Earlier this month the NLM Technical Bulletin reported that PubMed will soon be enhanced to include citations for books available on the NCBI Bookshelf. I checked today and the the first books added to PubMed, GeneReviews and Essentials of Glycobiology are in the database. Not only are the books as a whole in PubMed but citations for each chapter or section are also included. Each book in the NCBI bookshelf including their chapters will be added.
The PubMed display will be slightly different for the books and the bulletin does a great job of describing the changes. The changes are mainly related to the fact that it is displaying a book, not an article. As a result, links like “Related Articles” have been renamed to “Related Citations.”
Searching for books in PubMed is different, see the bulletin for best methods. It is important to note while searching for books or book chapters that they are NOT IN MEDLINE and WILL NOT have MeSH terms. I am extremely conflicted with this. I like the idea of having the NCBI bookshelf in PubMed but I think it creates a bigger problem. While we librarians know that PubMed is technically not MEDLINE, the idea is a difficult concept for normal users, especially when we library professionals often use the terms interchangeably. MEDLINE has been so entwined with PubMed and very few people see the difference. It is wrong, there is a difference, but go find a normal medical library user that knows this.
To have books from the NCBI bookshelf in PubMed but not MEDLINE is going to confuse the vast majority of users. Based on that, you would think I am not in favor of this new addition to PubMed. On the contrary, I think it is long overdue. Great the NCBI bookshelf is on PubMed, but what about all of the other books out there? Personally, I would love to see books from LocatorPlus added to PubMed. I think it is high time we have a medical literature database that covers articles as well as book chapters. But for that to be effective the books and the chapters should be indexed and added to the MEDLINE database.
I am forever telling people that books and book chapters (as well as published abstracts) are not in MEDLINE so searching PubMed won’t retrieve them. I am going to have to change my search help elevator speech, because this is no longer the case. There are now a few books in PubMed. The NCBI bookshelf is only a drop in the bucket of books published and having those books and no other books in PubMed, not even MEDLINE, muddies the waters.
I know the folks at NLM see this as a way to increase access to the NCBI bookshelf, but I just see it as another way librarians are not thinking of their users. If they were thinking of their users then they would start to add the LocatorPlus books into MEDLINE and index them so researchers can find them and request them from their libraries. I realize this is a huge undertaking but we need to start thinking like our users. Most of our users want information, and they want one place to find it.