May 2018 Library News Round-up: PubMed Data Filters, Data Management Webinars, and Staying Up-to-Date with MLA 2018

After a few exciting weeks of profiling incredible librarians from around the world, I’m relieved to return to familiar territory with a good ol’ fashioned news round-up.  For May 2018, I want to highlight a few interesting new data resources for librarians from National Library of Medicine (NLM) and the National Network of Libraries of Medicine (NNLM), including new data filters on PubMed and PubMed Central and an upcoming webinar series about research data management.  Also, there’s the equivalent of the Super Bowl for medical librarians coming up next week, the annual Medical Library Association (MLA) conference, this year in Atlanta, GA.  I unfortunately won’t be there in person this year, but I’ll follow along through Twitter and blogs.

PubMed Data Filters

On April 24, 2018, the NLM Technical Bulletin announced the ability to filter PubMed and PubMed Central search results to view articles that have associated data sets.  The NLM Technical Bulletin article describes the following data-related filtering options:

  • PubMed
    • Use  data[filter] to find citations with related data links in either the Secondary Source ID field or the LinkOut – Other Literature Resources field.
Data filter on PubMed.

Availability of related data sets is an important step towards improving reproducibility and transparency for research articles.  Hopefully these data-related filters will eventually be more prominently featured in the PubMed filter options (such as in the side-column list of filter options beside search results).

NNLM Research Data Management Webinar Series

The NNLM Research Data Management (RDM) webinar series is kicking off June 14, 2018, 2-3pm ET, with the free webinar Research Data Management Services: Beyond Analysis and Coding.  The presentation by Margaret Henderson, a Health Sciences Librarian at San Diego State University Library, will “show you how to start RDM services, even if you don’t feel confident about your statistical skills or knowledge of R.”

The NNLM RDM webinar series will be an ongoing bimonthly webinar series, with the aim to “support RDM within the library to better serve librarians and their institutional communities.”  I’m personally very excited about this series, since I’ve recently become interested in finding free online training resources related to research data management that are more geared towards information professionals (and less heavily focused on programming skills).  Once again, NNLM delivers with incredibly useful (and FREE!) online professional development resources.

MLA 2018 Resources

I won’t be at the annual MLA conference this year unfortunately (it was an incredible experience last year), but I can avoid fear of missing out (FOMO) thanks to a few helpful resources:

  • Twitter: I’ll definitely be following the #mlanet18 hashtag to learn some of the great insights other medical librarians are taking away from MLA speakers, sessions, and posters (especially the official MLA ’18 Tweeters).
  • Blogs: I’ll check the blog post summaries from the MLA’18 Blog Correspondents.

Have a great time if you’re going to MLA 2018, and remember to Tweet!


Many Paths to Librarianship Profile: Jane Cowell, CEO of Yarra Plenty Regional Library Service

To finish up (for now!) my series of Many Paths to Librarianship posts, I’m very happy to get the viewpoint of a talented librarian from Brisbane, Australia who I first met through her brilliant Twitter accountJane Cowell is CEO of Yarra Plenty Regional Library Service, and her Twitter feed is quickly becoming my daily library news resource to check for fascinating articles on how technology is shaping the library field.

Jane Cowell, CEO of Yarra Plenty Regional Library Service.

1. How did you originally become interested in librarianship as a career?

I have always been a big lover of stories and you guessed it, books.  I started my career in libraries as a Children’s Library Assistant, helping to share reading, stories, language and school holiday activities with the region’s school children and Under 5s in the early eighties.  Yes that is the 1980s.  I did not have any town library growing up and my school also did not have a dedicated library, as I grew up in a very small town, so to have a job in a building full of books was an absolute joy. 

From this first role I worked my way up in the library to become the Circulation Supervisor and realised that if I wanted a career in libraries then I would need to get my degree.  I worked full time, had 2 small children by this stage, and studied part-time and received my degree with Honours and finished in 1995.  I was supported by wonderful mentors at my Library Service who really encouraged me to get my degree.  I was appointed a Branch Librarian in charge of 2 small libraries and the mobile library as soon as I was qualified and then went on to a Library Manager role for a different Council, was then head hunted into a private consultancy firm reviewing library services across Australia for a few years and then worked at the State Library of Queensland for almost 8 years at a macro level for public libraries across Queensland. 

