MLA Events

What is it that sticks in your mind the most about MLA ’10? One thing that I’ve been thinking a lot about is something from Daniel Pink’s McGovern Lecture.

It was sitting there in my unconscious mind until an incident last weekend. Someone close to me is having an unhappy time. As we were talking this thing just popped into my thoughts. We should do this exercise that Daniel Pink suggested! What is this exercise you ask?

In his lecture (and in his book A Whole New Mind), Daniel Pink talked about “six high-concept, high-touch senses.”  They are design, story, symphony, empathy, play, and meaning.  And here I want to talk about meaning. The exercise he suggested consists of answering two questions:

  • Was I better today than yesterday?
  • What 3 things am I grateful for?

At the time I thought that this sounded really familiar. As I pondered, I realized that this exercise is similar to the Examen of Ignatius Loyola. During the McGovern Lecture we were all moved by helen-ann brown epstein’s letter of gratitude to her professional colleague and friend Carolyn Reid. And as I participated in the rest of the MLA ’10 activities, I realized how thankful I am for all the relationships that my involvement in MLA and Midwest Chapter/MLA has brought to me. During the Nursing and Allied Health Research Section meeting, the NAHRS members in attendance introduced themselves and talked about their involvement in NAHRS. So many of them used the word “nurturing” to describe the role of the section in their professional AND personal lives. I know that if I need advice or moral support in my professional endeavors, I can just ask one of my “MLA friends.” More than half of my Facebook friends are people that I have met through MLA activities. And I added some new Facebook friends after MLA. And I noticed that many of my MLA Facebook friends added new MLA Facebook friends after the meeting as well. I met quite a few new people through the MLA ’10 CrowdVine Site (although I am not sure I met everyone that I wanted to meet) and in my role as an Official Blogger. For me MLA is all about RELATIONSHIPS. And ain’t that great!

So you can be sure that I am looking forward to seeing you all again next year at MLA’11 in our Midwest Chapter city of Minneapolis!

At lunch on Tuesday I had a delightful time sharing ideas about “Research for Librarians” at the Chapter Council Presents Chapter Sharing Roundtables. The mix of early and mid-career librarians made for great conversation.

We talked a lot about our own research and particularly addressed the barriers that we face in conducting research in addition to our library duties. Additionally, a couple of the librarians at the table serve on their institution’s Institutional Research Board. They note that this is challenging and that they have a lot to learn. We developed a number of suggestions for continuing education coursework that MLA might want to consider to support research. Once the notes are transcribed, we’ll take our suggestions to the association.

As I review my MLA experience, “research” seems to be the overarching theme. Of course, one of the things that brought me to MLA ’10 was the research project poster presentation “Connecting to the Professional Literature: Profile of Undergraduate Nursing Instruction” that I did with Barbara Schloman. Mentoring and statistical support were two of the things that we discussed extensively in our roundtable discussion. Having an experienced mentor like Barbara is so important! I also had in-house statistical advice and support from the invaluable Tina. I couldn’t have done it alone.

For the most part, I choose to attend sessions that were research oriented. I particularly enjoyed the “New Voices” paper session on Sunday. I was excited to see the great research that is being done by LIS students. Notably that session included discussions that I described in my notes as “spirited” and “lively” between the students and audience following the presentations. Couldn’t ask for more!

In her Inaugural Address new MLA President Ruth Holst talked a lot about research. We need to communicate our value to our institutions. To do this we must “show them the evidence” of our value. Where there is no evidence, we need to create the evidence.  Ask the question “What would give you the answers you need in your workplace?” Building this evidence base for our profession is a major task ahead of us.

And while I am mentioning our new MLA President, I just cannot resist including this wonderful photo of mother and daughter.

This was the final event of the meeting for me, and I apologize for not getting notes up sooner. It’s harder when you’re back at your actual job…

I believe a video of this lecture will be posted at some point on this NIH site, and you can get Dr. Halamka’s slides at his blog, Life as a Healthcare CIO. But if you just can’t wait, following are my typically lengthy notes.

[Update] The video is here: Thanks to Taneya for the link!

Knowledge Services and the Role of Medical Libraries in Healthcare IT

John Halamka noted that he was an NLM fellow in 1997, when he presented a paper on the use of the internet to exchange health records. He was widely considered to be insane as a result.

