Wow, really?

It’s been nearly 6 years since I posted anything on this blog, which is frankly a little hard to believe. One wonders what on earth I’ve been doing. Having no home internet access for several years probably helped the demise of this blog.

In the intervening years, my very favorite tool,, became Delicious, and then it died, so far as I was concerned. I mourned, and then I switched to Pinboard. If you were following my bookmarks at all, they are all there. Luckily, I managed to score the Ratcatcher username, which I haven’t even bothered to use most places anymore–too much competition. LibGuides has gone from being a brand new product to a staple of the library world. The work that is being done with it is truly impressive. My institution(s) haven’t made the switch to the new version, but it looks phenomenally flexible and powerful.

No one talks about social software at all these days–for one, it’s basically understood that software should be social now, but mostly, the PR and marketing folks hijacked the concept and turned it into social media. They are doing great things, no doubt, but the lack of emphasis on productivity is less than ideal, in my mind. To be fair, though, my current position requires me to use social media for marketing and branding, so I undoubtedly will use many skills the public affairs masters have brought to the discussion.

So why am I posting now, after all these years? Well, perhaps it’s because I’m feeling reinvigorated about medical librarianship, our future, and even using (gross, I hate this term) social media. My interests have fluctuated over the years, too, which is obvious to anyone who knows me. I still love bibliometrics, I like technology and web stuff, and I’m really into systematic review standards right now, plus the medical humanities and the history of medicine. So my tastes are a little divergent.

One of the things that I have most enjoyed doing in the past year or so is going to works in progress meetings for a health services research group. They covered a host of topics, from strategies to move from being a new investigator to getting an R01 down the road to systematic review methodology. What was really inspiring, though, was hearing the new investigators talk about their research questions and watching the experienced researchers help them narrow their focus and work together come up with research designs to help answer the questions. As a librarian, it was really fascinating for me to see the process of how the research we help organize and provide is instigated, developed, and is ultimately part of a strategy to get future R01 grants.


This post doesn’t have much of a point, I admit, but perhaps I will start thinking about actual topics. There’s a wealth of medical librarian blogs out there these days that are doing a great job, so who knows if I have anything to add. The Expert Searching list is what I’ve been paying attention to more than anything–if you’re not on it, and if you do any searching, join!

Advertisement and general update

[For those of you who have been waiting with bated breath for my next post, as an FYI, I turned all Luddite and canceled my home internet access.  That means I only have my phone for home web access, meaning I won’t be typing lengthy posts very much anymore.  Since I’ve been feeling like I have very little to say anyway–writing burnout, I think–I dare say you aren’t missing much.]

So, is now.  I think I will never be able to type it accurately again.  Typing is so second nature to me that any time I start a word with de, it automatically starts coming out as  But in any case, the new…

Anyone who knows me and my fiendish obsession with knows I am not entirely a fan of the new design, probably as it should be.  The new design is decidedly NOT for power users, and they’ve been very upfront about that.  But, still, it is a tad frustrating, especially since it is a step backwards in productivity for me.  But anyway, my personal reaction is less important than how I see this impacting my professional life.

I may not be reading the right blogs, or perhaps I am just having to delete more RSS feeds than I’d like due to the frankly overwhelming amount of work I’ve got going on (I still feel like I’m in recovery from MLA and those other pesky vacations I’ve had in the interim), but I haven’t seen a whole lot of coverage of how this new version of has impacted libraries.

I was poking around in the new forum and found this comment from the Vancouver Public Library (hey, if anyone can figure out how to link to a single comment in that forum, let me know!):

We’re very disappointed that delicious failed to provide any warning that the original API was going to be discontinued in favour of a completely altered version. The lack of notice of this significant change meant that every one of our 5,000+ external web links broke without warning, with faulty HTML rendering also breaking the navigation and layout of all pages that contained external links. Because the new API was introduced at the end of the week, our website functionality remained seriously impaired for several days until we were able to implement a patch.

