Jonathan Potter @ Riverpoint Campus Library

Monday, January 03, 2011

This Blog Is History

Hello! What you see here is the open coffin of a blog that has gone to blog heaven. It's dead, James. I am planning to begin a new and more wonderfully alive blog sometime soon and will post a link to it here. One of these days, I may shut the lid on this one; but for now I'll let it lie here in peaceful repose.

Friday, April 16, 2010

Got Lit

I attended the Get Lit! Using History in Storytelling panel this morning and took a few notes. I went there mainly to catch up with Jess Walter. Jess was in fine form as usual, and his panel-mates weren't too shabby either.

Jess opened with a story from his newspapering days. He was assigned to the DC beat for a time and covered the waning years of Tom Foley's reign as Speaker of the House. According to Jess, Foley related the following story from his early years in Congress, during the presidency of LBJ:

A new presidential aide was instructed by the chief of staff to always be sure there was Dr. Pepper on hand, which was LBJ's soft drink of choice. Well, one day this aide was on board Air Force One with LBJ and sure enough LBJ asked for a Dr. Pepper. The aide went to the mini-fridge and was horrified to find there was no Dr. Pepper there. So the aide picked up the phone (yes, there were phones on Air Force One in the 60s) and called the chief of staff.

"The president just asked for a Dr. Pepper, and there's none on board. What should I do?"

"OK. The only thing you can do is go back to him and say, 'Dammit, there's no Dr. Pepper!'"

So the aide goes back to LBJ and says, "Dammit, there's no Dr. Pepper!"

LBJ picks up his telephone (there's one right at his seat, of course) and calls up the CEO of the Dr. Pepper plant in Texas.

"Hello, this is Lyndon Johnson. I'm so sorry to hear that Dr. Pepper is no longer in business. What's that? You are in business? Well that's good to hear, because I have a young man here that just told me you didn't exist. Alright, you have a good day."

LBJ hangs up the phone and glares at the aide.

"I thought you said there was no Dr. Pepper."

Of course the next time Air Force One flew, the aide made sure it was so loaded down with Dr. Pepper that it could barely fly.

And the funny thing is LBJ never drank Dr. Pepper after that. He became a Fresca man.

So Jess turned this story in to his editor back at the Spokesman Review, who said, "This isn't news." But maybe this is the sort of thing news and history miss, the personal flotsam and jetsam that gets passed over. Maybe there are epiphanies hidden in the stuff that gets left on the cutting room floor of history.

Thus Jess became a novelist.

What else did Jess say? What interests him is the gap between what we believe and how we act. Fiction is compelling because it deals with what could have happened, not what did happen. (Insert Aristotle footnote here.) Fiction can also provide a means to access what is happening right now. Writing The Financial Lives of the Poets was exciting because it was such a real-time view of a very present catastrophe of the recession -- like writing about a car wreck as it's happening, with your head out the window, taking it all in, all kinds of cultural detritus flying around inside the car: Facebook, mortgages, pot.

How did Jess become a writer? He always wanted to be one. As a young kid, he created a magazine called Readers Indigestion to chronicle family news. He came from a family in which no one had been to college and -- although they were supportive -- to have this bookish kid who wanted to be a writer -- well, "I might as well have wanted to be a ballerina." At the age of twelve or thirteen, Jess looked for the spot on the shelf in the library where his books would someday reside and discovered that he would be right next to Kurt Vonnegut. Jess checked out Breakfast of Champions, a book in which Vonnegut enters the story and sets his characters free. "Can you do that?!" thought Jess. Discovering Vonnegut, and his rule-breaking ways, was a revelation. Vonnegut became his literary hero. The end of the book, where the main character speaks to Vonnegut in the voice of his dead father, hit him like a magnificent brick. That's what I want to do.

In college, Jess accidentally became a father at age 19 and decided to pursue journalism as a more realistic source of income and family support. Whenever famous writers would come to town, he'd get phony press credentials in hopes that by stalking them some of their skill might rub off on him, by osmosis perhaps. The college student would sit there in a room with other, real reporters and ask the writer, "What advice do you have for young, aspiring writers?" He asked Ken Kesey that question one year and the next year he asked Tom Wolfe, who said, authoritatively, "Use a word processor!" (This was in the mid-1980s.) Then, amazingly, Vonnegut himself came to town. And, even more amazingly, when Jess got his phony press credentials and went to attend the press conference, he found himself, not in a room full of reporters asking Vonnegut questions, but alone, one-on-one, with Vonnegut himself. So he asked Vonnegut the question. To which Vonnegut replied, "How old are you?" and "And you're writing for Esquire?" Well, they haven't accepted the piece yet. After about fifteen minutes of cordial talk, Vonnegut excused himself. But then, after his talk that night, he spotted Jess in the audience, gestured towards him, and said, "Did you get everything you needed for your piece?" Yes, thank you. So then Jess, somewhat mortified by this encounter, perhaps, swore off stalking authors. A few years ago, Vonnegut returned to Spokane, however, and Jess wrote a piece for The Inlander about his earlier encounter. Vonnegut's publicist forwarded the piece to him, and one day Jess received a thick manila envelope in the mail, with a New York return address. The envelope smelled of Pall Malls, and inside was a signed, leather-bound edition of one of his novels. "To my fellow novelist, Jess Walter. Kurt Vonnegut." Jess, in turn, sent Vonnegut a copy of his book, Citizen Vince. Vonnegut replied with a postcard saying he'd read it right away and loved it. Jess sent him his next novel, The Zero, and received another laudatory postcard with a wry comment about Racine and the Nobel prize. "I'm corresponding with Kurt Vonnegut!" But when Jess was in New York shortly before Vonnegut's death, he couldn't bring himself to call on his hero -- too much like the old stalking. (Jess actually told me this when I stalkerishly went up and chatted with him briefly after the program.)

