Have a cool tool, website, article, or idea that you think other medical librarians could benefit from? The MLA Technology Advisory Committee (TAC) is working to help shape MLA’s social media presence by promoting and mentioning things that are useful to medical librarians. One idea was for people to share what things they find useful for their job and then we would mention it on MLA Facebook or other social networking venues. Basically create a crowd source resource that can be distributed to others.
Sharing your cool tools has never been easier. There are several ways you can do it.
- Tweet #mlatools with your favorite or newly discovered tool.
- Comment on my blog or EagleDawg’s blog and mention MLA Tool somewhere in the comment.
- Post on the MEDLIB-L email list and mention MLA Tool in the subject line.
Our hope is that we develop a repository tools, ideas, websites, etc. useful to medical librarians and we can profile them on our social sites for people to learn about and further discuss.
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A while ago I discussed the usefulness of third party apps like Hootsuite and TweetDeck for integrating Twitter into your workflow. Twitter apps like Hootsuite or TweetDeck vastly improve the social nature of Twitter. Due to their design they allow people to better participate and follow tweets and conversations than the website Twitter can. If you decide to use Twitter for professional communication I highly recommend finding a third party Twitter app like HootSuite or TweetDeck.
Catherine Voutier approached me shortly after my post, about using Twitter on Netvibes. I am a Netvibes user for my RSS feeds and while I know they have a Twitter integration, I always used the integration to share stories from my RSS feeds with people on Twitter. I had never considered using as I would TweetDeck or Hootsuite. I was intrigued, so I asked Catherine to write up something about her experiences and I repost it here.
Catherine’s Netvibes and Twitter:
I first came about Netvibes earlier this year when I took up the challenge of Library Day in the Life, hosted by Bobbie Newman. This biannual project captures the daily doings of librarians working in all sorts of information environments across the globe. Many social media tools are used and to keep track of them, Bobbie created a public Netvibes dashboard. Netvibes is a monitoring tool which can be used to capture social media updates, rerun search alerts in search engines, keep track of new videos in YouTube and other services, and it can even keep track of incoming emails from various accounts. I was redesigning the evidence section of the RMH library website and I had left the various RSS feeds and other alerting services til last. I hadn’t included videos at that stage either. What could I use to bring all of these together? I tried using Yahoo Pipes but various experiments were unsuccessful. Then I remembered Netvibes – perhaps that would work? So I created an account and made a public page. It was immediately populated with items which were not useful so I went about redesigning it. There are tabs across the top which cover individual social media tools: Twitter, Podcasts and Videos. To add a new page, click on the + on the top right. The tab will be highlighted and this is where you can choose layout. On the top left is a button which says ‘Add Content’ – this is where widgets and feeds are located. You can also add pages that are already populated by choosing topics. To select a widget, click on it and it will ask you if you want to add it. Once added to your dashboard, click on the wheel to edit content. You can easily move the content on the page around by click and drag.I then read Krafty’s post about using Twitter in everyday workflow and how she prefers to use third party software to read and send tweets. I thought – I wonder if I can use Netvibes to read Twitter conversations? I have a Twitter account but didn’t use it because of its clunky nature. I had to find instructions on how to do it but once I did, it was easy enough to replicate. This is how I did it: I made a basic page for myself and added a Twitter widget to bring up my own account. I then dragged and dropped Krafty’s name onto a blank section of the screen which brought up all her tweets. Krafty participates in a #medlibs chat on Twitter that has had some promotion and she participates and sometimes leads, so it was bound to be mentioned. Looking through Krafty’s tweets I found the #medlibs conversation link and dragged and dropped that onto an empty space on my dashboard – success!! Hooray! Now I can’t wait until the next live chat happens.Below is a snapshot of my still-to-be-completed Netvibes page:Catherine Voutier is the Clinical Librarian at the Royal Melbourne Hospital Health Sciences Library. http://www.netvibes.com/evidencedirect
Last Thursday we had a lively discussion about reference services, more specifically alternative reference. At first we had a little discussion about the definition of alternative reference and what really is alternative. Is eliminating the reference desk alternative? Is embedded librarianship a type of alternative reference. Lots of people discussed their ideas and I think the term alternative reference for this chat pretty much determined to be “anything outside what has been viewed as traditional roles for reference services” and included things people are doing different with reference.
