Subject Subset Strategies Updated for 2010

There has been so much discussion about the changes happening with the new PubMed interface I think new about the subject subset strategies being updated kind of got lost in the noise. 

Each year the subject subset search strategies are reviewed to determine if modifications are needed.  These modifications can be something like changing MeSH, adding or deleting terms, or changing parts of the strategy to optimize retrieval.  According to the NLM Technical Bulletin February 5, 2010 post, the Bioethics, Cancer, and Toxicology were revised.  Complementary Medicine and Space Life Sciences are next on the list to be revised in the future.  The PubMed Subset Strategies page has already been updated reflecting the changes to the three terms. 

It is probably a good idea to check this page out anyway to make sure your search strategies for Aids, Complementary Medicine, Systematic Reviews, etc. are up to date and you are getting the most out of your search.  Obviously these strategies aren’t for every search on Aids or Cancer but if you need to do a massive comprehensive search or if you are looking for ways to expand your search this is a great resource.

Tablet Specifically for Healthcare

There’s been some discussion on this blog and other places about the iPad and it possible use in healthcare.  I ran across this article, “Apple Isn’t the Only Vendor With New Tablet,”  yesterday and thought I would discuss it today. 

Motion computing will most likely be unveiling a new tablet (presumably called the C5) for healthcare at the HIMSS conference March 1-4, 2010 in Atlanta.  According the Information Week article, the C5 is more in line with what clinicians need for a mobile computing device. 

The C5 is:

  • Rugged for falls
  • Can handle regular swipes of disinfectant
  • Has a barcode scanner and RFID reader for drug safety and supply/inventory
  • Has a camera for telemedicine

However the C5 is still too big if you want it to fit in the white coat pocket.  The article quotes Michael Stinson (Motion Computing VP of Marketing) saying, “It’s not uncommon to see [the C5] used with a cart.” 

People have been trying to make the perfect tablet for physicians for a while now.   Tablet makers will be watching and copying each other and Apple to try and get into the Healthcare market.  It will be interesting to see how this pans out and how/if medical libraries can fit in there.

The iPad and Thoughts On Usage in Libraries and Hospitals

By now it seems like everybody has weighed in on the iPad, so of course I feel compelled to add my .02 cents. 

I like the concept of an iPad, I just am not sure I like the iPad.  Personally, I think Steve Jobs needs to get over his anti Adobe Flash issues (Dude Steve, Flash works on my PC just fine, maybe it is Apple’s fault *gasp* that it is buggy on Mac platforms…just a thought.) According Adobe,  70%-75% of games and video content is Flash, I have no way to verify that data since it comes from Adobe and not a third party.  But it seems like whenever I am on my iPhone and I want to look at SlideShare, an Internet movie, or animation, I get the broken Lego that tells me Flash isn’t loaded.  Hopefully HTML5 will be the answer to our animation and video prayers for iPhone users, because I don’t see Jobs backing down.  Until there is an answer to the Flash (or lack of Flash) problem, it will be difficult to use the iPad for animation or Internet video purposes.  Why is this a problem?  there are lots of great medical animations and videos on surgeries, exercises, procedures, etc. that are very beneficial to professionals as well as consumers.

Flash is just one of the video problems the iPad suffers from.  Apparently the iPad’s 1024×768 pixels and 4:3 ratio presents some problems for videos.  If all of those numbers sounded like gobbelty gook then let me say that the iPad plays videos at the same scale as an old CRT television set.  Forget watching an HD movie, wide screen films, and movies in other formats. For examples of what happens, check out this post on TUAW. It seems most of the people upset by this are videophiles.  But combine the scaling problems with no Flash, and the iPad is limited for medical professionals and patients to view educational medical videos.

Another big problem is iPad’s 3G network, AT&T.  I swear the groan that came forth from millions of people could be heard ’round the world.  I would bet the American iPhone users already stuck on a glacial 3G network were doing more than groaning.  Luke Wilson may be able to surf and talk at the same time, I just hope his friend has no more game show questions for him to answer quickly.  Supposedly AT&T is ready for the iPad and says they can handle it.  Yet according to The New York Times, AT&T “largely expects the iPad to be used in coffee shops and at home, where users can rely on Wi-Fi, as opposed to dragging down the company’s 3G network.” Oh boy, this just has disaster written all over it.  Please AT&T prove me wrong.

