MLA13 and ICML – Day 3

It has been a few weeks since my last post and as time goes on, I remember less. Luckily, I still have my notebook!

The first session was the 10.30am NLM Update session. At last, a sleep-in morning and time for a nice breakfast with my husband before we separated for the day. NLM is a large service and offers many programs, many that are not relevant to me. However, it was interesting to learn that it is MedlinePlus’ 15th birthday this year! 2% of usage comes from Australia for both online and mobile applications. MedlinePlus can also be integrated into the electronic medical record. Clinicaltrials.gov is now an international service and I’m sorry to say that Australia,along with  China and countries in Africa (you can’t just mention Africa when you are mentioning individual countries – Africa is a continent! Rant of the day over …) are contributing the least. Australia has it’s own register though, so perhaps contributing to clinicaltrials.gov would just be duplicating records.

There was some time to kill between this session and the next, so I went out to get some tea and have an early lunch. Lunch is not provided at this conference but as the conference centre was connected to a shopping centre and surrounded by cafes and restaurants, finding food wasn’t a challenge. I was tipped before going to North America that if you want a cup of tea, you have to specify ‘hot tea’ otherwise you will end up with iced tea! Of course, for morning and afternoon tea, you could always go to the exhibitors hall to get refreshments from suppliers who were offering them.

The next session was ICLC2 which I was a blog correnspondent for. You can read my contribution here. The first presentation was by MacEachen who talked about the ever expanding list of apps for commonly used resources (one of them called Diagnosaurus which I hadn’t heard of before), which quickly became unweildy. Where to draw the line? What about listing those that are easily available and are free (via the library or OA)? What was interesting about this talk though was the course elective (a collaborative venture between librarians, educators and tech) where students were encouraged to develop their own and discuss the merits of locally developed apps. Next up was an interesting bioinformatics project where a librarian (Margaret Henderson) is a key project member. i2b2 – intergrating biology at the bedside, which aims to facilitate use of exisiting data for research and building targetted therapies for genetic-based diseases. The audience was thrilled to learn that librarians are getting involved right at the nuts and bolts level! Librarians are very versatile and this reinforced for many that bioinformatics is a viable avenue for librarian participation, espeically since librarians understand highly structured data (and were early adoptors too!). Henderson mentioned 2 things that are worth repeating: 1) Drs need to be vigilent in documentation and 2) librarians need to get involved in the semantic web to avoid others reinventing the wheel. Julia Esparza was next and she talked about the early results of the Consumer Health Information Services Survey (CHISS) – full results will be published in JMLA. The main purpose of this survey is to find out what the current situation is with providing health information to consumers. Health literacy is of great interest to me and I was interested to hear that some medical and public libraries in the US have developed partnerships, though low numbers provide products and educational activities. A high percentage of hospitals provide information to the public outside of medical care (with or without librarians) through a library. The final presentation for this session was by Lydia Whitman, who revealed at the end of her presentation that it was her first! The audience applauded – it was such a fantastic presentation for a novice presenter (I bet many seasoned presenters were jealous). Whitman’s presentaiton was about a small iPad trial at her library. She desribed the hoops needed to jump through but then got to really interesting uses for the iPad like – showing patients YouTube videos! Accessing the EMR via the iPad was unclear so clincians who wanted access did it via their desktops. Despite it being a small trial, it was a success. You can read her interim report here.

After a break, it was the final session of the conference for me  (I decided not to go to the last 1/2 day because I wanted one full day in Boston before leaving for Melbourne the next).  This was the ICLC3 Q&A brainstorming session after being opened by a few short presentations. Carol Lefebvre talked about the reason behind the double NOT Animals NOT Humans limit used in systematic reviews. If you just NOT animals, you will exclude studies involving humans and other animals (humans are animals – another rant of mine but I will leave that for another day) and if you limit to Humans using predefined filters, you will exclude all unindexed items (human is a indexing checkword). There was a long discussion about this on the expertsearching e-list not long ago. Lisa Kruesi (sorry I forgot your name earlier!!) talked about adding disclaimers to search results and using a template to standardise reporting results of literature searches. I don’t do any of these. I think it would take too long to report results expecially if there are a lot going on. I do use a form letter and tidy up files though. Terry Ann Jankowski talked about differing search result numbers between Medline and PubMed (PubMed has now incorporated articles from 1946 onwards) and other databases. This was also discussed at expertsearching recently, especially in regard to CINAHL. CINAHL has many forms and results will differ from version to version. Document everything, even the database version you are using!! This lead to Rebecca Jerome’s presentation about systematic reviews. Document everything, even discarded terms!! Make sure you discuss and clarify the question with researchers! Document everything!!

Well, that was an experience! I was tired but envigorated. My husband and I went for a walk before heading back so I could write the blog post and it was a lovely warm day. We walked by the Charles River and had a lovely dinner. It rained tremedously on our final day, but I did manage to pop into some bookshops and have a walk around old Boston. Will I go to another MLA? I hope to yes! And I recommend it, at least once.

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