Friday, March 27, 2020

Visual Abstracts - coming to a medical journal near you

As the world tries to make access to published content easier, I wanted to highlight another way that work is happening, with visual abstracts. 

If you follow medical literature or journals on social media, you've probably seen more and more journals publish visual abstracts of research articles through these venues. While it isn't always easy to distill down a large amount of data and research into an easy-to-understand visual, more and more scholarly journals are jumping on the #visual abstract bandwagon. 

Thanks to a colleague in Graduate Medical Education at my institution, I helped create a visual abstract for an article published last month (see below). In a future WHSLA blog post, I'll cover some of the common tools and general principles to create visual abstracts.

Have you worked on a visual abstract? Let us know in the comments below. 

Thursday, March 26, 2020

How to Combat Covid-19 Related Misinformation Webinar

I just watched this useful webinar about combatting Covid-19 related misinformation from Every Library Institute and recommend it to my WHSLA Colleagues.

Although the live webinar sold out, you can still register to watch the recording.  If you register, you'll get access to the slides, links, and other items mentioned in the talk.   The session is about 35 minutes long.  

If you don't have time to watch it, here are some of my notes from the session:

Did you know that there's a specific term for misinformation in the age of Covid-19? 

  • WHO refers to it as Coronavirus Infodemic in their situation reports.  
Sarah Brandt  was one of the presenters.  She works for NewsGuard, a company that offers "nutrition labels" for news sites, where they rate credibility and transparency.

NewsGuard classifies Coronavirus Misinformation into 3 categories:
  1. False Claims
  2. Phony Cures
  3. Downplaying the seriousness of Corona
NewsGuard's Step-by-Step Guide to Evaluating Claims:
[These should all look familiar to Librarians.]
  1. What is the source?
  2. What do other independent sources say?
  3. Check the date.  Is it current?
  4. What's the motivation behind Coronavirus misinformation?
Common motivations for misinformation include:
          -- Are they selling something? 
          -- Is it to get more clicks for advertising?
          -- Racial - to blame the origin or spread on a particular ethnic group
          -- Political

NewsGuard offers a browser extension for Chrome, Firefox, Edge, and Safari, that provides background info on website sources and their credibility.  It does NOT block any sites, just provides an extra layer of evaluation.  

This browser extension has been free for public libraries, but will be available to anyone until July 1, given the current environment of extreme misinformation.  

More about the presenters:

Sarah Brandt is the Vice President of News Literacy Programs for Newsguard. Newsguard and their team of researchers have put together a list of websites known for publishing misinformation on COVID-19.
In his role as Director of the School Library System for the Genesee Valley Educational Partnership Christopher Harris has played a critical role in educating his students and staff on how to find credible information on the internet. In response to the COVID-19 outbreak, he compiled a valuable collection of websites where you can go to get credible and helpful information on COVID-19 and everything related. 

Wednesday, March 25, 2020

Pandemic log: week one

On Saturday March 14th, we received word that we library employees were all going to be working from home for the next couple of weeks.  I feel very fortunate that I'm allowed to do this, as I know many people can't say the same right now.  This is my first time working from home (and my first pandemic), so I thought I would document some of my experiences for the WHSLA blog.  I know it's a serious situation, but I'm hoping to inject you with a little dose of humor.

Day 0: Sunday
  • Woke up early after having nightmares about patrons asking me questions I couldn't answer.
  • Decided to go into work to collect my laptop and whatnot rather than waiting til Monday when my nightmares were more likely to come true.
  • Moved our skeleton mascot into the librarian's locked office to ensure no one breaks/licks/steals or otherwise bothers him in the absence of library staff supervision.
  •  Get the side eye from a guy in the hallway who may have thought I was looting the place.  I had a name badge on....buuuuut I was also carrying a large box with a computer monitor in it, so I'll admit, I probably looked a little sketchy.  But there was no way I was getting anything done with just a tiny laptop screen.

