Jun 26

If you use Gmail, I have your Xoopit Invitation

With all the photos and videos I’m dealing with in my email right now, I love Xoopit.

The service scans your gmail account for media (photos, videos, etc.). The Firefox add-on allows you to easily manage/search/sort/view this media.

I’ve asked for and was given 100 invitations for readers of davidrothman.net. Click here to get started.

It’s in Beta. YMMV, but as someone who manages a significant number of email accounts with Gmail and lots of media, I’m just loving it.

Our child was born four days ago and I’m taking time to put up a brief blog post about Xoopit. Let that inform your sense of how much I like it.

Jun 22

Introducing Simon Gabriel Rothman

Born at 5:30 AM today, weighing in at 6 lbs 3 oz. I uploaded the following embedded video quickly for distant grandparents:

Music is You Ruined Everything by Jonathan Coulton

Liz and Simon are both doing great.

I will likely not be blogging for a while and will be slower in answering email than usual. Thanks in advance for your understanding.

Tired and very happy,


Jun 20

An Evaluation of the Five Most Used Evidence Based Bedside Information Tools in Canadian Health Libraries

Farrell, Alison. “An Evaluation of the Five Most Used Evidence Based Bedside Information Tools in Canadian Health Libraries” Evidence Based Library and Information Practice [Online], 3 17 Jun 2008

Full text (PDF)


Objective – This project sought to identify the five most used evidence based bedside information tools used in Canadian health libraries, to examine librarians’ attitudes towards these tools, and to test the comprehensiveness of the tools.

Methods – The author developed a definition of evidence based bedside information tools and a list of resources that fit this definition. Participants were respondents to a survey distributed via the CANMEDLIB electronic mail list. The survey sought to identify information from library staff regarding the most frequently used evidence based bedside information tools. Clinical questions were used to measure the comprehensiveness of each resource and the levels of evidence they provided to each question.

Results – Survey respondents reported that the five most used evidence based bedside information tools in their libraries were UpToDate, BMJ Clinical Evidence, First Consult, Bandolier and ACP Pier. Librarians were generally satisfied with the ease of use, efficiency and informative nature of these resources. The resource assessment determined that not all of these tools are comprehensive in terms of their ability to answer clinical questions or with regard to the inclusion of levels of evidence. UpToDate was able to provide information for the greatest number of clinical questions, but it provided a level of evidence only seven percent of the time. ACP Pier was able to provide information on only 50% of the clinical questions, but it provided levels of evidence for all of these.

Conclusion – UpToDate and BMJ Clinical Evidence were both rated as easy to use and informative. However, neither product generally includes levels of evidence, so it would be prudent for the practitioner to critically appraise information from these sources before using it in a patient care setting. ACP Pier eliminates the critical appraisal stage, thus reducing the time it takes to go from forming a clinical question to implementing the answer, but survey respondents did not rate it as high in terms of usability. There remains a need for user-friendly, comprehensive resources that provide evidence summaries relying on levels of evidence to support their conclusions.

Full text (PDF)

Jun 19

Medical Librarians in Computers, Informatics, Nursing

Bill Perry’s Notes from the Net Nomad column in the May/June issue of Computers, Informatics, Nursing (PubMed) is pretty much about MedLib blogs. 🙂


I think nurses are missing something if they haven’t investigated blogs written by medical librarians. Experts in finding and assessing information, medical librarians are an resource underutilized by many nurses.


Visit a medical librarian’s blog, communicate electronically, or visit one in person. You’ll find colleagues who want to provide you with the right information at the right time to care for patients.

How much do medical libraryfolk love Bill Perry right now?

Jun 19


Reminder: Liz’s due date is July 10th. Please forgive my one-track mind.

Wanting to track labor (or false labor) contractions, I made an Excel spreadsheet. The first two columns record the time a contraction starts and the time it ends, the third and fourth columns (duration and frequency) calculate automatically.

I thought this was fine until Liz discovered ContractionMaster.com

All you have to do is hit the spacebar when a contraction begins or ends and ContractionMaster will mark the times and calculate the contraction duration and frequency.