A couple of other Walter nuggets:

"Non-fiction" is an odd label. It covers such a broad area of literature. It's as if someone came up with "non-sock" as a category of clothing.

On the line between fiction and non-fiction: There is water and there is dry land and we all know the difference. And there's also swamp, and we know what that is, too.

What about the other panel members? They were smart, engaging writers, too, and I'm sorry I'm giving them short shrift here, but I can tell you who they were: David Laskin, Ana Maria Spagna, and Marianne Keddington-Lang. I particularly liked what Laskin said about how there is a before-and-after phenomenon that he likes to explore. Big changes that play out on a personal level. And I also particularly liked what Spagna said about the novel of her youth that a teacher let her spend three weeks sitting in a bean bag chair writing. The teacher mimeographed the novel and handed it out to the entire class. "How could you not become a writer after that?" Keddington-Lang is an editor and her editor's perspective nicely rounded out the panel. I liked what she said about wanting to eradicate the word indeed from the English language.

A couple of audience members contributed nicely to the discussion as well. One older lady pointed out that some authors become too enticed by every tidbit of information their research has uncovered. Example: The Zookeeper's Wife. That's when a good editor is needed. In the same vein, a good-humored gent in the audience asserted that Cloud Splitter is a fantastic 400-page novel -- but unfortunately it's 600 pages long.

So ... I got lit, and I'm looking forward to getting more lit as the weekend rolls along.

Friday, April 09, 2010

Fun with Venn Diagrams IV

(A man and a woman, both dressed for a date, have overlapping thought bubbles. The woman's is ful... at The New Yorker Store

Fun with Venn Diagrams III

From The Great White Snark, h/t to DW

See also: Fun with Venn Diagrams and More Fun with Venn Diagrams

RefWorks and EndNote Web Workshops

Thursday, April 01, 2010

EWU Riverpoint Health Sciences Career Fair, April 15, 3-6pm

The Physical Therapy Department at Eastern Washington University is sponsoring an interdisciplinary job fair for Nursing, Occupational Therapy, Physical Therapy, Physical Therapy Assistant and Speech-Language Pathology students, and current practitioners in the Northwest. Over 50 recruiters from throughout the United States have contacted our program expressing interest in hiring new graduates or current practitioners, and talking with them about career opportunities. Recruiters from a wide array of practice settings will be in attendance.

Faculty, students, and current practitioners are invited to attend!

What: Multidisciplinary Health Sciences Career Fair

When: Thursday, April 15th from 3:00 – 6:00 PM

Where: Health Science Building, at the Spokane Riverpoint Campus

Why: To introduce Nursing (BNS),OT, PT, PTA, and SLP students and current practitioners to career opportunities and the wide range of jobs currently available in the Pacific Northwest.

Cost: Free!!!
No need to RSVP! Just show up and be prepared to explore a plethora of career options in one location! It doesn’t get any easier to look for a job than this!
Please direct any questions or comments to the following email address:

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Health Indicators Webinars--free info from NICHSR & Medical Library Association

RIDE dentists reach out [EWU Easterner article]

Dental program reaches out to underserved areas to provide services to community members who usually don't have access to them

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

WSU Riverpoint Design Students Tackle "Learning Commons" Concept

WSU Riverpoint Design Institute students have created posters displaying their conceptual designs of a small college library “learning commons”. The posters are on display in the Phase One design lobby. Bob Pringle, Riverpoint Campus Library director, served as one of the project evaluators.

Wednesday, December 09, 2009


The Academic Center building that houses the Riverpoint Campus Library is a grand edifice built of equal parts brick, concrete, and glass. The glass is what makes the building lovely. The high ceilings and enormous windows give the place an airy cathedral-like feel, a glistening sheen, and many extraordinary views within and without.

This morning one of those enormous windows--an internal one, not one on the exterior of the building--spontaneously shattered. My co-worker Michelanne had been pulling books from the third-floor stacks and was about to descend the stairs when she heard a strange "crinkling" sound followed by a sustained "tinkling" as of an avalanche of tempered glass shards.

UPDATE: Photo by Michelanne showing the upper part of the window with shattered glass still in place:

UPDATE, DAY 2: "There, I fixed it."

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Twittering the MLA Webcast: Cutting the Cord

I joined a squadron of twitterers across the country and tweeted madly throughout yesterday's MLA Webcast on mobile computing. Below are my collected tweets from the 3-hour event. You can also check out a gathering of everyone's tweets (hashtagged with #mlamobile) here:
#mlamobile Tuning into Cut the Cord webcast at Riverpoint Campus in Spokane.

