map well between RefMan and EndNote so there would have been EXTENSIVE cleanup for 20 yrs worth of data. (not the best use of time or resources)  Two, migrating everything to EndNote still did not solve our metrics problem, assigning a value to the published articles that administration wanted. This forced our hand to make major changes such as automating the entire collection of citations procedure, including article level metrics within the database, and making it more sustainable as our institution continues to grow.

Through our investigations we discovered several products out there, Converis, InCites, Profiles, Pure, Plum, the list is large (note I don’t agree with all listed on Wikipedia but gives you an idea).  We ended up choosing two products by the same vendor. The two products allowed us to upload HR data so that articles would be automatically sorted and indexed by author AND department, and it also included article level metrics that were more informative than just the journal impact factor.

Migrating to this was not an easy task.  Part 2 will talk about the migration and things we learned (still learning) and I think Part 3 will talk a bit about the cultural shift from moving away from a cumulative list of publications to a list of publications’ impact.  Stay tuned.


Odds & Ends of possible interest

Useful FireFox extensions :

  • Distill

This allows you to monitor a web page  for any changes. You can highlight just part of the page (handy as some pages  change a lot  with tweets or whatever so you want to avoid that) and it will track changes only in that section – useful if looking for a report to appear, update to a publication. The only tricky thing with it is that  when you highlight a section the Save changes icon you want is bottom right (took a while to find that)

  • Lightshot and Awesome Screenshot  Plus

Both of these make capturing and annotating screenshots  very easy which is useful for training  materials, highlighting problems  via emails etc

  • Copy as plain text

Just a little  thing but find it useful. Adds a  right click option to a highlighted  items in the browser  such that  you can copy as  plain text and don’t have formatting carried over  into whatever you are  copying into

  • Vimperator

Essentially it converts links into numbers and you can “click on the link” by typing the relevant number so in a sense  creates  keyboard shortcuts  for websites. Could be useful with any web interface used frequently.

  • Lastpass

Oldie but a very goodie – only ever have to remember one password.


Other bits and pieces:

PubMed for Nurses  tutorial

UpToDate now more useful  for those that subscribe

There is now a specific ClinicalKey app (rather than just a mobile optimised site) but apparently only available in the US for the moment

Booko price alert. Booko is useful for finding the best prices for books (including delivery). It now has a feature where for a given item you can set a price target and be alerted when price drops below your nominated figure. This feature is below the book cover image.

Move between browser tabs. It is quite easy to get caught out using alt-tab when all you actually want to do is move between tabs of the browser. Ctrl-tab works for most browsers so you just have to think ctrl instead of alt

On the Wards. This is a website for junior docs containing podcasts, blogs and videos. The podcasts are interviews with senior clinicians that discuss common questions and case based scenarios that junior doctors will face on the wards etc

A few new useful(?) MeSH headings for 2015 – Legendary creatures, Long term adverse effects, Smartphone, Spirit possession, Giraffes, Hoarding disorder

Continuing with MeSH. MeSH On Demand identifies candidate subject headings from text pasted into the search box

Two newish PubMed alerting services – Medumail and MedSubscriber

Papers, the reference manager, for iPhone and iPad is now free

British Medical Library Association book prize winners 2015 for possible book purchases

WriteCite Builds citation as student enters details so they can learn the structure

The Cloud Catalog: One Catalog to Serve Them All

And with that it is time now for a coffee

InTOCicated by eTOCs

As you might gather from the post title, I love journal alerts (aka eTOCs) and here’s why:

  • They increase use of our expensive ejournals
  • They help keep clinicians up to date in their specialty
  • They repeatedly remind clinicians that the medical library exists; no small thing in these Googlesque days
  • They can be used to cross promote other library resources, services and news

We are a relatively small hospital library (two staff) which services around 5000 clients. Over the years, our ejournal alert service has grown to around 700 journal alerts, and is probably our most popular service.

The way it works is that all journal eTOCs come through one email and are forwarded to alert groups automatically via rules.

