National Library Week

12 04 2011

It is National Library Week! Did you know that?

To be honest I didn’t.

Today, Tuesday, is even National Library Workers Day — a time to thank librarians and the rest of the library staff (LA-Times).

I didn’t know that either, until I received a tweet from @doc_emer which was retweeted by doctor_V (see Fig).

Now I know.

Thank you Dr. Emer and Bryan Vartabedian (Doctor V). You made my day!

*********************************

Added:

 

@amcunningham (AnneMarie Cunningham) tweeted:
Since it’s national library week, thought I’d say thanks to all the great librarians on this list:) http://bit.ly/gkzKZm

 

 





Webicina Presents: PeRSSonalized Medical Librarianship: Selected Blogs, News, Journals and More

13 08 2010

One and a half-year ago I wrote about PeRSSonalized Medicine, developed by Bertalan Mesko or Berci. It is part of Webicina, which “aims to help physicians and other healthcare people to enter the web 2.0 era with quality medical information and selected online medical resources”.

The RSS in PeRSSonalized Medicine stands for Real Simple Syndication, which is a format for delivering regularly changing web content, i.e. from Journals. However, if you use PeRSSonalized Medicine, you don’t need to have a clue what RSS is all about. It is easy to use and you can personalize it (hence the name)

In the previous post I discussed several alternatives of PeRSSonalized Medicine. You can never tell how a new idea, or project or a new business will develop. We have seen Clinical Reader come and disappear. PeRSSonalized Medicine however really boomed. Why? Because it is free, because it has an altruistic goal (facilitate instead of earning money), because users are involved in the development and because it keeps evolving on basis of feedback.

PeRSSonalized Medicine develops fast. There is not a week that I don’t see a new section: Nephrology, Genetics, Diabetes whatever.

And this week tada tada tada … it is the turn of the Medical Librarianship, with Journals, Blogs, News and Web 2.0 tools. Please have a look yourself. You can personalize it at wish, and if you miss something, please mail to Webicina.

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Collaborating and Delivering Literature Search Results to Clinical Teams Using Web 2.0 Tools

8 08 2010

ResearchBlogging.orgThere seem to be two camps in the library, the medical and many other worlds: those who embrace Web 2.0, because they consider it useful for their practice and those who are unaware of Web 2.0 or think it is just a fad. There are only a few ways the Web 2.0-critical people can be convinced: by arguments (hardly), by studies that show evidence of its usefulness and by examples of what works and what doesn’t work.

The paper of Shamsha Damani and Stephanie Fulton published in the latest Medical Reference Services Quarterly [1] falls in the latter category. Perhaps the name Shamsha Damania rings a bell: she is a prominent twitterer and has written quest posts at this blog on several occasions (here, herehere and here)

As clinical librarians at The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center, Shamsha and Stephanie are immersed in clinical teams and provide evidence-based literature for various institutional clinical algorithms designed for patient care.

These were some of the problems the clinical librarians encountered when sharing the results of their searches with the teams by classic methods (email):

First, team members were from different departments and were dispersed across the sprawling hospital campus. Since the teams did not meet in person very often, it was difficult for the librarians to receive timely feedback on the results of each literature search. Second, results sent from multiple database vendors were either not received or were overlooked by team members. Third, even if users received the bibliography, they still had to manually search for and locate the full text of articles. The librarians also experimented with e-mailing EndNote libraries; however, many users were not familiar with EndNote and did not have the time to learn how to use it. E-mails in general tended to get lost in the shuffle, and librarians often found themselves re-sending e-mails with attachments. Lastly, it was difficult to update the results of a literature search in a consistent manner and obtain meaningful feedback from the entire team.

Therefore, they tried several Web 2.0 tools for sharing search results with their clinical teams.
In their article, the librarians share their experience with the various applications they explored that allowed centralization of the search results, provided easy online access, and enabled collaboration within the group.

