Archive for May, 2010

Friday Foolery #86 Librarians Do Gaga

Friday, May 28th, 2010

Were you one of those librarians requesting Lady Gaga at the Bearded Pigs concert during MLA 2010 in Washington, DC this week?

They’re thinking about it.

In the meantime, check this out this performance of Librarians Do Gaga with a cameo from our most famous Seattle librarian and see some of the scenes beyond the Reading Room at the University of Washington.

(Edit the first: I had a hand in getting them local news coverage)

(Edit the second: Cory Doctorow Boing Boing! :) )

(Edit the third: Rachel Maddow!! :D )

(Edit the fourth: Jezebel! :) )

(Edit the fifth: the whole Internet, including Perez Hilton)

Shall we do it for MLA 2012 when we’re here in Seattle?

Friday Foolery #85: Old Woman

Friday, May 21st, 2010

I turned 37 this week, and am just enough of a geek that I’ve been waiting a while to be able to post this in honor of my age.

I read Daniel Pink’s book A Whole New Mind on the plane to our MLA conference and was quite taken by the idea of writing down something I am thankful for each year of my life and will come back to edit this post with that later.

NLM Theater at MLA

Tuesday, May 18th, 2010

Has it really been 2 years since my MLA 2008 post about the NLM Theater presentations I attended about PubMed (when the automatic term mapping change was the only big deal) & the Drug Information Portal that I later broke down into sections to highlight?

The truth of the matter is that in my short career as a medical librarian, I have been to to the MLA meeting once and then only for one day. Seriously. DC will be my first full MLA conference experience and I’ll also be an official conference blogger, session Twitter jockey (really!) and moderator of another session there. I would love to meet everyone! I’ll be the tall (5’10″ in flats) somewhat lanky one usually wearing some shade of black and probably looking slightly overwhelmed by the whole scene.

I finally got a chance to look over the schedule for the NLM Theater presentations this year (get the PDF, it has more detail) and two things jumped out at me that I wasn’t expecting. Keep in mind my standard disclaimer: I’m not speaking on behalf of my employer here, I’m speaking as a medical librarian with an eye on the horizon.

Introduction to NCBI Molecular Databases .… In particular, pre-computed associations between data now promoted in the Discovery initiative expose useful and hypothesis generation relationships that further scientific investigation.

Whoa, hello Discovery initiative in the brochure! Given the level of integration we now see of the 29 databases in PubMed search results, getting a better understanding of what they are about straight from NCBI staff is probably a really good idea.

MedlinePlus Update … Come hear about our recent developments including Mobile MedlinePlus, MedlinePlus email updates and connecting MedlinePlus to EHRs/PHRs. Also be one of the first to get a glimpse of the forthcoming MedlinePlus site redesign.

I definitely want to know more about these connections and what’s up with the site redesign.

I will be covering at least two sessions a day as a conference blogger (my strategy is here), and I’ll write some compilation posts here at my home blog linking to my entries on the conference blog in addition to pictures and additional insights. See you there at MLA, or if not please let me know what questions you have that I can try to find answers for! Comments here or @eagledawg on Twitter will be the best way to make sure I see them in the days ahead.

Friday Foolery #84: It’s All About the Cat

Friday, May 14th, 2010

You’ve seen or heard the backstory about  ‘Keep Calm and Carry On’, right? It was a British World War II motivational poster that was printed in case they were about to be invaded but never actually used, then Barter Books realized they had one and so many people started asking for it that they made copies beginning in 2000.

The parody site http://www.keepcalm-o-matic.co.uk/ allows you to create your own pithy saying with the King George crown or another image (or none at all), and this one from the recently created gallery caught my eye.

Keep Calm and Feed The Cat

You’ve got that right, there is no calm if the cat is not fed.

On a related cat food note, my colleague Dave brought the video Satisfy the Cat, aka User-Centered Design to my attention and it has been cracking up our 7 year old son repeatedly for days.  On a more serious note, how do you design a website to satisfy several different herds of cats at once…. say researchers, clinicians and medical librarians? I know which one had the Coke reaction to the PubMed redesign last year!

WMLA 2010: Research and Librarians

Wednesday, May 12th, 2010

I can’t believe I gave you robot monkey snot in March, then completely forgot to cover the three program sessions at the Washington Medical Librarians Association (WMLA) 2010 meeting.

Health Data for Secondary Analysis — Challenges and Opportunities by Peter Speyer, Director of Data Development, Promotion and Dissemination at the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation (IHME) [My notes on Google Docs]

Peter introduced himself as a talented data professional just as things began thunking and falling off the speaker podium. If you want a fascinating look into the unique and comprehensive global health research work IHME (sort of a cross between a research institute and an NGO)  is doing with phenomenal data sets, hopefully my notes will give you a good overview. IHME recently released a report demonstrating a massive rise in global health inequities that was discussed at our meeting.

Making it Work: Putting One University Library’s Strategic Plan In Context for Life Sciences Libraries by Greg Rowell, Head Librarian for the University of British Columbia’s Life Sciences Libraries [Greg's SlideShare Presentation, My notes on Google Docs]

My notes are nothing of consequence for a presentation that certainly was of one.  I’ve found I tend to slack with capturing as many details when I know the SlideShare will be posted later for all to see.

