MLA Members Don’t Forget To Vote!

I Voted



Ballots were sent out today to current MLA members to vote on the future President, two Board Members, and next year’s Nominating Committee.  The ballot and MLANet both have links to each candidates MLA activity and credentials, and for the positions of President and Board Member each candidate answered a question posed by this year’s Nominating Committee.  New this year, video clipson MLANet featuring the Presidential candidates responses to the Nominating Committee questions are available to watch.

I encourage everyone to check out the candidates who will be representing you within the organization.  Then, click that mouse and vote! You have until December 8, 2009 to do so.

MeSH Terms and the New PubMed

Yesterday I attended an online webinar focused on the changes in the new PubMed.  Holly Ann Burt from the GMR was the instructor and she was great.  (I will be linking to the recording when it is available.)  However at one point in time during the session one librarian became rather frustrated with how the designers made it that much more difficult to search PubMed using MeSH.  Her complaint was that doctors were not going to know where to click and how to search using MeSH within the new version of PubMed.  My first thought was that most doctors weren’t using MeSH prior to the redesign anyway.  Sad, but I think pretty much true.

I must confess, I am not a huge PubMed user.  My MoC (Medline of Choice) is through Ovid.  I really love Ovid’s mapping in Advance Search, I think that is one of its strongest features.  The mapping allows me to quickly type in a keyword in the search box and be presented with the correct MeSH termThe mapping forces you to at least see a MeSH term, which is one of the strongest features of MEDLINE.  Does it work all the time?  No sometimes you can get some wonky results when you have an odd term (or when you unknowingly type it incorrectly).  But even in that case I like it because it forces me to re-examine my terms and strategies early in the search process.  I am not blindly searching via keyword and either missing vital information or retrieving everything under the sun.

I have always felt PubMed hides the MeSH in the closet.  It really never had very good front end mapping.  If you really wanted to be sure you were searching using MeSH terms you had to go to the MeSH database, search it and then ADD it to your PubMed search.  Clunky.  What doctor wants to do that?  Many don’t.  Heck I don’t want to do that and I am a librarian, but I do it when I search PubMed.  Of course over the years PubMed has made various improvements on the keyword searching.  In this latest version, PubMed uses Automatic Term Mapping (all behind the scenes) to search for the keyword as a MeSH term, subheading, Publications type, Pharmacologic action term, and All Fields.  Personally I think this produces a ton of results with a lot of extra junk citations.  I think it is just one step better than Google. 

There is one way to stop the citation deluge, and that is to have sound search strategies using MeSH.  But through out history, PubMed has done such an outstanding job of hiding the MeSH that it is no wonder that the average user doesn’t know or care about MeSH.  Must I remind you of Ana Kushnir’s blog entry, I Am Not Yelling. Not Out Loud, about why she hates PubMed.  She had no idea of really how to use PubMed and of MeSH terms.  She is not alone.  There are tons of doctors, nurses, medical students, etc. who do a Google search on PubMed and they think they are getting the right stuff.

I believe that PubMed’s inability or refusal to actively map people’s keyword searches to MeSH terms out front glaring at you on the page (like Ovid), is reason why people don’t search MeSH in PubMed.  In Ovid I am forced to pick a MeSH term, in PubMed I am blindly given results.  Doctor’s, nurses, and medical students didn’t go through school speaking or using MeSH, all the more reason to bring it out of the forefront of the search and force them to see it and choose it when searching a database that indexes using it!  Yet PubMed designers chose to hide it behind a curtain.  While we librarains were doing are darndest Toto impersonation to reveal the truth behind curtain, there was no way our message could be heard by everybody.  Getting doctors and researchers to search via MeSH was a losing battle. 

