Archive for the ‘General’ Category
Thelma Golden Charen, former indexer, trainer in the Index Section, and senior technical advisor in the MeSH (Medical Subject Headings) Section of the National Library of Medicine, died July 14, 2013, in Bethesda, MD, one day shy of her 97th birthday. Mrs. Charen first joined the Army Medical Library (precursor of the Armed Forces Medical Library and ultimately, the National Library of Medicine) in 1944 as a pre-cataloger in the Acquisitions Section. She had degrees in Greek and Latin; her natural facility with these languages led to her mastery of medical terminology and to positions as Indexer, training specialist for indexers and searchers, manual developer, and vocabulary specialist. She retired in 1997, ending a renowned 53-year career at NLM.
Mrs. Charen was notably awarded the Marcia C. Noyes Award, highest professional distinction offered by the Medical Library Association in 1985, as an acknowledgement of a career that resulted in lasting, outstanding contributions to health sciences librarianship. At the awards ceremony, Lois Ann Colaianni, then NLM Associate Director for Library Operations, commented, “Her wit and spontaneity in the classroom are as legendary as her logic. She has trained an entire generation of medical indexers working at NLM and around the world. It is not an exaggeration to say that the success of Index Medicus and the MEDLARS system is in great measure the result of Mrs. Charen’s high standards for the quality indexing of the biomedical literature.” At the same ceremony, current NLM Deputy Director Betsy Humphreys recalls that when Mrs. Colaianni asked all those present who had been taught online searching by Mrs. Charen to raise their hands, the vast majority of those in the room did so, including all members of the MLA Board. Mrs. Charen also received two awards given to staff: the NLM Director’s Award in 1983 and the Regents’ Award for Scholarship or Technical Achievement in 1972 “for conceiving, developing and implementing the MEDLARS indexing manual and training program.” In addition to her considerable professional skills, she was known for a seemingly endless supply of dramatic eyeglass frames!
Amongst her other achievements, Mrs. Charen also:
- Authored or co-authored numerous publications on indexing, training for indexers, and manuals used by librarians all over the world, including Structure and Use of Medical Subject Headings: Annotations and Medical Subject Headings; Tree Annotations. Mrs. Charen wrote every MeSH annotation for indexers and online searchers for over 20 years; and
- Served on the three-person task force, along with James L. Wood of the Chemical Abstracts Service, and Harold Oatfield of Pfizer Medical Research Laboratories to revise the ANSI Z39.5 standard for journal title abbreviations, resulting in the 1969 publication of the American National Standard for the Abbreviation of Titles of Periodicals.
It is a mark of Mrs. Charen’s great love of NLM and its staff that during her lifetime she and her husband, Sol Charen, anonymously endowed NLM’s Frank Bradway Rogers Award. The award, given annually, is presented to an individual who has made a significant contribution to the Library’s fundamental operational programs and services. Mrs. Charen’s career covered the time from when the Library began indexing articles for the print publication, Index Medicus, and through development of accessibility of journal citations in the online database MEDLINE/PubMed. Today, over 750,000 citations are indexed annually for MEDLINE/PubMed from over 5,600 biomedical journals. MEDLINE contains over 20,000,000 citations to the biomedical literature. Where indexing the literature was once a process entirely handled manually, today 93% of citations are submitted electronically in XML format by publishers, enabling NLM to concentrate on quality control and indexing rather than original creation of the bibliographic citation, and 74% of MEDLINE journals are indexed from the online version, which accounts for 88% of all new citations being processed. The Index Section now also uses in production the Medical Text Indexer (MTI), a software indexing assistant tool that is optimized to suggest precise MeSH headings from analyzing the article title and abstract for the indexer to consider.
On Sunday, June 30, during the American Library Association annual conference, an announcement will be made which will mark the beginning of recruitment of the nation’s librarians to help people sign up for insurance under President Barack Obama’s health care overhaul. Up to 17,000 U.S. libraries will be part of the effort to get information and crucial computer time to the millions of uninsured Americans who need to get coverage under the law. The initiative starts October 1, when people without health coverage will start shopping for insurance online on new websites where they can get tax credits to help pay the cost. About 7 million people are expected to sign up for coverage in the new marketplaces next year, but the heavy emphasis on the Web-based portals puts anyone without access to a computer at a disadvantage. According to the Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS), libraries already provide health information to 28 million people each year via public access computers. Many libraries also have public spaces where meetings can be held.
Since librarians are likely to get questions on the health law from the public, the IMLS is contracting with the Online Computer Library Center to develop an online toolkit and training webinars for librarians. Libraries will be particularly important in conservative states that aren’t making much effort to promote the health law’s opportunities. They may choose to link to HealthCare.gov, the revamped federal website that is the hub for health law information, or to embed the widget on their websites. Some libraries may decide to set aside some public computers for people seeking health insurance or extend time limits on computers. Some may work with community health centers on educational events. The degree of participation will be determined locally with each library.