Online Reference Management Tools were the librarians’ first choice, since these are specifically designed to help users gather and store references from multiple databases and allow sharing of results. Of the available tools, Refworks was eventually not tested, because it required two sets of usernames and passwords. In contrast, EndNote Web can be accessed from any computer with a username and password. Endnoteweb is suitable for downloading and managing references from multiple databases and for retrieving full text papers as well as  for online collaboration. In theory, that is. In practice, the team members experienced several difficulties: trouble to remember the usernames and passwords, difficulties using the link resolver and navigating to the full text of each article and back to the Endnote homepage. Furthermore, accessing the full text of each article was considered a too laborious process.

Next, free Social bookmarking sites were tested allowing users to bookmark Web sites and articles, to share the bookmarks and to access them from any computer. However, most team members didn’t create an account and could therefore not make use of the collaborative features. The bookmarking sites were deemed ‘‘user-unfriendly’’, because  (1) the overall layout and the presentation of results -with the many links- were experienced as confusing,  (2) sorting possibilities were not suitable for this purpose and (3) it was impossible to search within the abstracts, which were not part of the bookmarked records. This was true both for Delicious and Connotea, even though the latter is more apt for science and medicine, includes bibliographic information and allows import and export of references from other systems. An other drawback was that the librarians needed to bookmark and comment each individual article.

Wikis (PBWorks and SharePoint) appeared most user-friendly, because they were intuitive and easy to use: the librarians had created a shared username and password for the entire team, the wiki was behind the hospital’s firewall (preferred by the team) and the users could access the articles with one click. For the librarians it was labor-consuming as they annotated the bibliographies, published it on the wiki and added persistent links to each article. It is not clear from the article how final reference lists were created by the team afterwards. Probably by cut & paste, because Wikis don’t seem suitable as a Word processor nor  are they suitable for  import and export of references.

Some Remarks

It is informative to read the pros and cons of the various Web 2.0 tools for collaborating and delivering search results. For me, it was even more valuable to read how the research was done. As the authors note (quote):

There is no ‘‘one-size-fits-all’’ approach. Each platform must be tested and evaluated to see how and where it fits within the user’s workflow. When evaluating various Web 2.0 technologies, librarians should try to keep users at the forefront and seek feedback frequently in order to provide better service. Only after months of exploration did the librarians at MD Anderson Cancer Center learn that their users preferred wikis and 1-click access to full-text articles. Librarians were surprised to learn that users did not like the library’s link resolvers and wanted a more direct way to access information.

Indeed, there is no ‘‘one-size-fits-all’’ approach. For that reason too, the results obtained may only apply in certain settings.

I was impressed by the level of involvement of the clinical librarians and the time they put not only in searching, but also in presenting the data, in ranking the references according to study design, publication type, and date and in annotating the references. I hope they prune the results as well, because applying this procedure to 1000 or more references is no kidding. And, although it may be ideal for the library users, not all librarians work like this. I know of no Dutch librarian who does. Because of the workload such a ready made wiki may not be feasible for many librarians .

The librarians starting point was to find an easy and intuitive Web based tool that allowed collaborating and sharing of references.
The emphasis seems more on the sharing, since end-users did not seem to collaborate via the wikis themselves. I also wonder if the simpler and free Google Docs wouldn’t fulfill most of the needs. In addition, some of the tools might have been perceived more useful if users had received some training beforehand.
The training we offer in Reference Manager, is usually sufficient to learn to work efficiently with this quite complex reference manager tool. Of course, desktop software is not suitable for collaboration online (although it could always be easily exported to an easier system), but a short training may take away most of the barriers people feel when using a new tool (and with the advantage that they can use this tool for other purposes).

In short,

Of the Web 2.0 tools tested, wikis were the most intuitive and easy to use tools for collaborating with clinical teams and for delivering the literature search results. Although it is easy to use by end-users, it seems very time-consuming for librarians, who make ready-to-use lists with annotations.

Clinical teams of MD Anderson must be very lucky with their clinical librarians.