Now with the latest redesign the battle is lost.  The ability to search MeSH is even more clunky, the MeSH terms are minimized (hidden) within the abstract results and the details box in Advanced Search will be disappearing.  PubMed has made their product the Google database of medical literature.  Congratulations.  Searchers like Google, it is the number one search engine.  I am just not sure I want my medical database to end up to be that.  Before you know it NCBI may wonder why we are even bothering with this whole MeSH thing anyway, why index when everybody is doing keyword searching anyway? Everybody is Googling.  Now let’s be clear, I never heard anybody say that nor do I have any super secret handshake knowledge of that happening.  Quite frankly I bet those in charge of PubMed right now would say we would never think of ending the MeSH indexing of articles.  But, that is right now.  What happens 10, 20, 30 years from now?  PubMed’s hiding the MeSH in the background was the first, but crucial step in making MeSH irrelevant to the searcher.

New PubMed

It’s up, it’s down.  It’s the new version, but wait the old version is back.  The new PubMed has been up and down more more often than a yo-yo dieter.  While some things seem to be working, other things are not.  There is also the whole, “Where is that link/button/feature hiding on the new site” frustration.

Needless to day we all probably need a good class on the ins and outs of the new PubMed since the last class addressed the new changes but thanks to the PubMed developers didn’t have them live for us to see.  How frustrating!  Check out the NN/LM site and your region’s site to see what classes or handouts they might have on the new design.

Here are just some of the listings of classes and information resources I found:

  • GMR will be presenting several one hour PubMed updates for MLA CE. Check out the Cornflower for more information.
  • On the Pacific Northwest Region’s blog, it features several helpful handouts and videos on the new interface.  They have a PubMed “Quick Tour” video tutorial and a “Where has it Gone?”  brochure (produced by the librarians at U. Washington Health Sciences Library) to help users familiar with the old interface.
  • The SCR CONNECTions Monthly Web Meetings November 12th topic will be Special Edition PubMed Redesign.

There will always be some bumps along the road of change but the best way to make those smaller is to look at ways we can futher educate ourselves.  Additionally by learning how to use the new interface, we become more savvy users with better questions and concerns to submit to those that designed the system.  Feedback is an important loop in developing products and PubMed is no different.  So don’t forget the three methods by which you can do that.

MLA Webcast on Mobile Technologies

The MLA Webcast, Cut the Cord: Connecting To Our Mobile Users is fast approaching, Wednesday November 18, 2009 1:00-3:00pm (central time).  This webcast will be discussing the various trends, technologies, and innovative uses of mobile devices.  They will specifically discuss the use of mobile technology and its value for librarians and health care professionals.

As many of you know I have a lot on my plate these next few weeks but I really hope to catch this webcast.  I think it is very important and should be a must see for any librarian.  Why?  Why should a librarian be interested in smartphones and mobile devices, didn’t we already cover this with that webcast on PDAs a while back?  True, there was webcast a few years back on PDAs but a lot of things have changed since then.  While there are some who are still toting around the old Palm and PocketPC devices, the two most popular mobile devices now days are Blackberrys and iPhones. 

These all in one devices are taking the Internet by storm.  There are 22.4 million daily mobile web users (comScore March 2009) which is an increase of 107%.  More and more people are surfing and using the web on their phones.  At one time people scoffed at the idea that somebody would want to watch a whole movie on a video iPod, now people are using the web on a screen that isn’t much better than the old video iPod. 

So what does this mean to the average medical librarian?  Your users are either already or are soon to be using their mobile devices to surf and get information.  Is your website mobile friendly? What library resources are mobile friendly?  I am not just talking online books.  What databases have optimized mobile friendly sites and are you familiar with them?

These sort of questions are not only important for librarians but they are extremely important for vendors who are selling to libraries.  There are some point of care products that are mobile friendly but what about Medline?  PubMed has a mobile friendly search interface but what about the other Medline, nursing, and research databases?  As I have met with several vendor reps formally and informally, I am surprised by the number who don’t have a mobile friendly platform and who had never considered one. 

Two years ago I had a very old and very boring cell phone.  It did a good job at being a cell phone but it really didn’t do much else.  That was fine for me at the time.  Then I got an iPhone.  I was kind of reluctant to jump in to the iPhone world.  They are expensive little boogers (I always got the phone that came free with my plan) and the data plan was expensive too.  But I have to say now that I have jumped into the iPhone waters, I am never coming out.  I use that thing everywhere I go.  If I am not at home or at work and I need to look something up, no matter how important or unimportant, I use my phone.    There are 22.4 million of us, surely I am not the only one using the medical library on my phone.

