Your Cell Phone and Searching PubMed: Full Text May Not Work

Wow time flies when you are having fun, or staring at the screen of your cell phone.  Did you know it has been over 10 years since the first iPhone was released?

According to an article in Computerworld “Nine of 10 healthcare systems plan significant investments in smartphones and secure unified communications over the next 12-18 months.”  (April 4, 2018) More and more hospitals systems are providing cell phones to their care givers and integrating their usage into their workflow (access the EHR, lab results, pharmacy orders, etc.) The cell phone is the individual’s portable computer. An older (2013) report stated 74% of their surveyed physicians used a smartphone for professional purposes which included using diagnostic tools, drug information, and reading articles. Back in 2013 they stated the most often used app on a tablet was an app for medical journals/newspapers/magazines followed by diagnostic apps. In 2017 the Physicians Practice 2017 Tech Report, shows that reading journals on a mobile device is still very popular. In this survey it was the second most reported activity physicians did when using their smartphone at work.  Looking up drug information was first, reading articles was second and looking up diagnosis and treatment information was third. Of the responding physicians, 64% reported using mobile technologies for reading journals online (slide 12). The need to read articles on a mobile device has remained important to physicians over the years.

Not surprisingly medical libraries have been adapting to this for some time. Many libraries have optimized their websites to be more mobile friendly. Lots of libraries have web pages or libguides dedicated to mobile apps (just a few examples: HSLS University of Pittsburgh, Becker Medical Library Washington University, Health Sciences Library UNC) The demand for reading journal articles on mobile devices is big. Browzine and Read by QxMD are the two main apps for reading journal articles online.

Our patrons rely upon full text information being available. They want to access the full text of an article quickly and easily. Why do you think Sci-Hub got so popular? Science reported “many users can access the same papers through their libraries but turn to Sci-Hub instead – for convenience rather than necessity.” Given this information, it is important that access to the library’s full text article be easy to access when searching the literature databases, regardless of the device used. So it surprised me the other day when I was struggling to help a physician access the full text of an article when they were using PubMed on their cell phone. We tried everything, but it always resolved out to the publisher (not always the way we own the article). It did not use not our Outside Tool that we set up.  I even tried finding a way tap the link that says go to full website. No dice.  We could not access the library’s subscribed journal article in PubMed on the cell phone. Surely I was missing something obvious.  Surely NLM has figured out away in 2019 to connect physicians to their library’s full text collection while searching PubMed on their cell phone.

Well I was wrong. I reached out to NLM and a person from the MEDLARS Management Section responded they “don’t currently offer a way to populate library links (via Outside Tool or LinkOut for Libraries) on the mobile PubMed site. If the URL to the publisher happens to activate IP authentication on the publisher end, your users will get access via your subscription.” Basically that means IF your user is ON your IP range AND you get the article from the publisher (not via consortia, full text database, or other means) THEN your user can get access. That is not good. Even on campus, a lot of articles are inaccessible. Off campus…well nothing is available.

So what are other librarians suggesting to their patrons?  Our patrons use Browzine to keep current with their favorite journals and they love it. But what do you suggest for people who search for articles on a topic? Are you still encouraging them to use PubMed from the cell phone even though access to full text articles will be difficult and frustrating for them? Are you suggesting other sites or apps for searching MEDLINE? What about Ovid MEDLINE? Or is this question pointless because everyone searches Google, gets frustrated accessing the full text  and runs to Sci-Hub?

I am very interested in hearing other librarians’ thoughts on what mobile apps or mobile friendly sites they use to search MEDLINE that preserves the library full text linking. Leave a comment.


Wearable technologies in a library setting

Next time you are at the gym, take a look around! Look at the people on the treadmills, the elliptical or even in the bikes. How many of them are wearing wearable technologies, like the Fitbit, Jawbone’s Up or the Apple Watch.  Wearables are on the rise. Studies show that the markets for smart watches, smart glasses, personal health and fitness products will be worth USD 101.2 billion in 2018.

