Back in June I had posted about a collaborative column in JAAPA. (seeLibrarian Clinician Collaborations). The column written by Jim Anderson and Susan Klawansky addresses questions posed by Physician Assistants. The November 2009 column highlighted 2 items of current relevant interest to me.
The first question is , “Do you recommend Google Scholar? When I use it, I am not sure what databases it is pulling information from or whether it omits certain databases. Is there any advantage to this resource over Medline?“
The answer focuses on the benefits of Medline and in my opinion provides an excellent and balanced answer. The highlights of the answer begin saying, “Medline, for many purposes, will probably be the best database to search for answers to clinical questions.” This is followed by brief reasons why this is the case. The answer to this question ends with a description of a good role for Google Scholar saying, “Google Scholar searches some portion of full text, which Medline does not, and Google Scholar searches content beyond journal literature. So, Google Scholar, for all its limitations, can be a valuable adjunct when trying to locate articles on obscure or extremely specific topics” The entire content of this answer is a quick but worthwhile read.
Since our Health Sciences Library has recently been discussing adding Google Scholar to our Quick Links on the newly updated library’s website, I found this answer both topic and edifying.
The second question in the month’s column is, “I see patients in a private practice setting without academic access. Can you advise me on how PAs and other providers in my situation can access medical literature?“
This question gets to the heart of my world. I can’t tell you how often I deal with this question. Here in NC we are fortunate to have an option of for individual clinicians to subscribe to a package of resources which have been selected to be of interest (we hope) to practicing clinicians. This answer highlights some options in Washington State such as HEAL-WA. Loansome Doc option is also explored.
An aspect of this question which we are now focusing on in NC — very recently — is the notion of whether clinicians working in private practice need different resources than those working in hospitals. We are also examining the role and access to point of care resources in private practice and the integration of these resources into Health Records. This questions become even more timely in the world of ARRA monies and the potential for monetary implications for places that don’t bring electronic medical records online.
We have recently been having an online discussion about the merits of adding Google Scholar to our Quick Links resources list on the Health Sciences Library web page.
I love the way reading articles sparks ideas in my mind that send it off in directions that the author might not have even imagined.
Again — I’m so impressed with this project and wish other professional journals would incorporate similar columns. Good job!!
Earlier this week the FTC rolled out new rules for Bloggers who offer endorsements. They must now disclose any payments or products they receive. This will is for all bloggers including I suppose even me (as if that situation should ever arise…) The penalty is a $11,000 fine per violation. There has been quite a flurry in the media about this.
I had no idea to tell you the truth, the number of free products that are being sent to bloggers. The New York Times wrote about a woman who has a blog about home schooling. She does support the rules and says she has been consistent in her disclosure about products received. What surprised me was the amount of free merchandise she has apparently been receiving. Wow!
In another twist, The Chronicle of Higher Education reports about the implications of this new policy on book reviews. Apparently Duke University Press has posted about concerns about this disclosure rules will have on the practice of sending free books to reveiwers. I’m not sure why having to disclose that you reviewed a book that you received for free, would negatively impact one’s ability or desire to review a book. I don’t believe the law is saying that companies can’t send products, nor is it saying that reviewers can’t accept products. It seems to be saying the when a reviewer reviews a product, they must disclose any payments including whether they received a free “copy” of the product. The issue that could arise would be if publishers are sending books in exchange for positive reviews, but that seems a bit silly. Someone would want a free copy of a book so badly that they’d write an artifically positive review? Hmmmm…
Given the pervasiveness of advertising (viral marketing) in today’s world; I can only think that this can be a positive development. If these rules (which if I read correctly) extend to companies that support research (like is prevalent in the pharmaceutical industry) its all even better.
Maybe I’m missing something obvious. But if people are writing and operating with integrity, then I don’t see the downside of acknowledging payments or free products.
I learned today (although have not confirmed via an external third party) that Medlineplus and therefore NC Health Info are no longer linking to Mayo Clinic or familydoctor.org . We linked to these sites in our Patient Information section, so I decided to check out the situation. On the Mayo Clinic site, I definately saw a problem. Although they claim there is a clear distinction between advertising content and editorial content and despite the fact that they claim that they refuse advertising from sites that, “Advertisers and sponsors must not make unsubstantiated health claims or suggest that Mayo Clinic has endorsed a product.” On the dementia page, however, there are links to advertisements from Google Ads for Alzheimer’s or Dementia products including a link to a page that appears to be an “affiliate site”. Its not exactly an affiliate website, because I can’t see where any money changes hands but its along the lines of an affilate web site.
