Monday, June 30, 2008

Thougts on EBSCO 2.0

I really like the look and feel of EBSCO 2.0. Here is a brief run down of the new features you will find in EBSCO 2.0.



REMEMBER: EBSCO 2.0 will go live sometime in July!


Please note: I have only been testing CINAHL in EBSCO 2.0. My original test search was Caffeine and Arrhythmia. I did a few different methods of searching. I searched using subject headings, text words, and the combining terms using the search history.

Search Results: They are displayed in the middle of the screen. Quick methods to narrow the results further are display in two frames on either side of the middle screen. The nice thing is that these side screens can be collapsed providing more screen space to view the results in the main center screen. On the left hand frame, users have the option to limit their results by Source Type, Subject, Subject Major Heading, Age, Gender, and Publication Type. I am a little confused as to the difference between Publication Type (which only has book chapter) and Source Type (which has Periodicals, Book/Monographs, and CEUs). Why have both, why aren't they all under one "type," either Source Type or Publication Type?



You can click on the small arrow on the frame border to collapse or expand (once collapsed) the frame. In order to see how the left hand frame performed I just searched for Arrhythmias as a subject term. I then narrowed my search down using only the options provided on the left hand frame. I was able to easily narrow it further to Females, 65+, and Heart Failure, Congestive. EBSCO 2.0 provides a link to more subject headings from the left frame. For example, Heart Failure Congestive was not listed as a subject on the left hand frame but I just clicked More and EBSCO 2.0 provided me with a list of a few more possible subject terms. Just like in the older version of EBSCO, if users have narrowed themselves too far by using the left hand frame, they can click on the breadcrumb links up at the top of the results to broaden the search again. However, in 2.0 users can now remove items from the breadcrumb trail by clicking on the "x" and if they want, users can start a whole new search using any of the terms listed in the breadcrumbs.



In the 2.0 version the right hand frame allows people to limit results to full text and references available. It is also the area where items in the save folder are displayed. I think this is a nice feature that allows you to see at a glance the titles of articles you have saved. But if it is distracting or takes up too much screen space, users can click on the frame arrow and collapse it. Searchers can click on the Search Options link to see the entire limiting options within CINAHL. The main search screen grays out and the limit screen is super imposed on top allowing the searcher to quickly select the desired limits.

Searching Itself: From what I can tell not much has changed between 2.0 and regular EBSCO. I am not a big fan of EBSCO's search interface. I think the confusion and problems come when users try and search using the Subject Terms. We have the default checked to automatically suggest subject terms because we think using subject terms in the medical databases (such as CINAHL) is a better way to start off searching. When searchers type in a term like arrhythmia it maps to suggested subject headings. Here is where it gets confusing. The searcher selects the term then must look up at the top and click Search Database. It is extremely easy to accidentally click Browse, I have done it myself quite a few times. Clicking Browse just retrieves and displays the same set of subject headings. To librarians we usually know we clicked the wrong button, to regular users it appears they just caught in a loop.

Search History: If a user has multiple searches and wants to combine them together, they will want to click on the Search History link which located just above the search results (similar location to where the Search History tab is in regular EBSCO). This is another area that still could use some improvement and can be confusing to users. EBSCO keeps the current search in the search box and it is still present in the box when users click on Search History. The user must delete the search strategy left in the search box when they are checking searches they wish to combine. If they don't, the checked boxes are combined with the left over search strategy causing some confusing results.

Viewing Search Results within Search History: In regular EBSCO when users clicked on view search results it exited the Search History area and displayed the results. In EBSCO 2.0 it stays within the Search History and displays the results below the Search History. This can be confusing because unless users pay attention they might just think they are caught in a loop constantly viewing the Search History. It is not immediately obvious that they must scroll down to view the results.



Viewing Search Results in general: The citation display in 2.0 seems to be a little easier to read and has a slightly cleaner look than regular EBSCO. I think this because citation's title is displayed on one line while the rest of the citation information is displayed below. It also appears that the title is in a slightly larger font than the rest of the citation. For the most part I never had any problems with regular EBSCO's citation display, but this seems to be nice subtle improvement.