(Please let me know if I misunderstood any tweets, I am using the transcript along with my memory to provide this brief synopsis.)
@Eagledawg mentioned how they used to have on call reference hours but have moved to chat based reference & consult appointments. She also mentioned how they are working on providing reference based on the READ scale http://t.co/dqhA3Vel.
Some like @CarolinaFan1982 has done such a great job extending his reference services outside of the traditional library that he cannot even be on Twitter without the nurses he serves asking him questions. But some like @hurstej find their users just aren’t interested in connecting/asking questions via social media.
Much discussion (at least to me) seem to center around abandoning the reference desk and going to something like office hours, consultation services, etc. There were a few of us like @blevinsa and me who spoke up about doing reference (as well as other things) at our single service desk.
@BerrymanD and I had a very lively discussion about the importance of the reference desk. I believe in my institution it is still very important. In his institution it is not used as much. During the discussion I often referred to the reference desk at our institution. That was sort of misleading. We have a single service desk from where patrons can ask reference questions, check out a book, or ask for the bathroom. In my institution we all call it the reference desk. I don’t think we ever considered it anything more or less than a reference desk. So part of the reason our desk is so busy is that it is the ONLY desk in the library you can ask questions or get service from. I think if we had a reference desk and circulation desk our reference desk would be slow.
It was also mentioned that reference is reference and one doesn’t need a desk to provide it. That brought up the topic of roving reference and whether anybody was doing that with mobile devices, which would make that ideal.
All in all it was a great discussion. Very interesting. I admit I got a bit too focused on the reference desk part of the discussion. I have a lot thoughts and opinions on the benefits of having a single service desk and every library staff member staffing it at times. I think that makes an excellent post for next week. So sometime next week I will write about the things I see at our single service desk and why I think it works for us.
In the mean time, don’t forget about tonight’s #medlibs chat 9pm est. It is on embedded librarianship. I hope to see you online. If you are new, don’t sweat it, just say hi and lurk for a bit. We are a great group and willing to help you out if you are hesitant with the technology.Share on Facebook
Last week I posted that Twitter can definitely be used as a form of professional communication. I mentioned how Twitter is just as important as email to me. I discuss library related things on Twitter just as much as I do via email.
How do I do this without it being a huge time committment? Personally I believe a lot of it boils down to the Twitter program I use. I use TweetDeck or Hootsuite. These two programs are very similar and are light years better than the regular Twitter page for everyday Twitter use.
TweetDeck is installed on a computer and can be an app on the iPhone or iPad. I use TweetDeck on my personal PC and really it is my preferrred Twitter program. However, it is a bit buggy my iPhone and iPad and since it must be installed I can’t use it on other PCs. So when I can’t use TweetDeck I use Hootsuite. Hootsuite lives on the web and doesn’t require installation. It also seems to work best with my mobile devices.
Many people like myself have their email program up and running in the background, so when they are working on something a small pop up box flashes on to the lower corner of their work screen. (Shown below)
TweetDeck does something similar in the top right of my screen.
This allows me to go about my daily work without having to switch between applications to try and view tweets or conversations. If the box pops up, I glance at it quickly to determine if I am interested or need to respond, which is exactly what I do with an email pop up. For me, this auto pop up feature has made TweetDeck as integrated in my work flow as email.
Hootsuite behaves a little differently, it doesn’t have a pop up box (which is the whole reason I LOVE TweetDeck) but it does have a little audio alert (much less annoying than TweetDeck) that tells me there was another tweet. (Always be considerate and where earbuds at work if you are going to have audio alerts.)
There are a whole host of features to TweetDeck and Hootsuite that making following groups of people and conversations easier and more effective than the plain old Twitter page. You can sort groups of people and topics into columns, making it easier to follow similar people (librarians) or topics (#medlibs). Below is my a picture of the columns I follow in TweetDeck and Hootsuite.
At first glance this looks like A LOT of information and tweets, but the important thing to know is that only my Home Feed is moving a lot and showing a lot of tweets. The other columns only show a tweet every once and a while.