Digital formats.  If you are planning on using the iPad to read books, you need to know that Apple is using the digital book formatcalled EPUB, which is different from Amazon.  I have no idea what specific medical books are available in EPUB’s format, but the TUAW reports, 0ther ebook readers use this format: Barnes & Noble Nook, Sony Reader, iRex Digital Reader, and the iRiver Story. Some of the publishers that will be on the iPad are Penguin, HarperCollins, Simon & Schuster, Macmillan, and Hachette.  Whether you believe Jobs was angry at Harold McGraw for leaking iPad information or not, McGraw-Hill has plans for its books on the iPad. In an interview on CNBC (the day before the iPad debuted) Harold McGraw stated (video link) “We have a consortium of e-books. And we have 95% of all our materials that are in e-book format on that one. So now with the tablet you’re going to open up the higher education market, the professional market. The tablet is going to be just really terrific.”

If they are opening up the higher education and professional market, there are still a lot of hurdles that need to be accomplished.  John Halamka, Chief Information Officer of Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, Chief Information Officer at Harvard, AND Joseph Leiter Lecturer at MLA 2010 wrote a post on the iPad and the ideal clinical device.  His ideal clinical device is:

  • Less than a pound and fits in a white coat pocket
  • Battery life for an 8-12 hour work shift
  • Sturdy
  • Built in full keyboard, voice recognition and very robust touch screen input
  • Provides a platform for a variety of healthcare applications hosted on the device or cloud.

According Halamka, no device is completely there yet, but the iPad may be closer than other devices like the netbooks, laptops, iPhones, and Kindles. 

Personally I believe the platform and applications for healthcare is going to be the biggest hurdle.  I said it once before, finding a Mac in a hospital is about as rare as finding a vegetarian in Outback Steakhouse.  They are there, but not always, and don’t count on them to work within the system.  The vast majority of regular hospital departments do not work with Macs and have no intention of working with Macs.  Despite some growth and development in the iPhone EMR app side of things (EPIC has an iPhone app), very few hospitals support iPhones because they are still viewed as a personal device within hospital IT departments.  The hospital IT world is still very much PC and Blackberry. 

Scandinavian librarian, Thomas Brevik, has an interesting short post on what the iPad might mean to libraries.  He predicts that it will “fuel reader demand for e-books.”  He also sees two main challenges for the iPad in libraries, delivery of content and reader habits.

Brevik’s perspective seems to be primarily from the public library side of things.  Even so, the content issue is big.   Thomas specifically writes about content and e-books and libraries.  I think the content issue is bigger than that.   From what I could tell from the iPad release, the only things that will run on an iPad are apps (similar to the iPhone).  So in order for you content to be displayed or used on the iPad, you are either going to have write an app (or subscribe to a library program that has an app) or have all of your programs/services/resources available through Safari web browser….and also not have Flash. 

I don’t know if the iPad will make an immediate big splash in healthcare and or medical libraries.   However, in typical Apple form they have turned up the heat on the portable market.  They have created a really cool portable device for under $500.  I anticipate us seeing more changes due to the ripples the iPad has caused by jumping into the ultraportable pool that has been dominated by inexpensive netbooks.  It makes for interesting times.  Who would have thought in 2000 that ten years later would have one of the most popular music players that is also a phone?

MLA 2010 Top Tech Trends Panel Wants You!

The MLA 2010 Top Tech Trend Panel is getting a new look.  There will be some returning veteran panelists from previous years presenting, but this year’s Top Tech Trends panel will include a lightning round highlighting technology in libraries.

The Medical Informatics Sections and co-sponsor Educational Media & Technologies Section want you to be in the lightning round.  We are looking for panelists with a variety of backgrounds, experiences, and viewpoints, so don’t hesitate to apply. Vendors are welcome to apply, but the content must be relevant to technology and libraries and not a sales pitch.

