Posted by: ayounglove | August 22, 2009

Go Local

3833040567_5b10602f26I recently accepted the position of Database Manager from Rochester Regional Library Council. I will be helping RRLC transition from a locally created database of health information for the greater Rochester area called Click-on-Health to a database of local health information for all of upstate New York called Go Local. Users of Go Local will be able to find services in the database by browsing the following categories: health topics, health providers, or location.

Go Local is part of a larger project of the National Library of Medicine. Their consumer health database MedlinePlus, is adding a Go Local database in each state to connect web users with accurate health data for their area. New York is the only state to have two distinct Go Local databases — one for Western and upstate New York (which I will be working on) and one for the greater metro area of New York City.

I already know a little bit about Go Local because Oregon, where I moved from, is much farther along in the Go Local process. Fellow librarians Emily Ford and Todd Hannon, from Oregon Health & Science University, have done an amazing job with their implementation effort. To read about their journey, visit

Why is a database of local health information needed? Here are a few scenarios where Go Local might come in handy:

*You are looking for a local support group for your illness
*You live in a rural area and do not know where the nearest available services are for a rare condition you have developed
*You want to talk to a local medical professional on the phone but do not know who to call because you are uninsured
*You would like to privately access accurate information about a health topic to find out what options exist in your area
*You want a second opinion and would like to know what different doctors in your area specialize in

In general, Go Local is addressing the larger problem that vast amounts of misinformation exist on the web and are easily accessible. Health information online often looks legitimate, but is actually a front for the latest snake oil cure.  Sometimes websites provide some legitimate information, but are biased because they are sponsored by drug companies that have a vested interest in selling more of their medicines. The National Library of Medicine, a United States government organization, is a credible source of information and is attempting to become more visible and accessible to the public.

Go Local is primarily created by volunteer librarians and library students. While in school, I knew several volunteers who worked on this amazing project. I am excited that I now am in a position to contribute to this worthy cause by coordinating volunteers,  maintaining metadata standards, and educating the public here in my new home town of Rochester.

Posted by: ayounglove | June 18, 2009


a Yesterday I had a realization at work: a large part of my efforts to help patrons find materials is not actually searching for materials — it’s convincing patrons that I’m a professional capable of helping them, that my search won’t take much of their time, and that they want to stick around long enough for me to successfully get them what they need.  If I hesitate or ask a patron, “Would you like me to go check the drop box to see if this item has just been returned?” then I am inviting the patron to say “no” because we are all conditioned not to bother someone.

When I first started working in libraries as a desk clerk I was constantly frustrated that patrons were not patient enough to let themselves be helped.  It rarely takes more than an additional 60-90 seconds to do those extra steps to help someone find what they need. In most cases it will take the patron more time to physically leave the building and cross the street than it will for me to finish helping them. Eventually, I realized that I should say, “Please wait one moment while I check the drop — I’ll be right back,” instead.  This reverses the situation and makes it so that the patron would feel rude to stop me.  By informing and assuring, I now regularly take control of the situation and also am more likely to end with a happy patron.  I’m not sure when I made this transition or if it was even conscious, but it’s a tremendous improvement.

Part of my realization yesterday was spawned by a specific event.  A student came in and asked to check out an item that she said her instructor needed.  After locating the record and seeing that the item was still checked-out, I let the student know it was currently out on loan and asked if the instructor might want to do a recall.  The student then told me that the instructor had said to her that she had just mistakenly returned the book only moments earlier.  I told her I would check the shelves and the drop box and did so immediately.  Finding nothing, I returned to the computer and the student.  I told the student that I was absolutely going to track down the item for her in the next two minutes.  Then I checked the special staff screen that told me who had the book currently.  It was checked-out to the instructor!  At this point it became apparent that there were two possible locations for this item: 1) the instructor still had it, or 2) the instructor had given it to someone else to return for her and it had not yet been returned.  I then called the instructor in her office and told her quickly about the situation.  She located the book on her desk, laughed and profusely thanked me.

