The theme for the Medical Library Association under our current president Mark Funk, AHIP, is Only Connect with a focus on using web 2.0 tools to connect within our membership. A great overview of his inaugural speech is over at omg tuna is kewl. Side note: if you don't already read Wondermark, you're missing out!
However, in the midst of our renewed focus of connecting with our colleagues online, we need to keep an eye out for our users who are also there. We are taught reference interviewing and how to observe body language and other non-visual cues to proactively offer service to hesitant users in person, but how about online?
When Kevin, M.D. (a primary care physician blogger) posted PubMed and its search engine that he found via White Coat Notes (a Boston-area medical news site) posted on the blogs, my journalism background thought 5 Ws/H? (Who? What? Where? When? Why? How?) while my poser geek/medical librarian background thought This wouldn't have been reposted by at least 2 other blogs had there not been a level of belief in the newsworthiness of and/or agreement with the original source...
The original source is from a Harvard Medical School PhD student who posted I Am Not Yelling. Not Out Loud. with some understandable dissertation research frustration regarding PubMed's search engine. The post, comments and responses from the original author speak for themselves, and (as I expected) several medical librarians had already posted offering assistance to her.
What I found of particular interest was the author's response to one of the offers for help of At the moment, I have neither a medical librarian to bother nor the time to do it in. I hope I make it through the next month on the rudimentary knowledge I do have.
Harvard has plenty of medical librarians at the Countway Library of Medicine.
Why none of the other medical librarians recommended that the author contact Countway perplexed me. If you were a Harvard passenger, would you be more willing to board a train whose destination is unknown or one headed straight for Harvard? What could be done to have the passenger know that the Harvard train is there in the first place, and would be happy to have her on board to reach her destination quickly?
Connection outreach opportunity! I used the contact form on Countway's site to let them know of the original author's blog entry last night with a note that 2 other medical blogs had cited her, and in the morning received a response from a librarian there of Thanks for the heads-up. I have sent her an email outlining what we can do for her.
I hope this helps both the author with her dissertation research and Countway regarding not only their services outreach, but considering ways to keep a finger on the pulse of their own users' online medical community for signs of help.
How are we checking the information vitals of our own academic, regional and other online medical communities? Have we lost sight of the passengers for operating the trains? If we want to not just survive but thrive, both are of equal importance.
3 hours ago