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Archive for the ‘Technology’ Category

Data Privacy Month

Tuesday, January 28th, 2014

Data Privacy Day LogoJanuary 28th through February 28th is Data Privacy Month (DPM).  This month is designed to raise awareness and empower people to protect their privacy and control their digital footprint. As we move to a more mobile, connected, and always-on society the increasing amount of data being shared can put your privacy at risk. By taking proactive measures everyone can more easily control their data and information.

On Thursday, January 30, 2014 from 12-1 pm central time EDUCAUSE will host a free webinar with privacy expert Robert Ellis Smith of Privacy Journal (registration is required). is a resource site with information and tips for securing your data online.

According to the 2013 National Online Safety Study:

  • 14% of American use one password or PIN across all online accounts,
  • 58% say they have three or more passwords and PINs across their online accounts,
  • Nearly 19% said they had never changed their password or PIN without prompting,
  • Fewer than 30% reported changing their password or PIN without prompting within the past month.

Using the principles of Stop.Think.Connect are just one way to help you remain aware and safe online.

  • STOP: Before you use the Internet, take time to understand the risks and learn how to spot potential problems.
  • THINK: Take a moment to be certain the path ahead is clear. Watch for warning signs and consider how your actions online could impact your safety, or your family’s.
  • CONNECT: Enjoy the Internet with greater confidence, knowing you’ve taken the right steps to safeguard yourself and your computer.


Educational Technology Trends for 2014

Wednesday, January 22nd, 2014

What’s new and what’s next for educational technologies? iLibrarian Ellyssa Kroski recently compiled a list of 7 Ed Tech Trends to Watch in 2014. The list includes technologies that are impacting both higher ed and K-12 classrooms. As these technologies continue to make an impact on education, librarians should also consider how the use of these technologies will impact learning styles. These new educational technology trends may also help librarians transform their own teaching styles.

The seven trends include:

  • 3D Printing
  • MOOCs
  • Big Data
  • Digital Textbooks
  • Gamification
  • The Flipped Classroom
  • Mobile Learning

Several of these trends have been discussed in previous Blogadillo posts, but the discussion provided in the blog post linked above provides more in-depth information about each of these trends.

Many of these trending topics having been gaining attention over the course of 2013 and are expected to be more widely implemented this year. Several were listed as part of the New Media Consortium’s (NMC) 2013 Horizon Report.

Are you seeing these technologies impact medical librarians and health professionals? If so how? Share your experiences in the comments section below.

The Internet of Things

Wednesday, January 15th, 2014

Internet of Things

What if all of the devices in your home or office could communicate with one another? What if they could communicate with you? While this futuristic concept sounds like something out of a science fiction movie, the idea of the Internet of Things was first identified in 2009 and today’s latest technologies are making the Internet of Things a reality.

Today many devices are connected the internet, these devices are also often tracking data. Through the integration of built in connections through WiFi, Bluetooth, and RFID (radio frequency identification) these devices can begin sharing the data they are collecting. Because a growing number of devices and machines can be connected to the internet and to one another new devices enable a network of machine to machine (M2M) communication.

In a recent blog post Jason Griffy describes the effect of the Internet of Things:

“Your alarm clock goes off, and the lights in your bedroom automatically come on, slowly brightening to full strength. The thermostat slowly brings the room to a comfortable temperature even before your alarm sounds so that you’re comfy getting out from under the blankets. Your coffee starts brewing in the other room when you get out of the shower so that it’s hot when you get to the kitchen. It’s a specific instantiation of the idea of the ‘internet of things,’ communication between previously unnetworked objects.”

A recent survey of IT decision makers estimates that by 2020 more than 24 billion devices will be connected to the internet. This makes for a large and growing network for the Internet of Things.  As these devices track data, a wealth of real-time information will be generated leading to increases in big data analytics.

One of the best ways to keep abreast of new technology trends is by watching for news from the annual Consumer Electronics Show (CES), held annually in Las Vegas. At This Year’s CES many new advances in the Internet of Things were introduced.

