Thank You for a Great MLA ’14!

To wrap up this year’s meeting blog, I’d like to issue thanks to the National Program Committee, Local Assistance Committee, MLA leadership, and everyone else who contributed to planning a terrific 2014 meeting for MLA. Big thanks also go to the bloggers who contributed posts here during the meeting. To everyone who contributed in any way to MLA ’14, we can’t thank you enough for your hard work.

To check out sessions you missed, log in at with your email and MLA ’14 badge number, then locate the programs you’re interested in. Slides, audio, and/or video are available for many programs, as is a searchable gallery of the posters presented.

So, who’s ready for Austin? :)

No Comments

Talking with ICS: Open Forum and Dining Circles


One of the best parts of any MLA conference is connecting with all the attendees.  And if you add good food and atmosphere to the mix: all the better!  The International Cooperation Section was lucky to have many members both national and international attend their Open Forum on starting a job exchange project and the informal Dining Circles.  The Open Forum was attended by representatives from the European Union, the United Kingdom, Japan, Taiwan, Austria, Mexico, and many more!  Also attending were many MLA and ICS members who had been on international exchanges of their own or hosted an international guest.  It was wonderful to have everyone’s input on how to start a visiting medical librarian program.  With so many great ideas, it should be much easier to get the project going!

The conversation was extended to the ICS dining circles which were held after the ICS birthday party and the ICS programming.  Everyone got to know each other a little better while listening to Jazz at Bandera and in a 1930′s atmosphere with fresh local food at the Atwood Cafe.  Thank you everyone for attending!  We hope to see you next year!

1 Comment

Be sure to listen to the ICS program if you missed it in person!

Screen Shot 2014-05-20 at 11.16.53 AM

If you missed it in person, be sure to check out ICS’s programs on M-Health and Information Innovations.  Gupreet Rana, the incoming chair of ICS, moderated some amazing talks on a variety of projects.  Dana Abbey from the Health Sciences Library at the University of Colorado and NN/LM MidContinental region presented her work with her colleagues on providing internet access to members of the community without or with limited access.  She and her team demonstrated how providing a more mobile access to the internet had an impact health in the community and for public health initiatives.  Elizabeth Norton from the Disaster Information Management Research Center at the NLM showcased their work in mobile apps and support in terms of disaster health information.  In particular she highlighted the work they have done in Central and South America.  Finally, the talks ended with Julia Royall’s presentation on her and her colleagues work in Africa.  In particular she demonstrated how empowering it can be to provide the tools to local community members so that they can carry out their own projects with mobile technology.  She emphasized the importance of sustainability, practicality, involvement, and demonstrable results in m-health projects.  Her efforts with communities on taking on the challenge of malaria made for an excellent discussion on how to make a lasting impact on global health.  A wonderful program with wonderful presentations, it was a pleasure to attend!

1 Comment

Building Capacity for Sustainable Innovation

Session: Building Capacity for Sustainable Innovation

I attended this morning session on Monday, May 19. Each talk was so different that it’s difficult to summarize it in one or two paragraphs. The overarching message from these presenters: Libraries and librarians must approach challenges with creativity and courage.

Building Bridges: Sustaining Innovative Services to Support Internal Efficiencies in a Collaborative Partnership

Presented by Stevo Roksandic, Library Director, Mount Carmel Health System, Columbus, Ohio

Stevo presented on the collaborative partnership between the health sciences librarians within the Trinity Health system. Stevo launched the OHIOWA program where the health sciences librarians in Ohio would virtually support their partner librarians and healthcare professionals in Iowa (hence the name, O-H-I-O-W-A). Initially librarians were concerned this partnership would lead to lay-offs but Stevo was able to demonstrate that the additional support would actually enable librarians to provide more consistent service across the two systems.

Stevo shared this fun tip: OPPORTUNITYISNOWHERE – it all depends on how you see it! (Opportunity is now here? Opportunity is nowhere?)