Questions for Cut the Cord panelists can be posed via this Twitter hashtag #mlamobile

Max Anderson talking about the pioneers of mobile tech.

1950s first mobile phones; cf the movie Sabrina -- Bogart talking on cell phone

Max Anderson: 1983 -- $4000, large mobile phone available (first gen)

Max Anderson: second gen cell phones 1990s

Max Anderson: third gen phones = where we're at now. Phones incorporates lots of computer apps

Max Anderson: fourth gen (4G) -- we're on the cusp of it. More bandwidth.

Max Anderson: early laptops looked like sewing machine cases.

Max Anderson: laptop advancements parallel cell phone advances

David Rothman and Emily Hurst up next: gadgets galore!

netbooks = internet + notebook

video on netbooks for libraries (twittering MLA Webcast: Cut the Cord -- mobile computing in health sci)

netbook batteries can last a lot longer than laptop (up to 7 hours); very portable; can handle many tasks despite size

Emily Hurst on e-readers: 3% of adults in US own one, growing market; not just books, newspapers, magazines, too; e-ink tech.

pilot project using Kindles to fill ILL requests

Duke Med Ctr Lib and Texas A&M also have a Kindle pilot project going

Emily Hurst: more on the Kindle: introduced in 2007. Screen is shades of gray -- no color -- cd be an issue for med imaging, etc

Emily Hurst: Kindle limitations: no easy sharing, web browsing is experimental

Emily Hurst: Sony Reader another e-reader contender. Barnes and Noble's Nook coming soon.

B&N's Nook will allow users to share a book with one person one time -- very limited, but interesting option.

More on the Duke Univ. Kindle project: School of Med clerkships equipped with Kindles; practice guidelines from Nat'l Clearinghse

Kindle-equipped Duke Univ med clerkship: Kindle processor judged a bit slow for direct patient care but rated highly otherwise

David Rothman at MLA "Cut the Cord" webcast: Smartphones. iPhone, iPod Touch (iPhone sans 3G connection) = much more than music.

Rothman on Android phones: Google-based ready-made platform wh. anyone can use to develop a phone. Several currently on market.

Android market has only 1/10th the number of apps as the iPhone. So med use is more limited.

Tweeting from Medical Library Assoc. webcast on mobile computing in health care. Viewing webcast at Riverpoint in Spokane.

Bart Ragon now chiming in.

question: app-phones vs. e-readers. Will app-phones push e-readers out, since they can do the same thing and are easier to carry

My question re. e-readers is the ability to display PDFs. Academic joural articles mostly come as PDFs.

Rothman: "instapaper" = hit a bookmarklet when you see article you want and it goes to your instapaper acct.

Rothman's favorite apps: Net Newswire -- syncs with Google Reader. Med apps: Up-to-Date; Dynamed; Diagnosaurus; EBSCO Mobile

Rothman: lots of great free apps from WebMD and Medscape

Bart Ragon's turn now. Electronic Med Records

Ragon: one mobile device is useful, multiple devices is not practical

Citrix = desktop virtualization = deliver content to mobile device

Ragon: Personal Health Records -- e.g. Google Health. Consumerization will push into health sci field. e.g. 6-pack abs app.

Ragon: Cloud computing, seamless transmission of apps and info -- where the future is

Adobe flash CS5 will allow direct export of apps into iTunes store.

NLM's PubMed for handhelds: server access by handhelds increasing dramatically.

Rothman: PubMed on Tap ($4.99 for the full version) -- best $ Rothman has spent in the app store. Try the lite version first.

Rothman: Unbound Medicine -- another way to access medline; nice layout of results and options.

PubGet Mobile free to nonprofit libraries. They want to talk to librarians at org. first. Interface prob. appeals to clinicians

Mobile PubMed another option, but ugly (as sin) and ad-based.

some slight technical difficulties at Riverpoint webcast -- audio coming through but image frozen

"device diversity" nice way of putting the dilemma of creating a mobile site

MedlinePlus mobile! Coming soon?

Questions: Instaper = "read me later" [ed. note: another twitterer insisted they are two different apps]

Is there a device that will display PDFs well? The larger Kindle? [ed. note: this was my own question, which didn't make it to the panelists. I have part of the answer. There is a bigger and much more expensive reader, the name of which escapes me at the moment, which is supposed to handle PDFs well. But reviews I've read of it also say it is clunkier and has other problems. So I'm curious about the new, larger Kindle's handling of PDFs. And I'm talking about image-based PDFs of journal articles.]

iTablet could be the all-purpose panacea.

Hospital firewalls can be problematic. Public vs. public network might be part of solution.

Emily Hurst: Usability testing, needs assessment, moving towards mobile services, know who your users are, keep them coming back.

39% of pop. "motivated by mobility" -- they want mobile svcs.

by 2011 70% of physicians will adopt mobile devices (est.)

Hmm... RT @fowlerbird is that a candle on the right side of the screen? [ed. note: to which @litebulb11 replied that it was one of those fake, electrical candles.]

Is there an app for that? @litebulb11 @fowlerbird I think it's one of those fake battery operated candles :)

Partnering with IT is an important aspect of institutional adoption of mobile svcs.