Slow CookerThis year Belkin introduced a new product that allows you to add internet connectivity to any device with a DC switch with it’s WeMo Maker. WeMo already provides a variety of solutions which allow users to control devices through adapters that can be added to power outlets. Once the devices are networked using WeMo solutions a user can then control them through a smartphone app. WeMo even has partnerships with Crock-Pot®, Mr. Coffee®, and others which have already lead to a a crock-pot which can be controlled with the press of a button from a device miles away. WeMo can also provide control for light bulbs!

WeMo is just one of many options which are leading the push for the Internet of Things.Nest Thermostat

Another player in the Internet of Things, Nest, an advanced home thermostat, has also been in the news recently. Nest is described as a “sensor-driven, WiFi-enabled, self-learning, programmable thermostat” and provides users with the ability to monitor and control the temperature in their home using a mobile app. Nest makes a note of the changes you make to the temperature setting and the time of day in order to anticipate how hot or cold you would like it. After learning your daily routine, Nest goes above standard programing to help you stay comfortable while also helping you safe money by not running when you don’t need it. Nest also has a home fire and carbon monoxide sensor on the market as well. Nest was recently acquired by Google for $3.2 billion dollars. This could mean that you will soon be able to monitor home temperature, safety, and maybe even more from the comfort of your Google Account.

Look for other WiFi-enabled devices which should be hitting the market soon. The Internet of Things is quickly becoming a reality.

Registration Open for Online Super Searcher Class

Tuesday, January 7th, 2014

The NN/LM SCR is happy to offer the online version of “Super Searcher: Enhancing Your Online Search Super Powers” class.

Woman wearing a cape flying holding a computerThis self-paced online class will open February 3,  2014 and remain open until March 9, 2014.

This self-paced online course offering focuses on the advanced search features of web search engines and online searching. Participants will use various search engines, compare the features of each and broaden their knowledge of search strategies and online search techniques. Participants will develop search strategies that will increase the precision and scope of their online searching ability. In the online version of the class, participants will view short video demonstrations, engage in online discussions and complete exercise sets focused on improving online search skills. The class includes: information about web search engines, strategies for searching for online media including images, videos and books. The class concludes with a discussion on real-time search, mobile search and what the future of search holds.

The class content has recently been updated to address the launch of the Google Search Algorithm Hummingbird and additional topics on the future of search engines.

Participants may work at their own pace during this class but are expected to interact with other class participants in discussion forums.

Upon successful completion of this class, each participant will receive 4 hours of continuing education credit awarded by the Medical Library Association.

Registration for this class is required.

As always, all NN/LM SCR classes are free and open to anyone.

e-Reader and e-Book Overview

Monday, January 6th, 2014

Thinking of reading more e-books in 2014? Maybe you got a new e-reader or smartphone as a gift this holiday and need an app to read all your favorite books on. This post provides an overview of some of the most popular applications (apps) for accessing digital content. There are more options than you think!


Girl looking at a tabletFor e-reader fans who are looking for a stand alone device for all their reading needs the choices can be limitless. There are many devices to choose from. When trying to make a decision about which to buy it is important to keep mind the differences between e-readers and tablets. An e-reader is a device specific for reading books or periodicals. E-readers typically rely on electronic or e-ink to display text on a screen. Unlike tablet devices e-readers have screens that do not produce a glare when in direct light. In addition e-readers are designed to be light and portable as well as have extended battery life. Most e-readers can store hundreds if not thousands of titles. Popular e-readers include the Kindle, Barnes and Noble Nook, and Kobo. The 2014 Best eBook Reader Reviews and Comparisons post provides an overview of features and reviews of some of the most popular devices. Keep in mind that unlike tablets e-readers do not typically provide access to a range of games or other applications for other purposes.

Tablets are another option for individuals who are not interested or able to purchase an e-reader device for reading alone. Tablet devices perform a wide range of tasks and users can customize a tablet with apps for various activities including reading. Tablet devices tend to be heavier than e-readers and typically have backlit screens with full color displays. The backlit screen typically means shorter battery for the device. Viewing a tablet screen can be difficult in sunlight or other environments where light causes a glare on the reflective screen surface. To read on a tablet users will either need to have access to an online collection of materials or a specialized app for reading. Apps and content providers are described below.

