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Minnesota, United States

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Building and Sharing Your iGoogle Page

I'm enjoying the process of playing around with iGoogle and exploring what cool new widgets I can add to my iGoogle page. (Some of these are also available on mobile devices). I added a few more games, a to-do list, book of the day, and some more book related feeds. I also set up tabs to better organize my widgets. I have a tab for social networking related stuff, a tab for fun stuff, a tab for news related, a tab for library related things, and a miscellaneous tab. Did you know that you can even share the contents of your tabs with others?

I also had fun looking through the iGoogle Showcase, which shows iGoogle pages of celebrities. If you want, you can even set your iGoogle page to match the style used by your favorite celebrity.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Reliable Consumer Health Information on the Internet

Did you know that on a typical day, 10 million adults look for health information online and that 75% do not consistently check the source and the date of the information?

Did you know that according to the National Assessment of Health Literacy study that 14% have below basic health literacy skills? Another 22% fare only slightly better, with just the bare-bones basics of health literacy?

These were some of the statistics presented in the MINITEX webinar, Consumer Health Information on the Internet.

With so many people searching the Internet for medical information, how can librarians and information professionals steer them towards accurate and current information? Good places to start include MedlinePlus Guide to Healthy Web Surfing and Top 100 Websites You Can Trust.

You can also check to see if a website has the HONCode. The HONCode is an indication that the website has been evaluated for authoritative and trustworthy information.

MedlinePlus is a free online health website from the National Library of Medicine and the National Institutes of Health. It provides the layperson reliable, comprehensive, and current information on over 750 medical topics. The information on the website is gathered from over 1350 government agencies and health-related organizations. On MedlinePlus, one can find a medical encyclopedia, medical dictionary, drug and herbal supplement information, 165 interactive tutorials, directories, and surgery videos. Information is available in multiple languages.

Drugs and herbal supplement information can be browsed by the generic name or the brand name. For herbal supplements, there is an evidence table which gives a grade to the effectiveness of said uses based on research.

Searchable directories include doctors and dentists, hospitals and clinics, and medical libraries. Local information can also be found.

Another nice feature of MedLine Plus is it opens external websites in a new tab or window so you don't have to worry about using the browser's back button

Other good consumer health websites presented in the webinar include:

National Library of Medicine Household Products Database. Here you can find links to over 9000 consumer brands and their chemical ingredients and the effects of those ingredients.

Minnesota Health Information

National Library of Medicine Drug Portal. Over 17,000 drugs ranging from clinical trial usage to FDA approval to use in the marketplace.

Managing Your PLN Via a Customizable Homepage

I previously used Netvibes for my customizable homepage but decided to switch back to iGoogle since I thought that would be easier. After all, I'm already using many of Googles features including Email, Google Reader, and Google Calendar. I like having easy accessibility to the websites I use frequently for my personal learning network all in one place.

I also added a Gmail gadget, a weather gadget, a couple of news gadgets, and some fun ones like Puzzles and Riddles and Places to See.

I found it easy to change the background theme and to move gadgets around so the page is organized the way I want.

Friday, March 5, 2010

NoveList is getting a makeover!

EBSCO's readers advisory database, NoveList is undergoing some changes to improve usability. You can get a sneak preview of the changes, which will be effective in summer 2010.

One exciting change will be the addition of appeal factors (pace, tone, storyline, and writing style) to the title records. These appeal factors can be used to narrow search results. For recommended titles, there is a short paragraph explaining why that title is recommended, incorporating appeal factors.

A search bar will appear on every page, not just the home page.

Search results will be more customizable. You will have more control as to how much detail to view and print.

All Novelist Content will appear in a single tab rather than multiple ones.

Libraries will have the option of incorporating reader ratings of books.

Title, Author, and Series records will have a cleaner look. The author and series pages will be a new feature. From the author page, you will be able to search for similar authors based on appeal factors you select. From the series page, you will also find a list of similar series you may enjoy.

Browsing by genre can be done right from the homepage.

Overall, the new version of NoveList will have a much more intuitive and user-friendly interface. I'm particularly excited about the incorporation of appeal factors and can't wait for the new version to be launched.

Thursday, March 4, 2010

Morningstar Investment Research Center

Intimidated by reference questions involving research of stocks and funds? The Morningstar Investment Research Center (MIRC) database has a user guide that clearly walks you through the basics of researching stocks and funds. Do you want to know how to screen stocks or funds based on a set of desired criteria? How about retrieving in-depth reports of stocks and funds? Perhaps you want to read reviews of industries and sectors. Are you interested in an analysis of your current investment portfolio with suggested ways to better diversify? The user guide shows you how to do all of this.

If you have the time, MIRC also provides 30-minute tutorials for researching fund reports and stock reports.

MIRC provides financial data for over 30,000 stocks, mutual funds, and Exchange-Traded funds (ETFs) in addition to buying and selling guidelines for over 1,900 stocks and 2,100 mutual funds.

MIRC also provides an extensive help section with information on investments for beginners and a catalog to 150 courses ranging in level from basic to advanced.