Behind the Scenes: What is a SIG?

Here we go with another Behind the Scenes post, this one will be about SIGs.  

In my previous post I talked about Sections. SIGs and Sections often get confused with each other, perhaps because SIG information is on the Section Council website and Section Council represents SIGs via the Chair of the Section/SIG Review Committee.  SIGs stands for Special Interest Groups.  SIGs are “ad hoc groups open to all members of the association. SIGs range from a series of informal meetings on a specific, short-term issue to an established subgroup within an MLA section.” 

There are 21 SIGs in MLA (view list here).  SIGs “provide a forum for members with unique interests to identify and meet with others with similar interests without having to fulfill the governance requirements of Sections. SIGs are generally created as less formal and more flexible organizational units, with the advantages of fewer reporting and no minimum membership requirements.” IMHO think of a SIG as the light version of Section.

SIGs are less structured than Sections but offer MLA members with similar interests to get together and share information as a group.  Instead of a Chair, Past Chair, Chair Elect and Treasurer/Secretary, SIGs only have a convener or co-conveners who are the contact person(s) with MLA and who organize meetings and other activities.  Usually the convener submits the SIGs annual report to MLA. The SIGs annual report is much simpler than a Section’s annual resport.  Here is a sample Word Doc of a SIG annual report.

SIG members must be MLA members.  SIGs are not allowed to collect dues or do fundraising, therefore it is free to join a SIG.  That sounds great, but having no money might present problems when it comes to speakers, panels, and fundraising for MLA programs.  If a SIG needs to fundraise for a program then it needs to partner with a Section. Sections are allowed to have a treasury. 

SIG conveners can request a meeting room at the annual meeting.  They can have speakers or panels at their business meeting. But since they don’t have a treasury they cannot pay for speakers or panels.  Additionally, the speakers or panels will not be listed in detail in the formal annual meeting program. SIGs can sponsor a CE course or symposia for MLA CE. The proposals must be submitted 18-24 months before the annual meeting and must follow the established MLA procedures.

SIGs cannot be the only sponsor for an MLA annual meeting program.  They must partner with at least one Section if they wish to sponsor a program at MLA.  Sections, Chapters, and the NPC are the only groups that can sponsor MLA programs by themselves.  Usually Sections, Chapters, and the NPC look for co-sponsors for the MLA programs and SIGs can be co-sponsors. 

SIGs are great way to get involved with other librarians without the cost or the duties/requirements of Sections.  Many librarians are members of both SIGs and Sections.  When looking to get involved choose the SIG or Section that meets your needs. 

As always this Behind the Scenes post was created from information on MLA’s website and the Section Council website.  Understanding the various groups within MLA can get confusing and I hope by compiling the information into a series of posts it can help shed some light on the association.

Since the deadline to apply for an MLA Committee is fast approaching (October 31st) my next Behind the Scenes post will be on MLA Committees and how do you get on them.  Hintapply to join a committee it is a great way to get involved, to learn about MLA and meet people.

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1 comment - What do you think?  Posted by KraftyLibrarian - September 16, 2013 at 10:35 am

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What is the Biggest Thing in Medical Libraries

A few weeks ago over dinner and drinks my public librarian friend and I got into a very interesting and lively brainstorming discussion about the biggest “things” that have or will hit libraries. The conversation was all over the place.

Some of the things we discussed:

  • Budgets or Tax Proposals
  • Closing of libraries or space problems
  • Competition – Used to be book stores but who is it now?
  • Technology – 3D printers, Google Glass, ebooks, virtual reality
  • Outreach – embedded librarians, phone booth libraries, gas station out reach
  • Legislation – ACA, local issues, NIH, NSA spying
  • Staffing – Where is that giant hiring push?  Staff retire and aren’t replaced.

This discussion has been bouncing around in my head for a while and I keep thinking about the “things” (good or bad) that will affect specifically medical librarians and librarianship.

In your opinion what are the major things to to be hitting medical libraries in the near future?

