Virtual Projects Wanted for JMLA Column

Submit Virtual Projects for JMLA Column by March 15
The Journal of the Medical Library Association (JMLA) seeks innovative and notable projects for the October 2015 JMLA Virtual Projects column. This annual column focuses on library virtual spaces that extend the library “presence” outward to support users in their digital spaces, wherever and whenever needed.

To be considered for this column, please submit a 200-word abstract of your recent virtual project or a link to a web page that describes the project and why it is innovative or notable. Send your submissions to Susan Lessick, AHIP, FMLA, by March 15.

Submissions of virtual projects can demonstrate the integration of services and content into user workflows, new technology initiatives and collaborative opportunities, new ways of using devices and software to enrich services and collections, or facilitation of information discovery and delivery. Focus areas or technologies of special interest include, but are not limited to:

  • electronic medical record/electronic health record integration
  • data management
  • altmetrics
  • games and gamification
  • unique mobile options for content and delivery
  • wearable technology

Please consider sharing your knowledge and experiences with implementing virtual projects in your library to inspire and encourage your peers, partners, and communities!

Behind the MLA Scenes: Committees

Roughly two years ago I wrote the post “How to Join a Committee” describing the importance of joining a committee and the basic process.  I figured since one of my major jobs as President-elect of MLA is to now assign people to the various MLA committees now would be a good time to revisit the process.

Committees are the driving force of MLA and without members’ participation on committees many things within MLA wouldn’t happen.  Each year MLA members must apply to join a committee or  committees. An online committee application is available in the members-only area (active June through October 31). The form also appears in the August and September issues of MLA News and is available through headquarters. As I mentioned, the deadline for committee applications is October 31.

MLA members can apply to the various committees below.

Members can also choose to apply to “any committee” as needed.

Once members have completed their application and the deadline has passed then MLA sorts through all of the information and organizes it based on the applying members’ committee selections.  The information is compiled in a spreadsheet and given to each committee co-chair.  The co-chairs then select from their “wish list” of members to join their committee.

The co-chairs “wish list” is then given to the President-elect (me this year) and the President-elect then officially selects the members for each committee.  Usually the President-elect respects the selections of the co-chairs, but there are times when multiple committees select the same person for their committee.  In these cases the President-elect does his/her best job to to make as many members (and co-chairs) happy as well as provide as many opportunities possible to applicants.

Mark Funk describes the process as similar to the “NFL draft done by one person trying to make teams, coaches, and players all happy.”  I tend to think of it as the residency match process.  A member may list one committee as their first choice but the co-chairs may choose another person who also listed that same committee as their first choice.

For example some committees may have a need for members with certain skills or knowledge.  The best example I can give on this is the Technology Advisory Committee (TAC) .  Depending on the upcoming projects the TAC may need to select members with certain technological knowledge and skills over another very tech savvy member who has other skills.

This is why it is VERY important to fill out everything about your knowledge and experience when applying for committees. According to MLA’s website: “In making appointments, the association considers the background and skills of the applicants, as well as the responsibilities and needs of the committees. A history of active participation in committee work on the local, regional, or national level is an important qualification. Recommendations are sought from current committee chairs, members of the board of directors, and program staff. Some MLA committees require combinations of skills and knowledge found among few health sciences librarians. Therefore, it is sometimes necessary to recruit certain members with unique experience and expertise to serve on specific committees.”

Basically the above paragraph is a really long way to say the following:

  • Current committee members look at those apply for committee spots
    • Therefore list your whatever credentials, activities, experience you have even if it isn’t national experience.  The committee members just want to make sure you are somebody who is willing to be an active participant.
    • If you want to join a committee where your experience might helpful towards committee work. For example: people wanting to join the Technology Advisory Committee will want to list their technology experience.

IF you are new to MLA or the profession it is even more important to list your experience and information in the application.  It doesn’t have to be MLA related.

Usually the committee selection process happens in January with letters going out to newly selected committee members sometime in February.  Unfortunately there are times where there are more applicants than committees.  While that may disappointing at first, there are often committee opportunities that spring up afterwards for new ad hoc committees and task forces.  So there is a good chance that somebody not selected for a standing committee could be selected for an ad hoc committee or task force that has not yet been created or envisioned.

One final note about committees.  There are three committees that are not a part of the October application process.  They are the Administrative and Board CommitteesExecutive Committee, and the Nominating Committee. These three committees are different and don’t follow the same application and appointment process.  (See my post on the Nominating Committee.)

I hope this provides some insight into the whole committee process.  In the next few weeks I will do my best to match the member and the committee while respecting the co-chairs’ “wish list.”  I want to thank everyone who applied to join a committee, your active participation makes MLA what it is.