But I digress. The big issue on the Mayo site is that although it does nominally “differentiate” the advertising content. It isn’t entirely clear to the unitiated (my mother for example) where the advertising ends and where the editorial content begins. This isn’t such a big issue if the advertising content is clearly not related to the subject matter of the page (an advertisement for bing for example). With Mayo Clinic placing ads that relate to the disease conditions, the line becomes a bit blurry for people with lower internet browsing literacy.
Although I didn’t find any similar examples on familydoctor.org (I didn’t conduct an exhaustive search). I personally found the advertising to be intrusive. It hurts its useability. Oddly enough the Mayo Clinic website looked overall more professional, but the familydoctor.org site, currently looks like a slick marketing site. (Amazon.doc anyone??). Another issue I had with familydoctor.org is that many of the advertising sites have interactive components and I was a bit concerned about the possibilities of spyware, malware, or other viral ickiness corrupting my computer. I haven’t decided yet, whether I’ll remove our link to familydoctor.doc since it hasn’t (to me) crossed the boundary of including disease related advertisements on corresponding disease information pages. That to me is the clear line in the sand that Mayo Clinic crossed. That and the fact that the disease related advertisements are those odd Google ads which are difficult to differentiate.
Given the large amount of advertising on familydoctor.org; I am a bit concerned that as recently as July it got its HON approval renewed. I guess given the letter of their “code” it might be entitled to their stamp of approval, but I think HON needs to also add a consideration about not only the differentiation between advertising and content, but also about the sheer amount of advertising. Maybe its time for HON to update their Code.
I don’t know how well the Ovid enhancements were received across the board, but there was some concern expressed in my blog. IKEA recently changed the font in their catalog. According to an article in our local paper, “Patrons tell IKEA: You’re no longer my type…” (Stephan Nasstrom, News & Observer, accessed 8/31/2009). Apparently IKEA changed its font type in its most recent catalog from Futura to Verdona. This has stirred up a bit of a backlash. At least enough backlash to warrant a fair amount of national press. IKEA is discounting the criticism saying, “I think its mainly experts who have expressed their veiws, people who are interested in fonts. I don’t think the broad public is that interested.” The article ended with a quote from the IKEA Swedish art director, Christoph Comstedt, “I don’t think the average consumer will react…”
Ovid & IKEA both made changes. I believe the changes were probably supported by the changing environments in which they both operate. Although I may not personally like the Ovid enhancements, I understand the reasons behind them.
Other than the big obvious differences (furniture vs. online electronic resources, books, journals, etc).. the difference between the two of them to me is how Ovid and IKEA ostensibly are handling the criticism. Ovid has reached out to me. I haven’t spoken with them in person yet, but I’m assuming they are going to listen to some of my concerns and not just write them off the way IKEA has so very publically discounted the criticism against its change. In a day of rapid and turbulent change, a little bit of customer service can go a long way.
As we update our own sites and online offerings, we need to think about how our changes are going to be received by our audiences and plan to how we are going to respond to the inevitable critiques that are to come. We are planning on releasing updates to our site in January and it will be interesting to see how we handle any critiques that arise out of our upgrades.
A recent posting by Steven Bell on the Designing Better Libraries Blog, “Libraries Can Learn from Wow Providers,” commented upon a recent Knowledge@Wharton report, “Getting to Wow, Consumers Describe What Makes a Great Shopping Experience.” The Wharton study reports on an annual survey of positive shopping experiences. This study points to 5 factors that contribute to a great shopping experience.
Engagement: being polite, genuinely caring and interested in helping, acknowledging and listening.
Executional excellence: patiently explaining and advising, checking stock, helping to find products, having product knowledge and providing unexpected product quality.
Brand Experience: exciting store design and atmosphere, consistently great product quality, making customers feel they’re special and that they always get a deal.
Expediting: being sensitive to customers’ time on long check-out lines, being proactive in helping speed the shopping process.
Problem Recovery: helping resolve and compensate for problems, upgrading quality and ensuring complete satisfaction.
One of the ideas behind this is to create “brand” loyalty (or returning customers).
The posting on the Designing Better Libraries blog expands upon applying this to libraries saying,
Giving library users a better library experience, call it WOW if you like, doesn’t involve cool new technology, an infusion of expensive resources or drawn-out internal debates about service desk consolidation (though that might help). What it does require is a better understanding of user expectations in a shopping experience. At a minimum we can do better by focusing on just two simple things. One, be polite and courteous. Two, be familiar with the products. That’s a start. Quality is also highly rated. This is less within our control but we can do more to emphasize the quality of library research resources.