Is it:

  • Afordable Care Act – Hospitals tightening budgets (and thus the library’s budget) in response to lower reimbursement
  • Meaningful Use – Promote the spread of EHRs to improve health care in the United States
  • Big Data – Its use in hospitals and biomedical research
  • Space – Change of library space from holding books to services? (Often means shrinking of library space)
  • Electronic resources- What isn’t available electronic these days!? Access and usage across devices and outside of the institution.
  • Employment – In response to some of the above instititutional issues, librarians are losing their jobs or are not being replaced as they retire or move to another position.
  • e-Science – Better known as just science within scientific community, but is heavy on the tech, data, and social side of things

I think all of those thing are going to make an impact on medical libraries. But if you had to narrow it down to one thing from the above list, or something I havne’t listed, what would be the biggest thing medical librarians must deal with on the horizon?

Please make it a discussion by commenting below and on Twitter #hittingmedlibs.

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8 comments - What do you think?  Posted by KraftyLibrarian - August 26, 2013 at 10:15 am

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The Journal App Wars

I have doctors asking about all four journal browsing apps; Docwise, Docphin, Read, and Browzine (click links for reviews on each app. The reviews were either done by me or guest librarians who had access to the app).  A few of the requesting doctors have used one of the above products, but it seems the vast majority of the doctors haven’t used any of the apps and are asking based on word of mouth. 

The four apps are very similar.  To me it is a bit like comparing PubMed vs Ovid Medline, both do the job well but differently.  You also have people who prefer one over the other.  One is free while the other is not. 

The biggest difference is that three of the apps show the abstracts and tables of contents to almost every medical journal known to man (I over exaggerate of course).  The full text is provided if the library/institution as a subscription to that journal.  However, there is no clear branding or explannation of what journals the library/instituion owns because Docwise, Docphin, and Read don’t know.   If a doctor views the table of contents for the Journal of Big Toe Science in Docwise, Docphin, or Read  (which is not owned by the library), the doctor is denied the full text.  Last time I checked, there was no clear message as to why they can’t get the full text. Docwise, Docphin, or Read didn’t say soemthing like, “Your library doesn’t subscribe to this journal therefore you can’t access the full text.” Docwise, Docphin, and Read do not know the library/institutions holding or access methods.

Browzine does know what the library/institution owns.  Because the library submits the list (with access methods) to Third Iron (the company that owns Browzine).  Browzine only shows those journals to doctors. There is no guessing as to whether it is available full text to the doctor.  If it is in Browzine, it should be available full text.

Let’s pretend that my hospital library provided proxy access to resources. (Most hospital libraries don’t have proxy servers to provide access to journals or other resources.)  I could have my pick of these apps to provide to my users.  My question for librarians is: Do I list all four apps and let them decide what they want?  I have a very strong feeling (based on 15 years of answering doctor’s library questions) that doctors are going to be complaining about Docwise, Docphin, or  Read not providing the full text.  After all, if the library recommended a product that connects users to the full text, shouldn’t everything be full text?

What do other libraries do?  Do you list all of the apps and let the users decide?  Do you worry that there might be confusion among the apps because they are so similar but slightly different? Do you worry that doctors might feel frustrated when they can’t get the full text? Would doctors even bother ordering the unavailable article (going outside of the app to do this) through the library? 

I appreciate your thoughts and comments. Because sometimes I feel with these journal apps I am being asked to pick between Coke and Pepsi, Ovid and PubMed.  I know the difference between them, but my users don’t. Does it matter?

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3 comments - What do you think?  Posted by KraftyLibrarian - August 20, 2013 at 12:22 pm

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Get MLA CE for Participating in #medlibs Chat

The #medlibs chat group will be hosting a five week series presented by the University of Massachusetts Medical School Lamar Soutter Library.

Here are the weekly chats:

  1. August 15th: Host: Donna Kafel Topic: e-Science portal
  2. August 22nd: Host: Kevin Read Topic:e-Science thesaurus
  3. August 29th: Host: Andrew Creamer Topic: New England Collaborative Data Management Curriculum
  4. Sept. 5: Host: Sally Gore Topic: Role of the informationist on research teams
  5. Sept. 12: Hosts: Lisa Palmer & Kate Thornhill Topic: Institutional repositoriesand open access

Discussing e-science issues on #medlibs is a great way to learn more about the topic, but the icing on the cake is that these chats have been approved for free (or near free at $5) MLA CE!

While this is a cool opportunity, there are rules for getting the CE. 

