Medical Libraries

Does Using the Library Make you a Bad Doctor?

I can see why some people might think that by using the library you are saying you’re bad doctor. Because visiting the library means you are admitting you don’t know the answer. Some doctors are like that; they refuse my help because they won’t admit they don’t know or that they aren’t sure. But do you, as a patient, want that doctor?

Full Post at Closed Stacks:

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The Desk Setup: A Look At Librarian Computers

The Desk Setup

Like many technologists, I may have had some vague notion that librarians had something to contribute to discussions about information and metadata and standards and access, but my concept of what librarians did and what they knew probably had more to do with stereotypes and anecdote than on an understanding of reality. Which is a shame. Although in the last few years I think we’ve done a really good job of making clearer connections between libraries and technology, I don’t think anyone is surprised when librarians are omitted from discussions about and between prominent technologists, such as the one facilitated by the Setup. (Note: by “librarians” I mean anyone who works in, with, or for libraries. Hat tip to Eli Neiburger for saying what I’d been thinking, only less clearly, for some time before he said those words out loud.)

Operation Medical Libraries in War Torn Afghanistan

The New York Times reports on the growth of 'Operation Medical Libraries', an effort to restock Afghanistan’s hospitals, clinics and universities with medical textbooks. It began modestly in 2007 with a plea for books from a U.C.L.A. medical graduate serving in the Army and has since been embraced by 30 universities and hospitals, more than a dozen professional organizations and scores of individual doctors and nurses.

Nearly three decades of war and religious extremism have devastated medical libraries and crippled the educational system for doctors, nurses and other health professionals. Factions of the Taliban singled out medical texts for destruction, military medical personnel say, because anatomical depictions of the human body were considered blasphemous.

“They not only burned the books, but they sent monitors into the classroom to make sure there were no drawings of the human body on the blackboard,” said Valerie Walker, director of the Medical Alumni Association of UCLA.

By Ms. Walker’s estimate, 27,000 medical texts have reached Afghanistan through Operation Medical Libraries, but she adds that the number is probably much higher. Donors can contribute directly by visiting the project’s Web site, to find a military volunteer’s address, then shipping the books on their own.

Toronto's Sick Kids Hospital Loses Public Librarian

From The Star: Toronto Public Library is pulling its part-time librarian from the Reading Room at the Hospital for Sick Children.

"We’re worried, but we understand that Toronto Public Library has been hit with a budget that doesn’t allow them to continue their services across the city at the same level,” says Dr. Bruce Ferguson, the hospital’s director of community health systems. “The first thing we (will) do is talk about how we can maintain services for patients and families.”

Sick Kids is one of three Toronto hospitals losing its part-time library staff because of city budget constraints.

The reading room has a collection of 13,500 materials that includes books, CDs and curriculum material that supports schoolchildren from kindergarten to Grade 12. Some Toronto public board teachers work permanently in the hospital, holding classes for students of the psychiatric ward, epilepsy patients, and kids in the substance-abuse program. Teachers also school patients who are at the hospital for more than five days to ensure they don’t fall behind.

“The Toronto Public Library is an incredibly valuable contributor and we will miss that librarian,” said Ferguson. “But we will sit down with our partners and the woman’s auxiliary and volunteer services and figure out how they’ll cope without the part-time staff member.”

Health Encyclopedia from Drexel University College of Medicine

Drexel University College of Medicine's new Health Encyclopedia is a user-friendly guide that puts facts, photos and multimedia of more than 3,000 diseases and conditions at your fingertips. Click your way through causes, symptoms and treatment options. Make a doctor's appointment with our Find A Physician search.

Access: Drexel University College of Medicine's new Health Encyclopedia

Why We Must Ration Health Care

You have advanced kidney cancer. It will kill you, probably in the next year or two. A drug called Sutent slows the spread of the cancer and may give you an extra six months, but at a cost of $54,000. Is a few more months worth that much?

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Protesters Demand to be Heard about the Closing of the Rapid City Hospital Library

Follow up on a story we posted last week about the Rapid City Regional Hospital removing its librarian and closing its library (I like to think that maybe LISNews contributed to what LJ is calling the 'backlash'...)

Library Journal reports: Rapid City Regional Hospital (RCRD), SD, has ended public access to its medical library and fired its longtime medical librarian, provoking a negative reaction to the decision.

In response to a story in the Rapid City Journal June 9, some 70 people wrote about their displeasure with the hospital, bringing up salient points about the nature of libraries and librarians.

Unfortunately, closing libraries is an increasingly common occurrence in the private sector. But in this case, the public has been affected, and they’re making sure their displeasure is heard.

"A library is about INFORMATION, not about books," wrote one poster. "Librarians are skilled in helping people connect with the INFORMATION they need, AND they help to make the information accessible too," she continued.

Many posters made well-informed arguments for the profession. A past hospital employee wrote, "[Other hospitals] understand that the librarian is the key to making these electronic resources work, finding the best resources to buy, at the best prices, continuously teaching users and making the databases work well for the employees, doctors, and patients."

Hospital Librarian Replaced by Electronic Library After 24 Years

Medical librarian Pat Hamilton is out of a job on Friday as Rapid City Regional Hospital transitions to a self-help electronic medical library for internal use only.

For the past 24 years, Hamilton and her staff of volunteers offered medical library resources to doctors, hospital employees and medical, nursing and pharmacy students. The library's consumer health section also was available to the general public to do research on their medical conditions. Those materials have been donated to the Rapid City Public Library. The electronic library will no longer be available for public use.

Dr. Robert Allen, RCRH's vice president of medical affairs, said the library and its computer access will remain open for internal use, but it will be staffed partially by volunteers and by medical staff services personnel.

"With electronic advancements, health care facilities are increasingly moving to this type of library," Allen said in a statement. "Rapid City Regional Hospital will maintain some books and journals in its library."

The amount of money saved by the move is not known at this time, he said.

Library volunteer Joyce Herbst said: "They can put whatever spin they want on it, but brass tacks is that they're closing the library. I guess I just don't understand how you can take that resource away from a teaching hospital. How can it be a teaching hospital, without a resource library and someone to run it? I just think it's not a very smart thing to do."

Library Named after a Suicide Bomber

The Middle East Media Research Institute (MEMRI) has a recent article about a medical library named after a suicide bomber. Read more about it: <A HREF="">Library Named After Palestinian Suicide Bomber Wafa Idris Inaugurated at a Yemen Children's Hospital </A>

Progressive Librarians Guild Calls for Elsevier to End Corrupt Publishing Practices

Progressive Librarians Guild Calls for Elsevier to End Corrupt Publishing Practices and for Library Associations to Take Advocacy Role on Behalf of Scientific Integrity

Progressive Librarians Guild. May 12, 2009.
Drafted by Progressive Librarians Guild Coordinating Committee members and approved by the Progressive Librarians Guild
Coordinating Committee May 12, 2009.

A Medical Librarian With a Very Special Patient

A Rexburg (ID) woman who spends her days helping doctors, nurses, and patients is also using her skills to help one of the most important people in her life...her son.

Teresa Murdock has been working at Madison Memorial Hospital's medical librarian for the past fifteen years. Just three months ago, Murdock's 19-year-old son Chance was diagnosed with an extremely rare type of terminal cancer. Story and video from Idaho CBS affiliate.

LOC's Billington Presents at Yale

Technology can be used to heal both broken bones and cultural conflicts, James Billington, the 13th librarian of Congress, said Wednesday.

The Yale School of Medicine held the opening ceremony for the interactive exhibit “Medical Inventions and Innovations” in the school’s Harkness Auditorium yesterday afternoon. The ceremony coincided with the 60th annual lecture sponsored by the Cushing/Whitney Medical Library Associates, delivered by Billington.

Billington’s talk, titled “Freedom as Strategy: The Importance of an Ideal,” focused on the issues of globalization and intercultural understanding. More from the Yale Daily News.

More on the Popline Incident

From CBS News, here are details of how a librarian discovered the 'global gag rule' removing the word abortion from the Popline ("population information online" ) database.

Gloria Won, a librarian at the University of California, San Francisco Medical Center, was one of those who sent e-mails to POPLINE administrators after having trouble with searches.

Won got this response from POPLINE administrator Debra L. Dickson: "Yes, we did make a change to POPLINE. We recently made all abortion words stop words. As a federally funded project, we decided this was best for now."

A "stop word" is a word that a search engine ignores; typically they are common words such as "a," "the" and "is."

Loriene Roy, president of the American Library Association, applauded the actions of Dr. Michael J. Klag, the dean of the Bloomberg school, who ordered the word abortion restored to the db, saying the restriction denied "researchers, students and individuals on all sides of the issue access to accurate scientific information."

Health, Education and Informatics resource - website & blog

Originally created in the UK by Brian E Hodges (Ret.) at Manchester Metropolitan University - Hodges' Health Career - Care Domains - Model [h2cm] - can help map health, social care and OTHER issues, problems and solutions. The model takes a situated and multi-contextual view across four knowledge domains: * Interpersonal; * Sociological; * Empirical; * Political. Our links pages cover each care (knowledge) domain e.g.

A Protocol for Medical Web Surfing

From CNN's "Empowered Patient", this article lists a variety of websites that will help patients...and doctors...find treatment options.

It starts with screening out the junk: "It's the wild, wild West out there," says Alan Spielman, CEO of URAC, a company that certifies health Web sites. "You really have to be alert as you go through these sites."

To get rid of the junk, use a search engine that looks only at reputable sites that have been vetted by health professionals. Dirline, run by the National Library of Medicine, is one such engine, as are medlineplus and Imedix. Healthfinder searches for information on government health Web sites.


Opinion: Tackling Information Overload With Knowledge Navigators

As CIO at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, I oversee the medical libraries. These have always been clean, well-lighted places for books. But with the advent of Web 2.0 collaboration tools, blogging, content management portals, on-demand publishing and digital journals, libraries of paper books are becoming less relevant. By the time a book is printed, the knowledge it contains may be outdated. So, libraries need to become clean, well-lighted lounges for digital media staffed by expert knowledge navigators. In my institution, the librarians have thinned the book collection, migrated paper journals to digital media and indexed digital knowledge resources to support our search engine optimization efforts.

We’ve replaced the libraries with an information commons, and the Department of Medical Libraries has been retitled the Department of Knowledge Services. Librarians are now called information specialists. Here are a few examples of how they turn data into knowledge:

Full commentary here.

Researchers Who Won't Share

The New York Times published an interesting essay titled Cancer Data? Sorry, Can’t Have It about the difficulties in getting medical researchers, even government employees, to share their data, even though more freely shared information may save lives.

Topic:; Wikipedia of the Medical Profession

As we all know, one is not supposed to rely on medical advice found on the Internet; however, here is a source that most likely will find visitors among the general populace as well as medical professionals; Ask Dr. Wiki, a Wikipedia-style Web site started last March by two Cleveland Clinic doctors.

In this article from the Cleveland Plain Dealer medical librarian David Rothman says the site "has made great strides in the past eight months. It certainly is a safer source of medical information than it was," he wrote in an e-mail, adding that the site is still meant as a resource for medical professionals."


Health-E Illinois or How To Find a Doc in IL

Anthony Molaro writes "Thanks to federal funds that the National Library of Medicine provided to Loyola University Medical Center, locating the nearest healthcare services to your home in Illinois is about to become as effortless as a click of the mouse."


A Medical Publisher's Unusual Prescription: Online Ads

By some measures, the medical publishing world has met the advent of the Internet with a shrug, sticking to its time-honored revenue model of charging high subscription fees for specialized journals that often attract few, if any, advertisements.

But now Reed Elsevier, which publishes more than 400 medical and scientific journals, is trying an experiment that stands this model on its head. Over the weekend it introduced a Web portal,, that gives doctors free access to the latest articles from 100 of its own pricey medical journals and that plans to sell advertisements against the content.

Article in the New York Times continued here.



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