Nov 20

Government and Political RSS Feeds Directories

A couple of useful feed directories:

Sites appear to have same registrant as Interesting.

Digging a little further, I found this feed directory as well:

All appear to be registered by DR Management. A quick search on that name and “feeds” reveals relation to a lot of RSS-related endeavors, including:

Holy cow. And I thought I was enthusiastic about RSS.

Nov 20

Best Response Yet to ‘Google as a Diagnostic Tool’

Reinhard Wentz says he performed the same searches that were performed in Google for the study, but he performed them in PubMed, and got a 88% success rate (compared to 58% using Google).

I should mention that the searches on PubMed for this ad-hoc comparison were done without using MeSH terms, subheadings, or Boolean operators. No ‘nesting’ of concepts or use of double quotes was required. This is all done ‘in the background’ by PubMed’s very intelligent search and mapping algorithms, provided a succinct search formulation is entered.

In posts to MEDLIB-L and LIS-Medical, Wentz also adds something I had thought but refrained from articulating. It’s just as well- I couldn’t have expressed the sentiment as nicely as Wentz did:

I was astonished to see that in some contributions to medical librarians’ discussion lists it was suggested (among other criticisms) that Tang and Ng’s results are no better than ‘flipping a coin’. Surely, during a case presentation or when ‘conducting a diagnostic exercise’ more than two possible diagnoses are discussed. A success rate of 58% on Google is impressive and better than just flipping a coin. The point is that PubMed can do even better (and faster)!

Wentz is my new hero.

Previous post on this topic

Nov 20

Dumping Bloglines

Jennifer Macaulay and Meredith Farkas have both mentioned Bloglines taking a ridiculous amount of time to display new posts from their blogs. I took note of this when they brought it up, but hadn’t noticed any problems myself until the last week or so. Sometimes, Bloglines doesn’t show a new post from for two days. Two days!

This is just rotten. I keep a Google Reader account and run Abilon on my home desktop computer for testing purposes, and they both updated flawlessly. It isn’t my feed, it’s Bloglines that has the problem.

I’m familiar and comfortable with the Bloglines interface. I like it better than that of any other web-based aggregator. Unfortunately, this seems to be a little like affection for a beautiful car with an engine that sometimes won’t start. Timely updating is as basic to an aggregator as a running engine is to a car. Bloglines is broken, and I’m tired of it.

I’ve switched to Google Reader. If you still use Bloglines, I encourage you to do the same.

To the folks at Bloglines: If you let me know when you fix this problem with your otherwise great service, I’ll be happy to try it again.

Nov 18

Poll: What title should replace “Librarian”?


Alex Aiken, a Westminster council official and “former policy director for the Tories,” expressed to a conference of the Public Library Authorities his belief that “[t]he concept of the librarian has to change and perhaps a start would be to abolish the title itself, with its connotations of middle-aged conservatism.”

We shouldn’t take offense to the guy’s assertions, we should be amused by them and mock them. In that spirit, requested suggestions on what new and sexier term might replace “librarian.” Before you vote, remember that we’re looking for sexy, and the opposite of “middle-aged conservatism.” I’ll refrain from commenting until we’ve left the poll open for a few days, but you should feel free to comment to your heart’s content after voting.

Nov 17

RSS Feeds in MS Outlook 2007

If you don’t have MS Office 2007 yet, this post can give you a solid idea of what to expect from its feed-handling features. Complete with screen captures, the post illustrates the way Outlook 2007 uses IE7 as its “back end” for displaying feeds.

The review is not, generally speaking, positive.

Don’t expect too much: if you’re a hard-core RSS junkie that uses Google Reader, Bloglines, NewsGator or the like, you won’t be impressed. Still, native RSS reading within Outlook 2007 does get you by.

Okay, so it might not compare to Google Reader or Bloglines, but most of my library’s patrons have Outlook open all day for email, so using Outlook could make feeds more “pushy” for them. When Outlook 2007 is rolled out to our hospital’s users, I will absolutely be showing users how to use it as a feed aggregator.

Nov 17

InfoWorld reviews Enterprise RSS Solutions

Ooooooh….one of these would be awesome for a medical library. This is what I was talking about in a previous post:

What I’d Like
What I’d really like is to have a library-branded aggregator system administered by the library. Ideally, this would be a web-based aggregator service that would allow members of our hospital community to sign up for an account and start managing their own feeds. Administrators (from the library) would be able to access accounts to make changes, tweak feeds, or solve problems for users, and could make mass changes quickly and easily.