Did you do something at your library that worked really well or perhaps it totally tanked?  Talk about it and share your information, let us learn from your success or mistakes.  The lightning talks will be brief, focused talks on a particular technology topic and highlight late-breaking ideas, trends, successes, or even failures. Each panelist will be given strictly 5 minutes to talk, followed by time for Q&A.


Since imitation is the best form of flattery, check out ALA’s LITA page for more information on lightning talks: Our thanks to LITA for providing great information.

The Top Tech Trends program will be Sunday, May 23, 3.00-4.30pm.
The session will be divided as follows: 50 minutes for presentations, 40 minutes for questions & discussion.

In order to be eligible you must complete a form and submit it by February 15, 2010. You will be notified of the results by February 22, 2010.

The application form can be found at

Gadgets, Tools, and Apps: Free Webcast

Are you struggling to keep up with new technologies, or are you pretty tech savvy and like to try and stay up to date with things?  Library Journal’s Webcast Alert just alerted me to a free 1 hour webcast on Tuesday February 9, 2010  at 3:00pm EST called, Gadgets and Tools and Apps, Oh My!

Two panelists, Tina Hertel and Karla Marsteller will be discussing updates on search, communication, and graphics applications and gadgets for the library. 

Bummer, you say you are at the reference desk at that time, or it is your day off because you are working the weekend?  Never fear, the webcast will be archived for one year following the intial broadcast. 

Registration is FREE!

Tina is a Librarian/Help Desk Analyst at E.W. Fairchild Martindale Library, Lehigh University.  Karla is the Excutive Director at Palmyra Public Library.  I realize neither of these librarians are medical librarians so some of the things they might talk about won’t be applicable to us in the medical world.  But there are a lot of tech things out there I am sure they will mention a few things that will be interesting and helpful to us. 

Oh and did I mention that all it costs is one hour of your time?! Pretty good deal if you can come away with a nugget or two of information.

Librarians Need to Stop Going to Library Conferences

Now that I have got your attention with a title that I borrowed from a post on the Undergraduate Science Librarian, “Why academic librarians need to stop going to library conferences,” I guess I should rephrase my statement to: Librarians Need to Attend Their User’s Conferences. (A more accurate but less snappy title.)

The Undergraduate Science Librarian’s post hit home with me a little bit.  She describes a general disconnect between the library world and the research world, which she witnessed at the ScienceOnline2010 conference.  At that conference two librarians held a session for scientists and researchers about available library tools.  From that session, Bonnie Swoger (the author of the blog post) noticed that “scientists and scholars aren’t aware of what librarians do, beyond the whole ‘buying books’ thing.”  Bonnie also believes that librarians aren’t spending enough time listening to scientists and scholars to figure out what they really need and want. 

Bonnie links to a post from Martin Fenner, “Scientists and librarians: friend or foe?”  which addresses Dorothea Salo’s (one of the librarians at the ScienceOnline session) dismay over the disconnect between librarians and scientists.  Fenner lists several ways librarians can be more relevant and helpful to scientists.  Most of the things he lists are services, such as provide and support an online reference manager, online user training and support, microblogging for quick help support, institutional bibliographies, institutional repositories, help with article submissions, and help with Web 2.0 tools. 

I know many of you in library land are saying, “But we do many of those things he wants, why is there still a disconnect? Do they think the online tutorials grow on trees?”  My guess is that there is a general disconnect between what librarians do and all of their users.  Whether it is scientists, researchers, doctors, nurses, students, etc. many still think we are book buyers.

I have two examples of how I felt the disconnect.

Incident 1:
A few years ago my husband and I were invited to a large get together with many couples.  While at dinner one of the women (who I had just met) asked me what I did.  I told her I was a medical librarian.  (She was a physical therapist.)  She got that glazed look in her eye and asked me “Really? So what do you do, make copies and shelve books?”  As offensive as that statement was to me, she didn’t mean it that way, she was entirely clueless as to what a medical librarian did. 

Incident 2:
My husband and I met some friends at a local bar before a baseball game.  The boyfriend (I had met once or twice before) of a friend asked me, “So why are you interested in a career in which you will be replaced by Google in a decade.”  He had too much to drink to be polite.

