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.

MLA’s New Online System

If you are an MLA member you may have noticed a renewal email in your inbox.  That is because phase one of the transition to MLA’s new web based association management system (AMS) is complete.  When you renew your membership with MLA you be added to the new system. 

Once in the new system you can begin to try out some of the new features that are available and up and running in the first phase. 

  • Change your membership type (if needed)
  • Update your subscriptions and change from print to electronic of JMLA or MLA News
  • Retrieve your password and change your username and password —Yippie! 🙂
  • Update and expand your contact information, including multiple email addresses
  • Determin which information you wish to make visible in the membership directory
  • Search the updated membership directory
  • Opt out of MLA-FOCUS and other email communications
  • View information on your MLA membership and payment history
  • View your current leadership positions
  • Search leadership rosters
  • Sign on to your account and the MLANET members only area through a single sign on
  • Shop the new online store

You will start to see some changes over the next week.  The MLA staff will be updating links on MLANET to reflect the new system.

Don’t forget to watch MLA Connections  because there will be an MLANET Editorial Board article on the AMS providing you with the opportunity to post questions or comments on the new system.

MEDLINE Global Reload

It looks as if the MEDLINE Global Reload is either done or will be done very soon.  Ovid has announced they expect to receive their 2010 Global Reload dataset around December 14th.  Once they receive the data they expect to have it within their system and live January 4, 2010. 

Don’t forget Ovid Medline users AND PubMed users to check out the 2010 MeSH changes at NLM to see if your saved search strategies need altering or adjusting.

AMA Backfiles Collection: A Little Confusing to the End User

I can’t recall when the American Medical Association announced the release of their Backfiles Collection for JAMA and the Archives went online.  According to their site they began the process back in October 2008 with Archives of Internal Medicine.  But when I look on JAMA’s website, there is little information about that specific collection.  I searched the publication’s front page, Past Issues page and the Institutional Subscription page, and I could find nothing on their site mentioning JAMA’s collection from 1883 – 1998.  Their Institutional Subscription page does say “The JAMA & Archivessite license allows institutions to provide instant organization-wide access to the journals from 1998 forward for all faculty and patrons.”  Yet there is nothing about the backfiles collection and accessing articles older than 1998. 

I find JAMA’s Past Issues page the most confusing.  There is no mention on that page that articles from 1883-1998 are part of the backfiles collection cost extra and are not part of a standard subscription.  This is extremely confusing to library patrons and librarians.  Imagine a library patron clicks on the link to JAMA goes to the Past Issues page looking for a specific article from 1997 (or older).  They are met with the ever helpful log in page that says, “The article you have attempted to access is part of the JAMA Backfiles collection. You may purchase One Time Access to this article (see below). This collection is also available via institutional purchase. Contact your librarian to recommend this collection.”  It is only after you click on the link for institutional purchase that you are brought to a page containing information about AMA’s Backfiles Collection. 

I have found that most online journals that charge extra for their backfiles are a little more up front to end users about access to the collection.  For example, the American Journal of Physiology  not only separates the date ranges for their regular content and their Legacy Archive, but they also have a link to Purchase Information right next to the date range so end users have some help understanding that it isn’t free.  The AMA does no such thing for JAMA or the Archives.  They do separate date ranges.  For example, with JAMA 1998-Present is separate from 1960-1997, and 1883-1959, but there is nothing to indicate that the older content is not available unless you pay another fee above and beyond your regular subscription fee.

This also seems to cause some problems within A-Z and link resolving programs.  Now days there thousands of journals with limited access and we cannot keep track of them.  Librarians rely up on these A-Z and link resolver programs to manage their collections.  So it is frustrating to librarians and end users when the linking doesn’t work the way it should by trying to provide access to unavailable resources. 

AMA’s poor design and complete lack of information about the Backfiles collection on their Past Issues pages for JAMA and the Archives and their Institutional Subscription page can cause some headaches among end users and librarians trying to access older articles.

PubMed Notes 2010

The December 8, 2009 issue  of the NLM Technical Bulletin is out and librarians will be interested to know that Webcasts is one of the two other terms (Research Support and American Recovery and Reinvestment Act) will be added to the “Type of Article” menu in Advanced Search. 

I love the idea that NLM is finally looking at indexing things that were/are webcasts.  Now the only problem is making sure these webcasts are permanently available or archived somewhere.  I guess if the webcast is associated with NLM or with a journal such as NEJM or JAMA then we librarians and the public have a better chance that the webcast is  somewhere not lost on web or deleted.  Now if the webcast is not associated with a publisher or an organization with a vested interest in archiving and keeping their content, then we have might have problems retrieving it in the future.  It will be interesting to see how webcast items will be handled. 

The Bulletin lists some other things you might want to know that are happening with the 2010 PubMed.  Young Adult: 19-24 will be added to the Ages menu in Advanced Search and linking ISSN numbers will appear in the MEDLINE format in the ISSN field.

Those of you who use XML data (you know who you are) should check out “XML Changes for the NLM 2010 Production Year” and you can be kept up to date with changes by subscribing to the NLM’s anouncement mailing list

As Nikki Detmar first stated on Twitter, PubMed Advanced Search is still a work in progress, so stay tuned to the Bulletin as NLM “re-works”  Advanced Search to “improve search capabilities.”

EMBASE Classic is Ovid’s Resource of the Month

A few years ago I used to regularly post about Ovid’s resource of the month.  I always thought it was a good way to test drive a new/different database and it was nice to know that it was available (free for that month) just in case I got  an odd search question that could be answered using it.  However, things changed a little bit and Ovid began profiling certain journals as resources of the month.  I can understand how a company wants to drive interest to their other products, but I was more interested in the databases not the journals.   As a result I had decided to stop posting about the resources of the month. 

Yesterday while checking my news feeds and updates I noticed that Ovid’s December Resource of the Month is EMBASE Classic and I just couldn’t pass up chance to let other medical librarians know about the opportunity to search another medical database for free. 

If you are looking for old research articles, and have already done an exhaustive search in MEDLINE, you might want to check out EMBASE Classic.  It indexes biomedical research articles from 1947-1973, 90% of which have abstracts.  The information covers over 3000 journal source titles. 

Try it now for free in December at Ovid
Learn more about EMBASE Classic from Ovid

I will continue to watch for future Resources of the Month and if there are databases listed that might be of interest to medical and health librarians I will post about them.  Depending on what is profiled it may not be every month, but as I mentioned earlier, I cannot watch a good medical database go unused when it is available for free (even if for a limited time).

Beware of Phishing Scam Using CDC Name

Earlier this week the CDC issued this press release  regarding a phishing scam referncey the CDC vaccination program.  The message states that users must create a personal H1N1 vaccination profile on CDC website.

DO NOT CLICK ON THE EMAIL LINK!  The CDC has NOT implemented a state vaccination program requiring registration on www.cdc.gov.  It is a phishing scam, when users click on the email link (which is not the CDC’s) a malicious code is installed on their computer.

Please go to the CDC’s press release  to view an example of the scam email.

I can see where this can easily get some people because there are state and local healthcare boards that are requiring people to register to get the H1N1 shot.  Ohio is one of them.  Important thing to remember if you are in doubt, don’t click on the link in the email and just go straight to the site by typing it into your browser.  The state or local website should have the information on their website if they are doing it.

What is Google Wave and Why Should I Care?

I hope everybody had a nice Thanksgiving weekend.  In between opening boxes in my new house, eating lots of turkey, and watching football I started playing around with Google Wave.  Melissa R. kindly gave me an invite and I have a few invites available for tech playing medical librarians. 

So what is this Google Wave thing? 

Good question.  Google Wave is a “personal communication and collaboration tool” developed by Lars and Jens Rasmussen the creaters of Google Maps.  The Wave started in September 2009 with 100,000 users who were each allowed to invite other users to the system.  Google Wave is supposed to easily hook up users with real-time communication and facilitate collaboration.  A “wave” can be a conversation or a document where people can discuss and work together.  A wave is shared and participants can reply anywhere in the message, edit the content and add participants into the process at any point.  Waves are live, as you type participants see it. 

Ok so why should I care about Google Wave?

Lars, Jens and Google think Wave is the next “big” communication thing.  The way Google Maps reinvented maping, only more so.  They think of it as an email killer.  Which personally I think is an extremely bold statement and lofty goal. 

So why on earth would I use Google Wave?

According to the folks at Google (who as you know have some interest in seeing Wave take off) you can use Wave for organizing events, group projects, photo sharing, meeting notes, brainstorming, and interactive games.  There are ton of other established ways people already do these things like Evite, flickr, GoogleDocs, etc.  I am not sure why Google Wave is better at doing these things rather than the traditional methods and online applications.  I think the Google Wave people would say that it is better because everything is done in real time.  My answer is, yeah so. 

Google Wave is extremely new, and I only know of three examples of librarian usage (please comment if you have other examples).  Bart Ragon, chair of the MLA Social Networking Task Force is experimenting with Google Wave discussing the new PubMed design.  Nikki Detmar has created a medlibs wave and a group of librarians within LITA have a LITA wave.  So far I have only briefly played around in the New PubMed wave created by Bart.  I plan on playing in the medlib wave soon.

Nikki Detmar just blogged  about the possible use of Google Wave for community and emergency information.  She discussed the Seattle Times experiment of using Wave (interesting they advertised the Wave experiment first on Twitter)  for the emerging Lakewood shootings news story.  It is interesting to see how the Wave worked (and how it was quickly overloaded). 

So what is the future of Wave?

Right now I am totally unimpressed with Wave.  It is not out of the box user friendly.  Perhaps I was expecting too much.  I wanted something like Facebook where you can EASILY search for friends and add them to your wave.  I don’t want to have to use my Gmail account, that account is my one true non spam account and I don’t want to open it up.  I already get too much junk in my other accounts.  I wish I could use an email account that is already associated with a social networking application.  I think it needs to be able to grab your friends from Facebook or other sites to be truly useful. 

Searching is yucky.  It is a far departure from your typical Google searching strategy.  If you have to search for a public wave you have to use :public and then put your search term in. 

For example: :public LITA Google Wave Group

That is annoying not intuitive, and a barrier to regular people adopting it.  Another usage barrier is browser compatibility.  Google Wave appears to work best on Chrome (Google’s browser, go figure) but who on earth really uses Chrome other than G1 phone users?  According to Browser Watch, Internet Explorers market share is 67.51%, Firefox is 21.73%, and Google Chrome is 1.15%.  People can use Wave with Firefox and IE, but IE users must first install the Google Chrome Frame browser plugin.  Again another pain.  I chose to use Firefox to play around.  Designing a product that works best only on their Chrome platform can work one of two ways.  It could be a stroke of genius, getting more people to use Chrome.  It also could be a very very bad idea.  IE is dominant in the browser business and is the 800 lbs gorilla that most people use because it is there.  People are entrenched in their browser choice and they don’t move unless there is sufficient reason.  Firefox which is way more flexible and adaptable (and some would say better) than IE only has 21% of the market share. 

Right now I don’t see Google Wave replacing my email or my Twitter.  I think it is a pain to use and really doesn’t connect people as easily as I think it should.  Perhaps it will develop to be the email killer, I don’t know.  I will still keep playing with it for a little while just to see what all it can do and see what (if any) applications it can have in medical libraries.  Who knows maybe it will be great for libraries.  I don’t know.  Just look at Twitter.  A year ago I couldn’t find a good reason for medical librarians to be using Twitter for library purposes.  I was wrong about that, but it took some time and some creative individuals for that to happen.  So I welcome any creative medical librarians to play with Google Wave, maybe it will be helpful in the future.

Annual Medline Reload

I am a little late on this, I appologize.

As of November 18, 2009, the National Library of Medicine stopped distributing their updates so that they can transistion to the 2010 version of MeSH.  For those of you using Ovid, the November Week 3 2009 is most latest update.  So if you want to most recent citations you either need to run them in the new PubMed or in Ovid’s MEDLINE In-Process & Other Non-Indexed Citations database.  Ovid’s In-Process etc. database will continue to be updated through the full reload process.  However, don’t forget these citations are not MeSHed and your searching will be slightly different.

NLM expects to complete the reload by mid-December.  I will try to be more on the ball and let you know when things are up and running as normal with the 2010 MeSH. 

Those of you who have AutoAlerts saved on Ovid please be aware that AutoAlerts will not be generated because there are no updates from NLM.  Take this opportunity to check your AutoAlerts or your MyNCBI searches against the 2010 MeSH  to see if you need to adjust your strategy and update new our outdated terms accordingly.

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