Our organisation used to have Groupwise for its email system and rules worked well with it. However on switching to Outlook, we quickly found that we could only create half a dozen or so rules before memory limitations were reached. After some searching, we found an Outlook add-in called Auto-Mate from Pergenex which came to the rescue. It’s an easy to use but powerful add-in, and it’s strangely gratifying to watch it automatically forward dozens of eTOCs each morning.

While signing up for eTOCs is a one off task, and forwarding of emails is automatic once rules have been set up, creating and modifying ejournal email groups is the most labor intensive part of the service. If I was to start the service again, I’d probably do it at the subject level (eg cardiology) rather than the title level (eg BMJ) as this would reduce the workload involved in adding and removing users from groups.

With a previous post – exporting Google Scholar citations to reference managers – I Kraftily used it as a Trojan horse to seek an answer to issue. Thanks to responders Farhad, Christine and especially Karen who provided the solution.

In a similar vein, I’m hoping a clever commenter out there can shed light on the following question:

Is there a way to have an online web form such that a user can make multiple selections (for the various eTOCs they are interested in) and which on submission updates multiple email groups (corresponding to the eTOCs they have selected/deselected). The email system doesn’t necessarily need to be Outlook. I thought this would be relatively straightforward process but as yet haven’t been able to find any offerings like this, despite playing around with the likes of MailChimp.

The JournalTOCs service has something like this available but our resolver wouldn’t work with their system alas alack alay

In any case, I remain a big fan of eTOCs and would be interested to hear if any other libraries have any comments, are using them in interesting ways or have any technology (not RSS ) that streamlines the process and so on

Thanks Rob

Yes? Or No? Or HOW? Catching a Predator at Birth (Maybe)

Catching a Predator at Birth

I almost called this post: “Create attention for your article; write a layman’s summary,” which was the subject line from the e-mail we are discussing locally in trying to decide if it is a predatory publisher or not. (Short version of what we did for those who don’t have time to read the whole story: Identity, Authority, Credibility, Language, Editing, Timing, Licensing, Accessibility, Openness, Sources, Resources. Basically, defining a chain of trust.) I’ve blogged here before about the idea of layman’s summaries, a.k.a. plain language abstracts. They have a great tagline. It’s a great idea. My first reaction was, “How can we help?” Obviously, I think the idea is awesome, and I’ve thought so for a very long time, many years. I am far from the only person to think so. Just take a quick look at these few selected quotes.

DC Girasek: Would society pay more attention to injuries if the injury control community paid more attention to risk communication science?
“We also need to call attention to the injuries that continue to take lives, despite the fact that solid solutions for them have been published in our scientific journals. We need research on translating study findings into public action. Epidemiology and engineering remain central to the field of injury control. We must look to the social and behavioral sciences, however, if we hope to overcome the political and cognitive barriers that impede our advancement.”

Alan Betts: A Proposal for Communicating Science
“Given that the future of the Earth depends on the public have a clearer understanding of Earth science, it seems to me there is something unethical in our insular behavior as scientists.”

Jason Samenow: Should technical science journals have plain language translation?
“Some scientists might resist the onus of having to write a lay-person friendly version of their articles. However, I agree with Betts, it’s well past time they do so”

Chris Buddle: Science outreach: plain-language summaries for all research papers
“1) Scientists do really interesting things.
2) Scientists have a responsibility to disseminate their results.
3) Scientists do not publish in an accessible format.
This is a really, really big problem.”

Chris Buddle: A guide for writing plain language summaries of research papers
“A plain language summary is different because it focuses more broadly, is without jargon, and aims to provide a clear picture about ‘why’ the research was done in additional to ‘how’ the work was done, and the main findings.”

Lauren M. Kuehne and Julian D. Olden: Opinion: Lay summaries needed to enhance science communication. PNAS 112(12):3585. doi: 10.1073/pnas.1500882112
“But rather than an unrewarding burden, scientists (and journal publishers) should consider widespread adoption of lay summaries—accompanying online publications and made publicly available with traditional abstracts—as a way to increase the visibility, impact, and transparency of scientific research. This is a particularly important undertaking given the changing science media landscape.”