Welcome to the Family! Enjoying Massive Organizational Change

Presented by Heidi M. Nickisch Duggan, Deputy Director, Galter Health Sciences Library, Chicago, Illinois

Northwestern University, including the Galter Health Sciences Library, underwent a tremendous amount of change in leadership. This included changing the library reporting structure and making the library a division of the Northwestern University Clinical and Translational Sciences Institute (NUCATS). Heidi acknowledged that this new partnership has been extremely supportive and productive. In addition to the dean of NUCATS being a library champion, Heidi found that the library shared with NUCATS a vocabulary and a similar mission to collect and disseminate knowledge and information which facilitates communication and strengthens their collaboration.

Galter’s experience is an excellent example of what can be achieved when novel relationships are formed through shared vision and goals. By speaking the same language the library created a new partnership with NUCATS and, together, advanced the institutional mission.

Building the Future: Rejecting, Rethinking, Redoing, and Rejuvenating Medical Librarianship

Presented by Martha Meacham, Library Fellow, Lamar Soutter Library, Worcester, MA

Martha Meacham and Molly Higgins are the inaugural fellows at the Lamar Soutter Library at the University of Massachusetts Medical School. The fellowship was developed in the face of some harsh facts: budget cuts, declining statistics, rising costs, and “traditional” library work rapidly changing. Library leadership chose to develop an entirely professional staff – support and technical staff were laid off and recent graduates and new professionals would be the focus for new hires. The fellowship aimed to give new graduates necessary work experience and prepare them for a career in academic health sciences libraries. It spans two years, rotates through all areas of the library, and has a research component as well. Martha and Molly have been involved with the development of this program – they meet regularly with mentors and supervisors, work with an evaluation consultant to evaluate the program, and the fellows will be surveyed over five years after completion of the program to mark their progress.

How do we keep young professionals engaged? How do we support them and encourage them to think creatively about the future of health sciences librarianship? Positions like this give young professionals a chance to gain exposure to different areas of the field and really apply their skills where they are best suited.

Balanced Scorecard in Libraries: Libraries Can’t Effectively Change What They Can’t Measure

Presented by Dean Hendrix, Assistant Director, University Libraries, State University of New York, Buffalo, New York

The balance scorecard is a strategic planning execution tool. It allows for users to quantitatively track their progress towards goals and maintains accountability throughout. Dean Hendrix spoke about the benefits of using this approach at his institution. Dean found that staff really own the metrics and it’s difficult to hide from the cold, hard truth of numbers.

What would Dean have done differently? He would have opted to educate staff about the Balanced Scorecard in smaller groups with a more carefully crafted message. Instead they discussed in in “town hall” like forums which, he believes, was not very effective.

Session sponsored by the Leadership and Management Section, Co-sponsored by the Hospital Libraries Section, Medical Library Education Section, and New Members SIG

No Comments

Plenary Session 4 – Professional Identity Reshaped and Anna Deavere Smith

MLA 2014 has come to close.  I sit at O’Hare awaiting my flight.  The final day is always bittersweet but hats off to the NPC for having a kick-ass final Plenary Session.  Plenary 4 was a two part session this last day of the conference.  I found it inspiring and heartwarming.  (Sorry for the delay of the actual posting of this article – O’Hare does NOT have free wifi and my flight was delayed.)

Plenary Session 4.1 – Professional Identity Reshaped

A four person panel discussion done living room style was the first session this morning.  It was a great venue for this conversation.  Elaine Russo Martin started the conversation and asked her friends to talk about various aspects of change in the profession.  Margo Coletti began the conversation discussing her Knowledge Management Services and how they provide organizational support across the system.  Neil Rambo from NYU discussed what the destruction of the library during Superstorm Sandy did for the awareness of the services of the library in a time of major change.  Finally, Jackie Wirz from OHSU talked about her move from the lab to the library as a PhD in biochemistry working within the library as an informationist.  I couldn’t possible do these fabulous speakers justice in a blog post.  My recommendation is that MLA consider allowing all of the members of MLA to watch this session regardless of going to Chicago or buying the online attendance.  It was great advice for all of us about change and the necessity of it in order to stay relevant in our institutions.

