Online Program Planner Available

I just finished writing my post on the Official MLA’12 Blog about the online program planner. Good news the online planner is live and ready for you to use.  Unfortunately you can’t add your own personal items in the planner, BUT you will be able to do so soon.  That feature is something that will be added.

In the post I also included links to instructions for saving your itinerary and uploading it into Google Calendar, Outlook, and Lotus Notes.  So if you are going to MLA, check out the blog post and start getting your schedule together in the program planner.

MLA Twitter Tutorial Now Open

There was a bit of confusion when I last posted about the MLA Twitter Tutorial, people were all excited and started trying to do the tutorial right away even though it wasn’t live yet.  The wait is over, the tutorial is now open.   Go to and watch the videos, complete the tutorial, tweet, and learn something new while getting a free drink ticket to the MLA Tweet Up.

(One thing to note, most of the videos are on YouTube, so if it is blocked you will have to watch them at home.) 

Each year the discussion on Twitter has grown considerably.   A lot of the pre-conference chatter is about events people would like to attend or questions about the meeting.  During the meeting people tweet interesting points during a presentation, pose questions back and forth among the tweeters, or just tweet in general to communicate.  This kind of discussion is often called the “back channel.”  The tutorial has some great articles for people to learn  about things like the back channel, live tweeting best practices, and a guidebook on Twitter.

A few years ago when Twitter came out, I remember I mentioned I couldn’t think of how Twitter would be used professionally in medical librarianship.  Now I use it daily.  I have a program that is running in the background (just like my email program) that pops a message box up when I get a tweet (again just like my email).  I have used it to answer reference questions, follow speakers/conferences, answer tech questions, and just share information.

It might take a bit of time to figure out your “voice” and know your work flow to see how it naturally fits into the way you communicate.  Take a look at this image of “The Four Stages of ‘Getting’ Twitter” and you can see how it is an evolution as to how it can fit into your life.

Decisions, Decisions, iPhone or Android

It is the gift giving time of year and some people are looking at smartphones as gifts.  Since the three major carriers have the iPhone, people now have to decide whether they want an iPhone or Android.  David Gewirtz at ZDNet provides a fairly good pros/cons list on the iPhone and Android to help you with your decision. 

I only have a few things to add to his list.

Support:If your hospital or institution supports a certain type of phone, that can weigh heavy in your decision making.  However, a lot of medical institutions are still clinging to Blackberrys and many don’t allow personal devices (i.e. your own smartphone) to access or sync to their network.  If this is the case then you might want to look at what a lot of your peers have and possibly consider getting what they have.  Ok, I know that sounds like a popularity contest of buying what your friends or coworkers have, but there is safety in numbers.  The people in your group will be talking about the best apps they use for certain things.  If you are a doctor or nurse then it will most likely be the best apps your colleagues use to help treat patients.  If you are librarian, it might be what most of your patrons are using so you can provide better customer service.  As David mentioned there are a lot of apps on both platforms but not all apps are on all platforms.  Knowing what apps they use can be helpful and having the same platform means that app is available for your device AND it will perform the same (not all apps perform the same on Android and iPhone).  If you don’t have institutional support, your mobile peers might also be your second line of tech support.  When your phone is misbehaving and an Internet search does not reveal the cure, you are more likely to ask around your group for help before you spend money at the Genius Bar or Geek Squad.

Customization: I know David mentioned that the Android beats the iPhone hands down on customization, and he is totally right.  But what you have to ask yourself is whether you really can/should customize. An iPhone is an iPhone is an iPhone, there is no difference between them except for different generations.  Heck if you sync through iTunes they all are running the same OS version.  Androids are the Wild West of customization.  Not all are created equally, not all phones are running the latest OS and not all are going to be upgraded to the latest OS.  You can download things to further customize your phone such as different fonts, icons, widgets, web browsers (I’m loving Dolphin right now), change/customize the boot animation (usually the carrier’s logo that shows when you reboot your phone), customize the lock screen, etc.  With great customization comes great responsibility, you can really accidentally do something that makes your Android a real pain in the butt and is hard to undo.  Right now I am trying to figure out what on earth I did that screwed up my Android so that my camera doesn’t work.  My camera won’t take pictures, every time I tap the camera icon I get the message “The application Camera (process has stopped unexpectedly. Please try again.” I can sort “fix” it by rebooting the phone.  But that only works if once the phone is rebooted I go straight into camera (waiting an hour later I get the same error message) and I can only take 1-3 pictures before the camera app freezes and fails.  Now I did very little customization, but was it something I did that screwed it up?  Is it the OS?  Do I need to buy a bigger memory card?  All I want is for my camera to work. 