Wearables are not just for health tracking either. There are wearables that help companies track worker productivity (; perform 3d scanning ( and electronic glasses that help the blind (

Yet, librarians have not begun to explore how the power of the wearable can be harnessed for use in a library setting. Imagine sending data to your wearable or having your wearable scanned to checkout books.  How is your library preparing for wearables?  Stay current about wearable devices by following:



Quick & Dirty Way to Make a Library App

Recently I was talking with some medical librarians who mentioned that a lotl their medical students or residents want a library app for their phone or tablets.  These librarians are either solo librarians, librarians with no programming skills, or librarians who are institutions with some restrictive IT policies.  Basically they either don’t have the time, skills or permission to create an app for the library.

But there is a work around to this problem if you/they have an iOS or Android device.  Its a cheat because it isn’t a true app, but it does look like one on the phone’s screen.  Think of it more as a bookmarked page that looks like an app.

Follow these instructions:

Go to the web page you want to make as an “app” and then tap on the square with the arrow at the bottom of the phone screen.

LibraryApp 002


Tap “Add to Home Screen”

LibraryApp 001


Name it something short and descriptive and then tap Add.  Beware: long names get cut off.

LibraryApp 003


It appears as an app on your phone’s screen. Note the picture is of the web page you chose, so if it might be very white or boring looking. But hey it is on the phone.

LibraryApp 004

I don’t have an Android phone so I don’t have screen shots, but my coworker, Kim, gave me the instructions for Android users.

  1. Bookmark the page
  2. Go into Bookmarks menu
  3. Click and hold on the bookmark
  4. Choose “Add Shortcut to Home”

As I mentioned earlier, this isn’t a true app.  But I consider it a quick and dirty way of getting an app like presence on your patron’s devices.

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:

iPhone or Android: A Physician’s Perspective posted an interesting piece, “Physician’s 6 month perspective after switching from iPhone to Android” detailing the differences between the iPhone and the Android.  It is the third in a series about the the two devices. The first covers initial thoughts  and the second addresses hardware differences. This most recent post discusses the software differences between the two devices.

Michael Kerr assumed the iPhone would win this comparison hands down when it came to medical software availability.  However it wasn’t as quite of a landslide victory as originally expected.  Kerr compiled a list of daily “must have” apps and compared platform compatibility on a chart.  His chart demonstrated that many of his favorite medical apps were also available on Android and for approximately the same price.  Now, his favorite medical apps may not be your favorite medical apps, but I think it definitely shows that developers are not ignoring the Android.

Android fall short when it comes to very new apps and to what Kerr refers to as the ecosystem.  When Kerr compared platform compatibility with’s 2012 most innovative medical apps list, he found that most of those apps were only available on the iPhone.  It would seem that developers are first creating for the iPhone then developing for the Android.  Regarding the ecosystem, Kerr noted, “people have already invested money in Apple and iOS. Some medical apps are bloody expensive. As well as this, many of these apps are able to be installed onto iPads for the same purchase fee. Android doesn’t currently offer a tablet experience that can match an iPad as yet.”  So people who have had choosing an Android might have to buy all new apps if they had an iPhone or currently have/want an iPad.

Kerr’s post is very informative for doctors who have a choice as to what phone & tablet they can carry.  Doctors in BYOD hospitals can easily weigh the pros and cons of Android and iOS.  Doctors working at institutions which have established a specific operating system like iOS will not have much of an option when it comes to work devices, but may find this useful for their own personal devices if they want to carry two phones.

Switching from iPhone to Android: Doctor’s Perspective

Plenty of doctors are switching mobile devices.  I know the doctors at my institution are officially migrating from the Blackberry to the iPhone.  Androids are not available as institutional devices at my institution, but that doesn’t mean that others don’t have them. 

I documented my move from iPhone to Android and back to the iPhone in my “Friday Diary parts 1, 2, 3” and “An End to My Android and Virgin Mobile Experiment.” Personally, I didn’t like the Android as much as my iPhone.  But I can see if you started out with an Android and went to the iPhone you might feel the opposite of what I felt. 

In the latest installment of which is better, I thought I would list a few links to sites where people are trying one device over another. – Dr. Michael Kerr will be writing a series “A Doctors perspective of switching from iPhone to Android,” documenting his move from iPhone to Android and the medical perspective.  They tried this once before with Iltifat Husain at who said he would write more about medical apps on the Android from a physician’s perspective, but I haven’t found any further articles from Husain on this topic.  Cross our fingers Kerr will have some interesting information.

