Friday, March 22, 2002

The Week in the Life of a Handheld Librarian

Hello! What a week! The circulation of our specialty pdas started this week
and I am very happy with the results and very relieved that it is over. Details coming up...

First a piece of important information. The Shifted
has a secret crystal ball and soon we will all say we knew her when...she was
our information maven! I have become so emmeshed in e-book unlock codes for the handhelds
and loading content that I have not been able to see the forest for the trees. Last night, I realized
that the significance of pdas and handheld devices is not in the devices themselves but in the way they allow the library to deliver information. Libraries used to be and at some extent still are brick, mortar and paper-based and users were expected to go to the library to get reading material and retrieve information. With the advent of the Internet, distance learning, and the growth of technology, it became important for libraries to harness electronic information, provide training to their users on how to retrieve it, and deliver the information to the user wherever they are-at home, in their office, on the road, a world away. The pda allows the user to become even more mobile and the library to provide information to the user at the bedside, at the grocery store, in the courtroom, in the car, when and where they want the information. To remain viable and valuable, libraries must keep abreast of technology trends such as pdas and wireless technology, and invent, create, and promote new, efficient ways of delivering desired information at the point of care, the point of need wherever that may be. Thinking of this reminds we why we got involved in a pda project
in the first place!

Congratulations to Charlotte Johnson of Southern Illinois University--Edwardsville,
who just wrote a successful grant for "PDA Access to Medical, Nursing and Dental
Collection." The five libraries at SIU will provide faculty and students with access to ovid@hand, training, website
resources, and collaborate to offer these services. The neat part of the project is that
through our current pda project at OSF Saint Francis Medical Center, I will get the
opportunity to work with Charlotte Johnson, someone I have known for awhile, but never
had the opportunity to work with! Congratulations Charlotte, and I look forward to
working with you!

Our PDA conference scheduled for June 7 in Peoria, Illinois was approved for four hours of
MLA CE credits. If you want information, I will share the web address next week when the
info will be posted or you can email me ( for a flyer. Cost is only $25.00.
The keynote speaker is the ultimate handheld librarian, Mari Stoddard, who has been doing
this for longer than anyone I know, and who is the best known in the library field for her
knowledge of handheld devices. It will be a lot of fun and hopefully informative.

Cheers and welcome to Steven Grove, who has just agreed to be a contributor to this blog.
Steven is a librarian at Harold Brittingham Memorial Library in Cleveland, Ohio. He is
doing a presentation on pdas at MCLMA in Minneapolis this fall. Karen Anderson will be on the panel also.
I will definitely be at
that presentation! Steven has posted to other lists and wonders if anyone out there
is participating in institution wide synching of information. At their library, they have
a beta-site for a workstation that will employ infrared beaming to synch in-house products
to users. They are starting with a phone directory and a security product called ONLY ME.
Steven has also published a great article on PDAS
in the Midwest.
Welcome, Steven!

Well, the debut week is over. Next week our specialty content and conference page will be on the project
website. When it is up, I will give you the url. Peg at UIC LHS Peoria is going to start circulating their
specialty handhelds next week. The most interesting thing about the week is that every single training
session and orientation I have done this week has been unique. Everyone is looking to the handheld
device for something different. Also, many are interested in the "toys" which we will begin circulating
in 2 weeks - the digital cameras, the voice recording and the Margi Presenter to Go, a device which
allows you to do a power point presentation from your handheld by connecting your handheld to it
via the Margi to Go in your expansion slot. My learning curve right now is very steep. :) And, no, I am
not full-time on this project.

Here is a brief overview of some of my experiences this week. A computer trainer is trying documents to go
for word processing and checked out a pda, a cradle, and a keyboard. She is going to evaluate this for us.
This week I learned from an enthusiastic cardiology nurse that "it is an exciting time to have heart failure!"
I had never heard heart failure referred to as particularly exciting or seen anyone so enthusiastic about it. This
nurse cheerfully explained that people experiencing heart failure at this particular time had a lot of options and
that there was so much they could do to help these patients. There are a lot of new developments in treatments.
After seeing the library's pdas, she and a department administrative assistant went out and purchased handhelds
and keyboards. The assistant is using documents to go; the nurse is using documents to go; Epocrates; downloaded
5 Minute Cardiac Consult from Skyscape and checked out our cardiology pda to try the other resources.

Two emergency medicine pdas have been checked out by an attending physician and a resident. The neurology
pda went out too! The resident interested in neurology had already tried Clinical Neurology, but wanted to try
Principles of Neurology. The internal medicine pda went out and so did the family medicine to a nurse who is
signed up for more in-depth training next week. She wants to try the Washington Manual. Today I met with
a process improvement staff person who is interested in the calendar, note taking, address book, and Avantgo
type services. She is signed up for more in-depth training next week too. It seems like half of the people who
checked out pdas have their own and wanted to try our resources and half had never tried one. People are
anxious and eager to try them and word of mouth has been our best publicity so far.

Peg's library and our library have each publicized the project in our library newsletters. The projects have
grown like wildfire! It's hard to keep up but exciting at the same time! For the first time since the project
began, less than 50% of user's questions have been about Epocrates. Now that's progress! Kudos to
Carol Galganski, Library Manager at OSF Saint Francis and Jo Dorsch at UIC LHS Peoria for effective
marketing of this project to powers that be within the institutions!

Also thanks to Carol, Roy Jones and I have done a small trial of Unbound
free six month trial of Clinical Evidence for the handheld. This works like ovid@hand in
that you can select the types of clinical evidence materials you would like to download to your handheld.
When you view the information on your handheld, if you wish to see the full text on a topic, you can click
save to web, and after a hotsync, view the full text in your personal web library! Has anyone else tried this?
We are putting this on our Internal Medicine pdas as a type of content for people to try.

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