Plenary Session 4.2 – Anna Deavere Smith

Professor, actress and playwright Anna Deavere Smith presented the last plenary of MLA 2014.  Her research and work centers around communicating the stories (oral histories if you will) of people around the world.  Her play “Let me down easy” was a collection of personal encounters people had regarding healthcare.  Performing in character, Ms. Smith told the story of a cancer patient at Yale, a resident who was at Charity Hospital during Katrina and the medical battle of former Texas governor Ann Richards among several others.  It was inspiring, it was desperately sad and it was amazing. 

Thank you MLA 2014

Thank you Chicago


No Comments

Plenary 3: Janet Doe Lecture

This year’s Doe Lecturer was Margaret Moylan Bandy, an accomplished and experienced hospital librarian and longtime MLA member.

Though Margaret said she deliberated about whether or how much of her personal journey to share, I’m glad she decided to share about her personal experiences and evolution as a health sciences librarian. After all, hearing about Margaret’s journey IS hearing about the history of our profession since she has lived and experienced so much over the course of her career. We’ve come along way since Margaret had to lug around her 30 pound Texas Instruments Model 725 for MEDLINE searching demonstrations!

Margaret spoke about librarianship as a vocation, not just a profession, a sentiment many in the audience seem to share.

Margaret encouraged us to proactively seek out and maximize opportunities, rather reactively solve problems. Problem solving doesn’t provide results, it prevents issues. Look for those opportunities!

The main crux of her speech was to encourage us to be flexible, be agile and “pivot.” When you pivot, you have the stability and support of the one foot while with the other foot you gain ground. We cannot cling forever to our sacred cows, we have to pivot ourselves into the future to keep relevant (and employed!). Specifically Margaret mentioned two new-ish roles for librarians which she acknowledged aren’t really new, but are taking on ever greater importance and relevance. These roles center around patient safety and health literacy. I thought this was particularly interesting because they echo the recommendations of Dr. Carroll about where there is space for librarians to show their value to their institutions and administrators.

No Comments

Posters: Tuesday, Last But Not Least

On Tuesday, warm sunny weather was enticing two levels above, yet the last poster session in the exhibit hall was well-attended.  It seemed fitting that the multi-authored poster 201 “Tools for Building Our Information Future: Emerging Technologies Vital to Medical Libraries” reminded us of the 2014 annual meeting theme one more (or almost last) time. There were so many posters and so little time. Here are a few posters at which I paused and talked to the presenters.

Poster 192, “The History of Traumatic Brain Injury in the Medical Literature since World War II” showed literature survey results of terminology and indexing over time. TBIs are seen (or health personnel are trained) at the military institutions employing the three co-presenters. Poster 167 highlighted the library’s role in “Preserving Osteopathic History: The Challenge of Converting Media Formats to Digital”, that helped a museum solve an outdated format problem.

Poster 182, “Supporting National Institutes of Health (NIH) Public Access Compliance for Translational Science Researchers, a Collaboration with the Weil Cornell Clinical and Translational Science Center” used numbers (evidence) to tell the story of visibly improved submission compliance rates. (There was also poster  154 was “The National Institutes of Health (NIH) Public Access Policy: A Learning Opportunity”).

Poster 190, “The Future of Gray Literature Use: Analyzing Sources and Formats in Occupational and Environmental Health” displayed Nancy Schaefer’s research, part of a larger Public Health / Health Administration Section project. In poster 215, Barbara Cosart showed some interesting survey results in “What is Important to Chapter Members? A Survey of Members in One Chapter”.

Poster 191, “The Golden Hour: A Library’s Role in Connecting First Responders to Critical Disaster Medicine Information” described a university grant-funded project that was a county partnership. The information was not literature (links may come in phase 2), but local experts and their contact information.

Poster 207, “Undead PubMed: Raising the Dead to Raise Class Attendance” featured a presenter in costume, and illustrated how a video with elements from popular culture can “jazz up” a staid class. In Poster 199, Robert A. Cagna showed the significance of “The United States Breast Cancer Research Stamp”. A personal story (a family member with cancer) and a hobby (stamp collecting) provided an opportunity to show medical history and ”develop” a different consumer health educational tool.  Poster 221, “Yoga, Spagetti Squash, Art Collages, and Shooting Hoops? Building Sound Minds and Healthy Bodies in the Library” showed a library using its “place” for non-traditional health events and activities for students. A question that I forgot to ask: did yoga mats, game sets, etc. come out of the “supplies” or the “collections” budget? (Note: there was also poster, 198, “The Unfunded Worksite Wellness Program”).