This is seen as SUCH an important idea that multiple grants were provided to create a tool to assist scientists in doing this well!

Center on Knowledge Translation for Disability and Rehabilitation Research (KTDRR): Plain Language Summary Tool ((science OR research) (attention OR “plain language” OR “clear language” OR layman OR journalist) (summary OR abstract)

Imagine my excitement when a colleague (many thanks to Kate MacDougall-Saylor) alerted me to a new online publication specifically for this purpose! How PERFECT for Health Literacy Month! A faculty member had asked her if it was a legitimate enterprise. So we looked at the email she’d received, and at the web site.

Dear Dr. XXX,

We are interested to publish the layman’s summary of your research article: ‘ABC ABC ABC.’ on our website.

The new project ‘Atlas of Science‘ started from 1st October 2015. It is made by scientists for scientists and the aim of the project will be publishing layman’s abstracts of research articles to highlight research to a broader audience.
Scientific articles are often difficult to fathom for journalists, due to the scientific jargon.
Although journalists like to assess the news value quickly, that is by no means simple with most research articles. Writing a short, understandable layman’s summary is a good means to reach this goal.

This makes sense, has a good message, and is accurate about the potential impact so far, but the English doesn’t read as having been written or edited by a native speaker of English, and the formatting is inconsistent. It doesn’t look as if a professional editor did a final review before promoting to the world. Warning Sign #1.

The name of the web site (Atlas of Science) is identical to the highly regarded book from MIT Press and authored by Katy Börner of the Indiana University Cyberinfrastructure for Network Science Center. At first, I thought perhaps they were connected, but quickly realized this was a separate group, simply using the same name. Warning Sign #2.

Most of the rest of the message came directly from the “For Authors” page on the web site (Why, What, Use), except for the instructions.

∙ Send your summary to [email protected], not later than ##/#/2015.

What do we do with your layman’s summary?
∙ We check the text, and in consultation with you we dot the i’s and cross the t’s.
∙ Your text will be available on the Atlas of Science website, .
We will actively promote this site to the press.

Please, let us know if you are interested and do not hesitate to contact us if you have any question (simply reply to this email).

This was less worrisome, except … the phrase “not later than” (combined with a date of just over a week to respond) seems to be pressuring the faculty member to respond quickly, without thinking it through carefully, and without time to actually create a well-done plain language summary. Warning Sign #3.

Speaking of a well-done plain language summary, do they explain how to do what they say they want? We checked on the web site. Not really. They tell you what they want, but not how to do it, and they don’t point people to any resources to help them understand what a plain language summary is, what this means, or how to do it. They define no standards, set no guidelines, make only the barest and simplest recommendations (such as word count — 600 words with 2 figures), and do not even mention appropriate reading level. Warning Sign #4.

Does the posted content on the site actually appear to match the stated goals of the site? Not remotely. The pieces posted don’t even match the minimal guidelines they stated in their own criteria. I tested a few of the newest posts. The titles alone (“Regulation of mediator’s expression and chemotaxis in mast cells”, “Minute exocrine glands in the compound eyes of water strider”, “Gene therapy not just counseling for your denim obsession”, tell you these are not plain language, but just to be fair and unbiased, I ran them through a Simple Measure of Gobbledygook (SMOG) Tool, which is only one of several tools and resources available for assessing readability.

Regulation of mediator’s expression and chemotaxis in mast cells
The SMOG index: 20.1
Total words: 766
Total number of polysyllabic words: 180
Total number of sentences: 41

Over 150 words more than the defined limit for the abstract (Warning Sign #5), and written for an audience with a reading level matching those with multiple graduate degrees. The SMOG Index, you see, displays the reading level by number of years of education. 12 is a high school diploma, 16 is a college degree, 18 is a masters, and 20 is well into PhD territory. The average reading level for adults in the United States is roughly 8th grade, meaning that a really well done plain language summary would be written to a SMOG level of 8, at most 12. 20 is a long ways from 12.