Libraries: Facebook Group, Fan Page or Friend Your Librarian?

I have gotten quite a few questions about Facebook and whether I think libraries need a Facebook page, how should they set one up and how do they mesure its usage.  All very good questions and my quick answer: It all depends.

Should my library have a Facebook page?

I don’t know.  Who are your users and what are they doing?  Is Facebook blocked at your institution?  If your users are medical students you might consider having a Facebook page.  If your users are older physicians who don’t even use email then you probably can focus on something else other than Facebook.  If your institution blocks Facebook, you probably don’t want to deal with trying to maintain a library page on Facebook since this will most likely be done on your home time and most of your users wouldn’t think to look for your library on Facebook since it can’t be accessed at work. 

Should the library be a group, should it have a fan page, or is it more effective to have people “friend” the librarian?

In the early days, Facebook was more for connecting people together and you had to be a little creative to set up a organization or company’s page.  Many librarians jumped on to Facebook and offered their librarian services to patrons who “friended” them.  I am not sure how effective that was and is.  Some librarians had good responses while others felt a lot like a person who emailed me, “I have been on Facebook for years and despite teaching classes and telling students to friend me for help in the library, I have yet to have one library patron friend me.” 

Personally, I just don’t think friending your librarian is all that effective.  It might have been an adequate work around in the early days of Facebook, but now libraries can have their own pages and I don’t see it as important.  I give this example.  One of my favorite restaurants is Melt Bar & Grilled, the Northcoast Shores sandwich is to die for.  They have a Facebook page and I have become a “fan” of them on Facebook.  I am not “friends” with the servers, cooks, or the owner of the establishment.  As a “fan” of the restaurant I am aware of events and sales taking place and sent out through Facebook.  If I was a “friend” of the servers, cooks, or owner I might get information about events, but I am going to get a lot of other stuff that I am going to have to slog through too.  I have nothing against librarians wanting to have patrons “friend” them, I just don’t think that it is most effective use of Facebook and libraries.

Should the library have a fan page or be a group?

Again this is question about how well you know your users.  Most libraries seem to have fan pages and to me that makes sense because most people tend to think of libraries as place.  However if you are a group of libraries or you have an active user group within the library you might want to consider creating a group.  Ann Smarty wrote a nice simple column explaining the pros and cons of fan and group pages.  Facebook Group vs Facebook Fan Page: What’s Better  has a nice little chart where you see what features are available to fans and groups.

How do I measure usage of my Facebook site, I don’t want to spend a ton of time on something that gets no use?

Nobody wants to spend any more time on anything more than they really have to, so it is understandable that people are worried about a library’s Facebook usage (or any library resource for that matter).  Once you looked at your users AND decided that they might be the type of people who would be using Facebook then you are going to want to look at how you can measure the library’s Facebook usage.  This is a little tricky because there isn’t something like those online usage statistics that we can get from journal publishers.  Additionally, Facebook is sort of a closed system, you can’t get in behind the scenes and start adding a little coding here and there to track usage.  The easiest method you can use to look at usage is to look at the number of people you have following.  The downfall to that is that this just one number, it doesn’t really look at how active those people are on your page.  Many people can simply be a fan and never visit your site again.  Obviously you may want to know a little bit more about what people are doing and what things they are clicking on.  One way to do this may be to look at the referring URLs into your own library website.  If you have links on your Facebook page going back to your website or to your databases, depending on your set up, you might be able to tell that a certain percentage of people accessing these resources or your web site are coming from Facebook.  Finally the last method to measure usage would be to create a survey.  Do an online survey and link to it from Facebook, Twitter (if you have Twitter) and your home page, ask people if they know you have a Facebook site, if they use it and how they are using it. 