The recent stimulus bill provided 787 billion: we are responsible for spending 30 billion of that wisely.

Halamka sees five grand challenges that will require work from NLM, medical librarians, and informationists.

Background: if we’re going to exchange health records, we need to protect privacy. Everyone has different ideas of privacy. Halamka’s genome has been published, and you can buy his stem cells for $49, so he has one idea about privacy. Other people may have other ideas, and we need to work with that as well.

Take a cold: it’s not particularly confidential, so we probably don’t care if it shows up in our record. Mental health visits, or stays at the Betty Ford clinic–these are more confidential.

So it would be good if we could segment records to control who sees what: have all the information stored, but not all viewable by everyone. This is very complicated to achieve.

Right now, hospitals can’t share records: if you get an MRI at one hospital and then cross the street to be treated at another, you need a new MRI. This is clearly inefficient: we want to be able to share records where appropriate.

But who do you trust with your information?

Your doctor? Yes, maybe.

NLM? Of course!

Your insurance provider? Merciful heavens no.

Your employer? Well, you really can’t, can you?

So we want everyone to have an electronic health record (EHR) but there are currently very different standards and types depending on who creates it. Currently we can get a log of who looks at it, but not what happens with the information after they’ve accessed it–who they show it to. We need to better log where info goes and for what it’s used.

We hope that recent healthcare reform will lead to paying for quality, not quantity. To ensure this, we need to be able to measure quality, and to provide feedback for improvement.

We also need to assure device security, in case someone loses a Blackberry on the train.

Story: A Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center (BIDMC) employee did some analysis, copied it to a flash drive, moved to San Francisco, and copied the drive to a laptop, which was stolen and pawned. If this kind of thing happens, regulations state the event needs to be disclosed to patients, and to ‘prominent media,’ which was done. BIDMC was fortunate that the State of the Union address and the introduction of the iPad were both that same day, minimizing the bad press; but we want to make sure this sort of thing doesn’t happen in the first place.

We want to make sure every patient gets the right care: we need to protect the vulnerable. Make sure people get the right meds. Halamka’s grandmother died from medication combinations that needn’t have happened if her complete health record had been accessible by her physicians.

Grand Challenge #1: Consent to share data

Principle: you should be able to decide who sees what about you, and when. Presently, state law trumps HIPAA, and you may not even have the same standards from one hospital to another about what can be disclosed.

Some options:

  • Opt-out (info is shared unless you say no)
  • Opt-in (info is not share unless you request it)
  • Either one with various restrictions
  • No consent needed (share everything freely)

So we might say we’ll have everything shared, except if it involves drug or alcohol use. But this is very difficult to automate: natural language searches would seize on and redact parts of a record where it mentioned that a person ‘uses alcohol’ for disinfectant, for example.

Institutional level options: BIDMC says ‘we won’t share anything unless you say so.’ Another model could be: ‘share anything for research’ purposes (Halamka is part of the Personal Genome Project: committed to research, so use any of his info for any study you want!) Or: “share everything except my mental health info.”

Situational level options: We might share all data for emergency care, but not in general: dermatologist doesn’t need to know entire history, but EMT should have access

What if we could use a controlled vocabulary to codify these consent options?–put together a record in xml-style format that states a person’s specific opt-in and opt-out choices

We could codify a format for the record itself, then for a consent section. it would be great to have research data, for example, along with details on exactly what it was cleared to be used for; wouldn’t have to seek new permissions every time.

Grand Challenge #2: Engaging the patient

ARRA want us to share with the patient—but there’s no Unique ID for patients, so it’s very hard for an institution to be sure that you’re the right person to access a record.

The idea of a National Health ID number is scary to people—we don’t want to have something that could potentially be linked with employment and tax records.

One example: BIDMC gives everyone a site-specific number so they have all their records from that institution linked and accessible–but that doesn’t help if you go to another hospital.

Another model: MS Health or Google Health can get your permission to pull information from pharmacies, etc. to compile a record. And then, you could get it in an RFID implanted in your triceps, as Halamka did! Or, you could just let people access it, like a “health URL.”

You could get the address from anyone you trusted (Google, a healthcare vendor, whatever) and could tell your doctor “post this visit record to…” the URL, which would then cause the record to update. If you wanted to change URL providers, download your info, whatever, you could.