Minute exocrine glands in the compound eyes of water strider
The SMOG index: 16.2
Total words: 461
Total number of polysyllabic words: 70
Total number of sentences: 35

Gene therapy not just counseling for your denim obsession
The SMOG index: 18.7
Total words: 573
Total number of polysyllabic words: 79
Total number of sentences: 23

Save your pancreas from diabetes! Your beta cell reserve is critical for prevention and treatment of diabetes.”
The SMOG index: 19.6
Total words: 455
Total number of polysyllabic words: 100
Total number of sentences: 25

It’s easy to see that most of the authors take the word count seriously, and that some of them genuinely tried to reduce the reading level and had an idea of where to start with this. None of them came anywhere close to an 8th grade reading level, and none of them were below college graduate reading level. Warning Sign #6. The writing in the abstracts was highly variable, some included grammatical errors, and there was no sign of editorial oversight. Warning Sign #7.

You get the idea of how the checking is being done. I don’t want to walk you through the excruciating details for every piece, but here are a few more criteria, and then ending with a surprise reveal.

“About Us”: Can’t tell who they are, either individuals or institution. Improper grammar & punctuation. No contact information. Contact form has email address hidden. Warning Signs 8, 9, 10.

Content Sources: Most links are to RSS feeds from major science news services, not unique or locally produced content. For the unique content, authorship is unclear (is author of the plain language abstract the same as the author of the original article?), buried deep in the page, no editor mentioned, and no contact information given for the presumed authors. The links for the original articles go back to PUBMED, not to the original publisher, and nont of them give the DOI number for the articles. Warning Signs 11, 12, 13, 14, 15.

Licensing: For a project of this sort to have the impact it is supposed to on journalists and the public, it would need to have a Creative Commons licensing structure, presumably with attribution. Instead it has
copyright, all rights reserved,” but gives no information on how to get permission to use the content. It appears that the intellectual property rights are held by the website, not by the actual authors. This is (in my opinion) terrible. Warning Signs 16, 17, 18.

Accessibility: Problems using the site on my phone. Tested desktop view, and there are a number of fatal errors, missing ALT tags, empty links, duplicated links, etc. Sloppy, sloppy coding. Nobody’s perfect, but MEDLINEplus has zero fatal errors, just for comparison. If this is from a reputable organization, I’d expect better. Warning Signs 19, 20, 21.

Now, the big surprise! While I was digging around online, I found some of the content, almost verbatim, from an authoritative site! Virtually all of the “For Authors” page is from the Technishe Universiteit, Eindhoven (TU/e). Evidently, they have or had a requirement for graduate students to write a plain language summary of their research prior to graduation. Brilliant concept! The submitted content was reviewed, edited, and selected for possible inclusion in their university research magazine, Cursor. They also had a campus website to host the content. The link for this was broken when I checked today, but the Wayback Machine has several examples over the past several years, including just a few months ago.

The big question now is whether this project is taking the Technische Universiteit model and making it bigger for the world, or was the content stolen from TU/e? There is no way to tell by looking. If this is a genuine project from TU/e, there are some changes they could make to improve the project. If the project is not theirs, I would really love to see the National Library of Medicine recreate a project like this, but done properly. They’ve proven they can. And there is a genuine need.

First ever all-virtual conference

I love conferences: meeting other librarians, learning about new products and services, and getting great ideas from others’ innovative projects. However, it is always hard to get away to go to conferences. Both the time and funds can be hard to find. This is why I was so excited for the first-ever virtual conference by the Midcontinental Chapter of the Medical Library Association (MCMLA). This was also the first ever all-virtual meeting of any MLA chapter in the history of the organization. I did not have to find money in my budget or time in my schedule, but still was able to attend many informative conference sessions. And, I got to attend the conference while wrapped in my fleece blanket.

I know the virtual conference has been years in the making from many dedicated librarians, but they made it look easy. Also, Elsevier, McGraw-Hill, Wolters Kluwer, and Rittenhouse agreed to participate in this experiment and gave presentations about their new products. Overall, the conference had great presenters, engaged participants, and moved smoothly past the few, small technical glitches that occurred.

