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Friday Fun! (February: DC Trip and Winter Activities)

February 28, 2014 Leave a comment
Walking in just one of the many lovely snow-covered parks in Boston.

Walking in just one of the many lovely snow-covered parks in Boston.

Hello my lovely readers!

It was quite the busy month for me.  Early in the month, I went on a business trip to Washington, D.C.  I was sent with a friend and co-worker to go to a training at the National Library of Medicine.  We just barely managed to take off in the middle of one of the many storms that hit Boston this month.  We flew right out of the storm and into a chilly, but snow-free DC.  In the limited free time we had, we saw the Smithsonian’s American Indian Museum and the Botanical Garden.  I had never been to DC before.  My impressions were that everyone is quite friendly and talkative.  The city is surprisingly empty with things spread further out than I was anticipating.  The architecture was interesting, and I enjoyed the museums (and the fact that they’re free!).  I’d like to go back to visit in warmer weather when the plants are in bloom.  Perhaps more as a stop-over on my way someplace else, though.  I can’t imagine spending an entire vacation there!

In the middle of the month, I of course opened my new Etsy shop.  I’m so excited to have another creative venue!  I’m still doing some stitching and art just for fun and for friends and family too, though.

Baking a loaf of bread every weekend is now a thing.  I also made an apple pie to try to beat back the winter doldrums.  I started doing more yoga as a home practice, since it gets me moving but I don’t have to brave the cold to do it.  I also did my taxes, and I’m pleased to say I’m getting a refund!  I finally completed the first step toward getting my driver’s license in Massachusetts as well.  I went to the Social Security office and filed for a replacement card.  Bafflingly, in MA, you have to have your social security card in addition to a photo id to get your learner’s permit.  You aren’t allowed to even just give them your social security number.  So, although I know my number, I still had to file for a replacement card.  But that step is done!

I’m pleased to say my reading pace has been going well.  I’m actually ahead of the one book a week goal I set for myself.  I’ve also so far read 2 books for the Mental Illness Advocacy Reading Challenge, as well as 2 of the 12 review copies I accepted for review here this year.  There is a giveaway still running for the second one, the horror book The House of Azareal, if you are interested in entering.

I must admit, February can be a bit of a depressing month for me.  I’ve noticed that pattern over the last couple of years.  But my partner has been very supportive, for which I am truly grateful, and that along with yoga, books, and snuggling our cat has helped make the month pass.

Happy reading!

National Library of Medicine Update (MLA13 Boston)

Photo of a slide showing user expectations, ILL librarian expectations, and an ideal future.

Slide from presentation showing What users want out of ILL. What ILL librarians think are issues with ILL currently. What a perfect world future of ILL would look like.

This year I got to go to the annual presentation by the National Library of Medicine (NLM) at MLA.  NLM is an important medical library resource, as it provides many free, trustworthy health, medicine, and science research resources to the public.  The NLM Update provides information on any important changes by NLM in the last year, as well as just any information/resources they would like to highlight.

  • clinicaltrials.gov
    • have data available of national origin of studies
    • you can build your own specialized view if you’d like to
    • a unique source of summary results for many trials
    • NN/LMx training for librarians coming soon
  • standardization makes information more usable
  • SNOMED Clinical Terms (SNOMED CT)
  • Genetic Testing Registry
    • 3,005 tests registered by 290 labs in 37 countries
    • useful inks for EHRs (Electronic Health Records)
    • international standard for location of genetic variations
  • PubMed Health
    • more digitized guidelines
    • specifically focused on flu site
    • working on global microbial identifier for food-borne pathogens
  • FY 2013 budget
    • lost 5.5% annum ($19.2 million less)
    • people are the most important NLM resource.  Call them “brain-ware.”
  • Index Cat
    • XML data available for 3.7million citations
    • index journals we trust cover-to-cover to keep up
  • NLM exhibits
    • Native Voices: Native Peoples’ Concepts of Health and Illness” is current exhibit.
    • There is an app of the interviews portion of the exhibit available on iTunes
    • The NLM traveling exhibition program has been booked by 457 institution in 48 states.
    • The Harry Potter exhibit grew out of last-minute attempt to make science interesting to middle schoolers.
    • Traveling exhibits consist of 6 banners that can be rolled into mailing tubes for quick shipment.
    • You must do local programming to borrow an exhibit
  • NLM Associate Fellowship Program
  • MedPrint
    • a program to get libraries to commit to keep print runs of journals
    • check page to see what’s been saved already
  • Environmental Health and Toxicology
  • Disaster Information Management Research Center
  • Inter-Library Loan (ILL)
    • requests down almost 50% in last 10 years in Docline
    • investigating this
    • conference call with focus groups representing:
      • hospitals
      • large academic libraries
      • special libraries
    • not planning to take Docline away
    • national survey in March 2013
      • 60% hospitals
      • agreed journals are electronic now
      • disagreement on if licenses are easy to understand
  • MedlinePlus
    • 15 years old in English, 10 years old in Spanish
    • multiple language link –> follows US medical practices, also available in English translation
    • US is 37% of users
    • very active twitter account
    • mobile site
      • going through usability study
      • More Spanish speaking males use than females.  More English speaking females use than males.
      • most of us want the full site not the mobile site
  • MedlinePlus Connect
    • allows EHR to send a code and get back patient-specific health information
  • 5 day posting of jobs is a requirement of the government to speed up hirings.  It is not a sign that they already know who to hire.