Mashable – Christina Warren wrote “Can Mashable’s Apple Fangirl Switch to the Lumia 920?” where she will be documenting her switch from an iPhone to the new Windows phone. 

Techlicious – “5 Things I Miss Most About Android” Suzanne Kantra details her switch from iPhone to Android, back to iPhone and realized she like the Android better.

My husband recently left is his Android and now has the Lumia 920 Windows phone.  So he has used Apple, Android and now Windows.  Perhaps I can get him to write a guest post about the differences and pros and cons of each device.  For me I learned my lesson I am sticking with my iPhone, and according to ComputerWorld, I’m not alone in my platform loyalty.

**Update** The Krafty Husband thought it was a great idea to write about his experiences on each platform.  So, look for a guest post from him sometime around Christmas.

You Don’t Need the iPhone 5

You don’t need to rush out and upgrade to an iPhone 5.  Now clearly over 2 million people probably don’t agree with this blog post, but hey why try and be popular. 😉  According to Chris Taylor’s Mashable Op-Ed piece, if you haven’t already joined the millions vying for an iPhone 5, you don’t have to. Chris gives two main reasons for not joining the herd, iOS6 and the S series. 

The new iOS6 will be available in a few days (September 19th) and it apparent is a “quantum leap forward” for Apple’s operating software.  It will included better social integration with Facebook and Twitter, a new Maps app providing turn by turn navigation (but no public transportation), and a “smarter” Siri. 

Chris brings up an interesting good point about the S seriews of iPhones.  “The S cycle, we can start to see after two of them, is where Apple tweaks the iPhone to perfection. Because the number isn’t changing, the company tends to add more features to justify your upgrade. ”  So by waiting for the iPhone 5S (which we assume is the next version) people get the upgraded device with the new “S” enhancements. 

For my husband and other non-iPhone people Chris thinks Android’s 4.1 OS (Jelly Bean) is far more powerful than Ice Cream Sandwich and he really likes Galaxy SIII, the Nexus and the HTC One X and the Windows Nokia Lumia 920. If you don’t have one of those phones and you are wondering when/if your Android will get Jelly Bean you should check out ComputerWorld’s Jelly Bean upgrade list. It is a huge list of almost every Android device and whether it is in the process of getting  or have already gotten the upgrade, expected to get the upgrade, or unlikely to get the upgrade.  (This is my big problem with Android devices, you never know if you are going to get the latest OS upgrade.  Just because you got an upgrade doesn’t mean you will when Key Lime Pie is available.) 

One of the reasons iPhone has started to become more popular with IT departments as RIM circles the drain is that there is little diversity within the iPhone world.  An iPhone is an iPhone, they all get an upgrade (unless you have an iPhone 3 or 3G then it is too old), they all have the same manufacturer and they all operate pretty much the same way.  The downfall of the Android was its diversity when our IT department tested them.  In an organization with 30 thousand employees, several thousand of which have a company phone, you need as little diversity as possible.  With BYOD (Bring Your Own Device) businesses. That is why some think the Windows devices with its “baked in cybersecurity goodness” might be poised to strike big among businesses.

What does this mean for medical libraries?  It means that we need to keep an eye on these things and think about our resources and how they work.  Can we design for every device? No that is why we need to look at web design not apps for our important systems.

My Loser Boyfriend: eBooks

As much as I love ebooks and technology, they are like a crummy loser boyfriend.  Full of ups and downs that take you on a roller coaster of emotions only leaving you to love them one minute and hate them the next.  Just like that loser boyfriend they have money issues and sometimes I find myself humming Joan Jett, “I Hate Myself For Loving You,” when dealing with them.


  • They are available whenever, wherever, and can’t be stolen, lost, or damaged.
  • Using ebooks I can provide information to patrons across the hospital at the time of need and they don’t have to come to the library.
  • Many ebooks can be updated more often than traditional print books.


