Aug 31

Gangsta Lit/Urban Lit/Street Lit

UPDATE: Please see comments below from my brother, Andrew. He’s right that I’ve been unfair to Scott Drawe. The story by CBS2, however, is still crap.

Check out this recent news story from a CBS affiliate in Chicago:

The basic story is that there’s a sub-genre of literature called “Street Lit”, “Urban Lit”, or “Gansta Lit” that is marketed to young black adults. The story seems to try to make it SCARY that such books are available in bookstores and (*gasp!*) LIBRARIES.

About halfway through the video, Scott Drawe of the Chicago Public Library says he has concerns about “the influence it could have.”


“The street problems, the prostitution….um…some of the glamorousness that these books try to promote.”

For pete’s sake! There are thousands of books in the Chicago Public Library that glamorize unhealthy/illegal behaviors! Why pick on this sub-genre?

Is anyone else annoyed with Scott Drawe?

Aug 31

LS534 – University of Alabama Health Sciences Librarianship blogs

It looks like students taking Health Sciences Librarianship (LS534) at the University of Alabama are being required to post article summaries in WordPress blogs. Here are a few I’ve run into:

Found a few more by searching BlogLines.

I’m curious why the professor is requiring students to post article summaries to blogs. If the idea is to share their work with their classmates, wouldn’t WebCT or Blackboard be a better option? Perhaps the prof. feels strongly about blogging and is hoping to create another Health Sciences Librarianship blogger or two.

Aug 30

How to: Generate RSS feeds from EBSCO Medline

I received an email recently from a Medical Librarian asking if RSS feeds could be generated from EBSCO databases.

Short Answer: Yes!

Longer answer: Yes…but EBSCO’s interface doesn’t make it easy or intuitive. Here’s a walkthrough.

First, click on “Sign In to My EBSCOHost”

Enter username and password, then click the “Login” button. (If you haven’t created an EBSCOHost account yet, create one by clicking on the “I’m a new user” link and create one.)

Next, enter your search terms:

Once you’ve got your search refined exactly as you want it, you’re ready to turn the search into a feed.

Click the “Search History/Alerts” tab

Click the “Save Searches/Alerts” link

Enter the Name and Description for your alert, and be sure to select the “Alert” radio button.


Select “No e-mail (RSS only)” and enter an intuitive subject line before clicking the “Save” button.

…and here’s the RSS feed you can copy and paste into your aggregator/reader:

More info from EBSCO:

Note: Although I used EBSCO Medline for this example, generating feeds this way works for all EBSCO databases that use this interface.

Aug 29

How to: Quickly turn a feed into email alerts with RSSFwd

I love my mother-in-law. I love the way Barb approaches problems, taking the bull by the horns. I like how she seeks out information before making decisions.

Barb had expressed interest in more regular updates of medical news of conditions than I had been able to provide- Barb’s son has epilepsy, her husband has tinnitus, and she has a compulsion to tackle these challenges- so my “keeping an eye out” for medical news about these conditions really wasn’t enough.

Complicating the matter is the fact that Barb has no special love for computers. She’s pretty much got email down, though- so I hoped to build on that and avoid the need to get her started on an aggregator.

I started at Medworm and went to its Medical Conditions feed directory. For each medical condition listed, Medworm continually searches its approximately 2000 indexed feeds for references to the medical condition and returns articles about them via the feed.

From here, I copied down the URLs for the tinnitus and epilepsy feeds.

I wanted to turn these into email updates, but didn’t want to deal with setting them up in FeedBurner. After all, I was just setting up these email updates for one user. I decided to try out RssFWD. RSSFwd Logo

Setting up a feed to syndicate via email in RSSFwd really couldn’t be much easier.

First, enter the feed URL and click the “submit” button.
RSSFwd Submit form

Next, enter in the email address of the person who wishes to receive the emailed updates and click the “Subscribe” button.
RSSFwd Email Subscription form

That’s it. The email recipient receives an email asking for confirmation and clicks on an included link.

If I was setting up a feed for use at our library, I’d probably do it through FeedBurner so I could track its use better, but for a quick one-off, you can’t beat the convenience of RSSFwd.

