Jan 22

Online Behavior and Real Life Effects

The Hedgehog Librarian (who subscribes to more listservs than I do) has an interesting post on managing one’s online identity, and rightly points out that what one does online does (and should) matter to one’s reputation and career.

Particularly in the small profession of library science, where we do all know each other, people network and remember. An insult or slur goes much further online than it can in person because now there’s an archive of it.

…I understand the frustration…but not the tone. Do you think I won’t remember when you insult a librarian younger or older than you? Do you think I won’t remember when you verbally attacked another person? Do you think your name won’t trigger a warning bell if I ever see your resume? I think of it less as personal bias than professional preservation.

It is a good reminder that what one writes in blogs, leaves as comments, or writes to listservs is a permanent part of one’s professional reputation.

[Read the whole post here]

Jan 21

“Shelf Life”

Trailer for “Shelf Life,” an independent film set in a library.

In this dark comedy of petty office politics in a library, it’s the Head Librarian versus the Book Shelver in an all-out, deadly war of the wills.

A small branch library, a territorial head librarian and a recovering drug addict bookshelver. May the best woman win this war of catfights, false accusations and competing story time circles.

Cast: Betsy Brandt, Elisa Bocanegra, Joe Smith, Ryan Spahn, William Jones, Bonnie J. Kirk, Holgie Forrester, Jordan Halpern, Michael McTaggert, Rick Ankrom

Writer/Director: Tamar Halpern
Producers: Tamar Halpern, Liz Leifer, Robin Muir
Cinematographer: Steve Elkins

Jan 20

More RSS to Web Page Tools

I’ve updated the page demonstrating RSS to Web page tools to include a few more free tools. Note that these are all free solutions that are hosted by their creators. There are also free solutions that require you to host the script yourself- I hope to add those when I have the time to install and play with them a bit more.

Here’s the complete list as of today:

Feedo Style
RSS Feed Converter
RSS Ticker Widget (Added 1/17/2007)
RSS Scrollbox Widget (Added 1/17/2007)
RSS2GIF (Added 1/20/2007)
RSS Mix – News Box Wizard (Added 1/20/2007)
MuseStorm Widget (Added 1/20/2007)
FeedFeeds (Added 1/20/2007)

Please let me know if I’m missing any by leaving a comment?

[Previous post on this topic]

Jan 20

LibWorm discussed in Norway

As mentioned previously, Guus van den Brekel has been traveling in Norway (Oslo and Trondheim) to give talks and run workshops about library web technology.

I try to follow most of what Guus does online because I can’t really get enough of tech-savvy medical librarians. So when I saw he’d posted another presentation on SlideShare titled “Web Developments & Trends,” I started looking through it right away- and was delighted to see that three slides (35, 36 and 37) are screen captures of LibWorm!

(Check out more from Guus’ trip to Norway here.)

Guus, we’re delighted that LibWorm was a part of your presentation! Please let your workshop attendees know they should email us if they have any questions, concerns or (our favorite) suggestions for improvement: david [AT] libworm [DOT] com. 🙂

Jan 19

Audio/Video Guides for the Medical Library (Podcasts)

Before we left for our trip to Spain last year, I downloaded a bunch of audio files about major traveler’s destinations in Barcelona. The idea behind these was that you loaded them into your portable audio player and they replaced the need for a tour guide or an audio guide from the site being visited. I liked them. It was convenient, inexpensive to produce or use, and it was great the way the audio complimented and enhanced visits to museums and works of Gaudi’s architecture. I wondered at the time: Why can’t libraries have audio guides that walk the user through the library and the use of its tools?

Are any medical libraries doing this?

A friend emailed me to tell me that the University of Tennessee Health Sciences Library is producing podcasts. This video podcast is about accessing and using Scopus.

I love the idea that a user could put on his or her headphones, sit down at a Library computer, and play with the tool while watching/listening to a tutorial on the use of that tool.

Screen Capture: Scopus podcast

This particular podcast would be greatly improved if it contained more information on actually USING Scopus. Walking the user through a search, for instance, would be really cool. Also, with such a speech-heavy video where the images are often just background, they might reinforce some of the information being spoken. If nothing else, stuff like the Information Desk’s telephone numbers, email address, and web address need to be reinforced visually, and it isn’t difficult or time-consuming to add text to video.