  1. No partial CE hours will be awarded.
  2. Participation is measured by at least 3 tweets during each #medlibs chat session as shown by the chat transcript discussion AND/OR a reflective summary paragraph about the chat transcript discussion posted as a comment to each week’s blog post at

In her post Nikki says that MLA pre-approved this e-science series for CE.  If there are costs they would go directly MLA according to their Discussion Group Program.  Nikki has graciously volunteered her time to be the convener for the program, verify participation,  administer evaluations, and issue the CE.

The CE may or may not be free. If it is not free, it will be extremely cheap. It will only cost $5! Whether the CE is free or $5 will be clarified soon by MLA and announced when known.

If there is a fee for the CE, please note the following:

  1. Participation will not be tracked or awarded to those who indicate they will only take it for free if a cost is required.
  2. PayPal will be used to collect funds if there is a cost for CE. The convener (Nikki Dettmar) will email all participants who have indicated they will pay a cost for CE with further instructions.
  3. If there is a cost for CE and you have not paid by the end of the series, no CE will be awarded. There will not be followup/reminder emails.

To learn more about the e-science series go to the #medlibs blog. To register for the CE go to this link.

What a great opportunity. Kudos to Nikki for all of her hard work coordinating this.  Thank you to the weekly hosts.  I have a lot to learn about e-science and I am going to sign up.

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Be the first to comment - What do you think?  Posted by KraftyLibrarian - August 14, 2013 at 10:19 am

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Behind the Scenes: MLA Sections

Here we go with another Behind the Scenes post, this one will be about Sections.  

In my previous post I said:

Chapters and Sections are different entities. If you belong to MLA you don’t not automatically belong to a Chapter or Section. You have to pay to be a member of a Chapter or Section.

Just because you belong to a Chapter it doesn’t mean you belong to a Section and vice versa. 

There are 22 Sections for MLA. They represent the varied areas of specialization of librarianship. Sections meet annually and share information during the year through informal networking and newsletters.  Some Sections like the Hospital Library Section have a lot of members and some Sections are smaller like the Dental Section.  A complete description of all the Sections can be found here.

Each Section has officers and committee chairs some of those positions can vary according to the Section. MLA provides a general bylaw model for Sections, and you can find each Section’s specific bylaws on their site.

Each Section has:

  • Chair (or President)
  • Past Chair (or Past President)
  • Chair Elect (or President Elect) 
  • Treasurer/Secretary

Terms of service for the Chair are usually three years, other positions terms of service may vary according to the Section.  The Chair Elect serves as the Chair when the he/she is unable to do so.  In most Sections the Chair Elect also serves as the programming chair for the next annual meeting.  For example at the 2013 meeting, the newly elected Section Chair Elects met and discussed the programming for 2014. They will continue to do the programming for the annual meeting after the meeting via email. 

The Chair presides over all meetings Section meetings and establishes the yearly goals of the Section, presents those to MLA (via report) and submits annual reports on the activities and goals of the Section. 

Just like Chapters, Sections have a Section Council which represents the Sections as a whole to the Board of Directors of MLA. The Past Chair serves as the Section representative on the MLA Section Council by attending the meetings of the Council.  

If it sounds like a lot, don’t worry because the good news is that Section Council has an online manual to help Chairs know what do to do while in office.  Additionally, you probably aren’t going to be joining a Section and becoming Chair right away, so if you get invovled you will have the opportunity to see how each person’s role works within the Section. 

I think joining a Section is a great way to get involved.  Picking a Section is a little bit like Goldilocks and the Three Bears.  I don’t mean to say that you are house crashing at the Section Chair’s home.  What I mean is that you may need to try a few out before you find a Section that fits “just right.”  Don’t be afraid to join a Section for free during the Shuffle years and often you can sign up to be a part of a Section’s listserv to see if you would like to join the Section.

I hope this helps clarify a bit about MLA Sections.  I hope to do a post soon on SIGs (which are not Sections).  Like my previous Behind the Scenes series of posts, all of the information is available online and really isn’t behind the any scene.  But since it is in different locations it can be difficult to find making it sometimes difficult to know what is going on. Everything I have written here is available and can be found on MLA’s website, Section websites, and Section  Council Website.  It is just a matter of finding the information and bringing it together. 

Please let me know if you there is any other subject that you think would be good for the Behind the Scenes series.

