Library Tech Trends with LITA

It is the beginning of a new year, so it follows that people will come out with what hot in 2010.  The morning news shows are doing it with money, fashion, and technology.  Of course the library world is in on the gig too.  Sunday January 17th library 10:30-12:30 EST prognosticators will be discussing LITA Top Tech Trends.  You can follow them at, or via Twitter #alamwttt. 

Now this is happening on a Sunday, which means those of you can’t watch streaming media at work have the opportunity to watch it from your home.  It is fairly early in the day, plenty of time for you football watching librarians to virtually attend before the playoff games start later in the afternoon.

If you decide to watch the program, you will hear from

  • Amanda Etches-Johnson, User Experience Librarian at McMaster University
  • Jason Griffey, Head of Library Information Technology at University of Tennessee, Chattanooga
  • Joe Murphy, Science Librarian, Yale University
  • Lauren Pressley, Instructional Design Librarian, Wake Forest University
  • David Walker, Web Services Librarian, California State University System

Hopefully if all the stars align, I will be able to catch some of it in between nerf gun battles, painting cabinets, and picking up Christmas decorations.  Wait there is a thought, instead of listening to the radio while painting the cabinets I can plug in my laptop (safe distance from paint) and listen to it while I painting.  Wow, I am a library nerd.

Update: Facebook Privacy Changes

It feels like Facebook is constantly changing their privacy settings.  This is necessarily a bad thing if they didn’t make it so darn confusing.  Sometimes I think Facebook is playing both sides of the fence.  They update the privacy settings to make users happy, but they hide the settings and make it confusing so that many users fail to do it correctly which makes advertisers and other information gathering companies happy. 

I was listening to the radio the other day (it was a replay due to the holidays) and the radio hosts were lamenting the latest Facebook privacy changes.  One host commented that Facebook had set the default settings to be open so when they made the changes everybody and everything was open to all and on Google.  Now since this was a replay (and I didn’t tune into the beginning of the show to know when it was originally aired) I am not sure when this happened or if the hosts description of the event was entirely accurate.  However, the show did give me incentive to find a nice article on the latest privacy setting and to check my account.

Ars Technica has a nice article by Jacqui Cheng, An updated guide to Facebook privacy: December 2009 edition which gives more information on the latest (as of December 2009) privacy changes. 

One of the best things I learned was how to divide your friends into lists.  As the article mentions this was possible before, but the new changes makes lists much more powerful and potentially secure.  Because now you can assign different permissions to these lists.  According to the article, this ability is because “Facebook now considers your name, profile picture, city, gender, and friends ‘publicly available information,’ so anyone who finds you on Facebook can see who you associate with, even if you otherwise hide your info from non-friends.”

For example, I have noticed that as more of my family and friends are jumping on the Facebook (my mom just got an account over Christmas) there are more and more librarians that are friending me on Facebook.  Some of these librarians I know well, some I have met once or twice, some I know by name only, and other I have never known before.   I want to use Facebook to network and discuss library topics (less formally than other areas) but I also use Facebook to keep in touch with my cousins in Virginia and friends elsewhere.   The library people most likely don’t want to hear about my trials and tribulations of potty training my three year old.  Additionally my family and friends think controlled vocabulary is what you do when little ears are around. 

Using lists I can put all of my library friends in one list and all of my family and friends in another or both.  Now with Facebook’s new privacy settings I can change my posting permissions, which means I can post one thing to be seen by librarians, one thing to be seen by family, or something that can be seen by all.  The same can be done for pictures, everything in your Profile Information and Contact Information.

It is always a good idea to check out the privacy settings on your FB account regardless of whether you are more public or private.  Don’t forget to check out your permissions and privacy settings for what your friends can share about you through applications and websites.

Article Level Metrics

PLoS is doing some interesting with social networking and articles.  They provide “article level metrics” on all of the articles published within their titles.  Article level metrics refers to the data they are collecting on each article that can be used to help researchers to determine the value of the article within the scientific community.  So what kind of data are they collecting?  It includes citation information, online usage, social bookmarks, comments, notes, blog posts about the article, and ratings.  More information about how each of these data pieces are collected and used can be found at PLoS.

What I find most interesting is the online social networking tools they look at and use to help determine the impact of an article.  While much of this type of information is out there on the Internet, I think it is often overlooked.  News spreads rapidly through the social networking webverse.  There are countless reports where a breaking news story such as the plane landing  on the Hudson river was on Twitter before traditional news sources.  Twitter, blogs, and social bookmarks are naturally going to be quicker than traditional communication methods employed within research (letters to the editor, editorials, articles, etc.). 

I am not implying that an article that has a ton of Twitter chatter is on the same par as one that has been cited in many many research journals.  But I do think the Twitter chatter, the blog posts, and the bookmarks are an important indicator of what people think of an article in the present time.  This information should not be ignored.  This information along with traditional metrics data provide a more complete overall picture of the article.   People can would be able to see an article’s immediate impact on the scientific web community as well as the article’s long term impact.  

According to PLoS their metrics data is openly available for researchers to analyze.  The entire dataset for all article level metrics are available as an Excel file that is updated periodically.  What would be interesting is to take this data and see whether there is a correlation between online interest (blog posts, tweets, and bookmarks) and traditional research metrics that measure an article’s impact on the scientific community.  Do articles that get a lot of social media attention also generate a lot of attention in the long run with authors citing it or building the research upon it?

Interesting how social networking is wiggling its way into things we never thought it would.

NLM Ceases Cutters in LocatorPlus

According the December 22, 2009  NLM Technical Bulletin, “NLM will cease providing cutter numbers in LocatorPlus for most of the classification numbers assigned to print monographs that the library catalogs.”  The reason for this change is to increase efficiencies in NLM’s cataloging practices.  Apparently time spent cuttering was considered an inefficient activity.

The bulletin mentions that NLM has been shelving the print by accession number rather than call number for 15 years, but they provided full call numbers on their records as a convenience to other libraries using NLM records.  Because cutter numbers are unique to a library’s particular collection and librarians often adjust the numbers to fit in with their own library’s shelf range, NLM decided to stop adding them to the record and cataloging process.  Please note, “NLM is still committed to providing a classification number the reflects the subject of a book, in recognition that this information ca be used widely by others.”

 The changes will take effect on June 21, 2010.  So you have time to add a new cutter table to your 2010 holidays  wish list.

Ovid Tip

I primarily use Ovid to do Medline searches.  Every so often I get a really ugly search where I have to look through the results and select a few here and there to combine with other items within the Search Strategy.  In the beginning with Ovid (prior to SP) I simply clicked the boxes next to the citation and when done I  clicked the link for Main Search Page.  Selected citations were then added to my Search History.  With SP things changed.  The link for Main Search Page was absent because the Search History was on every page of the citation list.  So when I clicked the boxes next to the citations I couldn’t easily get them into the Search History box.  I ended up using rather clunky but effective method to add the citations to the Search History.  I clicked the citation boxes then I clicked Print Preview in the Results Manager.  The citations would display on the screen along with the link to the Main Search Page.  I would click the Main Search Page link and it then my selected results would be in the Search History. 

Last Friday I just found out that I no longer have to do all of this.  From now on when selecting articles I just click on the citation boxes and then scroll up to the top of the page and click View Selected (it is in blue and it is located next to Database Field Guide) and that automatically adds my selected citations to the Search Strategy.   I know this sounds like a silly tip to post about, but I thought I would pass it along because I bet there are others like me who don’t know about this. 

If you knew about this, then feel free to post another search tip about Ovid or PubMed that others can benefit from.

MLA Election Results

Thank you to everybody who served on the Nominating Committee, those who ran in the election, and most importantly the members who voted in this election.  Your participation in the organization is important.

President-elect Jerry Perry, Director Health Sciences Library Anschutz Medical Campus, University of Colorado Denver.

Board of Directors (2010-2013) Marianne Comegys Director Department of Medical Library Science, LSU Health Sciences Center Shreveport and Rikke Ogawa Emergent Technologies Coordinator and Health and Life Sciences Librarian, Louise Darling Biomedical Library, University of California Los Angeles.

Nominating Committee

  • Margaret Bandy
  • Janis Brown
  • Gary Byrd
  • Rebecca Davis
  • Jacqueline Doyle
  • Lynn Fortney
  • Thomas Hill
  • Anne Linton
  • Katherine Stemmer Frumento

This year the Nominating Committee, charged with finding suitable candidates to run for offices and with running the election, tried a few different things help give MLA members more information about the candidates.  We would like your opinion on these changes.  Please fill out this survey and comment on about the election process, what worked, what didn’t and what can be done to make it better.

MLA’s New AMS An In Depth Look

I mentioned in an earlier post that MLA’s new Association Management System (AMS) was live.  Well, Kate Corcoran has written a very detailed post on MLA Connections looking at the new AMS.   She provides an indepth look at each of the section and she includes screen shots as well as lots of information.  If you have any questions, thoughts, concerns or suggestions about the new AMS, submit a comment on MLA Connections post.

What Is Your Time Worth?

What price would you put on your time?  That is the question Brynn Beals asked as a solo librarian at Franciscan Health System Library.  She wrote the interesting article in the Journal of Hospital Librarianship, “Valuing Hospital Library Services: One Small Step for a Solo.”  After attending the “Measuring Your Impact: Using Evaluation to Demonstrate Value” class at an MLA chapter meeting she decided to create an evaluation form to measure how much time and money she was saving the hospital if she did searches instead of the doctor, nurse, etc. did the search. 

Using salary information from America’s Career InfoNet and Nursing Management’s 2007 compensation survey she was able to determine that the hospital saved $5914.  This is based off of the information from 21 of the 61 returned surveys that had quantifiable data that allowed her to attach an hourly rate to the search.  That means the hospital saved an average of $281/search question based off of her 21 questionnaires. 

At first blush $5914 is not a lot of money nor does it completely offset the cost of running a library or the true savings a library can provide a hospital if it health care personnel conducted their own research without a librarian.  However, it is just a small sampling of the savings a librarian can bring to a hospital.  Imagine the savings if all 61 of the questionnaires had quantifiable data.  Imagine if all 105 of her distributed surveys were returned with quantifiable data. The overall hospital savings would go up.   

Beals survey just focused on the amount of time/money saved and how the information was used (change diagnosis, policy development, CE, patient education, etc.).  Just think if we could add a few more layers to the study and find out the savings hospitals can realize by acquiring documents through Docline instead of outside document delivery services, or having a library journal subscription instead of multiple departmental subscriptions.  These are just some of my limited ideas of how one could expand this study.  I am sure there are more things to look at.

Jenny Garcia recently queried the MEDLIB-L  community about doing a research project studying hospitals that do not have a library.  Her question to the community was, “If you could have only one answerable question about hospitals without libraries, what would it be?”  I am sure the MEDLIB-L community will give her plenty of ideas. 

While Beals study and Garcia’s planned study are technically different they both look at the value of libraries and librarians within hospitals.  We need more of these studies.  We need studies similar to Beals that are easily reproducible for smaller hospital librarians and we need larger impact studies that survey several hospitals that Garcia is thinking of conducting so that we can illustrate the broader picture.

Technology Trends of 2009: What Does 2010 Bring?

Max Anderson wrote an interesting post on the Cornflower, Top Digital Trends for 2010 (and other tech news).  In the post he links to the Top 10 most popular searches, videos, etc. of 2009 as well as Top Digital Trends for 2010 by Digital Media Buzz. 