A concern: when you share info with patients, it tends to be confusing. What does this term mean? Is 100 cholesterol good or bad? So it’s important to link the health record with contextual info to make it actionable to patients. Otherwise they can have pages and pages of detailed information about their health that actually doesn’t really mean anything to them.

Reassurance: it’s unlikely that we’ll wind up with a giant database in the White House basement managed by Sarah Palin. If we can leverage the current web, with social networking and other tools, we will likely wind up with a lot of options that don’t require this scary centralized control.

Grand Challenge #3: Standards enablers

It’s hard for doctors to get things in standard formats. They use all kinds of terms, scrawled handwritten notes, etc. They don’t think in terms of hierarchical vocabulary and the correct way to phrase things for the system.

We need standards for three things: content, vocabulary, and ways of moving data.

Content: We actually do have existing standards that are basically good enough on the content side. There’s lack of detail in some places, choices of two standards in others. There’s a lot of learning called for: a doctor-designed standard works to be very simple and easy to use, while standards organization folks designed a much more all-inclusive but difficult to learn/use one. ‘Green CDA’ makes an xml-style sheet, showing patient info, problem, etc. We can combine two things, for aspects that work for both doctors and standards people.

Vocabulary: We need a common terminology. There are currently standards for several different uses, which is fine since not everyone needs the same functions—we just need to get them standardized and mapped to each other. This will allow for implementation of the good stuff in the PHR.

Moving data: Finally, there’s a need for standards in getting data from place to place without it being changed, intercepted, or sent to the wrong place. Again, there are several existing ways to do this, so what we really need to do is just pick something that does the job well enough, and go with it. This will probably be REST—used by Amazon, Google, and others that send a lot of data around.

Grand Challenge #4: Aggregating data

It would be good to be able to look at data from many peoples’ records to see if there are indications that a new drug is dangerous, catch early signs of outbreaks, etc. In the US, we just don’t trust government centralization of data, so we shouldn’t really count on that. So instead we find out who is trusted, and delegate this record keeping to them.

We will need to work out some things like, how do you record that–one document per episode/visit? Or keep all the data from a person’s EHR all together?

Where do we put the complexity? Who has to do the structuring, mapping from one thing to another? If we codify the data at starting point, there are fewer chances for things to go wrong. Here’s where standards come in: if we can make sure that data is structured at the point of entry, there’s no need to translate or map it later.

As noted, we don’t trust central aggregators, so instead we should keep this work close to the hospitals. They can de-identify as much as possible. Often you don’t need to know names/addresses for things—so it’s OK to keep the data anonymous, but with ability to re-link to personal data in case it’s needed for epidemiology later.

Example: Imagine Dr. A orders a test for a patient. Patient doesn’t get it right away, but later goes to Dr. B and gets it done there. We would need to link this information, but how?

Halamka suggests looking to Las Vegas. They keeps lots of info, all de-identified, through a process in which they standardize all names, and use this standardized form of a name, a date of birth, and a person’s gender to create a unique ID with it. So your name is not in the database, but the record is uniquely you. We could do something like this.

Another option is that we could just point to the location of the data, and not actually put anything into the net: just say “[your name here] has a record at [institution name]. But what if you’re at a mental health clinic? If it’s known that you have a record there, that’s disclosing something about your health.

Halamka likes SHRINE: Shared Health Research Information NEtwork. It leaves the data near your doctor, but allows for querying of multiple hospital databases. So you can run a query on obesity and lifespan, and get data from patient records at the various institutions participating, but never see data on any individual.

For this to work, we’ll need libraries to make sure data is structured.

Grand Challenge #5: Decision support

More literature is published every year than clinicians can read in their whole lives. We have a ton of data: now what we need is ways to know what to do with it. We establish rules: take this action for this condition. But these rules may be different from one organization to another. If only we had nationally standardized rules. We need a knowledge base for hundreds of common conditions that will set up the rules for treatment so that it’s easy to know the best thing to do.

NLM is great at codifying knowledge, and we need this. We could have an evidence base that lets you put in patient condition info and it returns the answer: do this, and here’s why, and here are safety considerations. It could be consistent across country, so you’d always get the best evidence-based treatment at every hospital. It would of course be reviewed regularly.