Reference
Damani S, & Fulton S (2010). Collaborating and delivering literature search results to clinical teams using web 2.0 tools. Medical reference services quarterly, 29 (3), 207-17 PMID: 20677061

Are you a Twitter user? Tweet this!

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Added: August 9th 2010, 21:30 pm

On basis of the comments below (Annemarie Cunningham) and on Twitter (@Dymphie – here and here (Dutch)) I think it is a good idea to include a figure of one of the published wiki-lists.

It looks beautiful, but -as said- where is the collaborative aspect? Like Dymphie I have the impression that these lists are no different from the “normal” reference lists. Or am I missing something? I also agree with Dymphie that instructing people in Reference Manager may be much more efficient for this purpose.

It is interesting to read Christina Pikas view about this paper. At her blog Christina’s Lis Rant (just moved to the new Scientopia platform) Christina first describes how she delivers her search results to her customers and which platforms she uses for this. Then she shares some thoughts about the paper, like:

  • they (the authors) ruled out RefWorks because it required two sets of logins/passwords – hmm, why not RefWorks with RefShare? Why two sets of passwords?
  • SharePoint wikis suck. I would probably use some other type of web part – even a discussion board entry for each article.
  • they really didn’t use the 2.0 aspects of the 2.0 tools – particularly in the case of the wiki. The most valued aspects were access without a lot of logins and then access to the full text without a lot of clicks.

Like Christina,  I would be interested in hearing other approaches – particularly using newer tools.






Presentation at the #NVB09: “Help, the doctor is drowning”

16 11 2009

15-11-2009 23-24-33 nvb congressenLast week I was invited to speak at the NVB-congress, the Dutch society for librarians and information specialists. I replaced Josje Calff in the session “the professional”, chaired by Bram Donkers of the magazine InformatieProfessional. Other sessions were: “the client”, “the technique” and “the connection”. (see program)

It was a very successful meeting, with Andrew Keen and Bas Haring in the plenary session. I understand from tweets and blogposts that @eppovannispen en @lykle who were in parallel sessions were especially interesting.
Some of the (Dutch) blogposts (Not about my presentation….pfew) are:

I promised to upload my presentation to Slideshare. And here it is.

Some slides are different from the original. First, Slideshare doesn’t allow animation, (so slides have to be added to get a similar effect), second I realized later that the article and search I showed in Ede were not yet published, so I put “top secret” in front of it.

The title refers to a Dutch book and film: “Help de dokter verzuipt” (“Help the doctor is drowning”).

Slides 2-4: NVB-tracks; why I couldn’t discuss “the professional” without explaining the changes with which the medical profession is confronted.

Slides 5-8: Clients of a medical librarian (dependent on where he/she works).

Slides 9-38: Changes to the medical profession (less time, opinion-based medicine gradually replaced by evidence based medicine, information overload, many sources, information literacy)

Slides 39-66: How medical librarians can help (‘electronic’ collection accessible from home, study landscape for medical students, less emphasis on books, up to date with alerts (email, RSS, netvibes), portals (i.e. for evidence based searching), education (i.e. courses, computer workshops, e-learning), active participation in curriculum, helping with searches or performing them).

Slides 67-68: Summary (Potential)

Slide 69: Barriers/Risks: Money, support (management, contact persons at the departments/in the curriculum), doctors like to do it theirselves (it looks easy), you have to find a way to reach them, training medical information specialists.

Slides 70-73 Summary & Credits

Here are some tweets related to this presentation.

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Vanity is the Quicksand of Reasoning: Beware of Top 100 and 50 lists!

26 08 2009

During the weekend I added some links to sites referring to this blog in the sidebar. There was the 3rd place in the Medgadget competition for the Best New Medical Weblog in 2008,  a nice critique by Danielle Worster (the Health Informaticist) in the “Library + Information Gazette”, the inclusion in the Dutch Twitterguide and a place in the Top 50 Health 2.0 Blogs list of RNCentral (”the place to learn about nursing online”) in 2008.

