Monday, March 02, 2009

Libraries Using Different 2.0 Technologies

Saturday I spoke about the promises and perils of web 2.0 technologies in special libraries. I focused on all of the ways special libraries are using technology and the common barriers that librarians encounter trying.
I think showing examples of what others are doing can be extremely helpful. It helps others see new applications of the technologies and perhaps can get them thinking about how some things might work in their institution. One size does not fit all, not every technology works with every library, but just seeing what others are doing can get the mind going. In preparation for the talk, I looked around the web to find examples of what other libraries are doing. I took screen shots of what was I thought was interesting and I added them into the presentation slides.
Librarians are busy! Most use these technologies in three ways general communication, current awareness, and reference.

Here are just a few of the examples I found of how librarians are using blogs, wikis, Twitter, IM, tagging, videos, etc.

Many libraries use a reference desk wiki or blog for internal or external communication such as listing the desk schedule, active issues, tick sheets, product reviews, policy changes, user education, and news and general information.

  • Jenkins Law Library - Their home page includes an information/news blog front and center. People can easily subscribe to these feeds by clicking on the orange RSS box.
  • medlibs and mla2009 - I haven't found anybody specifically using Twitter to communicate to library users I have found quite a few examples of peer to peer communication or chat collab. Medlibs and mla 2009 are two examples of librarians twittering back and forth sharing information and collaborating on ideas. The principle is similar to the listserv medlib-l but conversations are short.
  • Courthouse Libraries BC - They have produced YouTube videos demonstrating research techniques and strategies.
  • Cleveland Clinic Health System Libraries Wiki - The nine hospital system is using an external wiki as their web page for employees to use when they are off campus. It is still in beta as some of the kinks are being ironed before it is officially live and marketed to patrons.

Current Awareness and RSS:
Librarians are using RSS to keep themselves and their users up to date on information. This is seen most often in table of contents feeds, saved searches on databases, new additions to the catalog, and news (from the library blog as in Jenkin's Law Library's home page).

  • Ebling Library - They provide access to over 2400 RSS feeds to biomedical and health sciences journals.
  • PubMed, Ovid, EBSCO, and Scopus - These databases and many others allow users to save their searches as RSS feeds which will help notify them of any newly published research on their topic.
  • Lillian Goldman Law Library - New additions to the catalog are profiled on the library's blog page

Reference Aids:
Wikis and social booking marking tools make great reference aids. Libraries have created subject guides in wikis, subject guides within delicious, added tags within the catalog, and are helping users manage bookmarking the journal literature by using tagging sites like Connotea and CiteULike.

  • University of Florida Health Science Center Libraries - Their LibGuides page contains subject guides, course guides and other resources browsable by Subjects and by Popular Tags.
  • Health Sciences Library, Stony Brook - They use delicious as another tool to guide users to subject resources.
  • Courthouse Libraries BC New Catalogue - (in beta) Doing a search in their catalogue brings up the usual results but also brings up a word cloud on the left hand side that shows you related terms, spelling variations, translations, etc. Clicking on the words in the cloud allows patrons to explore the catalogue contents from that perspective.
  • Duke University Libraries - They have a nice getting started guide for Connotea and FAQs. They also have instructions for users to configure Connotea take advantage of Duke's full text article system, "Get it @ Duke.

As I mentioned these are just a sampling of what other libraries are doing out there with these new technologies. I am sure there are more great examples. If you know of another library doing something neat please be sure to comment to this post so that we may be able to learn from each other.

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Friday, January 30, 2009

Social Bookmariking Project: Call for Participants

(courtesy MidContinental Regional News)

For those of you in the MidContinental Region (Utah, Colorad, Wyoming, Kansas, Nebraska and Missouri), Sharon Dennis, Technology Coordinator, and Rebecca Brown, Technology Liaison, are asking for volunteers to participate in a regional social bookmarking project. Social bookmarking is a Web 2.0 tool. Delicious is a social bookmarking site that allows you to bookmark a web page and add tags to categorize your bookmarks. Delicious can be used to tag any site that you feel is pertinent to your professional work and also of interest to medical librarians throughout the region.

If you are interested in learning more about this project, please e-mail Sharon at
sdennis[atsign]lib[dot]med[dot]utah[dot]edu or Rebecca at rbrown3[atsign]kumc[dot]edu.

