Medlibs Twitter Chat: Everything eBooks

This week I will be moderating the medlibs Twitter discussion that will happen Thursday 8/30 at 9pm Eastern for 1 hour.  (I hope I do as well as Nikki!)

Last week, we discussed and shared a link to the book, Rethinking the Reference Collection: Exploring Benchmarks and E-Book Availability.  This week will look at ebooks a little more in depth and their use in general, not just the reference collection.

Some ideas for discussion can be:

  • Findability -What are the best ways for patrons to find stuff? The catalog, A-Z lists, other?
  • Usability – How easy are they for patrons to use?
  • Usage – Are they getting used?  What is appropriate usage stats?
  • Portability and Devices – Where are people using them and on what devices?
  • Patron Driven Acquisition (PDA) – Who is doing this and what are your results?
  • Anything else that might be interesting

Anybody can join a medlibs chat, you don’t have to be a librarian, you just have to have an interest in the topic.  For more information on how to join a Twitter chat using hashtags check out this guide created by the usual moderator Nikki Dettmar.

I look forward to see you online this Thursday.  Even if you plan to lurk, please at least tweet us your name and where you are from (on Thursday at 9pm est.) so we can officially welcome you and answer any questions you might have.

PubMed Won’t Support IE7

According to the NCBI Website, the NCBI resources will no longer support IE7 after January 1, 2013.  So medical librarians in Internet Explorer institutions, now is the time to start talking to your IT departments to get IE 8 or greater, or Firefox 4 or greater installed on your computers.

This means that after January 1, 2013 if you are searching PubMed using IE7 and something goes wonky, it is your problem.  They will no longer design PubMed so that it will work using IE7.

For information on other browsers like Chrome, Safari, and Opera check out the NCBI browser check list.

On a medical librarian related note, MLA’s site gets fussy using IE 7 and 8.  Bascially Internet Explorer is a frustrating browser to design for because there is designing for the rest of the web then there is designing for IE.  I am told IE 9 is better, but it is probably worth trying to get Firefox or Chrome added to your computer if you can.  However, it all depends on your IT department and their policies.  So pick your battle to at least make sure whatever browser you are allowed to use is compatible for the NCBI resources.

**Update 8/21/12  10:48am)**

ACGME won’t work with IE7 after September 1, 2012.  For more information on other browsers and versions go to:

ReferencePoint Blog Stops

About a year ago NLM launched ReferencePoint Blog targeting health sciences library staff in the U.S. and abroad.  The postings were intended to:

  • Increase the awareness of NLM products and services available online and onsite.
  • Inform the targeted audiences about health sciences resources outside of NLM.
  • Promote dialogue and learning exchanges between NLM staff and staff at other libraries.

Well according the final post, “blog membership and participation” was lower than anticipated and “lacked dialogue among the viewership.” 

Although the blog is gone, people can still find out about information from the Tech Bull, RMLs, NLM Social Media outlets, and from other libraries’ web and social media.

At first I misread the information about ReferencePointe Blog, I actually thought they were launching a new blog.  It wasn’t until I re-read things did I realize they were ending the blog.  I admit there is a lot that gets by me at times.  But I had no idea that ReferenceBlog existed and I do try to keep on top of that sort of thing.  It is sad that something that looked so promising failed, but I have to wonder what was done to promote it.  I did a very quick unofficial poll in the Twittersphere asking medical librarians if they had ever heard of ReferencePointe Blog.  I figured the librarians on Twitter are usually more in tune with blogs and social media and if something was out there maybe a few librarians might not know but the group as a whole would know about it.  Most of the people who responded to my tweet said they had either never heard of ReferencePointe Blog or just learned about it very recently.  One person who mentioned they knew of it said it was in her feed reader but she felt it unfortunately found its voice.

This brings up several very good points about blogs, social media, and communication. 

