Friday, October 29, 2004

SEX on the Internet

Ok now that I have gotten your attention....

I saw this new study on MSNBC.com etitled, "Experts: Web searches for sex declining." Apparently in 1997 20% of the web searches were on sex. Now that number has dropped to 5%.

It said that people are using the web more as an everyday tool and are not as enamored by it as they were 7 years ago. People are using the internet for e-business or e-commerce more as that type of usage increased by 86%.

The article continues to talk about how people still search for things pretty much the same was as they had in 1997. They use one to two words and they rarely look beyond the first page of results. There is currently a debate raging on one my email lists as to whether the users are unsophisticated and just grabbing what they can or if they are more sophisticated and finding the results they need in the first page.

Think it over and let me know what you think. Happy Halloween.

Thursday, October 28, 2004

PDAs Working in Healthcare

Ok this kind of dovetails with my previous blog about how the sale of PDAs has been declining. According to that article the biggest obstacle seemed to be PDAs are still thought of as PIMs (personal information managers), basically your daily planner book on steroids.

Well I just happened to run into a great article about this MIT grad who is developing healthcare software to be used on PDAs in developing countries. It is on CNN.com and it is called, "Humanitarian's tech for health care."

In this article it talks about how Vikram Kumar, a graduate of MIT with degrees in medicine and engineering, and is a pathology resident at Brigham and Women's Hospital, devleoped several medical software programs to be used with PDAs in developing countries. One such program in rural South Africa, allows outreach workers to use software distribute HIV test results in remote settings while ensuring confidentiality. Another is a software program being used in India that helps collect data on patients, schedule immunizations and prenatal care and record routine demographic changes.

So here is some evidence of PDAs being used in many other ways than just your glorified daily planner.

PDAs Continue to Have Slow Sales

According to an MSNBC article "Digital assistants continue to lose ground" the sales of PDA have dropped more than 8% so far this year. As a result major PDA makers such as Sony have nearly completed their exits from the market as smaller electronics makers have moved in and quickly gained market shares despite dropping profit margins.

The article says that PDA market continues to struggle to "evolve beyond its primary role as a PIM (personal information management) device." As more an more mobile phones are becoming more sophisticated and you have more "smart phones" able to handle some of the same things that PDAs do, people are less inclined to buy a PDA.

This is interesting news. IF less people are buying these things, what are the implications for libraries who provide services/programs/books for PDA's. Will this be something like the laser disc? It is hard to say. I hate to throw the baby out with the bathwater. But it is an interesting trend that deserves to be monitored.

Wednesday, October 27, 2004

Slick Deals on Computers for Libraries on a Budget

I have been tossing around as to whether to blog about this site that I religiously visit every day. Part of my spiritual surfing journey is for personal reasons and the other is for professional. The site I speak of is call SlickDeals.net.

They claim they are: "The most frequently updated and complete deal site on the web! We provide you with the day's hottest deals every day. We also have over 800 coupons for all your favorite online stores. Browse around and you're bound to save more than a few bucks!"

So what can you find on SlickDeals.net? I would venture to say that almost anything that is legal to sell on the internet, but mainly it has a lot of computer and techie stuff. Which is where libraries on a budget can benefit. If you are on a tight budget and you have a pretty savy systems or techie librarian, you can get some serious gadgets for less.

For example on such huge deal that was posted on SlickDeals.net and has expired was a tip that Dell had a $750 off coupon code if you bought $1500 on Inspiron Laptops (see deal). Other things such as flash drives, optical mice, DVDWR drives, memory, etc are all posted on their site with information as to how to get the posted deal.

Of course their are other non-techie things such as clothes, kids games, videos, and home products (that is where my personal interests start to peak), but for the most part you will primarily find techie sorts of things.

I have heard many libraries talk about buying used books from dealers, vendors, and even from Amazon.com in order to save a little bit of money. This site is the perfect area for small libraries who have some flexibility in purchasing on a tiny budget. If anything, it is fun to peruse and maybe you will find something "at this price I have gotta get it" kind of thing.

Tuesday, October 26, 2004

Electronic Journal Access and Customer Numbers

I just had a visit from our Swets rep. He informed me of the usual what is new with Swets stuff, then he asked me what I would like to see Swets provide. The previous day I was wrangling with several electronic journals and of course the first question they ask is, "What is your customer number?" So I asked my Swets rep if they (Swets) could provide the customer numbers for every journal in my subscription.