Regardless, providing instructional video on the use of library tools that the user can listen to or watch on his/her iPod while in the library is a great idea. It is probably also cost effective, considering how many university students have iPods of their own.

Jan 18

I’m in Library Journal!

The 1/15/2006 Library Journal blurbed about the poll I ran to invite others to suggest and vote for a replacement title for “librarian” after 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.”

I’m of course tickled to be mentioned in Library Journal, but I wish it was for something that mattered a little more. Maybe if I ask very nicely, I can convince them that LibWorm is a story worth covering.

While we’re on the topic of LJ, be sure to check out Melissa Rethlefsen’s interview with Tim Spalding about LibraryThing.

Jan 18

Sneaking into the back of Dr. MacCall’s class

Steven L. MacCall, Ph.D. teaches courses in medical librarianship at the University of Alabama’s School of Library and Information Studies…and I am jealous of his students.

He has uploaded a bunch of his course presentations to Slideshare, including this one, introducing Consumer Health Collection Development for his LS 534, Health Sciences Librarianship:

It isn’t the same as actually sneaking into the back row of his class, but it’s still pretty neat.

Jan 18

MedlinePlus to be Enhanced by Vivísimo

vivisimo logo nlm.png

ResourceShelf beat me to it (good lord, they’re amazing), but it is worth repeating.

The whole press release is available here.

Vivísimo today announced its selection by the National Library of Medicine (NLM) to enhance searching on www.nlm.nih.gov. The NLM, the world’s largest biomedical library, will leverage Vivísimo’s enhanced search functionality to provide quick and easy access to information on linked Web pages. Vivísimo will also enable search functionality for the NLM’s consumer health web sites, MedlinePlus (http://medlineplus.gov) and MedlinePlus en español (http://medlineplus.gov/spanish/), aggregators of medical and health information from government agencies and other authoritative organizations.

clustermed logo biometacluster

When I first saw Vivísimo’s ClusterMed and BioMetaCluster, I thought they demonstrated a lot of potential. I wonder if these were developed for the specific purpose of pitching the NLM…

I can’t wait to see what Vivísimo is going to do for MedlinePlus! I already find it powerful and easy to use, so enhancements are just icing. Sweet, delicious, gooey icing. 🙂

Jan 17

Update: Badge-Wearin’ MedLib Blogs

Previously, I’ve noted the following blogs that display the MedLib Blog badge in their sidebars:

I noticed a couple more excellent blogs that are using the badge, and wanted to make note of them here:

(News from the Biomedical Library, Katholieke Universiteit Leuven, Belgium)


Musings of a Medical Librarian Maven
(Alexia Estabrook’s place to lay down the learnin’)


If I’ve missed the badge on your blog or if you’ve just added it, please let me know so I can link to you here.

What’s this all about?

The badge links back to the masterlist of MedLib blogs to indicate the blog’s membership in the growing community (and sense of community) of MedLib blogs(/bloggers).

To add this badge to your own blog, just copy and paste this code:

<a href="http://liswiki.org/wiki/Medlib_Blogs">
<img src="http://tinyurl.com/y32hh8/"></a>

Not sure how to do this with your particular blogging software? Email me at david[DOT]rothman[AT]gmail[DOT]com and we’ll figure it out together. :)

Jan 16

Why I don’t trust NewsTrust for health news

Darren Chase has an interesting post at medlibrarian.net about NewsTrust that I wanted to leave him a comment about, but the comments on his blog are turned off, so this post will have to suffice. Here’s what Darren posted:

Darren's post about NewsTrust

The part of Darren’s post that really caught my attention was this:

Overall, it succeeds in its goal to “identifying trusted news sources hidden in the deluge of information available online.”

If the site works like Digg (and it seems to), a high user score for an item indicates that a high number of users scored the item as good. So it would seem to measure popularity of an item among NewsTrust users. How does this indicate anything about authority?

From the site itself:

How do you pick which stories to feature on the NewsTrust site?
The content on the NewsTrust homepage is continually being update by story reviews and new submissions. Generally speaking, stories displaying a high level of journalistic quality as judged by our citizen reviewers, are more likely to appear on front page of the site.