My focus has always been on the importance of literacy for the best opportunities in life, and I have continued to be interested in Early Literacy and the importance of language development in children through storytelling and rhyme.  This interest culminated in the $20 million grant to Queensland Local Government Public Libraries for the First5Forever program which has seen amazing results and real impact over the past 4 years it has been administered by State Library of Queensland.  The latest report is here:

2. How would you describe your library field niche? 

My library niche would be public libraries and the ‘business’ of public libraries. I have always worked at the forefront of public libraries, looking to use technology and outsourcing to free up qualified library staff to really work with people and to get outside the four walls of the library and into the community proper to maximise the positive impact of the library. I have also looked to new ways to measure the impact of libraries and the recent research undertaken by Queensland University of Technology, in partnership with State Library of Queensland, was a culmination of that push. You can read the report and the The Impact of Libraries as Creative Spaces Framework here: .

I also look to the bigger picture for libraries and believe we could be stronger if we worked more closely with library vendors to develop more coordinated discovery platforms that work across all libraries – then can connect you to your local library. Think Spotify for libraries. I was the lead for Project LUCI while at State Library of Queensland to put this belief into practice. It will be very exciting to see this project realised.

3. What types of skills that wouldn’t generally be considered “traditional library work” have you learned during your career as a librarian? 

I am not sure that there is such a thing as ‘traditional’ library work anymore.  Though many from the outside looking in would not realise that you need to be media savvy, be able to manage buildings, budgets and politics while in a library role, but we do this and much more.  I think a project that was a little non traditional was the establishment of The Business Studio at the State Library of Queensland.  This is a place where you learn to ‘stand up’ before you ‘start up’ and all who venture into this space are eager to learn, share their experiences and failures as would-be entrepreneurs and are so surprised and delighted at what the library can offer them. It was a joy to be involved in.  Having curated resources, a regular learning program focused on what you need to know to start your business and to provide networking opportunities were developed with a collaborative team working across a number of SLQ work units.  Of course, the other strange project that I undertook while in Local Government was building a house with an apprenticeship program on Council land but that is another story.  

4. What learning/networking resources do you regularly use to stay up-to-date on the news and trends in your particular niche of the library field? 

Librarians go hard on Twitter and I follow some very innovative librarians, museum people and archivists and learn a lot through that medium.  I also follow some good blogs, and actually search widely for how digital technology disrupts other fields and industries as I think libraries can learn a lot from these other disruptions.  I do also follow a lot of Education Technology blogs and news as libraries and learning are very real interests of mine.  And of course I do choose the one or two conferences that offer the most in my areas of interest and learn from networking with colleagues at these events.  I also read widely – library journals, technology news and I do like to get involved with the Industry Association, Australian Library and Information Association (ALIA) as this is a very good way of staying knowledgeable about future trends and industry news.  Having an individual membership and investing in my own professional development – both time and money – is essential if I am to remain current in my field and to have maximum impact for the communities that I serve.  My best tip is to attend an International Conference (World Library Congress is a good one) at least once in your career and of course when travelling visit that library and be open to learning no matter where you are in your career.

5. What technology trends do you think will have the biggest impact on librarianship in the next decade? 

Everyone is talking about blockchain and what it can do for libraries and I do think it can have real impact in the area of authentication and making this simpler for our members and in our metadata processes too.  But for me the big change for how libraries do their business will be driven by what Google is working on in Artificial Intelligence and machines understanding and responding to natural language.  This will impact how we describe content and our Library Management Systems will need to respond to voice and natural language commands too.  And of course what is knocking at our door is video – we need to be more visual with our content marketing and our ‘How To’ information.  People are looking at YouTube to discover how to learn, where to connect and for new content, and libraries should be there in force.  Of course we all need to learn how to do ‘video storytelling’ but we need to start now.

