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Archive for the ‘General (all entries)’ Category

NCBI Bioinformatics Course Applications Accepted

Tuesday, September 30th, 2014

NCBI logo

From the NLM Technical Bulletin:

Health science librarians in the United States are invited to participate in the next offering of the bioinformatics training course, “A Librarian’s Guide to NCBI,” sponsored by the National Library of Medicine (NLM), the National Center for Biotechnology Information (NCBI), and the National Network of Libraries of Medicine, NLM Training Center (NTC).

The course provides knowledge and skills for librarians interested in helping patrons use online molecular databases and tools from the NCBI. Prior knowledge of molecular biology and genetics is not required. Participating in the Librarian’s Guide course will improve your ability to initiate or extend bioinformatics services at your institution.

Online Pre-Course and In-Person Course Components
There are two parts to “A Librarian’s Guide to NCBI,” listed below. Applicants must complete both parts. Participants must complete the pre-course with full CE credit (Part 1) in order to advance to attend the 5-day in-person course (Part 2).

  1. “Fundamentals of Bioinformatics and Searching” an online (asynchronous) course, January 12-February 13, 2015
  2. A five-day in-person course offered onsite at the National Library of Medicine in Bethesda MD, March 9-13, 2015

Who can apply?

  • Applications are open to health science librarians in the United States.
  • Applicants will be accepted both from libraries currently providing bioinformatics services as well as from those desiring to implement services.

Enrollment is limited 25 participants.

What does it cost?
There is no charge for the classes. Travel and lodging costs for the in-person class are at the expense of the participant.

Important Application Dates

  • Application deadline: November 17, 2014
  • Acceptance notification: On or about December 15, 2014

More information on the course and the application form are located on the NLM Technical Bulletin.

Changes in the NN/LM SCR Office

Thursday, September 25th, 2014

Significant changes have recently occurred at the NN/LM SCR.

The NN/LM SCR main office has moved from the Houston Academy of Medicine-Texas Medical Center Library (HAM-TMC Library) building and relocated to the John P. McGovern Historical Research Center at 8272 El Rio Street, Houston TX 77054.  The Associate Director and support staff will be housed in this facility. The four Coordinators, Cheryl Rowan, Naomi Gonzales, Emily Hurst and Karen Vargas will be telecommuting employees.

The following is a message from L. Maximilian Buja, MD, Executive Director of the HAM-TMC Library and Director of the NN/LM SCR, explaining the rationale for the relocation.

8272 El Rio

The HAM-TMC Library (dba The TMC Library) has begun implementation of a key component of its Strategic Plan. This involves a reenvisioning of the current library into a contemporary Health Science Information Center. This will involve the downsizing of the space in the library building (JJL Building)from a net 70,000 sq. ft. to 50,000 sq. ft. This will be accomplished primarily by downsizing the book and current print journal stacks to create an open architecture for contemporary learning and research. The downsizing of the print collection is being accomplished in a careful manner so that important and unique print material will be retained either on-site or at secure off-site locations. The Library’s commitment to the NLM Print Retention program remains intact.

There is necessarily going to be less office and non-public space in the modernized library. The central administrative functions and offices as well as the core of the McGovern Historical Collection are to be maintained at the JJL  Building. Given the need to reduce the non-public space in the JJL Building and taking into consideration that the primary mission of the Regional Medical Library program is outreach, the decision has been made to move the base of operations of the NN/LM SCR to the Library’s annex where the archives are housed.This is in an 11,000 sq. ft. facility located at 8272 El Rio St., about 2 miles from the JJL Building. The rationale for this decision was discussed with the Associate Director, Michelle Malizia, and her input taken into consideration in going forward with the implementation.

Support Staff office

At the Archives building, space has been created for the NN/LM SCR that includes a 148 sq. ft. private office for the Associate Director, a 244 sq. ft. shared space for three administrative staff, as well as space for printers and storage of exhibit backdrops and equipment. Additional space for the administrative staff is under development. There is also a 168 sq. ft. conference room that will be shared by the NN/LM SCR and existing Archives staff. Appropriate connectivity for computers and internet has been established.

A plan is being implemented for the four coordinators to function as telecommuting employees. In the current work environment, telecommuting is an established form of doing business that has proven successful for a variety of enterprises. There is also a precedent for this approach previously established within operations of the RM Ls. The Library will ensure all necessary equipment and other support to make this approach successful.

