Archive for 2007
Wednesday, December 19th, 2007
Systems & Technology Librarian
Schaffer Library of Health Sciences
Albany Medical College
Getting Started With Virtual Reference
The choices for virtual reference, or chat reference, have increased vastly in the past few years. Previously, libraries had to pick one free service, such as AOL’s Instant Messenger (AIM) or Yahoo! Messenger, or pay for a service, like OCLC’s QuestionPoint product. You could only communicate with other users from your same service (AOL, Yahoo, MSN, etc); it was hard or impossible to communicate with people from different chat networks. Some products had one-year contracts, turning the virtual reference decision into a longer commitment.
Lately there have been more choices, resulting in more libraries offering chat reference. Aggregate IM clients, such as Trillian or Meebo, permit people to be on multiple services (AOL, Yahoo, Google Chat, etc.) simultaneously. They are also free, which permits people to try them out without making a service commitment. Certain clients, such as Meebo, are web-based and do not require a download, which could be an advantage in libraries where downloads are restricted. Products can be embedded into web pages in some cases, enabling libraries to reach users wherever they might be. Patrons do not even have to download a product in many cases; they can simply type a message to librarians directly from the library’s web page.
Having used IM reference in two libraries, I have noticed some things that users might want to consider when getting started. These opinions are only mine, and would surely vary by individual.
First, does your library want to answer questions only from your patrons, or join a cooperative and share the job with fellow libraries? Joining with other libraries can expand the hours the service is offered to patrons, but might require answering questions on unfamiliar topics. Organization is required between the libraries, and chat policies might vary by institution.
Second, the technological considerations of your particular environment should be considered. Can staff download software? Are there firewalls in place that might make outside communication difficult? IM programs have gotten more flexible, with more web-based services than ever before. Also, how stable is the product? Internet research, journal literature, and asking colleagues at other libraries are good ways to ferret information out ahead of time.
Next, do you want a service that saves your questions? Some products (typically paid ones) are better at storing chat transcripts than others.
Other things to consider are training time/materials needed (paid services provide this, while free ones typically do not), what types of questions to answer (short versus more in-depth questions), and how to promote the service once the library goes live with it.
These are by no means all of the considerations or challenges that a library faces when implementing virtual reference, but some things to think about. It is a service in many ways similar to traditional face-to-face reference, but with different challenges. Today’s college students (and medical students) have grown up with this type of communication, and it is a good option for libraries to consider in their reference arsenal.
Monday, December 17th, 2007
The journal Nature has recently announced that it will release papers on genomic sequencing under the Creative Commons License. The license allows non-commercial publishers, however they might be defined, to reuse the pdf and html versions of the paper. In particular, users are free to copy, distribute, transmit and adapt the contribution, provided this is for non-commercial purposes, subject to the same or similar licence conditions and due attribution.
Tuesday, December 11th, 2007
Thanks to those libraries that have already submitted their DOCLINE hold requests for the holidays. It has made our lives much easier and has hopefully taken one more thing off your to-do list before this busy time of the year.
For those libraries that have not yet submitted, please take a moment and send in your request via the online form: http://nnlm.gov/rsdd/docline/dochold.html. Please remember this form is to be used for temporary DOCLINE deactivations of more than three days, not including weekends.
Libraries will receive a confirmation message indicating that their hold request has been entered into DOCLINE.
If you have any questions, please feel free to e-mail or call the RML–email@example.com or 1-800-338-7657.
Thursday, November 29th, 2007
Health08 is a new web site from the Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation with information about health care issues addressed by the presidential candidates in the 2008 presidential election. It features news, video clips, analysis, poll results, and side-by-side comparisons of the candidates’ positions on health care issues, such as expansion of public programs, insurance premium subsidies, cost containment, and financing.
Thursday, November 29th, 2007
Join MAR staff, network members, and other information professionals for in-person continuing education classes on January 8 and 9, 2008 at the University of the Sciences in Philadelphia, PA. Classes are FREE of charge.
To sign up for a class, e-mail us at firstname.lastname@example.org and let us know which class(es) you want. All classes will take place in the McNeil Science and Technology Center (STC) Room 147, University of the Sciences in Philadelphia. Confirmation and directions will be sent prior to the class dates. Space is limited, so sign up soon!
