Apr 06

Books I Would Very Much Like to Read/Review

New(ish) or upcoming books that I would really like to read and review here

The Information: A History, a Theory, a Flood
By James Gleick

Okay, I admit I’m already reading this one- and LOVING it.  Gleick (who also wrote a great biography of Richard Feynman), writes in a fascinating, engaging way about the history of information and of information technology.  This book wonderfully illuminates how we got where we are and provides hints at where we might be going.

I would like a stack of 20 copies, please, so I can give one to each of my favorite 20 technology-resistant librarians.

Check out these reviews.


An Introduction to Research for Health Librarians
By Barbara Sen

This looks like one I’d love to read- and it is being released in May.

“This step-by-step guide provides encouragement, support, and direction for health librarians who may be new to research and evaluation or lacking in confidence or expertise. With a focus on practice-based research, evaluation, and small projects, it guides the reader through the research process, from starting to think about the research question, through to the completion of the research and dissemination of the results. It is designed to encourage quality research from library professionals and encourage them to add to the evidence base in this sector. This timely collection considers methods and approaches that are suitable in a health library context, making it a useful tool for health library professionals and students alike.”


Evidence-Based Medicine: How to Practice and Teach it
By Sharon E. Straus MD, Paul Glasziou MRCGP FRACGP PhD, W. Scott Richardson MD, R. Brian Haynes MD

This one was released in December, but I haven’t gotten to it yet- and I’ve been instructed quite sternly to read everything Sharon Strauss writes.

“Evidence Based Medicine provides a clear explanation of the central questions: how to ask answerable clinical questions; how to translate them into effective searches for the best evidence; how to critically appraise that evidence for its validity and importance; and how to integrate it with patients’ values and preferences.”


Without a Net: Librarians Bridging the Digital Divide
By Jessamyn C. West

Rachel Walden taught me what a “librarian crush” is, and I have had a librarian crush on Jessamyn since I saw these signs.

Teaching novice computer users, including seniors and individuals with disabilities such as low vision or motor skills, how to do what they want and need to do online is a formidable challenge for library staff. Part inspirational, part practical Without a/the Net: Librarians Bridging the Digital Divide is a summary of techniques, approaches, and skills that will help librarians meet this challenge.

Jessamyn C. West’s experience as a librarian is deeply immersed in technology culture, yet living in rural America makes her uniquely qualified to write this book. Taking a big-picture approach to the subject, she demystifies and simplifies tech training for the busy librarian, providing an easy-to-use handbook full of techniques that can be used with all of a library’s many populations. As an added bonus, she also examines the players in the library technology arena to offer firsthand reports on what works, what doesn’t, and what’s next.


The Atlas of New Librarianship

Libraries have existed for millennia, but today the library field is searching for solid footing in an increasingly fragmented (and increasingly digital) information environment. What is librarianship when it is unmoored from cataloging, books, buildings, and committees? In The Atlas of New Librarianship, R. David Lankes offers a guide to this new landscape for practitioners. He describes a new librarianship based not on books and artifacts but on knowledge and learning; and he suggests a new mission for librarians: to improve society through facilitating knowledge creation in their communities.

The vision for a new librarianship must go beyond finding library-related uses for information technology and the Internet; it must provide a durable foundation for the field. Lankes recasts librarianship and library practice using the fundamental concept that knowledge is created though conversation. New librarians approach their work as facilitators of conversation; they seek to enrich, capture, store, and disseminate the conversations of their communities.

To help librarians navigate this new terrain, Lankes offers a map, a visual representation of the field that can guide explorations of it; more than 140 Agreements, statements about librarianship that range from relevant theories to examples of practice; and Threads, arrangements of Agreements to explain key ideas, covering such topics as conceptual foundations and skills and values. Agreement Supplements at the end of the book offer expanded discussions. Although it touches on theory as well as practice, the Atlas is meant to be a tool: textbook, conversation guide, platform for social networking, and call to action.

[More here]


What new books are you reading or looking forward to?

Mar 23

We Live in the Future

Sure, I still want my jetpack and hovercraft, but we DO live in the future. In a talk I gave recently, I illustrated this position with few small examples of how far we’ve come.

When I was born, my father (an IBM programmer) used some cutting-edge computer technology to make my birth announcements. See images below.


MFCUI love that acronym, “MFCU.” Sounds like something out of a 70s blaxploitation film.

How did he use these? He made birth announcements on 96-column punch cards in which the punches spelled out the word “BOY.”


In 1972, here’s what the cutting-edge of MEDLINE looked like to most users:


According the NLM’s Janet Zipser, MEDLINE was the first remote access, real-time database in existence. By the end of 1972 about 150 libraries had access to MEDLINE® all at medical schools and research facilities. The rate was $6/hour, a 4-fold reduction over direct dial. The highest speed available was 30 characters/second. Most people had 10 characters/second Texas Instrument Silent 700s.

Please understand how amazingly fast people thought 30 characters/second was. Please also understand how that compares to today’s speeds:


And now PubMed is available to everyone with an internet connection…for free. Anna Kushnir-type gripes aside, this is amazing.

I looked at what storage memory cost circa 1979:

Compare that to the flash drive I keep in my pocket at most times:

The IBM 3340 Direct Access Storage Facility was introduced in March 1973 …Two, three or four 3340 drives could be attached to the IBM System/370 Model 115 processor — which had been announced concurrently with the 3340 — providing a storage capacity of up to 280 million bytes.


In order to match the storage capacity of my flash drive, this is how many IBM 3340s you’d need:

In order to match the storage capacity of the laptop I was using at the time, this is how many IBM 3340s you’d need:

xkcd put it nicely:

iTunes, as far as I can tell, has over 11 Million tracks.

But what brought this all to mind was something I stumbled across via PopURLs the other day:



We live in the future.


Via Joe (http://friendfeed.com/jokrausdu), here’s what 200 MB looked like in 1970:

200 MBs in 1970

200 MBs in 1970


Jan 29

MLGSCA/NCNMLG 2010 Slides (#jm2010az)

Perhaps I can write a bit more about my trip to Arizona soon, but for now I wanted to get the slides posted for those who attended.

It was lots of fun and a treat for me to get to leave Syracuse in January and gape at palm trees for a couple of days. 🙂

Aug 18

Awesome MedLib Blog: PubMed Search Strategies

This kind of blog is sooooo useful to searchers like me who are clearly less experienced and expert than the author of PubMed Search Strategies, Cindy Schmidt, M.D., M.L.S.

“This blog has been created to share PubMed search strategies. Search strategies posted here are not perfect. They are posted in the hope that others will benefit from the work already put into their creation and/or will offer suggestions for improvements. Librarians who wish to post comments on this blog or who wish to become authors are invited to e-mail me.”

Example post shown below:


[via: Melissa Rethlefsen and Mark Rabnett]

Aug 05

Quertle®: More Semantic MEDLINE Search


What New Users Should Know
(How is Quertle® different?)

1. Find true relationships, not simple co-occurrences
On Quertle, if you search for two or more terms, you will find documents in which those terms occur in a conceptual relationship, not simply scattered within the same document. You won’t always find as many, but you weren’t really going to read 14,578 documents, were you?

2. Quertle understands biology and chemistry
Quertle understands the difference between “TWIST”, the helix-loop-helix transcription factor, and “twist”, the verb. So, use proper capitalization in your query, and you won’t be lost in a sea of irrelevant results.

3. Power Terms™ enable you to query for categories of objects
Use Power Terms™ to query for categories of objects, such as any protein or chemical (not simply the occurrence of the terms). See the Power Terms™ link under the query box for further instructions and the list of currently-supported Power Terms™. Use them; we’ll know what they mean. Want other Power Terms™? Let us know.

4. Useful help
Throughout the site, mouse over the (?) to see helpful hints. To answer many of your other questions, such as why there appear to be duplicate results, please read the Help and FAQ documents (links at the bottom of the page).

Things to look for on the Results page (check the (?) hints on that page):
a. More relevant results
b. Easy filtering and breadcrumb tracking
c. Key concepts automatically identified for you, including members of any Power Term™ categories used in your query

I definitely like the highlighting of search terms and the terms Quertle sees as synonymous:

I like the refinement tools to the right of search results:

It bothers me a bit that Quertle doesn’t actually identify who created or maintains it:

Who is behind Quertle?
Quertle has been created by biomedical scientists, chemists, and linguistic experts, who have many decades of experience with research and finding relevant information to support that research.

Since Quertle is essentially doing keyword searches, its power would be significantly improved if it supported Boolean operators.

Librarians, be sure to check out the Power Terms™. Currently-supported terms are listed here– what others would you like to see?

For more, see Quertle’s Help page.

Apr 02

Screencast: Introduction to new PubMed Advanced Search

Way behind on sharing this, but better late than never.

The Mayo Clinic Libraries’ Liblog has a screencast by Melissa Rethlefsen on PubMed’s new Advanced Search features that you can embed on your own page:

In case I have not mentioned it recently: Melissa is awesome.

Jan 24

Understanding Evidence-based Healthcare

Rachel Walden points (from both Women’s Health News and Our Bodies Our Blog) to a free online workshop titled “Understanding Evidence-based Healthcare: A Foundation for Action” , offered by the US Cochrane Center‘s Consumers United for Evidence-based Healthcare (CUE).

(Embedded below is a video about CUE. If you are reading this post via a feed reader, you may need to visit the site to view the video.)

Jan 19

Lei Wang’s “Find It Fast” Video Tutorials

Posting about the cool stuff Lei Wang does appears to be a habit for me, but as habits go, it sure is worthwhile.

Lately, Lei has been posting “Find It Fast!” video tutorials on the blog he writes for the Harvey Cushing/John Hay Whitney Medical Library at the Yale University School of Medicine. These are great and are available as streaming flash or as an .m4v download (suitably sized for viewing on a portable device!).
Click here to see Lei's tutorial, "The Clinical Question"
The most recent ones, The Clinical Question and The Pyramid of Resources aren’t just useful to clinicians- they would make wonderful instructional tools for new medical libraryfolk, too.

Nov 06

UNYOC (CE slides) and NYLA Tomorrow

My apologies to the awfully nice folks who attended the CE course I taught at UNYOC a couple of weeks ago! I’ve taken far too long to get these slides posted:

Also: I’ll be on a panel at NYLA tomorrow (Friday, 11/6/2008) afternoon at 4:00 PM- please say hello if you’re going to be there! As usual at these sorts of things, I’ll know almost nobody. But hey- I might get to meet Polly Farrington!

Aug 11

PubMed Quiz

The Saab Memorial Medical Library (at the American University of Beirut) has quizzes to test your PubMed knowledge in both Basic and Advanced flavors.

Just curious: If you teach (or have taught) a class on using PubMed, are these the sorts of questions you’d use to determine how well your students absorbed the material?

Apr 22

Good Reasons for Not Blogging

I have (no joke) 20 posts that are half-written, and have ideas for another dozen or so that I want to get to- but they’ll need to wait until next week.

Reason 1:
I must try to finish a writing project (about which I’ll write more soon).

Reason 2:
I must make sure I’m well-prepared for my visit to Wisconsin at the end of the week.

Reason 3:
I need to keep refining my materials for MLA 2008. I’m not happy with them yet.

I’m not pleased to put off the blogging, but with the commitments I’ve made to others it is the only thing I can (in good conscience) put on the back burner.

Next week, I plan to put up a few posts about the AMA conference last week and some of the interesting things I learned there.

Also keeping me busy lately: Liz and I are expecting a baby in early July.

More about that next week, too.


Mar 28

Introduction to the Cochrane Collaboration (Slidecast)

Flash SlideCast embedded above. If you are reading this in an aggregator, you may need to visit the site to view/hear the SlideCast.

Okay, not the most engaging way to introduce the Cochrane Collaboration- but still neat.

For another introduction, see this video.

Mar 21

(Greatly improved) Cochrane and CINAHL Tutorial Videos

The Cochrane tutorial video I posted a few days ago from YouTube was good in its content, but the quality of the image left something to be desired.

James Carson, the reference/acquisitions librarian at Lake-Sumter Community College who put the tutorial together was kind to contact me and point me towards the much higher quality version.

If you like that, be sure to check out their CINAHL tutorial as well.

Thanks, James!

Mar 20

Explain RSS using Facebook

In the middle of an attempt to explain RSS to a Facebook user (who is already uniwittingly making use of RSS feeds), this exchange cracked me up:

the_dude: I haven’t heard of those Facebook apps. Tumblr? Reddit? Digg?

engtech: Those aren’t Facebook apps. They’re different websites. You don’t have to login to Facebook to read them. They’re out there in the great wilds of the Internet. They’re outside of Facebook.

the_dude: Man, internet people are horrible spellers. What’s up with those website names?

engtech: Web 2.0 means spell check is optional.


Mar 14

Emerging Technologies in Nursing and Nursing Education (Presentation)

Patricia Anderson (whose slides I always find worth a look) put up a new presentation yesterday:

Above: Embedded slides. If you’re reading this in an aggregator, you may need to visit the site to view the slides
Mar 05

Webcast Rehearsal, 3/4/2008

Photos from rehearsal for the Webcast:

Dale Prince really likes his iPhone. So do I, actually.

What may not be immediately obvious to those who have not met him is that Bart actually has a halo that is visible in person.

Michelle agrees with me that Dale rocks.
Feb 18

OvidSP RSS Tutorial

From the Yale University School of Medicine’s Cushing/Whitney Medical Library comes a nice screencast tutorial on generating search-based RSS feeds from OvidSP.

You can download the tutorial (mp4) or watch the streaming version.

Be sure to check out the rest of the tutorials from this blog of video tutorials and consider subscribing to its RSS feed.

Jan 19

OvidSP Resources

The Krafty Librarian has assembled a number of useful resources on OvidSP that should be helpful to those still working on transition plans.

You can also check out what other medical libraries are doing by searching the Medical Library CSE for ovidsp.

You could even seek out specific instructional materials by searching for Ovidsp (handout OR instructions OR “how to” OR training)

For what the biblioblogosphere has had to say about OvidSP, see this LibWorm search.