Despite their problematic interface, I like Stat!Ref as a company. Their pricing model has always been fair and their willingness and ability to work with consortiums and different institutional organizational structures has consistently been above par. They have also been in the business of providing access to electronic books for years. At any rate, I was very disappointed when McGraw-Hill decided to stop doing business with Stat!Ref and only provide access to its titles through its own interfaces (primarily at any rate). The news has been a bit confusing because we had “heard” that McGraw-Hill had plans to only offer access to its titles through its own interfaces primarily the Access Medicine interface. netLibrary does have “access” to the newest version of Williams Obstetrics so I’m not sure what the situation is between Stat!Ref and McGraw-Hill. Life used to be so much simpler.
As I was exploring options to get Williams Obstetrics I discovered something quite interesting. (and I apologize to any of the AHEC librarians reading this blog who already read this on our blog), when searching Google for Williams Obstetrics, you get the option of searching for, “williams obstetrics 23rd edition free download” you get taken to many many sites for downloading the full text of this title. Now unless McGraw-Hill posted this content to each of these sites (or authorized its posting) the people who loaded the content to the sites and then those who download it are in violation of copyright law. (and many thanks to Lisa K. for posting her analysis of this to our AHEC librarians blog). My question is, what if McGraw-Hill somehow authorized this book for free download to the http://medicalbooksfree.com/williams-obstetrics-23rd-edition-oct-29-2009 site, why would they on the one hand stop working with Stat!Ref because they were presumably wanting more piece of the library pie, when at the same time placing their content for free download for physicians and medical students. Following along my hypothetical thinking … again IF McGraw-Hill authorized the placement of Williams Obstetrics on this free site, then why would any library serving clinicians and medical students purchase this book, why couldn’t they just point users to this site to download their own copy? Libraries are dropping electronic journals that are available for free with embargo (in some instances) so why wouldn’t they do the same for electronic books? Since librarians take copyright very seriously its a safe bet that we aren’t dropping our book subscriptions because this just isn’t legal.
That argument just doesn’t make any sense at all, why would McGraw-Hill put this brand new edition up for free download by its primary audience while at the same time offering it for sale in electronic format (for the Amazon Kindle) there wouldn’t be any incentive for anyone to purchase electronic formats of this title. Therefore McGraw-Hill would only be making money by selling the print version. Therefore I’m guessing that there is much funny copyright business going on here. The question is when are the publishers going after the free book download sites with the same fervor as the music industry has gone after the college students using Napster and the like.
So what is McGraw-Hill thinking? They stop doing business with a perfectly good company like Stat!Ref, wanting to increase their profit margin, but somehow they’ve opened the gates for free downloading (whether legally or not is another matter entirely). If the downloading is somehow sanctioned…. indeed what are they thinking … if (and more probably likely) the downloading isn’t sanctioned … what is McGraw-Hill doing about it? If I could find access to these titles without even batting an eye it wouldn’t be too much work on their behalf to keep on top of these free download sites (from my simplistic standpoint at any rate).
It just feels a bit chaotic, this scramble to figure out how to work with the EHR’s implementation initiatives. Adam and I were meeting today to finalize our presentation for National AHEC (on using social networking to support GME) and when we were discussing our conclusions I realized that many of the things we are doing to support GME (especially in primary care settings) are quite pertinent. There are 3 main library roles or core functions (as we are calling them in ADL land) that can work in support of EHR implementation.
- Information Retrieval
- Filtering through masses of information
- Evaluating for quality and authority
- Information Organization
- Information Access
- This stems more towards the traditional elements of providing direct pathways into licensed content. the difference being that instead of providing access to journals, books, databases that in these cases librarians might be providing deeper linking to the article or chapter level
The tricky part is how to best apply these skills in the context of EHR implementation. The people who are working EHR implementation that the role of the librarian must be seen as a necessary efficiency rather than as a luxury. Many people with whom I have discussed EHR implementation look at me a bit quizzically and say, “well we are so busy just getting these implemented that we won’t be ready to think about resource integration and linking for a couple of years.” This type of conversation is a golden opportunity to offer to help filter through much of the pertinent news and definitions and deadlines emerging in the field of EHR implementation. This is an ideal time to offer to help organize the piles of forms and documentation. We mustn’t assume that the librarians role in EHR implementation is obvious to the professionals handling the implementation. We must prove our value and be willing to do everything (even if we think that filtering and condensing news is a bit “beneath” our skill level) we are asked – to provide any kind of assistance that we can.