 

 

Still Tweaking the Blog

So the “new” skin was causing difficulties. I reverted to the very old skin but it hasn’t been updated in years so that was also causing problems. Right now I am using this skin as it has some of the layout and features I like but I haven’t totally settled on it.
As I get busier and busier with life and MLA I am wondering if I need more advanced help with getting skin that behaves (no malware and other issues) and has a more modern design and function. Now that my kids are older and I am playing cab driver to various events and my professional duties have increased I just don’t have the time to fuss with some of the stuff. I just want to write, have it look good, and have it connected socially. So if anybody has ideas I am open to them, let me know.

Your Opinions Please

In May 2015, I will become the MLA President.  In the past when I was a Board Member, I tried to blog in a way that I was not speaking for MLA but also shedding light on the organization and the profession.  Well when I become President, I think it will be increasingly difficult, especially as I write blog posts (or whatever communication) as President on MLANet.

However, I want to keep this blog going.  It has been helpful to be to organize my thoughts, hear back from other librarians, and learn from others outside of the library world.  So I have an idea and I would like your opinion on it.

I will continue to blog as normal up to May-ish sometime.  At which time I become MLA President I will allow guest bloggers to publish posts through my Presidential year.  I will still from time to time post something on here but my intention is to have fresh content from fresh minds keeping this information resource going while I am unable to due to time and possibly conflicts of interest.

So I thought I would put out a call for guest bloggers around March and select a group who would work together to provide some of the content for this blog.  My intention is to have 1-2 posts a week. Having a group of bloggers instead of one person would make this easier and not so much of a burden to write on anybody.

What do you think about this idea?  Would you still be interested in reading it? Should I just scrap the blog anyway?  I appreciate any thoughts you, the reader have.  Please comment and let me know.

BTW if you want to be a guest poster, I haven’t worked out the details but I know this much…I can’t offer money nor AHIP points or anything official. It would just be a fun way to write about medicine, librarianship, or medical librarianship.

I’m Baaaaack

It is 2015 and the blog is going retro.  While I liked the look of the skin I was using, it was causing all sorts of havoc with my site. Some places are now blocking my blog as it says it is sending out spam malware which I don’t think it was but I think the skin was maybe sending out advertising cookies that some systems did not like. Well you get what you pay for.

So I went back to the skin design that was last known to work and have few problems over the years.  My hope is that I can get things straightened out and get back to writing because there are so many interesting things happening that I want to write about.

I apologize for being AWOL on the Blog wall.

I Think I Can

Over the past couple of weeks helpful people have been telling my that my site was running slow, the search box took forever, and various other wonky things.  Last week everything just went kaput.  My site went offline and it definitely was server issue.

Thankfully, Blake at LISHost was quick to figure out the problem and got me up and running.  I think everything is back to normal so I think I can resume posting and my site will not go off the deep end again.  If you start to notice some weirdness let me know and I will try and get on it. (BTW weirdness with the site, not me.)

Friday Fun: A Little Editing and Anything Can Be Said or Sung

I am stretching the focus of my blog today.  While this has nothing to do with libraries or medicine, it makes me giggle.  I think it is funny, so it loosely fits into the blog through a Friday Fun post.

The Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon has been having a little fun with Brian Williams and his news casts. Through the use of editing, they have gotten Brian Williams to perform various rap songs.  Here are my two favorites.


Brian Williams rapping “Baby Got Back”

Brian Williams and Lester Holt rapping “Rapper’s Delight”

 

According to Jimmy there is some poor guy who is very good at editing who sits in the back room searching for all of the words and piecing them together.

If you are like me and can’t get enough of Brian’s rapping check him out rapping these other tunes.  NOt only are the funny to me but I am in awe at how much time and effort it probably took to do it.

Have a good weekend and thanks for letting me take a break from the medical and library stuff to some Friday Fun.

 

Newbie Medlibs: Experiences

One of the reasons I like Twitter is that I can follow or read about new people with interesting ideas.  On Monday, Steven Chang tweeted a link to his blog post about his experiences and reflections on his first month of being a hospital librarian.

Steven Chang's tweet about being a new hospital librarian

His blog post had me thinking about newbie medical librarians and the support (or lack of support) they have as they start their new jobs. Steven is a medical librarian in Australia, so his library school experience might be a bit different than those of us who got the MLS (or equivalent) in the United States.  I can only speak of my experiences of when I was in library school.  That was many many years ago, I have been a professional medical librarian for over 15 years. My first job out of library school was in a hospital library. While it was a eye opening experience, I feel that I was more prepared than other newbie librarians entering the medical library workforce. I was lucky because the University of Missouri’s School of Information Science & Learning Technologies had several courses for those interested in medical librarianship. Unfortunately, now they only have a course on Consumer Health :(  My course work wasn’t the only thing that helped me.  The wonderful librarians at the J. Otto Lottes Health Sciences Library at the University of Missouri were the people who helped connect the crucial dots in my medical librarianship training.  I did a practicum there and quite frankly that experience helped me out tremendously.

