The final plenary, and indeed, the final non-CE class or tour event of MLA13 Boston, was on my list of events to blog for the official conference blog. I summed up the entire presentation. As stated previously, I can’t reproduce those posts here on my personal blog, so please go over and take a look at that summary before reading my responses to and thoughts on the presentation.
Got it? Good!
Ok, so, what was my reaction to this lecture? Well, first, honestly I had a bit of a panic. I felt frightened, unsafe, and like the world is doomed. At first I thought that was just my anxious-prone self over-reacting to the presentation, but after discussing it with friends and colleagues who were also there, I realized that Garrett seems to have actually sought to pull out this fear in people.
In a presentation that ends with pleas for us to fight fear and panic, why did she spend so much time investing in frightening us and very little (if any) spent in reassuring us? Why focus so much on pandemics just a single mistake away, germ warfare close at hand (although, not really since 3D printing of germs isn’t happening yet). I don’t know. I don’t know what would make Garrett think making people feel this way is a good thing. Maybe she’s fallen prey to the idea that the only way to get people to pay attention to your cause is to frighten them. I know people in various movements who use that tactic. It’s not one I’m a fan of. Maybe she didn’t intend to gloom and doom the people present. But I think she did. Given that her own speech pointed out the dangers of panic and unwarranted fear, I find it odd that this was her intent. And yet there you have it. A room full of frightened librarians. Think I’m exaggerating? Check out just a few of the tweets from during her presentation:
Everyone has their own style, and I certainly learned a lot from the presentation and wasn’t bored. But. I’m not a fan of nonfiction presentations (aka not horror plays or movies) inciting fear and panic in the audience. I think it’s counter-productive when talking to a room full of intelligent, educated individuals. Librarians aren’t 5 year olds who need to be told about icky germs in order to get us to wash our hands. I’m sure there could have been a way to give this presentation with truths and realities that could be frightening without actually inciting this level of anxiety. Even just a little positivity and more hope for the future would have been nice. You don’t want a populace that is exerting all their energy preparing for Armageddon.
I should also mention that I stood up to ask a question of Garrett at the end. With all the talk of synthetic biology, I wanted to know what her opinion was on GMOs. I admit, this is not an issue I am yet clear-cut on myself. I generally prefer organic, but I also understand the value of say rice that has been modified to have more vitamins in it for an at-risk population. But on the other hand I get the concern of manipulating something at a genetic level and what that might do to our own bodies when we ingest it. It’s something that just doesn’t have enough long-term studies yet to really show if it’s truly safe or not, and it concerns me that it’s mostly the poor, at-risk populations who are being used as guinea pigs eating it.
In any case, I asked Garrett at the public microphone about her stance on GMO foods and the movement to label them. Given all of her doom and gloom talk about synthetic viruses, I was shocked at her answer. She believes that GMO foods are necessary because as more of the world becomes middle class, more of the world is eating meat, and meat eating just cannot be sustained on the land we currently have available, so we must turn to eating synthetic foods.
Um, EXCUSE ME?!?!
So the lady who just spent over an hour and a half talking about how dangerous synthetic biology could turn out to be turns right around and says that meat eating isn’t sustainable to feed the entire globe (which it isn’t, see this article in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition) turns right around and says that well we have to eat GMOs to feed everyone because people won’t just give up meat. Right, ok, if someone is so concerned about the possible bad consequences of synthetic biology don’t you think she might possibly take this opportunity to espouse a vegetarian, vegan, or even just more plant-based diet to combat the global food crisis instead of relying exclusively on GMOs? Apparently not. Apparently it’s really great to fear-monger about pandemics and international relations but when it comes to what we eat, the basis of much of our health, that’s too controversial.
Well, at least it was an interesting final couple of hours of MLA13, although I can’t say I really feel that it was very useful to librarians or working to promote true global health.