Creating this kind of experience in a physical library seems intuitive in many instances. Librarians tend to be service oriented, but there are also examples cited in the blog about users being shuffled from one service point to the next or having difficulty gaining eye contact etc. None the less, I believe that for the most part libraries are committed to creating a quality experience, we just might not know how. My questions center around creating this kind of quality experience in a totally digital (or vitual library).
Some ideas for creating Wow Experience in our Online Libraries
- (Quoting the Designing Better Libraries Blog)”We can do more to emphasize the quality of library research resources”
- Build web sites that follow good usability practices and that incorporate feedback from the target user group
- Provide obvious mechanisms to link the users to real librarians
- Provide links to desired services as well as resources
As I re-read the 5 factors, I do think they can be applied to a virtual world. For example,
“Engagement, being polite..”
Create a site that is welcoming
This is huge. I think the ability to guide users through a site to an easy way to get help solving a problem. Either a problem that they are bringing (the research question) or a problem that they encounter while using the virtual service. I know from personal experience that nothing puts me off a web site more than difficulties resolving problems.
Netflix drives me crazy. There are a lot of wonderful things about Netflix, but there is no obvious way to contact a real person to ask a question or describe a problem that isn’t covered under their FAQ’s. This might not be the best example here because Netflix does seem to retain its loyal following.
A final point raised in the Wharton article is interesting for libraries. For the average library “customer” library resources are free, they don’t see the price. For those of us who are trying to maintain our funding or to keep consortium together, there is a second user base (or customer if you will) the funding agent. To them price is certainly a factor. Scott Plutchak touched on this in a blog posting a while back (that I wrote about in my August 10 posting, The Elsevier Apologetic) when he discussed prive versus value. There is an argument to be made that in difficult economic times its all about price, but in a service environment (like libraries museums etc) there isn’t always a tangible price. The Wharton article ends by discussing value saying
While the Great Depression led to an era of penny pinching, today’s economic crisis is leading consumers to focus more on value than price, she adds. “With credit cards and retail and telecom, we are seeing value-based buying…. People are being more scrupulous about where they buy and what they buy. More educated consumers are looking for a better value in everything.”
Its hard to define “value” …. Its hard to define “quality” … It may seem subjective. At the end of the day our customers have choices. There are many digital (online) solutions, those of us working in digital (virtual, online) libraries (and in traditional libraries offering online resources and services) need to work on creating a high quality experience that will make our users want to return to our library as opposed to heading to Google or Wikipedia.
The recent economic downturn has had many ripple effects. At UNC Chapel Hill one was the commission of the Bain Commission report to examine ways to achieve efficiencies at the university. A recent article in our local paper, the News & Observer (on August 17, 2009) outlined the growth of administrative levels in the NC University system. A letter to the editor in today’s paper, “Sources of Swelling,” raised some very interesting potential sources of university bureaucracy. The author highlights increasing concerns for accountability as one cause saying, “accountability, especially important for public universities, have caused universities to staff Offices of Assessment and conduct endless self-studies to determine where money and energies are spent and with what results. A perceived need for relevance has spurred the creation and proliferation of universities’ and colleges’ outreach programs, community engagement and public service.”
In one of those quirks of synergy that seem to weave its way through my blog-land; I have recently been thinking about how much more work I could accomplish if I didn’t have to spend so much time counting things (statistics) and explaining things. I don’t have a great answer to this problem because there is a level of accountability that does need to happen. And there are certain levels of information that need to be quantified and analyzed to guide decision making, but have libraries gone too far in trying to justify our work using some sort of outcomes measurement. Isn’t there some point at which we just trust that we as professionals do know what we are doing and do have a sense when things are working and when things aren’t. The biggest problem here is in figuring out how to get past inertia (the tendency to keep doing things just because they have always been done). Libraries are inherently difficult to quantify our value. In many ways we are like other things of value. How do we measure the value of art or music. How do we measure the value of wisdom and knowledge? I think we need to embrace the notion of libraries as institutions of greater and higher value. Maybe I’ve been inspired by the book about the history of the library, but I think there is something wonderful about the immeasurable value of libraries. The tricky part is how to we embrace that which is noble and lofty — while at the same time remaining accountable to our funding partners and at the same time ensuring that we don’t get dragged down by inertia.
Much of our tendency towards the world of outcomes measurement comes from living within academia and working within the public university system. For other libraries it may be the county, or other parent organization. Setting that level of accountability aside, it seems to me that librarians are from within spinning a lot of wheels building in layer upon layer upon layer of accountability into our own inner workings. Perhaps we need to worry less about outcomes measures and accountability and worry more about doing really amazing work and trusting our professional judgement. Idealistic?? Perhaps but it is an interesting scenario to spin out.
One final question … does the push for accountability squash innovation? (at least in the short term).