My only complaint is that it has no method of output. What if I wanted to take the history it records to the Certified Nurse Midwife? I can’t export the data it records to a file, I can’t copy-and-paste the history from the site to a text file or Excel, and I can’t print without taking a screen capture.

Anyone know of a better option?

Jun 18

The UK Biblioblogosphere

The UK Biblioblogosphere is a blog by Keir Hopwood. From Keir’s announcement:

I wanted to announce my new blog, which details my MSc ILM research project on UK academic (i.e. university) library blogs:


On this blog I will

a) detail the progress and any interesting milestones in the research andwriting process itself

b) keep a list of relevant online resources, including openly available scholarly literature and related blogs

c) keep an updated “directory” of UK academic library blogs at http://del.icio.us/ukbiblioblogosphere

I warmly invite all readers of this list to follow my progress, leave comments and especially alert me to any new or closing blogs so that I can keep the list up to date.

I hope it contributes to research and practice in this field.

Keir, I expect to plunder your del.icio.us account for blogs not yet added to LibWorm– good luck with your project and thanks for making your collection available to others!

Jun 17


Been meaning to post about e-LiSe since I saw the article about it in March.

“e-LiSe (e-Literature Searcher) is an easy-to-use web-based application which finds biomedical information truly related to English words provided by the user. The program uses PubMed database of scientific abstracts as the source of data and a novel bio-linguistic statistical method (based on Z-score), to discover true correlations, even when they are low-frequency associations.

e-LiSe is also capable of finding names of researchers correlated to the information searched by the user. It can function as a name reference engine, answering questions like “who is working on specified subject?” or “what are the coworkers/collaborators of a certain person?”. For the latter the software uses the list of co-authors of each publication a researcher has written to display connections between scientists.”

Jun 16

MedLib Blog Badge at Health, Science & Libraries

For a while there, Jane Blumenthal had me worried that she was going to quit blogging.

Jane is the Director of the Health Sciences Libraries at University of Michigan and I’m really glad she changed her mind- I’d like to see more directors following her lead and blogging.

Why is David always on about this badgey stuff? Badges? We don’t need no stinkin’ badges!

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

These blogs are:

  1. about medical / health / health sciences / biomedical librarianship;
  2. written by (a) medical librarian(s) or medical library paraprofessional(s);
  3. maintained by a medical library; or
  4. maintained by professional association of medical librarians and/or medical library paraprofessionals.

Hey! My blog has the MedLib Blog badge and you haven’t featured it here!

Sorry! I do try for omniscience, but frequently fall short of this goal. 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 it from here.

Why would I want to add the badge to my blog?

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). (This should serve also as a reminder to add your blog to this masterlist, if appropriate.)

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. :)

Jun 13

Friday Fun: The Placebo Journal

Dr. Doug Farrago is a board certified family practice physician in Maine who happens to publish my favorite medical journal, the Placebo Journal.

For the uninitiated, it might be fair to say that the Placebo Journal is sort of like The Onion, but all about medicine.

Here’s an example parody advertisement from PJ for the Drug Rep Piñata:

(This and other sample pages from PJ available here).

I met Dr. Farrago at the AMA Medical Communications Conference in April. He seems willing and able to mock anything or anyone, including himself, and he’s very funny.

How’d the Placebo Journal get started?

“About 9 years ago I was totally burned out. Things were getting to me. When I went to the office all the crying and whining was driving me crazy. Then I realized that the crying and whining was coming from me. What saved me was the stories my partners and I shared with each other. It made me realize I wasn’t alone. Ripping on all the absurdities that go on in health care didn’t hurt either.”

What are your richest sources for subjects to satirize?

Medicine is so chock full of bullshit. The shenanigans of the Medical Axis of Evil (lawyers, insurance companies, big Pharma) makes life too easy for me.

Have any of your targets ever come after you for criticizing or satirizing them?

Google “Cigna” and “Farrago” togetherDavid did Google “Cigna” and “Farrago” together. Click here.. Let’s just say parody holds up pretty well as a defense mechanism.

To what do you attribute the growth of the Placebo Journal? What need does it fill?