My absolute favorite feature improvement is the ability to hover over the magnifying glass to see the abstract while still viewing the list of citation results. No more clicking the title to see the abstract then clicking again to get back to the results list. Simply hover over the magnifying glass next to each citation and a bubble pops up with the abstract, then if the searcher is interested in the full text they can click on the buttons within the bubble to add it to the folder or view the PDF.



Easier Bookmarking: In regular EBSCO searchers could see the persistent URL at the bottom of the citation but now EBSCO 2.0 makes it easier bookmark citations by providing direct linking to a whole slew of bookmarking services such as del.ici.ous, furl, digg, etc. Articles, searches and publications can all be bookmarked.



Other features: The following features are not yet available in CINAHL and MEDLINE or are not as noticeable.



Image Quick View (IQV) - The thumbnail of the image(s) in articles can be found below the citation on the results list. These images can be pictures, illustrations, charts, and graphs. However, this option is only available with EBSCOhost journals with native PDF. All other full text journal articles with images will not have not IQV. While this is a nice way to handle images, I found that there just weren't a lot of results within CINAHL that included the IQV.



Date Slider: The date slider is not yet available for MEDLINE or CINAHL. When it is available it will be located in the frame on the right hand side. I tried using it in Academic Search Premier, it was ok, but I found it a lot easier just to type in the limiting dates beneath slider bar rather than sliding it to the desired range.



SmartText: SmartText searching is not yet available for MEDLINE or CINAHL. It allows the searcher to search any text from any article or document. Users paste a sentence, phrase, paragraph, or entire pages into the search box and will retrieve a relevant result list. I am not sure how much medical librarians will need this type of search. Perhaps if we have bits and pieces of the article we would be able to find the exact article. I thought this might be helpful for teachers or librarians investigating student plagiarism. I decided to try this method of searching in Academic Search Premier. I selected SmartText from the Advanced Search options and then I cut and paste in the box the sentence, "Cardiologists from Chicago report the case of a healthy 23-year old woman who was brought to the emergency room because of palpitations (a feeling of her heart racing) and chest tightness shortly after she drank GNC Speed Shot and a Mountain Dew soft drink. Her heart rate was dangerously high, and the doctors had to give her a medication to reduce it to normal."

I got 158,566 results (full text, 2005-2008) and the original article with that text was not listed as a top result, I couldn't find it, it was buried somewhere within those other articles. Over 100,000 citations is an awful lot to go through, especially when the simple search on caffeine produced a mere 821 citations (full text, 2005-2008). I am not so sure how SmartText is at all helpful to anybody.



Final Thoughts:

I like the overall look and feel of the new EBSCO 2.0. I think the display is cleaner and easier to navigate. I especially like hovering to view the abstract and the fact that bookmarking is easier.



I am still not a fan of EBSCO's search interface for medical or nursing searching. I think Ovid handles mapping much better and still has the best search interface (despite its quirks). If I could just attach Ovid's mapping and search interface with the rest of EBSCO 2.0's features and design, I would be a happy searching librarian.



I am confused as to how certain features like IQV, the Date Slider, SmartText would be helpful, relevant or needed by medical librarians searching the medical and nursing and allied health literature.

Don't forget to try EBSCO 2.0 out for yourself and read about the enhancements and changes. Tomorrow is July and EBSCO said it will release 2.0 sometime in July, so there is not much time left to play around before it goes live.

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Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Statistics: Why and What Do We Count AND Does It Matter?

We are all trying to show that the library and its resources are being used. Online usage statistics offer us a pretty direct and easy way to show how electronic resources are being used. Yet, people are using more than just the electronic resources in the library. Librarians are being asked more complex questions or are required to different jobs than they once were. Many librarians collect gate counts, circulation statistics, and tick marks at the reference desk to try to illustrate to the administration that the library is being used.


However, in a recent podcast from Thinking Out Loud, George Needham and Joan Frye Williams have an interesting discussion with Jennifer Baker, Director of St. Helena Public Library, regarding our collections of statistics. Specifically, are we actually measuring real things we do and how relevant are those numbers?

Monday, June 23, 2008

Start Planning for the MLA 2009 Annual Meeting

Believe it or not but it is not too early to start planning for MLA's 2009 Annual Meeting in Hawaii. They have sent out a Call for Participation, and a way to particpiate is to submit a paper or poster (submissions due October 6, 2008).