The Home Feed are the tweets of everyone I follow that is why it is so active. It like view hundreds of chats all at one time. I don’t follow a ton of people so I still have my home feed viewable. Some people who follow thousands of people don’t have their home feed viewable at all. They choose to monitor conversations by creating columns based on people or topics.
The column with #medlibs is every tweet where somebody uses the hashtag #medlib, which has become the standard method about medical librarianship questions, issues, etc. In my TweetDeck image you can also see the column General Health Sci Tweets, this is an example of a column of people I follow. I created a list of people/companies that tweet on that subject. I have a General Health Sci list, Medical Librarians list, and Non Medical Librarians list. I usually always have the General Health Sci list going because that include librarians, doctors, vendors ets. The other lists I check once or twice a day just to see if anything interesting has been tweeted. Creating and lists and adding them as column is a great way to manage your twitter discussions if you follow a variety of different people and subjects.
I hid the DM (Direct Message) column, but that is a listing of all the people who private messaged me. The Mentions feed (@Me on TweetDeck) is a list of every tweet where somebody includes @Krafty in their post. This is very helpful if somebody asks a question and you don’t follow them, this feed will catch it and I can respond to them. It also helpful if a person mentions somebody in tweet because they often include their Twitter name. I use this method often when I am talking about vendor products.
Examples of this are:
- Widgets available for #OvidSP @WKHealthOvid
- Anybody know how to bold a word within the widget screen of libguides @SpringShare
Vendors monitor their @’s on Twitter and they respond quite quickly. I have gotten a quicker response posting on Twitter like this than I have on Medlib-l.
It sounds like a lot of work, but it is quite simple to create the columns because TweetDeck and Hootsuite feature column display. As I mentioned the Home feed is the fast moving active feed and I really don’t sit and stare at it the whole time. I really rely on the pop up box (in TweetDeck) to view things as they come. The other columns have tweets but usually those don’t come that often (at most 1 an hour) unless I am monitoring a very active discussion. For example the #medlibs column is often quiet with about 1-2 tweets an hour, but Thursdays at 9pm that column is very active because that is time when we have a #medlibs tweet chat.
People sometimes tell me that while Twitter is neat they find it hard to follow conversations and discussions. There are several ways to help make that easier. First, use the hashtag like #medlibs if you are tweeting about a topic or something that would be of interest to a group. Second, click on the conversation link that is displayed on TweetDeck. *Note this feature only works if there is a conversation. If it is a single tweet there obviously isn’t a conversation so the conversation link does not show.
Here are two screen shots of how you can follow converstations within TweetDeck and Hootsuite.
Viewing the conversation prevents me from having to scroll around and search for each individual tweet in the conversation thread.
There are several other features to both TweetDeck and Hootsuite that make using them far superior to the plain old Twitter page. I rarely go into the Twitter site because it lacks functionality for everyday use. There are other programs that you might find are better for your workflow. For me the pop up notification of TweetDeck is the most important feature for me, it allows me to do my regular job and just look at tweets as needed.
If you have tried to do Twitter for professional communication but you use it through Twitter’s site and it hasn’t gone well, try TweetDeck or Hootsuite. A perfect way to see if it fits into your work flow is to go to Twitter create an account (if you don’t have one) and then create a Hootsuite account or download TweetDeck. Use it for 1-2 weeks and experiment with it. Maybe it will work for you.
Finally, I know a lot of what I just wrote about can seem pretty technical and in depth for those new to Twitter. My advice is to take it slow, get your feet wet, experiment, and follow some great medical librarian twitters like me @krafty, Nikki Dettmar @eagledawg, PF Anderson @pfanderson, Eric Rumsey @ericrumsey, and Sally Gore @mandosally. We can help you along the way as you experiment.
A great way to experiment is to participate in the #medlibs chat every Thursday 9pm est. Tonight is “Free Range Thursday” where the topic is up for grabs and it can be on anything related to medical libraries. Still nervous about participating in a Twitter chat, here is a great article on The Chronicle, “How (and Why) to Participate in a Tweetchat” to get you started.Share on Facebook
Hopefully by now those of you on social media know that employers and other people looking to do work with you are looking at your presence on social media sites such as Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, etc.
