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 September 3, 2002 [posted]
 NLM Online Users' Meeting 2002: Remarks

[Editor's note: These are remarks made by Sheldon Kotzin, Chief, Bibliographic Services Division, National Library of Medicine, at the Annual Meeting of the Medical Library Association in Dallas, Texas on May 20, 2002.]

Drop cap letter ello, I'm Sheldon Kotzin and this is the twenty-second time I've had the pleasure to welcome you to the NLM Online Users' Meeting. We are returning back to our tradition of one users' meeting at MLA, so this meeting will cover DOCLINE ® as well as the usual online updates.

With me today are Carolyn Tilley, Head of the MEDLARS Management Section (MMS); Janet Zipser, the MMS Training Coordinator; Annette Nahin, our PubMed technical specialist; and Rosalyn Leiderman, Head of our Systems Unit in the Public Services Division of the Library.

For the past six months, a small team of Regional Medical Library and NLM staff have been working together to conduct a systematic review of the DOCLINE interface. The initial focus is on changing DOCUSER, but during the course of the next year we will be reviewing all modules.

The specific goals of the review include: improved overall usability, adding requested enhancements received from user feedback, and an improved HELP system.

Expected outcomes include a simplified DOCUSER interface to speed data entry and elimination of redundant data entry in the Contacts and Address areas, enhanced searching capability of DOCUSER, overhaul of the Interlibrary Loan (ILL) charges and loan policies section, a simplified method of updating routing tables, and a means to allow libraries to designate their display in the MedlinePlus Consumer Health Libraries page.

Eight libraries participated in NLM's SERHOLD to OCLC pilot project to add, modify, or delete holdings automatically in OCLC, based on changes in SERHOLD. NLM expects to offer all DOCLINE participants who have holdings in OCLC the ability to load their holdings from SERHOLD to OCLC by the end of 2002. Holdings modified in SERHOLD will be automatically updated in OCLC every three months, eliminating redundant keying of data.

Also, we are at the final stage of development of the interface between PubMed LinkOut and SERHOLD where SERHOLD print holdings data are displayed in LinkOut. During the past two months approximately 80 libraries participated in the beta testing of this interface.
[Editor's Note: See the article, PubMedM®'s LinkOut-SERHOLD ® Interface in this issue of the Technical Bulletin, announcing the expansion of the PubMed LinkOut for Libraries program to include print holdings.]

This year NLM has been testing the ISO ILL protocol with three vendors, Research Libraries Group's ILL Manager, Fretwell-Downing's Virtual Document eXchange system, and the Canada Institute for Scientific and Technical Information (CISTI). The purpose of this protocol is to enable ILL systems to share data so that users of a commercial ILL system can send and receive requests to and from DOCLINE without logging in separately. In April 2002, NLM began testing with OCLC. NLM's implementation of the ILL protocol with OCLC will allow DOCLINE users who do not have an ISO compliant system to send unfilled requests to OCLC.

Lastly, let me mention the Electronic Funds Transfer System (EFTS). This is a transaction-based electronic billing system for ILL and document delivery charges. It has been in operation since 1996 in New England and is now used in four network regions. NLM is committed to working with the University of Connecticut to expand the system on a national basis. The plan includes sending NLM billing data for DOCLINE libraries to the EFTS system. EFTS provides monthly detailed transaction reports, the ability to handle differential charges such as additional rush or fax charges, the ability to vary charges to members of special groups, and the ability to handle non-DOCLINE transactions. Network members of all sizes have found that it reduces the administrative costs associated with billing and paying for ILL.

In response to customer feedback, NLM will add three new Loansome Doc features that will be implemented in DOCLINE Release 1.4 by the end of 2002. Those enhancements are:

  1. a message on the DOCLINE Home Messages screen indicating that a new Loansome Doc account has been added to your institution
  2. adding the 'reason' a request was not filled by the ordering library to the "Loansome Doc Patron Status of Orders"
  3. modifying the message to patrons who are no longer authorized to order documents from their ordering library, to be more specific about what their next steps should be to get an authorized account

Online Activities
The conversion of bibliographic data and its accompanying testing and documentation are essentially complete. Thousands of citations from BIOETHICSLINE®, SPACELINETM , AIDSLINE®, and the History of Medicine (HISTLINE®) have been added to MEDLINE®/PubMed®, LocatorPlus, and the Gateway. The work to be completed in the next few months includes: 1) conversion of bioethics court decisions and laws into MEDLINE/PubMed [Editor's Note: See Technical Note, Additional Bioethics Citations Added to MEDLINE/PubMed: Court Decisions and Laws. NLM Tech Bull. 2002 May-Jun;(326):e1, for more information.]; 2) conversion of bioethics keyword descriptors into Medical Subject Headings (MeSH®); 3) making outside producer fields such as their keyword and author abstract searchable in PubMed. Before this last item can be accomplished, PubMed staff must complete some re-programming that could take several months.

