Friday, February 27, 2009

Friday Foolery #23: My total failure as a 19th century mom

I was having fun browsing the NCBI Bookshelf and came across this gem from The Care and Feeding of Children: A Cathecism for the Use of Mothers and Children's Nurses by Dr. L. Emmett Holt, published by D. Appleton & Company in New York, 1894. This admonition is from the Miscellaneous section which is mostly focused on poop details (potty training at 3 months?!), just like many parents of babies are still 115 years later.

Thursday, February 26, 2009

Emergency preparedness: Library services at a glance (and a photo & tweet?)

It's been a while since I've touched on emergency preparedness here, and driving the web conference for work last week that covered the disaster communications plan that went into place during Hurricane Ike reminded me of that. I highly encourage checking out the Dragonfly to get the scoop on what's behind this scenario filter & how to make your own for your library (click to enlarge).

Including these as part of an emergency procedures binder (maybe even a wiki!) could be a very valuable and easy way to provide information to colleagues at other institutions who are often eager to help you after disaster strikes.

I haven't forgotten about the use of Flickr for sharing photos in the wake of a disaster, and you may have heard about how a photo on Twitter broke the news about the plane crash in the Hudson River last month. I'm not currently aware of anyone writing up these or other social networking & media methods up as part of emergency preparedness plans, but think they've certainly shown a high return on very little investment and should be considered.

2/27 edit: Apparently I was picking up the Twitter/social media emergency communication vibes from the Seattle Times while I was writing this, check out the suggestion from a King County council member below in response to some bus service meltdowns due to snow in Seattle yesterday

"Given the increasing sophistication of modern phones and wireless Internet providers, I encourage Metro to take immediate action to use instant messaging, Twitter, neighborhood blogs, and customer self-reporting systems to keep Metro operators and riders connected," Constantine said in a statement.

He said inexpensive ways exist to reach riders. "It doesn't seem like they've got people who are savvy at that."

Friday, February 20, 2009

Friday Foolery #22: What's in your mummy?

Last month I briefly mentioned my close friend while primarily featuring another friend who participated in the 'How to pee in Antarctica' adventure.

Today is Jen's turn to shine ten billion times brighter than the sun. She is all over the scientific world's news as a result of her announcement at the American Association for the Advancement of Science's (AAAS) conference in Chicago that they will soon begin examining Egyptian artifacts in a special synchrotron called the Joint Engineering, Environmental and Processing beamline (JEEP). This allows for a precise level of detail far beyond anything possible to date with x-rays and other digital imaging. In her words,

Heritage scientists are able to apply to use this unique beamline to delve deep inside precious ancient artefacts to unravel their secrets in a non-invasive way. Never before has it been possible to scan and image such large relics with such precision.

To say I am insanely excited for and proud of her & her work would be a vast understatement.

The only sadness I have is that Oxfordshire is so very far away from Seattle. I miss her terribly from our years together in California, and our children are just way too cute.

June 29th, Croquet in the country

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Advocate for libraries - Participate in a national effort to show the value of health sciences libraries

Many of you have probably already seen the below from your national and local listservs, but it bears repeating in conjunction with a link to a recording of a presentation (click to test your system connectivity) about the Library Value Calculator.

ADVOCATE FOR LIBRARIES! SHARE YOUR DATA! Libraries are facing with staff reductions and budget decreases. Librarians are responding by looking for ways to demonstrate their value and the value their libraries contribute to their parent organization.

We are collecting data from librarians so that we can show the aggregate value of health sciences libraries - by region, by state, by library type, by service. Enter your library statistics using the Library Value Calculator on the NN/LM MidContinental Region website (, then click the Submit Data button. Your library location (state only), library type, budget, timeframe, and the value of your library services and benefits will be added to the database.

We will not receive any personal information in the submission and we will not include in the database your name, email address or feedback, if sent. We are eager include your data and to hear your thoughts about the calculator and how you have or will use it.

The results of the value of health sciences libraries will be presented Sunday at 11:30 in the Library Toolkit program at MLA in Honolulu. Help us! Be part of the solution.

If you have ANY questions or encounter problems using the calculator please contact us or use the feedback form on the calculator website. We will be happy to work with you on the process of identifying and entering your data in the calculator.

Betsy Kelly
Assessment & Evaluation Liaison
NN/LM MidContinental Region
Becker Medical Library
Washington University in St. Louis
800.338.7657 opt 1/opt2/opt2

Barb Jones
Advocacy and Missouri Liaison
NN/LM MidContinental Region
J Otto Lottes Library
University of Missouri
Columbia MO
800.338.7657 opt 1/opt2/opt4

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

EHRs & Woods Hole: What happens when I think on the bus

Four months ago I attended the Librarians and the EHR: Envisioning the Future continuing education event by our local Medical Library Association (MLA) chapter, PNC/MLA, with a fair amount of guilt. The only reason I was able to go was because I took the place of a colleague who was seriously ill and that is never a cause for joy. I should have shared my 5 pages of notes from the EHR CE long ago, they serve as a brief guide to the presentation audio files although I had to take a phone call in the middle of one of them so there's a gap of information somewhere.

It was there that I learned about the Woods Hole bioinformatics program, although with total bafflement at first: it was one of those things that everyone else already seemed to already know about and I didn't. On the bus home it occurred to me that maybe I should apply and create an online class teaching more about medical librarians' involvement with electronic medical records (EMRs) because I couldn't be the only one who didn't know about the Woods Hole program. If I am, it's ok to laugh at me now that I'm going there in May.