Free Apps

There are a number of free reading apps available for tablet devices. It is import to consider that a free app does not mean that the content is free. Once a free app is downloaded users may need to purchase content to read. Another consideration for app users is the content that the app is able to access. Some apps are specific for licensed content while others allow users to read any digital format as long as it is supported. Two free apps are described below. The Very Best Book Apps: Our Top 15 Picks post from iLibrarian provides an good overview of other apps to consider.


The Kindle app is available on Android, iPhone, iPad, Mac, PC, and Blackberry. Access your book collection no matter what your device. The app is free to download and install. Books can be purchased through the app or PDFs can also be read on the app. Take advantage of some of the app features such as note taking, highlighting, and quick definitions.


Scribd is a digital library, featuring a subscription service with premier books including New York Times bestsellers and classics. The app is free to download but a $8.99 monthly subscribtion fee is necessary to access content on tablets and smartphones. The subscription fee providers users with unlimited access to more than 100,000 books from over 900 publishers, including Harper Collins, Rosetta, and Workman.

Paid Apps


Marvin is currently $2.99 and available only for Apple iOS devices. Marvin does not sell e-books but rather provides a rich interface for interacting with them on tablet devices. Marvin can’t open EPUB books with DRM (iBooks and Kindle books), but it provides a bundle of free e-books to get you started and other DRM free book sources are available. The app features links to to public domain catalogs such as Project Gutenberg. Users can add books from Dropbox as well as other sources. The app provides a specialized layout which helps users organize, annotate, and share readings. Several built in features include a reading timer, a dictionary, customizable high-contrast themes, large text and bottom-heavy font to assist readers with dyslexia.


You can visit sites such as or Barnes and Noble to purchase and download a variety of books and other digital content. These sites often have feature titles at a discount or for free. Watch for deals.

There are several other sites to try for free content. Many of the books in these collections are out of copyright. Internet Archive offers access to over 5 million e-books and had organized collections of materials. Project Gutenburg offers over 40,000 free e-books to choose from.

The e-Books and Digital Library Projects post provides additional information on free access to e-books from other sources.

Free Apps and Content

Woman with ereader in libraryCheck with your local library to find out if they participate in an program like Overdrive or ebrary.


OverDrive currently has the largest selection of digital media available for lending. OverDrive began with e-book and audio content and has recently started providing audio and movie content as well. Libraries that participate in OverDrive provide users with access to the content through a digital interface. Items can be checkout and downloaded to a device for a limited amount of time before they are automatically returned the library’s OverDrive lending collection. Users can place items on hold and receive notification when items are ready for downloading or viewing. OverDrive e-book content can be accessed on tablet devices using the OverDrive app or on e-reader devices.


ebrary is an online digital library of over 70,000 scholarly e-books. This resource for academic e-books is most readily available through academic libraries. The library also includes sheet music and government documents.

Chronic Conditions and Online Information Seeking

Thursday, December 19th, 2013

According to The Diagnosis Difference, a new report by the Pew Internet and American Life Project, “many people with serious health concerns take their health decisions seriously—and are seriously social about gathering and sharing information, both online and offline.” While the report shows that adults with chronic conditions are often less likely to be online, the report also shows that when adults with chronic conditions do go online they engage in social networks and health outlets to gather and share health information.

According to the report “internet users living with one or more conditions are more likely than other online adults to:

  • Gather information online about medical problems, treatments, and drugs.
  • Consult online reviews about drugs and other treatments.
  • Read or watch something online about someone else’s personal health experience.”

Libraries can have an impact for online health seekers. According to the report “30% of online health information seekers living with chronic conditions were asked to pay for something they wanted to access online.” When met with a pay wall, only 2% reported paying the fee to access full content. 17% gave up trying to access the content. The remaining information seekers attempted to find the same information elsewhere for free.

While adults with chronic conditions are gathering health information online, they are also more likely than others to talk with a clinician about what they find. For adults with chronic conditions, clinicians are the central source of information, but support groups, friends, and family also play an important role. According to the report “having a chronic condition significantly increases the likelihood someone got information or support from a doctor or health care professional, friends or family, or others with the same health condition.”

The report also demonstrates that individuals living with chronic conditions are “significantly more likely than other adults to track weight, diet, exercise, or health indicators like blood pressure, blood sugar, sleep patterns, or headaches.”

