While on the topic of RSS, there’s a great presentation by staff from Ebling Library at the University of Wisconsin on how you can make RSS more useful and easier to access for our clients – see https://webmeeting.nih.gov/p12704664/ – it’s a long presentation (approx 60 mins), so set aside some good time, but it’s worth it. They talk about two sites that are worth following up: one from the National Library of Health Sciences – Terkko in Finland and their own site at Ebling Library. One of the things I like about the Ebling site is the ability to generate a list of the top ten / all of the titles from a particular subject to import into your own reader. Perhaps this is something we should think about for NSW Health / CIAP as a collaborative project by librarians? (apologies to those outside NSW , to whom that last sentence may not make sense). Looking at the Ebling interface, I suspect that our more-tech savvy clients would take the technology and run with it.

Interesting that the project has been put on hold for now (as of end of Jan), because it was ahead of where their clients were. So there’s a big focus on telling people about what’s there, and how to use it – remembering that this is a university, with lots of students; as opposed to hospital settings with busy (and older) clinicians. But I wonder if we make it easier for people to grab the feeds of their specialty, and then keep up with them in 15 minutes a week, whether they’d go for it?

And I love their last point about dis-aggregating the content: creating widgets, or ways for people to access the content in different places – so that you don’t have to go to the Ebling site, but can embed your RSS into igoogle, for example. This is precisely something I’ve been thinking recently, that we need to break the information up into smaller chunks that people can access where, how and when they want to.  This is a topic for another post, but the general principle of giving people information where they’re at, rather than forcing them to come to our sites is (to me) a logical next step forward.


This is a topic that has been revisited on and off around the medical library world since the introduction of OvidSP. The Krafty Librarian and OMG Tuna is a Kewel have made some pertinent remarks, which I’ve been intereseted in, but never had time to follow up properly. Today, prompted by the training video that David Rothman linked to, I decided to see what really was happening with RSS feeds. The answer (for me) is Not Enough.  I also get feeds from Pubmed, and like that they show the full citation, as it appears in their citation display, complete with authors, citations, related links, and a link to full text, if it exists.  In Ovid you only get Title and Abstract, and there’s not even any identification of items which are not in English.  I haven’t dug around and looked at Ebsco’s yet, but that’s next on my list.

All of which led me to wonder where our clients are up to.  Do they want RSS feeds?  Or are they having enough trouble just working out how to use Ovid anyway, and emailed alerts are fine for them?  Are we stressing over technology that’s just not being widely used yet (except by librarians)?  Are we going to have to teach them about rss as well as Ovid – and is that overkill? Has anyone got any insights on how / what their clients are doing with RSS feeds, and what they want?  Please leave comments!

One of the great things about getting away to any conference or symposium is that it takes you out of your day-to-day environment, and gives time for big-picture views. Beyond the Hype : Library 2.0, which has just finished in Brisbane, was one of those events. For me, a time to look at the last two years or so and think about what we’ve talked about in that time (I’ve done presentations in 2006 and 2007), and what we’ve actually achieved. The 2008 presentation actually points to some of the reasons we haven’t achieved as much as we’d like – but now it’s time to accept that as reality, and work out what of this technology we want to push on with.

Perhaps my greatest excitement of the two days was hearing that UQ has implemented Encore, a partnership between Innovative and Endeca. It’s great to see these things finally being put into production. AND that they are somehow searching proprietary databases as well as their catalogue. But the big thrill of the two days was hearing consistently high quality speakers talking about using (or not using) 2.0 tools, the upsides, the downsides – considering where and when the tools are less relevant and less useful. And thus, moving beyond the hype of novelty and “must try it because it’s there” to “what works for my clients in my space?”

While the “big hits” like Encore are great; it’s the small-but-highly-relevant things that attract me most: people able to have a two-way dialogue with their clients via blogs, and finding it works; people using a blog or wiki to organise a conference, and finding it’s easier; people discovering that google docs is actually a good way to write a collaborative paper; people finding a YouTube clip can be a great promotion tool for their library. Small steps, but each a building block towards libraries being part of the new information world (economy?), and not being left behind.