The meeting will be May 15-20, 2009. The meetings and the exhibits will be at the Hawaii Convention Center and the Conference Hotel Accomodation will be the Hilton Hawaiin Village.

For all of you who have to justify the "expense" of going outside of the continental United States, you might be interested to know that the conference hotel MLA room rate will be LESS than the cost of rooms were in Chicago.
The rates for are:
  • Garden View $199 plus tax
  • Partial Ocean View $216 plus tax
  • Ocean View $250.

Conference registration will be $430 for Super Inclusive, $405 for Inclusing, and $285 Conference only. (Early Registration)

If your institution allows you to go to the conference if it were within the 48 states, then perhaps you can justify it to your administration by explaining that you will spend no more than you did/would for the conference in Chicago.

For more information and to stay informed go to the MLA Hawaii Wiki. They have great information on what to in Oahu, Waikiki, and much more.

Congrats to David

Congratulations to blogger David Rothman and his wife Liz on their new baby boy.

Thursday, June 19, 2008

PubMed Frustrations

Yesterday PubMed went down. I am not a usual PubMed searcher. My MOC (Medline Of Choice) is Ovid, so I didn't notice the problem immediately. However, I began to field a number of calls from patrons regarding our full text journal links in PubMed not working. Two other librarians also started to notice some odd things occurring as well. Initially it appeared as if it was an issue specific to LinkOut and using Serials Solutions as the outside tool. Only after further investigation and a call to Serials Solutions support did we discover that it was a larger problem with PubMed. Apparently PubMed's servers went down at 1:00am that morning.


As usual the the emails started coming in from Medlib-l regarding PubMed. Librarians from different areas of the United States asking about the health status of PubMed as they too noticed it doing funky things. There was a brief discussion and some questions raised on Twitter Medlibs about what to do if PubMed goes down and you don't have access to Ovid. What do you do, where do you send patrons? Would third party tools work?

PubMed is free. PubMed is available to all. When it goes down, it is felt by a great many people. That is why it absolutely puzzles me to no end that PubMed can't even send out an email or post a note on their site that they are having difficulties. A simple note so that the various people around the world know that it is not their library, their institution, or their searching skills, that are causing the problem. Remember in order for us to find out it was a PubMed problem not our problem or our outside tool problem, a second party (in this case Serials Solutions) had to tell us. We are a medical library, we should be informed. We shouldn't have to find out from another company or ask other librarians via email whether it is working. There should be an obvious note on the site when there is an outage or if there are problems.

Yesterday, problems surfaced because of server malfunctions, an unplanned event. However, how many times has PubMed changed something internally and librarians were left scrambling to figure out why their settings changed, why their icons were no longer displaying, or other odd things? About 2 years ago at my previous job, I purposely held off activating the outside tool feature in PubMed for a while because at the time there were quite a few emails being sent regarding PubMed's problem handling of icons.

Just because PubMed is a free doesn't excuse their lack of communication. PubMed has become the premiere tool for many librarians, researchers, students, etc. to search the biomedical literature. They should notify their customers of outages.

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Wednesday, June 18, 2008

EBSCO 2.0 Beta Available

If you are an EBSCO customer you should know that EBSCO 2.0 is available in Beta to help users test drive and familiarize themselves with the new interface before it becomes official in July of 2008.


You can get to EBSCO 2.0 by clicking on the New Features links on the top right hand area EBSCOhost.


Here are some things you should know before you start to play with the new version.

  • Administrators will not have the ability to customize the interface settings during the EBSCOhost 2.0 BETA preview.
  • A few databases including the CINAHL and MEDLINE suites of databases will not have the date slider and SmartText Searching features available at the release of EBSCOhost 2.0. They do expect to have these features available on these databases soon.
  • Users are encouraged to try out the My EBSCOhost features in the EBSCOhost 2.0 BETA but current personal accounts will not be available.
  • Users are free to set up a new temporary account in the BETA version to store articles and set up alerts but any saved content will not be carried over to your current account. Additionally, any saved alerts will not run. When EBSCOhost 2.0 is released, your current My EBSCOhost account will work properly and your saved information will be available.
  • Because this BETA version is being hosted differently than the current EBSCOhost, users may experience some performance issues or possibly a temporary interruption as updates are made. This will not be the case when EBSCOhost 2.0 is released in July 2008.
  • Searches conducted in the preview site will not be logged in your institution's statistics.
If you don't have EBSCO but are still interested in the new features EBSCO 2.0 will have, you can go to EBSCO's Marketing site to view a Flash demo (10 min. run time, no audio), PowerPoint slides, descriptions of the new features and functionality, and a brochure.