Adults living with chronic conditions who take their illness seriously are able to research and share information through online and face-to-face methods. This group has different health information seeking behaviors which set them apart from others. The video provides an brief summary of the report findings.


e-Books and Digital Library Projects

Wednesday, December 11th, 2013

Man holding a tablet in a library

The continued growth of digital content and e-books has lead to an explosion of digital library projects. According to a study from the Pew Internet and American Life Project released this past summer, trends show that American’s are gradually reading more materials in digital form. Recent developments related to the legality of large-scale projects such as Google Books project has further brought attention to the growing demand for e-book content and services. As librarians and publishers continue to sort through legal issues related to e-book licensing, it is important to note that several digital library projects are underway.

Google Books

E-books and digital content got a boost last month when a long awaited ruling in a case against Google Books was announced. The Google Books project began in 2004 and included efforts to scan and make digitally available books from university and public libraries around the world. For books that were in the public domain or where the author had given permission, the full text of the book was scanned and made digitally available through the Google Books interface for free. For books which were still under copyright, scans were made with the idea that Google Books users could search the full text and preview a limited number of pages for free but then be required to purchase the title to read more. With scanning continuing, in 2005 the Authors Guild and the Association of American Publishes filed suit against Google claiming the Google Books project caused “massive copyright infringement.” Last month, after many years of legal procedures, a U.S. district court judge sided with Google and their claim of “fair use” for the scanning project. While the Authors Guild plans to appeal this ruling, it is important to take note of the impact the Google Books project has made in the past nine years.

According to Google the project currently includes 30 million scanned books all of which can be searched for free making it one of the largest collections of digital resources. While the full text of copyrighted materials cannot be viewed in full, many books in the project continue to provide previews of the content. The full text of materials out of copyright is freely available.

While Google Books is one of the largest digitization projects, similar projects include online digitization efforts through the HathiTrust, Internet Archive, and the Digital Public Library of American (DPLA).

Internet Archive

Founded in 1996 and launched in 2001, Internet Archive provides permanent storage of and free access to digital collections. Internet Archive is a storage location not only for over four million public domain books, but it also provides access to archived websites, moving images, and music. Internet Archive also allows the public to upload and download digital content. Many museums and universities have uploaded their content into the system. In 2007 Internet Archive began uploading public domain books from the Google Books project. Another project of Internet Archive is the Open Library which provides free full text access to over one million public domain books as well as an e-book lending program with over 250,000 recent books which are still under copyright. These books can be borrowed by Open Library card holders. Registration for Open Library is free. This digital lending program is made possible through partnerships with libraries around the world.

The collections of the Medical Heritage Library is included in the Internet Archive as a special collection of freely available materials.


The HathiTrust Digital Library launched in 2008 and is designed as a large-scale collaborative digital repository for content including materials digitized by the Google Books project and Internet Archive. HathiTrust includes partnerships with research libraries around the world with costs being shared among the participants. In 2012 HathiTrust reported over 10 million digital volumes, 2.7 of which are in the public domain. HathiTrust provides free search of its repository as well as full access to free content.


The Digital Public Library of America (DPLA) is the newest large-scale digital library project. Launched in early 2013, DPLA aims to unify large siloed digital collections such as those from the Library Congress, HathiTrust, Internet Archive, and other collections. According to project founder Robert Darnton, by using a distributed system of service hubs as well as application programing interface (API) and open data tools, DPLA hopes to “make the holdings of America’s libraries, archives, and museums available to all Americans – and eventually to everyone in the world, online and free of charge.”

Creative Commons 4.0 Licenses

Wednesday, December 4th, 2013

Creative Commons License Icons

Have you been interested in using Creative Commons licenses on your work but unsure about the options? Last month Creative Commons announced the latest version of their license which makes registering and using the license much easier. The 4.0 licenses are available for adoption and use worldwide. The new license structure makes it easier to share and reuse CC licensed materials. The CC license is one of several public copyright licenses that enable free distribution of otherwise copyrighted work. The new version of the license provides an easy-to-use interface that allows license seekers to select how they want their materials to be used and generates an icon which can be downloaded for free and applied to the work or added to a website using code.

Creative Commons is a non-profit organization. According to their mission statement, “Creative Commons develops, supports, and stewards legal and technical infrastructure that maximizes digital creativity, sharing, and innovation.”