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Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Twitter in Health Care

Friday Eric Schnell posted Microblogging the US Airways Miracle about an article in the Guardian by Caitlin Fitzsimmons describing how our society has moved from rapid to almost instantaneous information dissemination. The article points out that much of the early information, pictures and reports of the Hudson River plane crash provided came from the average person with a cell phone. Reports were flying in through the web on sites like Twitter. Janis Krum posted on twitpic (a site to share pictures on Twitter) and uploaded this now rather famous picture of the plane floating on the Hudson while tweeting, "There's a plane in the Hudson. I'm on the ferry going to pick up the people. Crazy." His tweet was posted only 6 minutes after the plane landed in the river (official timeline: 3:30:30: The plane touches down in the water). According to the Guardian article, within 10 minutes other twitterers were posting about the plane and linking ot Krum's tweet. Fitzsimmons writes, "Twitter proved itself as an excellent news aggregator, pointing me to links to the best media coverage. I particularly appreciated the live video streaming on and among others."

Eric mentions that this news media phenomenon is "referred to as mobcasting or citizen media reporting like that which occurred during the Virginia Tech tragedy, the November 2008 terrorist attacks in Mumbai, or even a power outage that occurred yesterday in Toronto. A person even twittered while still on a plane as it burned on the runway in Denver in December 2008. Heck, even Santa Twittered. "

I have been twittering for a little while. I have yet to really figure out what voice I want within it. Do I want to have a professional twitter feed keeping people updated with library news, activities, and things similar to this blog? Or do I post about non library events like I did during the inauguration today? I enjoy hearing from other people and keeping up with events, but I am still trying to find my twitter legs.

What is hard to think of is how Twitter might be used within medical libraries or health care. John Sharp directed my attention to an interesting article, 140 Health Care Uses for Twitter by Phil Baumann. The article acknowledges that health care twittering does have some challenges (confidentiality, legal, etc.) but Baumann believes the advantages and possibilities of health care twittering far outweigh constraints brought on by these challenges unique to the health care world. Only by exploring twittering ideas and methods can these issues be addressed and handled appropriately. The list is more of a brainstorm of the 140 possible uses Twitter can play in health care.

I am not going to list all 140 ideas (if you want the full list go to the article), some on the list are similar to each other and really could be lumped together, which is what I did. Here are some I found to especially helpful and could be implemented fairly easily and other uses that I had previously never considered.

  • Disaster alerting and response - You already see this to a certain extent with college campuses and text messaging services. Not hard to think how this can move to the Twitter medium.
  • Alarming silent codes (psychiatric emergencies, security incidents) - Another very good method for informing people that is already texted to people.
  • Augmenting telemedicine - Twittering doesn't have to be by itself, I can imagine it serving as closed caption or commentary for online videos or as a discussion area separate from the actual lecture script/text being shown.
  • Biomedical device data capture and reporting - Interesting. I had a friend who was pregnant and on bed rest, she had to call a phone number so that her medical device could download specific information to some computer.
  • “Quick and dirty” diagnostic brainstorming between physicians (e.g. ’symptom clustering’), Clinical case education for (residents following attendings), Physician opinion-sharing - As long as patient confidentiality is maintained it could be another way to communicate and brainstorm.
  • Remote wound care assistance, Rural area health care communication - Didn't we just have a doctor who performed an amputation following text messages? Is this much different?
  • Transmitting patient data to patients who are traveling abroad, Patient-information retrieval, Micro-sharing documentation for advanced medical directives, Micro-sharing of pertinent patient information, Micro-sharing of diagnostic results (blood tests, echocardiography, radiological images) - Not for Twitter per se but it might work within a closed microblogging application unique to the institution.
  • Updating patient family members during procedures, Live-tweeting surgical procedures for education - Holy crow, this has already been done. First Live-Tweeted Surgery at Henry Ford Hospital @HenryFordNews.
  • Real-time satisfaction surveys with immediate follow-up for problem resolution - Huh never thought of that.
  • Live-tweeting medical conferences, Following ad-hoc conferences on eHealth like HealthCampPhila - There are conference twitterers already. A few people at MLA Chicago experimented last year and MLA Hawaii already has created an account.
  • Posting quick nursing assessments that feed into electronic medical records (EMRs) - Defintiely can't be Twitter, but can definitely be a closed system that works within the EMR. Might be useful area within the chart with certain guidelines and such.
  • Discussing HIPAA reform in the age of micro-sharing - Of course!