Time for me to get in there and start kicking the tires. I love trying out new things.

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Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Trying To Get IT Buy-In

Yesterday Mark Funk posted a link on hls-list to the article, Getting Beyond the Blocks, that he wrote for the American Society of Association Executives summarizing various techniques one might use to try and get the IT department to loosen the reins on some of the things they are blocking. The article is targeted at association executives, but I think a lot of the techniques can be helpful for hospital librarians as they try to access blocked technologies.
Some people may read this as another Web 2.0 article, but I think it is important to read it as a technology article. There are librarians who are blocked by their IT department from doing some things such as posting web pages on the server, getting server for the library's ILS, or opening up a spot in the firewall for Illiad to work. Some of the principles in this article can also work for in these non-Web 2.0 situations.

Monday, June 16, 2008

The Online Patient Health Record, Does It Cause More Question Than Answers?

There has been some talk about online patient health records and how the patient can now be better informed and take better ownership of their health now that their health information is so easily available. However, does the ability to access the information make us better and more informed patients or does it have the potential to confuse us even more?


Last month my husband went to the doctor for a yearly physical. He had no health complaints, he felt healthy and fine. The doctor and he both thought it would be a good idea to do a few tests to establish a base line for the future. Many of those tests were done while he was there and the doctor provided him with feedback on how he fared. However, the blood test had to be sent to the lab and he had to wait for the results. The doctor mentioned that the nurse would call him with the results, but if he wanted to he could also sign up to access his health record online and see the results as well.


My husband is a web developer and viewing things online, whether it is his bank account, Netflix account, or his health records is right up his alley. He registered and activated his account and promptly forgot all about it until the nurse called and left a message on the phone to call back regarding his blood test. He got the message after work and after the doctor's office hours so he naturally went online to view his blood test. What he saw was a bunch of abbreviations and number values, all of which meant absolutely nothing to him.


His mother, mother in law, and his aunt are all nurses. His wife is a medical librarian. What does he do? Does he call the medical professionals in the family who might be able to help him? Nope. He goes online. Does he ask the information professional who lives with him about some good sites? Nope. He did what many people do, he Googled it. In his attempt to read the results he looked for what would be the normal values for his test. In the process he noticed that some of his numbers were slightly on the low side or the high side of "normal," and one or two numbers were "barely" on the wrong side of normal. He wanted to know what that meant and what could have caused him to fall outside of the normal range. Thus began his brief bout of cyberchondria.


He found every reason for each set of values from diet, weight gain/loss, hormones, to all sorts of illnesses. It was only after he spent a couple of hours on the computer did he mention to me that his blood test results were available online and that he was diagnosing himself. Feet propped up, beer in hand, he finally confided that he might as well call the nurse tomorrow to hear what she had to say because he couldn't make head or tails out the test results. He said if he looked any more at what the Web was telling him he would be convinced that his lab results said he was most likely going through menopause and suffered from dwarfism.


Sure enough the next day when he called the nurse she said his test results were normal and she answered all of his questions regarding what he thought were some slightly high/low numbers. For all purposes he was healthy and normal.


Not only was he normal physically, but I think he was more normal than you realize. According to the Pew Research Center, he did what 8 million other consumers did, he consulted Dr. Google. Unlike many other American consumers, he had three health care professionals in the family, yet he still chose to go online and do health research for a few hours rather than picking up a phone and calling nurse mom for a few minutes.


This made me sit back and think a little bit. Did having access to his online patient health record make my husband a better informed patient or did it just muddy the waters? In fellow medical librarian blogger, EagleDawg's post on the acronym craziness, she feels the big question is whether patients even really care about PHRs. She directs us to The Health Care Blog's post, Google Health and the PHR: Do Consumers Care?, which states "What’s missing from all of these conversations is the elephant in the room: Do consumers really care about having online personal health records?" Prior to his doctor's visit my husband didn't care about having access to his online medical record. I think if you asked him, it didn't even make it to the bottom of his list of priorities. However, when there was something on there that confused him, it certainly shot to the top. Not having patient educational resources available to explain the results just created more anxiety and work than if he didn't have online access and had to wait to call the nurse.