At the meeting, librarians present their papers that were accepted to the conference. These are organized into groups of four sponsored by one of the MLA’s sections. The presentations are timed so that you can see the first presentation in one section then go to another section to see the second, etc… I wasn’t able to take notes at all of the section programming I listened to, because some of the rooms looked like this when I switched into them:
International Congress on Medical Librarianship 2: Trustworthy and Authoritative Publicly Available Information Section
“Trustworthiness and Authoritativeness of YouTube Videos on Smokeless Tobacco” by Donghua Tao, Prajakta Adsul, Ricardo Wray, Keri Jupka, Carolyn Semar, and Kathryn Goggins
- Use online media as a tool to educate health care users
- a future study could use a survey of real YouTube users and test their hypothesis
- Methodology of published papers doesn’t discuss how they searched YouTube
- See how videos connect to each other (videos referencing other videos)
- 3,603 unique videos brought up, randomly sampled 433, of which 278 were used based on inclusion criteria
“Twenty Years of the Cochrane Collaboration: A Legacy of Trustworthy and Authoritative Publicly Available Information and Plans for the Future” by Carol Lefebvre, Julie Glanville, Jessie McGowan AHIP, Alison Weightman, and Bernadette Coles
- 2013 is Cochrane’s 20th anniversary, and they have a special anniversary website.
- Cochrane Collaboration crates the Cochrane Library
- plain long summaries, free, multiple languages
- 4 million downloads in 2010
- 6 million downloads in 2012
- New publishing agreement with Wiley
- February 1, 2013 to the end of 2018
- gold open access –> author pays a publication fee then article is available immediately
- green open access –> no author payment but there is a 1 year embargo
- impact of Cochrane Reviews
- We’re not here to decide if we publish clinical data but how
- 20 years ago:
- only 20,000 RCTs indexed in medline
- no RCT filter in medline
- new MeSH term for quasi-RCT: Controlled Clinical Trial
- 1996 Central launched
- medline’s retagging project supports Central
- proliferation of search filters
- Cochrane Handbook has grown
- registration of clinical trials
- move toward single portals
- increased access to clinical study reports
- PubReMiner will increase use
- text mining increase
- strengthen relationship with other organizations
- challenge will still lie in discoverability
Federal Libraries Section: The Role of Librarians in Evidence-Based Medicine: Part One
“Telling the Research Story: A Role for Librarians in Analyzing Research Impact Based on Evidence” by Terrie Wheeler and Cathy C. Sarli AHIP
- Genesis project (Not really sure what this is. Had trouble seeing the slides and hearing).
- citation analysis
- “It is no longer enough to measure what we can–we need to measure what matters.”
- Found a lot of gray literature using Google
- use clean data –> clear linkage
- explanation of the h-index
- explanation of the g-index
- explanation of the tapered h-index
- all index factors have one limitation or another
- can we produce future science with publication data? Maybe.
That’s all of my notes I managed to get. I’ll have to figure out how to better juggle notebooks/pens next year. Or maybe MLA can get us more seating. Up next, the National Library of Medicine’s Update.
The Rise of Evidence-Based Health Sciences Librarianship (MLA13 Boston: Janet Doe Lecture by Joanne Gard Marshall, AHIP, FMLA)
The third plenary is given by a librarian who is respected in the field, but who is not the current MLA president. Last year, we had a fascinating lecture by Mark Funk in which he showed us his extensive research documenting what librarians talk about in our published literature. This year, Joanne Gard Marshall presented “Linking Research to Practice: The Rise of Evidence-Based Health Sciences Librarianship,” which while an interesting title mostly came across as a list of names of people she considered important. She also spent 5 to 10 minutes summing up Mark Funk’s previous speech. I think my tweet from during this plenary sums up my feelings pretty well:
- David Sackett founded Evidence-Based Medicine (EBM), and his textbook Evidence-Based Medicine: How to Practice and Teach EBM, 2e is considered crucial in the field.
- Sackett defines EBM as, “The conscientious, explicit, judicious use of current best evidence in making decisions about the care of individual patients.”
- Evidence-Based Practice (EBP) is influenced by three factors:
- Best research
- Clinical expertise
- Patient values and preferences
- The old indexing (in PubMed etc…) didn’t used to include type or level of evidence in the terminology.
- Evidence-Based Librarianship (EBL) is advocated for by McKibbon and Eldredge. You may see a free PMC article summing that up here.
- Steps of EBL:
- formulate answerable question
- search for evidence
- critically appraise evidence
- The research section of MLA has a free journal, Hypothesis, that is recommended.
- MLA has a research imperative that you may read here.
- “Randomized Control Trials, contrary to popular belief, are not the only way to control variables.”
- Booth and Brice are named as big names in EBL. Their book is Evidence-Based Practice for Information Professionals: A Handbook.