All Together Now: A Panel Discussion on Innovation and Alignment within Research Environments [My notes on Google Docs] with speakers

Thanks again to WMLA for a great annual meeting with loads of cutting edge information about research environments and datasets for medical librarians to consider!

Friday Foolery #83: A video game of Clue?

Friday, May 7th, 2010

Me holding a Mountain Dew with a cuckoo clock in the background

The murderer is the librarian with a Mountain Dew in the antique cuckoo clock dining room?

Possibly. Never trust anyone in a dark alley brandishing a Dew with a grin like that, it’s scaring me too.

This is a still from some video I shot today. If the final mashup results come to pass I’ll keep you posted.

‘Professional’ editorial from the medical librarian in theory

Thursday, May 6th, 2010

David Rothman and Michelle Kraft brought to my attention the confluence of a blog post by Ryan Deschamps (Ten Reasons Why ‘Professional Librarian’ is an Oxymoron) and a revised article that was  in the Progressive Librarian (which I thought was dead by their website saying Winter 07/08 was their latest edition) entitled The Library Paraprofessional Movement and the Deprofessionalization of Librarianship by Rory Litwin.

Ryan later clarified in David’s comments that his post was not in response to the article but the perspectives of both are interesting. Since the latter had no bearing on the former and David picked it apart pretty well, I won’t review it here.

Ryan’s rationale is:

1. Librarians Have No Monopoly on the Activities They Claim
2. There are No Consequences For Failing to Adhere to Ethical Practices
3. Librarianship is Too Generalized to Claim Any Expertise
4. ’Librarian’ Assumes a Place of Work, Rather than the Work Itself
5. Peer Review in Librarianship Does Not Work Because There is No Competitive Process to Go With It
6. Values Are Not Enough
7. The Primary Motivation for Professionalization is the Monopoly of Labor
8. Accredited Library Schools Do Not Adequately Prepare Students for Library Work
9. Competing Professions Are Offering Different Paradigms to Achieve the Same Goals
10. Nobody Can Name a ‘Great’ Librarian

He prefaces this with

If librarians cannot personally address the anti-professional assumptions as individuals, they cannot call themselves professional.    What I am saying is that the MLIS or whatever equivalent a librarian has on their wall cannot count towards any status in society.   Each librarian needs to respond personally to the following 10 things to claim their status as professional.

Call me oblivious, naïve, or highly pigeonholed as a result of both my job and my focus in health informatics and medical librarianship, but I could not care less whether librarians are considered ‘professional’ or not so I don’t feel any need to claim my own personal status as one. I know plenty of actively engaged and involved librarians who either do not have an advanced degree on the wall or are on the path towards one. Their status in society is already greater than those who point to paper on a wall as an indicator of theirs.

What I care about for every career path (whether or not it is ‘professional’) is if you are committed to doing the best job possible with the education, knowledge and expertise you acquire (note present active tense, you’re never done)  while using what resources (including networking with colleagues) you have available. I followed this in my previous payroll and human resources career where a Bachelors degree was not required; I follow it now in my librarian career where a Masters degree is required… and I just verified that my current salary is lower than it would be if I had stayed where I was.*

That said, I’ll briefly address 2. about ethics with a reminder: It our job to call ethics lapses when we see them. As a recent graduate I’ll tackle 8. Accredited Library Schools Do Not Adequately Prepare Students for Library Work

Unlike most comments I see addressing this throughout the library blogosphere, I did have a directly relevant  library school education that I have utilized every single day of my 2-year medical librarian in theory** career. The Health Informatics program of study at the University of North Texas more than adequately prepared me. I was shocked more than a few times during my practicum that what I was learning from my coursework was at the cutting edge of  medical librarianship. It was not an easy program. It drove me to tears of frustration (and almost incineration) that I never experienced in my undergraduate degree.

Every job has an initial training and learning curve as practical experience is gained in the institution and/or the career field. Why do so many recently-graduated librarians (and hiring managers) seem to assume they can have the full knowledge, skills and abilities (KSAs) at the same level as a librarian (advanced degree or not) who has worked for 10, 20 or more years? Is library school education honestly not preparing new librarians with adequate core competencies as they gain the particular KSAs to their institution and the field, and participate in continuing education activities with meaningful learning objectives? I sincerely doubt it. Is everyone assuming this completely unrealistic expectation of KSAs due our perfectionistic culture and the fact that so many current librarians have been working for at least 20 post-’technostressed‘  years? I don’t know. I’m still new here, what do you think?

*One could argue I made a very unprofessional choice to move down the salary ladder to a ‘professional’ field with increased education requirements. If I was paying back student loans (my graduate education was free & I’m acutely aware of what an anomaly that is for library school) I’d be pretty ticked off.

**What is this medical librarian in theory bit? Yes, I do have an ALA-accredited Masters degree. Yes, I am employed as an academic librarian with a rank of Assistant Librarian (for fun about rank, you can see the out of date personnel code information for us from the main HR page). Yes, I consider myself a medical librarian. All that said, I am not a traditional medical librarian serving traditional academic users. Explaining what the National Network of Libraries of Medicine is (and isn’t, there are some interesting assumptions out there) and my role within it is an elevator speech impossibility.