Aug 29

JMLA Review of EBSCO’s CINAHL Plus

CINAHL Plus adds a variety of new features to the original CINAHL database. While the functionality of some of the new search mechanisms leaves something to be desired, the usefulness of the available content cannot be denied.

I have to agree with most of the review. Mostly great content, but I really don’t care for the search interface.

Aug 26

Nebraska’s CHIRS program

An article in today’s La Vista Sun encourages Nebraska residents to visit the La Vista Public Library, where they can fill out a CHIRS (Consumer Health Information Resource Service) form, free for all Nebraska residents.
CHIRS logo

The service delivers specialized and reliable medical information about your health condition privately to your home. The information is researched and collected by health sciences librarians at the McGoogan Library of Medicine, associated with the University of Nebraska Medical Center.

“Perhaps you have questions about medication, available treatments or wonder what to ask your doctor,” Library Director Rose Schinker said, “or maybe you think of additional questions after your doctor’s appointment.”

The CHIRS form requires a brief description of your medical request, your gender, age and part of body affected. You may request information regarding causes, diagnosis, treatment, complications, prognosis and consumer and/or professional reports.

Solid article filled with good advice for consumers, and this service should be offered by every state in the union. I’m not aware of a similar program in NY State- and that bugs me.

More on CHIRS

Aug 26

Bob Sutton: In Praise of Librarians

In this post, Bob Sutton (Professor of Management Science and Engineering in the Stanford Engineering School) talks about evidenced based medicine, evidence based management, and the need for lbrarians.

Some highlights:

…I’ve realized that the rise of the web, blogs, Wikipedia, and all that easily available information might reduce the need for trips to the library for some of us, but – although their roles are changing – it has also made the need for librarians even greater than ever. There is an ever growing pile of information out there and it keeps getting harder and harder to tell what is true and what is not…

In short, although the rise of the web has changed what librarians do, it also means that we need them more than ever because there are so many facts out there now and they are so easy to get, and it is so hard to tell which ones to believe – and they actually care about facts and evidence, and know where to get them. Indeed, as I understand it, this partly why many major universities – like The University of Michigan and University of California at Berkeley – have renamed their old library schools to “Information” schools.

Read the whole thing.

A bio of Bob Sutton

Posted in EBM
Aug 24

Google Book Search ties to

Google Book Search Logo Worldcat Logo
Posted on the GoogleBlog:

Today, we’re launching the Library Catalog Search feature in Google Book Search, designed to help casual readers and bookworms everywhere find gems in the libraries around the world. Queries on Google Book Search will automatically include results from library catalogs when appropriate. Each result includes a “Find Libraries” link to help readers find libraries that hold the book — ideally a library nearby, or if need be, a library far away.

Example Book
Also, go to Advanced Book Search and note the radio buttons that allow one to search All books, Full view books, or Library Catalogues:

Library catalogues radio button

First impression: The world “Worldcat” appears nowhere in this post. Shouldn’t it? Doesn’t this show Google taking advantage of what OCLC has done for their own advantage…and not giving any credit where it is due?

I’m not really sure yet how I feel about this…any thoughts?

Aug 24

Scopus: “Selected Sources”

Via Biomedbiblog, an interesting item about a new service from Elsevier’s SCOPUS.

Scopus has announced that it is the first and only database of its kind to provide a fully customizable feature to its customers that enables users to search within selected repositories or subject specific digital archives within the Scopus interface.

This new feature in Scopus, Selected Sources, allows customers to choose from a list of institutional resources and special subject collections indexed by Scirus to be made individually searchable in a separate tab; in effect highlighting the best scientific information from the web to their users.

Furthermore, for the first time, librarians can request for their own institutes’ repositories and digital archive to be indexed and made searchable through the Scopus interface…

Read the rest here.

More details from SCOPUS directly (including a screen shot) are here.

Aug 24

New Blog: Evidence Based Nursing and Midwifery

This blog serves as a guide to the topic of Evidence-Based Nursing and Midwifery. It will point to good resources, learning and teaching materials etc for nurses and librarians associated with Evidence-Based Nursing and Midwifery

Welcome to the still-too-small group of MedLib bloggers, Stephen!

