Wednesday, May 16, 2007


One of my weak spots as a solo librarian is outreach. By nature, I am an introvert, so it takes a lot of effort for me to put myself out there. When I do, I get a lot of positive feedback and, as a result, I feel really good about myself as a professional. I wish I could remember that when I'm stressing about sending that send button after finishing a newsletter! I have made a goal of sending out a very short newsletter via e-mail to my entire division once a month, which contains, typically, some type of tip, an interesting website, new tool, etc. Maybe 3 or 4 things total. Today I sent one that included basically an advertisement for myself, offering to set up search alerts for anyone interested (this isn't the first time I have offered this, but I haven't advertised it in a while) and have already gotten one response. I need to remember that we are ever-growing, and the newer faculty members aren't aware of what I can do for them!


I'm exploring RSS feeds for all the tables of contents I receive via e-mail (yes, I know, better late than never). Of the ones I've seen so far, most just have feeds for their current issue, but the American Journal of Roentgenology really has a sophisticated set of feeds. Not only do they have a feed for their current issue, they also have a feed for recent issues, as well as feeds for specific content areas, such as chest imaging, etc. Pretty cool!

Wednesday, May 9, 2007

Praise comes easy sometimes

It's funny how something that seems so clear to us never even occurs to those we serve. Take for instance my most recent reference question. A faculty member was looking for information on a particular grant. She had the grant number and a general idea what it was about but couldn't locate the description. Surprisingly, she had even already searched the NIH grants page. So, what do I do? Take the grant number, put it in quotes, and stick it in Google. Bam! First result was exactly what she was looking for. And I'm "AMAZING" for thinking of that. Yes, yes I am.

Thursday, April 26, 2007

Open access journals and citation counts

I just read a post on BoingBoing by Cory Doctorow about a blogger posting a portion of a figure from a scientific journal on her blog. This blogger is now being sued threatened by lawyers representing Wiley for copyright infringement. That, of course, is a whole topic in and of itself, but what I found interesting was a claim that Doctorow made that I'm not sure is true.

According to his post, scientists who publish in open access journals "get more citations and attention from their peers." Based on the impact factors I have seen for traditional medical journals as compared to open access journals in the same fields, this just isn't true. The impact factors for open access journals are rising as they become more popular (and trusted), but in my experience, researchers are still hesitant to stray from the tried and true. In many cases, tenure depends on how many articles you've published in "good" journals, and that "good" is determined by how high the impact factor is for that journal. Is this a good thing? I don't think so. Is it changing? I hope so, and I try to push open access journals as publishing options whenever asked my opinion.

Bloglines vs. Google Reader

Inspired by David Rothman's post yesterday, I decided to try out Google Reader. I'd been thinking about doing this, but seeing his easy instructions on how to import my feeds from Bloglines into Google Reader, I decided to take the plunge.

I wasn't sure at first, but I can say now that I definitely like Google Reader better, for one main reason. With Bloglines, if you click on a feed, it automatically marks all of the entries as read, even if you don't click through them all (at least, I've never found a way to keep it from doing this). Google Reader only marks an entry as read once you click on it. Considering that I read my feeds sporadically throughout the day and may not get through all of the entries for a particular blog in one sitting (especially if I get busy and don't read for several days), this is a highly desirable feature. Another nifty feature is being able to view only updated entries instead of the full list of feeds.

Friday, April 20, 2007

A day in the life

I often get asked what I do all day. Some days are very slow and I have to find tasks to keep myself busy (there's always stuff to do, but some stuff is much more interesting than others!). Other days are so busy they make my head spin. Today has been a somewhat typical day, so I thought I would use it as an example.

  • Got in around 8:00 (it's always "around" 8:00 because I am the beck and call of our shuttles from my parking garage)
  • Helped a research fellow obtain some images for her presentation she's doing
  • Helped obtain another article for another staff member (who was very pleased that I could get the PDF)
  • Sent a couple of articles that had come in from interlibrary loan
  • Helped a staff member find some articles for a research paper she's doing for class
  • Had a request from a faculty member to help track down some information on a particular radiologist she has been asked to do a presentation with (Ever Googled your date? Yeah, this was along the same lines - pretty funny!)
  • Helped a staff member locate some specific articles she was having a hard time finding
  • Photocopied an article in the main library and scanned the article so I could e-mail it to another staff member. This would typically be handled via interlibrary loan, but she needed the article sooner than we could get it through ILL. I've helped get several articles for this staff member over the past few days, and she was gushing with praise. :-)
  • Obtained an article for another staff member
  • Helped a faculty member find a book he was looking for
  • Traded out one volume of a set for the correct one, which I had mistakenly given a staff member earlier in the week
I also had a nice lunch and a short coffee break with a friend. Now it's the end of the day, and I'm ready for the weekend!

Thoughts on TLA

It's been a week since TLA, and I need to post some thoughts before they're completely gone.

Here's a recap:


Arrived at the convention center just after 9:00. I had intended to go to the opening session, but that just didn't happen. I'm sorry; I would have enjoyed hearing Isabel Allende.

I joke that TLA is where I pretend I'm still a children's librarian. This was evident in my first chosen session, which was about books that are good family choices. This was fun session! Lots of good ideas for multiage read-alouds (which is good, since I have a very high-reading-level 4th grader and a 2nd grader who is at or slightly above grade level), a fun readers theatre, and a talk by children's author Grace Lin.

After this session I browsed the exhibit hall briefly (picking up an Advanced Reading Copy of one of the books mentioned in the session I had just attended!) and then had lunch on the Riverwalk.

The 2nd session I attended was about management skills for solo librarians. I got some very helpful tips in this session; it was nice to know others have similar difficulties as I do! The biggest thing I learned from this session is that I really need to hone my networking skills.

I browsed the exhibit hall some more and decided to go back to the hotel before my evening function, which was my university's alumni dinner. This dinner was somewhat of a disappointment, and I wish I had chosen to spend that evening another way, I think.


I made it to the convention center earlier on Friday to hear the Authors Readers Theater with Walter Dean Myers, Avi, Sarah Weeks, and Sharon Creech. This was absolutely fabulous, and I'm so glad I went!

I next attended a Digital Photography session, since it was hosted by my division (and also because my mother, an accomplished photographer, was with me). Interesting talk, but not particularly relevant for me. Very, very popular, though! I ran into a former coworker here and enjoyed touching base with him again after about 2.5 years. I also managed to get myself elected secretary/treasurer, which, reflecting on, I'm quite pleased about.

The only other session I attended was on the politics of weeding which was really not helpful for me at all, unfortunately, as it was geared towards public libraries.

I spent even more time in the exhibit hall before heading back to the hotel. Again, this is where I pretend I'm still a children's librarian, and I picked up lots of advanced reading copies, which I'll share with my daughter.

After resting for a little while, I spent the rest of the afternoon on the Riverwalk with my mother, had a nice dinner, and headed back to the convention center for the President's Party. I was too exhausted to stay long, but I was glad I did go for a little while.

And that's all for this year. I'm already looking forward to getting away again next year!

Monday, April 16, 2007

Back from TLA

I hope to give a detailed report of my Texas Library Association conference experience soon, but for now I wanted to post an observation.

You can tell it's a slow time of year (or at least a slow time of the month) in the departmental library world when you come back after being gone for 3 days and find a total of 3 books having been checked out, no voice mail, and a total of 6 e-mail messages, of the 52 messages waiting in my inbox, requiring action (of which 2 of those only require a quick response).

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

Texas Library Association

I am leaving tomorrow for the the Texas Library Association conference in San Antonio. This is a bit of a luxury for me, since it is really more geared towards public libraries than medical, academic, etc. but I go to step out of my box for a few days. Mixed in with the fun stuff, I do find a few useful sessions. For example, this year, I plan to go to sessions on managing solo libraries, teaching adults, tech trends, and the politics of weeding. But ultimately, this is a way for me to keep a finger in the non-medical library world, just in case I should ever decide to venture back into the world of public libraries.

This year is going to be a lot of fun, as my mother is joining me from Memphis and actually attending the conference (she's not a librarian). We haven't spent any real time alone in many years, so I'm really looking forward to that quality time on top of a great conference!

Thursday, April 5, 2007

In the News

Another interesting article in The New England Journal of Medicine. A new study suggests that the use of computer-aided detection in screening for breast cancer may not be as accurate as mammograms read by radiologists without the use of CAD.

Fenton JJ, Taplin SH, Carney PA et al. Influence of computer-aided detection on performance of screening mammography. NEJM 2007; 356: 1399-1409.


Progress is being made, at least behind the scenes, on the creation of the Diagnostic Imaging Learning Laboratory (DILL), which I will be housing in my tiny library. The DILL will have several computers for the purpose of accessing research material and learning resources as part of one of our faculty member's Academic Development Program.

We're at a roadblock currently because the designated room is still being used for storage by two separate people. I talked to one yesterday who asked if she could have until at least mid-May to sort through her boxes, and she is trying to firm that up with the faculty member's secretary. The other person has every intention of removing her stuff when she has another place to put it. Unfortunately, the person who is supposed to find her space is out of the country until May 1! As for the first person, the secretary told her yesterday, "Oh, there's no big hurry, since he doesn't even have the computers yet." Then later, a person from IT came in to ask me if this is where the computers were supposed to go. I had to tell her, yes, but not yet!

Once finished, this is going to be a great addition to my library (even if it's not officially my lab). I'm hoping to be able to use it for small-group training, something I don't do much of now.

Friday, March 30, 2007

RSNA Visiting Editors Program

I had the opportunity to hear a talk given by Anthony Proto and William Olmsted, editors of Radiology and RadioGraphics, respectively, this afternoon. The presentation by both participants was excellent, and the question and answer session at the end also proved to be time well-spent.

I'm not going to regurgitate the presentation, but I will touch on some of the parts I found particularly interesting, as a librarian.

I was very interested in Radiology's review process. They use a double-blind process, which means that the authors don't know who is reviewing their paper, and the reviewers don't know whose paper they are reviewing. This serves to remove some bias from the review process. An interesting point was made that sometimes authors unblind themselves unintentionally by referring to previous research they have published, referring to themselves in 1st person (i.e. "In a previous study, we discovered..." and then citing their paper as a reference) and also by including their institution's name in the paper. This can introduce a bias into the review process.

Another way to introduce bias is by neglecting to reformat the paper when submitting to a journal after the article has been rejected by a different journal. As I often am asked to help format the bibliographies for papers being submitted, this was a very important point!

I was also interested to learn that while the regular publication process takes, at a minimum, 5 months, Radiology does have a fast-track publishing method used to get critical information published very quickly (within a month) - examples of papers that have been published this way have been papers on SARS and anthrax (after 9/11). Also, fast-track papers are open access, as this information is vital for distribution.

While Dr. Olmsted's presentation was a little less verbose than Dr. Proto's, I appreciated the opportunity to learn more about his journal, RadioGraphics. Both Radiology and RadioGraphics are published by the Radiological Society of North America (RSNA), but they serve different purposes. Radiology is more centered on original research, where RadioGraphics is more centered on education. They select presentations for the annual RSNA meeting to be expounded upon in article format and offer CME credit for radiologists. There appears to be a more technological lean in RadioGraphics; RadioGraphics Online includes web-only articles, movies, supplemental images, etc. Dr. Olmsted demonstrated the RSNA Education Portal, which allows members to take CME tests, view refresher courses, and view digital exhibits from the annual meeting. Very cool!

I was thrilled to hear Dr. Olmsted mention plans for blogs, wikis, and other social networking tools in the plans for RadioGraphics Online.

As I mentioned, the question and answer session was excellent, as well. Particular interest was the discussion of whether the audience members (mostly radiologists) prefer to read articles in print or online. There was a clear preference for reading the articles in print. There also was the feeling that those articles published online only were somehow "less" than those published in print. Dr. Proto's prediction is that print will evolve into a format for publishing summaries and abstracts, but that the full content will move to an online format. I think this is quite possible, and it is actually what I plan to do to help ease the move from housing print journals to going fully to online access.

During the question and answer session I also got a nice plug from our deputy division head. One of the questions was if it is so important to make sure you are publishing original research, how can you be sure of that? What search techniques can you use, and how can you look through it all? Our deputy division head raised his hand and said something along the lines of, "We, as a division, have a resource for that, and she's sitting right over there! We have a full-time librarian on staff and she makes her living by helping you do this research." Can't beat that publicity!

All in all this was an afternoon well-spent.

Wednesday, March 28, 2007

MRI for breast cancer detection

The New England Journal of Medicine published an article today supporting the use of MRI in detecting breast cancer in some women.

Lehman CD, Gatsonis C, Kuhl CK et al. MRI Evaluation of the Contralateral Breast in Women with Recently Diagnosed Breast Cancer. Published at on March 28, 2007.

The Launch

Welcome to the launch of my new blog! I've been playing with the idea of creating a blog devoted to my job for quite a while, and over the past couple of days I've had several things happen that I thought were blog-worthy. So here we go! I hope you find something useful here. Sit back and enjoy the ride!