Max specifically discusses the difficulties he encounters when he teaches classes for the GMER at other hospitals and institutions.  Often the host institution does not have the correct/latest version of Flash or the institution simply doesn’t allow any Flash at all.

We all struggle with rapid rate at which technology changes the way we communicate and find information.  A year ago if you asked me about hospitals on Twitter and Facebook I would have laughed.  Yet go to Ed Bennett’s blog, peruse his Hospital Social Network List and you will quickly see that hospitals are jumping into this area of the Internet.  Sometimes our IT departments are progressive, but often they are struggling right along with us, trying to balance information security with technology demands. 

In spirit of all of the new year, here is my humble list.

Hot in 2009:

  • Hospitals on Twitter and Facebook – Just check out Ed Bennett blog
  • App Phones – Say goodbye to “smart phones”  and hello app phones. People are flocking to app phones because they turn your phone into a mini computer on the go which is what people seem to want now.
  • EMR integration – Slowly but surely it is coming into place, but IT infrastructures in hospitals and doctor’s offices still have a lot of work and it is still may be too early to determine the benefits of the system for some organizations.

Not in 2009:

  • Blogs – Everybody is tweeting now, as PostRank’s nifty little chart on their blog indicates, more people are engaging and commenting on sites like Twitter rather than leaving blog comments. (Yes I find it a little ironic that the blog is dead but I am still writing on it and posting about the technology trends.)
  • PHR – The market is saturated with companies trying to get in this area.  Not all PHRs are the same.  Some work with hospital EMRs, some are employer driven, some are used only by the patient.  Frankly it is a mess and the average patient isn’t using it.  It is estimated that 3%-6% of consumers nationwide use a PHR. Medicare’s $2.5 million EHR pilot garnered such little use that it may not be renewed.  I am not saying the PHR won’t happen, it just didn’t happen as much as people wished/hoped/expected so far.
  • MeSH – OK I am probably going to take some heat for this, but why else do you think PubMed changed their site and search interface?  They did it to make it easier to search for the average person, (Whether they succeeded in that is up for debate.) and the average biomedical person does not search by MeSH.  The folks at NCBI know this and they tried to design the system to address it.  Of course they addressed it by further marginalizing it.

Hot in 2010?

  • Flash – I agree with Digital Buzz, and I think we have come to a point where app phones are going to have to address the fact that they can’t use Flash. Many phones like the Android and the Blackberry will be using Adobe Flash 10.1but the iPhone will not.  Will this be the must have “app” that even Apple must eventually pursue?
  • Twitter – This is a bit of a cheat since it was hot in 2009.  But I see it usage and applications growing to medical libraries more and I see its growth in emergency notification usage.
  • Mobile optimization – Everybody is using app phones, their growth is huge.  It is imperative that libraries start to acknowledged and serve this type of usage.  Not only must they redesign their website to have a mobile friendly site, but they need to demand their vendors do the same too.

Not in 2010?

  • Google Wave – The wave has potential but that potential is overshadowed by the fact that it is so new that the normal person has yet to find a reason to be on it.  People are not ready to give up their email for real time communication just yet.
  • E-Readers for medical libraries – Everybody is jumping on the E-Reader bandwagon, Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Sony all have some sort of e-reader.  The iPhone even has an app that allows to read Kindle books.  However, I just don’t see the medical titles out there to justify for medical libraries to invest in them.  The success of ebooks in medical libraries varies.  In some places they are successful, in others they are barely used.  Ebooks have not taken off like ejournals.  Perhaps the e-readers might be the catalyst.  But depending on titles and licensing agreements, I currently only see some colleges and specialized institutions dipping their toes into this platform. 

This is just a small list of things.  I am sure those who are more tech savvy than I have more ideas.  Feel free to comment or Tweet on your thoughts about the trends in 2009 or what you see coming in 2010.