I found an interesting article on Mashable social media traps that people should beware of. Believe it or not, the picture of you with alcohol (provided you aren’t doing your best Prince Harry in Vegas impersonation) isn’t as frowned upon as poor spelling. In fact four other things were worse (in recruiters eyes) than picture of you with a beer. Drug use, sexual posts/tweets, profanity, and poor spelling were worse than pictures of alchohol consumption.
Other things that are considered a negative are:
- Political posts/tweets
- Overly religious posts/tweets
- References to Burning Man festival (anybody have any idea as to why?)
So if they are snooping around, what do you want them to see besides a blank page with your picture, indicating you have locked everything down like Fort Knox? According to Mashable, recruiters want to see membership in professional organizations and volunteering/donating to charity. Obviously locking down certain content and making other content openly available is key and requires some careful attention to Facebook, Twitter, etc. security controls.
What I found to be the most interesting tidbit of information was one of the tips Mashable provided in this piece. It suggested that people should start including links to their LinkedIn, Facebook and Twitter profiles on their resume so that recruiters don’t accidentally mistake somebody else’s profile with yours. Huh…I never thought about that. I can see where that could be a big problem, especially with common names and in professions that aren’t as small and tightly knit as librarians.
In the past it has been all about locking your social network down so nobody except for those few approved people can see it. Now there are suggestions that not only do you unlock positive activities for all to view but you actually include your profile information to recruiters. Have we turned a corner in social media? Is it now assumed that everybody has a social media presence? Do those who don’t have one or have one so locked down that it isn’t easily viewed run the risk of being mistaken for somebody else or possibly hiding something?
What are your thoughts?Share on Facebook
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Last Thursday (August 30, 2012) the #medlibs chat on Twitter discussed issues around ebooks. The full transcript can be found here: http://bit.ly/O7yrh4
We had a few new people join us in the discussion and some lurked, and we were glad to have them. I want to thank everyone who participated, not only was it a great chat but you all made my job as moderator easy.
So what was discussed about ebooks?
- Findability – Most people reported this to be a big problem. Some are using libguides to direct people to subject books. Some are cataloging them. Others are doing web lists (either home grown or through EBSCO or Serials Solutions). It seems that many are doing a combination of approaches that are sort of piecemeal and as @mscully66 mentioned ”it’s inefficient as all get out!”
- Usability – There was a bit of a disagreement whether findability impacted usability or whether usability was its own issue. Some said if they can’t find it they can’t use it, while others like @RyloLH think “usability is it’s own issues.” Regardless of whether findability is a part of usability, everybody could agree that ebooks are not user friendly. Many mentioned the confusing packages like Dynamed/Skyscape, user confusion over single user licensing vs unlimited access, and inability to download. @CarolinaFan1982 believes the download process as usage barrier, he thinks the “download process needs to be more like it is for books I get from the pub. library, relatively easy”
- Portability and Devices -CarolinaFan1982′s tweet segued nice to ebook portability and devices. It seems the biggest issue was multiple platforms causing the problems. Patrons don’t know what book is on what platform and if it can be downloaded from that platform and if so in what format.
- PDA (Patron Demand Acquisition) – I erroneously labeled PDA as Purchase on Demand Access (what can I say it was 9:40pm and the Cleveland Browns were playing in the background.) Lots of people mentioned they were experimenting or beginning to start trials on PDA. I think the best tweet during this discussion was changing the name PDA to DDA. @jannabeth tweeted ”DDA = demand driven acquisition. We decided PDA had too many alternate meanings!” Many of us like using DDA instead of PDA.
- Usage – We finally discussed usage of ebooks. A few discussed getting the usage stats on packages but not individual titles. There was some interest in knowing the usage stats for individual titles within the larger packages.
All in all it was a very interesting discussion. I want to thank @eagledawg for giving me the opportunity to moderate, it wasn’t as scary as I thought it would be. I was just more nervous that I would forget so I set every reminder and alert possible so I could remember. In fact I became so engrossed in the discussion that I lost my husband for a brief period of time. Long story, but I found him again.