The role of medical librarians now becomes empowering clinicians to access this information. Doctors will still need to be able to consult experts. codifies all the expertise of all 18,000 faculty members at Harvard using NLM terms—it’s like social networking for science. Something like this, widely applied, could be a great resource.

Final Thoughts: The genome

He is one of the first to be completely sequenced. His genes are available to the public, along with some possible predispositions that can be deduced from the sequence. This has potential for health: Halamka sought early treatment for glaucoma as a result of what he learned.

But sequencing is easy, since we can now sequence a full genome for $500: the interpretation/annotation is the hard part. So you have this gene: what do you do about it? That’s what will take time and money now.

From the Q&A

First four challenges are more medical records librarian work than medical librarian. Once we can aggregate data about populations, will collective literature be irrelevant? — No. We will still need interpretation, studies to show why the answers to some queries may be what they are. Easy to pull facts–expertise is still needed to say what it means.

About that chip implant? — The idea was that maybe we should just all carry our medical records around with us. Naturally he went out and had it done to try it out: the RFID chip points to a website with his info. Doesn’t hurt that much to get implanted, but pretty much won’t ever be removed, and can’t go into Best Buy because their DVDs use chips with the same frequency. Reportable results from his experiment: probably won’t catch on. Easier to put that information somewhere else.

We know that interpreting for patients is absolutely crucial. Critical need, place for medical librarians.

About E-patients — Halamka used to share all info with patients, including administrative data. Problem is that this tends to show a lot of ‘reasons for test’ that show up as conditions a person has. Disconnect between clinical observations and billing codes. Now, only SNOMED info goes to patient, so they only see the information about conditions they actually have.

As we know, there’s no curation on the internet, so you have to be careful and wary. The Bulgarian Journal of Irreproducible Results is as likely to come up as NEJM. Sometimes, patient data is what you need, and that’s a helpful use for the internet, but curated databases are much more likely to be useful in general.

Also, beware: patients come in very different levels of sophistication. E-patient Dave is not necessarily typical. Never discount crowdsourcing, but set a floor; minimum standards for reliable info.

How to provide continuity of care is a concern for long-term care. Record should follow you all your life, and include more than prob/med list.

Concern: doctor looks up the right way to do something the first time, and then relies on ‘ever-failing memory’ for the next several times, while the known best practice may change.

We need to stop ordering “heparin” and start ordering “anticoagulation”—so someone looks up the procedure every time. Also with chemotherapy: order therapy, and let the computer work out the dose. Problem: what if the computers go down? If the system isn’t there, you can’t do anything. Multiple backup systems are crucial. But basically we never want to rely on physical memory, or the apprenticeship method of learning. We want solid evidence, and we want it to be consulted every time.

I had never been to the National Library of Medicine, so when I read that the Leiter Lecture would be at NIH and there would be a tour of the National Library of Medicine immediately following I made sure I booked a later flight back home.

I am sure there will be somebody blogging about the Leiter Lecture so Iwon’t focus on John Halamka’s interesting lecture.  But in case there isn’t and you would like to know more you can go to John’s blog, “Life as a Healthcare CIO” and briefly read about his lecture, view his slides, and soon view the lecture video. 

I posted on the Facebook page, “At the National Library of Medicine for lecture and tour.  The library nerd in me is so excited.”  It was true, I am a library nerd and I was very excited to tour the library. 

The National Library of Medicine, while huge wrestles with many of the same things that we do in our libraries.  Space, they are all out of space.  The have miles and miles of book shelves and they are completely full they have no more room to put anything, yet they are obligated to collect everything.  They gobble up space like PacMan.  Funding, their budget is tight.  They need more room to store more material 9since they are literally completely out of shelving space) but they need more money to build it.  I would say Congressional funding would be the Blinky, Inky, Pinky, and Clyde to their PacMan like space problems. They too are somewhat stymied with how to handle electronic articles that are not available in the print.  Due to licensing restrictions they are unable to archive those e-articles and the e-journals for years to come.  That is very difficult concept to have to deal with when your library is supposed to collect all the United States and much of the world’s medical literature.  They don’t have the option to go online only for the journal subscriptions, and while they pay for the print they still can’t collect the entire publication if it publishes any electronic only pages. 

