Mar 24

Venting About a Vendor

I spent too much of today on the phone with a vendor from whom I’d requested an advertised, free, 30-day trial of an information resource on behalf of a clinical department at MPOW. (For now, I won’t name the product or company, but I welcome your guesses in the comments.)

After 30 minutes of my patiently letting her finish pitching me with sales information I did not want (We’re already interested in the product! Why would I ask for a trial and quote otherwise?!), I asked for the third time if we could get a quote.

Vendor: Well, I’d really like for you to have the trial for a week before I tell you that.

[Uncomfortable pause]

Me: I can understand why, from a sales perspective, you’d want that. However, if my internal client evaluates the trial for a week, likes it, and THEN finds out it is impossibly beyond her budget, she will have wasted a week of her valuable time…so I need to have that information up front.

Vendor: Well, how much money do you have budgeted for this type of resource?

[Uncomfortable pause as I wrestle with my disbelief that the question was asked]

Me: (Slowly and calmly) Lets assume for a moment that I have that information. The quote you give me should be based on what you feel the product’s market demand merits. If I have that kind of information, let us assume that there is no way on earth I’d share it with you. The quote you give us will not be based on how much money is available.

Vendor: Well, we don’t want to devalue our data either.

Me: That’s why you set prices based on market demand, not on how much money the prospective client has, especially in this economy. Right now, you’re devaluing a prospective client– and I suspect that’s even worse for your bottom line than devaluing your data.


Fortunately, my internal client finds this behavior as despicable as I do.

How often have you had conversations like this with vendors and how do you handle them?

Seriously- tell me your vendor horror stories?

(Again, I’d love to hear your guesses about who the vendor/product is. If you guess correctly in the comments, I’ll email you and tell you so.)

Mar 19

OCR Terminal

Don’t have an OCR application handy at your place of work to read the text of a scanned page? No problem.

What is OCR Terminal?

OCR Terminal is a free online Optical Character Recognition service that allows you to convert scanned images and PDFs into editable and text searchable documents. It accurately preserves formatting and layout of documents.


Free, requires sign-up.

Mar 15

Congratulations To Movers and Shakers!

There are a number of names in the 2009 Movers and Shakers by Library Journal that made me smile. I’m whacky on cold medicine and half asleep, but these need mention and will, in addition, receive a “Macher and Shtarker” recognition from

Melissa Rethlefsen:
Melissa is a co-author, a mentor who is always ready to help, and a wonderful, treasured friend. I can think of no medical library geek who would be more appropriate to receive recognition for her awesomeness.

Rachel Walden:
Rachel has been blogging longer, better, and more consistently than I have. Her blog is not only wonderfully informative and frequently entertaining- it also makes medical librarians look soooooooo good. Rachel was absurdly nice to me when I started blogging and has remained someone I frequently turn to for advice, both professional and personal. I join Library Journal in noting Rachel’s butt-kickery.

I was shocked to discover that Dorothea Salo hadn’t been recognized previously. What do I enjoy more than a smart, articulate, argumentative person? One who disagrees with me. I can’t claim to know her well, but I’ve had fun getting to chat a little with Dorothea on Friendfeed and I’ve always been impressed by those of her writings I am able to properly understand. Read her blog if you haven’t yet.

I’ve only gotten to know Jenica P. Rogers-Urbanek a bit in the last year or so, but quickly came to respect her knowledge, intelligence, kindness, and wit.

Dave Pattern is one of those guys who is perpetually playing with new, interesting, and useful geekery. We should just be grateful he uses his talents for good and information services. If his powers were put to evil applications, we’d all have reason to fear.

I was also pleased to see smart folks like Michael Porter, Sarah Houghton-Jan, Lauren Pressley, Jason Griffey and Karen Coombs. I know none of them well but have admired their work when I’ve encountered it.

Congratulations to these and others recognized this year!

Mar 05

Pubget RSS and Firefox Download Extension

Okay, so we already knew that Pubget is pretty neat and, for the organizations who can implement it, it speeds up the process of getting the full text PDF to the user.

Pubget’s head developer, Ian Connor, keeps me updated on new developments. I was delighted to hear that Pubget now offers RSS feeds with links to the full-text PDFs via one’s organization’s access. The example in the embedded video below uses an open access journal, but gives a good idea what the new feature looks like.

So the idea is that if you click on the link in the RSS feed, Pubget scrolls down the list of the results, highlights the right paper, and displays that PDF.

Pubget also has a new Firefox extension (available at for registered users at that will allow them “…to download all papers from a search or latest issue to their local hard drive.” See embedded video below.

If your organization uses Pubget, how about writing a review for the JMLA? Everything I see and hear from Ian looks insanely cool, but I’d love to hear what a medical librarian thinks after a road test.