A few common themes unite these four very different librarians from different countries, different niches, and different types of institutions: a constant love of learning, the willingness to use a variety of technologies to help people get the information they need, and the confidence that librarianship and libraries are still adapting and thriving in a dynamic and quickly changing world.

Many Paths to Librarianship Profile: Study Hub Assistant and Librarian at the City of Wolverhampton College, Rachel Hannah Cobb

So far I’ve done profiles of librarians I’ve worked with (Kait Jackson) or gone to school with (Kathryn Miller, woohoo SMCM Seahawks!).  Now I’d like to branch out a bit and profile a creative and dynamic librarian from the U.K., Rachel Hannah Cobb, who works as a Study Hub Assistant (Librarian) at the City of Wolverhampton College.  I originally came across Rachel’s blog Libraray on social media and found her thoughts about the “death” of librarianship (and her very cool artwork) to be an interesting and inspiring read.  Rachel can also be found on Twitter. Continue reading to learn about Rachel’s path to librarianship!

Rachel Cobb
Study Hub Assistant and Librarian at the City of Wolverhampton College, Rachel Hannah Cobb.

1. How did you originally become interested in librarianship as a career?

When I was 5 years old, my mother tells me I used to chant the mantra “when I grow up, I am going to be a librarian and drive a red car”. I am 50% there at least; I drive a black car! Librarians were, and still are, the epitome of cool to me.

However, my path to librarianship was anything but conventional. Whilst desperately hunting a suitable degree, I was blindsided by my need to impress, to prove my academic worth. Librarianship was not as prestigious as a medical degree, or so I thought. I began an Optometry degree in 2009, upon completing mostly science-based A-levels, including biology and chemistry, although I always wanted to do art. With librarianship on the back-burner, I took the difficult decision to leave Aston University in 2010, as I could not connect with those I helped on a level I wanted to, and eventually went on to start my Creative Expressive Therapies degree, obtaining a first class honours. I needed to learn who I was again and worked on myself during the degree, to then aid others.

Subsequently, in 2014, my life changed forever. At an interview for a permanent cover teacher post, upon leaving University, the headteacher offered me the post of library manager out of the blue! (FATE!) I was thrilled to be able to help students to become self-actualising. I was eager to help students to not make the mistakes I had in my career. To be brave enough to pick the career they sought from the outset and make the necessary steps in their education to get there. I am now completing my Chartership, to right the wrong of lacking any form of librarianship qualification. So my career really has come full circle!

My Librarianship Journey - Rachel Cobb
Rachel’s library journey.

2. How would you describe your library field niche? 

Having worked as a school library manager for a couple of years, I am now working as a FE study hub assistant in a college. I work in a team of 11, thus as I began the Chartership process, I asked my line manager to help to define my specific role within the team. I lead the online presence, updating the website and Moodle (VLE), as well as I created and run the Twitter and Instagram pages. I also co-lead display production and promotion. I wrote down what she said that day: “I want you to raise the profile of our Study Hubs in this changing environment and unpredictable time.”

Our key focus is offering the students all they need when it comes to studying. I have a few primary aims:

  1. To give the library a voice, whilst keeping the college ethos and strategy in mind.
  2. To help students to be the best version of themselves they can be, using creative means to encourage critical thinking and boost brain power, especially when running 1-2-1 tailored study skills workshops.
  3. To make resources tangible/useable in order to decrease the distance between A (knowledge sought) and B (knowledge gained).

3. What types of skills that wouldn’t generally be considered “traditional library work” have you learned during your career as a librarian? 

When locating the relevant information needed for the social media pages, as well as the displays, I have to be up-to-date with societal trends, knowledge the students need and creating visual impact. My IT skills are tested daily. As someone who is not naturally tech-savvy, I am grateful for the training I have received, in particular the CILIP MmIT group training on social media. The revelation of just how creative one needs to be within the role surprised even me. I, too, initially thought that books would be the centre of my role. The rose-tinted glasses have certainly been smashed.

4. What learning/networking resources do you regularly use to stay up-to-date on the news and trends in your particular niche of the library field? 

The LIS LINK JISC mailing list is incredible. Emails pop up throughout the day with insightful tips and tricks as well as relevant training options. The CILIP website and newsletters are also a goldmine of relevant information. Yet, the winner is social media in my eyes. Upon creating my personal Twitter just a couple of months ago, in spite of running the professional page, I am flabbergasted at just how fantastic social media is at connecting people. Yet more crucially, it is an outstanding tool for connecting people to information. With hundreds of librarians now friended, Twitter (and everyone I follow) filters the internet, sieving out the rubbish, leaving me with a hand-selected array of valuable knowledge. I am happy to partake in the process of disseminating LIS knowledge also.

5. What technology trends do you think will have the biggest impact on librarianship in the next decade? 

Who knows what will become of libraries in this digital era, what with virtual reality, augmented reality, artificial intelligence etc.?! Although the impact on libraries may well take more than a decade to come into fruition. When visiting the University of Birmingham library recently, for a guided tour, I realised just how vastly self-service is altering our world, when the money is available to do so.

I feel our success will depend on our ability to work with up and coming technology, and learning to harness its energy, especially as so much of this new tech has an immersive and even addictive quality. Our users love technology, so we should too. The internet will help or hinder us, depending on how well we work alongside it and not against it. I believe e-books are yet to reach their full potential and I am sure they will increase in number and usage. Realistically, I feel an increase in the amount of tech usage, i.e. i-Pads and laptops, is inevitable in the coming years.

Many Paths to Librarianship Profile: Kait Jackson, Reference Librarian

Here’s another entry in the post series “Many Paths to Librarianship Profiles,” this time featuring my friend and former coworker Kait Jackson.  Kait and I worked together for a few years in the intellectual property (mainly patent) information field, and today Kait works as a reference librarian with a focus on patent information.

Reference librarian Kait Jackson.

1. How did you originally become interested in librarianship as a career?I first remember admiring librarians in middle school while doing a research paper on The Beatles for English class. This was before the internet really blew up, and I was doing searches by hand in the card catalog. I remember thinking how cool it must be to be the lady at the front desk, who knows where everything is, or at the very least knows where to find it. Later on, in college, I started working at my university’s library and became truly hooked on helping people find information that they needed.

2. How would you describe your library field niche? 

I studied and worked with intellectual property laws and concepts at my college library, and then again when I went to graduate school, while working in interlibrary loan and document sharing. In graduate school I took classes on copyright law, and my first real job out of school was working at an intellectual property firm dealing with patents, trademarks, and occasionally copyright. Currently I work in the US Patent and Trademark Office’s public search facility, where I help users get acquainted with and navigate our search systems, locate documents in the print and microfilm collections, and direct them to more specific resources like the Office of Innovation and Development and the Trademark Assistance Center. Right now we’re also preparing a microfilm collection of Patent Gazettes going back to 1790 for cataloguing!

3. What types of skills that wouldn’t generally be considered “traditional library work” have you learned during your career as a librarian? 

All the libraries I’ve worked in have been so varied it’s hard to tell where the “traditional library work” line is anymore. This week I’ve plugged computer monitors back in and rotated displays, helped translate a request from Spanish into English, spot-cleaned microfilm machines and reels, and re-spooled a few reels of microfilm by hand after cleaning or repair. I also have a bit of working knowledge of the patenting process and getting documents ready for filing in other countries, which you probably aren’t going to need to know in a day-to-day library setting.

4. What learning/networking resources do you regularly use to stay up-to-date on the news and trends in your particular niche of the library field? 

Most recently I’m using the USPTO weekly blast that’s sent out to inform employees of what’s going on within the organization; additionally my coworker is an author of several books about librarianship in different contexts and so I pick her brain when things outside my expertise come up. There are patent and trademark searching experts here as well who are a wealth of information about the systems we have, and their predecessors (as well as long-awaited successor systems).

5. What technology trends do you think will have the biggest impact on librarianship in the next decade? 

I really hope to see RFID implemented for faster, easier checking out of books for patrons; I also think that e-books are going to continue to pick up. With traditional hard copies the library can only lend as many physical copies as are on the shelf – with e-books that changes completely, with the right licensing. Another big thing I’d love to see is for Google Books (as originally envisioned) to be brought back and given over to its full potential.

3 Places to Find Pre-Recorded Webinars for Librarians

I prefer to do most of my continuing education through online methods, like self-paced online courses and webinars.  Live webinars are a great opportunity to interact with other professionals interested in a common topic and ask instructors questions, but some days I may be too busy to take an hour at a specific time to attend a live webinar.  In those circumstances, I always appreciate when the organization hosting the webinar later offers a recorded version of the training that they post online.  Many organizations (including national networks of libraries like NNLM and FDLP) offer recorded archives of their webinars, and these webinar archives can be a fantastic source of on-demand training.

Here are three library organizations that offer webinar archives featuring a wide range of training topics, from marketing and data visualization to finding government and health information resources:

Watch a recording of Midday at the Oasis: Good Design for Data Visualization at the NNLM YouTube channel.
    • Federal Depository Library Program (FDLP) Academy: Choose the “View past webinars” option on the FDLP website to view a list of past Depository Library Community Webinars, Federal Agency Webinars, FDLP and C&I Webinars (related to cataloging and indexing), and GPO’s Federal Digital System (FDsys) and govinfo Webinars.  You can choose to download the slides and completion certificates for webinars and watch a recording of the WebEx presentation.  Example: View another webinar related to data visualization and infographics, with the 35-minute presentation Telling your Story with Data.
    • WebJunction: The WebJunction site from OCLC offers recorded webinars that can be accessed for free by all library workers and volunteers.  Users need to register to access the recorded webinars and self-paced trainings that cover topics ranging from social media, marketing, and outreach to collections development and organizational management. Users can also download slides, handouts, and chat transcripts from the webinars and find links to related resources. Example: Watch yet another webinar related to data visualization: Data Visualization for the Rest of Us: A Beginner’s Guide (1 hour).

Even if you just have thirty minutes to spare during the workday, you can use these webinar archives to find interesting learning topics and watch high quality trainings anytime.

Many Paths to Librarianship Profile: Publishing Services Librarian at NIST Research Library, Kathryn Miller

One of my favorite library-related blog post series over the past few years has been the “Rock Star Medical Librarians” series of profiles at the NLM in Focus blog.  It’s fantastic to get advice and learn about the experiences of other librarians, so I thought it might be an interesting project to begin a series of blog posts highlighting the experiences of librarians working in a broad range of library-related careers.  The library field is so diverse, and there are so many different paths to becoming a librarian.

To kick off the series, Kathryn Miller, Publishing Services Librarian at NIST Research Library, shares her path to librarianship and thoughts on the future of libraries.

Note: The opinions expressed in this article are the author’s own and do not reflect the view of the National Institute of Standards and Technology, the Department of Commerce, or the United States government. 

Kathryn Miller, Publishing Services Librarian at NIST Research Library.
  1. How did you originally become interested in librarianship as a career?

I had a roundabout way of coming back to librarianship. I say coming back because my first job at 15 was working for the public library as a page. I swore I’d be a librarian one day. Then, I wanted to write. I swore I’d be an author one day. Then, I got really into theatre. I swore I’d be an actor…wait, this is becoming convoluted. Let me sketch it out for you:


  1. How would you describe your library field niche? 

Being a publishing librarian is different, because many of my colleagues in the field are commercial or society publishers. They don’t think like librarians, and I don’t think like a publisher. For example, I am obsessed with metadata and making things discoverable. That’s not exactly a hot button topic in the publishing world, but my fellow librarians get super excited.

There are many efforts going on to get librarians and publishers to talk and learn more from each other; just search scholarly publishing, scholarly communication, or #scholcomm on twitter to see what I mean. I’m also part of a networking group in the Washington, D.C. area where women in the publishing and information science profession meet once a month to talk about issues in the field, which has very much helped bridge that gap.

  1. What types of skills that wouldn’t generally be considered “traditional library work” have you learned during your career as a librarian? 

Markup languages and database design. I took a database design class in grad school and fell in love. Now I create relational databases for everything, I try to avoid tabs in Excel Worksheets as much as possible. On the other hand, XML is something I thought I knew after grad school, but quickly realized that wasn’t the case after diving into a project this year with my colleague using MARCXMLJATS, and XSLT. Those markup languages are best learned while completing an actual project. 

I also have to put in a little plug for LaTeX, if MS Word is frustrating and you geek out (like me) over markup languages, try LaTeX – you won’t be sorry! 

  1. What learning/networking resources do you regularly use to stay up-to-date on the news and trends in your particular niche of the library field? 

Like I said, I’m in a networking group for women in publishing/information science. It has been invaluable not only to learn about their experiences in the profession, but also to get their perspectives as women in the profession.  Additionally, I follow Society for Scholarly Publishing on every form of social media, including their blog – The Scholarly Kitchen – and their peer-reviewed journal, Learned Publishing. I also do periodic literature searches for topics that pique my interest; right now it’s measuring impact of non-peer-reviewed literature and other alternatives impact metrics.

  1. What technology trends do you think will have the biggest impact on librarianship in the next decade? 

Kids are learning coding at such a young age. My friend’s son – who is in elementary school – just showed me an online game he coded on Scratch. I couldn’t believe how sophisticated it was. I don’t know what this looks like for librarians in the next decade, but I do know that we need to catch up to these kids. I don’t want to turn into the stereotypical stodgy old librarian who is behind the times, clinging to her iPhone while everyone else has a EarPod or something like that.

Stay tuned to learn about more paths to librarianship!

April 1st at the Library: Historic April Fools and Librarian Pranks

Around April 1st, I begin to obsessively check the round-up articles at Washington Post and to see the latest April Fools’ Day pranks from many brands, websites, and newspapers (heck, Google even has it’s own Wikipedia page on April Fools pranks).  Pranks like finding Waldo in Google Maps are adorable and fun, and many libraries also get in on the fun of April Fools’ Day.  Librarians have a quirky sense of humor (or a cat-based sense of humor, in my case), so you’ll find some amazing pranks combined with actual learning opportunities if you visit a physical library or library website on April Fools’ Day.

Historic April Fools at Library of Congress

First, let’s take a look at the learning opportunities offered through the Library of Congress (LOC) website related to April Fools:

  • Learn the history of April Fools’ Day: The article April Fools: The Roots of an International Tradition by Stephen Winick at the Folklife Today Blog gives a detailed and fascinating look at the many possible origins of April Fools traditions: “People have long speculated about the origins of this most foolish holiday, suggesting the Roman Saturnalia, Druidic rites in Britain, the carnivalesque medieval celebration of the Feast of Fools, and even the Indian festival of Holi as possible origins. ”  You can even listen to a recording of an Irish folk song, “The First Day of April.”
  • Explore April Fools in historic newspapers: The Library of Congress Blog links to ten articles about April Fools’ Day in its US historical newspaper database, Chronicling America.  Check 10 Stories: April Fool! Chronicling America by John Sayers and explore the history (and sometimes terrifying illustrations) about April Fools’ Day in articles written between 1896 and 1920.  The LOC website also offers a Topics in Chronicling America – April Fools’ Day page, with search suggestions for finding articles on the topic and links to sample articles.
Unnerving illustration from a 1919 article in the Ogden standard.

Library Pranks

The American Libraries site has a delightful series of articles about April Fools pranks at libraries around the world. Each year in early April, Greg Landgraf summarizes the best library pranks.  Here are a few of my favorites:

I’m just hoping that the Library of Cats idea actually catches on eventually.