And just because I can’t resist … I don’t think changing our name to informationists will magically make our EHR target audience more visionary when it comes to the role of the librarian in the implementation.
There is a lot of buzz lately about getting EHR’s into primary care practices. Many sessions at MLA focused on libraries and their institution’s EHR implementation. At a casual glance it seemed like many of those were about hospital implementation. The sessions at MLA all focused on the many challenges librarians faced in getting involved in their institution’s EHR implementation. In terms of primary care practice implementation; I’m guessing take those challenges and multiply them by some significant number.
What are the challenges facing librarians as they try to carve out a niche in implementing EHR’s in primary care settings?
- Unlike many (but not all) hospital settings, most primary care practices don’t have an existing relationship or an expectation of a relationship with a medical librarian. In order to work with implementation, librarians may have to develop new relationships/
- The process of implementing an EHR in a primary care setting is in many cases overwhelming the practices and just getting the bare bones minimal implementation up and running in many cases will tax the practices leaving little or no time for adding the library/resources component. Librarians might need to practice watchful waiting to judge when the practices are slightly less stressed.
- There are economic factors at work. In cases where practices don’t currently have subscriptions to resources, there will be added costs for adding library resources. Figuring out how to pay for these resources may call upon librarian’s creativity.
- There are a lot of unknowns about the federal mandate for this implementation. This creates an atmosphere of chaos (which is too strong of a word) and uncertainty. This is a whole new world an often we as librarians don’t know what role to advocate
As medical librarians choose to move forward it will be important to understand the challenges if getting our feet in the door of primary care practices. Understanding these challenges can help develop plans.
Stayed tuned for my next installment … covering possible roles for librarians
I have been grappling with Ithaka’s most recent faculty survey results. The section about, Discovery and the Evolving Role of the Library, seems of the greatest significance to my work. (Schonfeld, Roger; Housewright, RossI T H A K A S + R F A C U L T Y S U R V E Y 2 0 0 9 :K E Y S T R A T E G I C I N S I G H T S F O R L I B R A R I E S , P U B L I S H E R S , A N D S O C I E T I E S) One of the most provocative statements to emerge from this report came in a summary statement saying,
Basic scholarly information use practices have shifted rapidly in recent years and, as a result, the academic library is increasingly being disintermediated from the discovery process, presenting libraries with some key challenges but also the opportunity to reallocate resources to other priorities.
The findings made a bit of a buzz after they were reported upon in the Scholarly Kitchen Blog, “One Report, Two Findings: Library Roles Changing, Open Access Not Compelling“. The Scholarly Kitchen spins some of the results saying, “librarians and traditional library roles are slowly being disintermediated,” (please note my restraint in not harping on the use of the word disintermediated … I mean really that’s the best word they could find? but I digress).
The findings show an interesting increase in the perception of library’s as purchasing agents and a slight decrease in the value as members of the discovery process. How libraries are coping with this and what this means for the future of libraries is still playing out. The Scholarly Kitchen concludes that libraries are still holding their own.
What I find interesting and what I’m pondering is how this report findings fit in with the recent findings in the State of American Libraries 2010. There is a lot of interesting information in this report especially for lovers of their public libraries. The part I want to focus on is the section on academic libraries. According to the report
- “Academic libraries are experiencing increased use, both physical and virtual”
- Electronic reference sources and aggregation services also rose sharply
- Academic libraries’ expenditures for electronic serial subscriptions increased
Does this contradict the findings in the Ithaka report? Maybe not since the Ithaka report focused solely on faculty.
We know we are purchasing more, will this trend continue in light of the Ithaka findings about decreasing use of these types of resources?
At the end of the day, both reports are well worth reading and certainly in need of much more discussion. The implications for the future are still playing out, but the good news in both of these reports are that libraries are still valued and even putting a negative spin on the Ithaka report (which I’m not advocating or doing) the libraries are in the worst case scenario at the very least holding their own.
Researchers at NC State University are predicting an above average hurricane season, so our thoughts as librarians should be turning to our disaster plans. NC hospital librarians began this process through an award from the NN/LM Southeastern/Atlantic (SE/A) Region, which funded an emergency preparedness program entitled, “It’s the Big One, Elizabeth!” Helping NC Hospitals Plan for Information Access Following a Disaster. For the libraries that are NC AHEC Digital Library members, many of the disaster plans seemed to rely (or fall back upon) the ADL, so we (meaning ADL staff) are working on our disaster plan. Here are some interesting issues or questions that are arising as we work our way through our plan.