And recently I was included in another ranking lists, to which I was alerted by a personal email of Amber, saying:

Hi,

We just posted an article, “100 Useful Websites for Medical Librarians” (http://http://www.nursingschools.net/blog/2009/100-useful-websites-for-medical-librarians/). I thought I’d drop a quick line and let you know in case you thought it was something you’re audience would be interested in reading. Thanks!

Both the RNCentral and the nursingschools.net lists are subjective ranking list of useful sites on nurses-oriented webpages. And although subjective, they contain numerous excellent and trustworthy sites. I was honored and pleased that I was included in those lists together with the Krafty Librarian, David Rothman, the MLA, the NIH, and NLM.

In all fairness, there are also many list (in fact far more such lists) that do not include me. I remember that there was a list of 100 top librarians with quite a number of Australians and no @laikas. I found one post at Lucacept – intercepting the web saying:

BestCollegesonline.com has posted a list of the Top 100 Librarian Tweeters and I’m honoured to say I appear on the list. In fact, there are five Australian Librarians who made it on the list. The other four were heyjudeonline, neerav, bookjewel, gonty.

Unfortunately, they didn’t include Kathryn Greenhill, an amazing librarian who is currently in the US and putting out some very helpful tweets from conferences she is attending while there. She is sirexkathryn on Twitter.

Other great Teacher-Librarians to follow include …..

Check out the list and see who else is there you might like to follow. I know that my professional learning has benefited from the generous nature of Librarians who are active on Twitter.

This shows that people are pretty serious about those lists and sensitive to who is included or not.
There were some mild protests from a few people on Twitter, i.e. from Shamsha here (RT means you repost a tweet, so @shamsha retweets my retweet of @philbradley‘s tweet of the bestcollegesonline list) and from @BiteTheDust (here) regarding @laikas’  omission from the list. However, I’m sure there were many others studying the top 25, 50 or 100 lists with a frown. But wouldn’t any list look different?

25-8-2009 13-32-32 shamsha

25-8-2009 17-40-09 bitethedust

Apparently it concerns the same bestcollegesonline.com-list as referred to by Lucacept.

Back in April there was also a Top 50 Librarian Blogs- list published at the getdegrees.com. This provoked a blogpost from the UK-blog Cultural Heritage ” Top 50 (insert topic of choice here). Quote:

The colleague who alerted me to this noted that all of the blogs listed were published by librarians in the US and wondered whether we should be doing our own list of top UK librarian blogs. Further, she wondered, if we did, who would we be putting at the top and why?

Who (are on the list)? and Why? Those are good questions!

This reminded me of a recent remark of @aarontay on Twitter, He sighed something like. “Now I’ve seen 3 of those list. Who makes those lists anyway?” That is a 3rd relevant question.

I couldn’t find @aarontay’s original Tweet (Booh!, these are not archived), but here is a message I found on FriendFeed:

25-8-2009 14-31-57 aarontay 3 lists

Friendfeed not only keeps the messages but also shows the comments. Apparently Ellie (from Ellie <3 Libraries) found evidence that such sites were dodgy as @aarontay had suggested. Some quotes from her post:

Both this site (http://associatedegree.org) and Learn-gasm – who has the top 100 blogs post going around currently (www. bachelorsdegreeonline. com) are sites designed solely to earn revenue through click-throughs.

The “bachelorsdegreeonline” at the end is a tracking mechanism to allow collegedegrees.com to reward sites that send them visitors.
While all the schools linked to are legitimate schools, both are misleading sites since they only link to schools that offer an affiliate kickback. They also only link to forms to enter your contact information at third party sites, not to the actual school websites.

While the content of the top 100 blogs and 25 predictions lists is completely non-objectionable, the fact that librarians are taking these sites seriously is.

