MHSLA Conference – Tech Tools presentation

A conference highlight for me was the “Tech Tools” presentation by Christine Tobias.  This collection of free Web 2.0 tools was mind-boggling – so many options for upgrading and enhancing reference services, from screen capture to sound recording, surveys, web polls, and more.

As promised, the presentation slides are now available in SlideShare:


MHSLA Conference Photos, October 2010

MCLS has posted photos from the recent conference on Flickr.  To see the most recent photos, try this link:

The most recent photos can also be seen by clicking the “More photos” link on this page, under the Flickr photos in the right-hand toolbar.

Attendees are encouraged to share their photos; watch this space!

Doctor Rating — Real Patients or Paid Promotions?

The SF Weekly News story Doctoring the Web exposes some doctors’ and their marketing agencies’ use of phony “patient comments” on doctor rating sites to drive business to their practice.  Moderators of the rating sites, such as RateMD, are aware of the practice (called “medical astroturfing”) and remove such comments when they can identify fraudulent postings; for example, when they can trace multiple postings back to IP addresses owned by the physician’s practice.  However, sheer volume of traffic (1.1 million visits per month at RateMD) and technology that promotes anonymity (such as free throw-away email addresses at GMail, Yahoo, etc.) make it difficult to determine where postings originate.  Would-be patients are advised to check reputable sources such as the state medical board.

I hadn’t heard of the SF Weekly News, so I checked it out — using Google, of course. It’s an alternative weekly newspaper located in San Francisco, distributed free on Wednesdays.  I found articles about SF Weekly News in Wikipedia and Mondo Times.

via ScienceRoll

Announcement form MLA Medical Informatics Section

Are you interested in professional development in Medical Informatics but don’t have the funds? Apply for the Medical Informatics Section (MIS)/MLA Career Development Grant. This grant supports a career development activity that contributes to advancement in the field of medical informatics. The awardee receives $1,500 and a certificate. Applicants must have an MLS or equivalent degree and are preferably members of the MIS. Applications are due December 1st. The application is available at Contact Jury Chair, Cynthia Burke at (cybusee at comcast dot net) for more information or questions.

Medical Information Blog Carnival

Laika’s MedLibLog hosts an archive of links to the medical library blog postings constituting the blog carnival MedLibs Round (soon to be called Medical Information Matters).

Interesting concept,  the blog carnival.  Jacqueline (“Laika”) explains in Medlibs Round First Edition.  In essence, each issue is hosted by a different medical library blogger, who solicits posts concerning an announced theme. The host summarizes the submitted posts and provides links to them.  This is a terrific way to explore not only the topics/themes but also to find interesting new blogs in an arena that’s constantly changing.

This month’s host is Daniel Hooker, at Health Libraries, Medicine and the Web. As he describes his theme:

I’d love to see posts on new things you’re trying out this year: new projects, teaching sessions, innovative services. Maybe it’s something tried and true that you’d like to reflect on. And this goes for anyone starting out fresh this term, not just librarians! We should all be brimming with enthusiasm; the doldrums of winter have yet to set in. If you can find the time to reflect and even just write up your busy workday, I’ll do my best to weave them all together. I, for one, hope to describe some of the projects that I’m involved with at my new workplace.

I look forward to checking it out!


But is it legal?

The buzz in the library world involves a guest blog post in Tame the Web: Using Netflix at an Academic Library.  The gist is, when a patron (student or faculty) requests a video the library doesn’t own, the library borrows the item through its Netflix account for the patron to use.

This violates the Netflix Terms of Service agreement; see the LibraryLawBlog post Using Netflix in a Library for an outline of the terms violated by the library’s practices.  However, as one can see from comments posted to the original article, Netflix’s failure to pursue legal remedies against violating libraries is taken by some to be tacit approval of the practice.

In a Chronicle of Higher Education article, though, Netflix VP Steve Swaney says the company “frowns upon” such use and expects libraries to follow the terms of the agreement. Comments from librarians who have consulted their legal departments indicate that they’ve been advised against using Netflix accounts; there are no “institutional accounts,” and the uses described would violate contractual agreements.

Second-hand spam

Just catching up on my reading, and adding some new Delicious bookmarks (see them on the left side of this page), when I ran into some sneaky spam: a comment on an interesting article, with the commenter’s name linked to the type of message that my email spam filter would block. (“Buy your [insert medical condition here] drugs here! No need to shop anywhere else!”)

As well as writing the posts for the MHSLA Blog, I serve as “blog mom,” deciding which comments to allow or disallow. I’m always torn when a commenter says something interesting, but uses the comment format in an attempt to drive traffic to a “commercial” site.  I tend to err on the side of deleting the comment if it isn’t substantive and/or from someone who uses a real name.

This is a common problem; read more about it at the librarians’ favorite resource (the one we use, but try to steer our customers away from):