Internet Explorer, PubMed and the End of the World

If you haven’t heard about the  Mayan civilzation’s calendar predicting the end of the world on December 21, 2012, then you have been living under a rock.  Personally I believe the Mayans were on to something.  Instead, I believe the end of the world will happen on January 1, 2013.  Why?

As of January 1st NCBI will no longer support Internet Explorer 7 and all the hospitals that haven’t upgraded will begin to have problems searching PubMed. You can’t blame the Mayan’s for not warning us.  I think they were pretty close to their prediction considering that browsers and the Internet were not known in AD 250.  I just think all of the doomsday prophets just translated things wrong (wouldn’t be the first time that happened). 

The end may not come as a big bang right on the New Year, but as NLM makes enhancements and changes to NCBI the people in the IE 7 hospitals will begin to have problems with PubMed.

The compatibility issue is just going to continue on.  The newly launched PubReader hasn’t even been tested on Internet Explorer and from the looks of the browser compatibilty chart they aren’t dilly dallying around with IE 8 or 9, if they design for Explorer they are going straight for IE 10.

Since PubReader was “designed particularly for enhancing the readability of PMC journal articles on tablet and other small screen devices,” the compatability for desktop and laptop browsers may not be an issue for a while. 

But this brings up the issue of IT departments needing to update the browsers.  Many librarians I have communicated with have expressed how getting IT to upgrade anything (including browsers) is a monumental task.  Just from my average web browsing it seems to me that a lot of web sites are jumping from IE 7,8 to IE 10.  Even more frustrating/interesting for hospital librarians is that there seems to a growing number of people not even designing for Explorer. 

Knowing who is winning the browser wars is tricky and getting good data on browser market share really depends on the site that measures market share.  Network World’s article “Browser battle: Chrome vs. Firefox vs. IE vs. Opera,” says “it’s difficult to say who’s on top in this four-way scrap. For one thing, different methods of measuring market share often provide very different numbers – while data from shows IE in front with 54% of the market for October 2012, StatCounter gives a slight edge to Chrome, about 35% to 32%. W3Schools’ information paints another picture again, showing a big lead for Chrome (44%) over about 32% for Firefox and just 16% for IE.” 

It may just be me and my apocalyptic Mayan frome of mind but I am thinking of the Thunderdome for browsers. Although saying “Four browser enter, one browser leaves” isn’t as cool as Tina Turner’s line, “Two men enter, one man leaves.” 

Basically with the amount of browsers vying for for top spot it makes it difficult for us and IT to keep up.  So it is easy to see how people can be in this predicament.  So instead of stocking up on food and water in anticipation of the end of the world, start working on your IT department to upgrade your browsers.

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.


.@EagleDawg 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. 

Do Library Vendors Feud Like Apple?

Yesterday I read on the Cult of Mac, Mike Elgan’s “How Apple’s Obsession with Google is Hurting Apple.”  Elgen describes Apple’s Maps and the removal of Google Maps from Apple’s new iOS 6 as an example of how the company operates when faced with competition. 

Apple removed Google’s (far superior) Map and YouTube programs from its new operating system.  It also created a more seamless integration with the other social networking tools Twitter and Facebook but not Google+.  Many, including Elgen, have said Apple’s actions have more to do with Google’s Android system competing with Apple than the operating system itself.  He even mentions this type of behavior is not new with Apple.  If anybody remembers Apple in the late 80’s and 90’s, it was not the powerhouse company it is today.  It was locked in a battle with Microsoft to the detriment of Apple and consumers. 

“…they become obsessed with Microsoft, and were throwing all kinds of spaghetti against the wall to see what would stick. They became blind to the truth that great products bring more and better customers, and instead tried to beat Microsoft and the larger PC industry at its own game. They tried to litter the market with narrowly targeted product lines just like the clone companies did, even though most of the positioning was just a bullshit series of lies. The Centris, Quadra and Performa lines were more or less the same line, and the consumer electronics products had the Apple logo on them but weren’t Apple products.”

Elgan sees Apple history on the verge of repeating itself and it is an interesting thought. It was after an hour or two after reading the article that another thought popped into my head.  Are there library vendors that follow Apple like practices with competitors?  The idea is intriguing to me.  It would seem to me this ideology is not unique to Apple, they are just one the largest most well know companies so it is more obvious.  This probably happens in all areas of business, including libraries. 

I think competition is healthy.  It is what brings better products and services to the consumer.  But what happens when competition mutates and you aren’t focused on a better product but focused on destroying another competitor.  When the focus of the competition leaves the product or service, it negatively impacts the company, product, and consumers. 

Do we see this with OPAC companies competing for libraries, or has that area settled out?  Do we see it with traditional publishers and OA publishers?  Do we see it with point of care tools?  How about ebooks and all the uncertainty and upheaval in that area? 

Let’s forget about libraries for a brief second and think about healthcare.  I certainly think we see this type of behavior with healthcare at large, but do we see it within our own health systems? Do we see it within our own hospitals and departments?

Competition is good but there is a fine line between it and obsession and the slope can be slippery. If you find yourself in that situation within your institution/company what are your options? Do you have any?

Just some deep thoughts that my silly little iPhone has made me think about.

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.

You Don’t Need the iPhone 5

You don’t need to rush out and upgrade to an iPhone 5.  Now clearly over 2 million people probably don’t agree with this blog post, but hey why try and be popular. 😉  According to Chris Taylor’s Mashable Op-Ed piece, if you haven’t already joined the millions vying for an iPhone 5, you don’t have to. Chris gives two main reasons for not joining the herd, iOS6 and the S series. 

The new iOS6 will be available in a few days (September 19th) and it apparent is a “quantum leap forward” for Apple’s operating software.  It will included better social integration with Facebook and Twitter, a new Maps app providing turn by turn navigation (but no public transportation), and a “smarter” Siri. 

Chris brings up an interesting good point about the S seriews of iPhones.  “The S cycle, we can start to see after two of them, is where Apple tweaks the iPhone to perfection. Because the number isn’t changing, the company tends to add more features to justify your upgrade. ”  So by waiting for the iPhone 5S (which we assume is the next version) people get the upgraded device with the new “S” enhancements. 

For my husband and other non-iPhone people Chris thinks Android’s 4.1 OS (Jelly Bean) is far more powerful than Ice Cream Sandwich and he really likes Galaxy SIII, the Nexus and the HTC One X and the Windows Nokia Lumia 920. If you don’t have one of those phones and you are wondering when/if your Android will get Jelly Bean you should check out ComputerWorld’s Jelly Bean upgrade list. It is a huge list of almost every Android device and whether it is in the process of getting  or have already gotten the upgrade, expected to get the upgrade, or unlikely to get the upgrade.  (This is my big problem with Android devices, you never know if you are going to get the latest OS upgrade.  Just because you got an upgrade doesn’t mean you will when Key Lime Pie is available.) 

One of the reasons iPhone has started to become more popular with IT departments as RIM circles the drain is that there is little diversity within the iPhone world.  An iPhone is an iPhone, they all get an upgrade (unless you have an iPhone 3 or 3G then it is too old), they all have the same manufacturer and they all operate pretty much the same way.  The downfall of the Android was its diversity when our IT department tested them.  In an organization with 30 thousand employees, several thousand of which have a company phone, you need as little diversity as possible.  With BYOD (Bring Your Own Device) businesses. That is why some think the Windows devices with its “baked in cybersecurity goodness” might be poised to strike big among businesses.

What does this mean for medical libraries?  It means that we need to keep an eye on these things and think about our resources and how they work.  Can we design for every device? No that is why we need to look at web design not apps for our important systems.

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.