2014 MLA poster doc

2014 MLA poster yoga

All of the posters are now removed and the exhibit hall has closed down. Posters continue to be popular at MLA annual meetings. Visitors stop by at staffed and unstaffed posters, so poster authors, please keep those posters hung up “for the duration”! To read more about the 2014 posters, go to: and click on the “posters” link to view abstracts or visit the ePoster Gallery.


No Comments

Poster recap – how do you make connections?

One theme that has been constant during this year’s MLA is creating a connection between users and information. This year’s poster sessions had numerous great posters exploring how to go about creating these connections, and here are a few highlights:

Social media presents the opportunity to connect to people by presenting a digital platform to disseminate information far and wide – but what are the best practices to effectively use networks like Twitter and Facebook?  The National Library of Medicine investigated best practices and presented what they found on their poster, A Window on the Social Media World: Exploring Strategies for Sharing Health Information with the Public.  While there is not a lot of available literature on this topic, Kristina Elliot and her team discovered best practices to share health information by following the five most popular federal Twitter and Facebook accounts for three months to reveal what the best practices might be.  She ultimately discovered that it’s best to tweet several tweets a day and utilize hashtags to keep the conversation going, and that Facebook is best used when needing to tell a longer story as there is no character limit.

Any librarian involved with instruction will tell you that they are constantly trying to investigate new ways to create interesting, relevant information sessions that connect with their audience.  Xan Goodman’s poster, Building a Transformational Information Literacy Session for First Year Health Sciences Seminar Students: A Case of Instruction Using Organized Chaos, explored the Cephalonian method to engage and connect with students.  Xan used a combination of storytelling and embedding questions into her class, using a public health scenario based on partner violence between Rihanna and Chris Brown to hook the students and give the scenario context.

The librarians at the University of Rochester’s Edward G. Miner Library tried connecting with faculty, staff, and students on a personal level by conducting casual information sessions based on the talents and interests of library staff members.  High Noon at the Miner Library Speaker Series: Library Talks Not Related to the Library relays how the library staff gave presentations on how to roast your coffee, how to watch television without a television, and information on the roller derby in Rochester to connect with their library users rather than by conducting traditional library instruction.  These talks have resulted in creating good will between the library and other departments at the university, as well as provided a new way to reach out to library users and get their interest.

While this is only a few of the wonderful posters that were here at this year’s MLA, all poster abstracts are available online, with many posters available as e-posters.  I definitely recommend taking the time to browse through the entire collection, as all of the posters and presenters did a wonderful job highlighting their research and projects.  This has been my first year as an official conference blogger, and thank you for taking the time to read my posts!  See you next year, MLA!


No Comments

NLM Theater Presentations

The NLM Theater puts on a series of 20 min sessions on a variety of topics. All of the sessions are put on at least twice throughout the conference and some are put on three times. At each of the sessions they had a raffle for a prize. I couldn’t make it to all of the sessions, but I went to as many as I could and will provide a brief summary of the ones I made it to. Here is a list of their sessions.


Using to Find Research Results Not Available Elsewhere
Rebecca Williams gave the presentation on Clinical Trials has over 165,000 registered clinical trials and observational studies with over 12,000 of those available on the website. This collection consists of both private and federal studies at all stages. Studies are registered at the beginning, updated when no new participants are being allowed in, when the study is complete, and when results are available. Each record is made of two sections. The first is the registration section which includes the protocol of the trial and recruitment information. The second section is the results section where the results are displayed on a table. Not all studies will include their results.
Where do these studies come from?
Researchers submit their information when they start their trials. It is important to point out that publishing results in this collection will not interfere with publication in journals as long as the results are published with the registration record. In fact, most medical journals require registration of all clinical trials, and some are mandated by federal law.
What can you do with
  • Find potential trials for you or your patrons to participate in. It could be a place for you to refer patrons who are looking for different treatment alternatives.
  • Track progress of trials.
  • See what kind of trials are going on.
  • Find investigators and centers that are doing research on a particular disease.
When you search clinical trials you can use the advance search option to limit your results in a variety of ways including only studies accepting patients or only those with results.
If you want more information or want to learn more, you can email Your local NNLM also provides classes.