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3 comments - What do you think?  Posted by KraftyLibrarian - August 12, 2013 at 10:53 am

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Friday Fun: Taubman Library Blues Brothers?

I spent this last week getting caught up from my vacation.


I thought I would start off with a Friday Fun post to get me back into the blogging world after a very stressful week of trying not to turn into a lobster.

The twitterverse alerted me to this little video featuring our illustrious Past President of MLA, Jane Blumenthal.  I thought it was a creative way of telling people about Taubman Health Sciences Library moving the older books and journals to the Health Sciences Remote Storage Facility.

While the car that Jane and Paul use was certainly cool, nothing can eclipse the original Bluesmobile.  The outtakes are just as fun to watch as the polished video.  Well done.

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Be the first to comment - What do you think?  Posted by KraftyLibrarian - August 9, 2013 at 10:19 am

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Friday Fun: Why I Chose a Windows Phone

Below is a guest post from my husband about his Windows Phone.  A while back ago I asked him to write a post comparing the different phones he has had.  He the only person I know who has had an iPhone, Blackberry, Android and Windows phone and is not working for CNET or another technology review company.  He has used and lived with each of these phones at some period of time.  He started with the iPhone 3G then moved to the Android.  He had a Blackberry for work and now has a Galaxy S4 for his work phone.  He currently has a Windows Phone as his personal phone. 

He started out writing a big ol’ post comparing all of the platforms but realized lots of people have already done that, so why reinvent the wheel.  It was after some good natured teasing I gave him about his Windows phone that he decided to write his post about his phone. 

So enjoy your Friday Fun guest post and maybe it might get you thinking about a Windows phone.  I have to admit, as much as I tease him, he is right about the Office capabilities being a big plus.

My name is Mike and I am a Windows Phone user. 

Yes, I know.  There are actually some of us out there and believe it or not, we really do like it.  Alot. 

It was a long winding path to get here, over the iOS river and through the Android woods.  I won’t bore you with the details but I have had plenty of exposure to both of the major platforms through personal and work devices.  

 Using Apple products has always felt to me like I’m living in a subdivision with an overzealous homeowners’ assocation.  It’s very clean and everything works but God help me if I want to put up non-sactioned Christmas lights or change the flag on my mailbox.    

 I won’t even mention iTunes.  I’m still seeing a therapist over that.

 When I went to Android it was for the promise of the exact opposite of the iPhone experience.  Open, free, do whatever you want.  It was the Summer of Love all over again.

 But the more time I spent within that user interface, the jarring transitions from one app to another and the inconsistent overall delivery of the experience, it began to feel more and more that I had taken the brown acid and was in for a bad trip:

 The app quality and overall safety itself wasn’t exactly what I had in mind either.   Downloading something from the Google app store felt like the smartphone version of the Russian roulette scene from The Deerhunter.

 It was at my moment of greatest smartphone despair that I found myself at an AT&T store and face to face with a Nokia Lumia.  What do I have to lose?  I told my then five year old son to stand still and try and be quiet while I tried something.  While he went and did the total opposite of that I took the phone for a test drive.

I work for a software company so I have used countless numbers of different programs on different platforms over the course of my career.  The Windows Phone UI was one of the simplist, most intuitive I had ever used.  

 Even using one hand and half my brain to try and corral a kid who was going Dennis the Menace inside the store, I effortlessly moved through the interface.  I read (fake) e-mail and text messages, did a quick Google search and was even able to take a photo of my son hiding behind the Samsung Galaxy Note display (thanks to the dedicated camera button on the side).

 The more I used it and the more I read about it, it was like having the best of both worlds.  The live tiles and the Metro (Modern UI) interface gave every app a uniform sameness but yet there was a freedom to change and different ways to view and do things.  It was like the hippies had grown up, moved into the subdivision, and gotten rid of the rules but still kept their lawns mowed at a reasonable height.   

The first time I emailed myself a couple of Word documents and an Excel spreadsheet for a meeting and they opened without so much as a single glitch I almost cried.  

 Even the physical qualities were to my taste.  I like a little heft to my phone, something that doesn’t feel like it will  fly out of my hand as soon as I pull it out of my pocket.  For example, my two year old daughter’s pink barrettes feel sturdier than the Galaxy S4 I use for work.  