Which brings us back to EagleDawg's comment about medical librarians and the EMR/EHR/PHR, "I think medical librarians need to have an increased role in EMRs, EHRs & PHRs because I'm not convinced other entities are looking at things from the perspective of patients as more than sources of data and revenue. We are experienced not only in information organization, but in information-seeking behavior and consumer health literacy and I'm not hearing much about how these are being incorporated in PHRs or patient-accessible EMRs and EHRs." The EMR and PHR area is still very new. I think we are going to see some competitors dropping off or being absorbed in the following years. But, because it is a new area, it makes it even more important for designers as well as medical librarians and consumer health librarians to work together to provide a record that minimizes confusion and maximizes patient involvement and understanding. Access to quality patient education materials within the record is part of that equation. Doctors already complain about patients self diagnosing through Dr. Google, an online PHR without any patient ed. resources is just going to make it worse not better for the patient as well as the doctor.

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Friday, June 13, 2008

Working on a Electronic Resource Management Tool

I haven't posted a lot this week. These last few days at work I have been in training for the new Electronic Resource Management (ERM) tool that we purchased. I am cautiously in love. If we did/do everything right and if we are able to maintain it, our ERM tool will not only help provide us method to keep track of our electronic resources (goodbye multiple spreadsheets), but it will also provide greater connectivity to resources within our WebOPAC and allow us to do some nice usage statistic reports such as cost per use. We even have ideas about using it to help with the redesign of our library website.

Half the battle of an ERM is trying to populate the data. It is no coincidence that libraries with a lot resources are the ones that might benefit greatly from the use of an ERM tool. However it can be a real bear to try and add all of the data for all of the resources. That is where it is very helpful to have something that can give you the data in an easy to upload form. If you had to manually add every resource into your ERM it would take a long long time for it to be ready. I once heard somebody at a lecture who said that a majority of all of the ERMs bought today are not being used or used their full potential because populating the data is too time consuming. Unfortunately I can't remember where or when I heard this statement, but after spending the week working with our ERM I can see where people could easily become overwhelmed with amount of data.

Thankfully we were able to get a lot of our data from Serials Solutions and EBSCO. Using that information we were able to do a bulk upload and get a majority of the information into the system and get the product up and working. Without those two lists the three of us working on the ERM would still be trying to get the product off the ground. Now it isn't perfect, there is still a lot of cleaning up of records and we have to add some of the resources that we knew weren't in the bulk upload, but a large amount of work is already done. We can see the light at the end of the tunnel and it isn't a train.

I hope to keep you posted as time goes on about how we use the ERM and how it will help us manage resources and make purchasing decisions.

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

New iPhone and New Medical Applications

Yesterday Apple unveiled their new iPhone. Among some other new features, the phone will be 3G version and will offer full GPS. What I found to interesting is that Apple will be launching a App Store where iPod owners will be able to choose apps and download them straight to the device. One of the developers who will be listed in the App Store is Modality. Modality will be providing online medical textbooks for download on to the iPhone or the iTouch.


*Unfortunately for some reason Modality's Internet Explorer friendly web page is unavailable so the only way to visit and see their site is through Safari or Firefox. http://www.modalitylearning.com/



Here are the titles they plan on making available through the App Store:

  • Board Review Series Flash Cards: Gross Anatomy
  • Board Review Series Flash Cards: Microbiology
  • Board Review Series Flash Cards: Pathology
  • Board Review Series Flash Cards: Pharmacology
  • ECGs Made Easy Study Cards
  • Kinesiology Flash Cards
  • Medicine Recall
  • Mosby's iTerms Medical Terminology
  • Mosby's Review for the NCLEX Examination
  • Netter's Advanced Head and Neck
  • Netter's Anatomy
  • Netter's Musculoskeletal
  • Netter's Neuroscience
  • Occupational Therapy Exam Review
  • Pediatrics Recall
  • Pharmacology Flash Cards
  • A Review Cards for the NCLEX-RN Exam
  • Stedman's Medical Terminology Flash Cards
  • Surgical Recall
  • USMLE Step 1 Recall: Buzzwords for the Boards

You can view other iPhone medical applications physician uses at UBC Health Library Wiki.