They also do a few things differently than regular libraries.  First their stacks are closed.  You can’t browse the shelves looking for books on a topic.  All of those books are shelved below ground under several feet of concrete in jam packed floors.  The reason the material is under ground is because the building was built at the height of the cold war and the design supposedly protects the collection in the event of a nuclear bomb attack.  Since the the stacks are closed they rely heavily on their OPAC and other electronic methods of discovery.  Once a person decides they want to see a book the request is sent down (electronically) to person in the stacks who retrieves the items.  The turn around time is 18 minutes. 

The vast majority of their stacks are not in call number order or in subject order.  The NLM used to process and shelve books according to call number but was too cumbersome.  So instead of shelving books according the call number, they shelve it by accession number as it comes in to the system. 

It was certainly a very interesting tour.  I wish I could have remembered more of what the librarian said, but alas I did not.  I searched the NLM web site (as well as other online areas) for information on the number of miles of stacks they have, the number of collections they get each year and all the other tid bits of information they metioned.  Perhaps it is the lover of trivia in me but I wish they could add this stuff to their About NLM page.  Heck if they could just slap up the Word Doc the librarians giving the tour had and consulted from, that would be great.  But those folks are busy filling our ILL requests and answering their own in house patron requests, I am sure it never occurred to them that some nosey library from Cleveland would ever want to know soemthing like that.

As a huge NLM fangirl, I couldn’t stay away from this morning’s update, although I did refrain from hooting and waving my arms during most of the program.

Donald Lindberg, NLM Director

Regarding the NLM budget: the print on the slide was “small, in accord with the budget.” Regular appropriation has been flat, resulting in an effective decrease, but they recognize that there are worse circumstances in the library world, and even in this room.

Stimulus funding gave a bit of a boost, and was used in restricted fashion under the NIH guidelines. Some previously approved projects were refunded, then new recipients were sought. There were many applications, so a relatively small number were actually funded, but there were some good ones.

Happily, the budget for 2011 includes a 3.8% increase, with a small increase in net for NCBI.

NLM’s 175th anniversary celebration will be held in 2011: more details will be coming. Should be cool. A teaching grant conference, programs on Native American concepts of health and illness, and a book (175 pages?) on “hidden treasures of NLM,” are planned, as well as celebration with other Government organizations and “some neat-o events you will suggest.” So make some suggestions for fun things!

My initial idea is a hooting and arm-waving contest, but I should probably refine this a little before submitting it.

Some info on what NLM grants support:
Computer and library science with health applications, including books, research, informatics training, career transition awards. There’s been an effective 4% decrease in the budget, but they still fund interesting stuff.

ARRA funds have gone to work with electronic health records and training future info workers.
In terms of following information about grants, the CRISP database has been replaced by the NIH RePORTER. This system allows searches by topics, institutions, etc., and will also let you see how much is spent on a certain disease category.

There are a couple of new ‘landfalls’ for medical libriarianship, in disaster information management, and climate effects on health.

Disaster information management work is a trans-NIH effort, with support from the SIS Toxicology office in NLM. Failure of communication is often a major part of the problem in disaster management, and librarians are experts in communication, so we have useful skills to offer here. See the DIMRC page for info. They look into partnerships with hospitals (where communication could be along the lines of ‘do you have extra beds’), and in other ways: for example, the Haiti Earthquake Person Locator, which ties in with Google and helps to reunite family members.

Other tools: a special digital pen to capture drawings made can help gather information about injuries, WebWISER offers info on dangerous chemicals, and the Radiation Emergency Medical Management, available for use on a handheld can provide dose estimators, images (an iPhone app is coming soon!).

Speaking of anniversaries, MeSH will be 50 years old this year. For a sense of how it’s grown, there were 4,300 descriptors in 1960, and are 25,588 now.

Happy Birthday, MeSH!

Deborah Zarin, Director of

The slides for this presentation should be made available [note: I haven't found them yet, but if you have a link, stick it in comments!], so they’ll be quick and are more to help find information on the website than to present unique info.

A reminder of why there is a trials registry: suppression of results impedes progress in all areas of research, but people get especially riled up about loss of human studies data.

The 10th anniversary of is this year, since it was launched in February of 2000. Recent regulation, FDAAA, requires new types of studies to be reported, and adds a summary results database to the available tools (the existing registry summarizes protocol details, but not results).