Facebook is just one small tool in the outreach tool box for libraries.  It might be the most popular and trendy tool right now, but it is still a tool.  Don’t let the hype influence you to use it if there is no need.  Don’t force a square plug into a round hole.  Equally important, don’t ignore it. You should be familiar with as many tools in your outreach tool box as possible because if things change in your library or with the tool, you need to know if it might be relevant to your institution.  Three years ago I never thought I would have a need for my dad’s air compressor, but soon with a new home and basement remodel that little gem paired with a nail gun will be very helpful.  Two years ago I said Twitter and Facebook may not have any real use in libraries, times have change and some places have wonderfully proved me wrong using these tools effectively in their institutions.  Like I said, quick answer: It all depends.

Trying to Get Your Institution on the Twitter Train

A few weeks ago I was a part of the Technology Forum for the Midwest MLA Annual Conference in Columbus, OH.  I spoke on libraries using Twitter and Facebook.  Later I wrote a blog post linking to the slides as well more of my thoughts on the topic. 

Ever since then I have gotten a few emails from people asking how they can convince their IT departments to allow Facebook and Twitter so they can reach out to library users.  I have sat down and thought of a few good arguments for librarians to use with their IT people, however upon reflection I don’t think that will be very productive. 

The short of it is, the IT departments are not going to deal with security perceived issues because the librarian wants to use social networking tools.  We can plead and beg all we want but in the minds of the IT people Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, etc. are either security risks or bandwidth hogs that have no real world use in the hospital world.  We are spinning our wheels to approach them on this, we would be better off trying to get them notify us when they mess with the IP ranges causing all sorts of havoc with the authentication systems of our online resources.  At least we can easily and directly show how that (IP ranges and the changing of them) impacts our work and that of the employees doing research at the hospital. 

Recently (within the last 4-6 months) my institution opened up Facebook after years of it being blocked.  The library had no part in Facebook being unblocked.  Facebook, Twitter, and few other social networking sites are being used by my institution and other institutions for marketing, public relations, patient relations, and alumni relations  purposes.  Often an institution’s head of marketing or the CEO is the driving force behind these sites magically being unblocked.  When the Chief of Public Relations and Marketing sees that a competitor’s hospital is using Facebook and Twitter to effectively communicate to patients and market the hospital, you better believe he/she is going to want their hospital get involved too. 

Who do you think IT is going to listen to, the librarian who wants to set up a Twitter feed from the catalog to the library website or the CEO who wants to use Twitter to help distribute institutional news and information?  If the CEO wants his/her institution to use these applications, IT has a little more reason to investigate and make sure these resources don’t pose a security or bandwidth threat to the institution than they do if the librarian asks. 

So what do you do if your hospital hasn’t adopted these social networking applications?  I guess it all depends on the size of your hospital and how well you know the big fish.  There are a lot of recent successful examples and articles of hospitals using these things.  Perhaps if you are in a small hospital and know the big wigs fairly well you might begin sending them some of these articles.  If you are in larger hospital or you don’t have a real working relationship with your CEOs then perhaps you can start by contacting someone in marketing.  That person in marketing may not have enough clout but they might know somebody else who does. 

While you as the librarian may not have the direct power to get your hospital to unblock social media sites, you might be able to influence those who do.  Social media hits many more areas than libraries.  It is a huge marketing and public relations tool that many hospitals and academic medical centers are persuing with specific marketing plans and goals. 

Here are just some articles that might be of interest to pass along to your marketing department or your CEO. 

Of course if they want examples of hospitals who are using social media one only needs to go on to Ed Bennett’s web site Found In Cache, who has compiled the most extensive list of U.S. Hospitals using social networking tools.  As of October 4, 2009 he lists 194 hospitals with YouTube Channels, 203 with Facebook pages, 284 with Twitter accounts and 44 with blogs for a total of 391 hospitals using some type of social networking application.  For some reason these 391 hospitals have found ways to use social media without any HIPAA problems.

