Wednesday, 22 August 2007

New! Improved! (again)

In the olden days when the Internet was a fresh faced newcomer you would often find websites with little messages along the lines of "site under construction". This meant one of two things. The first meaning was "I know this is a pretty poor attempt at a website but frankly this whole web thing wasn't as easy as I thought and I've lost interest/gone on holiday/retired to a small cave in the Alps to avoid technology".

The second, and more exciting meaning of "under construction" was "I know this is just an OK website but in my heart I know it could be GREAT and I just need to spend more time and do more tweaking".

The thing with technology is that it is constantly changing. There's a little fear about jumping in first (for those of you who are old enough I need only mention the Betamax/VHS debate). For those who are younger hands up if you bought a splendid plasma screen TV just before digital arrived or High Definition. Did you kick yourself? Did you rush out to upgrade? Or are you still looking at a black and white portable waiting for technology to "settle down" so that you can invest in something that will remain cutting edge for the next 30 years?

The challenge of technology is that it is always changing. Good websites tend to change a lot too, because a good web developer will want to try out all the new gizmos and gadgets available.

The hot new gizmo on the web at the moment is personalisation. Don't like the boring Google home page? Personalise it! Pick a background, add a clock, a calender, a thought for the day...make it yours.

Other websites are following suit. Which is why, from the middle of next month, your My Athens home page will change - again. It will offer you the option to move round the information on your home page, just by dragging boxes around and closing those you don't want. You'll be able to select your favourite resources and keep them in a separate handy box. If you can't wait to see the new site then take a sneak preview - opt for "beta My Athens" when you log on.

Wednesday, 8 August 2007

Keeping your finger on the pulse

How up to date are you? When did you last flick over the leading journal in your speciality? Did you catch the health headlines this morning? Have you heard the latest from the department of health?

I know - you'd like to keep up to date, it's just that you're busy. Too busy, somehow.

Luckily help is hand. Using Google Reader I'm able to scan news from a variety of sources on one web page. From that page I can then distribute the news to a number of different pages - each page focuses on one aspect of health or illness. This means all you need to do is remind yourself to visit the library website from time to time, click on the topic that interests you and see all the latest news.

Why not have a look at the service today? And if you don't see the aspect of health or illness that interests you most covered on the page then please let me know and I will see if I can set up a new topic page, just for you!

Monday, 6 August 2007

epub ahead of print

If you are signed up to receive tables of contents from journals you may often find yourself being sent details of articles which are announced as being "epub ahead of print". What does this mean? Basically it means that particular paper isn't going to appear in the paper version of the journal for a while, but has been published in electronic form. The only way to access that electronic version is to have an online subscription to the journal.

This library doesn't buy electronic subscriptions because we end up having to pay two subscriptions - one paper and one electronic - for the same journal. Some journals have free online access, but they generally don't include access to epub ahead of print items. Some journals we have access to online through the "National Core Content" agreement - journals bought nationally for the NHS and reached with your Athens password - but these subscriptions don't normally include epubs ahead of print.

So what happens if you ask us for one of these articles? Sometimes we can find another library that has access and can send us a copy for you. Sometimes we can't, and then we just have to wait for the paper version to be printed.

As journals publish more and more items this way the collective blood pressure of NHS librarians all over the country is steadily rising. Librarians believe that information is important, access to it is empowering and the results of trials and studies should really be available to everyone. It's annoying to buy something but then be told you can't have access to all of it unless you basically pay over again. Librarians are angry that publishers should behave like this.

If you do receive an email about publications from a journal please check and see if they are epubs ahead of print. If so then by all means still ask the library to get a copy for you - but please bear in mind we cannot guarantee to get hold of it until it is published in paper form.

Referencing styles

If you are having problems telling your Harvard from your Vancouver you'll find a nice guide to referencing styles on the BMA website.