What the author is doing is trying to increase his traffic and SEO. He likely does some minimal investigation to determine what sites would have the biggest impact – so in that sense, the lists are probably somewhat representational of influential sites – like I said, the content isn’t the objectional part. He creates the page with the links to the 100 top whatever, then emails all of them to let them know they’re on the list. Every one of them that posts that they’ve made a top 100 list and links back to him increases his site’s page ranking. The more important your site is, the more it helps him, both in search engine algorithm terms (being linked to by someplace important counts for more than being linked to from less popular sites) and because it brings him more incoming traffic. Which also increases his site’s page ranking (and the chance of someone clicking through in a way that gets him paid).

…But, this particular little batch of sites that is currently targeting higher education – they are ones that are ostensibly trying to help people find colleges, choose degrees, etc., when in fact they are only linking to forms to enter your contact information for a small subset of online only colleges that offer affiliate linking programs.

…on the surface they seem related to education, some have .org addresses, but when we start looking at them critically they fail every test easily – no about page (or at least nothing informative on it), unauthored posts,  little to no original content. One of the main components of being a librarian is teaching people to think critically about information, so when we fail to do so ourselves I find it incredibly frustrating.

O.k. that hit the mark.

A good look at the sites that linked to my blog showed they were essentially the same as those mentioned by @aarontay and Ellie. With links to the same schools.

Vanity or naivety, I don’t know. I didn’t pay much attention, but I still (wanted to) quot(ed) them and didn’t doubt their intentions. Nor did I question Clinical Reader’s intentions at first (see previous post).
In some respect I really dislike to be so suspicious. But apparently you have to.
So, I hope you learned from this as well. Please be careful. Don’t link to such sites and/or remove the links from your blog.

Vanity is the quicksand of reason George Sand quotes (French Romantic writer, 1804-1876)


Top 50 Health 2.0 Blogs list
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Biomedical Journals on Twitter

4 08 2009

Because of my vacation I was unable to publish about the list of Medical Journals on Twitter that I had initiated in the form of a spreadsheet.

Meanwhile this list has been widely covered in the medical blogosphere, i.e. here, here (nature blogs, yeah), here, here and here, (without -correct- attribution) and here (Ves Dimov) and here (Andrew Spong) (with attribution). And possibly many more.

Do I have anything to add? No not really.

Nevertheless, I would like to point my readers who may not be yet aware of this list. It is open to anybody to edit. Thus if you know of a medical journal on Twitter that is not included, then please feel free to add it to the spreadsheet (if you have Google mail) or ask me to do it for you.

For those who are not used to editing Google spreadsheets, please follow the detailed description of Andrew Spong at his blog.

The reason why I started this spreadsheet was that Walter van den Broek (drshock) asked me “how to find which medical journals on Twitter (see part of the Twitter discussion rescued from Friendfeed (tweets get lost after a few days).

4-8-2009 15-31-46 spreadsheet medical Journals friendfeedI made a spreadsheet, and asked input from the twitterverse: the easiest and most efficient way to compile a list. There were many initial suggestions of @artadobbs: (see @UCONNHealthLib). She already followed many e-resources updates, as a service for UCONN Health Library users. Ves Dimov (@drves) also had great input. The other editors have added their names on the spreadsheet (and I have added mine too now ;)). Thanks to all! With Ves I’m truly impressed of how well Google Spreadsheets work as a structured wiki.

Here is a Figure of part of the list (click to enlarge), the actual spreadsheet can be found here.

4-8-2009 17-57-28 spreadsheet twitter journals

Yesterday drshock asked me “Any pharmaceutical drug companies using twitter?” so the Medical Journal spreadsheet may not be my last one. ;)

4-8-2009 18-07-43 pharmaceutical companies twitter

Twitter discussion. Read from down up

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Stories 3. Science or Library Work: what is more rewarding?

20 04 2009

2267526122_f4376fc6bfAmy Tenderich of Diabetesmine, will celebrate her birthday at the very same day as she hosts the next Grand Round. She has therefore chosen a very appropriate theme (see announcement):

I’m favoring any and all posts having to do with birthdays and special occasions – or anything that smacks of serendipity, perks, or gifts related to the work you all do.