The article includes reviews of Attensa, NewsGator, and KnowNow products, all of which cost too much. 🙁

Click image below for larger comparison chart:

Nov 17

FeedNavigator indexes Biblioblogs

I first posted about the University of Helsinki’s FeedNavigator in August, but Michelle, Dymphie, and Guus all recently posted on it, so I looked at it again to see if there was anything new, and I discovered something unexpected:

The MedLib Biblioblogs are indexed by it, along with a bunch of other biblioblogs.

See for yourself.

If you look at the Blogs page, you can see that each of the MedLib Biblioblogs has a little, red ‘new’ next to it:

…so perhaps they were only very recently added to FeedNavigator.

This is neat, but I wonder if it is a good idea. After all, posts from my blog are often not directly related to medical librarianship. Tame the Web is indexed there, and it’s pretty much never about medical librarianship.

I’m not saying these are bad sources of information, just that if the site is meant to search for medical information, including all of these blogs may mean some relevance problems in search results.

Regardless, it is gratifying to see that someone made use of the Masterlist of MedLib Blogs in this manner, isn’t it?

Nov 16

Medworm now outputs any search as a feed

Medworm, already a great resource for finding medical RSS feeds and searching their contents, just got better. Now with any search in Medworm, you can output the search results as an RSS feed.

If, for example, I wanted to have an RSS feed of medical news relating to Minneapolis, I can search for Minneapolis and just click on the appropriate RSS subscription button. Nice!

Nov 16

Librarians ‘should be sexier’


The poll is posted here.

(Suggested substitute titles for when “librarian” is abolished)

1. Bibliodominatrix
2. Information Alchemist
3. Indagatrix (Latin, f. investigator, explorer)
4. InfoWarrior
5. Imperious Knight of the High Knowledge
6. Information Goddess (/God)
7. Knowledge Hacker
8. BookWench (/BookWretch)
9. Faithful of Wiborada (the librarian)
10. Circle of Wiborada (librarians) (Wiborada is the patron saint of the librarians.)
11. Chosen of the Information Matrix
12. Infomagineer


I should probably find this annoying, but I don’t. I keep giggling.

Via lo-fi librarian, I came across this article from, with interesting ideas on how how to improve the perception of Britain’s libraries.

Alex Aiken, a Westminster council official and “former policy director for the Tories,” expressed to a conference of the Public Library Authorities his belief that “[t]he concept of the librarian has to change and perhaps a start would be to abolish the title itself, with its connotations of middle-aged conservatism.”

(A Tory complains about middle-aged conservatism? I don’t know a lot about UK politics, but isn’t middle-aged conservatism sort of the bread-and-butter of the Tories?)

But the response wasn’t entirely negative:

“Librarians come in all shapes and sizes – and that includes the very photogenic,” said one library chief, adding that some of his colleagues are “incredibly exciting”.

[Insert here David’s snorting and snerking sounds as he imagines how fast this would get a library director fired in the states and constructs mental video of a middle aged, balding Englishman calling his colleagues “incredibly exciting” with a straight face and an English accent.]

Anyway, I propose a contest: If the word “Librarian” was to be abolished, what title would we use instead? Remember that Aiken said that “racy” titles should be stressed.

Information Alchemist? Knowledge Engineer? How do you make a title both accurate and sexy?

Any ideas? If I get a few, I’ll post a poll so we can vote on the new, sexy title for librarians in the UK.

Nov 16

Clinical Information Technology Gaps Among Physicians

BHIC points out a new report from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation on the difference in access to information technology between larger medical practices and smaller ones.

Full text (PDF)

We have a full range of practices affiliated with our hospital. Of course, access to technology is directly related to ability to use that technology, and I think I see that correlation in our library.

Now that our library’s digital resources can be accessed by any physician from any internet-connected computer with Internet Explorer, our new goals need to be promoting awareness of those resources and providing lots of pleasant options physicians take take advantage of in order to learn to use them.

One of the things I did when I made our library’s portal was throw a bunch of training materials in the path of the user. One can’t get to OVID from our portal without tripping over three different kinds of training materials on using OVID. That helps even the access to resources a bit.