Please do add your blog to this list!

Aug 23


I just noticed that has an RSS feed for “New releases.” You may wish to add this to your aggregator, or suggest it to some of your patrons:

To quickly and easily sign up for an emailed alert when new items are added to this feed via RSSFWD, click this link.

However, it looks to me like the feed isn’t caught up to the most recent “Top Stories” listed at the front page of – this is disappointing. Perhaps their E-Mail updates (sign-up for these is available from their front page) are kept more up-to-date.

I wanted an up-to-date feed, so I made my own with Feed43. If you like, you can subscribe to the feed I created either with this link, or via email by entering your email address in the form below.

Enter your email address:

Delivered by FeedBurner

Disclaimer: Please note that I made this feed with Feed43 and set up the email subscription through FeedBurner. I can make no guarantees of their continued services (web services startups disappear all the time), nor can I guarantee the perfection of my own work. The most secure and reliable thing you can do is to write, host, and run your own scrape. UAYOR, YMMV, and all that.

Aug 23

Announcing ‘UBC HealthLib-Wiki’ ….soon


Dean says it is coming soon (in early September), and is looking for feedback on his draft “table of contents.”

F’rinstance, I think section VI (Databases in biomedicine), should include notes on the PubMed interface in addition to the EBSCO and OVID interaces listed.

Also, maybe a section on portal development (would that be a part of section III?), or a section on ILS comparisons?

Aug 22

Dissect Medicine: ‘Digg for Medical Literature’, Part II

Dissect Medicine Logo
Usually I try not to repeat items already covered by another MedLib blogger, and Michelle Kraft posted about it before I did, but this is different for me because Dissect Medicine is the second attempt I’ve seen at applying the model of to Medical Literature (the first I saw and posted about was BioWizard).

Like BioWizard’s PubMed Wizard, Dissect Medicine is a site where users rate articles, but the two are quite different in a number of ways.

Articles Reviewed

  • Dissect Medicine: Any article submitted by a user
  • BioWizard: Any article indexed in PubMed

User Input

  • Dissect Medicine: User can comment as much as desired, email the article to a colleague, and either vote for a story’s promotion or ignore it.
  • BioWizard: User can comment as much as desired, email the article to a colleague, rate an article on a scale of 1 to 12, save the abstract to user’s favorites, share the abstract with another BioWizard user, or view abstracts judged similar by PubMed.


  • Dissect Medicine: Organized by categories (clinical trials, complementary medicine, diseases and conditions, drugs and theraputics, fertility pregnancy and parenting, fitness and exercise, food and nutrition, healthcare management, industry news, medical education and employment, medical ethics and law, medical research, offbeat medical news, public health and policy, regulatory information, technology and devices).
  • BioWizard: Search articles as one would in PubMed or browse top-rated articles. On Advanced Search tab, user can search by MeSH.


  • Dissect Medicine: Has feeds.
  • BioWizard: Doesn’t have feeds.

BioWizard’s heavy use of the NCBI Entrez API makes its focus professional medical literature, and deeply enriches the content of the site. I’m seeing BioWizard as an alternate interface to PubMed with social features added.

Since Dissect Medicine’s articles are submitted by users, its focus seems to be now on publicly (freely) available literature, which makes its focus more on consumer literature.

What I’d really like to see is a resource that can handle both all articles indexed in PubMed AND articles submitted by users.

As noted in my brief review of BioWizard, I also think a lot of value could be added by defining a group of users (members of a practice, a class, a hospital, a professional association) that could sort the scoring and rating of articles either by the aggregate scores for the entire user base OR just see the articles as rated by members of their own group.

Aug 22

IE7/Windows Live/Vista Integration

Updated 8/24/2006: I incorrectly referred to Linda Schwartz as “Lisa Schwartz”. My apologies, Linda- I’ve corrected the post.

Responding to my post the other day about the RSS/feed handling built into Internet Explorer 7 (IE7), Linda Schwartz left a good comment, wondering if there would be a way to save feeds in IE7 and still be able to view them from another computer, or if she’d be stuck only having them saved locally- on that computer and that installation of IE7.

