Doctors, patients, web surfing, web stalking

Susannah Fox at Pew Internet & American Life reflects on a recent JAMA commentary, “Web Surfing for information about physicians.” (JAMA 2008;300(2):213-215.)  Much of the article urging people to monitor and manage the information available about them online, she notes, could apply to any profession. However, the authors of this piece, from the Departments of Psychiatry at Harvard Medical School and Massachusetts General Hospital, go further to cite the dangers of being stalked by clingy, mentally disordered patients who find it easy to anonymously locate personal information using web search engines.

Read the Pew Internet post: Doctors’ digital footprints, published July 18.


Free NLM Duplicates Books – Deadline Approaching

Just a friendly reminder that the deadline for requesting free NLM Duplicates books, Friday August 29th, is just around the corner. Please check the list to see what titles are still available:

If you’re interested in receiving any of these remaining titles, please submit the following in an email to Heidi Schroeder ( title(s) of requested book(s), your library’s name and address, and the person in your library who should receive the books. Titles will be reserved on a first come, first served basis, although slight discretion may be used to distribute books as fairly and evenly as possible. If you request a title that has already been selected by another MHSLA member, you will be contacted by phone or e-mail.

Vital Signs, Midwest MLA/MHSLA 2008 Online Registration

The online registration form for Vital Signs, the Midwest MLA/MHSLA 2008 Conference, is now available! Visit to register. Payments for registration may be made by credit card or check. Whether paying by credit card or check, please fill out the online form. When you get to the end of the form, click on the “Calculate Order” button and you will have an opportunity to print out the form for payment by check.

Unlike past MHSLA Conferences, there will be no registration form mailed to MHSLA Members. If you can’t access the MHSLA Blog to fill out the online form or have any problems with the online registration process, please contact Pat Martin ( / 743.936.1401).

The deadline for registration is September 1st. After September 1st, a $50.00 late fee will be charged.


I had lunch with a group of medical librarians & library staff last month, and we started comparing our most memorable adventures.  I took my son skydiving for his 23rd birthday; Mary has a medal for ziplining in Alaska; Etta’s a world traveler, telling us about visiting tunnels in the Holy Land excavated by soldiers in King David’s time; Judy recently went swimming with the sharks in Galapagos; Jennifer has climbed the Great Pyramid in Egypt; Jodi’s a spelunker. 

Be all that you can be, in the library…

Looking forward to our next adventure: MLA in Hawaii, May 15-20, 2009.  Start planning now; the MLA09 Wiki has a page of suggestions for saving money to afford the trip, and a draft of the preliminary program has been posted at   They’re planning to start events at 6:30 am, since most of us will be in a new time zone, and conference sessions will end in mid-afternoon so we’ll have lots of daylight left for touristy stuff.  Anyone for a volcano tour?

Semantic Medline

Cognition Technologies offers a free semantic search engine pulling results from Medline abstracts. They call it Semantic Medline, or Medline.Cognition; it has two URLs, and .  The help page delineates the proper use of capitalization, quote marks, Boolean,  proximity, pattern matching, wildcards, and required vs. optional search words for Cognition searching.

An interesting feature: a set of dropdown boxes appearing on the results page that allow the user to tweak the search by selecting a more appropriate meaning for a search term, where necessary.  For example, the search term “pain” has three meanings: unpleasant physical feelings (the default choice); vexatious person/hassle/annoyance; and unpleasant emotional experience. A “use all” option is also available.

My sample searches using Semantic Medline sometimes retrieved more than a matching PubMed Boolean search, and sometimes less.  It appears that foreign-language articles are not included in Semantic Medline.

Thanks to David Rothman for the pointer –