Why Use MedlinePlus Connect? What Key Informants Say

Monday, December 2nd, 2013

MedlinePlus Connect Logo

Health care is undergoing a virtual information revolution, fueled by the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009, which permits reimbursement incentives for eligible professionals and hospitals that meet criteria for becoming “meaningful users” of certified electronic health record (EHR) technology.

Meaningful use” is defined, in part, as using EHRs to improve and demonstrate the quality of care, such as e-prescribing, electronic exchange of health information, and submission of quality measures to Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS). CMS has set standards to meaningful use that are to be met in stages. According to a post by American Medical News, organizations are currently working on Stage 1 implementation; Stage 2 implementation starts in 2014.

MedlinePlus Connect is a free service that supports health professionals’ ability to provide health information to their patients, which they will be expected to do (and document) in Stage 2 of implementation. Designed by the National Library of Medicine (NLM), the service links EHR systems to, an authoritative up-to-date health information resource for patients, families, and health care providers.

The National Network of Libraries of Medicine (NN/LM) is assisting the NLM with promoting MedlinePlus Connect. An NN/LM task force conducted interviews with 17 key informants representing the broad spectrum of organizations that are involved with EHR implementation.

The interviews included discussion with some innovative hospital librarians who are taking advantage of the dynamic EHR environment and finding ways to be involved with meaningful use at their organizations.

Key informants provided insight into the aspects of MedlinePlus Connect that are major advantages of the service from their perspective:

  • The material is evidence-based and updated regularly.
  • MedlinePlus links to primary literature, which is becoming increasingly popular among patients as they become more sophisticated in locating health information.
  • Patient information is provided in varying reading levels, multi-media formats, and different languages, with an extensive database of Spanish-language materials.
  • Health IT professionals will find easy instructions for integrating MedlinePlus Connect into EHRs.
  • MedlinePlus Connect allows health organizations to maintain their identifying information when MedlinePlus information is sought.

The fact that MedlinePlus Connect can be added to EHRs at no cost to users was a definite advantage, but key informants cautioned against calling it a “free resource,” a term that has a negative connotation among health professionals. It would be more effective to call it a “non-commercial service paid for by the National Library of Medicine with no cost to users.”

The time to promote MedlinePlus Connect is now. Key informants said that patient portals were the emerging issue of the year as organizations focus on Stage 2 criteria.

Visual Literacy Competency Standards

Wednesday, November 27th, 2013

Visual Literacy Array based on ACRL's Visual Literacy Standards

The Association of College and Research Libraries (ACRL) recently released Visual Literacy Competency Standards for Higher Education. According to the standards “visual literacy is a set of abilities that enables an individual to effectively find, interpret, evaluate, use, and create images and visual media. Visual literacy skills equip a learner to understand and analyze the contextual, cultural, ethical, aesthetic, intellectual, and technical components involved in the production and use of visual materials. A visually literate individual is both a critical consumer of visual media and a competent contributor to a body of shared knowledge and culture.”

In education today emphasis has been placed on many forms of literacy. As more visual and media elements are incorporated into education, visual literacy will continue to play a role in education. Today’s learning environments are rich with media and visual elements. Digital technology is also increasing access to visual content. Through the ubiquitous nature of mobile devices students also have increased ability to create their own photos and post visual content online. Although students are engaging more and more with visual media, they may not have increased visual literacy skills.

According to the standards put forth by the ACR, “visual literacy education is typically a collaborative endeavor, involving faculty, librarians, curators, archivists, visual resources professionals, and learning technologists. Libraries play an important role in this process by selecting and providing quality image resources, developing research and subject guides for images, teaching image research strategies, and raising awareness of the ethical use of visual media. Libraries are also established partners in working with students to develop the critical thinking and evaluation skills essential to participation in visual culture.”

Also addressed in the new standards is accessibility of visual materials for individuals who have visual impairments. The standards stress the importance of the use of assistive technologies which include audio descriptions of visual materials.

A complete overview of the standards as well as additional information about visual literacy can be found on the ACRL’s Visual Literacy Competency Standards for Higher Education webpage.  Librarians and educators are encouraged to review the content and incorporate visual literacy into information literacy instruction and interactions.