Reflecting on my time in library school got me thinking about things I wouldn’t have known had I not had course and practicum work focused on medical librarianship.

Things that I wouldn’t have known about:

Docline – Medical librarians use a totally different Interlibrary Loan system than every other librarian I know of.  While we do use OCLC for books, almost all of our ILL requests are journal articles and the National Library of Medicine has its own unique ILL system (Docline) that deals with this and this is what every other medical library uses to get articles.

Controlled vocabulary – Oh I learned about it sort of while taking the required cataloging class and my optional indexing and abstracting class. While some databases use subject terms, very few library databases have the structure and the type of control over search terms that MEDLINE does. I did not fully “get” the idea of controlled vocabulary for searching until I started really working a lot with MEDLINE.

The IRB – The institutional review board is the ethical review board that is used to officially approve, monitor, review research involving humans.  Almost any study or survey done within Hospitals and academic medical centers needs to be run by the IRB. This also means your library surveys might need to be run by the IRB.  Since librarians are not studying drugs, therapies, or treatments on patients, it is usually is a pretty straight forward approval process or they simply give you a letter saying you don’t need IRB approval.  However, it is always best to check before you do your own survey or study. This was never ever mentioned in library school. I don’t know of public librarians needing board approval for a study.

Resources – Ok this is sort of a catch all. My library school’s reference class provided a sort of “fly by” of all types of resources that one would in encounter in a general academic or public library. I found that to be a very helpful class as it gave me a sampling of what I need to know to learn the basics of reference and to understand the concept of the reference interview.  However, there are WAY more medical resources out there.  It wasn’t until I did a medical resources class and my practicum did I begin to scratch the surface of medical resources.  BTW my library school life was way before UpToDate, MDConsult (now ClinicalKey), Scopus, Web of Science, etc.  Journals were just starting to go electronic and there were no ebooks.  The Internet and online publishing and multi-media have exploded the amount of and type of medical resources available online compared to when I was in library school.

Carla Funk mentioned at a meeting (I want to say Section Council) at 2013 MLA.  She said that MLA has an interesting generational shift.  She said MLA has lots of librarians with lots of experience (and close to retirement) and lots of librarians just starting off and relatively new to the profession.  There are fewer librarians in the middle of their career.  Both Carla’s unofficial reporting of the MLA demographics and Steven’s blog post has me more wondering more about fostering and mentoring librarians to be medical librarians.  I know we have all heard of the “great retirement” when all of these so called older librarians will all suddenly retire creating massive employment opportunities for new librarians and librarian advancement.  I know because “they” were spouting this theory even when I was in library school over 15 years ago.  Honestly I think we are starting to see it happen.  It isn’t a mass exodus as “they” predicted, but I have seen a lot of directorship and assistant directorship positions posted recently.  I am noticing a large group of new librarians at MLA that are eager to get involved.

I know MLA has several mentorship opportunities:

  • You can find/be a mentor according certain expertise areas of medical librarianship such as administration, continuing education, research, etc.
  • You can also decide to get your provisional AHIP membership in which case you would need an AHIP mentor.

Several posters were presented at the 2014 annual meeting on mentorship or new medical librarianship learning opportunities.

I have found the #medlibs Twitter group and MEDLIB-L to be very helpful too.

I have several questions that I want to bounce off of readers.

  • What are the things that weren’t taught in library school that are unique to medical libraries that new medical librarians need to know?
  • What are other ways we can help or mentor new librarians?
  • Do you think there should be some sort of mentoring to MLA? Similar in spirit to the New Members/Attendees Breakfast that is done at the annual meeting.  But instead of it being about the annual meeting it is about MLA as whole, how it works, what groups are what, the ins and outs of Sections, etc.  If so what is a good way to do that?

I look forward to hearing back from people. Either comment on this blog or my Facebook page or tweet me @krafty.

MLA Has a New Website

Last week MLA rolled out its new website.  The old site was long overdue for an update, and this new site is a bit of a change.  As with all new site changes, the new version is going to take some getting used to. MLA wants your thoughts https://www.mlanet.org/about/mlanet_update.html on the new website.

What are some of the “show stopper” issues or missing information.

What is a “show stopper?”  A show stopper is a fundamental problem with a website that makes it or important parts of it totally unusable.  Some examples with this site are:

  • Browser compatibility problems – While it is difficult to design down to IE 7 (which unfortunately many hospitals still have) there seems to be some other problems regarding how it displays with Firefox on Macs.
  • The Forgot Password link doesn’t work. You click on it and you go nowhere.  This aspect is of getting your password is unusable.

