Apr 24

RSS in Plain English (Video)

Great, simple explanation of what RSS can do for the user.

There are two types of Internet users, those that use RSS and those that don’t. This video is for the people who could save time using RSS, but don’t know where to start.

I love the reversal of the arrows and the “Netflix vs. Video Store” analogy.


Apr 22

“Laptop Librarians” outreach program

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?

Apr 16

Training the Learning Health Professional

Via User Education Resources for Librarians:

Evidence-based medicine resource, from the Institute of Medicine, has a chapter on training health professionals: http://books.nap.edu/openbook.php?record_id=11903&page=211. Title of resource – The Learning Healthcare System: Workshop Summary – Roundtable on Evidence-Based Medicine.

Apr 16

Web 2.0: Tools for Clinical Practice

Resources from Judy Burnham, used to teach her class for the 2007 Medical Association of Alabama Meeting:

These are definitely worth flipping through if you have even a casual interest in the application of Web technologies to medicine. I like to consider myself well-informed on the topic, but a handful of the resources Judy notes are new to me.

Many thanks, Judy!


Apr 05

Clinicians’ Guide to New Tools and Features of PubMed

Clinicians’ Guide to New Tools and Features of PubMed

Practicing clinicians need to have the skills required to obtain up-to-date medical information to address both the expansion of scientific knowledge and patients’ increasing use of the Internet. PubMed (www.pubmed.gov) allows clinicians free access to the largest biomedical resource available. This article is the third in a Mayo Clinic Proceedings series designed specifically to help clinicians unlock the tools and information available through this valuable resource.

Abstract | PDF

Via Ann Ferrari on MEDLIB-L

Mar 10

The One-Person Library Newsletter

Back in October, I wrote what I thought was a sort of rambling post about problems with technology jargon in educating clinical users.

Undaunted by my iffy writing, Judy Siess edited it down to something more coherent and published her improved version in the latest One-Person Library newsletter.

I’m flattered that Judy thought it was worth adding to the newsletter, and I was tickled to receive my copy of the issue in the mail yesterday. If you don’t already subscribe to the OPL Plus Blog, do check it out. Judy provides bite-sized nuggets of good stuff from a wide variety of sources.

Mar 08

“What is RSS?”

Randy Morin points out this interesting video in which people are stopped on the street and asked “What is RSS?”

While this illustrates very clearly the fact that most do not know what RSS is, Randy points out that this doesn’t really matter.

Randy says that if you ask the very same people what TCP/IP is, “..you’ll get the same response. But they use it everyday. It’s the protocol of the Internet. Or for that matter, what is HTTP? It’s the protocol of the Web. The average person doesn’t need to know what RSS is, they only need to know what My Yahoo! is.”

Feb 22

Ask a Librarian…and get an answer via YouTube

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.

Sophia’s YouTube channel


Feb 22

Screencast: Using RSS to Add Currency to the Library Web Site

As a part of the 5 Weeks to a Social Library course, Melissa L. Rethlefsen prepared this great screencast to demonstrate some of the nifty things one can do with RSS for a Library’s Web site.


Melissa is the Education Technology Librarian at the Learning Resource Center of the Mayo Clinic College of Medicine in my home town, Rochester, MN.

Melissa’s related syndication resources and tools page

Nicely done, Melissa!

Previous posts about Melissa’s work:

MN Medicine: Google, RSS, Podcasts, Oh My!

I’m in Library Journal

Feb 07

Learn CPR


Learn CPR is a free public service supported by the University of Washington School of Medicine. Learn the basics of CPR – cardiopulmonary resuscitation. Updated with new CPR Guidelines issued by the American Heart Association and published in Circulation, Dec 13 2005.

Includes instructional videos:

Feb 04

Online presentation tools

The rumor is that Google is soon to release a presentation tool (a sort of online version of MS PowerPoint or Keynote or OpenOffice Impress) a part of Google Docs and Spreadsheets. So now Google offers email, calendars, word processing, spreadsheets and (soon) presentation software.

Other online presentation applications (or online office suites with presentation features) I’m aware of:

Let me know if there are others I’m missing?

(Let’s hope that the final name Google gives to its presentation tool ISN’T “Presently.” Euucccchh.)

Feb 02

Friday Fun: Chronicles of Libraria (EDITED)

…made for the USF (University of South Florida in Tampa) Library…hope you enjoy our library-themed rap based on SNL’s “Lazy Sunday.”

EDIT: Since YouTube pulled them, I found the embeddable videos on Google Video instead. (Proof that Google Video and YouTube are not well synchronized yet).

YouTube is packed with parodies of and tributes to SNL’s “Lazy Sunday”, but you can only see the original here at NBC.com.

Here’s one other video from the USF library: Richard Sly, Library Guy, stars in Databases! I think I like the last 30 seconds best.

Feb 01

CINAHL Video Tutorial

In cooperation with their nursing program’s faculty, the Health Sciences Library at SUNY Stony Brook put together a video tutorial on the use of CINAHL.

Click Here to see CINAHL Tutorial

I’m finding that viewing a lot of online training materials on a single topic helps me figure out what I think works.

Some other Web-based CINAHL tutorials:

Jan 24

Follow-up: iPods for library training

Since I posted about the idea of a medical library offering iPods pre-loaded with library training materials for use while in the library, I’ve gotten three leads on such things.

Divine Instruction
Ratcatcher left a note to let me know that a comment at Michael Stephens’ Tame the Web from February of 2005 described the same idea being applied at the Duke Divinity School Library, where they placed “an iPod on Reserve checkout with library instruction, lectures, and chapel services.”

Since the librarians only work 8-5 M-F and the library is open additional hours, we decided to record some audio instructions for using a couple of our more popular (and complex) tools. We plan to add recordings of community lectures and services from our Divinity chapel services. One iPod feature that we’re excited about is the ability to speed up or slow down playback (when saved in Audiobook format) so that time-starved students can listen to a lecture at a faster rate. Conversely, our students who work with English as a second language can slow things down.

Medical Library InfoPods
Another medical librarian emailed to tell me about “InfoPod” audio tutorials offered at the Health Sciences Library at the University of Buffalo:

As a way to assist you with your information-seeking efforts, the HSL web team has developed MP3 files to deliver brief audio clips to help guide you through the HSL web site and electronic services and resources.

This service is similar to the kind of assistance the Reference Department provides routinely over the phone. Click on an “InfoPod” icon and the audio clip will “walk” you through the process.


It looks like EBSCO is starting to use Podcasting for marketing and promotion for medical information products and services.

They’ve got a couple of DynaMed podcasts up which are interesting. After a brief message describing DynaMed, they go over highlights from articles added to DynaMed in the previous week. (If you’re interested in these, here’s the feed to subscribe to.)

I asked a contact at EBSCO where their use of Podcasts was going, and was told:

Here’s what we’re planning for the immediate future:

  • Weekly DynaMed “new articles of interest”
  • Short interviews with key EBSCO Publishing executives on key industry topics
  • Information about upcoming interface changes
  • Possibly walk-through training sessions

Each of these could conceivably be very useful to libraryfolk, but I’m most enthusiastic about that last one: “walk-through training sessions.”

How cool would it be for the creator of the tool to provide compressed audio or video to walk the user through training in the use of the tool? (Hint: The answer is “very cool.”)

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

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.

Dec 05

Ten Tips for Smarter Google Searches

This article at Informit.com would be a great way for a search amateur to start building up his/her Google-Fu. It not only introduces the use of specific Google operators, but even introduces the idea of a search strategy. Here’s a taste:

Tip #1: Use the Correct Methodology

Whether you’re conducting a basic or advanced Google search, there is a certain methodology you should employ. Follow the proper method and you’ll get very targeted results; ignore this advice and you’ll either get a ton of irrelevant results or a dearth of relevant ones.

While there are many different (and equally valid) approaches to web searching, I guarantee that this particular approach will generate excellent results. It’s a six-step process that looks like this:

  1. Start by thinking about what you want to find. What words best describe the information or concept you’re looking for? What alternate words might you use instead? Are there any words that can be excluded from your search to better define your query?
  2. Construct your query. Use as many keywords as you need; the more the better. If at all possible, try to refine your search with the appropriate search operators—or, if your prefer, with the Advanced Search page.
  3. Click the Search button to perform the search.
  4. Evaluate the matches on the Search Results page. If the initial results are not to your liking, refine your query and search again—or refine your search by switching to a more appropriate search site.
  5. Select those matching pages that you wish to view and begin clicking through to those pages.
  6. Save the information that best meets your needs.
  7. In other words, it pays to think before you search—and to continue to refine your search after you obtain the initial results. The extra effort is slight, and well worth it.