Check out #MCMLA2015 to see the Twitter discussions during the conference and go to the MCMLA conference page for more details about the meeting and the poster that was presented at MLA 2015 about the virtual conference. I hope this is only the beginning of associations experimenting with virtual conferences and exploring alternative ways of sharing ideas and research with each other.

Exporting multiple Google Scholar citations to reference managers like Endnote

Google Scholar (GS) is a very useful addition to the searchers arsenal; following a “cited by” trail nicely complements results retrieved by keyword/subject heading searches in databases such as Embase and Medline.

One area where GS is less useful is exporting records to reference management software. Using the settings,  you can set up an export to BibTex, Endnote, RefMan and RefWorks. However, there are two limitation:

  1. You can only export a single record at a time
  2. You don’t get the abstract included

GS, after a little fiddling about, does allow you to save citations to a list (My library) but citations in this list can still only be exported one at a time so this produces no benefit at all. Then I read an interesting pager by Bramer and de Jonge – Improving efficiency and confidence in systematic literature searching* – which mentioned that Harzing’s Publish or Perish can be used to download 1000 references from GS into reference managers such as Endnote.

Could this speed up my click by click populating of Endnote libraries with GS citations (and maybe throw abstracts in as well for good measure)?

Publish or Perish, ” designed to help individual academics to present their case for research impact to its best advantage”, is a small bibliometrics program (approx 1 MB) that can be installed without admin privileges.  You can indeed export multiple GS (and Microsoft Academic Search) results but – alas, alack, alay – it is not the solution to problems 1 and 2 above. Abstracts – not totally surprising as GS doesn’t provide them – aren’t included.  And while you can search the Publish or Perish program in various ways (author, journal, all words etc), it just doesn’t match the way you search GS which is generally a mixture of keyword and cited by searching so you cannot easily replicate a set of results.

The subject line of this post implied a solution to the multiple GS export problem. Actually it is more a request to see if anyone else has found a fix – sorry about leading you on like that. But this issue is one of those not-so-large-but-there-must-be-a-better-way ones so I’m hoping someone can suggest a workaround.

The easiest solution would be for Google to make the My library list bulk exportable. While holding my breath and waiting for that, I wonder if anyone out there has found a clever way around this problem? Perhaps a search from Endnote GS citations to an external database such as PubMed to grab the abstracts in some fiendishly clever way?


* The systematic searching paper mentioned about can be found in PDF format and Word format, with the latter incorporating a couple of corrections as detailed at the end of this post. The paper itself is interesting for giving all sort of search tips as well as providing a framework (including online macros) for translating search queries from one database platform to another (Embase into Ovid Medline etc). It also has some nifty GS search tips and a table giving a useful search syntax summary across various platforms; the PDF version is good for printing this out. Indeed it is a paper that you need to print out and read at your leisure as not really one you can just scan through online so well.

***Note from Krafty*** 10/28/15
This post seems to generate a lot of spam mail in the comments despite anti spam measures.  As a result I have disabled comments from this post. If you want to comment you must email krafty(atsign)kraftylibrarian(dot)com and if the comment is related to the post I will post it manually in the comments.  Sorry for the inconvenience. Thank you.

Wearable technologies in a library setting

Next time you are at the gym, take a look around! Look at the people on the treadmills, the elliptical or even in the bikes. How many of them are wearing wearable technologies, like the Fitbit, Jawbone’s Up or the Apple Watch.  Wearables are on the rise. Studies show that the markets for smart watches, smart glasses, personal health and fitness products will be worth USD 101.2 billion in 2018.

Wearables are not just for health tracking either. There are wearables that help companies track worker productivity (; perform 3d scanning ( and electronic glasses that help the blind (

Yet, librarians have not begun to explore how the power of the wearable can be harnessed for use in a library setting. Imagine sending data to your wearable or having your wearable scanned to checkout books.  How is your library preparing for wearables?  Stay current about wearable devices by following:



Microsoft Killing Internet Explorer: What Will Hospital IT Do?