My first reaction was to chuckle too.  However, on thinking more about the situation I felt like I provided a successful service.  The instructor couldn’t have gotten the item much faster unless we beamed it straight into her hands — but on her own it might have taken her a couple days to find it. In other words, it wasn’t relevant that we the library did not have the book on our shelves that the instructor sent her student aide to retrieve.  What is relevant is that she had an information need.  She didn’t know where to find what she wanted and we had the tools and the professionalism to take her student worker and her need seriously, to behave decisively and confidently, and to solve  the instructor’s information need.

Posted by: ayounglove | May 25, 2009

PsycInfo Question

Creative Commons

Creative Commons

Recently a friend contacted me with an interesting question. She gave me permission to share her question along with my answer here in my blog.

Hi April,

I’ve got a bee in my research bonnet that only a librarian can help me with. One time you were explaining to me that searching PsycINFO does not mean access to a uniform database, that what one has access to is limited by the subscription one’s institution has. Well, are you familiar with meta-analyses? This is research based on searching databases like PsycINFO and Medline. It just seems strange to me that there are all these researchers out there claiming to do a comprehensive comparison of all the research out there on a given topic by searching these databases. In the article it will list what databases they used and their search terms, but I keep thinking how that list of databases is somewhat meaningless without knowing whether they were paying for full access or only partial (or even knew to check). Anyhow, one of the research projects the professor I work for is about to embark on will be based on a PsycINFO search. So I’m trying to figure out whether and how to bring this issue up to him. Maybe I should just write an article myself on the issue and submit it to a psychology journal (haha). So how can I learn more about this? Also, how can I learn what portion of information my university has access to?


P.S. I should start paying you a retainer. Is there such thing as a personal librarian?

Dear Michelle,

Okay, so earlier I may not have been very clear. I’ll try to be more precise, but this is a convoluted topic.

There are vendors, and there are databases. Ebsco is a database vendor (also called a database aggregator). PsycINFO is a database.

What I was trying to explain when we spoke earlier are several separate phenomenons:

1) Many people can’t tell the difference between a database and a database aggregator — they say “I searched Ebsco,” even though every library that uses the Ebsco vendor/interface will have a different package of databases.

2) Your PsycINFO probably has a different portion of full-text articles than mine does. Many patrons believe that if it is not full text that the article does not exist. They don’t realize that they can use an abstract to request an article that is not available in full-text from Interlibrary Loan. Therefore, they are sometimes surprised to discover that a different library’s PsycINFO “has more articles in it.”

3) The search features and how PsycINFO looks to you will depend on your database vendor. So, if you use Elsevier your search interface with PsycINFO will look different than if you use Ebsco. This potentially means that a person searching with one interface could find slightly different results than a person searching with the other interface. It’s the same information, but it’s like using two different pairs of glasses to see it (if that makes sense).

Here is a list of possible vendors you may be using to get to PsycINFO:

The PsycINFO database produces a variety of Psyc products. Your library is paying for access to one or all of the following if you have access to PsycINFO:

Technically, you should be able to find this information (which Psyc products you get) somewhere on your library’s website, although I just looked at WWU’s site, and it blocks out non-patrons more than most, so I’m not sure where this info is hidden.

To get a better idea about what PsycINFO does and does not contain in general (before anyone uses any “glasses” to look through the data), this is the official coverage list:

Finally, PsycINFO and Medline are different because Medline is run by the National Library of Medicine and is a government/nonprofit database that is free, while PsycINFO is produced by the American Psychological Association and costs money to access. You can access the information in Medline online from PubMed, if you wanted to. Your library vendor (say, Ebsco) probably re-packages Medline as a regular database, even though it’s available online (most vendors do this to try and get more info to the students).

The difference between PubMed and Medline:

Pubmed access:

I hope that helps? Let me know if this all made sense.

P.S. This is an awesome question. Can I post our discussion on my blog when we are done?

April Younglove

Posted by: ayounglove | April 20, 2009

Search tips of the day


Recently, while searching for the etymology of the American term soccer I ran across this really cool tip from Google Answers user Gale-ga on

“When looking for the origin of a word online, the best strategy is to do a search for it on Google. After you do a search, e.g., for “soccer”, you will see the sentence “Searched the web for soccer” in the blue bar right above the search results. Click on the word ‘soccer’ to see its definition and etymology (a note on its origin) on”

The image above is from my attempts to replicate her search for you. When I did this search and clicked on the information in the blue bar, I was directed to instead of  However,  I did see the following in’s first entry: [From alteration of assoc., abbreviation of association football.] Gale-ga goes on to suggest that word etymologies can also be found at Merriam-Webster’s Collegiate Dictionary and

This next search tip came to me by way of Nicole Engard’s blog:

Google Image Search has a new color option to limit your search by!

Color Google Image Search
This is awesome news for art folks like me who often think visually and recall things by colors rather than words.  Yes. I’ll admit it. I’m the one who asks about “the book with the yellow cover.”

Volunteer needed to manage the SLA Oregon chapter website as part of the ORSLA Communications Team. Duties include updating teams and officers information online, assisting members with posting announcements, and managing the Coldfusion CMS. Future developments may include migrating to a different CMS in order to accomadate improvements such as the addition of a Flickr feed from and a volunteer corner.

The current webmaster, April Younglove, will be relocating to the East Coast this summer, but will be happy to train and assist the incoming webmaster as needed. This is a great way to get involved with an active and welcoming local library organization.

For more information about this opportunity, please contact:

April Younglove

Post Script: Thanks to all who applied.  This position has been filled. 4/20/2009.

Posted by: ayounglove | December 28, 2008

Toys for sharing documents and slides

662891484_70aa400760As a follow-up to my  last post about converting documents to PDF format, I thought I would bring up another option: publishing  through an online service that will display your PDF, Word file, or Powerpoint, as a web document. There are several advantages to consider with this method. First, you aren’t using a proprietary format that some people won’t be able to see on their computer. Second, if you are making a public presentation, it’s much nicer to pull up a webpage  than to log into your email (and display your personal emails) or open a file off of a USB flash drive (and show the world what else you have saved there).

The service I learned about most recently is Scribd.  A classmate of mine, Robyn Ward, used Scribd to embed documents in her final capstone portfolio, and I think the results are very impressive: Here is an example of a  Scribd document that I uploaded just a few seconds ago:

Another service that I was recently introduced to is SlideRocket. Slide Rocket allows your to either build your presentation on the website, or to upload it from an outside source.  I highly recommend building it on the SlideRocket itself as it has some powerful tools.  My favorite is the search tool that helps you find uncopyrighted images that are free to use.  I wish that tool were part of WordPress! Like Flickr, the popular photo sharing site, SlideRocket is a tiered model. There is a free version that works pretty well, but you can pay to upgrade for increased security and storage options.  The free version works fine for me at this point.

Slideshare is similar to SlideRocket, with several differences.  Slideshare is much simpler and faster to use because it doesn’t have any on-site design functionality.  It is also always free. Users simply upload a Powerpoint or similar document and that’s all there is to it.  One of the beauties of Slideshare is that you don’t have to create a user account to upload documents.  Unlike SlideRocket, Slideshare is all about sharing the Powerpoints so that they are findable by anyone.  Here is a link to a presentation that I uploaded to Slideshare last month:

I’m sure there are other services out there that do similar things.  Has anyone found any other services that they prefer?

Posted by: ayounglove | December 6, 2008

PDF Conversion

arrow1It seems like as time goes on that more and more people are asking for documents in PDF format. As an Interlibrary Loan Librarian, I frequently send and receive documents in digital format. I can use an expensive document transmission software called Ariel. But what should you do if you don’t want to fork over the huge sum just to install the full version of Adobe Acrobat? What if you’re working in a rural library and don’t have the budget?

There are some alternatives.