  • Market the hell out of your blog, Twitter account, Facebook, etc.  If your many of social media techie librarians did not know about you, then you didn’t reach out in the right ways.  Simply building a site or feed and hoping people will come or comment…those days are l-o-n-g gone.  Regardless if you are making a blog for librarians or Twitter feed for doctors, you are competing against a whole slew of other social media things that are louder and potentially more interesting. 
  • You need a voice.  Whether it is in 140 characters, a look/feeling on Facebook, or longer blog dialog.  Without a specific voice, theme, presence…overall vibe if you will, users won’t identify with you and come back for more.  It can take a while to find your voice, and possibly longer if you have several people who have to work together has one voice.  But without a specific voice or vibe it is difficult for people to follow.
  • Timeliness is EVERYTHING! The half life of a tweet is like 5 minutes.  Obviously blogs have a little longer half life but you really need to keep posts, tweets, Facebook content centered around what is currently going on.  For example in May 2012 PubMed changed Limits to Filters, a good post on a tricky search using Filters would have been great.  Discussing the differences, pros and cons, etc. of search with Limits vs. Filters would be very helpful.
  • Feeback is essential. Commenting, Re-tweeting, and wall posts must be open and easy.  Creating a barrier such as having somebody login to comment, locking your Twitter feed, or preventing wall posts will drastically limit your readership’s interest in communicating and will effect your overall readership.
  • Finally your numbers are only half of the picture.  I would like to think that I am pretty popular blog among the medical library community.  Yet I have only a few comments on my blog.  I have even less well posts on my Facebook page (to be honest I don’t really market my FB page).  I have a reasonable number of RTs, MTs, and @s on Twitter.  But I am no KevinMD.  However I bet his actual comments, RTs, MTs, etc. represent a very small fraction of  his oodles and oodels of readers and followers.  The numbers are only part of the story.  I don’t begrudge anybody for shutting down based on poor numbers but you can’t use the numbers as your entire picture.

So in the end, I am sorry to see that a potentially good resource is gone.  I hope that isn’t the end for people thinking of doing something similar.

Medlib Geekery Chats Every Thursday

For the last several Thursdays, people interested in medical librarianship issues have gotten together on Twitter to discuss topics and voice their thoughts and opinions.  It is an interesting bunch of people, not all are medical librarians, but all are interested in various aspects of medical information. 

The discussion is every Thursday at 9pm est.  It is rather informal as people are tweeting and following the discussion over a glass of wine, while getting kids to bed, or making dinner.  But as informal as it is, it is also very interesting.  There was a great discussion about take home points from the MLA meeting, escience and what it really means people, and a free range discussion about iPads, residents, etc.  Nikki Dettmar has written a nice post with word cloud images detailing the last few chats.  She also has a link to the chat transcripts

So if you are interested, I invite you to hop on Twitter tomorrow at 9pm est and follow the hashtag #medlibs.  Can’t make it this Thursday? No worries, we seem to be meeting on Twitter every Thursday. So try next week.

Mark Funk’s Janet Doe Lecture Video

If you weren’t at MLA in Seattle this year then you missed hearing some great speakers, one of which was Mark Funk and his Janet Doe Lecture.  If you paid for MLA e-conference package you can catch the other speakers from MLA’s online meeting content site. But you can also catch Mark’s phenomenal lecture at

In preparation for the Doe Lecture, Mark chose to analyze word usage from the content in the MLA Bulletin from 1960-2010.  The words we chose while writing in the Bulletin tell a story of medical librarianship through the years.  Mark spend 225 hours analyzing the words came up with 4 basic categories: Environment, Management, Technology, and Research.  It was very interesting as well humorous.  By looking at the word usage you can see how trends have come and gone and how some things like Reference has consistently stayed on our minds through the years. 

Check out Mark’s lecture and the blog posts from Annie Hughes  and Natalie Clairoux MLA about his lecture.

Personally, it is a freaking great lecture.

Social Media and MLA

Yesterday I sat in on a conference call about various technology things and MLA. One of the things we discussed was social media.  We have to get involved, we have to create a social media strategy to effectively engage in that area of communication.  Based on a survey, it is clear that the majority of those surveyed still prefer the listserve to communicate.  But, it is also clear that other mediums are gaining in popularity and usage and they shouldn’t be ignored just because they are new.  Talking on the phone was once the preferred method of communication among people, now cell phone companies are investigating data/text only plans (no voice minutes) because people just aren’t talking anymore, they are texting and emailing.  As society adapts to new technology they change their behavior patterns. 

I am not saying using the listserve to stay informed is exactly like the evolution of cell phone use, but we do evolve with technology and we would be seriously remiss if we don’t look at addressing it and coming up with a strategy.

So here is where I ask you, the reader….  “What would you like to see MLA do with social media?”

