October 2, 2007

Web-based file conversion

Posted in Geeky Stuff, Tips & Tricks, Uncategorized, Web 2.0 / Medical Library 2.0 at 11:05 am by Alexia

Many times hospital librarians are expected to also be first tier help desk support yet don’t have the permissions or priviledges needed to really help.  From time to time I run across a really neat web-based tool that can help us “techie” librarians help our patrons.  Zamzar is one such tool.

Last week a patron had emailed herself a .wps document that she could not open on the hospital computer.  We are not allowed to download anything on the pc’s so I did a desperate Google (yes, I used Google.  Sue me) and found Zamzar.  In 4 easy steps her .wps document was uploaded to Zamzar, converted to a Word document, and emailed to the patron.  She was extremely grateful, and I learned something new.


September 13, 2007

Revisiting GTD in the library

Posted in Geeky Stuff, Getting Things Done, GTD, Web 2.0 / Medical Library 2.0 at 1:04 pm by Alexia

A little over a year ago I wrote a post on Getting Things Done in the Library.  One of the things I like most about this “system” is that it is geared towards helping you manage tasks and not time.  I believe this is a major factor in my success of using GTD as a librarian.  Even if one could manage time our jobs are full of too many interruptions.  The best we can hope for is to manage what we have to do in such a way that we can get it done between reference questions.

The tool that has worked the best for me in using GTD has been AirSet.  This Web 2.0 application offers a calendar, lists, files, contacts and links.  You can use it alone or for groups.  I use my calendar for my “hard landscape” tasks – meetings, appointments, etc. – that have a definite time.  I use the list function for keeping track of my tasks and projects.  Between those two functions I am able to keep track of my projects and tasks and that is half the battle.

I would be very interested to know if other librarians are using GTD and if so, how.


June 11, 2007

RSS on A-to-Z

Posted in Tips & Tricks, Web 2.0 / Medical Library 2.0 at 3:44 pm by Alexia

A comment left on this blog post by Michael Porter reminded me that I’m very lax in posting actual instructions on adding RSS urls to an A-to-Z list, specifically EBSCO.  It’s really rather simple.  There may actually be an easier way to do it but this is the only way I have figured out how that keeps the RSS feed with the rest of the title.

First you have to log into the administration module for A-to-Z and download your holdings file:

  1. Log in to Ebsco A-to-Z administration module
  2. Cursor over “Title Wizard” then choose “Download/Upload”
  3. List format should be tab deliminated, list content should be All Resources. I download all columns, it’s just easier for me that way.
  4. When the download file has been generated, right click on the “Click here to download your A-to-Z collection. ” link and save onto your computer.
  5. Open up the file in Excell.

To add an RSS feed to a title I generally do the following, which ensures that the RSS feed is in the same spot as the ejournal entry on A-to-Z:

  1. Erase the data in the LinkId and ResourceId columns.
  2. Keep data in Title and Sort Title columns the same.
  3. Change source to RSS feed
  4. Put RSS feed url in URL and ProxiedURL field.
  5. Keep data in PrintISSN and OnlineISSN columns.
  6. Erase data in all coverage related columns, including embargo.
  7. Don’t change anything in the subject related columns.
  8. Change the IsCustom column to Y
  9. Don’t change the Delete column.

I generally then delete any other rows for that title and for titles that don’t have RSS feeds.  After saving the file just go back to the A-to-Z administration module and upload the file as follows:

  1. Cursor over “Title Wizard” then choose “Download/Upload”.
  2. Click on the “Upload Collection” tab.
  3. Find the file on your computer.
  4. Click on the upload button.

From here you can customize as you wish.  I added the orange RSS Feed square as a custom note the attached the note to any source that was RSS Feed.

I hope this tutorial is useful.  Please leave any questions in the comment section and I’ll try and answer them as quickly as possible.  I’ll definitely be more prompt than I was getting this post up and running.

May 1, 2007


Posted in Consumer Health, Rants, Reference Resources, Web 2.0 / Medical Library 2.0 at 12:49 pm by Alexia

Okay, I’ll bite.  The biblioblogosphere has brought to my attention a new consumer health tool called MEDgle (or hypochondria 2.0 in some circles).  For a good review of signs and symptoms web sites visit David Rothman’s post on his blog.  I’m not going to reinvent his wheel but I did want to discuss my test run of MEDgle.

First some background.  I have a 9 year old son with physical challanges.  He is hypotonic (low muscle tone) and ataxic.  We’ve put him through more diagnostic tests than any child should ever have to go through and all we’ve been able to determine is what he doesn’t have.  As an aside, none of the diseases my son was test for was listed as possible diagnoses on MEDgle.