So how can we begin to deal with this disconnect?  Well, I like what Bonnie suggested.  “We need to start attending the same conferences as the scholars we serve.”  Bonnie is putting her money where her mouth (keyboard?) is, on her post she states, “I will not be attending the ALA annual conference this summer. Hopefully, I will head to Denver for the Geological Society of America national meeting in October. And perhaps the year after that I will make it to the American Chemical Society conference.”

I think MLA and librarian conferences are important, it helps us to connect and learn off of each other, but I think Bonnie’s idea of getting out there and attending our CUSTOMER’S conferences might be helpful.  We need to start thinking a little more like business and start marketing to our customers. For many of us, it may not be practical to go to the national conferences of our customers.  How about local conferences and meetings? How about city groups, institutional groups or meetings?  Heck try and get in on the Monday meeting at your institution.

Get out from the library and tell your customers what you have and how you can serve them.  But also listen to their needs.

Library Passwords On Facebook

Yesterday a librarian posted on MEDLIB-L about a Facebook group listing the usernames and passwords to databases, full textbooks, journals, and other subscription sites. 

Obviously this is illegal.  Institutions pay for access, must abide by license agreements, and in general try their best to balance the fine line between providing access to registered authorized users and restricting access to unauthorized, unaffiliated users.  Even with the best intentions leaks happen. 

With the Internet came the idea that everything is freely available online to anybody.  The idea that are fees and costs to information online is completely foreign to some people.  To some people it isn’t foreign, they know it is wrong, but they don’t care, they want it and they don’t see why they should have to pay for it.  Nowhere was this more obvious than with Napster.  Napster’s file sharing was just one of the many that existed that music lovers flocked to.  Now days BitTorrent protocols make it easy to distribute large amounts of data enabling people to download movies, tv shows, etc.  A Wikipedia citation from TorrentFreak estimates 27-55% of all Internet traffic (depending on geographical location) is related to the BitTorrent use. 

Compared to BitTorrent, the posting of passwords online is a fairly low tech but effictive and often hard to discover method of accessing fee services.  It was only a matter of time before somebody decided to create a Facebook Group.  This particular Facebook Group is not new to this type of behavior, they also have their own website,, which uses file sharing techniques somewhat similar to BitTorrent.  It appears from their website they are listing and sharing the complete PDF’s of textbooks from Elsevier, Springer, Humana, etc.  They even have files and instructions for downloading UpToDate 17.3 for the PC & PDA!  They are sharing this information by breaking the information up into .rar files for their msn group members to download.   

When faced with these type of sites, what is a library to do?  It isn’t practical or possible for librarians to scour the Internet looking for websites distributing their passwords.  However, it might be helpful for librarians to end or severely limit their use of generic passwords for off campus use.  Giving users their own unique username and password that they use to access resources through a proxy server, Athens, or some other secure authentication method, might help.  It is just my observation, but people seem way more willing to distribute generic passwords to library resources rather than their own personal password to library resource. Additionally, by having each person have their own unique username and password you have method to track down and deal with scofflaws individually. 

Libraries and vendors also need to work together try and keep things on the up and up.  One of the libraries whose passwords to Ovid were listed on the Facebook page were notified by Ovid about the problem.  Yeah Ovid and the rest of the vendors have a vested interest in making sure their resources are accessed by authorized individuals, but libraries have an interest too.  We have relationship with these vendors and as much as we complain about the costs of their products, if piracy drives them out of business who we will get to provide the services or the resources?  It may be argued that these databases just re-purpose information, that the information will still be found if they go out of business.  Sure the data is there, but as with the example of UpToDate, how many doctors and nurses were finding that kind of information (which was out there and available) prior to UpToDate’s creation?  The case of textbooks and journals, where the printed text is undergoing a lot of changes (Kindle, iPhone, online articles, advertising issues), presents different risks.  In this instance it is the actual information that is in jeopardy.  Not only do you wonder about whether it is correct but if a publisher can’t make any money selling a book or advertisement for a journal, they will stop publishing it and the information is gone.  Journal publishers that still cling to username and password access as their only means to allowing institutional online access need to really sit down and either update their access methods or open up their site completely because they are probably dealing with this much more often than those publishers that allow IP validation. 

