Monday, October 5, 2009

PubMed: All in the Attitude

During a delightful visit at the Riverpoint Campus Library in Spokane last week, I saw the juxtaposition of an MS6000 MK II Microfilm Converter and a humble mousepad for Internet Grateful Med and could not pass up documenting it.

Channels for information access always have been and always will continue changing in response to available technology, usability, audiences, and a myriad of other factors.

There are plenty of medical librarian perspectives of the current PubMed redesign, mostly negative and often rather whiny on our not-so-private international listserv. There is a public web interface to search the archives and institutional signature lines are included as part of them.

Have medical librarians looked beyond themselves to see what others are saying since the PubMed redesign preview launched/leaked? A for PubMed brought up the following from non-librarian tweets:

A thread from the Science 2.0 & Life Scientists FriendFeed community includes
  • they didn't take away any functionality - actually, i think the advanced stuff might be easier to use now. i like it so far.

  • I like it. I could easily find all the things I usually use and it highlighted the filters option that I had actually missed in the previous version.

  • Just glanced at it, but I like the look. I've always found PubMed and NCBI in general just fine. It's not the place for radical reform - it's a simple, stable site, nothing fancy.
A freelance science writer, Loving the new tab in Pubmed that shows all the papers that have free full text!!

A PhD scientist, Trying out the "new" PubMed search going live in 2 weeks. Like to think I had a small hand in renaming limits to filters (do tell how..?)

A student in Northern Ireland, Oh, the new PubMed is pretty.

A genetics grad student, oooohh....pubmed just got prettier

A VP working on a chemistry semantic web, Pubmed has changed since I last visited. New interface - easier to navigate now for the generalist

A genomics researcher, Trying the redesigned Pubmed preview: seems better but still playing

A French bioinformatician's FriendFeed thread, including a comment
The sad thing is that design has probably been in the making since 1998. So much administrative red tape to go through in an institution like that. Just hope redesigns to subpages come quickly too. It'd be dumb if that was the only spot that gets a facelift.

One of my favorites from a librarian,

Is it any wonder that medical librar*'s continued existence is threatened when their public response to a change that other users are excited about seems to first be negativity and then exploration?

Remember the Discovery Initiative? Scientific and medical research involve a curious ooooh in the first place to develop a hypothesis. It would do our field well to remember this and who we serve. Why would any student, scientist, professor, doctor or other user be interested in learning more about PubMed from you beyond their own exploration if you're whining about it for all to see? Would you rather quash their enthusiasm & curiosity about the new interface and have them continue using Google and Wikipedia first?

Never doubt the power of your own attitude coming across loud and clear in your work and save your constructive, angst-free criticism for providing direct feedback to the developers at PubMed. I did for my own public opinion. I know I don't want to be thought of as a medical bitchbrarian based on how I communicate about change in public, do you?


Erika said...

I have to say, although I'm still annoyed about Details and a few other minor things, I'm already finding the old interface impossibly clunky. Love how they've integrated MeSH into the default view, too...

Dale Prince said...

Smart response to the complaints! We've gotten a number of phone calls from people who want to talk to NLM immediately to just make it stop!

Anonymous said...