The takeaway or bottom line, if we need a quick summary for researchers:

    Register all interventional studies before enrolling any participants
    Keep entries up to date
    Report summary results (any are welcome, those subject to FDAAA are required), about one year after completion date–whether or not results have been published

There are over 89,000 studies in the registry right now, both open and closed (studies are never removed from the registry, even after completion, making it a resource for historical data as well as current trials). Trials have been registered from all over the world, and can be sorted by site, type of study, etc. The site receives many types of users, including patients, researchers, students, and others.

Different site views are available for different needs, and the option to track all changes made to a record allows you to follow the progress of studies.
The site links to MedlinePlus, PubMed entries for articles, and NLM Technical Bulletin entries.

As for the new results database: a tab will appear in the record if results are available. Results are summary level only, with no patient level data, and include outcome measures and adverse events. It attempts to stick to objective data, limiting narrative text and analyses.

Journal editors DO NOT consider listing in this database to be prior publication (important point for many researchers). Only about 23% of results data has associated publications at this time–more probably will, but there is also information here that is not otherwise available.

This provides an important way to see other studies on a topic, and assure participants that their participation will be recorded. Patients come here as well, to look for trials, and to find out where research is being done. Finally, research integrity interests are well served by having a registry of studies and results (note that for study results, the site reports all outcome measures, while journal article might look only at one or two: another instance where this database may present information that is not otherwise available).

Sheldon Kotzin, NLM Associate Director

Thanks are due to the advisory committee members.

A note on NLM’s traveling exhibits. Feedback suggests that it’s easy to display these and gets attention for the library. There are six exhibits available now, including Frankenstein and Harry Potter.

NN/LM helps to provide information to regions, and presently has some new areas of focus, including expansion of regional initiatives, e-science work, preservation of print, emergency preparation, and outreach to HI/AK natives.

Electronic Medical Records and Personal Health Records are growing in use, making it important to provide connections with consumer health info: MedlinePlus Connect will allow links from records to diagnosis, condition and drug info on MedlinePlus pages, using HL7 and SNOMED.

Nice! They’re working with Columbia University Health Center–other interested libraries should get in touch.

Go Local use has been trending down for some time. Wanting to increase use and decrease the burden on participating sites, there was a lot of brainstorming, but suggestions tended to replicate MedlinePlus services or require a lot of extra work. Population served went up, but pageviews went down at the same time, so the difficult decision was made to discontinue support.

On the other hand, there will be a resumption of NCBI in-person training for molecular resources, with two-day workshops to be offered.

The Emergency Access Initiative plans to provide access to certain e-book and e-journal titles for use of workers in emergency situations. It was implemented in Haiti, and proved quite successful. There are 220 titles available, with more publishers interested in joining.

The Medical Heritage Library hopes to create an open-access library of heritage materials, with digital scans of of public domain items. It hopes to offer 30,000 titles from NLM, Harvard, Yale, and the New York Public Library. The proposal is to scan 5700 monographs from NLM’s Americana collection (1720-1865). Focus on preservation/restoration also planned. Initial offerings should be available by late summer.

NLM has completed a 5-year inventory project, and made significant MedlinePlus updates.

Future plans include:

    Acquiring more e-only resources
    Adding historical images to FLICKR
    Funding new grants for health disparities resources (with priority given to institutions where there is strong participation by a health science library)
    Health Hotlines app for smartphones
    Disambiguation of author names in PubMed (beginning with NIH grantees)

PubMed Central use and participation is growing; nearly 2 million articles are now available on PMC.

We see social media participation from many NLM programs: there’s a Twitter and Facebook presence.

Finally, let’s recognize the outstanding staff at NLM!–many of whom were present, and were able to stand and be applauded.

Incoming MLA President Ruth Holst described her two presidential priorities during her inaugural address.

1. Rethink Our Value: We know the value that we bring to our profession and related fields, but we need to make administrators and key stakeholders aware. She suggested we provide the evidence of our value through research and then gave five tips to get started. 1. Start small, 2. Use the “research agenda”, 3.  Look for partners, 4. Find a mentor,  5. Look for funding.

2. Rethink Our Roles: We should be asking ourselves if we’re providing the right services to our institutions. Are there new roles we could take on to advance our institutions’ missions? She had several ideas for how MLA might help us expand our roles: 1. Describe emerging roles, 2. New CE courses, 3. Disaster Information Specialist, 4. Implement Vital Pathways ideas, 5. Tailored advocacy materials, 6. Remodel the MLA Mentor Database.