My goal is to share the value from the experience as much as possible because I don't want to be an information silo. I know I can't promise blogging from there beyond a picture a day due to the sheer volume of information we'll be going through. I have since heard from many medical librarians who have been to Woods Hole and heard of several others. I'm curious: What has what you have learned there done for you, your organization, etc.? Are we already collaborating on this as part of MLA advocacy and I've missed the boat entirely? Thank goodness Rachel shared the tip about no elevators there so I only pack what I can haul up the stairs myself!

Friday, February 13, 2009

Friday Foolery #21: The Phoenix of Full Disclosure

(I'm sorry for the lack of content since last Friday, I and my family have been ill and that's quite a drain on energy beyond life and work.)

This week's foolery is courtesy of myself in May, 2007

Note: No actual textbooks were incinerated in the production of this picture since I paid WAY too much money for them

Can you tell I didn't particularly enjoy that semester? Combining my payroll & human resources job, family (including a preschooler) and a full time load of distance education graduate classes in biomedical informatics (bottom text), information organization (top text), and electronic databases & services (no text) was not fun. It was, however, a necessity since being a full time student was a condition of the fellowship funding my education, for which I am eternally grateful. I wouldn't say that I hated any of the classes, but the amount of information from them was completely overwhelming to take in all at once.

At the end of May 2009, I will spent a long day en route from Seattle to Boston then take a two hour bus ride to Woods Hole, MA, because I learned on Tuesday that I was awarded a fellowship to study biomedical informatics there for a week.

Yes, one of the same subjects from May 2007 that almost drove me to the brink of insanity, and it gets even better. One or both of the authors of that informatics textbook will likely be there as instructors and one of them is the Director of the entire program. Is it possible to just die of embarrassment now and get it over with?

I'm sharing this in part to avoid an A-Rod situation and come clean from the start: I have zero natural talent here. I have enough existing knowledge to understand the basics of the field but am obsessed with learning even more from an impressive faculty without juggling other classes and the rest of my regular life duties at the same time. Hopefully I will not embarrass myself by asking too many stupid questions. My goal is to develop an online class to bridge the gap to health informatics for medical librarians because I truly believe we are all working towards the same goal (improved health information access) with many of the same tools but aren't speaking the same language.

With an increasing focus on the implementation of electronic medical records (EMRs), it's critical for medical librarians to not only be aware of but become actively involved with their planning and implementation at their facilities since we best understand the information-seeking behavior of our users. Information vendors would be very happy to entirely take over that role from us otherwise.

Friday, February 6, 2009

Friday Foolery #20: Home Treatment for Drunkards

From the phenomenal Early Advertising of the West 1867-1918 collection, quackery section, click to enlarge for entire poem. I sent for GOLDEN REMEDY
(As sly as sly can be)
And I put it in John's supper
And I put it in his tea...

It was smoothest kind of sailing
For little Doctor Me...

"Since John he quit a-drinking!"
I can't say it times enough!
And he hates and loathes a liquor
As he would a poison stuff.

(Golden Treatment for Alcoholism (1911) Dr. J.W. Haines Company, Westerner, Vol 13 (6), pg. 21,,382)

I recommend the children dancing around a bottle of Rainier beer like a Maypole as a lovely followup.

Thursday, February 5, 2009

Hidden in the Bookshelf: PubMed & Discovery Initiative

Many thanks go out to Kathel Dunn, Associate Fellowship Coordinator at the National Library of Medicine (NLM), who sent me an email and Amy Donahue, Associate Fellow at NLM, who wrote a #pubmed tag on Twitter (what does that mean?) at about the same time this morning.

The news?

Buried within the NCBI Bookshelf, yet not the same as the Bookshelf announcement listserv or linked from the Bookshelf front page (check the 'breadcrumbs', or filepath below), are NCBI News archives including a February 2009 article with details about the Discovery Initiative and PubMed.

Please read Featured Resource: Improvements to NCBI Services Promote Discovery in its entirely (not too long & very informative) and click on the links of the PubMed screenshots highlighting the Document Summary view of the Gene Sensor, 'Also try..' and 'Recent Activity' in addition to the Abstract Plus summary view of the pre-computed Related Articles and Recent Activity. See how the article title is the hyperlink in the Document Summary view but not in Abstract Plus view as noted in the PubMed Update guide?

As an update regarding #pubmed on Twitter: I have heard from NLM that several there are 'aware of' this as a user feedback venue, yet feel that 'it is too brief.' Again, to my knowledge there is no official NLM presence on Twitter or other social media venues, although the National Institutes of Health (NIH, which includes NLM as 1 of 27 Institutes and Centers) does have two Twitter news accounts.

I offer as a contrast the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA)'s involvement in social media, which David Rothman has covered well.

Andrew P. Wilson, who describes himself as "Member of HHS social media team," (The Department of Health and Human Services - HHS - includes NIH, CDC, FDA & many others) noticed that many people stopped following the FDA recalls Twitter account today. Note his approach to soliciting and responding to user feedback below (read from the bottom up):

Later he wrote as an additional response "Thanks - an experiment and there will be successes & failures (and in between). Appreciate everyones feedback, & support though."

An experiment. Willingness to try. Soliciting and appreciating user feedback. Placing so much information on a single page instead of having to dig through various venues to find relevant news.

Mr. Wilson, you have my thanks for your approach during the increasing number of peanut product recalls, and I hope NIH (and NLM) is included within the scope of the HHS social media team.