Day 1: Monday
  • Excited not to have to wear shoes or commute.  Still got dressed to attempt some sort of normalcy.
  • First time figuring out how to connect to the VPN.  Had some issues, but got it working fairly quickly.  Connectivity is a bit sketchy, possibly due to the higher number of people working from home.
  • No longer limited to what I can fit in my travel mug, I consume almost an entire pot of coffee.  This is inadvisable.  
  • Stress seems to have caused a multitude of people to forget how email works. At least ten people "reply all" to an email that goes out to the entire facility to tell us all that they no longer work at our facility and wish to be removed from the mailing list.  Several other people "reply all" to tell people to stop hitting "reply all." 
  • Can't get second monitor to communicate with laptop. 
Day 2: Tuesday
  • Still can't get second monitor to work.  Texted friend from my tech school days since for help since our IT department is overwhelmed.  SUCCESS!!!  Life suddenly feels better, and this is the highlight of my week.
  • Contemplate the etymology of the word "pandemic" and how close it is to the word "panic."  Try not to do the latter.
  • Cat spends most of the afternoon sleeping in my lap, which adorable until I lose all feeling in my legs (but don't want to move her). 
  • Regret not bringing USB barcode scanner home with me.
Day 3 & 4: Wednesday and Thursday
  • Had previously requested off for spring break with every intention of getting ahead on schoolwork.  Realize the last thing I want to do is look at a computer.  Take naps instead to preserve sanity.
  • Took a break from reading the news to watch a video of cats watching dominoes. 
Day 5: Friday 
  • Work from home order has been extended.  Glad I am an introvert.
  • Things are sort of settling into a weird new normal.
  • Was hoping this post would be funnier than it was, but this week was rough.

Tuesday, March 24, 2020

MLA's Covid-19 Resources for Medical Librarians and Other Health Information Professionals

Other Health Information Professionals

You probably already know about this goldmine of info regarding Covid-19,
curated by Medical Librarians around the world.

Links and bibliographies to help answer difficult questions related to Covid-19 and the pandemic.  Also includes a page for search strings.

From the website:

Edited and selected by Jess L. Callaway, Angela Spencer, AHIP, and Ellen M. Aaronson, AHIP

This curated list will be updated as frequently as possible and has been created from crowd-sourced suggestions from MLA members and other health information professionals on the front lines of providing information during the COVID-19 pandemic. It is not intended to be an exhaustive list, as many librarians have already created excellent resource guides for their institutions and patients.
Many journals and publishers are making COVID-19 resources and articles freely available.
All links below open in a new tab or window. You may also submit a new resource for consideration.

Friday, March 20, 2020

How Yellow Fever (Nearly) Destroyed Philadelphia - Sawbones podcast

In keeping with the theme of the month, here is a new Sawbones podcast about the 1793 yellow fever outbreak that killed 10% of Philadelphia's population. 

While Sawbones podcasts are geared for adults, if you have older children in your family (5th grade and up), Laurie Halse Anderson's Fever 1793 tells the story of the outbreak from a 16 year old's perspective. 

  • "During the summer of 1793, Mattie Cook lives above the family coffee shop with her widowed mother and grandfather. Mattie spends her days avoiding chores and making plans to turn the family business into the finest Philadelphia has ever seen. But then the fever breaks out. Disease sweeps the streets, destroying everything in its path and turning Mattie's world upside down. At her feverish mother's insistence, Mattie flees the city with her grandfather. But she soon discovers that the sickness is everywhere, and Mattie must learn quickly how to survive in a city turned frantic with disease."

Tuesday, March 17, 2020

Visualizing the History of Pandemics

Visualizing the History of Pandemics

Puts it all into perspective and a wider context.  Of course the current pandemic is still developing ...


Visualizing the History of Pandemics

The History of Pandemics by Death Toll

The History of Pandemics

Pan·dem·ic /panˈdemik/ (of a disease) prevalent over a whole country or the world.
As humans have spread across the world, so have infectious diseases. Even in this modern era, outbreaks are nearly constant, though not every outbreak reaches pandemic level as the Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19) has.
Today’s visualization outlines some of history’s most deadly pandemics, from the Antonine Plague to the current COVID-19 event.  Read more ...