Keep in mind it has to be pretty self sustaining, easy, and require few man hours.  Why?  There are like 10 people who are employed as MLA staff who are all working on multiple projects to keep the organization going.  Whatever plan, thoughts, ideas, that you have, they need to take into account that perhaps a volunteer(s) (similar to the Medlib-l moderator) might be the one doing the bulk of the day to day stuff.  It also should be something that is cohesive and not disjointed.  A LinkedIn account, Facebook account, and YouTube account all sitting out there separately not referencing to each other or interconnected in either way and duplicating work without a cohesive voice or style, does us no good.

Obviously we need to come up with a strategy, but I would like to see what you think we should be doing with these resources in a way to help structure the strategy so that we are serving the members in the most effective and efficient manner. 

So use this blog post as a brain storming area or a sounding board about your vision, thoughts, concerns, etc. on social medial and MLA.

Are Publishers Too Old To Design/Create Effective eBooks?

Wolters Kluwer tweeted a link about a middle school class creating the top selling enhanced ebook on iTunes. The book,  “Creatures, Plants and More! A Kid’s Guide to Northwest Florida,” is interactive and contains pictures, videos and text related to the wildlife found in Northwest Florida.  It was published by a seventh grade class at Woodlawn Beach Middle school, based on a student assignment to create multimedia content around the local gulf-coast wildlife.

Now the book is free, so I am sure that helps keep it at the top of the best “seller” list.  One could argue the press surrounding the creation of an ibook by middle schoolers helps drive the “buys” as well.  However, the book was just published April 26, 2012 and according to a May 1st  article (earliest report on the ebook I could find) on the Woodlawn Beach Middle School’s web page, the book was already the top ranking free book. So, while the press coverage might add to the popularity, the book itself started out strong.

Why is this important, especially on a blog about medical librarianship?  

Maybe I got up on a different side of the bed today, but this report got me thinking about the design of ebooks and whether publishers are just too old, to “get it.”  Are the powers that be and structure within publishing  too steeped in the traditional concept of a paper book to really understand the idea of an interactive ebook?  to further explain this let me draw upon my grade school experiences with computers. (Yes I can remember back that far.)

When I was a kid (2nd or 3rd grade) everyone seemed to be rushing to get computers in school and I remember an old room converted to a computer lab stuffed with Apple IIe’s.  Time in the computer lab was supposed to be important, but since the whole grade school had to share 10 computers, we didn’t visit the lab very often.  The only time I remember visiting the computer lab was for math class, specifically plotting graph equations on the computer.  We would spend the whole math hour inputting coordinates into the computer and at the end, if we did it right, we were “treated” to a green line or triangle.  Booooorring.  I got nothing out of that.  I actually dreaded computer lab time.

In grade school we never used the computers for anything other than that section in the math curriculum.  Yet everyone spoke about technology in the classroom, using computers in education, and teachers were asked to teach with computers.  However the problem was the teachers were using old traditional concepts and marrying them to computers.  They really didn’t adapt the lessons or concepts at all.  The tool of the computer was little more than complicated graphing paper.  They were forcing a square peg into a round hole but not realizing they were even doing that. 

Now the computer has been around for long time and we now have the Internet.  Many teachers today grew up with computers (or at least remember sitting in front of those old Apple II’s).  Their minds no longer think of the computer as a technology, it is a part of their life, a tool for other things.  It is integrated better into the curriculum because it is already integrated into their (and their students) lives.  It is now as common as other things in the classroom like reference books, smartboards (no more banging chalk out of erasers), desks, etc. 

The interactive ebook is the Apple IIe, we don’t know how to create or use it effectively.  The vast majority of us have been programmed with the linear thinking of traditional books.  Many of us talk about converting medical texts into ebooks but we (including publishers) think of the book as a linear progression; start, middle, end.  We throw in movies, pictures and sound but those are positioned in a linear way; within chapters.  Often the ebook is the paper book with multimedia and perhaps added chapters.  But it is usually pretty straight forward.  It is the paper juiced up on steroids, but it is still the paper.

So while the middle schooler’s ebook is still more in line with traditional books it was created only as an electronic product therefore it is free of some of the contraints from already printed version.  Perhaps as tablet devices evolve and people grow up with them and begin to think of them as an everyday thing, our ebooks will begin to evolve beyond the print model.  My 5 yr old or my 1 yr old will be thinking of something totally different regarding an ebook when they are adults.  They will be the ones to see how to publish and distribute content that was once in paper.