Not everyone should customize.  I personally would trade all of the damn customization in my Android for my camera to work again.  There was something very nice about having the limited customization of an iPhone.  I didn’t have to think, my phone just worked.  That is very enticing to a lot of people, many of which who don’t realize it.  But some people LOVE exploiting all of the possible ways to customize their phone…if that is the case then they need an Android.  But if you are an average person who just wants their phone to work and thinks of phone customization as the color of its case or different ring tones then just skip the whole customization argument and look at other arguments for iPhone vs. Android.

Address Book:  I would make this a mini point.  The Android uses Google Address book for your contacts list.  If you don’t use Google Address book or don’t want your Google Address book added to the contacts then get an iPhone.  iPhones also do a MUCH better job importing and syncing your contacts than Androids.  Just do a simple search on the Internet for Android and contacts and you get a whole bunch of pages about people having problems.  However, if there are other reasons why you like/want an Android the address/contact mess isn’t a deal killer, it is just a real pain in the butt that you will have to work at to fix.  It took me forever to straighten it out but once I got it fixed, it has since stayed fixed.

Hopefully the ZDNet article and my thoughts can help you decide if you are on the fence.  Both the Android and the iPhone are good devices that are making huge inroads in the medical profession.  Although work doesn’t pay for my device and it isn’t supported, I think I am better at helping the doctors and nurses in my institution with their (personal) smartphones and suggesting helpful tips, ideas, and apps.

MeSH 2012: Implications for LocatorPlus, NLM Catalog and NLM Classification

The National Library of Medicine adopted the 2012 MeSH for cataloging.  Therefore MeSH heading in LocatorPlus have been changed to reflect the new 2012 vocabulary.

NLM will publish an article soon “What’s New for 2012 MeSH and MEDLINE Data Changes for 2012” (will provide link as soon as NLM provides it).  However the Technical Bulletin did mention a few of the changes.

Medical Technology vs. Biomedical Technology: The specialty term Technology, Medical changed to Medical Laboratory Science so that it was less ambiguous.  “In examining the cataloging records assigned the heading Technology, Medical, we determined that it was better to change the MeSH heading to Biomedical Technology, rather than Medical Laboratory Science because, in the majority of the cases, this is the heading that better reflects the topic of these works. About 400 records where Medical Laboratory Science is more appropriate have been identified programmatically and will be changed after YEP.”

Publications Types: Addresses can now be used for PT.

New MeSH descriptors: “Cataloging does not use MeSH terms that represent corporate names or uniform titles that reside in the national authority file. Therefore, HapMap Project has the annotation: CATALOG: use NAF entry. Catalogers should use the NAF heading: International HapMap Project.”

For more information about the changes go to the NLM Technical Bulletin.

Few Posts This Week and Next

Yesterday our old Honda CR-V finally died.  It was 9 years old, had a 150k miles on it, and it lost the a/c 3 years ago. It wasn’t a huge surprise that it finally went, but still I had hoped to get at least 1-2 more years out of it.  So what does this have to do with library blogging?  Well right now all of my free time is now spent looking for a new car so that leaves little time for blogging.  Even when I do have time to blog, unfortunately my head is not in the right place because every 5 minutes my brain starts to obsess about the car situation. 

Next week is Thanksgiving week and not only is it a busy personal time, but there tends not to be a lot of earth shattering medical library news coming out either.  So I just wanted to let you all know that I will be posting, but for the next two weeks the posts may be few and far between.

Make Your Own QR Code and Mobile Website

Last week was a busy week for me.  Monday I attended a great class, “Information Anywhere: Mobile Technology, Libraries and Health,” taught by Technology Coordinator of the Greater Midwest Region, Max Anderson.  It was very interesting, we learned about various apps and devices used in the medical and health science workplace.  We also got a chance to create our own mobile friendly website using Google Site.  Google Site might be the perfect resource to create a quick and simple mobile website, but it would work in a pinch for most places that don’t have a lot of tech people who can easily create a whole new mobile website for the library.  The big thing to consider when beginning to create a mobile website is to remember that the mobile site is not a mini version of the full website.  It is a unique site that is used differently because of the size of smartphone screens AND the way/why we use our smartphone to access a resources. 