On June 13, The University of Southern California (USC) Annenberg Center for the Digital Future released the 11th Digital Future Project Report, the longest continuing study of its kind, which includes findings on more than 180 issues that explore the views and behavior of Internet users and non-users. The 2013 report features new questions about negative online attention (bullying, harassment, and unwanted sexual attention), the impact of mobile devices, and a closer examination of the “Millennial Rift;” the vast differences between how Millennials (age 18-34) and non-Millennials use online sites and services. A press release with highlights from the report is available, and the complete report is available for downloading.
Today the Obama administration kicked off the Health Insurance Marketplace education effort with a new, consumer-focused HealthCare.gov website, and the 24-hours-a-day consumer call center, to help Americans prepare for open enrollment and ultimately sign up for private health insurance. The new tools will help Americans understand their choices and select the coverage that best suits their needs when open enrollment in the new Health Insurance Marketplace begins October 1. HealthCare.gov is the destination for the Health Insurance Marketplace, where Americans may now access new educational information and learn what they can do to begin to get ready for open enrollment this fall. The website will add functionality over the summer so that, by October, consumers will be able to create accounts, complete an online application, and shop for qualified health plans. For Spanish speaking consumers, CuidadoDeSalud.gov will also be updated to match HealthCare.gov’s new consumer focus.
Key features of the website, based on consumer research and online commercial best practices, include integration of social media, sharable content, and engagement destinations for consumers to get more information. The site will also include web chat functionality to support additional consumer inquiries. The website is built with a responsive design, so that consumers may access it from their desktops, smart-phones, and other mobile devices. In addition, the website is available via an application interface .
Between now and the start of open enrollment, the Marketplace call center will provide educational information and, beginning Oct. 1, 2013, will assist consumers with application completion and plan selection. In addition to English and Spanish, the call center provides assistance in more than 150 languages through an interpretation and translation service. Customer service representatives are available for assistance via a toll-free number at 1-800-318-2596 and hearing impaired callers using TTY/TDD technology can dial 1-855-889-4325 for assistance. HHS is on target for open enrollment in the Marketplace, which begins Oct. 1, 2013, and other key milestones approaching in the months ahead. Coverage will begin Jan. 1, 2014.
Libraries and museums are effective, but often overlooked, resources in our nation’s effort to turn around a crisis in early learning, exposing children to reading and powerful learning experiences in the critical early years, and keeping them learning through the summer months, according to a new report issued by the federal Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS) and the Campaign for Grade-Level Reading (GLR). The GLR Campaign is a collaborative effort by foundations, nonprofit partners, states and communities across the nation to ensure that more children in low-income families succeed in school and graduate prepared for college, a career, and active citizenship. The GLR Campaign focuses on the most important predictor of school success and high school graduation; grade-level reading by the end of third grade.
The report, Growing Young Minds: How Museums and Libraries Create Lifelong Learners, documents dozens of examples and 10 key ways libraries and museums are supporting young children. It provides a clear call to policy makers, schools, funders, and parents to make full use of these vital, existing community resources. As the nation commits to early learning as a priority essential to our economic and civic future, the report provides case studies and research documenting that libraries and museums are part of the solution. To support this goal, the IMLS issued $2.5 million in grants last year to institutions seeking to improve early literacy. Another $2.5 million in funding has been committed for 2013. More information about this initiative is available from the IMLS web site.
U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius recently announced the launch of MentalHealth.gov as an online resource for people looking for information about mental health. This website provides information about the signs of mental illness, how individuals can seek help, and how communities can host conversations about mental health. The website also features videos from a number of individuals sharing their stories about mental illness, recovery, and hope.
Also, the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) will release a Toolkit for Community Conversations About Mental Health, to support communities interested in holding discussions about mental health using consistent information and approaches. The Toolkit has three parts: an “Information Brief,” a “Discussion Guide” and an “Organizing Guide.” These components will help communities and individuals start a conversation about mental health, and help identify innovative and creative actions to meet the mental health needs of the nation. Currently, the “Information Brief” section is available for printing and downloading. The other two sections will be available soon.
These resources make it possible to work collaboratively to provide youth and adults accurate information about the prevention and treatment of mental health conditions, coupled with open spaces to tell their stories, ask for help, share their successes, and support one another. These conversations also serve as a venue to highlight the importance of recovery, support those in recovery, and offer opportunities for everyone to see that recovery is possible.