Ongoing operations are to include regular meetings of the entire NN/LM SCR staff on a bi-weekly basis and regular meetings of the entire staff with the Director of the program. The Houston Academy of Medicine (HAM) established the Library in 1915. The current Library does business as a subsidiary of HAM. The HAM operates the JJL Building in the Texas Medical Center (TMC) and the Library rents space from HAM at cost. There is current consideration of transfer of the ownership of the building from HAM to another TMC entity. The Library has been given a firm guarantee that the Library of 50,000 sq. ft. will continue at the current site in perpetuity and at affordable rent.

Regardless of these considerations about the JJL building, the home of the NN/LM SCR will continue to be in the Library annex facility.


2014 NN/LM SCR Library Student Outreach Award Recipients

Wednesday, September 24th, 2014

SCC/Quint Meeting Logo   

The NN/LM SCR is pleased to announce the six recipients of the 2014 Library Student Outreach Award.  Recipients will attend the Quint Chapter Meeting in Denver CO October 12-16.

  • Student: Cindy Alvarez (Library School: University of North Texas)
  • Student: Megan Bell (Library School: Louisiana State University)
  • Student: Alexandria Brackett (Library School: University of Oklahoma)
  • Student: Laura Fry (Library School: University of Texas)
  • Student: Alice Jean Jaggers (Library School: University of North Texas)
  • Student: Nora Ohnishi (Library School: University of North Texas)

For those of you who will be attending the meeting, stop by the NLM exhibit booth, meet your future co-workers and learn more about NLM databases.

NN/LM Ends Support for Internet Explorer 8

Tuesday, September 16th, 2014

Internet Explorer 10 logoDue to recent software updates on National Network of Libraries of Medicine (NN/LM) websites at,  Internet Explorer 8 (IE8) is no longer supported. Some read-only sections of will continue to be available via IE8. However, anyone using IE8 will probably not be able to submit assignments in online courses utilizing the NN/LM Moodle framework, and may not even be able to access and log into Moodle courses. Other services that require data to be posted to the server are also likely to fail. In addition, DOCLINE will not support IE8 after the end of 2014.

Please visit the NN/LM System Requirements page to see a complete list of supported browsers. For best usability, the National Library of Medicine (NLM) recommends that libraries begin talking to their local IT departments about upgrading their browsers to at least Internet Explorer 10.

Starting January 12, 2016, Microsoft will drop support, including security updates, for older Internet Explorer browser versions. Only the most recent version of IE for a supported operating system will receive technical support and security updates. Microsoft’s Stay up-to-date with Internet Explorer blog page provides a good explanation of why IE users should upgrade to the most current version.

Web Usability and Accessibility

Tuesday, September 16th, 2014

Browser Web Address fieldThe terms usability and accessibility are closely related and frequently used by those in web design fields. You may have even heard someone on your staff bring up these terms when discussing your organization’s website. These terms have very different meanings but when the principles of usability and accessibility are applied correctly they can enhance a website and lead to better overall use and broad access to your organizations information.

According to the W3C Organization “usability is about designing products to be effective, efficient, and satisfying. Usability is part of the human-computer interaction (HCI) research and design field (which is much broader than usability testing). For web developers, a key aspect of usability is following a user-centered design (UCD) process to create positive user experiences.” As you can see by this definition there is a strong emphasis on the user and how the user will be interacting with the product, in this case a website.

Usability testing is one of the best ways to find out how a user will try to access information from your resource. While usability testing can most effectively be done with the help of a trained professional there are may ways to prepare for an effective usability test. provides a wealth of information on usability including a brief overview for Planing a Usability Test.

There are a variety of free and for-cost online tools that can help you and your organization with usability testing. A list of 22 Essential Tools for Testing Your Website’s Usability was created by Mashable a few years ago. While some of the services on the list of have merged with others, the list is still a good overview of the type of online tools to help with usability testing.

While testing website usability is the key to ensuring that the users who visit your site are able to quickly and easily find the information they need, accessibility ensures that the widest range of users can access the information on your site. According to the W3C Organization “accessibility is about ensuring an equivalent user experience for people with disabilities, including people with age-related impairments. For the Web, accessibility means that people with disabilities can perceive, understand, navigate, and interact with websites and tools, and that they can contribute equally without barriers.”