The Library: An Illustrated History by Stuart Murray published 2009, “traces the elaborate history of the library from its …beginnings… to some of the greatest contemporary institutions.” (ALA Store). According to a review posted on the Afterworld, ‘The history of libraries is the history of humanity‘ posted by Brad Frenette, “The fact that libraries are still being constructed some 4,000 years after they were first created — and that such huge sums of money are being spent — is at once surprising and reassuring.” In these days when we still periodically have the esoteric debates about which was a greater innovation the printing press or the modern day internet. It is really interesting to add the notion of library as place (which predates the printing) place as an innovation which ought to make the list. We don’t think of the library as something innovative (and given the fact that they are over 4,000 years old it is certainly true that they probably don’t fall within the realm of innovative any more). But if we think about some innovation that has made an eternal impact on the world civilization — libraries really ought to rate at least honorable mention.
We (and I should credit Diana McDuffee here) are advocating thinking of libraries as three parts: space, collections, and services. Once upon a time space/place and collection seemed to be one and the same. The space was a place where the collections lived. In the era of digital (online) collections/resources: the library as space takes on a very different meaning. In the Library:an Illustrated History, Stuart Murray describes the library as being, “essential in terms of education and research; librarians can guide you in ways that Google can’t. And just the feeling of being in a library and holding a book, whether it’s old or new, is a wonderful thing.” Note here that this quote encapsulates the notion of service (librarians as guides) and library as space (feeling of being in a library).
In our current incarnation we forget the wonderful innovation of the library as a lending library (thanks to Benjamin Franklin). In this notion the library was wonderfully revolutionary. A place that was trying to bridge the gap between the haves and the have nots. In this sense the library is a place of service. Bridging the education gap. This bridge can come in the form of access to resources or in the services provided by librarians.
As we look to the future we need to remember our past. This book is well worth a browse. Perhaps you can borrow it from your local library.
I’m thinking that many of the strategies provided for conducting outreach to campus communities can also be adapted to clinician – librarian collaborations. ARL issued a press release on July 16, 2009 announcing the publication of a, “new guide on outreach to scholarly society leaders to assist libraries in developing positive, supportive relationships with leaders, editors, and members of academic scholarly societies affiliated with their institutions.” They target scholarly societies because, “Libraries and scholarly societies share concerns for identifying high quality research and ensuring that the products of the research process are made available as quickly and widely as possible to advance further research and scholarship.” This sounds similar to the translational research goals alluded to in previous postings.
As we begin discussions on how librarians can support translational research, I’m finding some of the talking points in the ARL document to be particularly useful. Highlights for me include:
- “Librarians understand a range of communication practices and know where to look for models as new expectations and capabilities for sharing scholarship and research evolve
- “Library leaders are employed in engineering radical transformations in their own organizations in the face of emerging communication and content management technologies. There may well be important lessons learned that can be shared.
We are just beginning our dialogs with the NC TraCS Institute, and I’m going to be looking to these ARL librarian – researcher initiatives for ideas and support.
Another Primary Care Project
A new program in Iowa is designed to, “lure doctors to underserved areas”. In a previous posting I highlighted a program in North Carolina to educate 3rd & 4th year medical students in rural settings. In Iowa, the Des Moines University is offering rural medicine scholarships. Iowa is new in creating an AHEC program, only beginning in 2007 (compared to North Carolina which has had an AHEC program since its inception in 1972). The Des Moines Register highlights the creation of an AHEC in Iowa as a positive step towards easing the primary care shortage in rural areas. Once again I’m reminded of how proud I am to be affiliated with the AHEC program. Good luck Iowa!!
Ebsco’s Citation Matcher
Ebsco has added a nice new feature: a citation matcher. A full description of this feature can be found at the Ebsco Support Site.. Although librarians know about this because Ebsco has informed us and although we have added this to our Ebsco databases; I’m not sure our end users will be able to find it. Its cleverly hidden at the top of the screen under a link (or navigation tab) called more. Not the height of intuition for sure.
I’m wondering how to best inform our users about this new feature. I could put something in our news section, but I’m fairly certain that doesn’t get read. I don’t have a good mailing list for all our members and would be reluctant to send this out as an email. We can add it to our classes, but a very small percentage of our users attend classes. This adds to an overarching rethinking we are having about marketing and outreach of our resources and services. Once upon a time we had a quarterly newsletter then the pressures of other matters changed it to twice a year, then down to an annual edition. I’m debating creating an online monthly update. We could also leverage existing news services within our parent organizations. Although library school was a long time ago; I’m still wishing there was a bit more offered by way of marketing and outreach elements to my coursework. Who knew??