So, off to MEDgle I go.  I start by typing in hypotonic.  There is no such symptom.  Hmmm.  I type in low muscle tone.  Still nothing.  I type in muscle.  There are a lot of terms but none that mean low muscle tone.  Low muscle tone is NOT muscle weakness.  So, MEDgle fails me right from the start.

Ataxia is a term in MEDgle.  My son has a disturbed gait.  Abnormal gait it a “term”.  So I search.  The first possibility is corns and calluses.  The third possibility is consequences of obesity (I checked that my son is NOT overweight on the initial search).  CP is the fifth possibility and because it’s an “umbrella term” is the closest thing we have to an official diagnosis.

I did another search for headache, nausea and sensitivity to light and migraine came right up. 

I was put off by MEDgle.  It seems to be okay for common, run of the mill symptom combinations but that’s about it.  The site claims it’s a “search engine” for medical information and should not be used to self-diagnose but with a symptom-driven search engine many people will.  I will say the interface was easy to use but a down and dirty Google search of hypotonia +ataxia came up with more relevant sites than MEDgle.

While I think the Internet and World Wide Web has done much in terms of information sharing the lack of oversight and authoritative information for consumer health users is frightening and I’m not sure what health sciences libraries can really do about it.  We can promote the heck out of librarians and sites such as MEDLINEPlus but since we can’t regulate who puts health information on the web and what information they put there the problem will always exist.  I think the best we can hope to do is to educate the heck out of any consumer health library user that darkens our doorstep.


April 4, 2007

Articles of Interest 2.0

Posted in Articles of Interest, Professional Development, Web 2.0 / Medical Library 2.0 at 2:42 pm by Alexia

While reading a post on Squidoo on Infodoodads I stumbled across Brian Gray’s treatise on Using Web 2.0 Principles to Become Librarian 2.0.  On that site I ran into CiteULike, a site that “is a free service to help academics to share, store, and organise the academic papers they are reading.”  I am constantly running into articles I think would be of interest to other medical librarians, and see many postings on medlib-l sharing their articles.  It stuck me that CiteULike would be a great place to serve as a repository or our serindipitously or otherwise obtained articles.  I have created both a profile and a group (Health_Sciences_Librarians) to facilitate this sharing.  I am encouraging all to join CiteULike (all they ask for is a username, passoword and email address) and join the group (it’s open to all for now).

 CiteULike is easy to use.  Just add a “Post to CiteULike” bookmark to your favorites and whenever you run across an article from a variety of sources (including PubMed, but not OVID) just choose the “Post to CiteULike” link and all the citation information will be pulled into CiteULike.  Just add tags, reviews, etc. then click save and your done.  If you’ve joined the Health Sciences Librarians group the citation will show up in your library and under your username in the group’s library.  If full text is available you can obtain it from a link on CiteULike.  You can track fellow users or groups via RSS feeds or via watchlists on CiteULike.  The site even offers electronic tables of contents to over 11,000 journals (which you can add to your watch list).

This is a dynamic and useful site and I see lots of potential for information sharing among medical and health science librarians, many of whom work in one-person libraries.  CiteULike is a quick and easy way to share articles of interest and I hope many of you will join in the fun.

October 6, 2006

Book Lust

Posted in Web 2.0 / Medical Library 2.0 at 9:47 am by Alexia

Despite my reservations at Nancy Pearl’s librarian action figure that shhh’s, I love Nancy Pearl and Book Lust.  So, I was very excited to learn from Steven at Library Stuff that Nancy Pearl has a Book Lust community on Wet Paint.  It’s your standard wiki with RSS feeds for new pages, updated pages, etc.  I look very much forward to consuming and participating on this site!

Ohhh, how about a “Medical Book Lust” wiki where medical librarians can share acquisition ideas, etc.  It could become a dymanic replacement to the Brandon Hill list.



October 5, 2006

Email is for old people

Posted in Articles of Interest, Web 2.0 / Medical Library 2.0 at 11:33 am by Alexia

So says this report from the Pew Internet & American Life Project, as cited in this article from the Chronicle of Higher Education.

A 2005 report from the Pew Internet and American Life Project called “Teens and Technology” found that teenagers preferred new technology, like instant messaging or text messaging, for talking to friends and use e-mail to communicate with “old people.” Along the same lines, students interviewed for this article say they still depend on e-mail to communicate with their professors. But many of the students say they would rather send text messages to friends, to reach them wherever they are, than send e-mail messages that might not be seen until hours later.

Ignoring the fact that we librarians just might qualify as “old people” this statement what can hospital librarians get out of this?  Unfortunately, more work for us if we wish to remain relevant to an upcoming generations of users.  Today’s undergraduate’s are tomorrow’s medical students, nursing students, residents, doctors, nurses and even administration.  Getting them into the library, both physicall and virtually, will require getting out to where they are as well as getting them to come to us.

Some students at the University of Maryland at College Park, for instance, say they would rather keep talking to professors and campus officials through e-mail.

“I like to separate my personal life from my school life,” says Amanda J. Heilman, a freshman studying animal sciences at the university.

Not only might our younger patrons wish to separate their personal from work life, we also have to remember our established patrons who have become used to what we do and are not as willing to try out new technologies.

How exactly might we reach these younger patrons?  Some of the universities in this article set up pages on MySpace.  I’m not seeing this happening in the hospital library world.  Honestly, our residents barely have time to eat let alone peruse MySpace on a regular basis.  Other universities offered a text messaging service.  I see this as a possibility.  I see patrons wanting to receive a text message when their searches are done or their articles have arrived.  And since most cell phone companies have a mechanism to sent text messages via a web form, all we would need is the phone number and cell provider and we’re good to go.  IM may be a trickier alternative.  At my place of work, most IM applications have been disabled.  That is unfortunate because I see IM as being potentially helpful for patrons who have a hard time physically coming to the library.  IM would offer a synchronous alternative to phone calls and email.

What does this all mean for us?  It means it’s as important as ever to keep up with new technologies and new uses for old technologies.  It means that we have the unenviable task of using the new technologies to draw in the younger generation of patrons without alienating our more established patrons.  It means finding a balance that is both effective and time-efficient.



September 28, 2006

Medical Journal 2.0?

Posted in Web 2.0 / Medical Library 2.0 at 1:50 pm by Alexia

I just received an interesting email from Health Affairs, which highlights just how far this Web 2.0 “thing” is going.

Dear Health Affairs subscriber,

For twenty-five years Health Affairs’ goal as a journal has been to foster an ongoing dialogue on health policy issues of concern to a diverse audience of interested readers. We wanted to let you know that we are launching a blog on our Web site, www.healthaffairs.org, with the aim of expanding the dialogue even further.

Anyone is welcome to comment, but all must register and agree to terms of use, including the use of real names. We will filter comments for appropriateness and language.

The main elements of Health Affairs’ blog will include:

  • invited posts from leading policy analysts;
  • responses from a variety of health care stakeholders;
  • comments from readers;
  • links to timely information both within Health Affairs and from other sources;
  • posts from Health Affairs’ editors on policy briefings, new reports, hot policy topics.

Writers during the first two weeks will include:

James Robinson, University of California, Berkeley, on Michael Porter’s new book

Alain Enthoven, Stanford University, writing his first-ever blog post.

Uwe Reinhardt, Princeton University

Alan Maynard, University of York

And much more.

Blog postings will not be peer-reviewed, but all will be vetted by the journal’s editors.
We invite you, our loyal readers, to join us in this new venture beginning October 5 at www.healthaffairs.org/blog.


John K. Iglehart
Founding Editor
Health Affairs

I see this as an additional “grey literature” resource and something that we need to be aware of.  I have not fleshed all of my thoughts out about this and invite comments.

September 8, 2006

Library Rebooted

Posted in Career Development, Professional Development, Web 2.0 / Medical Library 2.0 at 11:24 am by Alexia

The Michigan Library Consortium is hosting a series of presentations over the course of 2006 and 2007 collectively titled Library Rebooted.  They have created a blog in conjuction with the presentations – Library Rebooted: Unwrapped!

In celebration of this event, we would like to introduce MLC’s newest blog, The Library Rebooted: Unwrapped! This blog exists to promote any and all aspects of Library 2.0. Featured guest posters include speakers at our upcoming special programs and experts in various library 2.0 technologies.

Comments are encouraged, though you have to obtain a username and password to do so.

I see this as an excellent opportunity for Medical Librarians to become involved and have their say within the general library community.  Though there are aspects of Medical Librarianship that have little bearing on public librarians and vice versa there are a lot of aspects that are relevant to all parties involved.  I encourage everyone to take a look at the blog and participate.  Let’s get our voices heard!


August 22, 2006

Five Weeks to a Social Library

Posted in News and Noteworthy, Professional Development, Web 2.0 / Medical Library 2.0 at 9:06 am by Alexia

There have been many posts around the blogosphere regarding this online course, which will take place February 12 – March 17, 2007.  Right now the coordinators are looking for contributors.  I wanted to point out what a wonderful opportunity this appears to be in regards to a basic course on new web technologies.  The goal of the course is to reach as broad an audience as possible so while you will learn about social software in general deciding if and how to utilize any or all of the technology in your situation will be up to you.

Starting in September look for posts about my thoughts about how medical librarians can use social software, including applications I don’t think are applicable to us.

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