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TOXNET Gets A Facelift

The National Library of Medicine’s TOXNET (TOXicology Data NETwork) resource – http://toxnet.nlm.nih.gov - is a group of databases covering chemicals and drugs, diseases and the environment, environmental health, occupational safety and health, poisoning, risk assessment and regulations, and toxicology.  Recently the TOXNET interface was updated and features:

  • Improved appearance
  • Intuitive interactive capabilities
  • Improved multi-database search
  • Easy selection of item to save in “My List”
  • More accessible menus and pull-downs
  • Type-ahead Browse
  • Hover-over Help

Read more »

Guest post: Capturing Content for Distance Learning

This is a guest post written by Jon Anscher on behalf of the Northwest Regional Primary Care Association.  The NWRPCA received a Technology Improvement Award from the NN/LM PNR to purchase equipment for capturing sessions at the organization’s two annual conferences.

Community Health Centers (CHCs) need a comprehensive learning environment with modularized learning components that are current, interactive, and engaging and our goal was to deliver a higher quality and broader access through online resources. In an age where technology is changing too fast for our infrastructure to keep up, it is essential that CHC workers have access to the latest information without having to attend every retreat, workshop, or training that is offered.

Add to that a challenging economy, and distance learning becomes the saving grace of a new age. Through distance learning, we can offer training and information that is instantly accessible, easy to update, and is less than half the cost to clinics that cannot afford continually sending their staff to conferences and courses to stay current. Further, distance learning has the capacity to target specific learning and identify the needs of the learners so that participants can maximize their time, learning content that is the most relevant to them.

The Challenge

The staff at Northwest Regional Primary Care Association (NWRPCA) regularly received feedback from conference participants that there was so much good content, they wished they could go to more than one session. Given this consistent need, the Education and Training Team wanted to extend the visibility and accessibility of our conferences through better capture and delivery of content. Secondarily we also wanted to deliver higher quality online learning by doing better work capturing and delivering content.

Thanks to an award from the National Network of Libraries of Medicine, Pacific Northwest Region, we were able to do just that. The resulting content captured from purchased equipment has allowed us to extend the reach of our conferences and the valuable learning that can be found there.

Learning from Our Ignorance

Yet this journey was not without challenges. As a small nonprofit, NWRPCA is constantly struggling to keep up with current trends in technology and content delivery. Maintaining the equipment and a skilled staff is no easy task. And the time and effort that goes into editing the hours of footage captured cannot be overestimated. Video editing is a time consuming process that is often not user friendly. As such, it has become apparent that there is a fine balance between quality and speed of delivery. Finding that balance is a challenge and one that we continue to address.

The biggest surprise, however, was the complexity of the capture process. Entering into this, we thought that resources were our big deficiency, but we quickly realized that equipment was a drop in the bucket compared to the time it took to develop and edit the content we captured and the skills it took to ensure we could capture and work with the content. We quickly found that building partnerships and finding ways to develop solid workflow was key.

Additionally, the number of times that captures were lost due to clipped audio, crashed software, or user error was surprising. Anyone considering capturing content from a conference should have a clear purpose for why they are doing it, a measured need, and a clear goal about how they are going to manage all that content.

Not only was the human factor big, but the size of the captured content quickly became an issue. As the size of content grew, we quickly realized we needed a strong plan for how to keep the content safe. We had anticipated a large working drive to keep the content on, but the need for redundant backup drives quickly out-paced us.

Lastly, it is very important that you understand the cost to value ratio. How much of a commitment of staff and resources is the content worth? At first, we tried to capture content at the highest quality. But we quickly discovered that space was not unlimited and had to make decisions about the level of quality that we truly needed.

Success

Overall, this project has been a big success. We engaged a broader audience and learned a lot about balancing quality and quantity. Many conference attendees were eager to gain access to the recordings for sessions they missed and sessions they wanted to share with others. Ultimately, this was our sign of success.

Express Outreach Award Recipients

The NN/LM PNR congratulates the following Spring 2014 Express Outreach award recipients, funded up to $15,000 to improve use of quality online health information resources by priority populations and to promote awareness and use of the products and services of the NLM and the NN/LM:

Project Title: Alaska Health Education Library Project (AHELP)
Project Manager: Jayne Andreen, Alaska Division of Public Health, Juneau, AK
Summary: Increase Alaska’s prevention and health promotion capacity for evidence- and outcome-based programming and evaluation by increasing the prevention and promotion workforce’s awareness and utilization of NLM resources” through conferences and live and web-based trainings.

Project Title: Equipping Peer Language Navigators for Outreach in Anchorage, Alaska Communities
Project Manager: Polly Smith, The Anchorage Health Literacy Collaborative, Anchorage, AK
Summary: Train Peer Language Navigators to utilize NLM resources such as PubMed, Medline and Arctic health to identify relevant, credible health information to share with community members to promote health.