I answered by predicting that Microsoft would integrate features of IE7 with the Windows Live tools they are developing, and that I wouldn’t be at all surprised if they let IE7 users save all kinds of things about their browsing preferences to an online Windows Live account.

Just a few days later, I’m even more certain of this. I think Microsoft will build features that allow the user (after the user is signed up for a Windows Live account, of course) to save ALL favorites and lots of browsing preferences to an online account, and select them to be used from any other computer with an internet connection that has IE7 installed. I also think they’re going to do social bookmarking and tagging in a big, big way- and a whole lot of people who have never heard of are going to use tools built into IE7 and Windows Live to start doing it.

But wait- there’s more.

This week’s eWeek (8/21/2006) contains an article titled “VISTA – IT’S ALIVE” (you can register and download the PDF here– see page 7). The article points out that links to Windows Live services appear in the Welcome screen of the latest beta (build 5506) of Windows Vista.

(For a bigger version of this screen capture, click here)

Rachel also left a comment: “I don’t think anything would make me switch back to Explorer.”

I should point out that I use Firefox at home, and can’t imagine switching to IE on my own computers. But IE is the standard at my place of work, and is the browser I need to be prepared to support. Like it or not, IE still dominates the browser market, and libraries need to be familiar with the software its patrons are comfortable with. I’m no IE7 evangelist, just a pragmatist (who is admittedly preaching to the choir).

Aug 20

What the Search Insiders don’t know

Great post to MEDLIB-L today from David Dillard, pointing out this article by David Berkowitz, author of the “Search Insider” column for MediaPost

Berkowitz writes:

The better mousetrap people need is a health search engine.
If you look at any searcher who enters more than ten unique searches, at least one will likely be health-related. People are trying to take care of themselves, their kids, and their parents, and the search records can be heart-wrenching, such as one string from a woman (17239996) who gradually became convinced that one of her twin babies had autism. Anecdotally, people searching for health information repeat and refine those searches far more than they do for other queries. There’s limitless opportunity to help searchers here.

I’m confused. How is it that a “Search Insider” not only doesn’t know about the existing portals for health information searching, but that he didn’t try a few google searches to seek them out. A few searches that he might have tried:

“Health Search”
“Medical Search”
“Health Information”

(Some consumer information portals are listed here in a previous post on this blog. In his post to MEDLIB-L today, David Dillard points to a list of several more, but I note that a number of these really aren’t geared towards consumer use. Regardless, there are a ton of interesting resources listed here that I’ll be combing through.)

Sure, there’s loads of room for improvement in consumer health searching, and Dean Giustini’s work on the need for Google Medicine clearly lays out the need for improved search portals for health professionals, but as David Dillard writes:

It never ceases to amaze as to what professionals in the internet industries do not know about bibliographic databases and website indexing sources on the internet…

I share Mr. Dillard’s amazement.

Aug 20

Librarian Wikis

So I already knew about the Library Success Wiki, and LISWIKI, but I didn’t know about the Library Instruction Wiki until today.

Welcome to the Oregon Library Instruction Wiki, a collaboratively developed resource for librarians involved with or interested in instruction. All librarians and others interested in library instruction are welcome and encouraged to contribute.


Are there more that I don’t know about yet?

Aug 19

MedLib Blog Synergy

Mary Carmen Chimato is habitually generous with her time and knowledge- and I have repeatedly and gratefully been on the receiving end of that habit. She rocks.

Today, I called Mary for advice on something, and we ended up talking about the Health Librarianship Wiki that Dean Giustini has planned at UBC and about Rachel’s MeSH tags over at Women’s Health News– and Mary had the brilliant idea that entries in the Health Librarianship Wiki should have drop-down menus for quickly and conveniently adding MeSH tags.

But what really has me tickled is how the idea came about:

  • Dean writes at his blog about his plans for a HealthLib wiki.
  • Rachel writes at her blog about her MeSH tagging.
  • Mary and David (who first contacted each other via blogging), discuss both Dean’s wiki plans and Rachel’s use of MeSH tags, and combine the one idea with the other.
  • Mary shares the idea of combining the two on her blog.

How cool is that?

I love the biblioblogosphere.