I just read today that Microsoft has thrown in the towel on Internet Explorer. According to USA Today article, “Microsoft sends Internet Explorer to tech’s scrapheap,”

The much maligned browser that battled Netscape to guide people around the World Wide Web was consigned to history this week by Microsoft, joining Palm Pilots, flip phones and Myspace as relics of a distant digital age.

According to the article, the new Microsoft browser will run on phones, tablets and personal computers and will be specifically made for the “new era of mobile devices.”  The new browser will be launched with Windows 10.

What will hospital IT departments around the US do? I admit I am saying that with a bit of a smile.  Hospital IT departments are notorious for clinging on to old versions of IE and reluctant to install other browsers.  My guess is that in the short term Hospital IT departments will do little if nothing.  I am just speculating, but since the new browser will come with Windows 10, I don’t it will be compatible with older Windows OS.  So, the key item to look for is when Microsoft will stop supporting IE. That will be when the IE/hospital doomsday clock will really start ticking.  As with Windows XP, there will be some hospital IT departments that will wait until the last minute to either upgrade to the new Microsoft browser or load Chrome or Firefox.

Perhaps librarians will be able to use this bit of information to hasten their IT departments departure from IE 6,7,8, etc. and just bite the bullet and go with Chrome or Firefox.


Spartan (the new browser but that won’t be it’s name, they don’t have one yet) and IE 11 will coexist on Windows 10.  Microsoft is leaving IE 11 in specifically for legacy applications.

A little birdie who is directly impacted by the IE change for the products that his company works on gave me this update.


Privacy is Dying Fast, Are We Slow to Respond

Privacy is dying or already dead. People (myself included) freely tell the world about our activities through Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, etc.  But we have given up our privacy in even more subtle ways than social media.  I currently have 3 loyalty cards on my key chain, my grocer, pharmacy, and pet store.  That doesn’t include the several loyalty cards I have in my wallet, hardware store, shoe store, sports store, and sandwich chain.  Additionally I have 2-3 apps that are loyalty cards like Shopkick and Cartwheel.  All of these cards and apps give me discounts (some very substantial).  In exchange these stores know exactly what I buy, how often, whether I use coupons, and probably a bunch of other things.

I know there are a lot privacy advocates in the library world.  Along with finding information and connecting people to resources, privacy is important to our profession, especially in the medical world.  Of my friend and colleagues make statements that they would never give out information to people or companies yet the post on social media and they shop at Costco.  We as society have been gradually giving up our privacy in return for convenience or money (discounts and cost savings).

This type of behavior is not going to change any time soon, in fact the next generation is even more willing to give up their privacy.  What is interesting (disturbing?) is that they don’t even think of it as privacy.  A few months ago I saw the Frontline report, “Generation Like.”  The report primarily looked teenagers and the complicated relationship between themselves and the big-name brands they like and actively promote on social media. Not only are the brands are constantly working to target them but the teenagers are actively trying to target their own peer group in the form of likes and comments to gain popularity and fame.  The teens told FRONTLINE that social media makes them feel empowered. The most successful or most popular social media teens are rewarded with all sorts of free products to the point a few have been able to make a living off of their social media posts just from the brands they mention.

I am by no means new to social media, and this was a huge eye opener to me. While I realized the brands mined the data and rewarded those who mentioned them on social media, I had no idea how extensive and deep the rewards went.  But the biggest eye opening moment wasn’t specifically a moment but the repeated sight of these teenagers who so completely bought into it all and didn’t think twice.  In fact after the Frontlined aired the show, most of the teenagers reportedly were excited about getting even more popularity online because of their presence on the show. None of the teenagers blinked twice about the fact that they were giving so much of their privacy away. One interviewer asked the kids about whether they felt like “sell outs” by promoting everything, and the kids didn’t even understand the question.  One even mentioned they didn’t know what a sell out was.