Project Title: Outreach Training Program on Evidence-based Management for Healthcare Administrators in Idaho
Project Manager: Ruiling Guo, Idaho State University, Pocatello, ID
Summary: Provide a face-to-face training program on evidence-based management to the underserved hospital administrators in rural Idaho.

Project Title: Environmental Health Connection for Rural Oregon Schools
Project Manager: Shelley Dougherty, Samaritan North Lincoln Hospital, Lincoln City, OR
Summary: Build on the education program by providing twelve one hour classes to four schools and two tribal education programs in northwest rural Oregon using the ToxTown curriculum

PNR Rendezvous – June 18 Developing Data Services: a tale from two Oregon universities

Developing Data Services: a tale from two Oregon universities presented by Amanda L. Whitmire, Ph.D.,
Assistant Professor and Data Management Specialist at Oregon State University and Melissa Haendel, Ph.D., Assistant Professor and Lead Ontologist at Oregon Health & Science University

June 18, 2014 at 1 PM Pacific (noon Alaska 2 PM Mountain)

While the generation or collection of large, complex research datasets is becoming easier and less expensive all the time, researchers often lack the knowledge and skills that are necessary to properly manage them. Having these skills is paramount in ensuring data quality, integrity, discoverability, integration, reproducibility, and reuse over time. Librarians have been preserving, managing and disseminating information for thousands of years. As scholarly research is increasingly carried out digitally, and products of research have expanded from primarily text-based manuscripts to include datasets, metadata, maps, software code etc., it is a natural expansion of scope for libraries to be involved in the stewardship of these materials as well. This kind of evolution requires that libraries bring in faculty with new skills and collaborate more intimately with researchers during the research data lifecycle, and this is exactly what is happening in academic libraries across the country.

In this webinar, two researchers-turned-data-specialists, both based in academic libraries, will share their experiences and perspectives on the development of research data services at their respective institutions. Each will share their perspective on the important role that libraries can play in helping researchers manage, preserve, and share their data.

To attend go to http://webmeeting.nih.gov/rendezvous and login as a Guest, using your own name.  Once logged into the web meeting, a pop-up box allows you to put in your phone number and the program will call you. If this does not happen, just call the 800 number and use the participant code that appears in the Notes box on the screen.

If you are unable to tune in live, we invite you to view a recording of the webcast, posted to the Rendezvous website later.

As part of our Federal agency services regarding electronic and information technology resources being accessible to people with disabilities, closed captioning is available on this and future PNR Rendezvous webcasts.

MeSH On Demand

MeSH on Demand is a new tool announced in this month’s NLM Technical Bulletin and is available online for use: http://ii.nlm.nih.gov/Interactive/MeSHonDemand.shtml. This is one of the Natural Language Processing tools being developed in the Cognitive Science Branch of the Lister Hill National Center for Biomedical Communications, a division of the NLM. The on Demand tool analyzes chunks of text (up to 10000 characters) and identifies potentially related MeSH terms. From the MeSH on Demand page a user simply pastes in a piece of text, hits the “Find MeSH Terms” button, and a new page will be generated with suggested MeSH terms listed below the inputted text. According to the Technical Bulletin article, the tool will find “MeSH Headings, Publication Types, and Supplementary Concepts, but not Qualifiers (Subheadings).”

A disclaimer appears on the tool’s page that the results are generated via an automated, machine logic driven system which is meant to emulate human indexer thought. One can deduce from the disclaimer that we shouldn’t expect the underlying algorithms to understand all of the same textual nuances that a seasoned indexer would and it notes that “results will undoubtedly differ from any human-generated indexing.” This got me wondering though about how much the tool’s generated terms would differ from human-generated ones. To evaluate, I pasted in an abstract from an article on Computerized Provider Order Entry systems causing medication errors.  This was by no means meant as a methodical and thorough evaluation of MeSH on Demand.  Rather, this was simply meant to address personal curiosity and this particular article was selected using a “convenience sampling” technique (it was already open in a different tab).  This article had previously been indexed for MEDLINE with the following MeSH terms: Read more »

Free Webinar: Health Happens in Libraries: Technology Planning for eHealth

Emily Hurst from NN/LM SCR, Vanessa Mason, and McCrae Parker will present in this Health Happens in Libraries webinar from OCLC tomorrow, May 28th at 2:00pm Eastern / 11:00am Pacific.

As the intersection of digital technology and individual health management grows, patrons will turn to libraries to access digital resources and learn how to put technology to work for their health. A recent IMLS study showed that an estimated 37 percent of library computer users (28 million people) explore health and wellness issues, including learning about medical conditions, finding health care providers, and assessing health insurance options. Join the Health Happens in Libraries team to learn how public libraries can leverage their technology infrastructure to better serve the health information needs of patrons. Participants will learn best practices and resources for eHealth technology planning for libraries of all sizes. Participants will also be introduced to strategies for communicating with community partners about their technology resources, and identifying ways to build eHealth services through collaboration.

Register here: http://webjunction.org/events/webjunction/technology-planning-for-ehealth.html