We are entering a critical time in health care in the United States. The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA) changes the American health care system in many ways. Of major importance is the fact that it expands access to health insurance for millions of Americans. But do Americans understand the changes that are coming? Do they understand their options for health insurance or how to choose the insurance plan that best meets their needs? And will they know how to use that insurance plan once they have it? Many people don’t have this understanding, and they have a hard time getting reliable information when they try to learn more.
Six participants in the Collaborative on Health Literacy and Access, Health Care Coverage, and Care of the IOM Roundtable on Health Literacy have prepared a discussion paper that presents basic information that can be used to help people understand their health insurance options. The 14-page paper, Helping Consumers Understand and Use
Health Insurance in 2014, is a resource for those who will be helping consumers make important decisions; including patient navigators, community organizations, employers, media, educators, and any individual or organization working to improve understanding of options for health insurance.
On May 16, 2013, the Archivists and Librarians in the History of the Health Sciences (ALHHS) awarded NLM’s historian Michael Sappol, PhD, with the 2013 ALHHS best monograph award, and NLM’s History of Medicine Division Chief, Jeffrey S. Reznick, PhD, with the 2013 ALHHS best article award. Dr. Sappol received his honor for his editorship of the book Hidden Treasure: The National Library of Medicine. Published in 2012, Hidden Treasure is a richly-illustrated volume that celebrates the collections of the world’s largest medical library on the occasion of its 175th anniversary, which occurred in 2011. Hidden Treasure has received praise from the Journal of the American Medical Association, New York Times, Wired Science, Eye Magazine, and numerous other media outlets. Scholars have also praised the book: “Opening this volume is like lifting up the lid of a treasure chest,” observed John Harley Warner, chair of History of Medicine at the Yale University School of Medicine. “Brilliantly conceived and beautifully produced, this is an amazing exploration of the visual and material cultures of health, medicine, and the body in their widest and most imaginative reaches.” Hidden Treasure is available free from NLM’s Digital Collections.
Dr. Reznick received the 2013 ALHHS best article award for “Remains of War: Walt Whitman, Civil War Soldiers, and the Legacy of Medical Collections,” which he co-authored with Lenore Barbian, PhD, of Edinboro University and Paul Sledzik, former curator of Anatomical Collections at the National Museum of Health and Medicine. The article appeared in the January 2012 issue of Museum History Journal. “Remains of War” reveals the discovery of the mortal remains of four American Civil War soldiers among the thousands preserved in the anatomical collections of the National Museum of Health and Medicine, which traces its origins to 1862 and the creation of the U.S. Army Medical Museum. These men were among hundreds cared for by author Walt Whitman during his time as a volunteer in the Civil War-era hospitals of Washington, DC. Uniting the remains of these four men with Whitman’s words that describe his experiences, “Remains of War” yields a new interpretation of medical collections that bears witness to deeply individual histories during a time of unprecedented conflict in American history.
The National Library of Medicine’s History of Medicine Division (HMD) is planning an upgrade to improve access to and usage of its Images from the History of Medicine (IHM) database, the main online access point to over 70,000 digital images from NLM’s historical collections. You are invited to take part in a brief survey, so that NLM may better understand your current use of IHM and what new features you would wish this resource to offer in the future. The survey closing date is Friday, June 14, 2013. This survey has been approved by the National Library of Medicine’s Survey Review process and responses will be anonymous.
The National Library of Medicine (NLM) is pleased to be included in a new exhibition, which opened May 15 and runs through August 18, 2013, at The Cloisters museum and gardens, the branch of The Metropolitan Museum of Art for medieval art and architecture in New York City. Search for the Unicorn: An Exhibition in Honor of The Cloisters’ 75th Anniversary places the institution’s famous Unicorn Tapestries within the larger context of medieval and Renaissance art, revealing the mythical animal’s persistent inspirational role in artistic imagination over the centuries and in the emerging history of natural science.
Given by John D. Rockefeller, Jr., in time for the opening of The Cloisters in 1938, the Unicorn Tapestries are its best-known masterpieces; yet, 75 years later, their history and meaning remain elusive. They have been seen both as complicated metaphors for Christ and as emblems of matrimony, and they are beloved as quaint indications of medieval notions about the natural world. This exhibition of some 40 works of art drawn from the collections of the Metropolitan, sister institutions, and private collections invites audiences to see the Unicorn Tapestries anew, as the finest expression of a subject widely treated across cultures, and in both European art and science.
Featured in Search for the Unicorn are two items from the NLM’s historical collections, Pierre Pomet’s Histoire générale des drogues (1694) and al-Qazwini’s Wonders of Creation (ca. 1700). Wonders of Creation was compiled originally in the middle 1200s and is considered one of the most important natural history texts of the medieval Islamic world. It is featured in NLM’s Turning the Pages program. Pomet’s Histoire générale des drogues is primarily a historical examination and description of drugs and medicines, and examines unicorns because of the magical healing properties attributed to their horns.