Tuesday, March 10, 2020

Just Says in Mice

Learn about the Twitter account that is debunking hyped-up science headlines.

It’s happened to all of us – you read an amazing headline about a breakthrough medical treatment, but when you read the full article you discover it was a mouse study. If there were only someone to call out the bad headline writers. Twitter account @justsaysinmice [] to the rescue! The account, which has over 72,000 followers, is run by research scientist James Heathers and has been debunking misleading headlines since April 2019. Its tactics are simple: retweet a bad headline with the comment “IN MICE.”  NPR, Nature, and the NIH have all been taken to task.

If you think misleading headlines written in Spanish are overlooked - think again. The account calls attention to studies done en ratones, too.

In addition to pointing out bad headlines, the account gives kudos to headlines and tweets that explicitly mention the study results pertain to mice.

So if you’re on Twitter and see a headline that forgets to mention it’s a mouse study, just retweet it and tag @justsaysinmice. You’ll be doing your part to ensure more accurate science reporting.

Monday, March 9, 2020

How old are your ears? A test from AsapSCIENCE

How high can you hear? Take AsapSCIENCE’s 'test' to see how old your ears are! Make sure to connect headphones to a computer and watch in 1080p.

I was silly enough to think my ears are better than most, but nope. My ears can hear the under 50 sounds, not the under 40 sounds. Science is keeping me honest. 

Thursday, March 5, 2020

Don't touch your face

COVID-19 is dominating the news and the WHSLA blog this week!  The World Health Organization has some tips to avoid catching/spreading this and other illnesses, but people are really fixating on "don't touch your face."*  Turns out not only is that something humans do quite frequently, it also makes us more anxious if we actively think about trying not to do it!  GAH!

Special thanks to WHSLA member Dora Davis for some of these article suggestions, and for making me hyper-aware of face touching.

Even Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, head of the World Health Organization touches his face sometimes.

* The WHO's Q&A section specifically says "Avoid touching eyes, nose and mouth," so definitely try and stay away from those.  And wash your hands.  

Your pandemic bookshelf: recommendations from Booklist

If you're anything like me, you prefer reading about pandemics that happened a long time ago. 

Booklist recently shared a list of newer books on past, present, and future epidemics

Does your infectious disease bookshelf need a bolus of new titles?

Tuesday, March 3, 2020

WHO's Jealous Coronavirus Music Video from Vietnam

From The World Health Organization (WHO)'s You Tube Channel, this is the poppiest public health service announcement you're likely to ever hear.   This is a great way to get the word out about prevention!

If you didn't see the accompanying graphics, you might never know it was about beating the Coronavirus--in Vietnamese. 

From the You Tube summary:
Nikki Châu Ngọc Trân came across the video and liked it so much, she translated the lyrics into English and added as subtitles.
My English translation is here. Vietnamese original text is below. I took some tiny creative license with the translation to make the text flow in English, such as "fight coronavirus" instead of "push back coronavirus". VIDEO CONTEXT: Ghen means jealous. Cô Vy appears to be a word play on Covid. Cô means lady. Vy is a common Vietnamese name. The video is portraying the virus as someone who's trying to come between a couple. At the beginning of the video the couple was fighting and at the end they came together. And yes, the video does perpetuate gender roles. (This song is based on another song the same musicians made: Through this project, we aim to empower and strengthen trust in the community, so that we can join hands to combat COVID-19 (aka nCoV-2019). In this critical moment of fighting the virus, we hope the song will ignite our spirits and reduce stress for the frontline fighters of this war: the team of experts, physicians, health workers and millions of other workers who are in the frontline of exposure and daily struggle with this disease. Let our community take the initiative in implementing preventive habits as recommended by health experts, and let us spread goodness and kindness to win the disease together." CREDITS: Producer: Institute of Occupational and Environmental Health Music & Lyrics: Khắc Hưng Singer: Min x Erik Visual: Yang Animation Artist

Wash your hands, and pass the Pho!