First of all I would like to congratulate Amy on her birthday.

I have been hesitating whether I should contribute to this round. It is not an easy subject and a bit out of scope. However, thinking about it, many ideas came up and it even became difficult to choose one. But here it is. It is even the first post in a series: STORIES, a selection of personal stories.

Most of you will know that I’m a medical librarian by profession, but a medical biologist by education. Many years I worked as a scientist, with mice, patients, cells, DNA and proteins.3419163183_91968b96d6

I was an avid scientist. My motivation was to unravel mechanisms and understand life. I liked to ask questions: “why is this? why do I find that? how does it work?” The greatest reward you can get is: looking for explanations and finding the answer to a question. Thinking about it and discussing it with others is exciting.The more difficult a question is, the more rewarding it is to find the answer. The gift that science gives you is science itself.

In those twenty years I did have my little successes. I had a press conference at a congress (1) (because it was the only subject that was understandable for the public) and I had two papers that were frequently cited (2).

The finding that gave rise to those two publications was very serendipitous. We found a very tiny band in B cells that were used as a negative (!) control for follicular lymphoma in a PCR for the t(14;18) chromosomal translocation. This translocation is considered the hallmark of this type of B-cell cancer. If this was true, it would mean that the lymphoma-associated t(14;18) involving the BCL2 oncogene could also occur outside the context of malignancy. My task was to prove that this was true. This was not an easy task, because we had to exclude that the tiny bands in the tonsils were due to contamination with exponentially amplified tumor DNA. A lot of tricks were needed to enable direct sequencing of the tonsil DNA to show that each chromosomal breakpoint was unique. To be honest, there were quite some moments of despair and most of the time I believed I was hunting ghosts. Certainly when the first band I sequenced was from a contaminating tumor. But finally we succeeded.

And although science can be very rewarding:

  • Most ideas aren’t that new.
  • There are many dead leads and negative results (see cartoon).
  • Experiments can fail.
  • There is a lot of competition
  • It takes very long before you get results (depending on the type of experiment)
  • It takes even longer before you get enough results to publish
  • It takes still longer before you have written down the first version of the paper
  • … and to wait for the first comments of the co-authors (see cartoon)
  • … and to rewrite the paper and to wait …
  • … and to submit to the journal and wait..
  • … to get the first rejection, because your paper didn’t get a high enough priority
  • and to rewrite, wait for the comments of the co-authors, adapt and submit
  • to be rejected for the second time by referees that don’t understand a bit of your subject or are competitors
  • to rewrite etcetera, till it is accepted…and published
  • to wait till somebody other than you or your co-authors find the paper relevant enough to cite.
  • but most importantly even with very good results that make you feel very happy and content:
    • each answer raises more questions
    • most research, whatever brilliant, is just a drop in the ocean or worse:
    • it gets invalidated

I loved to do research and I loved to be a researcher. However, it is difficult for post-doc to keep finding a job and wait for the contract renewals each year. So almost 4 years ago, just before another renewal of the contract, I was happy to get the opportunity to become a medical librarian at a place not far from where I lived. In fact, after all these years it is my first permanent job.

And it is a far more rewarding job than I ever had before, although perhaps not as challenging as research.

  • Results are more immediate.
  • Answers are clearcut (well mostly)
  • People (doctors, nurses, students) are very happy when you learn them how to search (well generally)
  • they are also happy when you do the search for them
  • or when you help them doing it
  • It is very rewarding to develop courses, to teach, to educate
  • the job has many facets

The rewards can vary from a happy smile, a hand shake and “a thank you” to acknowledgments and even co-authorships in papers. Sometimes I even get tangible presents, like chocolates, cookies, wine or gift tokens.

Last week a patron suddenly said when seeing the presents gathered: “Is it your birthday?”
Presumably it is about time to drink the wine I got.Cheers!

2717145005_0546fa0755

Photo credits (Flickr-CC):








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