Nov 16

World’s Biggest RSS Button

If you want readers to subscribe to your RSS feed, it’s a good idea to make the subscription button (or link) prominent. It should definitely be “above the fold”, visible as soon as the page loads in the user’s browser, and visually eye-grabbing.

Taking this to an extreme, there’s a meme going around the web about the “world’s largest” or “world’s biggest” RSS button. This meme has gotten (pleasantly) silly.

I think it started when claimed to have the world’s biggest:

Not bad, right?

John Chow thought it was good, but not big enough, so he made his larger as a part of an effort to get more RSS readers:

Bill Hartzer claimed to have the world’s largest RSS button, but if you look at the source of the page, you can see it is just an orange background. Cheater! 😉

While investigating the meme, I encountered Malaysia’s Largest (and Ugliest) RSS button. So it is good to know that national pride is getting involved, hm? made one that impressed me, and you can see it here.

But Doug Karr made one so large (6000×6000 pixels) that IE can’t display it. (He advises you check it out in Firefox if you’re interested)

Of course, now the silliness is really getting started, and Rex Bowden claims to have the “biggest 4” RSS buttons.

For the record: I like the size of my own little RSS button just fine: Subscribe to

You can check out the meme yourself via Google.

Nov 16

Creating Advanced Google Custom Search Engines

If you’re interested in Google CSEs, you’ll want to check out this post from Google Blogoscoped by John Biundo and Eric Enge of Stone Temple Consulting. Enge is the creator of the Custom Search Guide.

Note that this is for the more advanced features of Google CSEs. The authors state clearly:

This article is not intended as a gentle introduction to CSEs. For that, you may want to start with this overview of Google Custom Search Engines or this article showing how to build a good Custom Search Engine.

I like learning materials that teach by examples, so I was pleased to see that the article walks one through the steps by building an example CSE to search sites for wine aficionados.

Nov 14

More toys for tricking out Google Reader

I’ve already posted about the Unofficial Google Reader Notifier, but the Google Reader Blog today mentions this and other user-created tools for adding new functionality to Google Reader:

Gordita: Reader has one-click starring and sharing of items, but you may want to do the same to pages outside of Reader. Gordita lets you create a bookmarklet that allows you to copy Reader items that interest you to, along with all the other items you’ve bookmarked over the Web.

Google Reader Optimized: This set of user styles maximizes the reading area. When you want to sit down and power through hundreds of items, you may find this compact, stripped-down interface preferable.

Controlling Google Reader with a Cell Phone : This add-on may be a bit out there, but in a nutshell it allows you to control Reader with your Bluetooth cellphone. Perhaps if used in combination with the full-screen style above, you can build your own Reader 10-foot user interface.

Nov 14

Video: Judge orders library to reinstate fired Savannah librarian

LISnews posted about this story more than a week ago, but I ran across a local television news report (after advertisement) this morning that includes a bit more detail, including comments from Connie Rehm, the librarian herself.

This line bugged me

Scanning library books and watching children read behind a library desk is Connie Rehm’s dream job…

This, it seems, is what the local NBC affiliate thinks librarians do. They watch children read and scan books.

Nov 14

Hurray for OCPL!

I know it is a little off-topic, but I wanted to take a few minutes to thank my local public library for a couple of services I just noticed today.

First, Onondaga County Public Library has a new visual discovery tool which is neat:

In addition to the visual discovery on the left and titles with summaries in the middle, the right side of the page lets the user filter search results by format, author, subject, language, series, year, or data sources. But that’s not even the cool part.

The cool part is that OCPL has RSS feeds from their catalogue. 🙂

Patrons can now subscribe to a feed of all new additions to the catalog, or to feeds containing new items that match their query.

I’d still like to see a feed for their events calendar, and I’d love to see them do some blogging- but this is a great start.

Nov 13

MedLib Blog Badge

Over in the sidebar of this blog is a new button that looks like this:

…which links to the masterlist of MedLib blogs at LISwiki.

I think we’ve started to see more of an interactive community among these blogs, so I thought it might be fun to have a button declaring one’s membership in that community. It’s also a nice way to encourage your readers to visit other MedLib blogs.

If you’d like to add it to your own blog, just copy and paste this code into your sidebar:

<a href=""> 
<img src=""></a>

(Button made with this neat generator.)