 I could go on and on (and maybe I will if the Krafty Librarian gets lazy and needs me to fill up more space).  If you find yourself in the smartphone doldrums like I was, I highly recommend you at least pick one up and give it a try.  

 Or you might just be happier like this:

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2 comments - What do you think?  Posted by KraftyLibrarian - July 26, 2013 at 10:34 am

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The Doctor’s Instagram

The app Figure 1 has been getting a lot of press recently.  I learned about it a few weeks ago but I am just now getting around to mentioning it here.

Figure 1 is being called the Instagram for doctors.  It is a crowdsourced  images database app.  The crowd happens to be doctors, and the images happen to be medical images.  The app is a collection of medical images submitted by doctors to share, collaborate and learn from.  Doctors are verified using their institutional email address.  The app takes patient privacy very seriously.  It has a face detection program that automatically blocks out the face in a submitted photo and it includes other editing tools to remove other identifying features.  A HIPPA authorization digital consent form is also included.  Patients click the agree button then sign screen/form.

You don’t have submit any images to benefit from the app according to their site. “First of all, you can still access the images that others are posting so that you can learn from them, use them as a reference for your own practice, or comment on them so that others can learn from you.”

David Ahn at iMedicalApps posted a great review describing the positives and negatives of this novel app.  He notes some of the limitations of the app are the indexing of the images and lack of identifying information.  Ahn discovered upon doing a search for heliotrope rash that the first seven results were “clearly not a heliotrope rash.” As librarians know, indexing images is tricky.  Ahn noted Figure 1  also pulls images from outside medical websites (non-user submitted images) and a link to the website instead of the submitter’s name is listed.  However the outside images have “no captions, markings, or even any clear diagnosis listed.”  Besides the obvious problems with lack of identifying information, Figure 1 displays user submitted images before web scraped images.  As Ahn illustrated with the heliotrope rash, this can cause problems because the correct image (scraped from the web) was buried below the 7 incorrect ones (user submitted ones).

Additionally, I find doctors not only want to see and share images, but they often want to include them in presentations and slides for teaching purposes.  Right now you can only share the images through the app.  Emailing a colleague an image gives them a simple email (below) requiring them to use Figure 1 to see the image.  Making it so Figure 1 images can be used in presentations would make this Instagram like app even more useful to doctors and medical professionals.


This is a very new app. It appears they launched in May 2013, so it isn’t surprising that there is some room for improvement.  I don’t know of any products or apps that are perfect 3 months from their launch.  Yet as of today, it is the 5th most downloaded app in the Medical category of iTunes and according the MedicalApps post, the app is outpacing Landy’s projections.  So, given its popularity I expect to see some improvements relatively soon.

What I found to be interesting was Dr. Landy describing to Ahn his reason for creating this app.

Dr. Landy wondered how he could quickly access a medical image database to assist in identifying new clinical pathologies. This question eventually led him to create Figure 1. Like many physicians, he was not satisfied with the paywalls of private medical image libraries or with Google Images’ lack of medical selectivity.

Furthermore, when it came to sharing medical images with his peers, he found e-mail inefficient, as images would often get drowned out amidst ballooning inboxes. As a result, he helped create Figure 1, a free, crowdsourced medical image sharing resource that is quickly and easily accessible for health care practitioners.

Finding good medical images has always been a booger, and Dr. Landy is right about the frustrations of pay walls.  I would extend it a bit further to say that not only is the paywall part is a barrier to finding medical images, but the siloed nature of these medical image sites is a massive barrier as well.  Even if somebody has paid for these medical image sites, there is no repository or online catalog of all the image packages bought from different companies.  That makes searching for images difficult even if you paid for them.

I am curious to see how Figure 1 evolves and what impact it will have on doctors finding images.  I am also curious to see how/if subscription companies with medical image silos might adapt as a result of apps like Figure 1.

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Be the first to comment - What do you think?  Posted by KraftyLibrarian - July 24, 2013 at 11:06 am

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Behind the Scenes: MLA Chapters, What Are They

There are a lot of people who are involved in MLA doing things, there are Section chairs, Committee chairs, Task Force chairs, Board Members, Presidents (new, current, past), Nominating Committee, etc.