1. DOCLINE Explained
Description: Designed as an introductory class on the DOCLINE system for new or inexperienced users. (3 MLA CE)
Instructor: Miguel Figueroa
Time: 3 hours
Date: Tuesday, January 8, 9 am to 12 pm
2. Getting Started with LinkOut
Description: This hands-on class is designed to provide step-by-step direction on how to activate LinkOut for a library’s print and electronic journal collections, so that users are able to view holdings and access full-text through the PubMed interface. Topics covered are registration for LinkOut, entering holdings, displaying a library’s icon for branding purposes, and access to free full-text through LinkOut. (4 MLA CE)
Instructor: Miguel Figueroa
Time: 4 hours
Date: Tuesday, January 8, 1 pm to 5 pm
3. Keeping Up with PubMed
Description: With a hands-on approach, this class will show attendees how to use the features of PubMed effectively. Attendees will be able to describe the contents of PubMed; formulate basic search strategies; display, print, and save results in various formats; revise and refine searches; and use special features such as Related Articles, Link to journals, Citation Matcher, and Clinical Queries. The instructor will demonstrate online searches and students, at computers connected to the Internet, will be invited to follow along. Time for individual practice will be provided. (4 MLA CE)
Instructor: Arpita Bose
Time: 4 hours
Date: Wednesday, January 9, 9 am to 1 pm
4. PubMed for Experts
Description: Designed as an advanced class for experienced MEDLINE searchers. This hands-on class will highlight advanced PubMed techniques that can be used to conduct comprehensive searches. Attendees are encouraged to contribute past and present difficult searches to discuss with the class. (3 MLA CE)
Instructor: Arpita Bose
Time: 3 hours
Date: Wednesday, January 9, 2 pm to 5 pm
Monday, November 26th, 2007
The Journal of the American Medical Association produces a weekly video report that is available online at http://thejamareport.blip.tv/. Users can watch the episodes online in their browser or even subscribe to the RSS feed via Miro, iTunes or any other video capable RSS aggregator to download and watch at their leisure.
These short video clips cover a variety of topics ranging from MRSA infections to the use of anti-depressants in children.
Check it out!
Monday, November 19th, 2007
Reference librarians in public libraries are passionate about seeking the answers to questions for their patrons. When searching for consumer health information they are faced with a wealth of information on just about any health topic you can think of. So, what is the problem – searching through this information to find the best quality information in an appropriate format and level to meet the needs of the patron walking through the door is both critical and often daunting.
Portals to high quality information make the job easier. Using tools like Medlineplus and healthfinder.gov provide a guiding light for library staff to direct patrons to worthwhile and appropriate consumer health information.
As a librarian, I have over the years promoted these resources to public libraries through various projects including tabling at health fairs, presenting talks at conferences, and this year presenting a poster session at the Pennsylvania Library Association Annual Conference through a Micro-Award from the Middle Atlantic Region of the National Network of Libraries of Medicine.
Each experience brings a new opportunity to enlighten folks about resources they may not have used before, provides them with fresh ideas to try in their library to promote consumer health resources, and provides a learning opportunity for me (there are many library’s out there implementing innovative ideas to promote and educate the public in finding consumer health information).
The environment is different today than it was more than seven years ago when I started promoting consumer health information to public libraries. Library staff are more familiar and comfortable with the resources available to them – now we need to put all of our effort behind marketing and promoting these resources to the public. We know the public is looking for this type of information. We need to let them know that we can help them find it!
Susan Jeffery, Albright Memorial Library, at the 2007 PaLa Annual Conference (Pennsylvania Library Association) State College, PA October 14-17, 2007
Susan Jeffery- Albright Memorial Library (Scranton Public Library)- Scranton, PA.
Monday, November 19th, 2007
The Swedish Institute accepts students with visual impairments and other disabilities. Our goal is to provide blind and visually impaired students access to today’s software applications and the Internet. By receiving a Technology award from the National Network of Libraries of Medicine, we were able to purchase JAWS 8.0 (screen reading software for the blind) and ZOOMTEXT 9.1 (text magnifier for the visually impaired students).
Before the equipment was purchased, visually impaired and blind students did not use the library. JAWS 8.0 offers an audio alternative to the computer screen, allowing users to surf the Internet, communicate with the faculty and their peers via e-mail, type and edit documents using Microsoft Office applications. ZOOMTEXT 9.1 provids excellent magnification of the computer screen. Disabled students are now frequent visitors of our library.
This project touched me in a personal way, because my mother is visually impaired and I have experienced first hand the challenges a disabled person faces. The major challenges facing blind students in college today, center on an overwhelming amount of printed materials such as: textbooks, class outlines and bibliographies. Our goal was to supply tools necessary to succeed and overcome the challenges that they face in college.
Some years ago, a reporter asked a prominent blind woman, “What is it that blind people would want from society?” The woman replied, “The opportunity to be equal and the right to be different”. With the completion of the project we provided our blind and visually impaired students with the right “to be equal” to other students, the right to get access to all the resources they may need to get a good education, to succeed in life, and to reach the goals and dreams, which would never have been possible before.
Irina Meyman- Swedish Institute, College of Health Sciences. New York City, NY
Wednesday, November 14th, 2007
Technology and Libraries is a new feature on The Marquee that allows librarians to discuss their thoughts on how technology intertwines with a libraries functions – good or bad. Susan Robishaw, the chair of our technology committee, is our first poster.
My Historical Perspective
Assistant Director Health Sciences Libraries
Geisenger Health System
We just moved into a new library a few months ago. It’s in a brand new, technologically sophisticated building. We had been in the old, “temporary” library for 25 years; the move gave us a much welcomed opportunity to integrate the patchwork of technology and machines that accumulated over the years.
The new library has 17 public access pcs, 7 staff pcs, including an Ariel workstation with a color scanner, and a wireless laptop. Our classroom is equipped with 1 instructor and 7 student pcs. Physicians can use the classroom pcs, but not the public ones, to access our EMR system. The meeting room has a computer-compatible plasma screen tv. Both rooms are equipped with “Wall-Talkers,” a gridded whiteboard cut to our specifications, and attached to the walls. The library has Geisinger wireless, public wireless and 10 stations for public cabled Internet access. Our state-of the-art multifunctional photocopiers serve as the default printers for the pcs as well as black & white scanners and fax machines.
When I came here 20 years ago this fall, the library had a photocopier, an OCLC terminal, and a TI Silent 700 terminal with an acoustic coupler. To receive or send a fax, we had to go the system administration headquarters, a ¼ of a mile away. This was quite a contrast to the corporate library where I worked in Texas before coming to Geisinger. There I had 2 IBM pcs, a fax, and access to company wide email on a DEC mainframe. (I also had the opportunity to participate in a beta test of the first Macs, though, ultimately, the company decided to follow the IBM path.)
As the reference librarian at Geisenger, I received the first library pc. It had a modem so I could use it to access NLM, BRS and DIALOG. Over the years we added newer pcs, one at a time. We kept the older ones, too, eventually, building a collection of 10 pcs all different brands and/or models. I was the pc person. I did the troubleshooting and even installed modems and additional memory cards.
Today, we have 4 IT people assigned to the library to manage our pcs and software, a help desk which is staffed 24 hours per day and a contract for hardware support. In 1993, we participated in a National Science Foundation grant to bring the Internet to Geisinger. In 1995, we introduced our locally hosted networked version of Ovid (then CD+), piggy-backing on the T1 and T3 lines that connected our hospitals and far-flung clinics in order to implement our EMR. In 1996, the library was one of the first departments to have a site on our company intranet.
In the last 12 years, we have increased our electronic collection, moved from a card catalog to an online one and transitioned to completely electronic document delivery to our customers. We really pound RefWorks/RefShare for individual and collaborative projects.
Yet I feel like I’m falling behind, technologically-speaking. We don’t have a blog or a wiki and we aren’t using Web 2.0. Should we be?
We still have the TI Silent 700, though.
Would you like to write an entry for Technology and Libraries?
Monday, November 12th, 2007
Clinical Trials.gov has a new user interface. Learn more about it in the NLM Technical Bulletin.
This article describes the new features, including highlighted search terms, more display options, and additional capabilities for viewing studies and search results by topic. Improvements were also made to “Advanced Search” and the display by location on the world map.