Ruth ended her address with a quotation from Ralph Waldo Emerson. “Bad times have a scientific value. These are occasions a good learner would not miss. ”

We were then invited to the 2011 MLA Annual Meeting in Minneapolis, MN. The theme for this year’s conference, Rethink, was meant to be very broad. The 111th annual MLA meeting will run from May 13th-18th.

NPC2010 had a innovative idea that turned out quite successful — the lightning posters. It was an economical idea also. None of us had to pay for the preparation and/or printing of the poster. We disciplined ourselves to succinctly present our one, two or three important concepts within five minutes.
I think the downside is that we cramped too many facts in too little font, because we were only allowed three slides. Even sitting up close they were difficult to read. Maybe 5 slides in 5 minutes next time. I was glad to hear that lightning posters will be in the program next year.
As you carry your little notebook looking for good and bad designs, as Dan Pink recommended, also jot down good ideas you could visualize easily and share with others in 5 minutes. Before you know it the summer will be over and the call for participation for MLA2011 will be upon us.

Every day at MLA is a whirlwind! After the Janet Doe Lecture I attended the MLA Business Meeting. Krafty and I set up shop on some chairs in the rear of the room near a wall outlet so we could power up all of our connectivity. We voted on a number of items including the changes to the MLA Code of Ethics. I do so enjoy raising my blue Voting Paddle!

The meeting began with the “In Memoriam” video presentation, remembering those we are so sadly missing at this meeting.

After the Business Meeting, we gathered to honor our best. The Awards Ceremony and Luncheon was an opportunity to mix and mingle with our MLA friends old and new.

I spent the rest of the afternoon with my fellow NAHRS members. First I attended the “Navigating the Literature: Strategies for Getting Published in Health Sciences Journals and Mapping the Literature of Allied Health” cosponsored by NAHRS and the Chiropractic Libraries Section. This was definitely useful for me since, not only would I like to publish since I am a tenure track faculty librarian, I am hoping to start on one of the allied health mapping projects this summer. Following this was the NAHRS Business Meeting. This is my second year as a NAHRS member. My fellow NAHRS members are so friendly and supportive! This evening a big gang of us walked over to Rosemary’s Thyme Bistro for dinner. Thanks to Lisa for organizing!



Today I spent the poster time presenting my colleague and I’s poster “Reflecting on Quiz Placement in Online Tutorials.” We were thrilled that so many people came to look at everyone’s posters and chat with us about our little case study, and we ran out of handouts fairly quickly. We brought 50. It was neat to see that people had been checking out the printed posters even before the session started, and we left the poster after the session in case people showed up late.  

Yesterday, I was able to actually walk around and look at posters and talk to the authors. There were three posters that I found the most interesting and who’s authors were able to talk to me.

Pursuing Unity: Combining Five Medical Libray Websites Into One by Emily Molanphy and Christopher Evjy
I talked to Emily at the poster session, and she told me that she was charged with finding a way to redesign and combine the websites from 5 different medical libraries at her institution.  She used Drupal to create the site and her poster showed the mock ups for three different approaches to the design.  The winning design involved the creation of a one library “portal” so to speak that linked out to things like “Circulation,” and “Locations.” In order to simplify things for their users they had to work on creating consistent policies between the different branches so that they could have just one page with circulation information. As a side note, Emily told me that she is going to be at Wood’s Hole next week with me and Molly Knapp. 

Go Local Goes Faster: Expediting the Indexing and Auditing Process by Christie Silbajoris, AHIP, Jane Greenberg, Nassib Nassar, and Michael Shoffner
I originally went to talk to Christie because I had heard the MedlinePlus had decided to slowly stop funding the Go Local project and I wanted to hear about what she had heard regarding funding. I didn’t realize who I was talking to at first, but when I saw that NC Health Info mentioned on the poster I realized that we knew each other through email since I’ve helped work on that project. I’ve worked on the creation of topic pages, though, and her poster was about the actual Go Local aspect that deals with local health services.  I think her poster is very timely because it discussed a system they had developed which cuts the time and manpower needed to maintain a project like this. They only highlight health services with websites and the program they have developed scans all of the sites they index and informs them if something has changed. This way, they don’t waste time looking over websites that haven’t changed and they can really focus their effort.  As an aside, NC Health Info is a project that several libraries are involed with and it will not be going away, nor will the Go Local aspect of it.