If participating in the #medlibs chats sounds interesting, we will be doing it again next Thursday 9/6 (and every Thursday) at 9pm est. Join us!Share on Facebook
Professional discourse can and does happen on Twitter. In fact, I find Twitter as important as email for work communication. I know, I can practically see your eyeballs rolling and the murmurs through the Internet as I type this. But it is true.
Years ago, I remember saying that I couldn’t think of a reason to be on Twitter. I didn’t say there wasn’t one, but at the time I just didn’t see any. Today it is a totally different story. I probably discuss librarian issues and ideas more often over Twitter than I do on Medlib-l. Yep you are reading that correctly.
In fact the 140 character limit doesn’t inhibit me at all. I am able to ask quick questions and have them answered fairly quickly. What kind of questions do I ask? Some of the same things I might ask on Medlib-l like:
- Is PubMed down?
- How do I bold a line in LibGuides?
- What other MeSh term can you think of to represent X?
I also make little comments about things I am encountering while I am at work or doing librarian stuff. Some of these things are just my comments while others are passing along helpful or interesting websites. Some recent examples are:
As you can see all of that stuff is related to librarianship. Doesn’t Twitter get all cluttered with junk about people’s cats, lunch, etc.? Yes and no. In fact, I do a little bit of off topic chatting…
I am not a robot, some of my life and personality filters through on Twitter just like it does on email. The key to Twitter is the you people follow. Follow other librarians (medical and non-medical), doctors, patient advocates, technology gurus, etc. Find the people who mainly tweet about professional items and your Twitter feed will mainly be about professional information that you can use. Yes there will be some personal bon mots that fly through, but that is life.
I have also found it HUGELY helpful to follow my vendors. Yep, I follow @SpringShare, @WKHealthOvid, @EBSCOInfoSvcs, @NEJMTeam, @ClinicalKey, @MDConsult, @MHMedical, etc. Not only do I find out about new things like I did the other day with Ovid…
But I have gotten pretty darn good tech support and responses from problems and complaints. Honestly I have gotten faster responses than I have ever gotten when I post on Medlib-l. @SpringShare has been very helpful and responded quickly whenever I mentioned I have a problem. @EBSCOInfoSvcs responded quickly when I was asking people about an A-Z quirk. @ClinicalKey responded very quickly when I brought up an issue regarding personal logins for PDFs.
Twitter isn’t for everyone but it isn’t just the realm of Charlie Sheen rants and lunch updates. It is a valid method of professional communication. The key is how you use it and how you integrate it in your workflow. Next week I will share how I have integrated it into my work flow so that it takes no more time out of my day than regular email. In the mean time, don’t forget about the #medlibs Thursday chats at 9pm est. which is a perfect example of professional Twitter communication. You are free to lurk and see what is going on. Any questions about Twitter #medlibs chat feel free to contact me.Share on Facebook
This week I will be moderating the medlibs Twitter discussion that will happen Thursday 8/30 at 9pm Eastern for 1 hour. (I hope I do as well as Nikki!)
Last week, we discussed and shared a link to the book, Rethinking the Reference Collection: Exploring Benchmarks and E-Book Availability. This week will look at ebooks a little more in depth and their use in general, not just the reference collection.
Some ideas for discussion can be:
- Findability -What are the best ways for patrons to find stuff? The catalog, A-Z lists, other?
- Usability – How easy are they for patrons to use?
- Usage – Are they getting used? What is appropriate usage stats?
- Portability and Devices – Where are people using them and on what devices?
- Patron Driven Acquisition (PDA) – Who is doing this and what are your results?
- Anything else that might be interesting
Anybody can join a medlibs chat, you don’t have to be a librarian, you just have to have an interest in the topic. For more information on how to join a Twitter chat using hashtags check out this guide created by the usual moderator Nikki Dettmar.
I look forward to see you online this Thursday. Even if you plan to lurk, please at least tweet us your name and where you are from (on Thursday at 9pm est.) so we can officially welcome you and answer any questions you might have.Share on Facebook
About a year ago NLM launched ReferencePoint Blog targeting health sciences library staff in the U.S. and abroad. The postings were intended to:
- Increase the awareness of NLM products and services available online and onsite.