"emerging technologies" key term -- impacts the way we live

Emily plugs the Handheld Librarian conference

Max is gonna talk about funding big system projects

ARRA -- sounds like a pirate -- "American recovery & reinvestment act of 2009 = supports gov't funding of mobile health apps

BTOP and BIP are other gov't level funding programs -- Dept. of Agriculture and Dept of Commerce.

acronyms gone wild

lots of amazing funding opportunities

Zero-budget options abound as well, from WordPress, Google, et al.

nice use of the mobile device look for slides and videos throughout the webcast

MLA always does a splendid job with these webcasts -- kudos to them!

Google, Apple, Microsoft -- a big, interesting clash is about to ensue in the realm of mobile tech.

nice image of Google's modus operandi: throw it against the wall and see if it sticks. Was that Rothman who said that? [ed. note: correction: it was Bart Ragon who made this pithy observation.]

all fine speakers, but I think Rothman is the star of the show. Some nice turns of phrase and easygoing presence.

too bad -- Rothman's closing comments ran into a bump here in Spokane; we missed the first few seconds.

Med. Lib. Assoc. webcast on mobile computing drawing to a close now. Closing comments by the panelists.

UPDATE: David Rothman blogged about the webcast twitterfest. Notice that @jopomojo (yours truly) tops the list of twitterers, quantitatively at least.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

How to Set Up a RefWorks Output Style for Annotations

Click on the title of this blog entry for a demo of modifying APA style in RefWorks to facilitate annotations typed into the User 1 field.

EBSCOhost Direct Export to RefWorks Not IS Working

UPDATE: As of 11/12/09 Direct Export from EBSCO databases to RefWorks seems to be working again! Give it a try and let me know with a comment here if you encounter problems.

At present EBSCO is not exporting directly into RefWorks. The issue has been reported to both RefWorks and EBSCO. We’re not the only institution experiencing the problem.

Right now if you are in an EBSCO database and try to export to Refworks, you get this error message:
The direct export from EBSCO is not working at this time. We regret any inconvenience that this may cause. You can export the selected references to a text file and import them via the Import function from within RefWorks.
As a work-around you can export one record at a time from EBSCO using the "Generic bibliographic management software" option. Then import each record into RefWorks. (Unfortunately, it appears that not all records make it through the export process if you try to do this by putting a bunch of records in your folder and exporting them as a batch. You can try it, but you'll likely have to go back and retrieve individual records that got left out and export them one at a time.)

Here is a brief video demonstrating the one-record-at-a-time indirect export process. (You might need to crank up the volume to hear the audio.)

Hopefully this issue will be resolved soon! Sorry for the inconvenience.

Thursday, November 05, 2009

“Cut the Cord: Connecting to Our Mobile Users” -- Nov 18 Webinar at Riverpoint

Medical Library Assn. Webinar: “Cut the Cord: Connecting to Our Mobile Users”

Nov 18, 2009, 11am – 1pm, in SAC 241 on the Riverpoint Campus.

Program Objectives
  • describe mobile technology and its value for librarians and health care professionals

  • demonstrate mobile technology devices and innovative applications

  • explore programs that illustrate the potential of mobile technology for health professionals

  • discuss funding opportunities to create and sustain mobile technology programs

  • This webinar is sponsored (i.e., paid for) by Inland NorthWest Health Science Libraries (INWHSL). INWHSL is offering it at no charge to attendees. Medical Library Assn CE credit available.

    Pre-Registration required; parking permits available if needed.

    image source

    Monday, November 02, 2009

    PubMed Redesign

    In late October 2009, the National Library of Medicine launched a redesigned version of PubMed. This slideshow from the University of Rochester Medical Center Library is quite helpful in showing the before and after of the PubMed redesign, with screen shots and graphical pointers on where to find that thing you used to use in the old PubMed which you can't seem to find in the new PubMed.

    Note, you'll probably want to view this in full screen mode. (Click on "Full" at the bottom of the window.)

    A few more helpful links:

    PubMed Redesign: NLM Technical Bulletin

    PubMed Handouts from NN/LM

    PubMed Has a New Look! (UW Health Links)

    New PubMed Video (U of Manitoba)

    And a couple of reminders to EWU and WSU folks: (1) Make sure you go to PubMed via one of the links on your institution's library website. That way, PubMed will be hooked up to your library's full text holdings via the "Check for Full Text at EWU" or "Find it @ WSU" buttons. (2) Consider accessing PubMed content via the EBSCOhost version of MEDLINE. The advantage of searching MEDLINE via EBSCOhost is that you can concurrently search MEDLINE and other health sciences databases such as CINAHL or SportDiscus. (In the WSU system, unfortunately, MEDLINE and CINAHL cannot be searched concurrently, due to the limitations of WSU's link resolver. More info here.)

    Thursday, October 22, 2009

    Healthy Fair 2009

    Drop by the Library's table at Healthy Fair 2009 and check out what's going on in the area of health information here on campus and beyond.