Modernizing History: The New (and much improved) IndexCat interface
This session was about the new IndexCat. Stephen Greenberg told us that there are 3.7 million citations XML downloadable. The new IndexCat is fast! It also has a new record display and format. The collection is made up of five series based mostly on the age of the material. Series 1-3 are complete while series 4&5 are still incomplete.
Stephen gave us an overview of how to search the new interface. The searching is full-text keyword, there is no controlled vocabulary. Some exciting upgrades to the IndexCat searching include Boolean functions, phrase searching, and truncation searching. One thing they are still working on are journal titles. Journal titles would change and often the journal editor would be cited rather than the journal title. This makes for an ugly situation but they are working on ways to make searching for journals in IndexCat easier.

Still Scanning After All These Years: New Digital Projects from HMD
Stephen gave the presentation on new digital projects from the NLM History of Medicine Department (HMD). He started his talk by admitting that the search engine of the Medical Heritage Library is not the best, but it is being upgraded. As for the scanning, that it’s good. They use a Kirtas scanner. These scanners are pretty cool and can turn book pages on its own (check out some videos online, they are fun to watch), plus they have a cold light source so they are safe for the materials. HMD turn the pages by hand since many of their books are fragile and they don’t want to risk damaging the books. The scanner produces a tiff file which is then uploaded as a PDF.
Many people assume that the fragility of the materials would be the major issue, but in reality the main concern is copyright. If the NLM has a document you need that isn’t online they will scan on demand for DOCLINE requests. These requests usually only take about a week. One thing to note is that the entire book will be scanned and sent to you as a PDF even if only a chapter or a few pages were requested.
Due to the complexity of journal metadata, journals haven’t been scanned. This is changing very soon! Some journal scanning will be starting by the first week of June. They are also doing incunabula.

NLM Resources Used In Disasters
Elizabeth Norton, Siobhan Champ-Blackwell, and Maria Collins presented on using the NLM in disaster situations.

We all know that librarianship is a service oriented career. The Stafford Act federally recognized this by making libraries eligible for federal assistance for temporary facilities in case of a disaster.
The NLM Disaster Information Specialist Program provides “support for librarians providing disaster information outreach to their communities.” In the case of a disaster there are roles librarians can take. These include:
  • Aggregate information
  • Develop FAQs
  • Develop helpful apps
  • Act as call centers and charging stations
  • Monitor social media
  • Authenticate news and information
Next, Mary talked about the Emergency Access Initiative (EAI) which was started after the Katrina disaster. Many major publishers provide resources for free to be used after a disaster. In order for the Initiative to be turned “on” at least 5 health sciences libraries in the area need to lose access to biomedical literature for at least two weeks. If these conditions are met then there is free access for four weeks with a possible renewal. An example is NYU which actually was not able to take advantage of this resource due to it’s local support. These materials are not open access, they are only for those impacted by the disaster. To date the EAI had been turned “on” five times:
  • Haiti 2010 earthquake
  • Pakistan 2010
  • Haiti 2010 cholera
  • Japan 2011
  • Philippians 2013

After all these occurrences the data was analyzed. It was seen that book literature was used more than journals. The most popular books were drug books and trauma books depending on the event. In the case of Japan radiation books were added. Data is analyzed after each event.

PubMed Update
Marie Collins gave us the update on PubMed. Some stats include: 23.7 records, 5667 journals, and mobile searches have increased to 430,000.
One problem that was talked about is that of disambiguating authors. One solution to this is adding affiliation information for all authors rather than just the lead author. You may not notice this at first since it is a collapsed option. You can easily open them up to find the information. You can also change a setting in MyNCBI to make the default not be collapsed. Another solution to the author problem is the unique author identifier which comes from the publisher. There is a new field to search this identifier. Finally, there is a “computed author” search. If you click on an authors name in an abstract you will get articles written by that same author.
Other upgrades:

  • The history function has been updated with the query now showing keywords rather than the search #.
  • You can now also delete individual searches from the history.
  • Recent activity is stored for six months and can be searched, sorted, and added to collections.
There are interface changes too:
  • Relevance sort!
    • The algorithm is available in Help for anyone to see
  • Cited by systematic reviews
    • In the right hand of results of results display
    • Links to resources that cite a study
  • LinkOut to PubMed Health
  • Schema:all
    • This “rescues zero results searches” by doing a modify search of all terms in all fields
    • Results in two searches showing up on the search history
  • Old Medline can be searched in two ways
    • Oldmedline[sb] searches the subset of 400,000
    • Jsubsetom searches entire two million
  • New catalog filter for journals currently indexed in Medline
  • PMCID-PMID-manuscript ID-DOI converter is available on the homepage

If you need any assistance the PubMed help desk is very helpful. Also keep your eye open for PubMed training classes.

PubMed Health
Hilda Bastian gave this presentation on PubMed Health. PubMed Health provides help with finding systematic reviews and help with understanding them. The PubMed Health collection consists of systematic reviews, knowledge translation, and education materials. Systematic reviews have a few basics that qualify them as systematic reviews:

  • Ask structured, pre-specified question
  • Have systematic methods
  • Methods aim to minimize bias
  • May or may not have quantitative synthesis / meta-analysis
The resources in PubMed Health come from a variety of places including DARE, Cochrane, and health technology assessment (HTA) agencies.


RDA One Year Later
Cataloging is not my area of expertise, so I am just going to provide some key points I got out of this presentation:
  • There were no catastrophic problems!
  • RDA is principle based rather than format based
  • RDA makes a true representation of an item
  • There was lots and lots of prep for implementation
    • Daily upload from LC authority files updated
  • Vocabulary changes were necessary for RDA
  • Guidelines are available in the RDA Toolkit


I really wish I had been able to attend all of the events, the NLM definitely puts on some great sessions.

No Comments

NLM Update

The NLM update was started off by the director of the NLM, Dr. Donald A. B. Lindberg. It has been a good year for NLM and MLA! We watched a Look Back- Move Forward video talking about what has been done at the NLM and the future holds. A side note from Dr Lindberg is his belief that patients need to be a full partner in their health.
We next learned about the Native Voices exhibition at the NLM which has been shared with native populations and will soon be available as a traveling exhibition. If you don’t know about the NLM traveling exhibition program check it out here.
Next we heard about the NLM bioinformatics course. The next classes will be September 14-20, 2014 and April 12-18, 2015. There is a new location for these classes in Brasstown Resort in Georgia. Two other events were also mentioned: The Health DataPalooza in DC June 1-3, 2014 and the Joseph Leiter Lecture held in Bethesda June 12, 2014.

The topic of data challenges was brought up with examples of genomic testing with food borne illnesses and community health assessments. We were reminded that the NLM provides supplements to research grants and this may be something some of us would want to look into. Some videos from the NYU health sciences library were mentioned as a good source of information. Check out their YouTube:

Joyce Backus was the next speaker and she started off with resource sharing. As mentioned in the DOCLINE users group blog post, DOCLINE requests have declined but we know that DOCLINE is still vital. See the blog post for more information. The statistic that MedlinePlus has increased in mobile use (26% to 40%) was also mentioned in the DOCLINE users group meeting. Joyce went into more detail talking about usability tests that showed that the mobile site was not meeting the demand. Due to this, the whole website is being updated to be a responsive design site. For those that don’t know, a responsive design site is one that adjusts to the size of different screens. So it is one site that works on desktops, tablets, phones, and laptops. The NLM is performing this upgrade on a variety of site including AIDSinfo, and PubReader already does this.

One of the last bits of the NLM update was a call for help. There is a Request For Information (RFI) on to get feedback and suggestions on the NNLM/RML. We were also reminded about the NLM’s outreach in the form of the traveling exhibitions, digital collections, and the new Circulating Now website.

We were given an update on staff including multiple new staff members and the Fellows. There is one individual retiring – Angela Ruffin. The session ended with Dixie Jones have Dr. Lindberg a framed resolution with a very long list of his many accomplishments.
Keep in touch with the NLM through email, and find them on twitter, and facebook!

All slides will be posted online after the conference.

No Comments