So it would seem that health news stories are submitted to the site by “citizen reviewers” (with no apparent credentials or training in the health sciences) on the basis of “journalistic quality.” Then they are scored by popular vote by people who are also not health or information professionals.

Here are a couple stories I found in the Health News section, submitted to NewsTrust by these citizen reviewers “on the basis of journalistic quality:”

Could a medical librarian really recommend these as authoritative or trustworthy sources for health news? Could any librarian responsibly recommend NewsTrust as a useful tool for identifying trustworthy sources of information? What the heck is “journalistic quality”? The site doesn’t even list its criteria for evaluating a source, much less meet the standards of evaluation that should satisfy an information professional.

I think there are times when social models are not the best way of separating the the wheat from the chaff. I appreciate the “wisdom of crowds” as a concept and as a useful model for some applications, but the “wisdom” of a crowd of laypeople cannot reliably be used to identify trustworthy or authoritative sources of health information. That can only be done effectively by health professionals- most ideally by health professionals that are specially trained to be expert in finding and evaluating health information: Medical Librarians.

The World Wide Web is glutted with health information that is of poor quality, outdated, inaccurate, confusing, or just fraudulent. The need to help consumers navigate and find quality health information has never been greater. I’m concerned that a casual endorsement like this one at medlibrarian.net could seriously mislead a consumer who stumbled across it and misrepresent the value of medical librarians.

What do you think? Am I off-base in giving Darren a hard time about this? Please leave a comment and share your thoughts.

Jan 16



The content of Authoratory is produced by analyzing large amounts of data from PubMed. PubMed is a service of the U.S. National Library of Medicine that includes over 16 million citations from MEDLINE and other life science journals for biomedical articles back to the 1950s. PubMed includes links to full text articles and other related resources.

You can browse, search by author, or search by keyword. Say I want to find out who has written a lot on Ulcerative Colitis. I can search on the term:

…and that’ll confirm the hits:

…Click on that to get a list of authors:

(Click thumbnail to see larger image)

…Then chose one of the top authors produced by the search to see a display of co-authors:

(Click thumbnail to see larger image)

This is just scratching the surface. Try playing with it a bit, and check out the “tutorial” page. The look and interface leave much to be desired, but Authoratory seems to me like a good and potentially useful idea.

Thanks for the heads-up, Melissa!

Previous posts about other PubMed tools, mash-ups, and “alternative interfaces”:

Jan 15

RSS to Web Page: Tool Output Examples (Updated with two more tools)

Update, 1/17/2006:

Added RSS Scrollbox Widget and RSS Ticker Widget.

Thank you, DigiZen!


I could’ve sworn that I’d seen a site that shows the same feed presented in a number of different RSS-to-Web-Page tools, but I can’t find it…so I made one with the feed from this blog.

Click here to see it.

I have my own opinions about which ones I like better than others, but I’d be grateful to hear yours- so please leave a comment.

Jan 15

More Web-based Radiology Tools

I recently posted about Goldminer and Yottalook. Since then, there has been a thread on a listserv I subscribe to (unrelated) in which list members suggested online radiology resources. Included in these suggestions were the following.

Both RadiologyEducation.com and SearchingRadiology.com were created by Michael P. D’Alessandro, M.D.

RadiologyEducation.com calls itself a “digital library of radiology education resources,” but I’d describe it as a hyperlinked directory of recommended radiology resources on the web.

is a Google Custom Search Engine (same as the Consumer Health and Patient Education Information Search Engine I made). SearchingRadiology.com does NOT indicate what or how many sites the CSE searches, but describes itself as searching “radiology peer-reviewed information.”
As Dr. D’Alessandro rightly points out in a comment below, SearchingRadiology.com searches radiology peer-reviewed information from AJNR, AJR, Anatomy Atlases, BJR, eMedicine, EURORAD, Gray’s Anatomy, Medcyclopaedia, Radiographics, and Radiology.

From the About page:

LearningRadiology.com was conceived, designed, developed, produced and is maintained in its entirety by William Herring, MD. Dr. Herring is the Vice-Chairman and Radiology Residency Program Director at Albert Einstein Medical Center in Philadelphia, PA, where he has been the residency Program Director for over 20 years.