    10/22/2009 11:00 AM - 2:00 PM

    * Contact: Healthy Fair Vendors
    * Email:
    * Phone: 509-358-7528
    * Organization: WSU Spokane
    * Location: Riverpoint Campus, Academic Center Lobby

    You are invited to Healthy Fair 2009. The Healthy Fair is a fun annual event hosted by the Riverpoint Campus Wellness Collaborative in partnership with the WSU Excercise Metabolism and Physiology students to educate and involve the campus and surrounding community in exploring healthy lifestyle choices. We anticipate a broad spectrum of vendors who represent recreational activities, healthy living, nutrition, health care organizations, fitness, and more. We hope you will be able to join us!

    More Riverpoint Campus Events

    Tuesday, October 20, 2009

    Top Ten Things I Learned at the PNC/MLA Conference

    10. The Washington Athletic Club (WAC)is a cool place. Nice to be able to slip into the sports bar on the second floor in between sessions and catch an inning of the AL playoff game. Excellent food service, too; just an overall classy place.

    9. There are some dang cool people in PNC/MLA. (Y'all know who you are.) Enjoyed chatting and networking, would like to get to know these folks better!

    8. LibGuides is a great system. I knew it was, having just started using it, but Kathy Murray's presentation reinforced and increased my appreciation. (For me it's sort of like Obama's Nobel Peace Prize -- some folks have said he got it for not being George W. Bush. Likewise, I love LibGuides because it is not EWU's content management system which manages to make it more of a hassle to create or edit a web page than if you had to write out the html longhand on toilet paper with a blunt pencil. But aside from that, LibGuides, like Obama, really is great.)

    7. Healthcare in the U.S. is facing a perfect storm: convergence of financial uncertainty, troubling demographics (the damned baby boomers!), a healthcare workforce shortage, political conflict, and rapidly changing technology. The crisis is both a danger and an opportunity. Librarians need to help inform and navigate to calm waters. (William Welton)

    6. Conference twittering (#pncmla09} is fun. Subculture of twitterers = cool people. I enjoyed the dynamic interplay of tweets and conference stuff. Sort of like passing notes during class -- but useful notes!

    5. Patient Centered Medical Home (PCMH) is a new approach to primary care -- team-based, coordinated, whole-person focused -- which could positively play into the current healthcare reform debate. (Lori Heim)

    4. Interlibrary loan and Docline usage are declining. Why? Interesting trend to consider. Research opportunity? (Diane McCutcheon's talk on disruptive technology touched on this and other compelling stuff.)

    3. Clickers are fun. I've used them once for a class and found them cumbersome, but the creative use of them at this conference inspires me to give them another try.

    2. Unshelved, of which I had only seen a couple of strips, is a lot funnier than I realized. Really funny, in fact. Great presentation and a great dinner last night. I'm a fan now!

    1. Screencasting options have proliferated since I last used Captivate about four years ago. Jing and are free and easy. Camtasia allows kick-ass editing. Alison Aldrich's workshop fired me up -- especially liked the Screencast Slam! I just used Jing to do a "just in time" screencast for an off-campus faculty member who emailed me a question about logging on.

    Tuesday, October 13, 2009


    I went, I rocked, it was fun.

    Thursday, September 24, 2009

    I Got Sick

    Here's how my month of September has gone so far:

    Sept 1: I came down with a cold just in time for my first day back at work. And I had an ingrown toenail that became infected. So I was sniffling and limping around and feeling fairly pathetic. I took Thursday and Friday off work, bumped up my consumption of vitamins and started a course of run-of-the-mill antibiotics for the toe and incipient sinus infection. I figured I'd be good as new on Tuesday (Monday being the Labor Day holiday). My wife and I canceled our trip to Seattle, to rest and recuperate and rearrange the house (that's my wife's idea of resting and recuperating). She had a cold, too; in fact, I'm pretty sure I caught mine from her. And our two-year-old was starting to sniffle as well.

    Sept 6: Just as I thought I was getting over the cold, I woke up Sunday night in the middle of the night with a fever of 101 and the tell-tale "flu-like" body aches. Over the next several days, the body aches and fever increased (peaking at 103) and I experienced the tell-tale flu-like "I feel like I got hit by a truck," accompanied by extreme malaise, coughing, and self-pity.

    Sept 9: I finally went to the doctor, who said it was in all likelihood the swine flu, H1N1 (although it remains unconfirmed). The doc gave me a prescription for Tamiflu (probably too late to do much good) as well as prophylactic prescriptions for the wife and kids; which, even with some help from Uniform Medical, put a bit of a dent in my wallet.

    Sept 12-14: I refrained from taking Tylenol or Ibuprofen for 24 hours, even though I still had a headache, in order to gauge whether I could pass the "24 hours without a fever of more than 100 degrees" test. I passed the test on Saturday night. But then the fever started bouncing up above 100 again on Sunday. So I stayed home again on Monday. (The CDC doesn't seem to have guidelines about what happens if you go for 24 hours without a fever, but then it returns again the next day.)

    Sept 15: On the feast day of Our Lady of Sorrows (according to the calendar at my desk) I returned to work, having passed the fever test again. I was coughing more, though. The first thing that landed in my inbox was a message from my parents saying there was an article on the front page of their local paper that I should check out. So I did. "Studies: Swine flu spreads long after fever stops." I shared that article with my superiors and suggested maybe I should reschedule my distance ed. instruction trip to the other side of the state and work from home for the remainder of the week. They agreed that that seemed sensible. One of my classes here on campus couldn't be rescheduled and my boss generously offered to cover it for me. (Thanks Bob!) I went home.