Another interesting part of the class was the discussion of QR codes.  I have been seeing these square codes everywhere, from grave markers, party busses, hotels, in the back of a book, and out on the street.  While have seen them  in a lot of places, and I have been thinking of the various ways they could be used in a meaningful way in libraries.  During the class we learned how we could not only create a QR code but also brand the code by adding our logo. Max slides showed a blue one with NLM in the middle, I couldn’t find that online but here here are some other examples of QR codes with logos. We also did some brain storming on how QR codes could be used in the library.  One example that really resonated with me was posting the QR code on the book shelves letting people to scan the code to learn about online textbooks that aren’t on the shelves.  Our library just discussed this problem last week in a staff meeting.  As we buy more and more online texts and even online reference texts how to we guide people to the updated books that aren’t on the shelf.  There are an awful lot of people who still do a lot of shelf browsing and don’t use the catalog to find books.  Perhapswe could add the QR code in an obvious area  on the shelves and have link to that stack’s subject area to online text books.  It is a thought.  I’m not sure how it effective it will be but if you could figure out how to measure usage of those codes that could be one way to measure if people are clicking on them. 

Is your library using QR codes, if so how?  Perhaps you aren’t using QR codes but you have an idea on how they can be used, leave a comment so we all can learn.

Last Chance to Try and Win $400 Towards MLA 2012

Tick Tock, Tick Tock….. You hear that?  That is time running out for you to try and win $400 toward the annual meeting in Seattle.

The National Program Committee for the 2012 meeting in Seattle, WA are looking for the best methods people used to justify their attendance at a meeting to receive funding from their institution. There will be two $400 prizes to be used toward either registration or travel expenses to the 2012 meeting. The two prizes will be awarded to one hospital librarian and one academic medical librarian for the most original, funny, interesting, and best method for acquiring funding from their institution.

You must submit your story online by 11:59pm November 1, 2011. Winners will be notified by November 25, 2011 and there stories will be listed in the January 2012 MLA News. All submissions will be displayed online and available at for your fellow librarians to read and learn from. By participating in this contest, not only do you have the chance to win money to help pay for next year’s meeting, but you are sharing your successful funding strategies which can serve as a resource to other librarians who may need a little help getting institutional support.

To enter the contest go to:
You must be an MLA member to win.
Nervous about seeing your name in lights about how you got your institution to support your attendance? That is fine. We have set it up so that you can participate in the contest but your name will be withheld from the online public site and will only be known to contest judges.

What are you waiting for? Get online and submit your story! 

The wiki listing the stories is current as of 10/28/11 6:30pm est, so look through them and submit your story at  If you are looking for ideas on how to get money to attend MLA ’12 read the stories, maybe one of them will work for you!

MLA 2012/2013 Election Candidates Announced

The candidates for the upcoming 2012/2013 MLA election have been announced.  MLA members will be able to cast their vote online from November 2–December 6, 2011. Members without email addresses on file at MLA headquarters will receive paper ballots in the mail during the first week in November. Election results will be announced in December.

Not a member of MLA because the organization isn’t relevant to you and what you are facing in the profession?  Well if you aren’t a member, you can’t vote for MLA to change to become more relevant to you and others in the future.  Become a member so that you have a voice in the organization to see that it changes and evolves in the future to be relevant to you and other librarians.

Congratulations candidates and good luck!

MLA President Elect

  • Dixie A. Jones, AHIP, Medical Library, Louisiana State University Health Sciences Center–Shreveport
  • Cynthia L. Henderson, AHIP, Louis Stokes Health Sciences Library, Howard University, Washington, DC

MLA Board of Directors (two open positions)

  • Debra Rand, AHIP, Health Sciences Libraries, Hofstra University North Shore-Long Island Jewish School of Medicine, Hempstead, NY
  • Chris Shaffer, AHIP, OHSU Library, Oregon Health & Science University–Portland
  • Brian P. Bunnett, AHIP, Health Sciences Library and Informatics Center, University of New Mexico–Albuquerque
  • Julia M. Esparza, AHIP, Medical Library, Louisiana State University Health Sciences Center–Shreveport

MLA Nominating Committee (nine open positions)

  • Neville D. Prendergast
  • Priscilla L. Stephenson
  • Max Anderson
  • Jane Bridges, AHIP
  • Sherrilynne S. Fuller, FMLA
  • Mindy Robinson-Paquette
  • Keith W. Cogdill, AHIP
  • Patricia E. Gallagher, AHIP
  • Paula G. Raimondo, AHIP
  • Melissa L. Just, AHIP
  • Lynne M. Fox, AHIP
  • Ana D. Cleveland, AHIP
  • Brenda Faye Green
  • Diana J. Cunningham, AHIP
  • Jo Dorsch, AHIP
  • Joy C. Kennedy
  • Lisa K. Traditi, AHIP
  • Heidi Heilemann, AHIP

Friday Fun: Get $400 To Go To Seattle, NOW!

