…Curious Expeditions has attempted to gather together the world’s most beautiful libraries for you…We hope you enjoy them as much as we do.
Read the whole thing and see the photos here.
Thanks to Mike for pointing this out!
Patients with prescriptions are bypassing their local pharmacy – in favour of the library.
Doctors in the Lothians are prescribing self-help books to treat conditions such as mild depression, anxiety and eating disorders.
Following a successful trial, the scheme is being launched across East Lothian on Monday to coincide with the start of National Suicide Prevention Week.
Edinburgh City Council is also considering introducing the project, and a similar one has already been successful in West Lothian.
If you work in a medical library and haven’t yet subscribed to Mark Rabnett’s Shelved in the W’s, you probably will after reading this post.
I saw some interesting comments on MEDLIB-L not too long ago:
“I do not think MLA, HLS, its officers, certainly not academic medical center librarians, understand that hospital libraries have ten years of life left,” writes the anonymous commenter. The commenter appears to hear the Joint Commission and others saying, “Let technology provide us with the information we need,” instead of relying on librarians.
The commenter continues:
How many IT people you know who use libraries? I know one PhD student who is excited that some paper she has written has been asked to be published in some obscure “journal” in the IT field. Frightening! Down right scary. I am old enough to be leaving the work where the techie future picture is not a pretty one for me. Where idiots with ear plugs and i-pods think they know what life is about. God save us, everyone.
This post is a reply to the anonymous commenter (who I’ll call “Nonnie”) and those who share his/her views. I can’t promise that my views will be the same in six months, but this is how I’m thinking lately.
Nonnie, I think you’re absolutely right about one thing: Hospital libraries as we know them may not exist in a decade or two. However, I don’t see this in the same dark way that you appear to. I think they’ll still exist, but will be significantly different.
As I see it, the job of the hospital librarian has been primarily to utilize expertise in the application of information tools to either:
What’s changing now at an incredibly quick pace is only the tools themselves as they become increasingly digital. The mission and the role are exactly the same.
The question becomes: How do hospital librarians set about to manage this change and continue to be invaluable to a hospital?
This very same kind of change is having its way with a LOT of other professions.
Putting aside the way information technologies are transforming other kinds of industries, lets look at a few changes just in healthcare:
Where computers used to support healthcare, they’re now essential, elemental parts of it.
Hospital librarians need to let go of the idea that the challenge they face is unique (or even unusual) and get on with learning the new skills. This profession is not a special sort of victim and dealing with technological change shouldn’t be new to librarians. When my mentor first had to learn to put the telephone handset into a special cradle to dial up a distant computer and execute queries with a highly specialized syntax, I don’t think she complained about having to learn these new skills. I think she was excited about what this new technology could do for her library. It is now our turn to get excited about what new technologies can do for our libraries. Hospital libraries should be the first department facing and mastering these challenges so that they can help departments that aren’t so fortunate as to be staffed with information professionals.
Wait! Come back! It isn’t as scary or difficult as it sounds!
“Nonnie” seems to say that a lot of IS staffers aren’t any good at using information tools. I see some truth in this generalization. Some IS professionals I’ve met in the last seven years or so are a little like auto mechanics who don’t know how to drive. (That’s okay, by the way. Their jobs don’t require them to be experts at using or teaching particular applications.) But here’s the thing: I think that as the tools of health information management (HIM) and health librarianship become increasingly digital, the hospital departments of IS, HIM and Library Services will be strongly tied to each other, overseen by a common person in senior management (probably the CIO)
At this point, some readers are wondering what about this makes the librarian a technologist. Short answer: You don’t have to be a programmer to be a technologist. Someone who is expert in using these computer tools and can teach others to use them is a technologist. There’s been a growing trend for years now in which programmers develop tools to let people who don’t know how to code (but who can understand a little bit about programming conceptually) make new applications without ever writing a lick of code. I’ve seen people who know very little about (X)HTML make useful Web pages with a WYSIWYG editor like Dreamweaver or Google Page Creator. Tools like Pipes, Popfly and Dapper (among many others) are letting users who understand the ideas make new and useful tools.
This is the reason why the famous librarian advocates of “social software”
Communicating with IS professionals
The best thing about being a power user (expert driver) of technologies is that you are better able to communicate effectively with IS professionals. I’ve known a lot of geeks and am even related to a couple. In my experience, the vast majority of IS professionals are incredibly generous with their knowledge and expertise when you’re willing to make the effort to meet them halfway.