Everyone loves medicine. There is a reason that ER, House and Grey’s Anatomy are so popular. We all have been patients at one time or another so everyone can relate. My audience initially was just doctors but it has spread like a virus. There is a vaccine for it, by the way, but it is only about 40% effective and may cause autism.

Placebo Journal fills the need of humor for many people – especially physicians, the majority of which are socially retarded.

Dr. Farrago is branching out into other media, including video. Embedded below is a recent episode of Placebo Television (distributed via YouTube).

(Those reading via RSS may need to visit the site to vbiew embedded video above)

To keep on top of new episodes, subscribe to this feed.

He also has a blog and an email newsletter you can sign up for here.

Good news for academic medical librarians:
Dr. Farrago is looking to improve his exposure to medical students. He tells me that he wants to give some free, one-year subscriptions to libraries that’ll put the Placebo Journal out where medical students can see them. If you’re interested, leave a comment below and I’ll pass your email address on to Dr. Farrago.

Good news for everyone else:
Want a sample issue of the Placebo Journal so you can consider adding it to your serials budget? You can get one by clicking here.

Bonus: Dr. Farrago graciously gave me permission to post this sneak-preview of a page from the upcoming June edition of the Placebo Journal:

I think this is the first time I’ve actually recommended a non-free product or service on this blog. Let that inform your estimation of how much I enjoy the Placebo Journal. 🙂

Jun 12

PubMed Faceoff

PostGenomic’s PubMed Faceoff is the first 3rd Party PubMed/MEDLINE Tool I’ve looked at that really made me chuckle.

This site applies a simple, photorealistic variant of the Chernoff Faces visualization technique to impact factor data for papers in the PubMed database of biomedical literature.

Basically it allows you to search PubMed and have the results represented as a set of human faces.

Each paper is represented as a face. The ethnicity and gender of the face is selected at random for visual interest – you can turn this feature off if you so choose.

The age of a face correlates with the publication date of the paper. Younger faces are more recent papers.

A smile means that the paper has been cited more times than expected (based on its age). Larger smiles mean more citations.

A frown means that the paper has been cited far less than you might expect.

The raised eyebrows correlate with the impact factor (sort of – actually the Eigenfactor) of the journal in which the paper was published.

Some example search results:

I absolutely appreciate the concept (potentially being able to estimate several properties of an article at a glance)- it’s just that some of the facial expressions crack me up.

Jun 11



CoPub is a text mining tool that detects co-occuring biomedical concepts in abstracts from the Medline literature database. The biomedical concepts included in CoPub are all human, mouse and rat genes, furthermore biological processes, molecular functions and cellular components from Gene Ontology, and also liver pathologies, diseases, drugs and pathways. Altogether more than 250,000 search strings are linked with CoPub.

Special attention was given to genes and proteins. For all human, mouse and rat genes not only long forms of names were used, but also their symbols and aliases, which increases recall. Symbols not referring to genes or proteins are a well known problem, but sophisticated scripts detect these homonyms and neglect the abstracts in which they occur thereby increasing precision.

Features include:

* Fast and easy access to relevant abstracts
* Single gene search in all categories
* Multiple gene search in all categories
* Single keyword search in gene category
* Categories of biomedical concepts: genes (human, mouse, rat), liver pathologies, biological processes, molecular functions, cellular components, diseases, drugs, pathways
* Use of long forms, symbols and aliases of genes
* Homonym detection
* Statistical filter to display only significant biomedical concepts
* Based on Medline abstracts till February 2008

Jun 10

Off-Topic: Boggle and Sneak

You might remember that about a year ago I posted about our friend Fritz’s “Novel-a-month” project.

Of of those books is published and available now. Here’s Fritz explaining Boogle and Sneak in 32 seconds:

(Those reading via RSS may need to visit the site in order to view embedded video above)

I think this makes Fritz pretty much the coolest Dad ever.

You can purchase the hardcover book via Amazon or Barnes & Noble.

Fritz adds:

Boggle & Sneak is Creative Commons licensed (CC-BY-NC).
Download the full text for free: PDF · HTML · TXT
Noncommercial sharing and remixing are strongly encouraged.