Yesterday I posted asking people about what kind of things they want to see at the Seattle meeting.  PLEASE keep the suggestions coming!

In one of the comments Halyna mentioned that some librarians do not get any funding or partial funding so having discounts, coupons available for restaurants, attractions would be very helpful.  I am all about coupons and I like the idea…and I will pass it on to the LAC who would be in the best position to find coupons or discounts as the meeting draws near.  But Halyna’s comment also served as the perfect reminder that librarians facing travel money issues have various opportunities to help pay to attend the meeting. 

There is still time to enter to the contest sponsored by the NPC to win $400 toward the meeting.  How do you win?  Simply submit the best method you used to justify your attendance at an MLA annual meeting to receive funding from their institutions or employers.  Two people with the best stories will win $400 towards either travel expenses or registration for the Seattle meeting.  So far there aren’t a lot of submissions so your odds of winning are VERY good if you submit.  You must enter by November 1, 2011! So get to your computer and type something out and submit it!

You also might want to check out if the MLA Section you belong to is providing scholarships to attend the meeting.  As a member and current Chair of the Medical Informatics Section, I know that we have recently been offering a travel grant each year to an MIS member to help with traveling to the MLA annual meeting.  Perhaps your one of the sections you belong to is doing something similar.

As the dollar gets tighter we have to get more creative about finding ways to be able to attend the meeting.  The travel grants are out there for this meeting, it is up to you to try and get them.  If you don’t apply you certainly won’t get them.  If you do apply and for some unlucky reason you don’t get a travel grant and can’t afford to go, don’t forget about attending as an e-conference participant!

Docs Can Do Social Media, Just Ask Dr Ves

Perhaps it is just my perception, but a lot of articles directed at doctors seem to stress the negative side of social media and physicians.  I would be Polyanna if I didn’t say there aren’t risks to social media, but everything in life carries risks.  Living a life without risks isn’t living.  That isn’t to say somebody should throw caution to the wind either.  Life is about managing and risk vs. reward balance. 

Dr. Ves Dimov has a very good post about a how a doctor can easily participate in social media and benefit greatly from that participation.   In his post, “For doctors: How to be a Twitter star in two easy steps,” he address the issue of time (lack of time, more specifically) and Twitter.  Specifically he says Twitter should take no more than 30 min. per day.  I have to agree with him.  I spend more time on email than I do on Twitter.  I have Twitter up and running in the background and when an interesting tweet comes across I read it or comment on it.  Takes me a total of 10-20 seconds total, perhaps a little more if they link out to an interesting article that I read.

For me Twitter at work is very similar to MEDLIB-L (the medical librarian listserv), medical librarians with questions or seeking to share quick bits of info send out tweets just like they send out emails on MEDLIB-L.  The difference between the two for me is the content.  Medical librarians on Twitter who post in general or using the hashtag #medlibs tend to post more tech related things, time sensitive things, or share good articles quickly.  MEDLIB-L tends to have more in depth questions and discussions (naturally since it isn’t restricted to 140 characters). 

For example, when the government was threatening to shut down, I received a question from a patron asking me about whether PubMed would remain running.  I have to say the first thing I did was tweet the question.  Why?  More than just medical librarians are on Twitter.  If my librarian friends don’t know the answer they can quickly RT and it goes out to another layer of people.  Think of it as an information network onion.  Your friends are one layer, their friends are another, and their friends friends are another. 

April 18th, the same day the MLA online program planner came out, there was already a discussion on Twitter about how to add things on the program and import it into a calendar.  The online program planner (and the difficulties encountered adding programs or importing it to a calendar) weren’t discussed on MEDLIB-L until May 2nd.  This is example is not to point out that Twitter is faster or better than MEDLIB-L, on the contrary I have seen things break  MEDLIB-L before Twitter.  I just use this example of how Twitter is used professionally to get short answers quickly.

I highly recommend Dr. Ves’s post for people (especially physicians) interested in Twitter.  Even those who think they aren’t interested in Twitter might like to read how easy it is to get started.  As Dr Ves says, Twitter is a good place to start if you want to get involved in social media.  It doesn’t require a lot of time to do or maintain and if you “have common sense, and never share the 18 HIPAA identifiers online or offline with unauthorized parties,” then you can minimize your risks and maximize your rewards for participating in social media.