Each year NLM giveth but also taketh away. By mutual agreement, NLM and Johns Hopkins University ended their cooperative arrangement to produce and distribute POPLINE® records. POPLINE records up to the year 2000 will be available from NLM free on the Web. Newer citations are accessible on Johns Hopkins' Web site. Internet Grateful Med was retired in September 2001, making me personally sad because I rarely get to say the phrase Grateful Med anymore. It was a part of my vocabulary and probably yours for 15 years.

There are so many new things to report, so let me get started. A total of 129 new journals were selected for MEDLINE indexing; some special list nursing and dental journals were deleted. The fastest growing subject areas for MEDLINE are molecular biology, biochemistry, and the life sciences. We added five consumer health newsletters bringing to 20 the total in MEDLINE. Don't be surprised to see a few more added later this year. Special thanks to Michelle Spatz and other Consumer and Patient Health Information Section members for their assistance in the review process.

This will be another record year for indexing. By the end of the fiscal year (September 2002) we expect to add more than 500,000 citations to MEDLINE. Last year we promised you some improvements as a result of our new in-house data creation system. We implemented a separate corporate author field that will be searchable once the software improvements to PubMed are completed. We began entering full author names when they appear in journals published in 2002 forward.

Also starting with journals published in 2002, the Index Section is creating separate citations for commentaries of articles published in other journals, especially if the commentary evaluates the original article in relation to evidence-based medicine. These types of commentaries appear in journals such as ACP Journal Club, and Evidence-Based Mental Health, but the policy will be followed wherever appropriate commentaries are published. This will allow a two-way link between the original paper and the commentary.

Indexers have taken on one more new task of creating annotated links between MEDLINE citations and records for genes and proteins in the National Center for Biotechnology and Information's LocusLink database. You will hear more about this exciting task from Dr. Lindberg when he joins Betsy Humphreys and Angela Ruffin at the NLM Update.

In April there were approximately 4,500 titles indexed for MEDLINE and 56% of all new bibliographic citations and abstracts were received directly from publishers, greatly speeding up their availability in PubMed.

Also to speed up access, we are indexing 24 electronic-only journals and another 30 or so print journals from Web versions. This now includes, New England Journal of Medicine, JAMA: The Journal of the American Medical Association, Annals of Internal Medicine, and other high quality clinical titles. This activity will expand greatly in the years ahead.

NLM Gateway
Many improvements to the NLM Gateway have been made, several as a direct result of suggestions at last year's MLA meeting. Among them, a new feature was added to the Gateway's e-mail function: users may add a message to their search results that are sent via e-mail. An "Order Documents" button was added to the Results display page allowing users to order directly from the displayed page results. Users may save items from one or more searches in their Locker for subsequent ordering. Also, users can now initiate a search using the Enter key. A mouse click is no longer required.

As you may know, the 1957 OLDMEDLINE® citations were added to the Gateway on May 15, 2002. This fall you can expect to see 1954-56 data added. The addition of these records will bring the OLDMEDLINE total to 1.4 million records. At the moment, Loansome Doc is unable to accept document orders for OLDMEDLINE citations because the majority of the citations do not have the journal ID (NLM Unique ID) that is needed to process ILLs electronically through Loansome Doc's routing system. A project now underway will link these serials to the LocatorPlus record. Having the journal ID known for these records will permit ILLs through DOCLINE/Loansome Doc.

As in the past, we are gratified by your continued use of PubMed . It is not unusual for PubMed use to exceed 1.2 million searches and 200,000 users in a day. I would be remiss not to mention a few highlights, many based on your feedback.

In January, we began updating PubMed with MEDLINE citations five-times a week - Tuesday through Saturday. This change enables us to make fully-indexed MEDLINE records available to you sooner. Our licensees can receive these updates as well.

We also created subject subsets for Bioethics, History of Medicine, and Space Life Sciences. These subsets can be found on the Limits screen. In addition, a new filter, Systematic Reviews was added to the Clinical Queries page. You may wish to make sure your clinicians know about this.

We were also happy to be able to make the notations for comments, errata, retractions, etc. actual links on the Abstract format. Future plans include adding some of these to the Summary format. This will make it easy for you to go back and forth between associated citations. The Full Author Name field, that I mentioned earlier, is in addition to the author name field in the standard format. It will not be searchable for the foreseeable future; however, you can view the field using PubMed's MEDLINE and XML display formats.

The expanding PubMed Bookshelf has grown to more than eight reference books and contains a search feature that lets you search all or individual books in the Bookshelf, including the recently added "NCBI Handbook." This handbook is not help documentation, but more an account of where the data came from, how it is integrated, how the algorithms work, how data are processed, and so on. We are interested in knowing whether a glossary/dictionary of medical terms based on MeSH definitions would be helpful in the Bookshelf. Let us know, either in person or by mail, what you think about that idea and the Bookshelf in general.

There are now 3,000 MEDLINE journals that make links available to the full text of at least some of their articles. We estimate that nearly 40% of all citations from 1990-2002 now have links. The LinkOut for Libraries program that we began promoting last year has been a great success with over 400 libraries participating.

In March, NLM released the Text Version of PubMed. This version was developed to assist physically challenged users who require special programs to interact with the Web. And, while it was not designed for PDAs, we know that users of handheld devices will want to check out this version.

If most of what I've told you was news to you, please be sure to subscribe to our e-mail alert, NLM-Announces. Once a week you will receive an e-mail listing news from NLM including links to the latest articles in our newsletter, the NLM Technical Bulletin. It is, by far, the easiest way to keep up-to-date with developments.

Future plans for PubMed include displaying corporate authors on the Summary format, and also making the Place of Publication field searchable. And, this year we expect to add the capability to e-mail search results, which many of you have requested. Soon we will make a change to the PubMed results screens. The Link to Related Articles will remain as is, but the links to other databases -- for example, Online Mendelian Inheritance in Man TM -- that can currently string out with each citation, will soon be consolidated in a single pop-up menu called "Links."

Between January 2001 and May 2002, over 1,300 librarians and information specialists across the country have taken our PubMed, Gateway, and TOXNET training classes. A new web-based educational clearinghouse to search and find various training materials and classes is now in the final testing phase. This clearinghouse will be available from the National Training Center and Clearinghouse Web site. [Editor's Note: The Educational Clearinghouse debuted on June 17, 2002. See Educational Clearinghouse Database: A Service of the National Training Center and Clearinghouse. NLM Tech Bull. 2002 Jul-Aug;(327):e2.]

You may recall that the PubMed Tutorial debuted in March 2001. Each month the average number of unique visitors to the tutorial is over 18,000. The tutorial has been updated twice - the most recent being just last month.

Data Distribution
I think it's important to note the value of MEDLINE citations to researchers. We now have 132 MEDLINE licensees throughout the world; a total of 93 lease MEDLINE for text mining purposes such as work on new gene discoveries, protein-gene relationships, pharmaceutical research and more. In fact, we created a new license for use by non-US organizations wanting to lease NLM data solely for internal research. As with all licensed data from NLM, it is provided freely to recipients. This fall we hope to make OLDMEDLINE data available for distribution in XML format. Down the road a bit further will be the availability of cataloging and serials data in XML, although the MARC format will not disappear.

PubMed Central
Let's move rapidly to cover a few other items. PubMed Central now contains full text for about 80 peer-reviewed journals including BMJ and Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America, yielding about 60,000 articles. Also, we have just added the first of several journals published by the American Society for Microbiology and expect to have all eleven of its publications added sometime this summer.

Two weeks ago, NLM launched a new look for its TOXNET and DIRLINE search interfaces. I urge you to look at these sites and the new Haz-Map® database designed to link hazardous jobs and tasks to exposure to chemicals and occupational diseases.

Unified Medical Language System® (UMLS)
Last year I hinted that we were hoping to demystify the UMLS. We took a major step on Saturday as NLM staff taught its first course at MLA to introduce librarians to the basics of UMLS. We will offer the course several times this year at NLM. [Editor's Note: See the Technical Note, UMLS Basics Class Offered. NLM Tech Bull. 2002 Jul-Aug;(327):e1 , for more information.] Once we gauge interest, we will decide how and when to expand the course offering. Plans are to turn the course into a Web tutorial sometime in the future. Carolyn Tilley has taken the lead with Jan Willis and Vivian Auld in developing ways to improve the use of this immense resource of more than 60 vocabularies with over 2 million concept names.

In the year ahead, the MeSH Section will be busy taking a close look at proteins. While it will be impossible to have a MeSH term for every protein mentioned in GENBANK®, staff will try to coordinate class names of proteins (like hemoglobin) with the organism, and create specific names for proteins if they are on a list of model organisms or are of particular importance.

The incredible growth in genetics terms will result in a reorganization of the G5 Tree of MeSH. Originally organized by discipline, it will soon be organized by structures, processes and relationships. There will also be classes for genetic occupations and techniques.

Lastly, look for a new subheading, Ethics, to reflect the inclusion of more bioethics citations in MEDLINE.

It's been another busy year as you can see. As always we value your suggestions and criticisms. Now it's time for your questions. As is our custom, we will answer each question to the best of our ability but reserve the right to change any answer and include it in the NLM Technical Bulletin. [Editor's Note: See MLA 2002: NLM Online Users' Meeting Questions and Answers. NLM Tech Bull. 2002 Jul-Aug;(327):e7b for the text of the questions and answers.]

black line separting article from citation

NLM Online Users' Meeting 2002: Remarks. NLM Tech Bull. 2002 Jul-Aug;(327):e7a.


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