As we saw with website usability testing is important. The same is true for accessibility. There are a number of standards that website designers should follow to ensure that their site is accessible through Section 508 Compliance. Section 508 is an amendment to the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 that requires Federal agencies to make their electronic and information technology accessible to people with disabilities.  However, trying to keep all the accessibility rules straight can be difficult. For this reason there are a number of tools that you can use to help create an accessible website. A Complete List of Web Accessibility Evaluation Tools is available for free from the W3C Organization. The W3C Organization also makes available some useful guiding tutorials on various topics related to accessibility.

Project Spotlight: Are You Prepared? Promoting Disaster Preparedness in Northwest LA

Thursday, September 11th, 2014

Guest Author: David Duggar, MLIS, Reference Librarian, LSU Health Shreveport, Health Sciences Library

DSC01519 (2)In May 2013, LSU Health Sciences Library in Shreveport received the Disaster Preparedness Award to provide information about disaster preparedness to the communities living in Caddo and Bossier Parish of northwest Louisiana. Librarians at the LSU Health Shreveport and NSU college of Nursing and Allied Health libraries partnered with the Shreve Memorial Library System and the Bossier Parish Public Library System to present quarterly programs on fires, floods, pets, and tornadoes. Local organizations which participated through speakers included the Shreveport and Bossier Fire Departments, Caddo-Bossier Office of Homeland Security and Emergency Preparedness (CBOHSEP), Local Emergency Planning Committee, Region 7 of Hospital Preparedness, and the Pet Education Project (PEP!).Wonderland Teapawty KBM Pet Parade 2014Feb23 Sunday 010 (2)

Information was also disseminated at several local festivals and parades held in downtown Shreveport and during special activity days held by the Bossier Parish Public Library System. At least fourteen programs were planned and held over twenty days during the May 2013 – April 2014 funding cycle. At least five others were planned during the three months following the funding cycle. The population covered in the programs was predominately children ranging from preK – Grade 3, teens, parents, families, and adults.

Both public library systems had an unexpected result. The speaker from CBOHSEP did a site evaluation at each of the Bossier Parish Public Libraries for the safest locations for staff and patrons to go to in the event of a disaster. He also gave a presentation to all of the library managers of Bossier Parish as a special ‘in-service’ day arranged by the Library Director. Every branch of the Shreve Memorial Library System was furnished with an itemized emergency disaster kit in a large plastic tote placed in the bathroom of the staff’s workroom. These were purchased by the library system at the request of the Library Director.

The results of the first half of the “Are Your Prepared” project was presented at the South Central Chapter of the Medical Library Association’s Meeting in October 2013 and a full overview of the project was presented at the Louisiana Library Association’s Conference in March 2014.

Photo credit: David Duggar


Enterovirus D68

Thursday, September 11th, 2014

Elbow Cough

Enterovius D68 is a rare form of non-polio enterovirus. Although enteroviruses are fairly common, EV-D68 has been rarely reported in the United States for the last 40 years.

A recent outbreak across the midwest, however, has drawn attention to this particular virus. Ten states, including Oklahoma, have sent samples to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) for testing and positive identification–so far only cases in Missouri have been confirmed. All ten states have hospitalized children for respiratory illness-like symptoms.  Because EV-D68 is so uncommon, there is no specific vaccine or treatment. Those who develop mild to severe respiratory symptoms may need to be hospitalized.

EV-D68 spreads much like other respiratory illness–through secretions such as saliva or nasal mucus. To help prevent infection, follow these common public health steps:

  • Wash hands often with soap and water for 20 seconds, especially after changing diapers
  • Avoid touching eyes, nose and mouth with unwashed hands
  • Avoid kissing, hugging, and sharing cups or eating utensils with people who are sick
  • Disinfect frequently touched surfaces, such as toys and doorknobs, especially if someone is sick

SCR CONNECTions Webinar Sept. 17: VIVA Peer Tutor Project

Monday, September 8th, 2014

Vital Information for a Virtual Age: A Peer Tutor Project

Please join us Wednesday, September 17, 2014, from 10:30 – 11:30 am (CT) for the NN/LM SCR’s free monthly webinar, SCR CONNECTions about the ¡Viva! Peer Tutor Project.