As anybody who deals with electronic journals would know the customer number is VERY important. You can not easily activate online access without this number and whenever you contact them they require your customer number "to better serve you." Now something this important and this crucial to online access would be put some place somewhat secure or they would mail it to you in a separate letter. Noooooooo. This little booger is on the stupid mailing label that is either attached the journal itself or the packaging. So you have to hunt down the actual journal or its wrapper (that gets thrown in the trash most of the time) to activate online access.

Compared to large academic institutions we are a small library, but compared to medical/hospital libraries we are pretty large. Think about it would you like to hunt down approximately 800 titles (what we currently own in print) to get the customer number just to determine online access is available or to activate it. I don't think so.

So that is why I asked our Swets rep for Swets to include such information. He responded by saying that Swets has that information and that it is labeled as the Swets number. Well guess what he is wrong, the Swets number is not the journal customer number (I checked). Now again I ask you... Is it so hard for somebody like a subscription agent to have the customer numbers for the journals?!?!

Monday, October 25, 2004

Firewalls, Spyware, and Viruses...Oh My

I sat down today to read MSNBC.com as I usually do every weekday morning. Basically I scan through the top headlines and then any health stories. You wouldn't believe how reading their front page Health Section has saved my butt sometimes on the reference desk when a doctor is trying to find out about a new study (not yet released of course) that was just reported on mainstream news.

Anyway the article, "Online users not safe as they think" caught my eye. I clicked on it thinking that it would be something about naive users and phishing or some simple tips I could send my to my parents who have some limited computer skills but always like to learn. Instead it was a pretty good article about how most internet users are completely naked while surfing the net. No I don't mean literally they are naked...that is a whole different set of online users that I don't want to get to involved with. What I mean is that the majority of online users have no firewall on the computer, outdated virus software, and tons of spyware hanging out and running on their computers.

The study is being released by American Online and the National Cyber Security Alliance. It found that 77% of 326 adults were assured that they were protected from online threats (viruses, hackers, and spyware). So experts visited those same homes and examined the computers. What they found is that 2 out of 3 adults were using outdate antivirus software and had no type of protective firewall program. Spyware was found on 80% of the comptuers.
According the AOL spokesman the particpants were selected as a cross section of Internet users from 22 cities and towns by an independent market analysis organization.

Obviously there is clear confusion and a general lack of knowledge regarding people's home computers and Internet threats. In the article on person explains her frustration saying, “We don’t go in funny chat rooms, I don’t open funny mail. If it says ’hot girls,’ I delete it. We do everything in the right way, so how does stuff get in there?” She complained that she thought her commerical antivirus and firewall programs would protect her from all types of online threats, when most do not detect common types of spyware.

From this article you can obviously see that this is confusing and frustrating to most online users. I am interested in knowing how it is for us a librarians. How well do you think your computers are protected? Obviously there is probably two levels here. How well are your public pcs protected and how well are the staff machines protected. One could make the hypothesis that the public pcs might have more viruses and spyware than staff computers. But is that the case? It would be interesting to find out.

Thursday, October 21, 2004

AACR Journals Too Expensive for Online Access

Sigh, electronic journals will probably be the death of me or just drive me crazy.

I received a quote for online access to the AACR journals (American Association for Cancer Research journals) and just about choked on my lunch. It turns out that this organization has adopted the oh so lovely secretive pricing methodology. They base their price on the number of FTEs in the institution, whether we have a cancer center, a medical school, and many other factors. They juggle the numbers and come up with a price. In this case they quoted us over $10,000 for online access. Now to put this in comparison with other journals, that price is more expensive than we pay for JAMA and all 9 Archive Journals published by the American Medical Association. Not to knock the AACR journals, they are quality journals, but do they really think that they can price themselves above the American Medical Association's standard journals?!

Obviously there is no way we can pay for such an increase despite quality of the journal. Believe it or not I was feeling courageous and emailed the sale coordinator regarding his quote. I politely but firmly explained that I was concerned about the cost of the journal and how I felt it was too expensive when they look at other journals and their prices. Of course what I really wanted to say was, "Are you out of your frelling mind! Do you if we don't get your product we are going to tell all our cancer researchers it is because of your unfair pricing. We will encourage them express their anger at such outrageous pricing methods." But alas I did not. Again I wanted a somewhat healthy dialog.

This is a snippet of his response...
"Because our site license pricing is based on the information you had sent us and cross referenced with other site licenses we have negotiated, it is difficult for us to move the price quoted and still remain consistent and fair to all of our institutions. We can look for unique opportunities to add value to your site license so that we can expand your access while remaining fair to your budget. "

My thought...
Hmm maybe your pricing structures are just plain not fair and shouldn't be applied to any institution let alone our or the ones currently subscribing.

Will there ever be something simple in electronic journals? Hmm maybe when librarians are paid what they are worth.


Wednesday, October 20, 2004

Impact Factors...Too Much Importance?

There is an electronic discussion/article in BMJ on impact factors and whether the scientific community should get rid of them and if so what should be used in their place.

The discussion is entitled Let's dump impact factors, BMJ 2004;329 (16 October), doi:10.1136.

It is a lively discussion and it is definite conundrum. How does one measure publishing success without hurting academia or scientific research?

Because the effects the publishing community it effects libraries as well. I can't tell you how many times I have gone to a journal's web site to be greated with their impact factor in bold letters, sometimes more prominent than the titles of articles listed. Addtionally there is a big brew ha ha over open access journals and their impact factors.

I find this debate interesting and I thought I would share it with all of you.

Monday, October 18, 2004

Farscape Library Project

Ok I am going to move off of technology aspect for this blog today and focus on a library project organized to try build awareness of a scifi program.

A little background:
A tv series called Farscape used to run on the SciFi channel. Farscape first debuted in 1999 and ran four seasons. Its scifi scripts were sprinkled with humor, character development, and tension. Although the SciFi channel signed a contract giving the series a fifth season, it was abruptly canceled in 2002. Despite numerous awards and praise from critics, network executives cited raiseing costs and lower ratings as a reason to cancel the show.

Fans of the cancelled show started a grassroots campaign aimed at bringing the show back to tv. SaveFarscape.com was born. One of the many things that fans did was try to attract other people to the show and to build on the number of Farscape fans. One such project was the Farscape Library Project. Through donations and fundraising they are giving libraries DVDs and videos of the tv season episodes.

I thought this was a neat. Not only does is it a chance for fans to try to get an even larger fan base for a show, but I am wondering if there is a benefit to libraries. I personally believe so because I am a fan of the show and I think it is a quality show that would do well in a library's scifi video collection. I think it is no different than somebody donating a set of videos (or DVDs) of Sex in the City or The Sopranos.

But since I am in medical library and Farscape is not of a really considered a body of medical information, I have not had any direct evidence or knowlege of how this is received within public libraries. I did do a search in Cleveland Public Library's catalog, Cuyahoga Public Library's catalog, and Lakewood Public Library's catalog (my local public libraries). Of the three libraries, Cleveland Public had the most copies of videos and DVDs. Just from browsing it seems that these are popular in all three libraries, the majority of items are either checked out or on hold.

I am just wonder if there are public librarians out there who have experience anything positive or negative or anything at all from the Farscape Library Project. Could it be that the videos are just particularily popular right now since Farscape: The PeaceKeeper Wars mini series recently aired? I just was curious. I am also curious if there are any types of book or video drives similar to this where fans are giving these kind of donations to libraries.

Friday, October 15, 2004

CD Burners in Libraries

We are about to replace our public computers. They are 5 years old and VERY ready to be replaced. Our new computers will have USB ports in the front so that our users who are armed and dangerous with the pen drives can easily acess the port. Currently these users must hunt around the back of the computer for the USB port. Usually they do this when they have just finished a 30 page paper and haven't saved a single word of it. They yank the hard drive around to get access to the back and then they shreik in utter terror as the power cord falls out because they yanked the computer too hard.

The other big thing these computers will have are CD Burners. There is a big question bouncing around our library as to whether this is a good idea or not. The big concern is whether people will be downloading and copying software. Recently we have had quite a few people who now save things to their CD-RWs, such as PowerPoint presentations, Word documents, large spreadsheets, etc. These are legitimate uses.

We are still debating this issue, and will likely come up with some policy regarding this issue. I will share it when we do. In the mean time, I would like to know what your library is doing with CD Burners.

Wednesday, October 13, 2004

Images.MD

Sorry I haven't posted in a while, the systems librarian and I are working on our server and various problems. I replaced the tape drive Friday and we were able to do back ups for the weekend then all of a sudden on Monday it failed. What was the point of me replacing our broken tape drive when they sent us crappy refurbished one that would work better as a paper weight? Oh well that is not the point of my posting, so I will get on with it.

Images.MD is a neat product for any health science library who has a lot of doctors who do a lot of presenting. It is also idea for any medical school. They have over 50,000 medical images from more than 90 collections and 2,000 contributors and each image is accompanied by detailed and informative text.
Images.MD allows you to supplement your lectures with quality medical images and diagrams on almost every medical topic (90 collections of topics in of clinical medicine). Images can be downloaded into PowerPoint presentations and can burned on CD.
For doctors or researchers worried about permissions, they have a permissions department for information about acquiring permissions for their images. If you have ever had to hunt through the web or various journals and books to find the "right" images, it is nice to have sort of one stop shopping area where you can find the image and then secure permissions if necessary.