Libraries Loaning iPads

A few weeks ago I sent out an email to MEDLIB-L asking for librarians who are circulating iPads to contact me off list to answer some questions.  I was really killing about 3 birds with one stone.  Not only did iMedicalApps want me to write a story about libraries loaning iPads, but I wanted to investigate the idea for our library, and I wanted to share the information for others on this blog.

A lot of librarians got back to me and I want to thank everyone who responded. 

Here are some links about current library loaning projects:

Sampling of library policies:

Sampling of general apps loaded on iPads: 

  • Adobe Photoshop Express
  • Apple’s iWork apps (Pages, Numbers, Keynote)
  • Box
  • DocToGo
  • Dolphin Browser
  • DropBox
  • Elements
  • Evernote
  • GoodReader
  • Google Search
  • iAnnotate PDF
  • iBook
  • Kindle
  • Nook
  • PDF Expert
  • QuickOffice
  • Penultimate
  • Podcasting 4 Education
  • Print Central for iPad
  • Sekai Camera for iPad
  • Skype
  • Whiteboard HD

Sampling of medical apps loaded on iPads: 

  •  3D STem Cell Simulation & Strain Tool
  • AIDSInfo HIV/AIDS Glossary
  • BrainPro
  • DailyMed
  • Davis’s Drug Guide
  • Dragon Dictation
  • Epocrates
  • Eponyms
  • Embryo
  • Eye Chart Pro
  • GeneIndex
  • Health Hotlines
  • Human Anatomy!
  • Improve Bleeding Risk Tool
  • Improve VTE Associative Model
  • Inkly
  • iMuscle
  • iPharmacyPro
  • iRadiology
  • iTriage
  • LactMed
  • LexiComp
  • MedCalc
  • Micromedex
  • MedPage Today
  • Mobile REMM (Radiation Emergency Medical Management)
  • Molecules
  • Muscle & Bone Anatomy 3D
  • NEJM This Week
  • NeuroMind
  • Skyscape Medical Resources

Sample of medical library type apps loaded:
(Some overlap with above list. I think some maybe bookmarks not necessarily apps)

  • AccessMedicine
  • Annals of Oncology
  • Annual Reviews
  • Chest
  • Clinical Pharmacology
  • DailyMed
  • Diagnosaurus
  • DynaMed
  • EBSCOHost
  • First Consult
  • Health Hotlines
  • LactMed
  • LexiComp
  • Mary Ann Liebert Journals
  • MDConsult
  • Medscape
  • Micromedex
  • Natural Standard
  • PLoS Medicine
  • Procedures Consult
  • PsychOnline
  • PubMed (unclear whether PubMed Mobile or for Handhelds)
  • PubMed Clip
  • RefWorks Mobile
  • Science Direct
  • StatREF!
  • Skyscape Medical Resources
  • VisualDX


Loan Rules
Loan rules vary from a few hours to a few days.  Most libraries reset the devices to factory standards for security and privacy reasons.  Although a few librarians have reported that some apps “remember” despite this and are looking into more.  I was unable to find many hospital libraries that loan out iPads. 

Secure Network and EMR
Additionally few hospitals or medical school responded that their iPads were also able to access the EMR.  Mayo Clinic’s iPads can access the EMR as well as the devices used by residents at the NSU residency program at Palmetto Hospital.  As we are looking into our own iPad program we discovered that our devices must have specific Microsoft Client Access Licenses (CALs) to software necessary to access the secure network (and the EMR).  For us, the CALs add quite a bit to the cost of the iPad, about $200 more.  You pay per device.  So each regular 16 GB WiFi only iPad3 that normally costs $499 ends up costing $799 once you factor in the cost of the CAL’s and AppleCare+ (2 yr insurance on the device for $100).  We feel it is essential to get on the secure network so the extra cost of the CALs is something we have to plan for.  Working with IT has been essential in this process, without them we would not have known of the requirement to get the iPads on the secure network.  While the cost of the CALs was a surprise, I am glad we had IT help so that it was a surprise in the beginning/planning stages not after we bought them.

Both libraries who loan iPads and those who don’t are providing lists of mobile friendly (and tablet friendly) library apps and websites.  Things are bit like the Wild West with apps and mobile sites.  Some library vendors mobile friendly sites require secondary authentication (using their own personal login) despite being on institutional network.  Some vendors are creating apps when really a mobile friendly site is all that is needed.  Apps often require a username and password to use regardless of whether they are on institutional network.  Some apps are intended for individual subscribers NOT institutional subscribers, and unless the wording explicitly states that, it is confusing. 