So our initial thought was of course, well we’ll just work from home. We’re virtual after all and can pretty much always work at home anyway. Here’s the problem with that theory – after most Hurricane’s especially inland one of our biggest challenges is power (as in electricity). We then thought well we’ll need to have an email list to send emails with pertinent information. Here’s my problem with that, no electricity, no cable, no internet access at home. Obvious solution, its time to get a smart phone. It was amazing, however, how much of our initial thinking about disaster planning sort of had an underlying assumption about electricity.
This revelation led to a whole host of complicated questions about back-up servers, off site locations, fail over software, and many other technical issues that were ever so slightly above my head.
As our disaster planning thinking is crystallizing we are focusing our planning around 2 main areas. As a sort of hub for member libraries throughout the state we need a plan for how to support our member libraries if they are hit by some disaster, but we are still up & running. Then the other big area is if we are hit by a disaster (and then there are many gradients of scenario 2).
At this point the most important issue that is arising is the need for a good communications plan. Key contacts, contact mechnanisms both phone & electronic, and a message to communicate. We also need to develop mechanisms to hook our member libraries up to electronic resources if our proxy/authentication portal is down due to whatever reason. This is but a snapshot of the types of communication needs/issues that are arising as disaster planning begins.
When I first heard about library disaster planning, I thought it wouldn’t really impact me because I work in an entirely virtual/digital library. How naive was that!!
Here’s a vaguely related non-sequitor…. the first NC Disaster planning workshop was the day after a series of tornadoes hit NC. Never have I heard the word irony misused so often. fyi it is not ironic to have a disaster planning workshop the day after some disasters… it is merely an unfortunate coincidence ….
April 11-17 is National Library Week – This year’s theme: Communities Thrive @ Your Library…
According to the ALA website, National Library Week was first celebrated in 1957 stemming from research that indicated that during the, “in the mid-1950s, … Americans were spending less on books and more on radios, televisions and musical instruments.” Here we are in 2010 and the concern about use of the libraries and the amount the people are reading are maybe even more of a concern than they were in the 1950s. National Library Week was created, “based on the idea that once people were motivated to read, they would support and use libraries.”
At that time libraries were equated with (almost solely I would guess) books and reading. Think of the thriving library communities today where (in the public library at least) patrons are spending time surfing the internet, gaming, collaborating, researching, and many other tasks possibly unheard of in the mid-1950s. So many things have changed and yet so many things remain the same.
I thought it would provide an interesting view into the life of libraries to look at libraries in the news this week. A search of the news this week indicates many articles about the celebration of National Library Week, but there are a few other interesting headlines:
- Whatcom County libraries get grant to help job seekers (would this have been in the news in 1957?)
- Passport applications being taken at Cuyahoga County Libraries
- LSU libraries digitize La. newspapers for Library of Congress
- Shenandoah library sees spike in usage
- Take advantage of Shred Days at your library
- Libraries becoming makeshift employment centers
- COMPUTER CLASSES AT THE JACKSONVILLE PUBLIC LIBRARY
- And assorted/numerous articles about economic issues faced by any number of libraries and library systems
So congratulations libraries for everything that we contribute to our communities.
Sometimes I think as a profession that librarians are our own worst enemies.
- How many discussions do we need to keep having about what we should call ourselves (yes yes I know I’ve harped on this before).
- How many discussions do we need to have about whether we are being replaced by Google (or whether Google can replace us?)
- How many discussions do we need to have about whether a library is truly busy and relevant if all the users are just in our buildings to use the internet
- Let’s keep the name librarians and move on, free up our mental energy for more important conversations. Is the American Bar Association talking about renaming itself
- No, we can’t be replaced by Google, ‘nough said
- Yes we need to rethink the use of our physical space, yes providing an important service like internet access is an important thing we can (and should) do
At any rate, there is a new book entitled, “This Book is Overdue: How Librarians and Cybratarians Can Save Us All” (Marilyn Johnson Harper), written about librarians. The author makes, “an unadulterated case for their [librarian's]indispensability at a time when library systems are losing an average of 50 librarians per year.” (Encore Online, 3/23/2010).
Why library systems are losing an average of 50 librarians per year is a whole other question and would lend itself to a whole other posting.
Johnson writes that, “There is the thought that libraries are finished in the age of Google…This couldn’t be more wrong. What about the rest of us? Most of us here are trying to figure out things on our own. About a fifth of us don’t own computers. Our public computers are in libraries, and if we make those computers go away—and the human beings who help us use them—we shoot our economy and our democracy in in the foot. The seeds of our recovery are in the library.”