The Internet has changed the way society accesses information. Some is open and free for all, some is not.  There will always be those who are trying to beat the system illegally.  Deal with it the best way you can, see if you can prevent further problems and then move on.


I can’t stress enough how libraries need to be aware of how easy it is get their group codes or general passwords when they post them in unsecure locations.  Shortly after I posted this, a person tweeted that people can always do something as simple as this to see usernames and passwords.  While a many libraries like ASU and JMU do not state their RefWorks group code there are a whole bunch that have it hanging all out there for the world to see.  Hey, Capella University, Cornell, Drexel, Johns Hopkins, Princeton your fly is down and your group codes are showing. You can’t blame people for distributing it when you are already doing that yourself. 

**Second Update**

It appears Facebook has removed the group.

PubMed Advanced Search Changes and MyNCBI Enhancements.

The January 26, 2010 Technical Bulletin has some information about MyNCBI Enhancements as well as Advanced Search and Limits.

  • Coming in early February Advanced Search page will be streamlined (see TechBull for pictures)
    • Clipboard link will be added to the homepage
    • A new Limits page with additional limits for dates and search field tags will be added
  • Something called Search Builder will help users search using Boolean operators.
  • On the Advanced Search Page, Search Builder will replace the Search by Author, Journal, Publication Date, and more and Index of Fields and Field Values sections.  (I will try and keep an open mind, but I don’t think I am going to like Search Builder. It looks like it is another dumbing down of the system.)
  • My Bibliography users can now download their citations in MEDLINE format which is very important for your reference manager programs.
  • NCBI users can turn off the “Search Details” on PubMed search result pages.  (Does this mean search details is staying?!) NCBI users will be able to turn off the search details feature in mid February, although why somebody would do that when that is one of the better features for savvy searchers is beyond me.  But then again as a regular medical librarian some of the things they NCBI does with PubMed confounds me. 

Personally one of the biggest enhancements NCBI could do is stop calling saved searches MyNCBI.  They keep dumbing down the system for the “average” user but they fail to make some of the obvious changes like changing confusing wording like MyNCBI that normal people would not know means saved searches.

Calling All Volunteers: Chapter Council Roundtables MLA 2010

Are you going to MLA 2010 in Washington DC?  If you are then you might considered becoming a facilitator or recorder for Chapter Council Roundtable. 

They are looking for volunteers to share ideas, experiences and skills as a facilitator or recorder for the Roundtables on Tuesday May 25, 2010 from 11:30-1:30.  BTW if you sign up for the Roundtables you get lunch along with the chance to talk to other librarians interested in the same thing you are. 

You don’t have to have prior experience in a topic to be a facilitator or recorder.  You just have to have some enthusiasm and interest in sharing it with others. 

Facilitators initiate discussion and encourage participation from those seated at the table.  Recorders document the discussion which will be posted on the Chapter Council website.  Facilitators earn one AHIP point for completing these activities.  Where else can you get AHIP points for eating lunch and discussing library stuff. 

If you are interested in volunteering as a Facilitator or Recorder please email Angela Dixon at angela_dixon(atsign)urmc(dott)rochester(dott)edu.

Friday Fun: The BookBook

What better way for a Mac toting librarian to protect their laptop than the BookBook.  The BookBook is a laptop case cleverly designed and disquised as an antique, distressed, leather-bound book. 

Outside look of BookBook carrying case.
Outside look of BookBook carrying case.

It comes in two colors, red and black and in 13″ and 15″ sizes.  According to the TwelveSouth website, the “rigid leather hardback covers for a solid level of impact absorbing protection. The rigid spine serves as crush protection for an additional line of defense. BookBook creates a hardback book structure that safeguards your MacBook like few other cases.”  The zippers for the case look like little leather bookmarks.

MacBook inside BookBook case.
MacBook inside BookBook case.
I think the case is a little pricey at $79.99 but then again when you compare with others at, it is pretty much right in the middle of things.