  • The distribution of medical ebooks is STILL behind the public library model (and while the public library model isn’t that spectactular it runs circles around what we have). 
  • Publishers who require an ADDITIONAL logins if you are using a smart phone.  It is confusing to patrons, they don’t understand why they are being asked for a password when they are on the hospital network.  In this instance they don’t think of their phone any differently than a lap top. (ahem MDConsult/Elseveier)
  • Many ebooks are stuck in publisher silos, can’t be searched effectively.  No NORMAL person knows to go directly to StatRef to search, then AccessMedicine, then MDConsult, etc.  They just know they want a book on a topic and they want to type in the topic somewhere and be presented with a list of ALL the ebooks that has their topic.  Some librarians say…ah use the catalog.  Ptthbbb, ever try searching for a chapter topic or something else within the content of the book in the catalog?  It sucks.


  • Few companies have a few book titles that can be downloaded to a mobile device but they are way too expensive because we have to BUY the book and they don’t have a circulating model plan (ala public libraries).   Large publisher’s with books we need and pay lots of money for can’t be downloaded to any mobile device, they are web enabled…yeah patrons love hearing that. 
  • I get the idea that an online book is more expensive than in print because it can be viewed by many, but if one online title is a 1/3 of my book budget, I can’t buy it no matter how much I want to have it online.
  • We all are either scraping by on less budget or a flat budget while just trying to keep current library resources that keep getting more expensive. I have no flexibility to “try” your new product.  I don’t care if it is cool and it addresses a need, I can’t afford it.  The price might be reasonable or it might be whack-a-doodle but I still can’t afford it without dropping something.  My wish list is a mile long and it isn’t getting shorter with items that are reasonable (as well as whack-a-doodle) pricing. 

Right now we are all searching for the Mr. Right of ebooks.  Part of the difficulty is that Mr. Right for me might be Mr. Wrong for somebody else.  But our potential boyfriends (the publishers) need to step it up considerably if they want to be Mr. Right for any library because it seems many of us are unhappy and currently settling for Mr. Right Now.  

This what my patrons want (therefore this what I want):

  • eBook platforms that work on lap tops AND are downloadable to a mobile device (not web enabled to a mobile device).
    • We need the core chunk of titles that we are CURRENTLY buying from you, don’t increase the price so that one dinky little title is $2000 online and a established plain ol’ text (not a even a reference book) is $15,000.  That my friends, is whack-a-doodle pricing. We don’t buy online books like that now, making it “downloadable” at that price is not going to change our mind or our budget.
      • For example AccessMedicine, MDConsult, Ovid get your ebook platforms that we are already buying downloadable….now!
  • We are very open to the circulation model of ebooks.  Public libraries are doing it and our patrons seem to understand that concept. This is a nice alternative to buying the title and should be cheaper than buying the title.  Think of it as renting.
    • We need a collection of decent titles. Not a pittance of specialty books.  We need/want the Harrison’s, Hurst’s, DeVita’s, etc.  We need real titles, don’t shove your Big Toe Science book in there, unless we are podiatrists we don’t want them and won’t buy them.
  • Eliminate the artificial barriers for access.  We do a VERY good job of maintaining proper access to our online resources (becasue your license agreements require us).  We know better than you do who our patrons are and when to cut them off, so let us do our jobs and stop putting up extra logins while people are on network or proxied.  If our patrons get confused, they don’t use, if they don’t use we don’t buy. Plain and simple, extra loggins affect our usage stats (negatively) and we don’t buy or drop your stuff if our usage stats go down.  Remember we have wish list a mile long waiting for weakness in a product. 

Some day I hope that I am able to look back at ebooks like I do at my old loser boyfriends; a phase that I had to go through in order to meet Mr. Right.

Hostile Takeover of Your Phone

It used to be that computer viruses pretty much stayed in the realm of computers. Phones weren’t in that worrisome category yet.  Well time to start worrying a bit.  A recent demonstration at the RSA security conference showed how clicking/tapping a bad web link on your smartphone could give the hacker complete control of your phone.

Uh oh.

According to the article, How a Web Link Can Take Control of Your Phone, by Tom Simonite from Technology Review all it takes is a simple web link to take control over somebody’s cell phone. Simonite described how George Kurtz and colleagues from security company, CrowdStrike, were able to view all calls, texts, activate the microphone to listen, steal data, and the location of the cellphone. 