Peruse the list and you will see big hitters like the Cleveland Clinic, Mayo Clinic, Johns Hopkins, and Beth Israel (CEO writes his own blog here) all using social media.  If you or your marketing department or CEOs think social networking is just for the big guys, you will notice that smaller community and specialized hospitals have jumped into the fray as well.  Evergreen Healthcare in Kirkland, Washington (230 beds), Gritman Medical Center in Moscow, Idaho (25 beds), and Howard County General Hospital in Columbia, Maryland (203 beds) as well as many others are on the list.  Who knows, if you check out this list you may see your hospital’s main competitor on their already.

IT’s complaint that these resources pose a threat and may violate HIPAA may be valid, but if there are 391 hospitals out there doing it, I bet somebody might have found a way to make sure it doesn’t pose a HIPAA or any other security risk. Just wild speculation of course.

Giving Feedback on PubMed

Medlib-lis on fire with the feedback about the PubMed interface.  Some people like the clean interface and autofill features.  Others are frustrated by the number of clicks it take to get somewhere (they seemed to have increased) and there seems to be confusion with LinkOut, Advance Search not “staying” for multiple searches, and limits not carrying over. 

Whether you love the new PubMed or hate it, you should really give the correct people feedback on the new design.  But did you know there are actually three places you can write to about the new design? 

1. Preview Page Feedback – On the preview page  there is a feedback link that goes directly to NCBI.  This link is labled Feedback and is right above the search box.

2. Help Desk Link – In the footer of the regular PubMed  page there is a link to “Help Desk.”  Information submitted through that link is sent to the Medlars Management Section which is the group that normally handles PubMed problems.

3. Customer Service Staff – This is a form  that goes to the reference staff who get correspondence from the “contact us” buttons on the NLM main website, MedlinePlus, etc.

I have heard from one person that enough people had complained about a specific issue in the feedback link that NCBI made changes to address that issue.  So they are listening to your feedback.

Personally, I would like some clarification about the relationship between NCBI and NLM.  NCBI are the people who are responsible for PubMed, correct?  Is NCBI a part of NLM or are they a separate department from NLM?  If they are a separate department from NLM then how does NCBI handle the specific needs of librarians who use the PubMed database?  I realize more than just librarians use PubMed, but it seems that every so often NCBI changes PubMed in a way that is counter productive to librarians and library searchers.  For example, there was the time when PubMed put the library LinkOut icons at the bottom of the abstract (where nobody looks first) and the publisher icons at the top. 

Change happens everywhere and all the time.  We aren’t going to be 100% happy with everything but it is important to provide feedback to the appropriate parties so that we all can be involved in the process.

Recording Poster Sessions on Video

While I was attending the Midwest MLA Annual meeting this past week I got the idea that it might interesting and helpful to try and record some of the posters during the poster session on video.  I ran this idea by the co-chairs of the meeting committee and we decided it would be neat to try.  Well the  idea was good, but overall I was not pleased with the results.  This a perfect example of learning through failure. 

My Goal:
Take my Flip camera around and ask poster presenters if it was ok if I filmed them and ask if they would like say a little something about their poster.  Upload that information to YouTube (Sorry hospital librarians that is the easiest hosting service I can think of. I can’t access it at my work either) Link to the video through the Midwest MLA conference blog  and through this blog. 

The Reality:
Most people were ok with filming them but it was often difficult to get their permission without interrupting them while they were speaking to another librarian visiting their poster.  Plus I had to make sure I got the permission of the librarian visiting poster if I accidentally got their face on camera as well. 

Poster presenters are all too eager to talk other librarians about their poster and what they did and how they did it.  However, they are significantly less enthused to talk directly to a camera.  Of those who gave me permission to film, not one wanted to speak directly to the camera.  They would rather speak with another person than give a few brief statements about their poster to the cameraman (me).  So I had to lurk around waiting for somebody who was interested in the poster to start speaking to the presenter.  Let me just say, lurking is never a good way to get people to be interested in a poster or to talk. 