- Inform the targeted audiences about health sciences resources outside of NLM.
- Promote dialogue and learning exchanges between NLM staff and staff at other libraries.
Well according the final post, “blog membership and participation” was lower than anticipated and “lacked dialogue among the viewership.”
Although the blog is gone, people can still find out about information from the Tech Bull, RMLs, NLM Social Media outlets, and from other libraries’ web and social media.
At first I misread the information about ReferencePointe Blog, I actually thought they were launching a new blog. It wasn’t until I re-read things did I realize they were ending the blog. I admit there is a lot that gets by me at times. But I had no idea that ReferenceBlog existed and I do try to keep on top of that sort of thing. It is sad that something that looked so promising failed, but I have to wonder what was done to promote it. I did a very quick unofficial poll in the Twittersphere asking medical librarians if they had ever heard of ReferencePointe Blog. I figured the librarians on Twitter are usually more in tune with blogs and social media and if something was out there maybe a few librarians might not know but the group as a whole would know about it. Most of the people who responded to my tweet said they had either never heard of ReferencePointe Blog or just learned about it very recently. One person who mentioned they knew of it said it was in her feed reader but she felt it unfortunately found its voice.
This brings up several very good points about blogs, social media, and communication.
- Market the hell out of your blog, Twitter account, Facebook, etc. If your many of social media techie librarians did not know about you, then you didn’t reach out in the right ways. Simply building a site or feed and hoping people will come or comment…those days are l-o-n-g gone. Regardless if you are making a blog for librarians or Twitter feed for doctors, you are competing against a whole slew of other social media things that are louder and potentially more interesting.
- You need a voice. Whether it is in 140 characters, a look/feeling on Facebook, or longer blog dialog. Without a specific voice, theme, presence…overall vibe if you will, users won’t identify with you and come back for more. It can take a while to find your voice, and possibly longer if you have several people who have to work together has one voice. But without a specific voice or vibe it is difficult for people to follow.
- Timeliness is EVERYTHING! The half life of a tweet is like 5 minutes. Obviously blogs have a little longer half life but you really need to keep posts, tweets, Facebook content centered around what is currently going on. For example in May 2012 PubMed changed Limits to Filters, a good post on a tricky search using Filters would have been great. Discussing the differences, pros and cons, etc. of search with Limits vs. Filters would be very helpful.
- Feeback is essential. Commenting, Re-tweeting, and wall posts must be open and easy. Creating a barrier such as having somebody login to comment, locking your Twitter feed, or preventing wall posts will drastically limit your readership’s interest in communicating and will effect your overall readership.
- Finally your numbers are only half of the picture. I would like to think that I am pretty popular blog among the medical library community. Yet I have only a few comments on my blog. I have even less well posts on my Facebook page (to be honest I don’t really market my FB page). I have a reasonable number of RTs, MTs, and @s on Twitter. But I am no KevinMD. However I bet his actual comments, RTs, MTs, etc. represent a very small fraction of his oodles and oodels of readers and followers. The numbers are only part of the story. I don’t begrudge anybody for shutting down based on poor numbers but you can’t use the numbers as your entire picture.
So in the end, I am sorry to see that a potentially good resource is gone. I hope that isn’t the end for people thinking of doing something similar.Share on Facebook
For the last several Thursdays, people interested in medical librarianship issues have gotten together on Twitter to discuss topics and voice their thoughts and opinions. It is an interesting bunch of people, not all are medical librarians, but all are interested in various aspects of medical information.
The discussion is every Thursday at 9pm est. It is rather informal as people are tweeting and following the discussion over a glass of wine, while getting kids to bed, or making dinner. But as informal as it is, it is also very interesting. There was a great discussion about take home points from the MLA meeting, escience and what it really means people, and a free range discussion about iPads, residents, etc. Nikki Dettmar has written a nice post with word cloud images detailing the last few chats. She also has a link to the chat transcripts.
So if you are interested, I invite you to hop on Twitter tomorrow at 9pm est and follow the hashtag #medlibs. Can’t make it this Thursday? No worries, we seem to be meeting on Twitter every Thursday. So try next week.Share on Facebook