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: 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.

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.

3 Simple Ways to Support your Public Library

There’s been a lot of good library-related news coming down the pipeline, right in time for the American Library Association’s Celebrate National Library Week (April 8-14). The two best articles I came across this week include:

So all public libraries have nothing to worry about now, right?  Federal funding is safely allocated to IMLS, and voters support public libraries.

Unfortunately, the report about public libraries also highlights one alarming trend: “A majority of voters still do not realize that the primary source of library funding is local.”  So yes, public libraries still have plenty to worry about.

Public libraries get most of their funding at the city or county level, so local residents need to constantly show their support for their public library systems in a variety of ways to help maintain funding for services, staff, and collection development.

With these issues in mind and Celebrate National Library Week coming up soon, here are three simple ways to support your public library system.

  • Attend:  First and foremost, use your local library’s services!  Check their online catalog and events calendar, and then take advantage of the many amazing free resources and programs accessible through your public library.  Through my own local library system, Montgomery County Public Libraries, I can borrow and use all types of books and multimedia in print and digital format, use technology resources like 3D printing and digital media labs, and attend numerous free events and programs.
  • Volunteer: Volunteers provide much-needed help with outreach, additional funding and labor for services (like summer reading programs), and valuable feedback for library staff in the form of library advisory committees.  At Montgomery County Public Libraries, there are many volunteer opportunities for both adults and teens through cooperative volunteer programs (like student service learning programs), volunteer library advisory committees, and fundraising through Friends of the Library.
  • Advocate: Library users can let their elected officials know how important their local libraries are to the community in order to preserve and improve library budgets.  For my local library system, the Friends of the Library Montgomery County (FOLMC) offer an advocacy toolkit for speaking with elected officials and candidates.


Libraries aren’t just musty shelves of old books…they are integral parts of the local community, offering important information resources and valuable programs to everyone equally.  Support these community hubs by attending, volunteering, and advocating!

Exploring Strange (and Amazing) Collections on the Internet Archive

I love exploring digital collections, so it’s probably no surprise that I’m an enormous fan of the Internet Archive.  The Internet Archive is a non-profit library that hosts digital versions of billions of archived webpages and millions of books, texts, audio recordings, videos, images, and even software programs.  Many people are familiar with Internet Archive due to it’s Wayback Machine collection of archived webpages (about the closest we currently get to preserving the internet), but the other collections on Internet Archive also deserve attention for the wonderful, educational, and sometimes bizarre text and media artifacts they contain.

Searching the Internet Archive

The Internet Archive includes both a simple search form accessible in the upper right corner of the page (which allows you to search across metadata, full text of books, TV captions, or archived websites) or an advanced search with fielded search forms or the option to search with lucene query syntax.

Simple search form on Internet Archive.

When exploring the collections, I personally prefer to just select the icons for web, text, video, audio, software, or images in the upper left corner of the screen and then choose to view all items for that specific media type (like All Video).

Video collections on the Internet Archive.

I’m then able to use the side filtering options to narrow my search by criteria like subject, collection, creator, or language.  I can also search across the metadata within that specific collection or media type.

Filtering video collections on the Internet Archive.

Strange Collections: Text, Video and Audio

I’m just going to focus on three media types in this post (text, video, and audio collections), but I hope to explore software, image, and web collections in a future post.  Here is just a quick sampling of some of the interesting collections to explore on the Internet Archive:

This is just scratching the surface of the Internet Archive’s digital collections.  Be careful about beginning to explore the Internet Archive, since once you get started, you may go down a rabbit hole that will take hours to find your way out of (like spending 3 hours listening to old-time radio shows).

Big Data at the Library of Congress

Health science libraries are learning how to assist healthcare professionals, researchers, and patients with managing the “Big Data” generated through clinical trials, electronic health records, wearable technology, and a variety of other sources, to help patients get more individualized and evidence-based care, to visualize and identify health disparities by location, and many, many other applications I can’t begin to list or even imagine yet.  Health science librarians aren’t the only librarians wresting with big data, though.

The Library of Congress (LOC) is busy with the creation and dissemination of enormous data sets, as I learned last Saturday at the National Book Festival when attending the presentation at the Library of Congress Town SquareLC for Robots! Mining the Library’s Digital Collections.  Library of Congress Innovation Specialist Jaime Mears discussed a few examples of how the LOC is promoting the dissemination and re-use of its data sets:

Library of Congress data sets on Data,gov.
  • Hack-to-Learn at the LOC: In May 2017, the Library of Congress offered a two day “hackathon” training to teach librarians how to mine digital collections.  The 61 attendees at the training were taught to use “low or no-cost computational tools to explore four library collection as data sets”, including the MARC record data set.

The Library of Congress is using open-access data sets, contests to encourage creative use and mining of the data sets, and training librarians in computer and data science fundamentals to transform itself into a true 21st Century library, with innovative applications of Big Data and digital collections leading the way.  I know I’m going to keep an eye on the Meetings and Events and Training calendars hosted by the Digital Preservation section of LOC, since they seem to offer interesting trainings on data science topics (like the hackathon) and meetings (like Collections as Data 2016 and 2017).