It would be very much appreciated if in the future, delicious either provided account holders with advance notice of changes to their API, or continued to provide access to the earlier version of the API to give users a chance to migrate to the new platform.

This is a major issue.

Anyone who knows me knows that I have long been advocating for libraries to use not only for personal productivity, but for organizing and maintaining links in subject guides and etc.  I’ve always seen it as a low cost way to keep subject guides a little more up to date, flexible, and easier to maintain and update.  Of course, when you are depending upon free services for the content of your library web site, you are just asking for trouble, I suppose.

At the moment, I have been working on two projects that depend upon pulling in information from, one for my place of employ and one for an organization with whom I have been known to work.  These projects were started largely because I pushed for them and for the use of in them.  Now, I am starting to think that my optimism about the constancy and usefulness of has been grossly misplaced.  Do I continue forth with these projects, or do I rethink the use of free online tools for maintaining library content?

I’d be curious to know what other people in library land think, especially those who have been using to roll content on their library web sites.  I know there are at least a couple of medical libraries out there doing this, and hopefully there are more after MLA 2008…

I’d also be curious to know if these libraries have decided to roll their links using the API (and if so, which one) or via RSS feeds or via the Javascript that provides.

Talk to me!

Ebling RSS slideshow

One of the darlings (imho) of the MLA 2008 conference was the Ebling Library’s RSS service. There was a poster and one paper from Ebling on RSS, plus it was mentioned in practically everyone else’s presentations when they talked about RSS and libraries–for very good reason.

You can see the slides from the paper, presented at Public Health/Health Administration Section’s “The Role of Health Sciences Librarians in Applying Web 2.0 Technologies and Their Uses in Clinical and Public Health Practice and Instruction” program. The paper itself was called “Connecting Content to Readers: Marketing RSS as an Information Management Tool,” and sadly, I missed this session. The paper was presented by Erika Sevetson. In any case, here are the slides in Slideshare (below) and as a PDF (images look better).

More slides from MLA 2008

I suspect that all 4 of these slideshows will be linked from the MLA web site at some point, but I may as well link them up here, too! [Edited: Perhaps I should have mentioned that the other 2 slideshows are the blogs/wikis one by Amanda Etches-Johnson and the RSS/social bookmarking one by Melissa Rethlefsen that I linked in the previous post…]

These are the 2 other Web 2.0 Plenary slideshows, the first from David Rothman and the second from Bart Ragon.

Web 2.0 (David Rothman)

APIs, Mashups, and the Semantic Web (Bart Ragon)

Know of any more? Let me know!

MLA 2008 wrap-up

Instead of doing real work, I am going to do some blogging. Why is this, that after numerous months of not blogging, basically, that I feel inspired to blog again? Well, I must say that it is because at dinner last night, one of my friend’s friends made comments prefaced with “I don’t mean to be insulting, but” every single time she asked about my job, the conference, and my blog. And after explaining what I did in fact previously blog about, she said something to the effect of, “Well, that’s what I thought you must blog about. That’s why I don’t blog, so I am not a total nerd.” Not that I am not proud of the fact that complete strangers identify me as a nerd or anything, but it did make me realize that I really didn’t even remember what it is that I blog about. So, I will return to my roots and blog about MLA.

I think that the fact that MLA’s technology and connection-themed conference wasn’t wired was fairly well covered, by me and by practically anyone else under the sun who wanted to actually connect with people, so I won’t go there again. And this post does a pretty good job of pulling lots of stuff about the conference together. What can I add? I’ve pulled together a set of some of the presentation slides and embedded them below. Sure, you could go to Slideshare and look for these yourself, but why bother when I’ve done it for you?

