The MLA Guide to Managing Health Care Libraries has been published

My book is out!  Ok truth be told it isn’t my book, I just co-wrote a chapter.  A lot of people (especially the editors) could call it their book too since they worked hard on it as well.  So I really should be saying…. Our book is out!

The MLA Guide to Managing Health Care Libraries is available.  If you are interested in purchasing the book (hint, hint) Neal-Schuman has a new promotion linked to the video produced by Charles Bandy (who I suspect might have secret life as a DJ in techno clubs).

Go to the link to view the video and get a $15 discount coupon code.
On a personal note, I want to thank the editors Maraget and Roz for editing the book, also the co-authors on our chapter.  While I have written several journal articles, this is the first time I have ever co-authored a book chapter.  It was difficult but interesting and I am glad I got the opportunity to do it.

Thoughts About Journals at 2am

At 2am while feeding a newborn, a lot of random thoughts pop in and out of my head, including one about the cost of online journals and usage. 

Have we gotten to a time in libraries where the print version of a title is worthless?  Ok worthless is probably too strong of a word.  How about forgotten?  Have we gotten to a point in time where users forget about printed journals and use only online titles.  This is not to say that they don’t know that there are printed titles. When they do a search or are given search results what do they do first?  They scroll through and print off or save all of the articles that are available online.  The ones that aren’t available online are left to the end only to be retrieved if they need a few more articles to answer their question or do research.  If they feel they have enough articles already from the ones they downloaded online, they don’t bother with the ones that are available in print only.  Those articles become the forgotten articles.  I am not saying this is the best or most comprehensive way to do research, but it happens all the time. 

Librarians rely on usage stats to make decisions on what journals they intend to keep our purchase (ILL request stats).  So have we gotten to a point where a printed journal automatically gets less use (despite quality of articles) because it is not online?  Would going online make that journal more useful?  What if the online version of the journal is too expensive for your library, do you hold on to the print because it is one of those titles that you feel you should keep?  Or do you dump the title?

If you dump the title in print and you don’t get it online, the publisher is losing your money.  Do you think there should be a trial year online subscription (let’s say for twice the cost of print) allowing you online access to the title? This way both you and the publisher can determine a “fair” online price based on a year of usage data? 

Determining what a “fair” price after that year may be sticky, and the pricing details/levels should be worked out a head of time before you embark on a year trial.  That way as the year progresses you can tell your supervisors that you currently have a year trial subscription to the Journal of Big Toe Science and it is getting X amount of usage and if that usage trend continues that means next year it will cost approximately $Y to have.  Everybody can plan ahead of time.

I am not entirely sure how well this would work, like I said a lot of things float through my head at 2am.

Friday Fun: Nominate a Librarian Superhero, Winners Featured on Collectible Lunchbox

Gale is running a “Are You a Librarian Superhero” contest on their Facebook Fan Page from Feb 1st-Feb 28 2011. 

In 250 words or less tell why you or somebody you know is a librarian superhero.  The Fantastic Four librarian winners will join the ranks of Wonder Woman, Superman, the Hulk and be featured on a collectible lunch box as cartoon superheroes by the Unshelved guys. 

In the nomination please include what kind of superhero traits are most apparent to the library user and the superhero’s “normal” identity such as their name, day job, name of library/institution.  Every nominator will also receive a special prize.

So maybe it is just me, but I gotta think that we at least one medical librarian out there that qualifies as a Librarian Superhero.  So medical librarians start picking your brains because it would be really neat if we could get somebody as animated librarian superhero.

Windows 7 Phone in Medicine

The new smart phone on the block is the Windows 7 phone.  I have to admit I kind of like their ending bad phone behavior with a better phone, themed commercial, because we have all been there, either as the phone user or the one saying “really?” 

Whether you believe a “better phone” is the answer to our bad phone behavior (and whether that phone is a Windows 7 phone) is debatable.  What isn’t up for debate is that people bounce from phone to phone.  Cell phones now days are disposable.  According to a 2007 Business Week article the average cell phone was replaced every 18 months.  That was primarily before the emergence of the smart phone.  Yeah sure the Blackberry was around but the smart phone tsunami had hit with the introduction of the iPhone.  Cell phones back then were still relatively cheap.  It is hard to think really that a $400+ smart phone device is disposable.  According to an article on MSNBC it still remains to be seen if consumers are as willing to change their smart phones as often.  But people there will always people who are going to change them (me possibly being one of them) for some reason and there are still quite a few people buying their first smart phone. 