Now MLA does know about the browser compatibility problems and the Forgot Password link, so you don’t have to report those again.

What kind of information is missing?  Please remember we can’t have everything on the front page (and we probably already have to much there now) but are there links or other bits of information that you use that you can’t find?For example:

  • The link to the MLA webinar on systematic reviews was missing.
  • The link to the MLA 14 program planner was missing.

MLA has since fixed these two missing links….but are there others that they don’t know about?

Please look at the website https://www.mlanet.org/ and notify MLA of any problems or thoughts at [email protected]

IF you can remember try and also list the problems on the comments on this website.  The list in the comments isn’t meant to dissuade anyone from reporting something that somebody else found (by all means if you think it is important that MLA knows about it, tell them) I just thought it might be helpful to have an unofficial list of issues so that others can learn from what was found.

 

Trust No Guideline That You Did Not Fake Yourself

Yesterday I read an interesting piece by Oliver Obst, “Trust no guideline that you did not fake yourself.” (Journal of EAHIL. 2013. v9 (4) p25)  Obst references the German newspaper Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, which reported several cases of fake practice guidelines.   I don’t read German and it appears you must pay to access FAZ’s article archive, but if you read German and have access to the archive, the link to the article is here.  According Obst’s summation of the article and Google Translate’s translated version of the abstract, the newspaper attributes thousands of deaths in Europe due to guidelines from the European Society of Cardiology and scientific misconduct.

Unfortunately this is not a single incident, Obst reports “many more examples can be found in a disturbing report by Jeanne Lenzer in the British Medical Journal, ‘Why we cannot trust clinical guidelines.”  Lenzer’s article reports that doctors with ties to pharma companies are writing the guidelines.  Since most guidelines are written by a large group of doctors you would think it would be difficult to have financial bias make any sort of impact on the guidelines.  However, Lenzer discovered a survey showing that it is entirely possible.

“A recent survey found that 71% of chairs of clinical policy committees and 90.5% of co-chairs had financial conflicts.12 Such conflicts can have a strong impact: FDA advisers reviewing the safety record of the progestogen drospirenone voted that the drug’s benefits outweighed any risks. However, a substantial number of the advisers had ties to the manufacturer and if their votes had been excluded the decision would have been reversed.13

The Cochrane Collection is not immune either according to Lenza.

Early 1990’s-Reinforced by a Cochrane review, high dose steroids became the standard of care for acute spinal cord injury. The Cochrane Collaboration, permitted Michael Bracken, “who declared he was an occasional consultant to steroid manufacturers Pharmacia and Upjohn, to serve as the sole reviewer.”

The standard was just reversed in March 2013 with the Congress of Neurological Surgeons new guidelines. They found, “There is no Class I or Class II medicine evidence supporting the benefit of [steroids] in the treatment of acute [spinal cord injury]. However, Class I, II, and III evidence exists that high-dose steroids are associated with harmful side effects including death.”11

Lenza believes another example of biased guidelines is beginning to emerge regarding stroke and the use of alteplase.

“American College of Emergency Physicians with the American Academy of Neurology (jointly)18 and the American Heart Association,19 separately, issued grade A level of evidence guidelines for alteplase in acute stroke. The simultaneous recommendation by three respected professional societies would seem to indicate overwhelming support for the treatment and consistent evidence. However, an online poll of 548 emergency physicians showed that only 16% support the new guidelines.20

Lenza points out that “claims of benefit rest on science that is contested. Sceptics say that baseline imbalances, the use of subset analyses, and chance alone could account for the claimed benefit.24 26 31 32 33 They also note that only two of 12 randomised controlled trials of thrombolytics have shown benefit and five had to be terminated early because of lack of benefit, higher mortality, and significant increases in brain haemorrhage.”33  Lenza also notes that “13 of the 15 authors had ties to the manufacturers of products to diagnose and treat acute stroke; 11 had ties to companies that market alteplase.”19

So what does this mean for librarians as we try and find the best research out there for our doctors, nurses and patients?  This is a problem. Even if you take out the pharma bias, bio-medical scientific literature rarely publishes work on failures.   Add the pressure from pharma wanting and promoting positive outcome research to published, we have even fewer examples of “what didn’t work” research articles and quite possibly what we thought was good evidence isn’t as good as we thought.

As Obst notes, librarians must be aware of this issue and to keep our patrons informed.  Unfortunately this may be the only thing we can do and even then it might not be enough.  Lenza ends her article by saying;

“Yet these and other guidelines continue to be followed despite concerns about bias, because as one lecturer told a meeting on geriatric care in the Virgin Islands earlier this year, ‘We like to stick within the standard of care, because when the shit hits the fan we all want to be able to say we were just doing what everyone else is doing—even if what everyone else is doing isn’t very good.”