Second Life for Engagement, Outreach, and Building Interdisciplinary Communities of Learning (Patricia Anderson)

Efficiencies of Scale and Empowerment: Consumer Health Website Design Using Social Technologies (Patricia Anderson)

Twitter for Health (Patricia Anderson)

Blogs, Wikis, and What You Can Do With Them (Amanda Etches-Johnson)

Cross-Country Connections: Implementing Learning 2.0 in a Multistate Medical Library System (Melissa Rethlefsen)

RSS/Social Bookmarking – Addicting Like Caffeine – Web 2.0 Plenary (Melissa Rethlefsen)

Practicality vs Theory (Ivonne Martinez)

If you come across more, let me know. I hope to add others as they are added to Slideshare or elsewhere!

[edited to reflect the titles and lead author of the presentations I posted]

MLA 2008 – conference blogging experiment pays off

Though I rather wonder if the MLA hadn’t had official conference bloggers if the same outpouring of blog coverage would have occurred, I think that the NPC can still count the conference blogging experiment as an unqualified success.  The posts, whether David’s wonderful video posts or the image-laden and content rich posts many others are putting online, are giving attendees and non-attendees alike a great impression of what’s going on here at MLA.

I haven’t seen too many in-depth posts covering the speeches and presentations from yesterday (but I haven’t looked much, either…), so I look forward to seeing that kind of coverage at some point, but we already are seeing photos of Mark’s fabulous speech (he did it again, that’s for sure) up on Flickr and Facebook, and we’re also seeing a lot of Twitter coverage of the event both to the MLA 2008 stream and by individuals.  The Task Force members in particular are showing their technology stuff by posting pictures, live-blogging and Twittering, and more.

I’ll link up some of the bits where there should obviously be links later today!

MLA 2008 – wireless – sigh

Well, though I knew that paying for wireless at MLA 2008 would be restricted to the public areas of the hotel and my room, I wasn’t wholly aware that the public areas would be quite so far away from the meeting rooms.  Or that there wouldn’t be any cell phone coverage that my phone could pick up in the conference rooms.  We’re two levels underground.  This is insanely frustrating.  Especially since the meeting is “green,” meaning we’re expected to check the blog for updates and check the white board for changes.  I kind of wish a page had been taken out of SXSW’s book and that there was a huge monitor with twitter streams and etc.  Or that there was, I don’t know, WIRELESS IN THE CONFERENCE ROOMS for more of us than just the 10 official bloggers.  What about those of use with a serious internet addiction?  Okay, yes, I am in withdrawl!  🙂

PubMed Advanced Search beta

I stumbled across a beta Advanced Search in PubMed today.  Has anyone else played with this?  It appears that it merges the Preview/Index, History, Limits, and field searching screens all together in one place.  Perhaps this will make some of PubMed’s features more obvious to searchers, but I’m not seeing too much benefit to it otherwise.  The History still has to be combined in the old, rather annoying way with the # and the capital ANDs and ORs and NOTs, for example, though there are of course the contextual menus to help you do that without the typing.  Now, if there was a nice checkbox option instead…

mla 2008 – coming soon to a theatre near you (or to chicago)

I’m rather glad that MLA is hiring bloggers to cover MLA because this year I already have about forty times the number of commitments as last year, so I’m not sure how much time I’ll spend typing. (I am obviously not going to be an official blogger as I didn’t really cherish the idea of applying for it and revealing my name, and since I already have wireless all taken care of, that wasn’t really an incentive.) This year, I will in fact have a cell phone with an unlimited data plan, so I will likely be twittering like crazy instead. Whether I choose to twitter as Ratcatcher or not…well, we’ll see.

For those twitterers going to MLA, make sure you follow mla2008. You can send mla2008 a direct message, and it will get redistributed to the group using GroupTweet.

Stuff at MLA I’m looking forward to (besides the Ovid party…):

Some posters:

Really, there’s too much to link to right now.

marketing to bloggers

I was highly amused to receive the following comment on one of my posts about MLA 2008:

Stop by the Epocrates booth at MLA; #239, and enter to win a FREE Centro!

Our team looks forward to meet[sic] you!

I approved it just because I was so tickled that medical library vendors are starting to market to bloggers.  And, to boot, a blogger who hasn’t actually posted anything in ages.