Previously I wrote the post, Behind the Scenes: What is the MLA Nomintating Committe? detailing how the members of the Nominating Committee get to be on the Nominating Committee and that they are charged with picking the people to be on the ballot for Board Member and President to be voted on by the MLA membership.

Today I will tackle MLA Chapters:
I will write about Sections in future post but I want to first say Chapters and Sections are different entities. If you belong to MLA you don’t not automatically belong to a Chapter or Section. You have to pay to be a member of a Chapter or Section.

  • Here is a link describing Chapters in greater detail, click on the Chapter for your state to get an overview about it.
  • Here is a link describing the Sections in MLA, click on each Section to get an overview of each one.

I highly recommend being a member of your Chapter and/or a Section because they offer a great opportunity to become involved in the larger group of MLA.

Here is a rough break down of some of the leadership opportunities and positions within Chapters and Sections.  There are a lot of Chapters and Sections and some may have committees unique to their group so I am going to try describe things that are common to all.


There are 13 Chapters and they are organized as groups of states (Philadelphia Chapter being the exception) roughly similar to how the National Network of Libraries of Medicine is organized.  BUT the Chapters are NOT related to the NNLM system.  Just because your library belongs to an NNLM region does not mean you belong to a Chapter. Membership with NNLM does not equal membership with Chapters and vice versa. They are separate medical library groups that just happen to divvy up the members across the United States (and parts of Canada) in a similar way.

Home                  Map of the US showing regions
Image from Chapter Council’s website                      Image from NNLM’s website

Each Chapter has officers and committee chairs (can be found by clicking on the officers link for each chapter on MLA’s Chapter page) and some of the officers and chairs vary according to the Chapter.  I am going to stick with the positions that are common among all of the Chapters. Hopefully after reading this post you are encouraged to join your chapter and you can learn about the other leadership positions and opportunities to get involved that are specific to your Chapter.

Many of the chapters have more detailed information about their officers in their bylaws

In general each Chapter has:

  • Chair (or President)
  • Past Chair (or Past President)
  • Chair Elect (or President Elect) 
  • Treasurer
  • Secretary
    • Midwest Chapter is a little different than others and has two secretaries: Membership Secretary and Recording Secretary.
  • Representative to MLA Chapter Council
  • Alternate Representative to MLA Chapter Council

Terms of service for the Chair and the MLA Chapter Council Representative are three years, but it can vary with other positions (example: Secretary can range from 1-3 yrs depending on the Chapter).  

The South Central Chapter has a very good illustration of the overall organizational structure of a Chapter.

While the duties of the Chairs (elect, current, and past), Secretary, and Treasurer may vary somewhat by Chapter, it is pretty easy understand their overall raison d’etre.  The position of Chapter Council Representative may not be as well known by people unfamiliar with the Chapters. 

Chapter Council:

To understand the position of the Chapter Council Representative, I should probably quickly describe Chapter Council.

(from About Chapter Council)

The Chapter Council of the Medical Library Association is one of two councils serving in an advisory capacity to the Board of Directors of the Association. It promotes interchange among chapters, and, together with its counterpart, the Section Council, promotes interchange among sections and chapters and provides an opportunity for chapters to participate more directly in the governance of the Association through representation of their interests at the Board level. The Council also enables chapters to better define their role and function within the Association through participation in a coordinated, unified representative body.

Basically Chapter Council represents the Chapters as a whole to the Board of Directors of MLA.  Each Chapter has its own Chapter Council Representative who represents their Chapter to the Chapter Council.  (Click here for more specific information on “how” the Chapter Council Representative represents their Chapter.)  The Chair of Chapter Council then represents Chapter Council (which represents the Chapters) to the Board of Directors of MLA.

So here is how the thought of a regular Chapter member can get to the Board of Directors via Chapters.

Chapter Member thought > Chapter officers > Chapter Council Rep > Chapter Council > Chair of Chapter Council > Board of Directors

I hope this helps clarify a bit about MLA Chapters.  As I mentioned I will do a post in the future on Sections.  Liike my previous Behind the Scenes series of posts, all of the information is available online and really isn’t behind the any scene.  But since it is different locations it can be difficult to find making it sometimes difficult to know what is going on. Everything I have written here is available and can be found on MLA’s website, Chapter websites, Chapter Council Website, and the NNLM website.  It is just a matter of finding the information and bringing it together. 