    Sept 16: The cough got worse and I began to feel like my lungs were swimming in fluid. I had coughed through the night. And when I had finally managed to become unconscious, I had woken up at 3 a.m. in a puddle of cold sweat. My wife had moved into the next room so she could get some sleep. I went to the doctor and got a chest x-ray which confirmed pneumonia. I had already been taking Augmentin for the sinus infection and the infected toe that had preceded the flu; the doc took me off the Augmentin and put me on a scary antibiotic called Avelox, with a warning that one of the side effects of Avelox is that your tendons can start to snap like dried out old rubber bands. So I'm not supposed to do any stretching or my usual daily round of contortion exercises. Weird. (Fortunately I am still permitted to perform as many mental contortions as I want -- one of my favorite pastimes.)

    Sept 21: On the feast of St. Matthew (says the calendar at my desk) I returned to work. Still coughing a lot, but feeling quite like the Avelox is kicking the pneumonia's butt and leading me back towards tendon-snapping good health. St. Matthew pray for me.

    Sept 24 (today): I ventured out twice to answer reference questions. After the first one, I returned to the staff area and declared, "I infected my first patron!" It's a joke. I'm pretty sure I didn't. For one thing, I didn't cough on him. For another thing, even though I did touch his keyboard and mouse, I had just washed my hands for the 137th time right before I ventured out there. I'm still not ready to run the hundred yard dash, and I'm not even quite up to scaling the stairs to the second floor--where the library resides here at Riverpoint. (I ride the elevator, even though I hate elevators and usually avoid them if possible.) I'm drinking lots of water, swallowing lots of vitamins (along with the Avelox) and refraining from my usual lunchtime stroll along the river with a cigar. I'm on the mend!

    So long September, I feel like I hardly knew ya.

    Tuesday, September 01, 2009

    The Kindergarten/Back to Work Blues

    Today is the first day of kindergarten for my eldest daughter. After dropping her off, I turned to confront my own first day back at work after a two-month summer holiday. I sat at my desk awhile, scribbled down a list of things I need to get done today, then ventured over to the shelves in my office and absentmindedly pulled down Mary Karr's book of poems, Sinners Welcome. By sheer accident, I cracked it open right to this most apropos poem:
    Revelations in the Key of K
    by Mary Karr

    I came awake in kindergarten,
    under the letter K chalked neat
    on a field-green placard leaned

    on the blackboard's top edge. They'd caged me
    in a metal desk--the dull word writ
    to show K's sound. But K meant kick and kill

    when a boy I'd kissed drew me
    as a whiskered troll in art. On my sheet,
    the puffy clouds I made to keep rain in

    let torrents dagger loose. "Screw those
    who color in the lines," my mom had preached,
    words I shared that landed me on a short chair

    facing the corner's empty, sheetrock page. Craning up,
    I found my K high above.
    You'll have to grow to here, its silence said.

    And in the surrounding alphabet, my whole life hid--
    names of my beloveds, sacred vows I'd break.
    With my pencil stub applied to wall,

    I moved around the loops and vectors,
    Z to A, learning how to mean, how
    in the mean world to be.

    But while I worked the room around me
    began to smudge--like a charcoal sketch my mom
    was rubbing with her thumb. Then

    the instant went, the month, and every season
    smeared, till with a wrenching arm tug
    I was here, grown, but still bent

    to set down words before the black eraser
    swipes our moment into cloud, dispersing all
    to zip. And when I blunder in the valley

    of the shadow of blank about to break
    in half, my being leans against my spinal K,
    which props me up, broomstick straight,

    a strong bone in the crypt of meat I am.


    Sunday, August 30, 2009

    The sign of judgment: the earth will begin to sweat.

    There was a time when I spent a lot of time in public libraries. They're great places for the intellectually curious and the financially challenged. Then I became a public librarian -- and became jaded towards the library-going experience. Then I became an academic librarian; and now, after some years in academia, I am still fairly ruined for the joys of public library patronage. But I do enjoy poking my head in from time to time. So, the other day, while waiting for Walgreens to fill a prescription of antibiotics for my daughter's infected mosquito bite, I ventured into the nearby branch of the local public library system.

    Among the gems I found while browsing the stacks was this: 1000: A Mass for the End of Time by a group of golden-throated ladies called Anonymous 4. I'm listening to it right now, and thumbing through the notes, including the Latin text with parallel English/French/German translation. The first line of the Processional Hymn is notable:
    Judicii signum, tellus sudore madescit.

    The sign of judgment: the earth will begin to sweat.

    A prophetic reference to global warming? A description of the summer of '09 in Spokane? In any case, quite an image, and a beautiful apocalyptic liturgy pulled from a millenium past.