Multi-Type Library Collaboration in the Creation of  a Regional Community Health Website Using Web 2.0 Tools  by Joanne M. Mullenbach, AHIP, Rosemarie K. Taylor, AHIP, Linda Jones, Barbara Nanstiel, AHIP, and Elizabeth Brandreth
I found out that this project came underway after the participants had taken the Geeks Bearing Gifts class from the Mid Atlantic RML, I believe.  Taken from their abstract, “a small, health sciences consortium collaborated with local public libraries, consumer health libraries, an Area Health Education Center, and other health agencies to produce a website.” They used Google Sites and split up the work amongst the different members to make it more manageable.  I believe this is another example of a Go Local-esque project that will be unaffected by the decision of MedlinePlus to do away with Go Local funding.  I personally see Go Local as an important service that MedlinePlus provides and I point students to it all the time when they need to get a snapshot of local health service providers.

Doody’s Reception
The Doody’s Reception is an event that Dan Doody puts on at each MLA to thank the many librarians that contribute to the Core Title List.  This event is pretty much open to everyone, though, and folks are encouraged to bring a guest or two along for the fun.  This was my third Doody’s reception since I’ve volunteered to score titles since 2006.  This year the reception was co-sponsored by the american Pharmacists Association (AphA’s) and held at their Association Headquarters. The lovely brochure they gave us calls it “A National Landmark.”  The food was wonderful and after we had a some beer or wine and the main course, they gave a little presentation on the joint collaboration between Doody’s and the American Pharmacists Association. The product is PharmacyLibrary. It’s a digital platform for APhA’s resources. I believe it covers their journals, books and pharmacy related news.  The highlight of the evening was going to the outdoor deck that provided a breathtaking view of DC. From the deck I could see the Washington Library, Jefferson Memorial and many other beautiful landmarks.  After eating desserts on the deck, we got a tour of the building and the chance to handle books from the 1800′s.  The building was recently renovated and included great sculptures and an awesome painting collection titled “Great Moments in Pharmacy” A collection by Robert Thom and a gift of Pfizer, INC. Below are a couple of pictures from the reception. View from APhA's Headquarters

Amy Blevins at APhA's Headquarters

This morning I attended the Professional Recruitment and Retention Committee meeting. It was a very interesting meeting filled with discussion on recruitment with a little talk of retention. When I say retention, I mean retention in the profession and not retention for MLA members. That is part of the Membership Committee’s charge.  I was thinking about it, and I personally could not imagine recruitment in the profession being an issue.  Who wouldn’t want to stay a health sciences librarian? It’s a dynamic field filled with change and opportunities to try many different things.  I recently spoke to a group of high school librarians about health sciences librarianship, and I told them that it was a job where you could teach, do marketing, design instructional materials and website, network with health professionals and do a little bit of business and contract negotiation depending on your job.  Without telling you more of what you already know, I’ll pose a question. Do you think that retention in the profession is something we need to address?

After the committe meeting, I attended the MLA Business Meeting and the MLA Awards luncheon.  The Business Meeting started with a very touching tribute to our MLA members who had passed away the previous year.  We also heard a report from the treasurer. As is to be expected, MLA’s revenue for this year was substantially less than the previous year. Fortunately, MLA was prepared for it and was able to use revenue and savings from previous years to cushion the blow. Jane Blumenthal, AHIP reported that she was cautious but optimistic about our revenues for next year.   There were a few issues voted on, but, unfortunately, I’m not a morning person, and I didn’t think to take notes. I do know that everything passed unanimously with little discussion. You can read the full annual report here

The Awards Luncheon was a wonderful event.  The food was great, and I got to sit with a wonderful group of librarians. Most of them I was meeting for the first time which is my favorite part of attending the event. It was nice to be there and hear speeches from the participants in the Librarians Without Borders program.

Before I run downstairs to present a poster with a colleague, I wanted to mention that if you are at MLA, you can sign up for 3 free sections for the next 6 months.  If you already found your perfect sections or you want to sign up for free sections, stop by the Section Council Table on the Concourse level. Hurry, though. This opportunity expires after the Section Shuffle tomorrow from 5-6 in the Georgetown room on the Concourse level.

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