A little bit about chemical databases.

Medical Librarians have to look up a lot of different things.  Some of the things we look up are things we’ve never even heard of before.  Lots of chemicals.  I wish there was one place to look up all of these science-y and chemical things…

There is! And it’s incredibly easy to use.

One really great database is called Chem-ID, which is a free, web search system that provides access to the structure and nomenclature authority files used for the identification of chemical substances cited in National Library of Medicine (NLM) databases, including the TOXNET system.

So what is TOXNET?

TOXNET  is a group of databases covering chemicals and drugs, diseases and the environment, environmental health, occupational safety and health, poisoning, risk assessment and regulations, and toxicology.

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Keep reading and researching, forever and always,

~Lauren Collier

A little bit about Podcasting.

Hello all!  Do you have a lot to say about something you’re passionate about?  Do you enjoy using different routes of technology to get your story out there?  Podcasting may be exactly right for you.

  • A Podcast is a digital media file, or a series of media files, that is distributed over the Internet using syndication feeds (RSS feeds) for playback on computers or mobile devices.
  • The term “podcast” comes from the terms “iPod”, of Apple, and “broadcast”.
  • In other words, a podcast is a collection of files (usually audio and video) residing at a unique web feed address.
  • People can “subscribe” to this feed by submitting the feed address to an aggregator (like iTunes – software that runs on the consumer’s computer). When new “episodes” become available in the podcast they will be automatically downloaded to that user’s computer.
  • Unlike radio or streaming content on the web, podcasts are not real-time. The material is pre-recorded and users can check out the material at their leisure, offline.
  • Though podcasters’ web sites may also offer direct download or streaming of their content, a podcast is distinguished from other digital media formats by its ability to be syndicated, subscribed to, and downloaded automatically, using an aggregator or feed reader capable of reading feed formats such as RSS.

What can we do in LIS to utilize this technology?  There are many who are already harnessing this information.  There are tons of medical and healthcare podcasts!  Remember, the more information we can provide to more people, the better.

  • Health and wellness education are widely accessible to the public through podcasts. Many developed countries such as Australia have utilized podcasts to publish new findings in the medical field.
  • The National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC) has been one of the active participants in informing the public of new drugs and processes to improve medical awareness.
    • Podcast topics in the medical community vary greatly, and include:
    • Career advice for medical professionals
    • New technology, innovations
    • Instructional videos on simple procedures
    • Interviews with healthcare providers
    • Personal stories in the field
    • Connecting with patients through the use of technology


Hopefully I’ve given you some good info, and you’ll go out there and make a podcast! Keep reading (and watching and listening!), forever and always.

~Lauren Collier

Article Summary for Lecture #13- Huber et al.

Huber et al 2012 – “Top down versus bottom up: The social construction of the health literacy movement”


In contrast to bottom-up approaches to widespread healthcare awareness and understanding, health literacy has traditionally been given motive from the top down – a cause driven by economists and policy makers, and likewise drawing a top-down incentive from the trillions-of-dollars cost of limited health literacy in the United State.


The dynamic of resistance to authority-imposed change is a familiar one, and one which should be well-considered by proponents of health literacy in their efforts to expand it. Huber et al. are quite direct in observing that health as a government-driven ideal is nowhere near as effective as causes which emerge from the perspective of the patient – such as the consumer health information movement.


Huber et al. claim argue that efforts from the top of the chain down which have struggled so in recent years could be made more effective by framing the patient as a stakeholder in the matter of their own health literacy, rather than simply the recipient of yet another government-incentivized education initiative. They suggest tackling problems first from those patients’ perspectives and reaching out toward big-picture goals, rather than handing them obligations and promises that their struggles have been addressed.


The authors also spend time on a particularly interesting notion: the model of the patient navigator. A navigator in this paradigm falls into a sweet spot between medical consultant and peer mentor, translating a person’s medical decisions and conditions into terms they can more easily understand upon which they can more rationally act.