After the NLM Update, I attended the poster sessions.  This is not something one tends to take notes at, so I don’t have very much to say about them, except that I am proud of my medical librarian friend who had a poster in the session. Go Katie!

Up next, the final plenary session! Phew!

Medical Librarian Appreciation Month

October 20, 2009 1 comment

According to the National Library of Medicine, October is medical librarian appreciation month.  Yay!  Now, I’m not just pointing this out because I’m a medical librarian myself (*blush*), but I have noticed a dire lack of knowledge even among librarians about just what a medical librarian does all day.

A medical library, contrary to popular belief, is not just a public library inside a hospital.  It’s more akin to an academic library, but even that isn’t a fair comparison.  The medical library exists to serve doctors, researchers, lab technicians, and nurses in keeping on the cutting edge of scientific knowledge.  It also helps them practice evidence-based medicine.  When your doctor tells you that she wants you to take a certain drug because that drug has proven to be beneficial to people like you, in all likelihood your doctor found an article about a study supporting that information in her hospital’s medical library.

A medical librarian doesn’t generally deal with typical reference questions.  Although we get the “where’s the bathroom” and “how do I photocopy” just like any other librarian, our reference questions are much more often something like:

  • “I found this citation at the end of this article in the current Archives of General Psychiatry.  Can you help me find the original?”
  • “I’d like to set up a recurring search on PubMed for anorexia in men, how do I do that?”
  • “The hospital is getting a VIP patient soon, and I need all articles in the last 10 years on handling VIP patients.”
  • “I have a patient who I believe is presenting with symptoms of schizophrenia, but that is not my expertise.  Can you help me brush up on it?”
  • “We have a patient presenting with delusions, tremors, and missing hair.  Can you run a search in Ovid on those symptoms and see what comes up?”

As you can see, medical librarians, likes subject area academic librarians, need to have a general knowledge of the type of medicine their hospital deals in.  Medical librarians need to speak scientists’ lingo so their patrons won’t get slowed down explaining what they mean to the librarian.  Medical librarians deal with highly educated patrons who generally think with scientific-oriented minds.  They are intelligent, but busy.  The medical librarian is a part of the hospital team.  She is one of the many cogs that exists to provide quality patient care.  She must stay up to date and trained in utilizing scientific databases, in what research is going on in her hospital, and in current medical knowledge and terminology if she is going to help her patrons efficiently.

You won’t find a medical librarian presenting a story hour, themed reading week, or a summer reading program.  You will find a medical librarian skimming the new medical journals cover to cover.   She may have been assigned specific doctors and researchers.  She knows exactly which area of medicine they specialize in and keeps her eye out for new information to forward to them.  They know her by name and stop her in the hospital halls to ask her to find things for them.  A medical librarian may be called upon to conduct a search on a certain condition in a certain type of patient asap for a patient in critical care.  Unlike a public librarian, a medical librarian’s job isn’t to encourage reading or continuing education for the pure fun of it.  Unlike an academic librarian, a medical librarian’s job isn’t to educate people on how to conduct good research.  A medical librarian’s patrons may or may not enjoy reading for fun, but that’s none of her business.  Most of a medical librarian’s patrons already know how to conduct good research.  A medical librarian’s job is simply to provide exactly the type of information her patrons need when they need it.  Sometimes even before they ask for it.  In this sense, it probably makes a lot more sense to call a medical librarian an information specialist.  Indeed, many hospitals are moving toward calling their librarians “informationists.”

I’m taking the time to write all of this simply because I feel medical librarianship is one of the many misunderstood professions.  I suppose this is fine for the general public, but if you are a librarian or a library student, you should understand what it is your medical librarian colleagues do.  Simply not having to explain over and over again that we are not like public librarians would, frankly, be all the appreciation we need from other librarians.  As for any doctors, researchers, nurses, lab technicians, etc… who might be reading this–I know you’re busy.  You may not have ever even gone into your hospital’s library yourself, but your librarian works hard.  Please take the time to tell her or him thank you.  Even if you just happen to spot her in the cafeteria.  Please tell her thank you for being part of the team.  Medical librarians truly enjoy helping you, but we really appreciate being recognized as part of the team.