¡VIVA! Peer Tutors are high school students who promote National Library of Medicine resources and improve awareness and use of quality health resources in their schools and local communities. Project staff from Biblioteca Las Américas and students from the ¡VIVA! Peer Tutor Project of South Texas Independent School District will discuss their program and the lessons learned during the 13 years of the project. They will also offer tips on how your organization can start its own ¡VIVA! program.

The ¡VIVA! Peer Tutor program has won several awards including the National School Media Program of the Year, the U.S. National Commission on Libraries and Information Science Blue Ribbon Consumer Health Information Recognition Award, and the Texas Library Association Project of the Year.

This webinar will be available for 1 hour of Medical Library Association (MLA) Continuing Education credit and will be archived for future viewing.

How to Log In

Go to,  on the log in screen, choose “Enter as a Guest” and type in your name.

Once the room is open the system will be able to call you to connect to the audio.

Use *6 to mute or unmute your phone.

**Do Not Place Call on Hold**

Contact the NN/LM SCR office at 713-799-7880, or 800-338-7657 (AR, LA, NM, OK, TX only).

As always, our webinars are free of charge and open to anyone.

We hope to “see” you then.

Data and the Quantified Self

Tuesday, September 2nd, 2014

Are you using technology to track personal data including health and fitness? If so then you are taking part in the “quantified self” movement. The term quantified self was coined by Wired Magazine editors Gary Wolf and Kevin Kelly in 2007 but the idea of using computer technology, especially wearable self-tracking sensors, to record data began in the 1970’s. Today’s wearable technology including fitness trackers and smart glasses, products like Google Glass, combined with increased access to mobile devices like smartphones and tablets are revolutionizing the way we track, store, and use personal data.

By tracking, collecting, and analyzing data about their daily life users can increase their self-knowledge and possible improve their well-being. In April Susannah Fox of the Pew Research Center spoke at the first Quantified Self Public Health Symposium. In her presentation Fox presents the idea that health outcomes, especially for patients with chronic conditions, can be improved through tracking. According to the data from her research 7 out of 10 American adults are tracking health data in some form but only a small percentage are using technology to track their data. In addition to personal health tracking Fox also found that caregivers are often tracking health data for loved ones. Overall, the presentation demonstrates that there is a need for new and better technologies on the field of tracking, especially for health data. The video of her presentation can be found below.

One result of data tracking through the idea of the quantified self is that it can result in too much information. A recent post from NBC News addresses the issue of information overload and the quantified self. While some people are already tracking and using technology the post demonstrates that the field is expected to see continual growth over the next two years.

While the idea of the quantified self and increased self-knowledge can mean access to more data it may also mean that individuals may have more difficulty interpreting the data in order to make lifestyle changes that improve overall health. While wearables have potential the post also provides insights into how each device quantifies things differently which can make interpreting data even more difficult. In addition most trackers and devices do not have a way to share information easily or confidentially with healthcare providers, another potential problem.

The concepts of the quantified self and wearable technologies are addressed in the updated Geeks Bearing Gifts class.

September is National Preparedness Month!

Tuesday, September 2nd, 2014

National Preparedness Month Logo

Each September the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) partners with other government organizations (such as the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) in an effort to encourage communities and individuals to be prepared for the worst in emergency situations. This endeavor has come to be known as National Preparedness Month.

The theme for 2014 is “Be Disaster Aware, Take Action to Prepare” and, in addition, each week focuses on different emergency preparation topics:

Week 1 – How to Reconnect with Family After Disaster

Week 2 – Know How to Plan for Specific Needs Before a Disaster

Week 3 – How to Build an Emergency Kit

Weeks 4 & 5 – How to Practice for an Emergency

As one part of FEMA’s NPM initiative, the National Preparedness Community website offers a multitude of resources for users and community members. Included on the website is a tool-kit with marketing information and a comprehensive list of NPM videos, PDFs, and webpages. In addition, users can use the National Preparedness Community website to find NPM events happening in their area or register for free with the community and access additional resources, such as discussion forums and region-specific activity. Use of the hashtag #NatlPrep is encouraged.

In addition to the National Preparedness Community website, the American Public Health Association (APHA) will be celebrating Get Ready Day on September 16th as part of NPM. The Get Ready website contains many fun and education resources for a variety of users and communities. These resources include factsheets, videos, podcasts, and other disaster preparedness-themed media for marketing use.