Last resort for trustworthy librarians

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The world is very much in need of trustworthy information provided by trustworthy people. In many cases, librarians are the trustworthy people par excellence. And that is good. Users trust us, 1) that we know everything about trustworthy sources, and 2) that we do everything to make them available. The trustworthiness of librarians is legendary, it is proved, it is evidence-based and built into our genes. In an OCLC survey on the perception of libraries versus search engines such as Google [1], 91% Americans found search engines faster, 90% more convenient, 83% easier to use, and 72% more reliable than libraries. The only two categories, where libraries exceeded were accuracy and … trustworthiness. 65% considered libraries more trustworthy than search engines.

Recently, this important characteristic was neatly summarized by librarian Marcus Banks: “One of the long-prized skills for librarians is the ability to guide people to trustworthy sources. This can happen in multiple ways, either a direct and straightforward referral to a particular source, or (hopefully) via an instructional session that provides people with tools for evaluating the trustworthiness of sources they find on their own. In either case, the librarian is the filter for trustworthiness.” [2]

This may change in the next few years as Google has successfully developed a mechanism for ranking search results by the trustworthiness of the sources. Eventually, this would make the search engine the arbiter on right and wrong. [3] That may put a totally new viewpoint on the Google motto: “Don’t be not evil” [4]. If Google stepped into the trustworthy business, that may change our perception of the world fundamentally, because we see the world through Google eyes. Google increasingly decides what we see and what we do not see [5].

Banks commented: “If the Google team’s proposal goes forward, there would be less need – perhaps eventually no need – for librarians to serve as such a filter. I argue for two actions in a ‘Google trustworthy sources’ era: concentrate on helping people synthesize and evaluate the content they locate, moving into a more pedagogical vein; and intensify our focus on collecting, curating and preserving the unique content of our own institutions. […] Both approaches would demonstrate the continued vitality of librarians in the digital age.”

I hope he is proved right.

  1. OCLC. Perceptions of libraries, 2010: Context and Community 2010. Available from https://www.oclc.org/content/dam/oclc/reports/2010perceptions/thelibrarybrand.pdf
  2. Banks M. Google as trustworthiness filter, and what it means for librarianship. Marcus’ World 03.05.2015. Available from http://mbanks.typepad.com/my_weblog/2015/05/google-as-trustworthiness-filter-and-what-it-means-for-librarianship.html
  3. Weinberger D, Gillmor D. So Sayeth Google. The search engine should not be the arbiter of truth. Slate 13.03.2015. Available from http://www.slate.com/articles/technology/future_tense/2015/03/google_search_results_accuracy_the_search_engine_shouldn_t_decide_what_s.html?wpsrc=sh_all_mob_em_ru
  4. https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Don’t_be_evil
  5. Pasquale F. The black box society: The secret algorithms that control money and information. Cambridge: Harvard University Press; 2015.

This post will be published in the December issue of the Journal of the EAHIL.

Foto by Oliver Obst

Bibliotheken im Dienste der Medizin. Gestern – Heute – Morgen.

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Teil des Gilgamesh-Epos aus der Bibliothek des Assurbanipal

Gestern

Die Geschichte der Medizin und die Geschichte der Medizinbibliotheken sind eng miteinander verknüpft. Einige der ältesten medizinischen Aufzeichnungen wurden in einer Bibliothek in Ninive gefunden. Die Tontafeln waren ca. 4.000 Jahre alt und stammten aus der Palastbibliothek des assyrischen Herrschers Assurbanipal (1). Der König erweiterte seine Sammlung systematisch und ließ alle Tafeln verzeichnen und sachlich ordnen. Zu diesem Zweck beschäftigte er Einkäufer, Schreiber, Übersetzer und Archivare. Bis in die Neuzeit hinein wurden Medizinbibliotheken meist von Ärzten oder anderem medizinischem Fachpersonal wie Apothekern geführt. Mit der exponentiellen Zunahme des medizinischen Wissens Mitte des 20. Jh. wurde die Leitung an Fachleute delegiert, die dafür speziell ausgebildet waren. Aus dem Ärztebibliothekar wurde der Medizinbibliothekar.

Heute

Das klassische Verständnis des Medizinbibliothekars als ausschließlichen Käufer und Ordner von Fachliteratur stimmt nicht mehr. Das Aufgabenspektrum hat sich in den letzten Jahrzehnten – ausgerichtet an den Ansprüchen der Ärzte und Wissenschaftler – weiter entwickelt. In den 70ern Jahren wurden Medizinbibliothekare zu Informationsvermittlern, als es möglich wurde, über Modem in großen Literaturdatenbanken zu recherchieren. Sie wurden zu Ausbildern für die Suche in Medline auf CD-ROM in den 80ern, zu Internet-Trainern in den 90ern und zu Experten in Evidenz-basierter Medizin in den 00er Jahren. Sie lizenzieren elektronische Zeitschriften in bundesweiten Konsortien und verleihen E-Books und Tabletcomputer. Bei all diesen Entwicklungen haben Medizinbibliothekare frühzeitig die verfügbaren Medien, Werkzeuge und Techniken auf Relevanz für ihre Klienten geprüft und diese dann proaktiv in ihren Dienstleistungskanon aufgenommen.

Heute finden sich in Medizinbibliotheken fachlich kompetente Ansprechpartner zu so vielfältigen Themen wie Autorenbetreuung, bibliometrische Analysen, Clincial Decision Systems, Collaborative Writing Tools, Datenmanagement, Forschungsintegrität, Informationskompetenz, Langzeitarchivierung, Open Access, Publikationsservern und Urheberrechtsfragen.

Morgen

Gegenwart und Zukunft halten weitere Herausforderungen für Medizin und Bibliothek bereit. Wir erleben zurzeit die ersten Schritte der Zusammenführung, Digitalisierung und Analyse aller medizinischen Daten einer Person. Dies betrifft sowohl die Akten des Gesundheitssystems als auch die gesundheitsrelevanten Daten, die über Lifestyle-Geräte wie die Apple Watch gesammelt werden. Datenmanagement und Datenschutz sind bei diesem sensiblen Thema besonders wichtig. (2) Aber auch für Forscher ist der Umgang mit Daten kein Selbstläufer, wie Daniel Lemire, Computerwissenschaftler aus Montreal, einräumt: “ So I think that librarians should move on to more difficult tasks. For example, we badly need help with what I would call ‘meta-science’. […] We need help tracking data sets, their transformation and so on. In effect, I would push librarians into data science. That’s the next frontier.” (3)

Zum Schutz der Daten vor Google und Co. brauchen wir vertrauenswürdige Institutionen, wie die Initiative „Hub of all Things“ zeigt. (4) Auch König Assurbanipal war darauf bedacht, dass Tontafeln mit sensiblen Informationen wie seine Regierungsverlautbarungen oder Leberorakel nicht jedermann zugänglich waren. Man fand sie bei den Ausgrabungen in einem besonders geschützten Raum der Bibliothek.

  1. Birchette KP. The history of medical libraries from 2000 B.C. to 1900 A.D. Bull Med Libr Assoc. 1973 Jul;61(3):302-8
  2. Gropp M. Der vermessene Patient. Das Geschäft mit Gesundheitsdaten nimmt immer mehr Fahrt auf. F.A.Z. 29.06.2015, S.22
  3. Lemire D. Let us be clear. 29.08.2012
  4. Warwick Manufacturing Group, University of Warwick, UK. What is the Hub of all Things? 19.03.2015

Foto: Library of Ashurbanipal The Flood Tablet von Fæ. Lizenziert unter CC BY-SA 3.0 über Wikimedia Commons.

Mobile devices change the way medicine is taught, learned and practiced: that’s a great challenge for libraries

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Interactive map of mobile technology projects at medical libraries & medical schools all around Europe

Recently, I was invited to sum up all incentives on mobile technology in our subject area for the summer issue of the Journal of EAHIL. The resulting monographic section was published as Use of mobile devices in medical libraries and medical schools. Alltogether 14 projects were listed throughout Europe.

Actually, the title for the introduction was a two sentences sum-up: „Mobile devices change the way medicine is taught, learned and practiced. That’s a great challenge for libraries“. (PDF) The papers in this special issue on mobile technologies have one thing in common. They all agree that “smartphones and tablet computers have become the new cultural ‘norm’ within personal and professional lives”. Especially tablets are used to enhance teaching, learning and practice of medicine. As you learn in this issue, some European medical schools have already recognized the value of tablet computers in learning and loan them or present them as a gift to students. Six from eight contributions regard tablets, which reflects pretty much the use we all recognize in lectures, libraries, on the ward, on the go. As students use tablets for learning and looking up information, it is clear that this will affect libraries too.

What may the future hold for medical librarians in the age of mobile devices as the new cultural norm?

Some reacted or pro-acted by lending tablet computers, recommending apps, licensing content, or training students in order to make the best of these devices. Some medical libraries have even developed their own apps or written designated iBooks, some – with the help of engaged faculty – are embedding tablets and contents into the curriculum. The projects in this issue present a wide range of interventions in terms of embedding mobile devices and technologies in medical libraries and schools for the sake of the medical education process.

Featured Original Article

  • Enhancement or replacement? Understanding how legitimised use of mobile learning resources is shaping how healthcare students are learning Fuller R Joynes V, p 7
  • Mobile technologies and medical education at Heidelberg University Library Gehrlein S, p 11
  • Design, development and implementation of a mobile learning strategy for undergraduate medical education Toro-Troconis M, Morton C, Bennie T, Leppington C, Hemani A, Lupton M, p 14
  • The Branch Library of Medicine Münster created a tablet toolbox for embedding mobile digital learning resources into the curriculum Obst O, p 21-22
  • Re-inventing the e-book: how tablets increased e-book take-up at Bern University Bissels G, p 23
  • From pilot to practice: iPads at the University of Helsinki Faculty of Medicine Masalin T, p 27
  • What are the attitudes of F1 doctors in Prince Philip Hospital towards their use of the iDoc app? Bruch S, Paget T, p 32
  • Abandoning native apps to become future friendly, Jergefelt M, p 36

These articles were published in JEAHIL, Issue 2, 2015