When I was working as a Business Systems Analyst for a benefits data management company, I was expected to use the graphical user interface (GUI) that most other BSA’s did to get information from our databases. It didn’t take long for me to grow frustrated with the GUI’s limitations and envy the programmers for their ability to write queries which fetched exactly the information they wanted at incredible speeds. I asked a couple of the programmers what it would take for me to learn to do that. They look surprised, but were incredibly helpful in finding me some good tutorials and loaning me a good book on the topic. When I came back to them after that with questions about our company’s data model or how to accomplish a particular task, they were incredibly generous and patient, taking huge amounts of time to make sure I walked away knowing how to fish, not just with a fish in hand. They patiently explained how they structured the logic of their programs, and when I did or said something stupid, they were kind and gentle in explaining my mistake to me. Not once did they become exasperated with my questions. Not a single time.
Why were they so helpful? Partially because they were good at what they did and enjoyed sharing their expertise with someone who was genuinely interested. More importantly, they were investing in me. My understanding these things better made me easier to work with. Once they had taught me to speak a few words of “Geek,” I could explain problems I was seeing in a vocabulary that made sense to them and helped us communicate efficiently. With the knowledge they had invested in me, I was better able to help other non-programmers I worked with appreciate the challenges the programmers faced. In my experience, this sort of IS professional isn’t the exception- they’re the norm. They’ll help you- you just have to make the sincere effort to meet them halfway.
Writing about technology
Libraryfolk who write about technology need to stay caught up on how technologists write about technology and use a common vocabulary. This is essential for two reasons. First, so that libraryfolk who read LIS literature about technology can use it as a springboard to explore the larger body of technology literature outside of LIS circles. Second, so that IS professionals can be effectively shown that libraryfolk can keep up with the conversation and can make valuable contributions about the way technologies should work. If we don’t speak a common language (or at least share some vocabulary), we’ll just keep talking past each other.
Engaging with technologists outside of libraries
While we’re talking about technology, we have to be careful about how we present ourselves to technology powers. I don’t think it is advisable to tell Google they’ve lost the respect of medical librarians.
I know for a fact that there are a lot of medical librarians who are truly expert in seeking health information online, but so few of them are making their voices heard! One of the reasons my respect for Dean Giustini continues to grow (despite the fact that we frequently disagree) is that he makes his voice heard to technology powerhouses. Medical librarians who are expert in online searching need to demonstrate this expertise outside of the LIS community and directly in front of search professionals. Submit articles to technology journals and magazines! Submit them to medical journals (as Dean has to BMJ)!
If the value of the profession is under-rated, I think it may be partially because medical libraryfolk spend too much time talking only to each other.
I am old enough to be leaving the work where the techie future picture is not a pretty one for me. Where idiots with ear plugs and i-pods think they know what life is about. God save us, everyone.
The problem “Nonnie” illustrates here isn’t the changing workplace- it is the unchanging librarian.
We’re in an age where virtually no professional career path can accommodate someone who finds stagnation of skills acceptable. The UPS driver who balks at the the new tablet computer he’s required to use is silly enough, but this is so much sillier to see in an information professional. Insulting the “idiots with ear plugs and i-pods” is as ridiculous as bemoaning the demise of the card catalog, the horse-drawn carriage and the telegraph. The digitization of information tools is as inevitable as microfilm and microfiche once were, and for similar economic reasons. Librarians are already being faced with the decision to either grow their technology skills or take early retirement.
I think this is both the longest and most opinionated thing I’ve posted here. I’d be really grateful to hear your thoughts (good, bad or ugly) in the comments.
Interesting slides from Mary Moore, PhD:
Above: Embedded video. If you’re reading this in an aggregator, you may need to visit the site to view.
Lots more here, but no indication yet of when the film might be completed and released. 🙁
Below: embedded flash video
Interesting outreach program by the Macon State College Library sends librarians with laptops to the cafeteria/student life center at lunchtime to answer reference questions or help students find information they need for their coursework.
It seems like a groovy idea to me. One question: Why only 90 minutes per week?
Regular readers know that I usually try to avoid posting on topics already covered by other MedLib bloggers and Michelle (at The Krafty Librarian) already posted about this, but it’s worth repeating.
Making medical fact-finding easy
Don’t trust the Internet? These local experts will help
11:07 AM CDT on Tuesday, April 17, 2007
By BRIDGET BARRY THIAS / Special Contributor to The Dallas Morning News
…”Librarians can save consumers time because they have a wealth of information resources available to them that are not available to the general public,” says Jean Shipman, president of the national Medical Library Association in Chicago.