- There is a journal on EBL called Evidence Based Library and Information Practice. It is free, but you must register to comment or receive email notifications of new issues.
- Recommends the book Diffusion of Innovations by Everett M. Rodgers to help with where we are going in EBL. Take the model presented and adapt it and truly make it work for us.
- Research must be balanced and paired with professional knowledge.
While the information I garnered is good, for a one hour lecture, it’s not very much. I left off the lists of names of previous Janet Doe lecturers, for instance. I believe that if Marshall had focused much more in on the topic of EBL and its connection to EBM, which is an interesting topic, that it would have been a much better lecture. Instead this received only a portion of the time so that we could be subjected to the names of previous Janet Doe lecturers and of course lists of people to thank. I am pleased to have found two new open access journals to read for my profession, but I do wish the lecture had gone further.
Up next is section programming.
Most of my readers know that, in addition to being a book blogger and indie author, I also have a day job as a librarian for the academic library that serves a Boston-area medical school and and teaching hospital. Since this is my day job, I’m a member of the Medial Library Association (MLA) and every year we have a conference that my institution graciously sends me to. Last year it was in Seattle. This year it was in my home city of Boston. Last year I blogged quite a bit of the conference information here both to share it and to help me remember what I learned. You can see the series of posts starting with this one in May of 2012. This year since I had a year of conferencing under my belt, I applied to be an official conference blogger, and I got the position. Yay! I was assigned to write 2 to 3 posts about the plenary sessions. So this year I will still be posting some information from the conference here on my own blog, but I will also be linking out to the official conference blog, as I am not supposed to reproduce my posts for that blog on my own personal blog. I also will be providing additional commentary on those plenaries on my own blog, though, so they will also be discussed here.
The first event I went to was the grand opening of the exhibit halls on Saturday night after I got off of work. I only was there for around 45 minutes, due to my work schedule, so I didn’t get to see even half of the exhibits. Ah well! It was still a fun start to the conference.
The next morning was when the ball really got rolling with the first plenary session. The first plenary introduces the theme of the conference and features the address by the current MLA president. You can see my summary of it on the official blog here.
While was excite about the international aspect of MLA this year (the meeting was held in conjunction with the International Conference on Medical Librarianship (ICML), the International Conference of Animal Health Information Specialists (ICAHIS), and the International Clinical Librarian Conference (ICLC) ), I was disappointed by the lack of content in the presidential address. I’m not a big fan of “think positive” as a general message to begin with, but it also felt that Blumenthal really didn’t offer much practical advice from her extensive real world library experience to the rest of us. I missed the enthusiasm of 2011/12 president Jerry Perry’s speech.
Stay tuned for notes from the 2nd plenary by Dr. Richard Besser, medical correspondent for ABC and one-time acting director of the CDC.
Hello my lovely readers!
So, I knew I hadn’t written a Friday Fun post in a while, but was floored to see it hadn’t happened since November 16, 2012.
I know we all hate it when bloggers talk about their crazy busy lives, even though it’s true, because, hello, we all have busy lives! Suffice to say, what I thought was a busy phase is actually the new stasis of my life. I’m proud of the fact that I’m still managing to find time to blog, because I do love book blogging. But I want to continue to touch base with you all periodically. Weekly is just too overwhelming though. So I’ve decided to move Friday Fun to just occurring on the last Friday (or Saturday) of every month. Treating it more like a special event instead of a weekly meme will help me keep up and enjoy it. I hope you all enjoy the new change!
On a similar note, I am still closed to review requests, and I don’t expect that to be changing anytime soon. I still periodically request ARCs, if I’m highly interested, but that is a rare occurrence. I also, you may have noticed, switched my reading from about 50% things I felt I “should” be reading (for ARCs, to better myself, etc….) down to about 10%. This means 90% of my reading is for funsies, because frankly I need that stress relief in my life. Reading “should’s” worked great when I was in a life limbo and needing to fill the time with actual things to do that made me feel like I was accomplishing something. But now when I read, I want it to be for fun. I need it to be a stress reliever. Something that helps give me a few moments of internally-focused peace in my day. So any changes you’ve noticed in the books being reviewed here reflect that choice I made at the beginning of 2013.