See what I mean? Coolest. Dad. Ever.

More detail (including Maker Faire video and Instructable for Fritz’s Time Machine) here.

Jun 09

MiSearch: Adaptive PubMed Search Tool


From MiSearch Help:

“MiSearch works with NCBI Entrez and your history of browsing to build a profile of your areas of interest, and uses this information to rank citations likely to be of most most information to you at the top of the list.”

“MiSearch uses a classification algorithm based on MeSH term, substance names and author names associated with citations. Two sets are defined. One is the set of articles you have previously clicked on to view. The other is all of PubMed. For each citation in the retrieval set, the algorithm calculates the likelihood that the citation is a member of these two sets. Article having the highest likelihood of belonging to the set of articles you have viewed are ranked at the top of the list.

The “User” field is used as an identifier to track usage. If you do not provide a name, the IP address of your request will be used as a default. If you know you will be doing searches for different tasks with different subject areas, feel free to define a “User” for each task.”

Slides from an MLA 2008 presentation by NLM Associate Fellow Marisa Conte

Jun 04

New ATM & PubMed (via Eagle Dawg Blog)

Nikki Dettmar points to a 25-minute PubMed Review slides & audio presentation from the NLM Theater at MLA 2008. Nikki has a great breakdown of sections, too- in case you want to skip to particular topics.

(Nikki, where’s your MedLib Blog Badge?)

See also: Before and after comparison at the Dragonfly

Thanks again to Nikki Dettmar for the heads-up (via the Medlibs GroupTweet)!

Jun 03

Three Suggestions for the MLA: Inexpensive Web Projects

At the AMA’s Medical Communications Conference, I insisted to a communications professional from a state professional association that professional associations needed to take advantage of social Web technologies and utilize them to the benefit of their members.

When pressed to explain WHY professional associations should do this, I said that those professional associations who don’t adopt these technologies will find that their members (and potential members) will use these technologies (without assistance from their professional associations) to organize without organizationsI haven’t read this book yet, but I love the title and urge you to please send me a copy.. Where will the professional associations be left when that happens?

With that in mind, here are some projects I’d love to see the MLA pursue.

1. Stop publishing books on dead trees

As I understand it, books published by the MLA are generally written by uncompensated MLA members, edited by uncompensated MLA members, and selected for publication by a committee of uncompensated MLA members. The selling of these books does not raise much (if any) money for the MLA.

Since this book publishing makes no money and the MLA members are okay with donating their time, why not post the book content online in the members-only section of MLAnet and make access to them a benefit of membership? The cost of providing this content would be reduced for the MLA and the content itself would become available to (and searchable by) all members of the MLA, regardless of their institutions’ book budgets. If any members just HAVE to have an MLA book on paper, MLA can make them available for order via Lulu, shifting the cost of print copies exclusively to the reader.

2. Make an “open source” resource to compete with Doody’s Core Titles

Alan Fricker was the first person who put this idea in my head.

Know who writes reviews for Doody’s without compensation? Largely MLA members.

Know who makes the decision to include access to DCT in their budgets? MLA members.

Why couldn’t the MLA offer a platform that accomplishes the same thing as DCT and invite all of the Doody reviewers to instead review for the MLA? The argument for both librarians and other clinical professionals would be that, if the resource is made available to all MLA members as a benefit of membership, everyone’s libraries can be better-informed and reallocate the money that used to be spent on DCT towards other needs.

Perhaps a (free) Pligg installation in the members-only section of MLAnet would do the trick?

3. Create a hedges and filters wiki

A handful of people I know have spent a good bit of time trying to convince me that librarians sometimes actually prefer to hoard their expertise and would be unwilling to share the hedges and filters they’ve spent time developing and perfecting. I prefer to hope that hoarding is on its way out and that the better model of unrestrained sharing will completely supplant it. With copy-and-paste ease, it’d be a pretty easy kind of wiki for librarians to contribute to- and the usefulness to working librarians (and to those who train new librarians) would be enormous.

Your turn!

These are just three ideas. Are they bad ideas? What else would be a good Web project for the MLA to take on? Let me know in the comments?