MLA-Related Deadlines & News

Let’s start right away with some important reminders!  There are a lot of opportunities to get involved with MLA nationally and to take advantage of funding.

Upcoming Deadlines:

Next up on in the national front, the Midwest Chapter is proud to have several members listed on the MLA ballot!  Stay tuned for the official announcement.

  • Jane Blumenthal – President-Elect
  • Michelle Kraft – MLA Board
  • Melissa Rethlefsen – Nominating Committee
  • (Peg Allen, friend of the Midwest Chapter, is also on the ballot!)

Finally, just a note that the upcoming MLA webinar “ABCs of E-Books: Strategies for the Medical Library” will feature Chapter member Michelle Kraft, as well as fellow midwesterners Karen Fisher and Marian Simonson.

If you have news you’d like to see posted on ConnectMidwest, feel free to e-mail me, Amy Donahue, at!

Conference Wrap-Up

We hope you enjoyed the blog coverage of this year’s Midwest Chapter/MLA annual conference. As your intrepid blog editor, I would like to thank our three conference bloggers Amy, Jean, and Stephanie for their great work! This is our fifth year blogging the Midwest Chapter conference and I think it may be the best yet.

We may be finished with the conference blogging, but there are still photos being uploaded to Flickr. As I write this there have been 251 photos tagged midwestmla10 uploaded to Flickr by five photographers. Check them out! Our “official” conference photographer Michael still has some of his fabulous photos to upload. We are in the process of setting up a new Midwest Chapter/MLA Flickr account for those photos. We will let you know when those are posted.

Do YOU have any photos that you took at the conference? Please consider posting them to Flickr and sharing them with all of us!

But wait! There’s more! Presentation slides from many of the conference sessions have already been posted on the conference website on the contributed papers page. Just click on the title of the presentation to see the slides. More will be added as the authors submit them.

Library Advocacy: a Wisconsin example

Session 17 – Eileen Severson, Mary Bayorgeon

I have to admit, I was inspired by this session.  Next week I’ll be doing some advocacy for my senator before the November election, but I’m really considering it practice for sticking up for medical & hospital libraries for the rest of my life.

Eileen and Mary gave an excellent presentation that began with some background info on the requirement for hospital libraries: at one point, New York State threw out the library requirement for hospitals, but as a result, the famous Rochester Study came out.  On the other hand, we’re fortunate here, as there is a Wisconsin Administrative Code for regulating hospitals that requires a health sciences library: DHS 124.09.  Sadly, it hasn’t been enforced.

Some additional info: Wisconin’s COLAND (Library council) advises the state superintendent of public instruction on library issues affecting all types of state libraries.  When hospital library closures prompted Mary to do something, this was the body she was able to approach (she is, in fact, a current member).  In order to be the most persuasive when approaching the superintendent, it was decided that a survey should be sent out.  And while Code 124.09 specified only a requirement for a library and not for staff (124 as a whole deals with all hospital services), the survey asked hospital libraries for information on both.  The survey showed that, I believe, 6 libraries had been closed since 2005.

The survey results were used at a meeting with the relevant administrative bodies last year; attendees also included WHSLA and COLAND representatives along with other various health agencies Mary organized.  In addition to the survey, the meeting preparation included a prepared letter to director of the bureau of health services, division of quality assurance, statements of concern about closures, and references to studies that showed the impact of hospital libraries.  They emphasized how the services provided by a professional librarian save money and argued that hospitals with closed libraries lacked important patient services.

The response was positive and certainly raised awareness…but they found out that the agency enforces federal regulations, and is paid by the federal government.  In addition, it’s a complaint based department, and there had been no complaints, so they hadn’t heard of closures.  They also learned that Code 124 is under revision and was accepting comments.  The trend is less prescriptive in favor of outcome-based requirements

The main outcome of meeting was that the closings were officially recorded as complaints.  And now there is lots of work to do!  They are currently promoting revisions for the code that include a hospital library staffed by a professional librarian.  But the success of this is questionable, especially since the requirements won’t be prescriptive.  What’s needed is an outcome-based requirement that shows a library role.  The public hearing hasn’t happened yet, and Mary/COLAND will get a draft of the proposal beforehand which they’ll use to develop a response.

And so sounds the call for advocacy!  This was a common theme of this meeting, which I’m excited about!

(I apologize for the choppiness of this entry; I think I’m missing some key details about the bodies involved.  Please add any knowledge you might have in the comments!  I’d also love to see Mary’s slides posted…)

The Level of Evidence Used to Answer General Practitioners’ Questions

Session 14: Karen Davies

Karen Davies presented her fascinating research on what level of evidence is most often used to answer general practitioners’ questions, done in the UK.

She started with a couple of thoughts/definitions: first was Venn diagram from Haynes (1996) that showed evidence-based practice as the over-lap of research evidence, patient preferences, and clinical expertise (which, she clarified, does not go away in EBP).  She also raised the question: if you can’t get level 1 or level 2 evidence, is it worth using evidence at all (case studies, e.g.)?  Her response–yes.  She also raised a point I found intriguing: perhaps we should question meta-analysis’s position at the top level, since they’re often inconsistent and even the statisticians can’t agree.  I’m not sure I entirely agree with her, but I definitely think it’s a good point to take into consideration with meta-analysis studies.

She had 2 main research objectives: to determine the highest level of evidence used in answering questions, and also to determine the number of times guidelines are used.  To answer them, she looked at 2 primary care answering services in the UK: ATTRACT and the NLH Primar Care Answering Service.  Their answers are publicly posted online, so it was simply a matter of tallying everything up.

Some results:

  • On average (for both services), only 11% of the answers used top-level evidence.
  • The two services had very different numbers of questions not answered…the sidenote being that there will always be questions for which there is no evidence.  Yet.
  • 42% of the answers referred to guidelines.
  • Very few of the questions were answered using level 2 evidence (clinical trials)

As of now, the NLH service has closed.  Which perhaps underscores Karen’s conclusion that since guidelines are so important, doctors need to know where to find them!

An audience member wanted to know whether there is a difference between UK and US guidelines; Karen’s answer was that she believe the UK is a bit stricter about having obvious “expiration” dates on their guidelines, but she noted that the answering services used US guidelines in many of their replies.

I found this to be a fascinating presentation, and I was very pleased to see that Karen’s slides are posted (.pptx).  Check them out for more results and pretty graphs!

Interesting Times: a library school project with real-life implications

Sadly, I didn’t get a picture of this group, but I did really enjoy their presentation!  So I’ll attempt to share some of what I learned here with the greater Midwest Chapter.

Dr. Catherine Arnott Smith together with Ms. Anan, Ms. Hellwig, Ms. Huggins, Ms. Townsend and Ms. Westby (all currently enrolled graduate students in SLIS’ LIS degree program) presented on their involvement with the American Family Children’s Hospital Family Resource Center (FRC).  The FRC is known as “a consumer health info resource, reading room, and business center.”  It does not, as Dr. Smith originally thought it might, have any connection with the University of Wisconsin’s Ebling Library.

The FRC has a strong mission and an up-to-date collection, thanks to one-time donations, but it also has to contend with poor location and no staff member/librarian to advocate on its behalf.

And, it turns out, the above sentences should be written in the past tense, because (perhaps partially due to the lack of advocate), the FRC has been shut down.

But the students’ project began before the shut-down, and now continues in new directions; they were originally working towards answering the question of “how can the FRC collection remain responsive to its users?”

The first part of the project was a collection analysis, where the students found inconsistencies and which led to a catalog project.  They began to use CIP data to catalog the materials, and to assign MedlinePlus topic headings to help organize the collection into useful lists.  Unfortunately, with the closure, the collection has been dispersed, but the work the students did is a valuable way to think of dealing with small, non-staffed collections.

The students also created and sent out a survey; they spoke in depth about the survey design.  In the end, there were 12 respondents, mostly parents of patients at the American Family Children’s Hospital.  Although it’s not a large sample, some of the interesting findings include the fact that respondents go to doctors and nurses for assistance with health information; very few go to librarians.  Which is not necessarily surprising, but definitely still good to know, and provides a basis from which to move forward.

So the group ended with a challenge for the audience: where do they go from here, and how might they get the FRC back on its feet?  I think they have some of their own plans, but the audience contributed some thoughts, including continued advocacy and outreach through other area health sciences libraries.

Do you, dear readers, have any other suggestions for them?