As for my non-blog life! The holidays happened. I taught my first library orientation by myself for the incoming class of one of the schools affiliated with my library. I created my first library tutorials. I finished my first archival finding aid. Those have been the big-hitters in work life. In regular, non-librarian Amanda life I went on vacation with my boyfriend to an off-the-grid cabin! We snowshoed and built fires in wood stoves and generally thoroughly enjoyed ourselves. I went home to visit my dad in Vermont and learned how to make the perfect grilled cheese. I got an iPhone. I became addicted to Instagram and taking photos in general. I survived Blizzard Nemo and got my first real snowday in *years*. I learned how to play the Call of Cthulhu tabletop game. Finally, I just last week joined my gym’s 60 day fitness competition, and I am loving how much it has reinvigorated my passion for fitness. And I’m still trying to figure out how to be a part-time indie author in amongst all of this.
How was everyone’s March? Ours came in like a lion and out like a lamb, just like the old saying goes. :-)
Book Review: Midnight in Peking: How the Murder of a Young Englishwoman Haunted the Last Days of Old China by Paul French
In 1937 the entire world is on the brink of war. In Peking, China, the Japanese invaders are encroaching. In the midst of this chaos the adopted daughter of British consulman is brutally murdered, her body found in the shadow of the Fox Tower, universally viewed with suspicion by the Pekingers as haunted by spirits. Due to the special circumstances, the murder investigation requires the presence of both a Chinese and a British investigator. They must race to find Pamela’s murderer before the Japanese engulf the city.
This true crime novel takes a bit to get things set up, but once they are, oh my how it sucks you in.
My fellow librarians will appreciate the backstory of how this true tale was discovered by French. In the Afterword he states that he was digging around in some archives and stumbled upon a box of evidence that Pamela’s father sent off to the government, which was never really looked at and just put away in storage and then into archives. It was through libraries that he even discovered this fascinating, intersectional true crime. I think that’s encouraging to any librarian who has ever spent hours making a finding aid for archives.
So just what makes this true crime more fascinating than others? Pamela was the adopted daughter of Werner, and her adoptive mother died at a young age. She had been away at boarding school in Tientsin and was home for the holidays. Because she was born in China but was also adopted by British consulman, there is an interesting assimilation into Chinese culture going on in her life that we don’t often see in Western novels. Peking itself featured the legations and white districts for multiple different white Western countries. This means that because Pamela was technically a British citizen murdered on Chinese ground both the Chinese and the British police force had to be involved and work together in the investigation. Officer Han and DCI Dennis certainly make for a unique investigation team. In addition, Pamela’s body was discovered in the shadow of the Fox Tower, and this led to speculation about fox spirits, which in Chinese tradition show up as wily women. Of course quickly the seedy underbelly of Peking is implicated, featuring a multicultural bunch of addicts, dope dealers, brothels, and more, and naturally some of the classy elite start to be implicated into that underworld as well. Add in the fact that the Japanese invasion was encroaching and toss in the first rumblings of Communism, and it makes for a story that is impossible to not find fascinating.
French unfurls the story well. He quotes only when it is fairly certain what was said, but summarizes scenes well. A clear picture of both Pamela and Peking are rendered fairly early in the novel. I also appreciate that he spent time at the end talking about what happened to all of the key players and discussing how all-encompassing the Japanese invasion were. I think what he handled best though was presenting people as individuals and not representative of their race or nation or even class. In a true crime as multicultural as this one, that is important. It’s also nice that in a story that could have easily turned into victim blaming, which happens so often when the victim is a young woman, he eloquently avoids any hint of that:
Pamela wasn’t perfect; she was making the same mistakes many girls do when experimenting with their independence, their newfound power on men. Her tragedy was to encounter the wrong men, at just the wrong moment. (location 2834)
I did, however, feel that the beginning was a bit lacking. It took a bit to truly get into the story. A faster pace or a more clear this is where we are going set-up would have been nice. At first it felt like the rather dull story of some poor little imperialist rich girl. But that’s not the story at all. The story is that of an adopted girl in a country where she just so happens to be the color of worldwide colonizers, but it is instead the story of a diverse group of people horrified by the brutal murder of a young woman by a diverse group of sick, twisted people. It would be nice if that was more clear from the beginning.
Overall, this is a well-told, historic true crime novel that manages to avoid victim blaming and also embrace multiculturalism. It will be of particular interest to anyone with a fascination for Chinese or WWII history.
4 out of 5 stars