The Flip camera is small and produces images that are easy to slap up on the web.  However it does not have image stabilization and its microphone picks up a lot of the background noise (which can be quite loud in a poster session). I did my best not to jiggle the camera and to get the audio of those speaking, but lets just say I am more suited for a career as a librarian than one in T.V. or movie production.

The Future:
I think video recording the poster session still has the potential to be useful, especially for those unable to attend the conference.  It is nice to have the poster online, but a big part of the poster session is listening to the presenter and others discuss the poster and the opportunities and challenges of the project.  Just having an image of the poster online misses all of the exchange of information and knowledge.  However, if I were to do this again there are a few things I think I would do differently.

If something like this is planned ahead of time by organizers then it would be much easier to have forms signed ahead of time by poster presenters. 

If it is something spur of the moment, then you still need to get permission from the poster presenter and that can get a little awkward because you feel like you are interrupting (and often are) them in their train of thoughts.

Talking to the Camera:
This is a two person job, a roving reporter and cameraman.  Find an inquisitive, outgoing and talkative buddy who can speak with the presenter about their poster and ask questions.  People had no problem talking to another person in front of the camera but they were a bit camera shy when faced with just themselves and the camera.  The buddy really helps get the conversation going.  

Additionally, you will already have the permission of your loquatious librarian buddy so all you have to worry about is getting permission from the poster presenter.   This can easily be accomplished by the buddy asking ahead of time before you begin filming.  Something as simple as, “I am interested in your poster do you mind if we video record while we chat?”

The Flip is really an easy camera to work with but the lack of internal image stabilization and the audio difficulties make it really difficult for me to endorse this camera for a loud busy poster session room.  I don’t think you need a professional video camera for this endeavor, I just think there might be some better alternatives.  I don’t have this camera, but the Kodak Zi8 is a pocket video camera ($180) that has internal image stabilization and has external microphone jack. Check out your camera options.

So without further ado, here is the one video that was somewhat decent among the many that I took.  I want to thank Mary Schleicher who let me record her and also let me lurk a short distance away for somebody to ask her questions.  Creating a Collection Development Policy for a Variety of Old Medical Books.  (The video is on YouTube, so if you are like me, you may have to watch it at home.)

Libraries Leveraging Facebook, Twitter, and Other Social Media

Monday afternoon I was a part of the Technology Forum for the Midwest MLA Annual Conference in Columbus, OH.  I spoke on libraries using Twitter and Facebook.

You can see my slides at  I specifically wanted to show examples of what other libraries were doing with these two social networking sites.  I tried to find as many medical library examples as possible (I even found one example of a hospital library).  But there were also neat things being done by other libraries and I went with those examples when I found they were doing something that the medical libraries hadn’t picked up on yet.

Some of my favorite examples:

  • Weill Cornell and Loma Linda both have tied their catalog new books feed into their Twitter account. So when a new book is added to the catalog a tweet is sent out with a tinyurl.  Clicking on that tinyurl gets you to that record in the library catalog.  I thought this was cool.  I don’t know how difficult it is to set this up, perhaps somebody who has done this could comment.
  • Health Library & Resource Center of El Camino Hospital put their patient education material up on their Facebook page under Notes. 
  • UTS Libraries (University of Technology, Sydney Libraries) use Twitter’s tweet poll feature to create a quick survey and ask for feed back on an issue.  In this case it was the use of QR codes, but almost any question could work.

I notice a lot of libraries out there dipping their toes into the social networking arena, but as I was researching this topic for the presentation, I started to notice that a lot of libraries good efforts seemed a little disjointed.  What good is having a Twitter account if you don’t list the feed on your home page.  I’ll even go a little further with that idea.  What good is even having the Twitter icon on your site if you don’t have the feed displayed anywhere on your website.  There are tons of libraries that are using Twitter as a sort of “what’s up at the library” news service.  Yet, I really couldn’t find all that many that tied this news feed into their own news feed on their own library web page.  Why?  Why do these libraries have two different news feeds?  Which on should a patron pay attention too?  We spend so much time on authority records in our catalogs and databases, yet where is our authority control on our Twitter and news information feeds?  I don’t mean specifically what they are posting but the fact that there are two (or more) sources of different news information.  This is extremely distracting.  So a library patron has to subscribe to the Twitter feed to get information and check the library’s site for information, not good.