Maybe the general public aren’t the only audience who need to hear this message; maybe we as librarians need to remember this for ourselves.
A recent article in the Chronicle of Higher Education discusses an impending court decision in, “federal case involving publishers and a state-university system, Cambridge University Press et al. v. Patton et al., should produce a ruling soon, and its stakes are high.” (Howard, Jennifer.”In Court, a University and Publishers Spar Over ‘Fair Use’ of Course Materials” Chronicle of Higher Education, March 14, 2010.) This case centers around the issue of whether the university, “was encouraging the unauthorized digital copying and distribution of too much copyrighted material, particularly through its ERes and uLearn systems.”
I’ll be honest, a lot of the arguments get a bit legalistic and technical so I’m not even going to attempt to summarize it here. Kevin Smith has posted an excellent explanation of the issue in his Scholarly Communications blog, “Summary judgment in the GSU case?” (Scholarly Communications Duke, March 9, 2010). Library Journal has also covered this issue in a March 11, 2010 posting (article?), “Georgia State University says infringement not proven; publishers criticize “checklist” Which also provides a nice summary of the issue. A sort of opposing viewpoint has been raised by Sandy Thatcher on the liblicense listerv and in some comments on Kevin Smith’s blog.
So now, I’ve raised the issue and told you where to go for more information, so you might say why post here at all? The timing of this is very interesting because I’ve recently been dealing with questions about including copies of articles in hospital CBL systems primarily for nurses in magnet situations or working for other accrediting/CE situations. The nuances of the questions we’ve been handling vary a bit, but the gist of the question I get asked is, if we are paying for online access to an article, why can’t we post copies of the articles wherever we like? (and I’m erring on the side of extreme caution in all my answers at this point – ie. no this is not allowed under copyright) It has made me think about the differences that the electronic access and subscriptions have made in terms of making it easier for our end users (including faculty) to place/make “copies” of articles (i.e. saving pdfs). It also clearly highlights the important distinction between access and permission to post articles. All I know is like all things in the management of electronic resources, it puts me in a position where I’m having to grapple with questions that just weren’t raised in our environment even a couple of years ago. It also highlights the distinction between copyright law and the contract law covered by our licensing agreements. Alas it also highlights the importance of knowing where those two (copyright/licenses) intersect and where they don’t.
Although I’m not following the Google Book Settlement as closely as others in the library world, this is certainly an issue that I’ll be needing to keep my eye on.
Lately I’ve become a bit cynical, disenchanted, and dismayed about the role of technology in our profession. If I wasn’t so hopelessly addicted to minor computer games and immediate access to weather reports I’d seriously consider becoming a Luddite. I have been having trouble conceptualizing my concerns; they just sort of linger in the back of my brain. Bear in mind that my entire job is based around all things digital and remote so its not that I’m unaware of technology and its potentialities. So I have to always add, don’t get me wrong, I’m not anti-technology; I’m just weary of the hype.
Into this context I have found a book that I think I’m going to read, “You are Not a Gadget” by Jaron Lanier. There was an intriguing review by Kent Anderson in the Scholarly Kitchen: You Are Not a Gadget” — Why Open Culture and Technocentric Philosophies Are Ruining Our Lives“. Even the review is worth a quick read. Some intriguing points in this blog (and probably pull from the book) include…
- “How we’ve ceded some of our brains to the digital “hive culture””
- While open access sound good, “what it’s actually created is an amoral world in which consequences aren’t considered, the victims are blamed, technical solutions are thought to be better than common sense, creativity has been stifled, commerce is abandoned, and gee-whiz wonderment conceals deeply cynical plays by scheming companies. “
- “how dismissive technologists are to the common sense of “security through obscurity” while also implicitly blaming the victims of social media services, yet contributing nothing creative to our culture.”
- “It’s very interesting to note how little originality open culture has generated for scholarly publishing. Instead of making ground-breaking information systems (those have emerged from closed systems and traditional economic models, by the way), the “open” initiatives have been technology-based recreations of existing forms, with little creativity, just echoes (or disjointed assemblages of echoes). “
- “Because we’ve been beguiled by “digital,” we’ve forgotten that humans, creativity, work, and good things should matter more than slick new distribution or presentation systems. “
If just this book review was able to articulate my recent digital dissatisfaction, how much more can the actual book do? The last bullet point above (beguiled by digital) pretty much encapsulates much of what I’ve been feeling lately.
How’s this for irony, I’m jumping online now and ordering this book from Amazon.com…