Article Summary for Lecture # 11- Schmidt and Eckerman

Schmidt and Eckerman, 2001 – “Circulation of core collection monographs…”


One problems facing medical librarians in circulation is managing time when choosing which monographs would be most useful to their patrons.  Schmidt and Eckerman explain that too large an amount of time is spent on deciding which pieces should be in circulation and available to the patron, and there is really no technology (at the time this article was written) for aiding in this task.  The medical librarians have the very difficult task of choosing the monographs for academic medical libraries. The tools currently available were either not of use to the medical librarian or were not easily obtained.

The study described here was designed to determine whether circulation of the ‘‘listed’’ books in an academic setting justified the emphasis placed on their collection. The circulation statistics for books listed by four of the core collection lists were obtained and compared to the circulation statistics for books published in the same years but not included in the core lists.

Creating collection lists and charts to see which books are circulated the most can help determine which books would be more useful than others. The collections were broken down as follows:

  1. the ‘‘Brandon/Hill Selected List of Books and Journals for the Small Medical Library’’ (1991, 1993, 1995, 1997, and 1999 editions) [18–22],
  2. the ‘‘Brandon/Hill Selected List of Books and Jour- Circulation of core collection monographs Bull Med Libr Assoc 89(2) April 2001 167
  3. the ‘‘A Library for Internists’’ list (1991, 1994, and 1997 editions) [27–29], and
  4. the list of hematology references in Morton and Godbolt’s Information Sources in the Medical Sciences

Many of these core collections lists have been created in small hospital libraries, and can aid in choosing books for larger academic hospital libraries. As always, more research is needed to determine whether this method could be used in other settings and scenarios.  Providing more information in an easier and more convenient way for the patron is always important, but helping out our librarians is equally as important.

Article Summary for Lecture #12- MacCall

2MacCall, 2006(b) – “Clinical Digital Libraries Project: Design approach…”

At the intersection of patient service and information science rests the interface, and it is the Clinical Digital Libraries Project upon which MacCall turns his analysis. The apparent goal of any online information source ought be to offer users the most relevant possible subset of information at as little cost of time or effort as possible to the user – a reasonable goal, but one which becomes even more important when time spent refining one’s query means time spent without helping a healthcare client in need.


MacCall uses web traffic log data and straightforward analytics practices to mark the start and end of each user information-seeking or -gathering session, then divides these into < 1 minute, 1-3 minute, and 3-5 minute increments. While there appears to be some variance across months, user sessions lasting less than 3 minutes total appear to be dominant and account for roughly 9 parts of 10 of the traffic seen by the resource .


Admittedly, this research is dated by a decade – a small frame in some respects, but crucial when discussing matters of the Internet and of web-based technology. Given the prevalence of powerful web analytics tools and the ease of their implementation and interpretation, a revisit of this paper may be in order – if not for purely academic purposes, then as a model for determining the quality of service and ease of access & location for online information assets.


Article Summary for Lecture #9- Maggio and Kung

Maggio & Kung, 2014 – “How are medical students trained to locate biomedical information to practice evidence-based medicine?”


Maggio & Kung directly address the way in which undergraduate level medical education teaches information retrieval skills in the context of Evidence Based Medicine – a seemingly fundamental matter for which existing research is disappointingly sparse. Their work analyzes a breadth of twelve studies into the matter and their implications for EBM educators.


There appears to be disparity with regard to when EBM and its principles – including information retrieval – ought to be introduced to students, with studies suggesting ranges from early pre-clinical education through the latest months of medical education. With respect to this disagreement, Maggio & Kung suggest a longitudinal approach.


In terms of frequency, however, there appears to be much evidence in favor of the intuitive: introducing information retrieval skills taught only once or as part of intense study phases are suboptimal, and the authors suggest providing recurring opportunities to use and practice them.


Context of education – including instructor and methodology – likewise held substantial weight. In keeping with good educational practice, students most optimally learn in an interactive environment, and healthcare is no exception. In addition to improved engagement, challenging students to use their newly-acquired information retrieval skills both practices them and familiarizes students with the controlled vocabularies of the medical community and their fields of study. Data regarding the role of interaction between students and instructors seems to have been difficult to divine for the purposes of this paper, although the authors suggest further exploration in future studies.