Just some interesting ways that people are thinking about using Twitter in the health care world. Do you have any ideas that Phil missed? What about libraries, how can libraries might use Twitter?

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Wednesday, September 03, 2008

Virtual House Cleaning

The school year has started and in our family that means that it is time to put away some of the summer play clothes and begin to make room for fall and winter clothes. Determine what will get packed away for next year, what will get donated to charity, and what will get handed down to the little brother.
The same is kind of true with my online world. Instead of packing up the sunscreen and swim suits, I am looking at my RSS feeds, SDIs, and account. I find that I need to do this once or twice a year to keep things fresh and current. Those of us who have SDIs on MEDLINE are well aware that we should look at them once a year after NLM has finished with their Year End Processing. The same can be said for RSS feeds and

I subscribe to about 150 feeds. That is a lot, but there are quite a few feeds in that list that are probably dead. The blogger stopped blogging long ago and like that favorite pair of jeans that I can't quite fit into I am reluctant to give it up. Usually these dead blogs didn't just cease all of a sudden, posts gradually became more infrequent until one day they stopped all together. There was something that attracted me to each blog, it could have been funny, insightful, or it covered a topic of my interest. I hold on to the feed out of hope that the author will some day begin posting once again. Just like those old jeans in my closet, the dead blog feeds hang in my Bloglines account taking up space and adding to the clutter.
In addition to the dead blogs are active blogs that I really don't read any more. Sometimes they have served my informational needs and I no longer need them. Most often my though, I find that my tastes have changed and I am not as interested in them as I once was. Like the totally cute green sparkly high heeled shoes that I had to have last year, they have been pushed to the back in favor of my new interests. Not to say that the blog or the green sparkly shoes aren't still great, I am just not as interested in them any more. Should I keep the blog in Bloglines on the off chance that it piques my interest again, or should I remove it from my collection like I did to make room for the sleek little patent leather peep toe pumps?
There is also the matter of organizing this information. My Bloglines is simple, it is broken into 4 main categories, medical library stuff, library stuff, fun/humor, and searches. Every blog within the category is arranged alphabetically. It is in much better shape than my closet. My account is my dirty little librarian secret. It is almost in worse shape than my attic was a year ago. As a librarian I love the concept of adding tags and organizing my Internet sites. I love how I can call them up on any computer and share them with friends and family. As a librarian you would think that I would stick to my own controlled vocabulary style and have some method to my madness. Alas, this is not the case. While my inner librarian took control and organized the attic, it was snoozing big time when it came to I have about 100 or so tagged items and my top tag (NIH) only has been used 6 times. The next closest term is web2.0 used 4 times. There is no rhyme or reason as to why I did or didn't use the tag social_networking for things I indexed with terms like twitter, wiki, blog, or blogging. Yes, I have blog and blogging as tags, why I did this I have no idea. The best way I can describe this mess is that my account is my Internet attic. I find a page and if I love it I put it in I know I will use that page, but probably not often enough to immediately type its URL from memory. That is why I put it in I find that I am usually in a hurry when tagging something so I just slap a few tags (often just one tag) on there and save it. Since the items are usually displayed in order of when it was tagged, the most recent are in front while the older and increasingly no longer used items creep to the back. Only after I try and retrieve a long ago tagged item, must I remember where stored it. Is it under blog or blogging? What about web2.0? I fear that in order to straighten this mess out that I will have get down and dirty like I did with the attic. I will look at each tag and figure out what the item is, whether it should be kept or removed. If I am keeping it, then it needs to assigned some predetermined terms and assigned a location (bundle).
Finally you can't forget about your searches. At this time of year I am on the look out for a winter coat for son. I scan the Sunday ads and my email account for sales and deals. Right now it is a winter coat, last November it was a new dishwasher. My needs change with my life. My current awareness searches change as well. Many of my personal current awareness searches are created from PubMed, Medworm, LibWorm and a few other places, the RSS of the search is saved and I read it in my Bloglines account. I find that each year as new trends emerge and others lose favor, I must adjust my searches so that I can stay on top of the information. For example, what good is it to have a current awareness search on Ovid CINAHL when it has moved to EBSCO? Probably just as effective as ads and sales on infant clothes going to my email account when I have six year old and a two year old.

Virtual house cleaning is important in managing the information overload. If you don't do it every once and a while you are going to be met with a ton of information and you won't know what to do with it nor will you be satisfied with what you have. Just like opening the closet to find that among all of those clothes, you can't find anything to wear.