There are lots of widgets, plugins and other things that allow you to include all of these social tools (Facebook, Twitter, Blogs, YouTube) into your current web site.  I am just going to use Twitter as my example.  Twitter has its own widget that allows you to display your Twitter feeds on your site, all you have to do is copy and paste the code.  But lets say you don’t like the look of Twitter’s widget and how it displays on your site, there are other widgets and applications out there on the web that you can search for that will allow you do to this too.  Additionally there are ways to send your blog posting’s URL and title to Twitter.  And don’t forget about RSS.  If you there isn’t a widget out there that will do what you want, you might want to look at the RSS feed and figure out how you can import it easily into your page.

Why is having your Twitter, Blog site, YouTube account, SlideShare account, etc. tied into your library’s home page important?  Because the whole is greater than the sum of the parts.  A library’s Twitter news account there hanging out on the web is not as useful or helpful by itself.  Same with the blog, YouTube, and slides from SlideShare.  How is a patron going to know you have a particularly helpful video demo on using PubMed and RefWorks if it is just on YouTube under the library’s YouTube account.  Sure you linked to it, but wouldn’t it be more helpful to be able to see the video within the library’s website? (I know many hospitals can’t access YouTube, in this example I am really appealing to the academic medical librarians.) Let’s say you have a bit of news for the library on a new database that is greater than 140 characters (Twitter’s limit).  You decide to write a blog post about this new database.  The blog is linked to on the web site.  Heck your library might even be grabbing the RSS feeds and be posting them on the web page.  But if you use a little widget you can get that blog feed put in Twitter which you now display the feeds on the News and Information area of your site.  Finally to use the Cornell and Loma Linda catalog Twitter feed example.  Take that Twitter feed and display it under the a section on your website labeled new books.  Loma Linda has a recent books  link, but that goes to a list that can kind of large and somewhat confusing to patrons. 

Wrapping all of this stuff together makes these sites more powerful in the context of the library and the library website.  It also makes these resources more valuable to us and our patrons.  Of course that brings me to the end of my presentation where I discussed making sure you evaluate your usage of these resources and try to determine your ROI.  Don’t just assume these things are doing there job and they are important to your library and your users, but measure them.  These applications are all very new and sometimes there aren’t the best things out there to measure usage (aka popularity) but look for something that might work.  If you are unsure about how to do this you really need to check out TechSoup’s Meeting Archive: Understanding the ROI of Social Media, it is specifically directed at nonprofits and libraries.

I have had a few emails from people asking me about the time commitment for something like this.  Everybody is doing less with more and have little time to invest in new projects.  My response is, these things do require some time to create and get going.  But if done correctly and depending on how extensive your project, the upkeep is extremely minimal. 
Here is a an example:  Our library has an Inter and Intranet website.  Right now if a major system like OhioLink goes down we post a red note at the top of both home pages to let our patrons know about the problem.  To do this the web adminstator goes to our saved copy of each page, adds the news item, uploads it to the server, then we wait for a half hour to an hour for the server to refresh before our message is live.  If we add our Twitter feed to our page we won’t have to do all of that and any librarian could add a message, not just the web admin.  So if we discover Illiad has freaked out and isn’t working, any one of the librarians can go on Twitter write the tweet which is then automatically displayed on our home pages.   Easy squeasy. 
That is just one example and it illustrates how you need to have a plan for your social media.  Don’t just go out an adopt it because all the cool kids are doing it.  Look at what is out there and determine whether it meets your needs.  Too many libraries and librarians are creating Twitter accounts for the library without a plan and without logically tying it into library services.  They have Twitter accounts floating out there with news and information and they wonder about its effectiveness.  You have to make it relevant to yours and their situations for it to have a chance at being successful.  A link or the icon to the library’s Twitter feed without putting it in any context isn’t relevant to most users.