So I was happy to see iMedicalApps post, “Physician developer’s experience with moving his popular iPhone and Android medical apps to Windows Phone 7.”  As the author mentions, the Windows 7 phone is still extremely new so there are a lot of medical apps available on the platform.  Although it should be noted that Unbound Medicine recently announced the availabilityof their products for the Windows 7 phone.  (My guess is that the iMedicalApps post was written just slightly before Unbound Medicine released their Window 7 products.)

Because the phone is so new and as a result there is a lack of medical apps available, I am not sure I can recommend the phone yet. The iMedicalApps post reminds us there are now some deeper considerations to investigate before we move to a new smart phone platform.  Doing a search on Google will give you many results for switching from one phone platform to another and the pros and cons (particularly moving from iPhone to Android).  However, if you are using the phone for work, one of the biggest considerations would be the portability or availablity of mission critical apps. 

I am in the process of seriously considering moving from my iPhone 3G to a new Android.  The reason for me is $$.  I am having a hard time stomaching a $160 bill for 2 iPhones (mine and my husbands).  I am seriously thinking of going with Virgin Mobile’s Android phone which is $40/phone for unlimited data, text, and 1200 minutes on the Sprint network.  That would cut my two smart phone bill in half.  Is this a good idea?  I don’t know, I love my iPhone and the experience, I just hate the bill.  So in a few months once things have settled down (switching cell phones just before delivering a baby is probably not a good idea) I will make the decision.  One way other other I will let you know why I moved or didn’t move.

NLM Has New Web Site Look

The National Library of Medicine’s home page has a new look.  The new look is designed around “your top tasks.”  I don’t know when they say “your top tasks” whether it is customizable directly by the individual user, uses cookies or some other programming to customize the page indirectly based on your usage, or if they are using “your top tasks” to mean the general public’s top tasks (most frequently used links).  My guess and please correct me if I am wrong that it is most frequently used links design method.

According to their news release, they ” updated thousands of pages within the site,” included top navigation to popular links, and added social sharing functionality so users can share content to people through Facebook, Twitter, and social bookmarking services. 

I like the new look and feel, but I have to admit the times I go to NLM’s site is when I am trying to get to databases which are featured prominently on the left hand side. I don’t go to the site for new or other things all that often because I already subscribe to their RSS feed, Twitter feed and Facebook.  So it should be interesting to hear how others who use the site a little differently like the re-design.

Happy Holidays: Build Your Own Bookmas Tree

In case any of the librarians in your library want to get into the holiday spirit and are looking for something beyond holiday window clings, take a look at Texas Medical Center Library’s Bookmas Tree.

They even have a “How To” guide available should you want to try it in your own library next year.

Enjoy the holidays with family and friends, I will resume posting after the new year.

2011/2012 MLA Election Results

Thank you to all the members who ran and made it a very strong ballot and to those members who took an active interest in the future and direction of the association and voted in the election.  Without you MLA wouldn’t be what it is today.  I want to congratulate the new President Elect, Board Members and the Nomination Committee.  

Jane L. Blumenthal, AHIP, Director, Taubman Health Sciences Libraries, University of Michigan–Ann Arbor

Board of Directors (2011–2014)

  • Michelle Kraft, AHIP, Senior Medical Librarian, Alumni Library, Cleveland Clinic, Cleveland, OH
  • Gabe R. Rios, Deputy Director, Lister Hill Library of the Health Sciences, University of Alabama–Birmingham
  • Joy Summers-Ables, AHIP, Associate Director and Head of Library Computing and Information Services, Robert M. Bird Health Sciences Library, University of Oklahoma Health Sciences Center–Oklahoma City

Nominating Committee

  • Margaret (Peg) Allen, AHIP, FMLA
  • Janet L. Cowen, AHIP
  • Melissa De Santis, AHIP
  • Rosalind F. Dudden, AHIP, FMLA
  • Patricia C. Higginbottom, AHIP
  • Joanne Gard Marshall, AHIP, FMLA
  • Mary Fran Prottsman, AHIP
  • Melissa Rethlefsen, AHIP
  • Patricia L. Thibodeau, AHIP, FMLA

Congratulations, I look forward to working with all of you and seeing you at the next meeting or sooner.

Video of the New Bloglines

Thanks to Valerie’s Comment I have learned that the folks over at MerchantCircle blog have just posted a video featuring the “new” Bloglines. 