Thursday, June 05, 2008

No Posts Friday or Monday

I will be going home to St. Louis briefly for the weekend to move a few items to Cleveland. Have a good weekend everybody.

PubMed Changes

"Have you noticed PubMed searches are retrieving more citations than you expected? Are stored My NCBI automatic updates including more than they did previously? Have you tried the beta version of Advanced Search in PubMed? NLM has introduced many new features to PubMed in recent weeks!" The Pacific Northwest Regional Medical Library news briefly describes PubMed's new automatic term mapping. The automatic term mapping now searching your term in All Fields which usually results in more retrieved citations. Of course this might also mean you will retreive more false hits as well.



Two other places you might look for information are:

NLM Technical Bulletin article -briefly describes automatic term mapping and includes images.

NLM’s presentation on PubMed - Webmeeting slides and audio from MLA 2008 Chicago

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Tuesday, June 03, 2008

Thinking About Twitter?

What is Twitter? I have mentioned it before, but in case you don't want to go looking through old posts I will quickly tell you that Twitter is a micro-blogger that allows users to send updates or "tweets" which are text-based posts, up to 140 characters long. Facebook's status is an example of a micro-blog. Pownce, Slandr, Tumblr are also micro-blogs. The rise in micro-blog popularity seems to stem not only from the social networky mindset of people but the rise in more web enabled and texting friendly phones. Older phones (such as mine) have miniscule little key pads that would give any actively texting 15 year old arthritis in a month. However, the iPhone, the various iclones, the Blackberry, as well as other new phones have integrated keyboards making texting a whole lot easier.

Recently there have been a few enterprising librarians exploring the usage of Twitter. At MLA 2008 a few librarians explored the concept of Twittering a conference. After the conference one the librarians then set up the medlibs group tweet for medical librarians interesting in Twittering. Less than a month old there are already 54 followers and 61 updates.

I have said a few times that I am not sure what exact benefit Twitter has for medical librarians, other than communicating with others. But I find it fun and interesting. It may not be for everyone, sometimes communicating in less than 140 characters is a little difficult. But if you are interested you might want to check it out and create an account. The first "person" you will want to "follow" is medlibs. That is the group of medical librarians who are posting medical library related tweets. If you are really up for exploring you might look for some medical librarians on Twitter and follow them as well. However, not everybody tweets about medical library stuff all the time. Even medical librarians have outside lives and some like to post tweets about that as well, so you might get pleasantly sucked in to more than just medical librarian "talk." However, if you are interested in just medical librarian talk, sticking with medlibs will be just fine for you.

A few things to note about Twitter before you go running off tweeting. Twitter can be buggy at times, hopefully they have fixed those issues. The Twitter page itself does not automatically update unless you hit the refresh button. If you want to do a direct message to somebody or post on the medlibs tweet you will want to type D medlibs then your message. Many people use a Twitter client such as twhirl (PC or Mac application), TwitterBerry (Blackberry application), PocketTweets (iPhone), Twitteresce (mobile phones) or many other different Twitter applications. These applications make Twitter a little easier (such as direct messaging) and more fun to use. Of course you don't need them, you can tweet away just going on to Twitter itself.

Just beware, Twitter can be addictive and in no time you might find yourself tweeting away.

Monday, June 02, 2008

NIH Manuscript Submission System

This seemed to be the buzz around many of the academic medical librarians this year at MLA. I have been interested in it and how it will impact my hospital (heavy research hospital) and how the library can help. Unfortunately, I never seemed to be at the right place at the right time to learn more about while I was in Chicago.

Never fear, it is available online. So if you missed it like I did, or if you went but need to refresh, check out https://webmeeting.nih.gov/p29108561/. If after watching the video you have more questions you might want to check out the Public Access Homepage, Submission Tutorials, FAQ on Public Access Policy and NIHMS, and the NIHMS Help Desk.

Many libraries have already added info pages on the NIH Manuscription Submission System. If you haven't done that yet you might check out the following web pages to see how these libraries have handled this. Note: This just a small list of libraries, there a lot of places that have done this.

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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: