Continuing Education Class: Linked Data

LINKED: An Intro to the Semantic Web for Medical Librarians and Biomedical Information Professionals.
This is one of two continuing education courses available on Tuesday, October 9. Jonathan Koffel and Layne Johnson from University of Minnesota taught the class. Jonathan and Layne tag-teamed the presentation by splitting up the ideas into digestible pieces. I’ll do my best to synthesize some essential points.

Without going into too much detail, Jonathan and Layne explained that “objects” (for lack of a better descriptor) on the web are linked by an RDF triple, which consists of the a subject, predicate and object (s->p->o). The subjects and objects in the RDF triple are defined with an uniform resource identifier (URI) which look very similar to URLs. These URIs are readable by both machines and humans and it will display the relevant one when accessed. The predicate in the triple connect the subject and object and are drawn from established ontologies. An ontology defines common and controlled vocabulary for a certain group of users to share information. For example, there is an ontology that describes books, one that many describes relationships between people, etc.

Triples can be searched and retrieved commonly by SPARQL, which is sort of like SQL. This was just a small part of the presentation, but I thought this theory is some of the hardest parts to get one’s head around. Linked data is published and collected in repositories and search engine. You can see some uses of linked data at the New York Times, LinkedCt (Linked Clinical Trials) and DrugBank.

In libraries, we’re still working on learning how to use and integrate linked data. Some of the points that Jonathan and Layne presented were that linked can “increase the visibility of library data, allow more creative reuse of library data and integration of outside data into library records” and “improve cataloging efficiency and innovation.” Personally, I saw the power of linked data in research, particularly with something like LinkedCT, where there would be connections made between conditions, treatments and symptoms. It seemed like there would be lots of potential for deep searching for librarians and their patrons. According to Jonathan, there’s an experimental prototype called Semantic MEDLINE that uses linked data. It looks awesome.

Jonathan and Layne showed us the video from OCLC at the beginning of class and it was great overview:Linked Data for Libraries by OCLC.

Overall, I thought it was a great class and very informative. It’s a big topic for such a short time but I do feel like I have grasp on how linked data works and it’s potential. Pretty good for a four hour class.

It was a great first conference! It was wonderful to meet new people and get involved.
A quick thankful note to the catering company and the hospitality committee. I appreciated the catering company’s consideration of people’s dietary restrictions. I generally eat gluten-free (though definitely broke down over the Minnesota beer tasting) and it’s great that there is enough variety for a full meal, whether you eat vegetarian or vegan or gluten-free.

NLM/MLA/GMR updates

New from the NLM:
The NLM came out with a huge list of resources and updates this year. Among them:

  • MedlinePlus Connect
  • PubMed (interface updates)
  • PubMed Health
  • LiverTox
  • After School Activity Club
  • GeneEd
  • Drug Information Portal (mobile site)
  • My Medication List

Additionally, the NLM is now doing some web harvesting and digitization!

Check out the new Hidden Treasure book (free to read online!), the Native Voices exhibit and app, the new website for traveling exhibits, and the new History of Medicine website!

New from the MLA:
This emphasis of the association this year was the future of the association and the strengthening of research. Big updates this year! AHIP documentation is now electronic! And, you can personalize your MLAnet profile!

Some dates to remember:
Nominations for awards due by November 1.
Scholarship and grant applications due by December 1.
Apply to be on a committee by October 31.

Also, the MLA ’12 e-conference is available online! Check out those speeches and presentations from May to get some refreshers and ideas for work!

MLA ’13 is in BOSTON!!! It’s a joint conference with several other associations, so we’ll definitely learn a lot and get unique perspectives! If you have a poster or paper submitted, make sure to finalize your abstracts and details! And if you don’t, there may be an opportunity to submit late-breaking papers! Stay tuned to MLA Focus for more details!

New from the GMR:
The GMR has some new emphases on their work. There will be a focus on 1. Hospital libraries and professional development for their librarians, 2. Health professionals and technology in the implementation of that technology, and 3. Health literacy by raising awareness and improving access to information and resources.

The GMR also covered some major subcontracts and projects, traveling exhibits, new CE, and a new portal for projects and reports. Stay tuned to the Lake Effects Webinars for more information (and CE credit!)

Tag It!

You are invited to join the conference conversation!

Do you Tweet? Tag your conference relate tweets with the hashtag: #midwestmla12

All you photographers out there are invited to post your conference fun photos to Flickr and tag them with: midwestmla12

Midline Editor Needed!

The chapter newsletter Midline is in need of a new editor!

MIDLINE is the official quarterly electronic newsletter of the Midwest Chapter of the Medical Library Association.

In this position, you will work with the chapter-president and head of the communications committee to release a fun and informative quarterly publication to your fellow Midwest cohorts. Duties include organizing future newsletters, contacting members for various news, editing and posting member submissions, and more.

If you are interested or have any questions, please contact Jean Gudenas (

Survey! Instruction in Course Management Software

Does your library use Blackboard, WebCT, Moodle, Angel, or another Course Management or Learning Management System for library instruction? If so, you are being invited to participate in a brief survey. The purpose of this national study is to determine how health sciences librarians are using Course or Learning Management Systems. Specifically, what content are you providing with this delivery method and what are the technology’s existing limitations?

The results of this research will be presented at the upcoming 2011 MLA annual meeting in Minneapolis, MN, and potentially submitted for future publication in a peer-reviewed journal.

Please take ten minutes to complete the brief online survey that can be accessed at the following URL:
Please complete this survey by March 15, 2011.

Thank you in advance for your willingness to complete the survey! Please feel free to share with colleagues directly involved in library instruction and course management software.

With appreciation,

Stefanie E. Warlick and Tierney Lyons

We need your help!

Greetings Midwest Folk!

One of the goals for the communications committee is to update the Midwest Chapter Website and this is where I need the help of our amazing readers! Please take a few minutes and let us know what information is out-of-date or seems obsolete on the website. We want to create a website that can be frequently visited for the most current information. And if you are able to provide the current data, we will toast your name with our cups of coffee/tea

You can either email me at or else comment to this blog (must have an account).

As always, reporting to you live

NCBI ROFL: A Way to Beat the Winter Doldrums

The Midwest is known for many things: we live in “America’s Heartland,” many of us live in the “Rust Belt” or “Tornado Alley,” and we may have the most diverse crappy weather of the nation. I will admit it; I am not a fan of winter after December. The gray snow matches the dreary sky and despite longer days, I often forget what sunshine feels like.

So here’s my cure to help with those winter doldrums—ridiculous PubMed entries.

One of my favorite blogs is NCBI ROFL, which was recently incorporated into Discover’s DiscoBlog. NCBI ROFL consists of “two prone-to-distraction grad students [that] post real scientific articles with funny subjects.” Here are a few of my favorite PubMed entries, but I highly recommend this site to anyone who needs a reminder that doctors have a sense of humor and medicine can be downright silly (just try to forget that our taxes may have gone into funding the studies)

Taubman Health Sciences Library Connects with University of Michigan’s Mini Med School

Merle began with the most obvious question: What are Mini Med Schools? They are a public education program generally consisting of a lecture series on medical topics. Currently, there are more than 70 medical schools, institutions, and hospitals that have Mini Med Schools.

The What: UM Mini Med School is intended to provide the community with information not otherwise readily available in an informal manner.

It is a 6 week course that meets once a week and includes a lecture and an opportunity to speak with the lecturer. There was a variety of topics, including Cancer, Infectious Disease, The Cardiovascular System, Genetics and Medicine, Gastrointestinal System, and more.

The library became involved in 2003, beginning a collaboration by providing supplemental list of resources on the topics covered in the course. Although initially using more print resources, the current list is mostly electronic resources.

Mini Med School From the Horse’s Mouth:

As the liaison librarian to the Internal Medicine division of Metabolism, Endocrinology, and Diabetes, Mark MacEachern had the opportunity to attend the 2010 Mini Med School.

Mark meet with the faculty (ranging from academic to clinical faculty), listen to faculty discuss their research/clinical interests, and provided a better understanding on the faculty needs. He also gained insight into the medical school itself and how it’s structured.

For additional information, contact Merle Rosenzweig or Mark MacEachern

–As always, reporting to you live


GMR/NLM update

Current year goals:

  • Promote emergency preparedness
  • Facilitate group purchasing.licensing
  • Plan for print retention and preservation
  • Assist physicians with EHR implementation

Goal 1: Emergency preparedness

Program evaluation

  • Baseline member survey (spring 2008)
  • Toolkit usability study (winter 2010)
  • Follow-up member survey (winter 2011

A CE course called: Ten step approach to service continuity planning–goal to teach every state.
Goal 2: E-Licensing Group

Group purchasing of health related online packages (ebooks, ejournals, databases). One package is currently available, Ovid-Nursing bundle. If interested, sign up for the listserv found on the GMR website, linked off of the resource-sharing tab that will be featuring more information about the package.

Goal 3: Print Retention

Print Retention Task Force focusing on the developing the preservation of materials and implemented in the next 5 year contract. Currently gathering data from the surveys of Resource Library Directors, SERHOLD, Network Member Interviews. The immediate goal is a plan

Goal 4: Electronic Health Records

ARRA funding through Regional Extension Centers (RECs) to help:

  • assist physicians to adopt EHR
  • Meaningful use of issue/standards
  • Critical access and rural hospitals

The librarian’s role includes literature assistance for health professionals and education about the standards.

Promoting Your Library website from the GMR includes several posters, like Time=Money

Go Local, no longer

NLM supported over 30 Go Local sites around the US, 7 of which were in the GMR region. Unfortunately, NLM decided to discontinued support Go Local sites in 2010. However, two of the GMR’s Go Local sites are planning to continue the services.

NLM’s decision was made based on the searching patterns from the past several years, with most focus on search engines like Google. This combined with high-amount of work involved and reductions in library staff forced the program led to the discontinuation of the program.

Funding opportunities–take advantage through EFTS, exhibits, Outreach Express, planning and assessment, professional development, professional instruction, and technology

Several new classes are being introduced, such as:

  • PubMed and the Evidence-Based Universe
  • The Topes: Planning Instruction for the Adult Learner
  • Emergency Preparedness for Libraries
  • Health Issues in the HeadlinesL Learning to read between the lines

What’s New at NLM

NCBI Training. This is a two day workshop (one will be offered at UIUC in the late fall or early winter)

PubMed Health. Under development by the NCBI that is focused on evidence-based consumer level of information. This is not intended to replace MedlinePlus, rather be a supplement for searching.

MedlinePlus recently underwent a website design. At last count, there are 36,000 pages; 859 language health topics; 172 tutorials; 185 videos (mostly anatomy and surgery). The licensing content comes from encyclopedias, health sources, and news.

Coming soon to MedlinePlus includes a mobile detection and medlinePlus Connect. The goal is to connect patients and providers to information directly and in turn improve health literacy and promote exposure for MedlinePlus.

Problem code–Code to topic mapping–MedlinePlus results

This will be released this fall.

Emergency Access Initiative (EAI)

Collaborative partnership between NLM, NN/LM, and participating publishers to provide free access to full-text articles from 240+ biomedical serial titles and select reference books to healthcare professionals and libraries affected by disasters in the US

This is not an open-access system nor a long-term substitute for access, but temporary access has been significant

NLM on Facebook and Twitter, come join for continual updates! Connect to GMR!

-as always, reporting to you live