    Wednesday, July 29, 2009

    Q. When is an Abbreviation Not an Abbreviation?

    A. When it's International Braz J Urol.

    I've been working on a bibliometric analysis project and part of the process of compiling the data involves deciphering scads of sometimes obscure journal abbreviations. Well, I came upon the following: International Braz J Urol. The first oddity is that "International" is not abbreviated. I'd have expected Int Braz J Urol, and I'd have guessed that to stand for the International Brazilian Journal of Urology -- which is itself a rather awkward formulation. So, upon further investigation, I discovered that, apparently, the name of the journal is in fact: International Braz J Urol. Which has got to drive the abbreviators (and who are these people?) crazy. On the other hand, maybe the abbreviators take one look at this, smile, nod, and think, "Yes, our scheme to replace sensible titles with obscure fragments of titles is beginning to spread like the swine flu."

    Friday, June 26, 2009

    Get 'er Done

    Source (via my colleague MW)

    Friday, May 22, 2009

    May 27 Drop-In: Google Scholar

    When: Wednesday, May 27, 12:15 to 12:45pm

    Where: Academic Center, Room SAC 311

    Description: You use Google, but have you tried Google Scholar -- the megalithic search engine's entry into the realm of academic literature? Come explore how Google Scholar can complement the paid subscription databases available to you through your affiliation with WSU or EWU. Learn how to utilize Google Scholar's citation tracking functionality and how to hook Google Scholar up to the full-text holdings available to you through your academic institution.

    This will be your last chance to grab your lunch and drop in before Wednesday Drop-Ins drop out for summer, so if you've been thinking, "Hmm... I should drop into one of those sessions sometime" -- this is it!

    Friday, May 15, 2009

    May 20 Drop-In: The Riverpoint Campus Library Wiki

    When: Wednesday, May 20, 12:15 to 12:45pm

    Where: Academic Center, Room SAC 311

    Description: In this session, librarian Rietta Pew will demonstrate how the Riverpoint Campus Library wiki can be used as a portal to both EWU and WSU information sources available at the library.

    Contact Info: For more information, please contact Rietta Pew at 358-7929.

    Neck Pain in Medline and MeSH: Charting the semantic relationship of a MeSH term to article title words


    The following is a blog "pre-print" of the poster I am presenting at the Medical Library Association Annual Meeting this weekend in Honolulu.



    The author of a scholarly journal article is generally expected to affix a title to her article in order to provide the reader with a clue as to what the article is about. Similarly, if that article appears in a journal indexed by Medline, an indexer comes along and affixes a series of MeSH terms to it. This second effort is also aimed at describing what the article is about, but in the very specialized language of MeSH. In both instances, the author first and foremost, and then the MeSH indexer, struggle with the question of “aboutness.” What is this article about and how can I best convey that in a few words?

    The study outlined here aims at tracing the semantic interrelationship of these two activities, that of the author with her title words and the indexer with his MeSH vocabulary. The study begins by quantifying and analyzing the duplication or non-duplication of “neck pain” and its variants appearing as article title words for a set of records in which Neck Pain also appears as a MeSH Major Topic. By closely and quantitatively assessing the varying strength of the semantic relationship between title words and the MeSH term, we hope to gain insight into the thorniness of the aboutness problem, and arrive at a fuller appreciation of both the value and limitations of MeSH and other systems of controlled vocabulary.

    Neck Pain

    Discomfort or more intense forms of pain that are localized to the cervical region. This term generally refers to pain in the posterior or lateral regions of the neck. Year introduced: 1997

    --MeSH Browser (2009)


    The main set and variant subsets of records used for this study are limited to records entered into Medline during a five-year period, 1999 through 2003. This period was chosen in order to ensure that (a) the records occur late enough following the introduction of Neck Pain as a MeSH term (in 1997) for its usage to be firmly established and (b) the records are old enough that the inputting and indexing process has stabilized. The main set and subsets are also limited to articles in English relating to humans.

    The PubMed search resulting in the set of articles with Neck Pain as a Mesh Major Topic was formulated as follows:

    “neck pain” [MeSH Major Topic] AND (("1999"[EDAT] : "2003"[EDAT]) AND "humans"[MeSH Terms] AND English[lang] AND medline[sb])

    Subsets were produced using the following search formulations in PubMed (excluding here the limiting terms, for the sake of simplicity):

    Subset 1: “neck pain” [MeSH Major Topic] AND “neck pain” [Title Word]

    Subset 2: “neck pain” [MeSH Major Topic] AND neck [Title Word]AND pain [Title Word] NOT “neck pain” [Title Word]

    Subset 3: (“neck pain” [MeSH Major Topic] AND (neck [Title Word] NOT pain [Title Word])) OR (“neck pain” [MeSH Major Topic] AND (pain [Title Word] NOT neck [Title Word]))

    Subset 4: “neck pain” [MeSH Major Topic] NOT neck [Title Word] NOT pain [Title Word]


    Main set = 445 records with Neck Pain as a MeSH Major Topic. Four subsets were identified, each with records exhibiting a progressively weaker semantic relationship between the MeSH term and title words:

    The records of Subset 1 exhibit the strongest semantic relationship between title words and the MeSH term. The records of Subset 4 exhibit the weakest semantic relationship.

    Part 2 of this study, which is beyond the scope of this poster, will extend the analysis to a close examination of the presence or absence of synonymous or related terms among the title words in subsets 3 and 4.