I had a brief little demo and it truely covers a lot of medical topics and conditions. What is nice is that they have a fairly robust searching feature that allows you to find the type of images you are looking for. Anyone who has searched the internet knows that searching for images is quite tricky. I think this database does a nice job because it is strictly a medical database of images, therefore you do not get a lot of clutter images that you would normally find in some free image databases.

We have decided to add this image database for 2005. I will keep you updated on what sort of feedback we get from our users.

Wednesday, October 06, 2004

Swets Moving to Open URL and E-Journal Management

Swets Launches SwetsWise Linker, will be an OpenURL link resolver providing access to 9,000 e-journals and 500 e-journal aggregators and secondary databases. This little bit of news was just released September 28, 2004 on Swets site.

I would think this would work in conjunction with Swets new product called SwetsWise Title Bank. From what I can tell SwetsWise Title Bank is similar to Serials Solutions A to Z list.

This could be very interesting for us and other libraries who use Swets as their journal vendor. My question is how seamless will our holdings display in their products. I don't know about you but I still think Swets and other journal vendors are seriously behind the curve when it comes to electronic subscriptions. I am constantly noticing errors regarding ejournals. Also interesting is how Swets would handle large consortias. We are an OhioLINK library and we had major problems regarding Ovid's woeful handling of OhioLINK EJC articles and full text journals via other databases in their OpenURL resolver. Swets to woo us it would have to have a very very seamless transition from our ejournal holdings to their two products. Their two products Title Bank and Linker would have to be able to accomodate all of OhioLINK's full text electronic articles (EJC, Ebsco full text journals, Lexis Nexis, etc.) with minimal up keep on our end. I do not want to be told that I have to do EJC loads. I do not want to be told that I have manually imput all of the embargo dates. When you are talking about access to over 16,000 journal titles it has to be user friendly to us.

Currently we have Serials Solutions Article Linker and Serials Solutions A to Z List. So far we are extremely pleased with their products. So far it is minimal up keep and and very reliable. I also have found their customer service to be the best in database providers and in electronic journals.

Tuesday, October 05, 2004

Countway Library of Medicine Makes Some Big Electronic Changes

The Countway Library of Medicine is one of the largest medical libraries in the world. It serves the Harvard Medical School, Harvard School of Public Health, Harvard School of Dental Medicine, Boston Medical Library and the Massachusetts Medical Society.

Today I got an email from one of my lists mentioning Countway getting rid of MDConsult. Dropping MDConsult is pretty big news here in medical library land, but I think the bigger news is the Countway Library's entire news for the three months of July through September. Their news indicates a serious re-organization of electronic resources.
  • July 16, Countway cancelled their Ovid Medline.
  • August 5 they cancelled MDConsult.
  • August 9 they explained they have conducted a serials usage assessment.
  • September 19 will end their trial period (and not purchase) UpToDate.

I think this really goes to show that libraries are asked to provide more and more services for the same or less money. No library is immune. Some smaller less well known libraries are feeling the pinch and have to make similar decisions with different resouces.

At our library we started a similar but less controversial and less extensive re-organization of resources. As I mentioned in earlier blogs we eliminated 3/4 of our Ovid budget by cancelling our access to Ovid's Core Collections. Almost every journal in their Core Collections were duplicated in other provider collections or we had direct access to them. The only big journal we received online through Ovid that had no duplication was Science (embargoed 6 months). With the substantial Ovid savings we were able to afford Science (not embargoed). If you would have asked us 2 years ago for us to cut the Core Collections we would have thought the sky was falling, but technology has changed substantially in 2 years allowing us to get what we previously couldn't online.

We are not ready to pull the plug on MDConult. It is too popular right now. We too are unhappy with MDConsult's search interface, lack of PDF articles, etc. However, as we all know a lot can happen in 1-2 years. MDConsult either gets their act together or our physicians will be wooed by the next latest thing.

We have not cancelled UpToDate. While I think it is not an ideal product by any stretch of the imagination our physicians think it is the next best thing to sliced bread. So while it costs more than my two cars combined, at least it gets used.

Our library is in the midst of doing an extensive journal usage survey. We are at the beginning of studying print usage. We will then add electronic usage statistics to determine if there are any journals that we need to cancell the print but keep the electronic. We will also be starting a small library contact project. Our idea is to start with two departments within our library (that we already have good contacts with) and get journal user feedback from them.

I have told you a few of the things we are doing at our library, what are you doing at yours?

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The Krafty Librarian has been a medical librarian since 1998. She is currently the medical librarian for a hospital system in Ohio. You can email her at: