Thursday, May 24, 2007

1776 Uses for Technology

Medical Mash Ups

Wow, a real library mash-up. I’m blown away by the first session on, “A Customizable ‘Mash-up’ for Model and Disease Organisms. If you are interested in mash-ups you should read the abstract which does a good job of describing the project.

The basics of the system
They are leveraging RSS from publishers and indexes ‘mashing the data together from these various sources.

The cool part
Taxonomically Intelligent Search Strategy. Whoa, they are mapping the subject headings from MeSH, NALT, so that they can link across the indexes.

This is cool, my only regret is not asking any questions. But then again, I was still trying to comprehend the system they created.

Library Toolbars

I like the idea of library toolbars. I’ve played with this technology and have made a few toolbars as an experiment. The question I have, will patrons use these toolbars? Will patrons even download the toolbars. UCSF has developed some toolbars for production so this was an interesting session. Over 1100 downs, that answers one question. The 6 months of stats have told them that there is a gradually upward trend but it is a trend of 600 percent. It is a small percentage compared to their over all Web traffic but that’s ok. I wouldn’t expect the traffic to be huge. I think this is a success and justifies the time they put into development. One enhancement that I think it critical is having the toolbar update itself, but they are developing that for the future.

Wrap Up

Blogging was interesting, even though we didn't have wireless access, I still blogged. I just wrote using my word processing program and then uploaded multiple posts once I had time and found a hot spot. The volunteer bloggers did a great job, and without their help it wouldn't have been nearly as successful as it was. I have seen ALA and other organizations ask their volunteers to sign up for various slots to make sure all of the programs are covered. That is a great, perhaps I might do that someday when I have A LOT of volunteer bloggers. But for now that isn't my style. It was my intention to get whatever people's thoughts and comments were about the meeting. I tried to do this without being too much of a burdon to the bloggers who graciously volunteered their time and thoughts. A few of the volunteers had asked me, "What do you want, what should I blog on?" I told them to write about whatever they wanted, it could have been about Mark Funk's incredible speech or the fact that there wasn't any diet coke in the meetings. I think using that philosphy we got a great mix of postings. Hopefully all of you who have read the blog have found it interesting and helpful as well.

It started out as an experiment in 2005 and it has grown each year. I have learned a lot and met a lot of great people as a result. Thank you volunteer bloggers for contributing, without you I wouldn't have been able to do it

Medical Mashup Presented at MLA

I went to the 1,776 Uses for Technologies session Tuesday and I listened to the presentation, "A Customizable 'Mash-Up' for Model and Disease Organisms." The mashup was created to collect life sciences information from the literature through citation indexes, publisher's RSS feeds, image databases, and the rest of the Internet. The mashup uses 9.5 million scientific name strings to find information. MeSH (used by MEDLINE) and NALT (used by Agricola) vocabularies are used to link to literature and enhance search queries for more general resources.

You can either go to to play with it on your own, or you can go to sample applications page which will help you understand the how it can be used.
It is very cool. It is one the more complete bioscience/medical mashups I have seen that has gone beyond the mapping mashups genre of mashup programs. For those of you who think you have seen something like this before, it is similar to, but it's website appears to be a little more user friendly and it appears to be more extensive utilizing many more resources.

My only regret, I was so stunned at how cool this product is (Yes, I already know I am a geek) that I couldn't think of one intelligent question to ask.

Hospital Library Toolkits

It was the last poster session of the conference, I was tired and I debated about skipping off to catch a late bite to eat. I am so glad I decided to run through the posters before I answered my growling tummy. I ran across the poster, An Advocacy Service for Hospital Librarians. This poster looked at ways it could help address the needs of hospital libraries in areas such as staffing, budget, support/advocacy, and marketing. As a result two toolkits were created,

1. Hospital Librarian Orientation Toolkit that offers information from both regional and state-specific resources
2. Hospital Library Promotional Toolkit that provides a practical approach to promoting libraries in a hospital setting.

They had sample toolkits at the table and they look very helpful.

What, you didn't go to MLA? Maybe you went to MLA and accidentally missed this poster, never fear, you can checkout the toolkits at

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Wednesday morning

I found myself really slowing down yesterday although I attended several sessions and really enjoyed them. Seredipity seated me next to our blog leader yesterday. I came into the session after the second paper and sat down in the nearest available seat next to a lovely young woman typing away at a laptop. When I rudely peered at her nametag, I saw it was indeed the Kraftly Librarian herself.

The two papers that drew me to that session were about podcasts and wikis. We've been tossing around the idea of podcasts for about a year now but haven't done anything yet. No one at our place seems to think they would be very interesting, but the speaker introduced what they've done and that seems to have been successful. [ Strategies for Podcasting: Transforming Library Instruction to Meet the Needs of Technology-savvy Students, University of Tennessee Health Science Center] Maybe it will be worth another look.

The paper on wikis [ Integrating New Technologies in Library Operations to Improve Staff Knowledge and Customer Service, Levy Library, Mount Sinai School of Medicine, New York, NY] gave support to the project we've begun toward creating a tool for our reference librarians and adjunct librarians spread out over seven campuses and a few extension sites. The speaker mentioned that they are transitioning to TWiki from some more basic wiki software. Our network administrator is not very enthusiastic about the whole idea and it's been a chore getting her to agree to loading wiki software on the server. I think TWiki would be too much to ask for although its content management aspects look really good.

The party last night was fun. It's always a kick seeing our colleagues get down and boogie or merengue or whatever. Librarians know how to have a good time.

I'm headed for home today and hope that those who can remain enjoy the rest of the meeting.

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Bearded Pigs

The Bearded Pigs put on a great show Monday night. Many librarians were seen cuttin' a rug to a variety of tunes. Last year they were able to donate $750.00 towards the MLA Scholarship Fund! This year's event was very well attended and they ran out shirts and buttons by the time I had arrived at the party, so I hope they had a great success this year as well.

If you are ever at an event and the Bearded Pigs are playing, it is well worth it to check it out.

Text Mining

I attended the Text Mining presentation because I think it is a very interesting growing area of conducting research. K. B. Cohen, biomedical text mining group lead, Center for Computational Pharmacology, University of Colorado Health Sciences Center-Denver spoke about the evolution of text mining and how it is used in research.

I found the program extremely interesting but a little bit over my head. Ok well maybe a lot. While I think I retained maybe 15% of the information the program, I did come away feeling that text mining can be a very powerful method for searching for information.