WHAT??? It’s less than a week before all our clients will have to be moved to a totally new interface, and Ovid change the name on one of the tabs????  Firstly, I do agree with the change, the wording “Ovid Syntax” has to be the worst I’ve seen for a while.  But the timing is awful.  Mind you, leaving it any later would have been worse, but still … this is Not Good.  I don’t know about everyone else, although I have my suspicions that we’ve all been doing handouts and training and help guides for our clients.  With LOTS of screenshots.  Which will now all have to be re-done for Friday.  And today is Wednesday (well, here it is).  Not a lot of time.  Quite a lot of work.

Mind you, it’s good that Ovid listened, and has acted.  But still, NOT happy.

It seems surveys are all the go!  I’m presuming that anyone who reads this, also reads davidrothman’s blog, but in case you don’t – he posts about a survey of readers of medical librarian blogs.  Please take the survey!  It’s a short survey, but the questions are interesting, such as asking how likely you are to act on what you read.  Looking forward to seeing the results.

The survey is here.

It’s the silly season here – for those of you reading in the northern hemisphere, Christmas has a unique dynamic in Australia.  By the time things stop for Christmas, you can basically count out the whole of January as far as furthering projects goes.  The entire country retires to the beach with a book, or hibernates in front of the cricket on the ‘telly’. No sane person tries to run meetings – or get things fixed.

Which means that technology going pear-shaped in the week before Christmas is Not A Good Thing. Things like the new version of Ovid won’t be launched until February, when we’re all back on deck, and ready to do lots of training and support.  But this week, a software upgrade means that many of our links to online journals have gone strange, or gone altogether.  And then today our scanning software has died (it’s a problem for the whole organisation).  Given that scanning is almost as essential for us as email, this is a disaster.  Especially for those last-minute doc del requests that are sure to arrive.  Fortunately the fax still works, but suddenly it feels like very old technology.

You know you’re behind the times when something has been posted once, then David Rothman blogs about it.  So everyone already knows that the first results are out from this survey.   Whether anyone is interested in reading them at this end of the year is another issue entirely!  I know I’m not.  So it’s good that a detailed look at the interesting points of this survey will be presented in a paper at Beyond the Hype in February.  Meanwhile, you can have a look at the pretty graphs!  A cursory glance does note some interesting differences between us and our US counterparts – it will be interesting to explore this further.

Meanwhile,  a wish you a festive and relaxing Christmas.


I am eating my words.  At the recent NSW Health Libraries’ Forum, I commented that Facebook was one application that I’ve tried, but not really connected with.  I did qualify this by saying that our library doesn’t work with students, and I’m sure that they are a large part of the market – which was agreed to by comments from university librarians present.

Today, the Krafty Librarian has a post about health information in Facebook.  Including mentions of people adding BMC and PubMed citations, and a link to Stony Brook University’s Facebook page.  I’ll be interested to follow this trend and see where it leads.

Zdnet is reporting today that Westpac (Australia’s oldest bank) is not only unblocking sites like Facebook, but is “building its own social networking capabilities”. Interestingly, this follows the bank’s discovery that 1500 people on Facebook nominate that they work at Westpac, so they’re building a similar internal site on MS Sharepoint technology.

The Westpac CTO David Backley reveals a refreshing attitude to staff, technology and wasting time

“The rationale is that people will waste time if they want to waste time,” Backley says. “Most people who work for us will do the right thing, and see that others are doing the right thing. Many of these things can be self-managed.”

Backley said that there is nothing written in Westpac’s terms of employment or IT policy about what constitutes acceptable use of the technology.

“We don’t write into the policy how long they can spend having a cup of coffee either,” he said. “The only boundaries we have set is that the same rules apply online as they apply in the offline world.”

If only more of our institutions were this enlightened!

I’ve been monitoring the site of our Social Networks survey, and today it’s hit 158 responses.  I’m pleased.  Given that the MLA survey reported 495 responses, and there are quite a few more health librarians in the US, I think this is a good response rate.  I’m looking forward to crunching the data, and working out who is using (or not using) what, and why.