Please let me know if you there is any other subject that you think would be could for the Behind the Scenes series.


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Brief Summary of Google Glass in Medicine

Google is letting several people “play” with Google Glass. I know of two people at my institution who are trying it out.  Since I don’t have Google Glass(es) and I don’t have a real need for them right now other than playing with them and obsessively worrying about breaking them (there is a reason I buy cheap sunglasses).  I thought I would summarize some of things the medical/technical people testing Glass have said. 

John Sharp at eHealth
John works at the Cleveland Clinic.  He had three days with Google Glass and his thoughts are:

  • Voice command takes some getting used to
  • Menu gets some getting used to
  • Nice to be hands free browsing, taking videos/photos -camera quality excellent
  • Possiblity for healthcare – Physicians receive alert on patients lab results via Glass
  • Network access for surfing is currently problematic. Need an available wireless network or an open network that does not require authentication. Alternative is to connect using your phone’s bluetooth (wifi) or  enable your phone as a wireless hotspot (dataplan!)
  • Messages are alerts are short and limited text to fit on tiny screen/glass
  • Permissions/privacy concerns because you don’t know somebody is filming using Glass

John Halamka at Life As a CIO
Chief Information Officer of Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center briefly describes Google Glass and how it works and lists 5 potential uses.

  • Google Glass basics: (He calls it basically an Android cell phone without the cellular transmitter.)
  • Can run Android apps (Krafty thought: Candy Crush andyone?)
  • Videos displayed at half HD resolution
  • Sound uses bone conduction only wearer can hear it (Krafty note: I am very familiar with this method, there is an underwater MP3 player that uses the same technology.)
  • Has motion sensitive accelerometer for gestural commands
  • Right temple is touch pad but also has microphone for voice commands
  • Battery lasts about a day

Potential uses:

  • Meaningful Use Stage 2 for hospitals- Screen shows picture of patient and medication on Glass to nurse who is about to administer the drug to ensure that she has correct patient and medication. (Krafty thought: The movie Terminator is coming to mind and I can imagine the the nurse “scanning the room” and it flashes on patient and does face recognition with ID bracelet confirmation then scans the barcode of the medication and gives a green screen if it is right or red screen if it is wrong. But according to this post facial recognition apps are currently banned.)
  • Clinical documentation – provide real time video of the patient/doctor encounter. 
  • Emergency Department Dashboards – ER doc puts on Google Glass and looks at patient and it does a “tricorder” like scan of patient providing vital signs, triage details, nurse documentation, lab results, etc. John states “At BIDMC, we hope to pilot such an application this year.”  (Krafty thought: Dude  that is the Terminator screen up display that I am thinking of.)
  • Decision Support – Google glass would retrieve the appropriate decision support for the patient in question and visually sees a decision tree that incorporates optimal doses of medications, the EKG of the patient, and vital signs. 
  • Alerts and Reminders – Communication, emails, phone calls, calendar, etc.  

Timothy Aungst and Iltifat Husain at iMedicalApps
I can’t tell from the post whether they tried one out or whether they were just coming up with usage scenarios.  They provides a lot of scenarios (too many to list here) so I just thought I would mention a few that I think stand out. There is also a lively discussion in the comments section.

  • EMS Responder at an accident has Google Glass on and transmits live stream to ER department status of patients and the traumas for each patient enabling the ER to better prepare for the patients upon arrival.
  • A cardiologist in a cath lab overlays the fluoroscopy as they perform a femoral catheterization for a patient with a recent myocardial infarct.
  • A physical therapist can see past sessions with a patient from previous recordings, overlaying their current range of motion, identifying changes as well as progression.
  • Any healthcare professional could walk up to a patient’s bed and instantly see all their vitals such as pulse, BP, O2 Sats, etc.

Dr. Rafael Grossmann @ZGJR Blog
Has several very interesting posts on his current use of Google Glass treatpatients. He is not only using it in medical scenarios but also with real patients.

There are a lot of people in library land writing posts about Google Glass and its potential impact on libraries.  I don’t know of a librarian who has tried them (if there is one let me know) and asside from iMedicalApps I chose to focus on those who have actually tried them.  A future post will look at the potential of Google Glass in libraries.



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2 comments - What do you think?  Posted by KraftyLibrarian - July 16, 2013 at 11:43 am

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