29 March 2008


Verity Orme [Oxford University, England] researched job ads to see which skills and personal traits employers of librarians in the UK wanted. Number one was professional experience (by a wide margin). Next were interpersonal and communication skills and general computing skills. Much farther down the list were enthusiasm, ability to work in teams, people skills, flexibility, and customer service skills. I am unpleasantly surprised that customer service skills was not more valued; it is conceivable that this was assumed and not mentioned in the job posting, but I doubt it.
You can read the entire article in Library and Information Update (CILIP, the Chartered Institute of Library and Information Professionals) 7(3):30-33, March 2008.

28 March 2008


I just discovered WikiDoc. It is a wiki run by and for medical professionals--and patients. As usual, I searched for my 2 major health issues (peripheral neuropathy and spinal stenosis). I found very good and accurate information on both, mostly understandable to the reasonably medicalese-fluent layperson. But the best feature was the link to other websites. I clicked on to excellent resources on both conditions--that I had never seen before. One was even peer-reviewed.

You can search or look at content by disease, differential diagnosis, signs and symptoms, lab tests, and drug. There is also the WikiDoc Medical School Curriculum, which has very complete lessons on everything from anatomy to public health. The home page has news stories and links to the WikiDoc Community ("It's the FaceBook/MySpace of Healthcare" where you can share video, images, blogs, and participate in forums. Another neat feature is "What Was My Doctor Talking About?" where you can watch "world experts explain procedures and treatments in language that you can understand." You can even put WikiDoc on your iPod. "There is no industry support for this site."

The site is available in English, Spanish, Polish, Romanian, Russian, Japanese and Turkish. It is the brainchild of Jacki Buros and C. Michael Gibson MD, but anyone can edit pages. If they approve you, you can become the editor of a page. As of today, there were 64,817 textbook chapters and news articles and far more pages.

I highly recommend this site.

URL: http://www.wikidoc.org/

26 March 2008


Like most of you (I hope), I still get some of my library news from print sources. Here’s some of what I’ve read lately.

Rise and Shine, by Tracey Caldwell, gives an European view of the changes in medical information. Here are some excerpts:
"Dan Penny, analyst at Outsell, identifies a number of issues that will affect the role of the health information professional. ‘The emphasis of the role will change from being purely a curator [!!!!??] to sitting on cross-disciplinary teams working with IT and medical practitioners to establish what is the best value-added product,’ he says.” [In a sidebar…] “Up and Coming in Health Information: Health information professionals and analysts tip the following trends: involvement in cross-disciplinary work and more tailored training; standardizing data input and semantic interoperability in health information systems; librarians’ taking on knowledge management; workflow is a concern of information professionals, not just content service providers; library space usage changing to reflect new roles and priorities; convergence of technologies and content in ways is likely to be reflected by supplier tie-ups; consortial purchasing of health information.” They also list technology trends not yet in the mainstream, including electronic patient records, blogs and wikis (facing reliability and trust issues), PDAs, e-books, and digital imaging management.
Caldwell ends the article with, “…it is up to the health information professionals to get in at the beginning to build new models if they are to secure their future.”
Read the entire article in Information World Review (224):12-14, March 2008.

Tales of Technology Innovation Gone Wrong, by Mary Mallery.
It is very unusual for anyone to write about what didn’t work, but Mallery has put together a list of failures that we can learn from. She even says, “technology is not the best solution for every problem in a library”—what a concept! There are good sidebars on issues to consider before and after innovating. Well worth a read.
Computers in Libraries 28(4):22-25, April 2008

In the same issue, columnist Marshall Breeding has a good article, Content, Community, and Visibility: A Winning Combination, on operating “in a dual existence, divided between in-person and online services. Excerpts: “Content is a natural area of excellence for libraries. It’s what we do.” But that’s not enough. On community, “it’s no longer only about serving up pages of static content but also about engagement, community and participation.” “It’s not that I necessarily expect the library Web presence to ever displace social networking hotspots such as Facebook of LinkedIn, but we do need to ratchet up our social engagement a notch or two….” He also writes about the importance of location, findability and measurable performance.

Computers in Libraries
28(4):26-28, April 2008

You should also read the column by Terence Huwe on “understanding fun and its crucial role is an important skill for digital librarians.” (pp. 33-35), Janet Balas’s list of resources on social networks and the library community (p. 40), and the tech tips for every librarian column on Optimizing In-House Internet Experiences (pp. 46-47). And don’t miss one ad (sponsored content): Robert Berkman’s Twenty Years of Changes in Information, Online Technology, and Research. Berkman is the editor of The Information Advisor and the two-page article (pp. 44-45) covers 1988-2013—that’s 25 years, but who’s counting.

Thanks to Information Today, Inc., publishers of The New OPL Sourcebook, for free subscriptions to these journals—but this does not influence my reviews—I read a lot of other not-free journals, too.

23 March 2008


Did you love the Unshelved strip for Tuesday, 18 March as much as I did? It speaks to the authority (or perceived authority) of librarians, but read it for yourself.

URL: http://www.unshelved.com/archive.aspx?strip=20080318

The 15 March issue (v. 133, no. 5) of Library Journal also has a bunch of articles, etc. on the same subject. Get an issue and read them!

Memphis PL Led by Nonlibrarian (p. 18) -- it was all political, but this is a very disturbing trend, first in academic and special libraries and now in public ones.

The Borders Concept, editorial by Francine Fialkoff. "Bookstores modeled on the library--minus the public service ethos." (Did you read that Borders and Barnes and Noble are both in financial difficulties--welcome to the club!) (p. 8)

What's Your Role? Nextgen column by Cari Dubiel (p. 48). "Will the changes you're considering truly enhance your service?"

and a feature article by Debra J. Stone, After Oil (pp. 28-31). "Public libraries will have an important role to play in our new post-peak-oil society. The aftermath of this 'long emergency' must be understood by those in positions to help society adjust to new ways of doing everyday things."


I saw this one in Library Journal (15 March 2008).

"The find engine. Stop Searching--Start Finding."

Comment from LJ contributor Roy Tennant: "Only librarians like to search. Everyone else likes to find." (emphasis mine)

The slogan is from the Cuyahoga County (Ohio) Public Library (Cleveland area, but not including the city of Cleveland).

Note: CCPL once used a slogan similar to the one I used at my last place of work. Mine read"The Bailey Library...more than you thought!" and theirs was "The CCPL...more than you think!"


“Patients Helping Patients Live Better Every Day” is the motto of a new website called PatientsLikeMe. The site provides information and networking for patients with “life-changing diseases.” Diseases included so far are ALS, MS (multiple sclerosis), HIV, Parkinson’s, and Mood Disorders (depression, obsessive-compulsive disorder, bipolar, or anxiety). You create a profile of your condition, your mood (today), your medicines and dosages (!), a history of your symptoms, and your weight. Not only can you connect with others who have similar conditions or are on similar medications, but you can track your condition over time. You can even print out a sheet to take to your doctor.
It was founded by three engineers from MIT who were inspired by a young friend with ALS (Lou Gehrig’s disease). How do they make money? By selling “anonymized” data and permission-based access to healthcare providers. (They tell you which information they share and which they don’t.)
I really like this site and see great things for it once there are more people on it.

URL: http://www.patientslikeme.com

18 March 2008


Google Blogger now has three how-to videos. They are on YouTube at http://www.youtube.com/BloggerHelp. The best is on how to set up your own blog. There's also one on purchasing and setting up a custom domain through Blogger and one on adjusting your Blogger privacy setting, with more to come. Each is about 2 minutes.
What a great idea!


ReadTheWords is a free online service that will read any text you enter aloud. You can upload documents in the following formats: Word, Adobe PDF, HTML, text, website address, RSS feed. There are 15 different voices you can choose, and they can handle English, Spanish and French. They even pronounced my name properly (Siess=cease), but goofed on SLA (they said “slaw”). Supposedly it takes less than a minute to generate one hour’s reading. You can listen online, download an mp3 file, embed it in a website or blog, or turn it into a podcast. Unfortunately, there are no navigation keys for the visually impaired, but it’s very impressive.

You have to register, but it’s free.

Thanks to Stan Schroeder of mashable.com for highlighting this service.

Schroeder’s review: http://mashable.com/2008/03/18/readthewords-read-text-aloud/

17 March 2008


If you travel a lot--or even just occasionally--you should read this blog. Evolution of Security "is sponsored by the Transportation Security Administration to facilitate an ongoing dialogue on innovations in security, technology and the checkpoint screening process."

Recent hot topics have included: shoes; liquids; inconsistencies (!)' lighters, nail clippers and lithium batteries, and gripes and grins. The most recent post is a video on how they screen baggage. Very informative.

URL: http://www.tsa.gov/blog/

(I may have already posted this, I forget sometimes, but it is worth repeating.)

13 March 2008


If you would like to get an article published, Kathy Dempsey has published an article to help you. It is in the March-April 2008 (v. 22 no. 2) issue of MLS: Marketing Library Services. Unfortunately, it is not available online, but you can probably get a copy via interlibrary loan. It is well worth reading.


There's a new site to help you find a doctor--and it works well. Xoova (zu-vah) lets you search by location and or specialty or services provided. For some physicians you can even make an appointments. And it's free for everyone (ad-supported). I checked for my own physician and for ones in the city we are moving to and found what I needed. Good stuff.

URL: http://www.zoova.com/

12 March 2008


In a response to a rant for closing the Gainesville Florida libraries, a citizen calculated his (or her) actual return on investment.
Annual cost from my property taxes for the library: $70

Annual cost of magazines I’m able to read from the library: $312

Annual rental cost of videos I’m able to borrow from the library: $208

Annual cost of books I’m able to borrow from the library: $1440

Annual cost of audiobooks I’m able to download from the library website: $2600

Total annual savings so far: $4490

[ROI: 64:1]

Having a Librarian locate a research study my husband was able to join which saved his life? Priceless

URL: http://www.gainesvillesun.com/article/20080303/OPINION03/803030303, comment from “registrationsucks

10 March 2008


The only reason I wrote "almost" in the headline is that nothing is really perfect. But this hospital web page comes as close as I've seen.

The page is for the Consumer Health Library at Saint John Hospital, Leavenworth, Kansas. It starts, "If you've just received a diagnosis,want to learn more about an existing condition or treatment or just have general questions about a health issue, the Providence Saint John Consumer Health Library has resources for you." A concise statement about what the library is.

The next paragraph quickly tells who may use the library (patients, visitors, physicians and employees), the cost (free), hours (five days a week), and what resources they have (via the Internet, medical reference books, journals and health literature).

Next up is "How We Can Help" which continues with specifics on library holdings and services ("Come to the library if you want...") and specific topics ("You'll find brochures and specific information on...")

It ends with "Recommended Web Sites for General Health Information." There's even a Spanish version.

But what really caught my eye was the sidebar. Under a photo of a smiling librarian in a purple outfit is "Going the Distance" a profile of medical librarian Sarah Kirby. It reads, in part, [Kirby] "goes to great lengths to make sure library visitors get not only the information they want, but get to the services they need." It goes on to give two examples and ends with "And even those who wander in by accident often find a willing escort to where they want to go."

What more could one possibly want? Congratulations to the Saint John staff and Kirby for a superb web page!

URL: http://www.providence-health.org/sjlkscms/health/consumer_health.htm

07 March 2008


I just ran across SearchMedia, a site that has as its goals to "answer your clinical question, offer additional medically-relevant information and satisfy your curiosity." It searches over 1000 websites but is free to the user (ad-supported). It is a product of CMPMedica, a publisher.
Searching can be limited by type of information: research reviews, practical articles or news, CME, evidence-based articles, patient education, complementary medicine, practice guidelines, clinical trials, or practice management. They even suggest broader and narrower search terms. I was pleasantly surprised at the quality of the results.
URL: http://www.searchmedica.com/

03 March 2008


International Travel News is a fantastic resource for information on travel outside of the USA/Canada/Mexico area. Each issue is over 100 pages—on newsprint to save money—on all kinds of travel, from backpacking to luxury. You’ll find reviews of tours (with detailed info), travel reports on exotic places, medical information, and warnings about what to expect in other countries, at the border, and more. They’ve been publishing every month for over 30 years! What’s even more impressive is the cost—only $24 in the USA! (Prices vary elsewhere.)

I have learned so much from this publication. If you travel, or if your customers do (and whose don’t) you should subscribe to ITN or at least let your customers know about their website (which has a lot of the print content available.)

URL: http://www.intltravelnews.com/


I was reminded of these when reading an article in, of all place, International Travel News. The first is RxList, ”the Internet Drug Index for prescription drugs and medication.” In addition to having very complete drug information, with separate “for the consumer” and “for the professional” writeups, the site has a pill identification tool, drug medical dictionary, and a good section on diseases and conditions. The last links to RxList’s parent organization, WebMD. It is easy to use and very complete.
The other site is The Merck Manual Medical Library, the consumer-oriented version of the famous print manual. Entries are in alphabetical order and there are photos, and AV material not in the print version. It is easily searchable, but not as complete as RxList.

(portal): http://www.merck.com/nmhe/


The New Zealand Legal Information Institute announced that New Zealand acts are now available as searchable PDF documents with hyperlinks from cases to legislation. Another 20 databases on NZLII cover nearly all NZ courts, treaties, law reform reports, and four law journals. Nice to have this all in one place.

URL: http://www.nzlii.org/