All material on the site was produced by Dr. Herring. Started in June of 2002, the site was originally intended to replace the handout notes that accompanied lectures for the residents and medical students at Albert Einstein. It now contains over 10,000 pages, and it has grown in popularity so that, this year alone, about 20 million pages will be accessed during over 700,000 visits.

RSNA hosts an index site running the MIRC storage and query software at http://mirc.rsna.org. The RSNA MIRC site allows users to access materials published on participating sites from around the world.

More information on RSNA MIRC here.

Other posts on davidrothman.net about online radiology resources:

Jan 15

The NYT (again) on Maplewood Memorial Library (updated)

Update: Steven Cohen has the scoop, the library WON’T close in the afternoons because local government officials (rightly) came up with solutions.

The NYT has now published an editorial (registration required) on the Maplewood issue. Some highlights and why they annoyed me:

From the NYT Editorial:

In the meantime, there are things the library can do on its own to accommodate the students. Leslie Burger, the director of the Princeton, N.J. library and the president of the American Library Association, points out that youngsters started frequenting her library’s new facility shortly after it opened a couple of years ago. She then hired three retired persons with skills in handling young people to work part-time with the youngsters in a positive rather than just a disciplinary way.

What the writer of the NYT Editorial failed to note is that the library already hired additional staff:

We have hired after-school monitors to help with crowd control and behavior issues. We have reached out to students through TAG, our Teen Advisory Group. We have notified parents of the problem through Home and School Association publications. We have made public officials aware of the on-going issue. And we have worked closely with school officials and law enforcement. In spite of these efforts, the problem persists.

(my italics)

You’d think that the NYT editorial author might’ve…y’know…done a little research and reviewed the library’s statements on the issue.

Back to the NYT editorial

At a time when student reading scores are declining and young people are spending more and more time tethered to all manner of electronic screens — everything from text-messaging cell phones to video iPods to computers and, yes, TV’s — librarians have a responsibility to do almost anything to welcome students to their facilities.

The author of the editorial must not have been to a public library in some time. He/she seems to think that libraries AREN’T full of “all manner of electronic screens”! Does the author perhaps believe that the library’s role is to be a champion of the printed word?

Everything about the NYT coverage of this story seems to indicate that NYT writers don’t visit public libraries and have no idea what they’re like.

Jan 12

Circ and Serve (Chimato blogs again!)

I was very fortunate many months ago that Mary Chimato, then the head of access services at SUNY Stonybrook’s Health Sciences Library, decided to be my friend. Mary is generous with her time, spirit, and views- and I have benefited from all three. Mary’s education and experience in medical libraries exceed mine by considerable measure, and she has a talent for teaching without making the learner’s realization of his own ignorance painful.

(Yes, I mean me.)

When Mary told me she would be leaving health sciences librarianship to take a position at NCSU as Head of Access and Delivery Services, I was really excited for her- but sort of sad for me, sad for New York State, and sad for medical librarians who would miss her. I worried she’d stop blogging.

I’m less worried now, because she has launched Circ and Serve: Circ. Reserves. ILL. The view from this side of the desk

Circ and Serve

One of the things I like best about Mary’s new blog is that it’ll approach things from the perspective of Access Services. I’m not aware of other biblioblogs/liblogs with this focus (If you are aware of others, please let me know). One of the things I’ve learned form Mary is that I don’t know nearly enough about Access Services- but I’m looking forward to learning from her blog.

Jan 12

Google Reader Preview

Google Reader Preview is another neat Greasemonkey user script for Firefox that adds new functionality to Google Reader.

Replaces Google Reader’s article summary with a frame containing the actual blog item.

Currently works only in “List View” and not in the default “Expanded View” (select in upper right corner). Click any item in the list view to see the original blog within Google Reader.

This slows Google Reader down a bit while posts load from their original locations inside Google Reader, but I’m liking it enough to leave it installed for at least a few days and keep playing with it.

[Via Userscripts.org]

Other Google Reader tips, tricks, and extensions:

Got any other fun or useful Google Reader tricks?