The easiest option is Docmorph, a tool made by The National Library of Medicine that can convert a document from any one of 50 different document types (including Word documents, TIFF documents, and yes, PDFs!) into any of those other 50 types. And better yet, it’s free for anyone to use! Check it out here:

I use Docmorph when I’m in a pinch and need a file changed quickly, and I haven’t had any problems yet. Just upload your file, select the file type that you want it to convert to, and then you are presented with a new file.  The limitation, of course, is that sometimes the finished PDF file looks a tiny bit different than the original Word document (fonts are changed or pages run slightly longer etc.).

What if you want a little more control over what the finished format looks like though? Say you don’t want a last page with just one sentence on it, or you want to adjust the font to see how it will in the final PDF before converting. Then you want to download Open Office here:  Open Office is a free open source application suite that does many of the same things the Microsoft  Office suite does, only because it’s open source, it’s free and it continues to improve over time rather than get worse.  To change a document into a PDF using Open Office, open up Writer and then create or open up an existing Word document.  Adjust any font choices or line breaks etc. to appear how you would like them to in the final document. Then, under the File menu, choose Export as PDF and that’s it.  You’ve created a new PDF without paying a dime or learning the ins and outs of a complicated document delivery software!

Posted by: ayounglove | November 18, 2008

My First Conversazione

As part of the Communications Team for the Oregon Special Library Association (SLA), I recently took a turn planning a Conversazione.  As former fellow Communications Team member, Jason Eiseman, explains so well in his blog, a Conversazione is “where a bunch of Oregon SLA members get together for drinks and dinner and discuss a certain topic. These are some of my favorite events. you always meet interesting librarians doing interesting things” (  This was my first experience planning an SLA event.

I have attended four or five Conversaziones in the past, and the one Jason planned about Social Networking was far and away the  most well attended and successful.  I scheduled a return to the Westside Mingo location, hoping that some of the magic would rub off on my event.  Although the turnout for tonight’s event was much smaller than I had hoped for, the atmosphere was cozy and the discussion lively.

The topic of tonight’s Conversazione was strategic planning.  In my invitation, I wrote “Please join us on November 17th at 6:00 PM to discuss strategic planning. As ORSLA prepares for a strategic realignment, we want to hear your thoughts about establishing goals and values. Do mission statements matter? Have you successfully leveraged strategic planning to improve your organization? Come benefit from the experience and insight of your peers in an informal environment while enjoying dinner and drinks. Members and nonmembers welcome.”

In addition to myself, two student members and one established corporate librarian attended.  I facilitated discussion by asking attendees to compare and contrast SLA’s current mission statement with mission statements of other similar organizations such as the American Medical Association and the American Library Association.  Other similar organizations tend to have longer mission statements that go beyond saying what they will do for members to also describing what the core ethical values of the association are (for the AMA, to save lives; for the ALA, to provide equal access to information). It was observed that the difficulty with trying to make the SLA conform to this model is the diverse occupations that SLA members have (business, art, law, medicine etc.). Generally, the consensus was that that mission statements are only useful if they provide a clear direction and if there is strong buy-in from those who could be most impacted by the mission.  It was noted, for instance, that the Intel library’s mission, “Making Research Matter” is strong because it is memorable, concise, and has a clear ethos and pathos.

We also discussed the use value of strategic planning. It was pointed out that it is easy to overdo organizational planning by involving too many decision makers or by doing it too often.  Another speaker agreed but said that she had used strategic planning in her organization to make more focused use of her time and to ask for capital improvements and then put them to good use.  Like mission statements, strategic planning can either enrich an organization or be irrelevant to an organization depending on how it is used and received by stakeholders.

The Conversazione was not all serious discussion though!  Oregon SLA members enjoyed good food and used the time to learn more about one another and discuss hobbies, books, movies and current events.  A spirit of relaxation and friendliness prevailed.

When I asked attendees why they chose to come to this Conversazione and what they would like to discuss at future conversaziones, everyone agreed that the distance from home or work of the event, and the time and day of the event were more crucial to their decision to attend than the topic.  However, members agreed that it had been an interesting topic and looked forward to attending future Conversaziones.  In the future, perhaps I will give greater consideration to what time and day of the week I schedule the event and I will provide more than two weeks notice that the event is going to occur.  Given my heavy courseload at the moment and my immanent graduation (in December, so close!), I think that the Conversazione actually went remarkably well.  I look forward to planning more Conversaziones in the future.

Posted by: ayounglove | July 28, 2008




Having recently attended for the first time both the American Library Association (ALA) Convention in Anaheim, and the Special Library Association (SLA) Convention in Seattle last month, some of my friends and peers wanted to know: What’s the difference? How do they compare?

First of all, I want to clear up the misconception that to SLA is a branch of ALA. Even though the acting president of SLA, Steven Abrams, attended and even spoke at ALA, the Special Library Assocation is, in fact, its own organization with its own budget and its own separate membership. SLA is also a lot smaller than ALA. The final head count for the SLA Convention in Seattle was 5,000. The ALA final count was 21,063 attendees.

Secondly, I want to be open and state that I am biased towards SLA because I’ve become an active member of my local chapter and was awarded a large scholarship at the conference in Seattle.  In contrast, I’ve found it very difficult to connect to the Oregon chapter of SLA.  To be honest, I’m not even sure that our state chapter does anything



aside from having an annual OLA Conference, putting out a quarterly publication and hosting a listserv.  While I greatly benefit from the listserv and have had the privilege of publishing in the OLA Quarterly, these benefits do not translate into a sense of community or involvement for me.  For my local chapter of SLA, there are frequent member meetings and events to attend — which is a great help to a distance education student like myself because it makes up in part for my lack of access to campus life activities and helps keep me in regular contact with practicing professionals.

Both the SLA and the ALA conferences were held on the West Coast this year.  Since I live in Portland, Oregon, this was especially convenient for me.  Seattle culture is much more similar to Portland culture than SoCal culture though and so I didn’t really feel like I was on vacation in Seattle so much as visiting a close friend.  In Anaheim though, it was sunny and there were palm trees and I went to Disneyland.  I know that we’re all supposed to hate Disney for being an evil corporate machine that commercializes childhood, but honestly?  Disneyland is so much fun.  I can’t deny it.  I would go all the time to Disneyland if I lived in Southern California even though I don’t watch their children’s movies anymore.

About the conferences though — there is a very large style gap between the two organizations.  Here is my general impression:

At SLA it seemed very clear to me why most members were attending: to network, improve their job skills and help others do a better job.  Vendors were there to sell us products and we were there to buy them.  A typical interaction with another SLA member would be for me to walk up and introduce myself, exchange business cards, and have the person I approached begin to give me advice or guideance about who was who and what at the conference is worth doing.  There were very few giveaways of physical objects, but lots of free food, drink and alcohol. 

People appeared to go to ALA for all sorts of reasons though: to job hunt, to attend required in-person meetings, to hang out with other libraians and have fun, to lobby Washington, to get free books, to have a vacation, to meet famous authors, to bring back specific information for a local library, etc.  The list goes on.  However, this means that a typical interaction with another ALA attendee for me was more like approaching someone and then having that person be either swept away by friends or a short exchange that didn’t go beyone swapping names because the other person has things to do, people to see, or is also confused and doesn’t know what’s going on either.  Which is unforunate.  There are so many different things to do at ALA that when I recently received a mailing summarizing all the various goings on, I realized that I only attended one of the events referenced in the entire booklet.

In the future, I may or may not attend ALA, but I will probably continue to attend SLA.

Posted by: ayounglove | July 19, 2008

Greening up ILL

What could be more ecologically friendly than a library, which at its very heart, is premised on the idea of sharing and re-using? These days libraries are becoming even more hip to saving the planet. This year SLA announced its new campaign “Knowledge to Go Green,” and recently on the listserv ILL-L librarian Chris Sweet asked Interlibrary Loan Librarians to share tips about how to expand our natural thriftiness into environmental friendliness.

Often working on shoestring budgets in a department that is sometimes seen as expendable, Interlibrary Loan Librarians have long learned to make due. It is not unusual to receive book loans from other libraries in bubble-wrap mailers that have been re-stapled, patched with masking tape and re-used at least three times. However, although libraries are all about re-using, interlibrary loan is also about transferring materials either physically or digitally from one place to another, which can also have some unintentionally negative environmental impacts.

One way to combat wasted resources is to take distance into account when borrowing physical objects. Set your lending strings to favor local networks for book borrowing and you are saving fuel. For those that have courier services, always use the courier to deliver ILL items that have been requested by a library in your consortium. Couriers typically use zippable bags with clear plastic windows for inserting reusable from/to tags. If your courier doesn’t use cloth zippable courier bags, encourage your consortium to buy some. If you don’t have a courier service in your local area, consider campaigning to start one. The story, ILL Goes Green in an Iowa University Town, is a great example of the benefits a courier system can bring to both libraries and the planet.

Another thing to consider: all library processes are inter-related. ILL is not an island. Pictures of book covers and in-text searching in the library catalog that the patron is ordering from can make it less likely that patrons will order a book that they don’t actually want. It is far too often that a patron receives a book from halfway across the country and immediately, after glancing at the cover, realizes that it is too old/not age appropriate/too skinny/or too fat to meet their needs, and then sends it right back. So, encourage your vendors and tech gurus to provide these services for you. Pictures of book covers in catalog records aren’t just for looks, they improve your ability to get your patrons what they want!

The elephant in the ILL room of wastefulness, however, is paper. ILL requires a lot of record keeping to ensure that everything is where it should be when it should be, and record keeping can generate a lot of paper. Before I give you a list of my suggestions, I would like to state that they are goals or ideas of mine and that I am not perfect and do not currently put them all into practice. In addition, these ideas are mine only and are not recommendations or endorsements directly from my employing institution. Here are some of my suggestions for cutting down on paper use in ILL:

  • buy recycled paper, envelopes etc.
  • retrofit your printer with a duplexer if it currently doesn’t do double sided pages
  • print in draft mode when printing morning requests
  • don’t print out emails
  • don’t double-scan: that is, don’t photocopy on one machine and then scan the photocopied pages on another machine (this may sound silly, but I have seen it done)
  • send filled article requests directly to patrons by forwarding PDFs
  • recycle the paper you do generate
  • try to stop receiving requests in paper form, encourage online forms
  • use Ariel or another scanning program to crop out the dark shadows around the edges of scanned pages — this saves ink for borrower if they decide to print, and enlarges the text for the patron
  • analyze whether or not you really need to keep paper versions of records that you retain electronically
  • using a rubber stamp or a pen to say thanks on existing bookbands rather than stapling on another sheet of thank you paper (this suggestion came from the ILL-L listserv)
  • email overdue notices rather than mailing them if you can

Unfortunately for ILL Librarians, they rarely occupy a place of power on the library staff totem pole and frequently are not able to make even small changes without big committee meetings. There are some ways for ILL employees to enact change in a positive way though. For academic libraries, try to get students on board with recycling. Student energy, enthusiasm, and engagement can be a great justification for going greener. The website Green Living Ideas suggests the following, which applies just as much to librarians as to other types of employees:

“A win-win tactic to encourage the company you work for to stand up and take notice of a great “green” idea is to highlight the benefits that affect their operations and bottom line, such as reduced expenses and improved worker productivity. New and innovative strategies, technologies, products, and services help to both protect the environment and reduce business costs—a nice side-benefit for companies that are continually feeling the squeeze of rising costs and a strained economy.”

Admittedly, there are challenges to going greener. Often there is a lack of time and money. Items such as call slips and some types of sending and receiving paperwork cannot be eliminated for practical reasons. Ariel software users must leave computers on overnight in order to constantly send and receive, even though this is a huge power drain. Re-using the other side of papers often isn’t a good idea because of patron privacy concerns. And digital books, which could be a great environmentally friendly solution for ILL are usually licensed in a way that prevents lending.

On a related note, I receive a ton of library vendor junk mail after coming back from SLA and ALA. Does anybody know how to get these companies to switch to sending me junk emails instead of slick multi-page glossys in my mailbox? It seems so wasteful throwing out all those publications!

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