Regarding medical apps (not medical library apps like databases), library purchase (or not) policies are varried as well.  Some libraries have accounts on iTunes to buy apps in bulk, while others just load devices with free apps that people might need.  Some have said that they do not buy specific medical apps because the iPads are circulated to eveyone and that would mean a lot of different subject specific apps that would need to be on the device.  Some librarians also spoke about the need to constantly update the apps, especially the free apps.  In order for the pre-installed library “owned” apps to be updated, somebody must log in using the library install account to update them.  Some mentioned this could be time consuming depending on how many they have loaded.

Many libraries seem to allow people to load their own apps on the loaned devices.  The reason is that the app follows the patron not the library.  So when the library restores the iPad to factory settings the app disappears from the library device, but the patron still retains ownership and can install it on another iPad.

Other thoughts and suggestions
Start off with a few iPads then grow if/as needed. 

Tie the iPads into the curriculum, load medical bookmarks/apps, or get them on the secure network, in other words make them relevant for work.  One library reported they bought iPads but really didn’t have a budget for apps and most already had smartphones and laptops so the iPad was more fun than productive. 

Many people said that their patrons often did a try before you buy with the library iPads.  Not sure how some feel about this given how expensive of an investment the devices are, but part of me knows they already do this with our textbooks.

Barcode and label EVERYTHING! Some librarians reported their patrons trying to swap out their old frayed Apple charging cables by passing them off as the library’s cables. 

Get a bag and a cover for the iPad.  Cover helps protects the device while in use. The bag makes it easier to hold all of the stuff (charger, forms, etc.) for circulation AND not everyone who use the device have lab coats and it is nice to just put in a shoulder bag.

I hope this is helpful to others who currently are lending iPads and to those looking to start.  Feel free to comment if you have more information or questions.

Libraries Loaning iPads

This morning I posted on the article, “Don’t have an iPad, go to the medical library and borrow one.”  There are lots of medical libraries loaning iPads out to their patrons and this post was a way to highlight to physicians some of the ways libraries are helping them get connected using iPads.

In my research I discovered that there are A LOT of medical libraries doing this, too many to list in the actual article.  So in order to have a more comprehensive list of libraries loaning iPads I thought it would be a good idea to create a comprehensive list of libraries who loan them and post it on the iMedicalApps forum. So if you library loans iPads, list it on the forum with your basic rules and some of the popular apps loaded. Remember keep it short and sweet with not to much library geek jargon, we want it to be easy for docs and medical professionals to scan through and look at it.

Interested in the geeky library details?  Don’t worry, I will posting in the next few days the librarian version of the iMedicalApps article.  This will have the information that librarians interested in starting their own iPad loaning project will want to know about.


Webcast: Leveraging Mobile Technologies for Health Sciences Libraries

Interested in learning more about how mobile technologies can be used in the medical library? If so, register for the Medical Library Association (MLA) continuing education webcast Leveraging Mobile Technologies for Health Sciences Libraries on Wednesday, April 18, 2012 1:00-2:30 (central time)

More information about the webcast (from

Program Goals:
The goal of this webcast is to familiarize information professionals with current practical applications of mobile technologies in clinical and curricular support settings.  Topics will highlight innovative uses of mobile technologies, address technology challenges, and provide best practice guidance for applying in viewers local environments.  

Program Objectives

  • Define how mobile technologies can be used in clinical settings
  • Define how mobile technologies can be integrated into curricula
  • Identify challenges faced when using mobile technologies in different settings
  • Explain challenges faced in clinical and curricular settings that mobile technologies can help solve
  • Demonstrate how mobile technologies can be used in your own setting
  • Plan how to work with vendors and IT support to enable use of mobile technologies
  • Identify opportunities for library resources via mobile technologies in multiple settings
  • Compare different mobile technologies and choose which might be appropriate for your own setting

Go to the MLA Webcast site to learn more about presenters Colleen Cuddy, Heather Holmes, Molly Knapp, Kimberley Barker, and Alisha Miles.

There are two ways to register for this webcast, individual or site.  Individual Earlybird Registration Fee: $75 (nonmember, $150.00).  Earlybird Site Registration is $395 (nonmember $495). 

Keep your eyes and ears open for sites near you that have registered for the program. 

For example:

For more information about the webinar or to register go to: