Thursday, May 7, 2009

Medlib's Round delay & near-pandemic social media progress

Due to a combination of people preparing for the Medical Library Association's upcoming conference in Hawaii and the global outbreak of H1N1 influenza, the Medlib's Round blog carnival is delayed until June 6th with publication on June 9th.

Many are, as usual, wondering if "the media" has overblown the H1N1 outbreak. I haven't watched any television news or talk shows recently (I rarely to never do anyway) so I can't comment there. However, when it comes to online and social media outlets, two things in particular impress me for signs of how the National Library of Medicine (NLM) and the National Institutes of Health (NIH) are opening up to these tools as high quality information resources during a near-pandemic situation.

The first is MedlinePlus and PubMed with the placement of the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) H1N1 widget on the front pages. In addition, the very first hyperlink offered for the H1N1 Flu (Swine Flu) MedlinePlus page is @CDCemergency, an official Centers for Disease Control & Prevention (CDC) Twitter account. When I began writing this post the morning of May 6th, it had 104,266 followers. As of 10:25 that same evening the number had jumped up to 108,698! Others without Twitter accounts may be subscribing via RSS feed, those numbers are not included.

The second is the inclusion of Patricia Anderson's iGoogle H1N1 swine flu tab as an information resource within the NIH Library. To be clear, this is not NLM as NLM is the medical library for everyone and the NIH Library is for the 27 entities that make up the National Institutes of Health.

Are these uses of online & social media and the resources wiki I started all hype? Of course not. As is always the case for work and our own personal sanity, we must enable our own filters to narrow in on quality resources, share them, and tune out misinformation. A bit of humor now and then for you is good for you too.

This is a good opportunity to review your own emergency preparedness plans too... H1N1 isn't too severe now, but nobody can say that will continue to be the case during the flu season this fall. Will your library be prepared to still function if social distancing measures are enacted? Check out a pandemic planning exercise for more details.

I'm still hopeful for the day when we will see an NLM social media presence. CDC are truly the 2009 HHS social media pioneers who have had their hands full between the peanut recall and now H1N1. Hopefully things will settle down to allow for evaluation to determine some best practices to be shared by all, but in the meantime keep up the amazing work!