She says medical librarians are similar to personal shoppers, offering expertise in the best information to use, based on knowing their clients’ desires, tastes and needs….
Perhaps not surprisingly, the article’s author has an MLS. 🙂
Robin Siegel of Howell, the librarian at CentraState Medical Center in Freehold Township (Freehold, NJ) is profiled by the Asbury Park Press.
Not a ground-shaking item, but it sure is nice to see a reasonably good description of what a Hospital Librarian does.
“I’m here to answer questions,” Siegel said, “for anybody in the hospital,” meaning for doctors, nurses and other staff members, along with patients and their families.
Information requests from the last few months included those for recipes for pureed food (requested by the hospital’s food services department), suicide statistics (a nurse giving a presentation), chemotherapy protocols (a pharmacist), breast cancer in men (a doctor) and whether chicken soup has a positive role in health care (a nurse).
Regarding chicken soup — yes, there are studies backing that up, Siegel said.
When she is researching for a doctor, for example, the doctor can spend time actually doctoring. Then, Siegel turns over the research to the doctor.
“I don’t come up with a recommendation; I (simply) give them the literature,” Siegel said.
As Robb Mackes wrote on MEDLIB-L, “Robin (and her patrons) did an excellent job in proving the value and the worth of a hospital library.”
I enjoyed this fun, well-produced promotional video which I believe is about these libraries.
However, the title: “Police Library Girls,” seems disrespectful to me. How about “Police Librarians”? If the department’s professionals were all men, would it have been titled “Police Library Boys”? Somehow I doubt it.
What an interesting sort of special library, though. Perhaps the ideal police librarian would have a background in law librarianship?
(Be sure to check out the List of Medical Wikis)
I got an email a couple of weeks ago from Cleveland Plain Dealer reporter Zachary Lewis. Zach was writing an article about medical Wikis (specifically about Ask Dr. Wiki) and wanted an interview.
The article came out today, and isn’t bad as a whole.
The first line, though, is awful:
Think of it as a librarian with a stethoscope.
That loud thumping sound you hear? That’s me beating my head against a wall in frustration with the continued misperception of what medical librarians do.
I’m quoted thusly in the article:
“Medical information is used to make potentially life-changing decisions,” he wrote. “The consequences of inaccurate information could be extremely harmful.”
Here’s what I actually wrote:
“If a middle-schooler foolishly uses Wikipedia as his/her only source for a class report and gets the birth date of Josef Stalin wrong because someone added it incorrectly, little real harm is done- but medical information is used by medical professionals and healthcare consumers to make potentially life-changing decisions. The consequences of inaccurate information could be extremely harmful.”
So the quote should have been written this way:
“…[M]edical information is used…to make…life-changing decisions. The consequences of inaccurate information could be extremely harmful.”
I’m not surprised by it, but I really don’t appreciate Zach misquoting me in this manner. It strikes me as sloppy reporting at best, dishonest reporting at worst. Those of you with a degree or experience in journalism should please feel free to weigh in if I’m off-base on this.
For your edification, here’s the rest of what I gave Zach Lewis on medical Wikis via our email interview. Bolded questions are from Lewis.
How did you first hear about AskDrWiki? What was your first impression of it?
I believe I first read about AskDrWiki on a blog maintained by Dr. Ves Dimov, Clinical Cases and Images.
My first impression was that it was an excellent idea that wasn’t being executed with as much caution as I would have hoped.
Based on my web research, you seem to be one of the site’s staunchest critics. Can you summarize your main points against it? How might patients, particularly, stand be negatively affected by it?
The idea of a medical Wiki for clinical professional is an excellent one. The concerns I’ve expressed about AskDrWiki are in the problems associated with having a medical information resource that anyone can edit at any time and that doesn’t have clearly-established editorial standards to adhere to.
If a middle-schooler foolishly uses Wikipedia as his/her only source for a class report and gets the birth date of Josef Stalin wrong because someone added it incorrectly, little real harm is done- but medical information is used by medical professionals and healthcare consumers to make potentially life-changing decisions. The consequences of inaccurate information could be extremely harmful.
Perhaps as importantly, clinical professionals are becoming increasingly aware of the need for authority in information resources they utilize. Without some sort of editorial control to make sure the content added is expert, AskDrWiki would have no authority and be dismissed by a great number of clinical professionals. This could slow its growth, and I’d hate to see the fruition of such a good idea hindered in this manner.
On the other hand, what’s good about it, in your opinion? How might doctors and/or their patients benefit from this?
Wikis are designed to make it easy for a number of people to collaborate on documents, and the idea of leveraging the combined knowledge of clinical professionals to create a resource of use to thousands is a fantastic one. I think that librarians don’t object to people using Wikipedia as a first stop to get a general overview of a topic and some suggestions for further reading any more than they’d object to using Encyclopedia Britannica this way- as long as it isn’t the information-seeker’s LAST stop. Similarly, a resource like AskDrWiki could be enormously useful to clinicians who need a free, quick overview of a medical topic that has been written by a qualified medical professional.
However, AskDrWiki really is written for clinical professionals and sometimes uses complex clinical language. The recent Nature Medicine article wrongly suggested this was a fault, when in fact it is a feature. Not every Wiki is intended to be a populist exercise for the general public, and AskDrWiki may well be as difficult for patients to use as an article from the New England Journal of Medicine- and that’s okay. There need to be separate resources created for healthcare consumers that are written in such a way that they don’t require a clinical background to read and understand.
I really appreciate the desire of the editors of AskDrWiki to encourage the participation of all clinical professionals and not limiting participation solely to physicians.
Has your opinion of the site changed now that they’re instituting the credential review policy? And what do you think of that policy?
I was sincerely impressed with the physicians behind AskDrWiki for listening to the concerns of information professionals, considering their arguments, and adopting this policy. It demonstrates their desire to make AskDrWiki a reliable, useful, trustworthy information resource, and goes a long way towards resolving my concerns. This policy doesn’t go as far as I’d prefer, but the idea of collaboratively-created, online medical information resources is still a very new one, and I am increasingly confident that the physicians at the Cleveland Clinic who maintain AskDrWiki will continue to embrace good ideas from outside their endeavor and will take appropriate steps to ensure the information it contains is accurate.
Is there a way to have a truly free, open, and 100% safe medical wiki?
This really gets down to the question of what a Wiki is. I would argue that a Wiki is a kind of platform for building a Web site that can be collaboratively edited by users with very little technical knowledge of the Web. Many people believe that a site isn’t really a Wiki unless it can be edited by anyone who wants to edit it. A Wiki with a restricted user base is still a Wiki.
If by “free” you mean “without cost to create,” no. There are always expenses to publishing in any medium.
If by “free” you mean “without cost to users,” sure.
If by “free” you mean “open to be edited by anyone who feels like it,” absolutely not.
I believe no medical information resource is ever 100% safe, but that those with clear, committed editorial policies are certainly likely to contain fewer mistakes. A medical Wiki that makes use of good editorial policies will certainly be more safe than one that does not.
How do you think patients might react if they thought doctors were consulting AskDrWiki for information?
I’m no expert in patient satisfaction, so I can only guess how I myself might feel about it as a patient.
If my doctor told me that he was treating me with advice he got from an anonymous online author and didn’t look it up in published medical literature before trying it on me, I’d get myself a new doctor. If my doctor told me that he first heard about a treatment from an anonymous online resource and didn’t suggest it to me until after looking it up in reputable, peer-reviewed medical information resources, I’d have no problem with that.
If AskDrWiki only allows trained medical professionals to write, it can be relied upon as much as any opinion from one other medical professional. But I wouldn’t want my doctor to make my treatment decisions based solely on the advice of one of her colleagues with no other investigation or research. Would you? As with Wikpedia, there won’t likely be anything wrong with a physician starting her/his research with AskDrWiki, as long as the research doesn’t stop there.
How does a wiki like this differ from traditional, accepted medical reference books, etc.?
Medical textbooks and journals require authors to have pertinent educational credentials and they have well-defined editorial policies to adhere to.
Thanks to their recent change in policy, AskDrWiki is now requiring the educational credentials. That’s excellent, but AskDrWiki doesn’t yet have a clear editorial policy and process by which information may be reviewed and kept up to a high standard that can help users feel confident in the quality of the information.
For instance, it isn’t clear to the reader what will happen when a gastroenterology article is submitted. The editors of AskDrWiki are electrophysiologists and cardiologists- Will they ask a colleague who is a gastroenterologist to review it for accuracy? AskDrWiki might be well-advised to write up a clear and detailed editorial policy, including notes on its intended purpose, sponsors, users, minimum requirements by which articles are approved, and disclaimers. This should be posted prominently on the site and adhered to without deviation. Articles could be marked to clearly state whether or not they have undergone editorial review.
What are your opinions of some of the other medical wikis, like Ganfyd and WikiMd
I think that PubDrug (http://www.pubdrug.org/) has enormous potential that seems to be developing in a very impressive manner. It has a clearly-defined editorial process, is building its editorial board, and is progressing both steadily and cautiously in this new medium as it works out how to be authoritative in a Wiki model.
Ganfyd has challenges before it that are similar to those faced by AskDrWiki, but where Ganfyd seems to have no names of responsible administrators posted, AskDrWiki names its editors and administrators clearly- and I think that’s a good start towards accountability that helps build confidence in their site.
WikiMD has significantly less oversight than Ganfyd or AskDrWiki because it allows anyone to register and edit, regardless of their qualifications to share medical advice. This is a problem shared by NursingWiki (http://en.nursingwiki.org/), WikiSurgery (http://www.wikisurgery.com/) and others.
It is important to remember that when the Web was new, it took some time for medical information professionals to work out how to create a good, useful, and responsible Web-based medical information resource. Wikis are a new sort of Web site, and it will take some time for the best of them to find their feet and figure out the best ways to work. Ask Dr. Wiki could, if it’s editors choose, be a leader in this way- showing other medical Wikis how it should be done.
Neat video, good quote from Meredith Farkas at the start. Not sure exactly what it is for, but I like it. 🙂
A study funded by the UK’s Economic and Social Research Council “…examined the internet search strategies of people who wanted to find specific health information on topics such as high blood pressure, the menopause and hormone replacement therapy (HRT). ”
Among the interesting findings:
“Often [NHS Web sites] were rejected because the first page participants were directed to was a portal or they had too much background or generic content.”
“…even if a site made a favourable first impression, it was unlikely to keep the attention if it did not include personal stories to which the reader could relate.
Many were specifically drawn to sites where they could read about the experiences of other people who have the same problems and concerns. “
I suppose none of this is really surprising, but it is an excellent reminder that consumers do not search for or evaluate information on the Web the way health car professionals do (or at least should).
This all makes me think of Women’s Health News, a consumer health news blog written by Rachel Walden, a medical librarian. I think a great part of Rachel’s success as a blogger is that her blog really does have this personal voice. Rachel comes across as a likeable, funny, real person to whom readers can relate, while at the same time offering lots of expertly-filtered, reliable information about women’s health issues.
Perhaps medical libraries with Web pages devoted to consumer health information can take a lesson from the BBC article and Rachel’s example to better reach and assist health care consumers.
From Room to Read:
Embedded video above. Depending on your aggregator, you may need to visit the site to view.
Room to Read partners with local communities throughout the developing world to establish schools, libraries, and other educational infrastructure. We seek to intervene early in the lives of children in the belief that education is a lifelong gift that empowers people to ultimately improve socioeconomic conditions for their families, communities, countries, and future generations. Through the opportunities that only an education can provide, we strive to break the cycle of poverty, one child at a time.
As Steven says, more bad press.
Embedded video above. Depending on your aggregator, you may need to visit the site itself to view
Another great topic of discussion for LIS students- especially those who seek careers in public libraries.
Interesting article from Information World Review.
Tom Coates, a technologist from Yahoo Technology Development, kicks off by summing up the disruption in attitude that is affecting information providers. “It’s in your interests as an author, researcher or scientist to get your work read, so you slap it on the internet, but that is not in the interests of your publisher,” he points out.
Coates divides Web 2.0 usage into two areas: “Collective intelligence and social software is one clump; the reuse and openness with data is a second theme of Web 2.0.”
Put another way, the first clump he’s talking about contains things like del.icio.us and Wikis. The “second theme” is exemplified by RSS and mashups.
Paul Miller, technology evangelist at library automation supplier Talis , adds: “The debate is how do publishers and scholars share data, yet formulate a business model?” For Talis, Web 2.0 is anything but disruptive. “The library market is not growing,” Miller says. “We were looking at taking our information management knowledge out to new markets.”
Miller also says “[b]logs and wikis are buzz – they will go away.”
While I agree that they are subjects of a lot of buzz, they’re not going away. The buzz will die down as they (and/or their descendent technologies) become commonplace, but I don’t believe they will go away.
(EDIT: Please see Paul’s clarification of this point.)
I was also tickled to see these buttons at the bottom of such an article:
There’s the “first clump” at work.
(Thank you, InfoBunny!)
Sophia is going to answer questions sent to her by email about information resources and research. She introduces the idea in a video here.
(Embedding of the video, to my disappointment, is disallowed)
Sophia has also set up a blog for the project.
It is an interesting idea. It would be especially neat if Sophia were to reinforce answers given verbally with text appearing on-screen, or if answers included screen captures.