The video is hosted on YouTube and the direct link is:

I tried viewing the video on my iPhone and the writing is so small that I can’t read anything about it, so it is best viewed on a regular computer screen.

As far as I can tell from the MerchantCircle blog most of the features they mention seem to pretty standard and were already a part of Bloglines (at least I think they were).  The feature that I definitely know is new is they have integrated Facebook and Twitter sharing so it looks like Valerie’s opinion that the “new design looks like the Netvibes reader with a different skin to it,” is pretty accurate.

Adding the Facebook and Twitter component was/is crucial to me, I have really grown to love that feature in Netvibes and I think that makes sharing stories between the three systems (Facebook, blogs, Twitter) that much easier and cohesive.  Now that I know the new Bloglines will have this feature, it definitely makes it worth it to me to look at moving back. We will see.

The MerchantCircle blog

Ebooks: The Library Catalog and Federated Searching Part 2

Today I am going to talk about the need for federated book searching in medical libraries.  Full disclosure we do not have a federated search product and most of the ones I have played with on other library sites have left me frustrated.

My library does not have a federated search product. Probably the biggest reason why is while our users say they want the Google experience, we have observed that this isn’t quite the case.  I think they think they want a federated search type product for article searching and a separate type of federated search product for books.  From what I can tell when they are looking for information they usually know if they want journal articles or books on a topic.  They usually don’t want both.  This is probably because we are a hospital library and the patrons tend to want the most recent research which is usually in a journal article.  They usually consult books when they are looking for more in-depth or background information on a topic.  The people who want information on a topic from both books and journals usually are doing research for school.   There is nothing wrong with that but they just aren’t the majority of our clientele.

I will leave the idea of a federated search product for searching journal articles for another time for two reasons. First, this post is primarily about ebooks not journal articles. Second, I have some big reservations about federated searching the journal literature and quite frankly I need to sort them out before I put them in print.  So, on to federated book searching.

From what I can tell EBSCO and Serials Solutions offers federated searching and they will search for ebooks.  I know Mark said on the webcast that there were no medical libraries currently using either of those two products for ebooks.  However, there were a few who tweeted that their library indeed was using one of those products.  I would love to hear their thoughts.

I know we looked at federated search products a while back and at that time they didn’t meet our needs, which is how we thought our patrons would use it.  What we wanted was a federated ebook search that would look across ebook platform silos and retrieve search results.  Basically a one stop shopping for ebooks.  Type in heart and it would retrieve results from various platforms like, Braunwald’s Heart Disease on MDConsult, Hurst’s the Heart on AccessMedicine, Short stay management of heart failure on Books at Ovid.

We didn’t want it retrieving the journal Heart from BMJ, The American Heart Journal from Mosby, or the Harvard Heart Letter.  We also didn’t want it searching our databases returning every article known to mankind containing the word heart. 

Ideally it would be nice if it could retrieve our printed books too.  Of course you probably are saying “but wait the catalog does that, why are you looking for a federated search for ebooks when you can add your ebooks to the catalog?”  Well as I mentioned most users aren’t using the catalog.  Now if ILS companies and librarians could make some major sweeping changes and patrons begin to use the catalog more, then yes that would be a good idea.  But there is another problem with that scenario, catalog systems are kind of weak when it comes to searching.  Why?  They are missing content.  There are an ton of records out there that don’t even have the TOC.  So when somebody wants to find information on aortic arch development (which is a section in Chapter 8 “Molecular Development of the Heart” from Hurst’s the Heart) they aren’t going to find anything in the catalog even if it did list the TOC.  But they will find it with a federated ebook search.

Mark did mention the Univerversity of Pittsburgh Health Sciences Library System has their own home grown federated ebook search that searches the full text of over 1000 health and biomedical science ebooks.  I have to say that is pretty nifty.  Searching the term heart retrieves books that not only have the term in the title but also the chapter.  I am sure this took a lot of time for them to create, I would love to know more about what went into its development and how they maintain it.  So if anybody from there is reading, please comment to tell us about development, maintenance, and it usage among your patrons.

A ebook federated search would be extremely helpful for librarians and patrons. Ideally I would love it if you could marry the ebook’s federated search to the catalog, but then that would mean we would have to really boost up our catalogs and their records and figure out a way for our catalog systems to search the full text books in multiple silos.  I don’t see that happening anytime soon.