    Over half of the records in the main set possess titles which could be considered weak or very weak in their semantic relationship to the MeSH Major Topic Neck Pain (which, for the purposes of this study, may be considered the topic that defines the set).

    This finding may not come as a great surprise to librarians who constantly instruct their students to be mindful of and utilize controlled vocabulary in formulating a search strategy. From one point of view, the semantic variance of title words from the MeSH term is illustrative of the important role of controlled vocabulary in traversing a broad semantic landscape. From another angle, our finding raises the question of why there is such variance among authors in applying consistent terminology for a concept as relatively simple as neck pain.

    The results of this study point toward further questions which may be answered by a more refined analysis of the records contained in the main set, and particularly the records contained in subsets 3 and 4. What synonymous or related terms are to be found among the titles of these records? Do patterns of terminology appear, which point towards search strategies, such as hedging, which could complement informed use of a database’s controlled vocabulary?

    Finally, this study, limited as it is to records defined by a single MeSH Major Topic, suggests the question of whether records relevant to that topic might exist outside the set. That is, could the Medline indexers have missed a few relevant records when assigning MeSH terms to articles? The answer is, of course, yes; but a close semantic analysis of that extended set of records might be both instructive to the searcher and revealing of the fuzzy contours of human knowledge. Hence this pain in my neck.

    Sources consulted

    Andersen, Jack (2004) Analyzing the role of knowledge organization in scholarly communication: An inquiry into the intellectual foundation of knowledge organization. PhD thesis, Department of Information Studies, Royal School of Library and Information Science, Copenhagen, Denmark.

    Brooks, T. A. (1998). The semantic distance model of relevance assessment. Proceedings of the 61st Annual Meeting of ASIS, Pittsburgh, PA, October 25-28, 1998: Information Access in the Global Information Economy, 35, 33-44.

    Chang, A. A., Heskett, K. M., & Davidson, T. M. (2006). Searching the literature using medical subject headings versus text word with PubMed. The Laryngoscope, 116(2), 336-340.

    Gault, L. V., Shultz, M., & Davies, K. J. (2002). Variations in medical subject headings (MeSH) mapping: From the natural language of patron terms to the controlled vocabulary of mapped lists. Journal of the Medical Library Association, 90(2), 173-180.

    Jenuwine, E. S., & Floyd, J. A. (2004). Comparison of medical subject headings and text-word searches in MEDLINE to retrieve studies on sleep in healthy individuals. Journal of the Medical Library Association, 92(3), 349-353.

    Kostoff, R. N., Block, J. A., Stump, J. A., & Pfeil, K. M. (2004). Information content in medline record fields. International journal of medical informatics, 73(6), 515-527.

    Carlin, B. G. (2004). PubMed automatic term mapping. Journal of the Medical Library Association, 92(2), 168.


    I would like to thank my physical therapist for her skillful attention to my MeSH-related discomfort or more intense forms of pain that are localized to the cervical region.


    Tuesday, May 12, 2009

    May 13 Drop-In: RefWorks

    When: Wednesday, May 13, 12:15-12:45 p.m.

    Where: Riverpoint Campus, SAC 311

    Description: EWU Libraries subscribes to RefWorks, a tool for creating bibliographies and citing your sources in virtually any style. Drop by during the lunch hour for a quick intro to RefWorks. Learn how to set up your RefWorks account, how to import citations from the library's databases, and how to use RefWorks in tandem with Microsoft Word to create bibliographies and in-text citations in APA and other citation styles. Grab your lunch and drop on in!

    Thursday, April 30, 2009

    No Drop-In This Week (May 6)

    The Riverpoint Campus Library Wednesday Drop-Ins are taking a breather next week (May 6) but will return in force on May 13 with a demo of RefWorks for EWU folks. Stay tuned for more info. (You WSU folks are winding down for the year, so you are exempt! Summer beckons!)

    Friday, April 24, 2009

    April 29 Drop-In: Web of Science Database Demo

    What: Wednesday Drop-In at the Riverpoint Campus Library: Web of Science--Science Citation Index Database Demo

    When: Wednesday, April 29, 12:15 to 12:45pm

    Where: Academic Center, Room SAC 311

    Description: The Web of Science--Science Citation Index is a multidisciplinary index to the journal literature of the sciences. It fully indexes over 6,650 major journals across 150 scientific disciplines and includes all cited references captured from indexed articles. Grab your lunch and drop in for a half-hour demo of this powerful research tool.

    Free giant chocolate chip cookies and delectable sliced fruit!

    Friday, April 17, 2009

    April 22 Drop-In: Cochrane Library Database Demo

    What: Wednesday Drop-In at the Riverpoint Campus Library: Cochrane Library Database Demo

    When: Wednesday, April 22, 12:15 to 12:45pm

    Where: Academic Center, Room SAC 311

    Description: The Cochrane Library contains high-quality, independent evidence to inform healthcare decision-making. It includes reliable evidence from Cochrane and other systematic reviews, clinical trials, and more. Cochrane reviews bring you the combined results of the world’s best medical research studies, and are recognised as the gold standard in evidence-based health care. Grab your lunch and drop in for a half-hour demo of this key health sciences resource!

    * As always, a variety of cookies and fresh fruit will be served.