As disturbing and fascinating as this Frontline report was, it made me realize that the concept of privacy is either dead or it will be by the time the teenagers of today are in the workforce tomorrow.  So why is this important? Aren’t we librarians the champions of privacy?  Yes but should we?

I am not talking about disclosing financial data, medical information, or blabbing to the next patron about another’s circulation record.  I am talking about our own information systems working with data to provide a more customized and convenient experience.  Our ILS immediately clears the record of a book from a patron’s record once it has been returned.  That protects our patrons privacy.  But how many of our patrons want a record of what they borrowed for their own purposes?  I have been asked many times in my library career if I could “just look up the last book they checked out because they forgot the title” or a variant of that question.  Personally I love how Amazon knows what I was buying, looking at, and can link my purchases to what others have bought.

My question for librarians is whether our own information system’s restrictions on privacy will ultimately hurt us as the next generation comes to expect more connectivity and convenience.  Like the current teenagers now, will they be fine with giving up a certain amount of privacy so that their experience is better?  If so what kind of systems do we design (or should we) that can balance the privacy line of information that people are willing to give up (or no longer consider private) vs what we still consider private.

Don’t get me wrong, I am not advocating libraries drop their privacy stance, but I am wondering as society’s views on privacy change, how are we going to change.  Obviously education is key.  People don’t always know what they information they are giving up and how it is being used.  However, there things are changing where people don’t care about certain once private things.  So how are we to respond in the future and will that response help us or hurt us?

I’m just thinking out loud, what are your thoughts? (BTW if you leave a comment think about how you are relinquishing some of your privacy and how you are ok doing that now and whether there was a time when you weren’t….you don’t have to put that in your comment, just something to ponder.)  As I tell my kids anything you put online is there forever. Sometimes that is good, sometimes not.

Wanted: Librarians With Good IT Relationships and Knowledge

The Southeastern/Atlantic (SE/A) Technology Program Advisory Committee (PAC) has been outlining their goals for the coming year to try and best to meet the needs of their members. One of the Tech PAC’s multi-year goals (based on the results of the survey given in 2012), is to address technology issues some librarians face daily professional lives.  They are planning a series of webinars on the topic and they need your help.

The first webinar will address relationship-building between libraries and the technology departments which support them.They would like to feature the partnerships of one or more librarians and their tech people on the webinar.  So if you are BFF’s with your tech people or just merely have a good working relationship then they would like to use you to serve as models for the medical library community.  **Krafty Note** HOSPITAL LIBRARIANS….You are especially important in this area. Many hospital IT department have vastly different and considerably more strict policies than academic institutions which sometime make being a librarian’s job more difficult. So if you are a hospital librarian with a good working relationship with your IT people, then please, please, please consider contacting the Tech PAC.

The second webinar in the series is tentatively titled, “How to speak IT,” and will focus on defining and contextualizing basic IT terms. We know librarians have our own geek speak; ILL, PDA (not kissing), MeSH, etc. Well, IT has their own geek speak as well and if you two aren’t speaking the same geek it can make communicating a bit difficult at times. For example (not library related): A woman today told me my face look BEAT!  I was bummed. I was well rested (unusual when you have 3 kids) and I actually looked in the mirror and put on make up before I went to work. I thought I looked good.  The woman seeing my confusion said, “That’s a compliment. You look really good.”  She said that makeup artists and others use it to mean on how stunning somebody looks, especially their makeup.  I felt very happy…that is until I realized I am now so old that I don’t know what “kids” are saying these days.

The Tech PAC is looking for a good IT geek speak “explainer” who would be willing to participate as a speaker to help librarians out there speak a little IT geek speak. If your IT guy says to you, “A VLAN configuration issue has surfaced between our new Web app and the SQL back end,” and your brain translates it to, “The network configuration needs adjusting before we go live,” then Tech PAC wants you.

Finally, Tech Pac is also asking for ideas for future webinars and other programs based on librarian technology needs. So contact them via Twitter (@KR_Barker) or email (Grumpy_Cat [atsign] if you have ideas or can help them with one of their two webinars.