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Archive for October, 2010

Twitter and Hospitals

Friday, October 22nd, 2010

I recently presented on Social Media and Cloud Computing at the New England Library Association conference in Boxboro, MA and was surprised at how often I was asked to demonstrate Twitter.

Twitter was created in 2006 as a means for keeping up-to-date on what friends and family are doing. It is a web-based, microblog, allowing users to send out posts (or Tweets). These tweets are text-based, though you can also send out images, and are limited to 140 characters.

Though Michael Liedtke, an AP Technology Writer, once described it as “a potluck of pithy self-expression simmering with whimsy, narcissism, voyeurism, hucksterism, tedium and sometimes useful information” , Twitter has become a means for important news and updates to be disseminated quickly.

The Boston Police Department ( sends out tweets on the latest police activity, for example, “STOLEN VEHICLE: Box truck containing oxygen tanks, MA Com. Reg L10253, in John Elliot Sq Roxbury about 30 minutes ago.”

News organizations such as CNN and the BBC tweet. CNN, in fact, has multiple Twitter accounts: and are just two of their eight or so accounts. They not only use Twitter to post news items but search it to scoop breaking news.

The very first announcement of a Continental Airlines 737 sliding off the runway in Denver on December 20th, 2008 came via a passenger’s Twitter post.

You might remember the famous miracle landing on the Hudson?
The first picture of the floating airplane was supplied, not by CNN or emergency personnel, but posted on Twitter by a ferry passenger whose boat diverted to the accident scene before emergency crews arrived. The passenger used his cell phone to take the picture and post it to his Twitter account.

You might be asking what this has to do with you, as Librarians in the Health field. There are a number of hospitals using Twitter to communicate, whether it’s posting news on health concerns or advertising fund raising events.  In fact, back in 2009, surgeons at Henry Ford Hospital in Detroit actually tweeted every step of an operation.

Toronto’s Mount Sinai Hospital ( ) , Stanford Hospital in California ( ), and locally, Children’s Hospital in Boston ( ) are just a hand-full of hospitals posting medical and hospital information through Twitter.

If you wish to see other hospitals and health professionals using Twitter:

Children’s Hospital | Nashville, TN

Florida Hospital | Central Florida

Methodist Hospital | Houston, Texas

MS Hospital Assoc. | Madison, MS

Children’s Hospital | Denver-metro area, Colorado

Erlanger Hospital | Chattanooga, TN

Children’s Hospital | Central California

Children’s Hospital | Oakland, California

Ohio Hospital Assoc | Columbus, OH

To read Michael Liedtke’s full article “Can all that Twitters turn to gold amid the gloom?”, go to:

If you wish to learn more about Twitter, you can request my “Tweets, Tweeps, and Twitter” workshop.


rita.gavelis at

phone: 978-662-2119.

Dietary Supplements in MedlinePlus

Thursday, October 21st, 2010

As posted on 9/30/10 on NAHSL listerv…

MedlinePlus released 100 new English and Spanish monographs on a broad range of dietary supplements and herbal remedies. The new content is provided by Natural Medicines Comprehensive Database Consumer Version (NMCD). Some of the highlights of the new monographs include:

 Descriptions of herbal remedies, dietary supplements, and how they work

  • Effectiveness ratings for different indications
  • Safety concerns, including special precautions and warnings
  • Information on interactions with medications, foods, and other herbs and supplements
  • Dosages that have been studied in scientific research
  • Extensive lists of references, with links to PubMed
    • A “Share” button on each monograph that allows users to easily share the content with friends and family

The content from NMCD replaces the Natural Standard monographs that were previously on MedlinePlus. If you bookmarked any monographs from Natural Standard, MedlinePlus will automatically redirect you to the new information when equivalent content is available. Please review and update your bookmarks.

If you have questions or comments about the new content, please contact the MedlinePlus team by using the “Contact Us” link that appears at the top of every MedlinePlus page.

Two new travelling exhibits

Thursday, October 21st, 2010

The National Library of Medicine Exhibition Program is offering 2 new traveling banner exhibitions to libraries and community centers to borrow for 6 week bookings.

 A Voyage to Health explores the recent revival of the ancient arts of navigation and voyaging of the people of Hawai’i. The exhibition explores this resurgence and its significance for health, well-being, and self-determination. Unlike our other traveling banner exhibitions, this show does not have an online exhibition to accompany the traveling show. But the story of traditional voyaging will be covered as part of the companion website for the National Library of Medicine’s larger exhibition about Native peoples’ concepts of health and illness, scheduled to open in October 2011. For information about the traveling banner exhibition, please visit:

 Binding Wounds, Pushing Boundaries: African Americans in Civil War Medicine looks at the men and women who served as surgeons and nurses during the American Civil War and how their service pushed the boundaries of the role of African Americans in society. We do have a website for this exhibition, which can be found at:  For information about the traveling banner exhibition, please visit:

NLM Recruiting Associate Fellows

Thursday, October 21st, 2010

The National Library of Medicine (NLM) is accepting applications for its Associate Fellowship program, a one-year training program for recent MLS graduates and librarians early in their career.

 In the first half of the year, a formal curriculum offers exposure to library operations, research and development, intramural and extramural research, development and lifecycle of NLM’s web-based products and services and the extensive outreach and education program reaching consumers, special populations, health professionals and librarians. In the second half of the year, Associate Fellows have the opportunity to choose projects based on real-world problems proposed by library divisions and work with librarians and library staff over a six-seven month period. Successful projects have led to peer-review publications and to services that have become a regular part of library operations.

 The September through August program also offers professional development and an introduction to the wider world of health sciences librarianship that may include:

 Supported attendance at national professional conferences, often including the Medical Library Association’s annual meeting, the American Medical Informatics Association annual meeting and others

  • Spring Practicum at a health sciences library in the contiguous United States
  • Additional brown bags, seminars, field trips and learning opportunities available on the National Institutes of Health campus
  • Opportunities to meet and interact with senior management at the National Library of Medicine
  • Experienced preceptors from National Library of Medicine staff
  • Potential to compete for a second year fellowship at a health sciences library in the United States

 The Fellowship offers:

  • A stipend equivalent to a U.S. Civil Service salary at the GS-9 level ($51,630 in 2010)
  • Additional financial support for the purchase of health insurance
  • Some relocation funding
  • Assistance in finding housing

 Who is eligible?

All U.S. and Canadian citizens who will have earned a MLS or equivalent degree in library/information science from an ALA-accredited school by August 2011.  Both recent graduates and librarians early in their career are welcome to apply.  Priority is given to U.S. citizens.

 Applications and additional information are available on the Web at  Application deadline is February 3, 2011.   Between 4 and 7 fellows will be selected for the program.

 Feel free to contact me for further information.  I can be reached at 301-435-4083 or

Kathel Dunn, PhD, Associate Fellowship Coordinator

National Library of Medicine

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