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Monday, July 28, 2008

Another Use For Google Docs

My sister, Danielle and her husband, Ryan in two days will be starting the first leg of the dream trip. They each are taking a 6 months leave absence from their jobs to travel the world. Everything they have must be able to be carried on their backs, there is not a lot of room for extras. However, when you are visiting 30 different places you have a lot of paperwork such as reservations, train tickets, airplane tickets, etc. It is always a good idea to have a photocopy back up of all this paperwork.
In the past Ryan used to just put the photocopied documents in a separate bag, but this trip is a little different. In his blog, Ryan discusses the need to keep backup paperwork for the trip, but also the need to conserve space. According to Ryan, if he were to copy every reservation, airline ticket, insurance document and carry them, it would be like carrying a huge textbook in his backpack. Not only does it add more weight but it takes up precious space. The solution, Google Docs. He was able to store all of his important documents in Word, Excel and PDF. Ryan says, "The last (PDF) is the most useful format in that on most computers these days you can print or save to PDF format. So when completing a reservation on a website, just save the receipt/booking page to PDF and you will be able to open it on pretty much any computer in the world."

So whether you travel for work or for fun this might be a nice way to keep the backups safe and available.

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Friday, July 25, 2008

What is Knol

Google has been testing a new product called Knol. Knol is intended to be a site where authoritative articles on specific topics are available. These articles are written by people "who know all about those subjects." According to the Official Google Blog, "every know will have an author (or group of authors) who put their name behind their content."
At first glance there appears to be a lot of health care information on Knol. One of the Feature Knols is Migraine: Mechanisms and Management,by Richard Kraig. Knol topics include Tuberculosis, Pancreatitis, Glaucoma, and many more. From what I can tell many are written by physicians based on the brief author information on each knol. However, I found many authors did not provide Knol with their biographical information, leaving me to question whether the friendly face in the picture really is a physician and if so what their qualifications are. Additionally, Knol has no specific guidelines as to what somebody could publish.

Introduction to Knol:

"So what subjects can I write on?
(Almost) anything you like. You pick the subject and write it the way you
see fit. We don't edit knols nor do we try to enforce any particular viewpoint –
your knol should be written as you want it to be written."

Read Write Web's article, Knol: Google Takes on Wikipedia, provides a nice overview of Knol and mentions that authors can validate their identity on Knol through either a credit card or a phone number. I am less than impressed by this method of validation. I would much rather see some in depth information as to why I should trust Dr. Smart Brain's knol on congestive heart failure vs. Dr. Also Smart on the same knol. You see not only are there no stringent author requirements for posting medical information, but there can be more than one knol on a topic. Great for restaurant and hotel reviews, but potentially confusing (at best) for medical information.

If Knol seems at all familiar then you may have heard about Medpedia, which was recently posted on David Rothman's blog who noted that he saw no criteria for the acceptance of applications for submitting to Medpedia. In a comment to David's post, Angela Simmen said,
"We are confident that a large number of passionate people — some with medical credentials and some without credentials — can collaborate to produce something of very high quality. We also believe that the result of their work will do a better job of answering the general public’s questions than the most popular medical websites of today." Fine and dandy, but what happens if you have an author writing an popular point of view or writes about a controversial topic. There are plenty of passionate people who view early child immunization shots as a direct contributor to autism. Almost equally controversial is the debate on circumcision. Those are just two examples, and we haven't even scratched the surface with drug trials. Need we forget that at one time rofecoxib (Vioxx) was used to treat osteoarthritis and was approved and thought safe and effective by the Food and Drug Administration only later to be pulled by the manufacturer concerns about increased risk of heart attack and stroke associated with long-term, high-dosage use.

David has also done a very nice job of compiling a list of medical wikis. Speaking as a consumer (let's forget for a second that I am also a librarian), I would be extremely concerned that neither of these two sites (as well as other medical wikis) do not have any authorship controls. Excellent websites post their authors' credentials and an excellent wiki should also require authors to provide appropriate credentials. AskDrWiki does this, only "licensed clinical professionals who have proven their credentials to the satisfaction of editors," are allowed to contribute. I would challenge all other professional medical wikis to do the same and create some actual standards and criteria for posting.

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Thursday, July 24, 2008

Our Desire To Be Social and Privacy

Two interesting posts today reflect how our desire to be social often carries the a heavy burden of responsibility that many do not adhere to.