Kurtz and colleagues played out a scenario on stage that involved hacking a real, unmodified Android phone. Kurtz, playing the role of a busy investor at an industry event, received a text message claiming to be from his mobile carrier asking him to download an update to his phone’s software. When he clicked the link in that message, the phone’s browser crashed and the device rebooted. Once restarted, the device appeared unchanged, but a silent, malicious app had been installed that relayed all his phone calls and text messages to the attacker, who could also track his location on a map.

Basically it is kind of like what Reese and Finch do each episode in the TV show, Person of Interest. Now instead of pointing at the device to gain access the hackers send an email or text message.

While the attack happened using a phone using Google Android OS 2.2 version, it can happen to Android OS 2.3 and other devices, iPhone, iPad, BlackBerry, etc.  According Simonite, “WebKit, the browser component that was exploited, is also at the core of the Web browsers found in Apple’s iPhone and iPad devices, BlackBerry phones, and Google’s TV devices.”

Now this type of hack isn’t cheap but it isn’t outrageously cost prohibitive either, and it only took them a few weeks to do.  The article states they spent $1400 on the black market for information on the 14 known unpatched bugs in WebKit which allowed them to gain full “root” access to the phone and use it install a remote access tool.

This type of hack while a virus isn’t at the viral stage yet.  It still is at the level of attacking a specific individual’s phone not whole bunch of phones.  According to a CNET news article, “An attacker would have to know in advance what operating system the device was running and tailor the message, either SMS or e-mail, to that person to trick them into opening it up and acting on it. This could be particularly dangerous for high-profile targets, such as government officials and CEOs who have a lot to lose if their phone calls and data on their devices were compromised.”

While the average person probably isn’t going to be a victim of this, it is a good reminder that our cell phones are mini computers now and can be vulnerable. 


How Do I Generate Interest in QR Codes?

This project was to increase awareness our patron’s awareness of our e-book collection and I am worried I am going to going to become Sisyphus in the process.

E-books are hard for patrons to know about.  We still have a large group of users who peruse the stacks for books on a topic. 

Possible Solution:
Put the subject list of e-books within eyesight of those who browse the shelves.  Create a brightly colored message to be displayed on the shelves informing people of our ebooks and how to access them.

Ideal outcome:
Users will see the QR code and scan them with their smartphone to view a list of ebooks within that subject.  We are using to create the codes and track their usage. Users without smartphones will see the note and check the catalog for ebooks. 

Used bright yellow paper and old unbound journal holders.



Made multiple notices for each subject area depending on the size of print collection (area it spans on the shelves).



Distributed the notices through out the stacks within each subject area and spaced for maximum viewing opportunity.

QRs In Stacks

We haven’t invested anything into this project other bright yellow paper and my time.  We used the many unbound journal holders that we had left over from our print journal days to post the yellow paper and as place holder in the stacks.  Even the QR code generator and tracker is free.  The only thing that really wasn’t free was our e-books but we bought them long ago before QR codes were known to geeks. 

So while we haven’t invested anything in the project. We have a vested interest that our e-books get more usage.  This project is just another way to drive attention to them. 

Still, I am plagued by a persistent little voice in my head asking whether people will even bother to scan these codes.  Because according to the CNN Tech article, Why QR Codes Aren’t Catching On, “many people don’t understand what QR codes are or what to do with them.”  The article cites a study by Archival which found that while “80% of students owned a smartphone and had previously seen a QR code, only about 20% were able to successfully scan the example QR code they were shown. Furthermore, about 75% said they were unlikely to scan a QR code in the future.”  Even if people know what a QR code is and know how to scan it this Market Plan post says, Consumers Still Don’t Know What to do With QR Codes

I really want this project to work, but these articles suggest I have an uphill battle.  It is going to take a lot of promoting and educating to get this QR code thing moving. 

I have begun to post signs through out the library and strategically next to QR codes in the stacks (see the yellow code below the sign) promoting our e-books and the QR codes.



I finally got all of the yellow QR code signs in the stacks and the advertising signs up on Friday.  It is Monday and while I know I have a long way to go before I know if this project is boom or bust, I need to come up with some more educational and promotional ideas to get it off to the best possible start.  So I am asking you all in the library world to throw me some suggestions via your comments.  The suggestions won’t only help me, they will help others who are thinking of doing the same thing.