John Sharp at eHealth directed my attention to the article, Content of Weblogs Written by Health Professionals, (Journal of General Internal Medicine doi 10.1007/s11606-008-0726-6) studying 271 blogs by medical professionals. It turns out many the blogs (42%)described individual patients, some of those blogs described patient interaction in sufficient enough detail for patients to identify their doctors or themselves. Three blogs included identifiable photos of patients. The study concludes that while bloggs offers an opportunity for professional sharing, many are not being very professional about it by revealing confidential information, their unprofessional narrative tone or content. The authors of the paper feel that "health professions should assume some responsibility for helping authors and readers negotiate these challenges." John Sharp "wonders if there are similar privacy and confidentiality violations within social networking sites for medical professionals."

Well John, I would venture to guess that there are similar privacy and confidentiality issues are happening on social networking sites. Sarah Arnquist recently blogged about the article, Study: Med students sharing a bit too much info on Facebook. This brief article talks about the incredibly poor judgement and unprofessional nature of some medical students.

So where do hospitals stand regarding social networking, blogs, wikis, podcasts, etc.? How many hospitals have policies regarding these technologies and do these policies include a code of conduct or patient confidentiality? Is this whole issue largely under the radar for most hospital administration? Even it it is, where are these people's peers (the blog readers themselves) who should be holding their colleagues feet to the fire regarding the patient confidentiality issues?

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Wednesday, May 21, 2008

MLA 2008: Social Networking Still Needs A Network

I have to applaud the LAC and all the people behind finding MLA Bloggers to help cover the conference. You all did a great job. Unfortunately, we as an organization still have a long way to go. Despite having Official MLA Bloggers, the first webcast of a plenary session, MLA twitter feed, and what appears (to my eyes) more laptop toting and iPhone clicking people milling about, there was very little social networking (blogging, twittering, or texting) going on. The reason, there was no freaking network on which to be social.

Me and my fellow laptop toters were using laptops almost as divining rods to search for that elusive Internet access. There was no Internet access available in the conference rooms. The MLA wifi router gave out a very weak signal that allowed us to access wifi within a few hundred feet of the MLA LAC booth. Somebody had mentioned to me that I didn't need wifi access I just needed an aircard. Of course that means I would have needed a cell phone signal for the aircard to work. The conference rooms were underground therefore there were no cell phone signals. On the first day of the conference it was actually quite humorous to watch almost everyone stare at their cell phones and do the cell phone dance/contortion to try and find a signal. Although I didn't see anybody go to the lengths this gentleman did, there were many a librarian running up the escalators popping their heads above ground like gophers with cell phones checking voice mail and messages. Two positive things came out of it, I didn't go over my texting plan this meeting and I found out folks with Verizon were able to get some reception as one person lent me a Verizon aircard.

I am not alone in my frustrations. While I think MLA had one of its most "connected" meetings, it really could have been so much more with just a little planning and some wireless access.
It still felt as if MLA treated wifi access as an after thought. Have you ever gone to an ALA? For the past two years (2006 and 2007) free wifi was included. I realize MLA has made deals with the hotel room rates and conference room usage rates years in advance, but let's start thinking of ways to make wifi available. Why have we not investigated having a vendor sponsor free wifi for the meeting? I would gladly give up my meeting bag for free wifi. Why can't we have a few more routers (or stronger ones) strategically placed through out the conference hall so that we can get wifi within the actual meeting rooms? Why is it that while the presenters and speakers are talking about social networking tools, the participants within that same meeting room can't use the very tools the they are talking about?

We have come a long way since my first conference blogging experience in 2006, and with a little planning and creativity we can go even further.

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Wednesday, May 14, 2008

MLA 2008: Plenary Session Web 2.0 Tools for Librarians Available as Webcast

So you weren't able to go to MLA in Chicago this year. Well you are in luck MLA is brining a plenary session to you. On Wednesday, May 21, 2008, from 9 to 12 noon (Central Time), the plenary session on "Web 2.0 Tools for Librarians: Description, Demonstration, Discussion, and Debate" will take place at the MLA annual meeting in Chicago. This will be the first plenary session ever to be made available via a live Video Webcast. MLA members not at the meeting will be able to watch the Webcast and participate in it by submitting questions to a panel of Web 2.0 experts.

For more information go to

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The Krafty Librarian has been a medical librarian since 1998. She is currently the medical librarian for a hospital system in Ohio. You can email her at: