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MAHSLIN Professional Development Award – Designing Search Strategies for Systematic Reviews

The support from the MAHSLIN Professional Development Award Fund enabled me to attend an exceptional class earlier this month. Designing Search Strategies for Systematic Reviews is in its second year offering by the Becker Medical Library at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis. It’s a two day course offered in person. The course is intended for librarians to be better prepared to develop complex search strategies for systematic reviews.

I’ve also attended the University of Pittsburgh’s Falk Library of the Health Sciences Systematic Review Workshop. I took that class prior to having contributed to any Systematic Reviews and didn’t really know what I didn’t know. It was a really great class that provided a solid foundation for the two Systematic Reviews I worked on afterward. Unfortunately, I had no confidence in the work that I did on those reviews. I still wondered, “Did I create effective searches, I must have done something wrong, how do I know if the searches were actually good or not?”

Those lingering thoughts led me to register for the Search Strategies for Systematic Reviews course. The course was $400 and I had to travel to St. Louis, which could be a barrier for some. With this Professional Development Award and partial funding through my employer, I was able to make it. Thankfully, I did! The first reason I’m so glad I went, is that it definitely made me feel more confident about my work on the Systematic Reviews I supported and much more confident in starting a new one. Secondly, after having worked on those, I knew what I needed to know and where I felt weak. I knew what questions to ask this time around.

This course had a structured agenda that worked through the following topics on the first day: 1. SR Guidelines, 2. Patron Contact & PICO plan, 3. Search Design, Bias, and 4. Recall, Term Harvesting. The second day covered: 5. Designing Concept Hedges, 6. Combining Concept Hedges, 7. Support Software Overview, 8. Grey Literature Resources, 9. Writing the Methods Section, 10. Sending Results, and 11. Final Steps.

We worked through all of theses steps of a Systematic review from beginning to end with a Case Study that was provided to each of the three groups we had been divided into ahead of time. The instructor would perform an example of their own case study and then instruct us to perform those activities with our group’s case study. Each of the three groups had one component of the PICO question, P, I, or C (the study was looking for an outcome) as our concept we worked on. Toward the end of the class we shared our results (combining concept hedges) and worked on the Methods Section and Final Steps with all of the pieces put together. This hands-on method was extremely effective and we were even provided with the tools to take back (i.e., an excel spreadsheet to organize term harvesting, checklists for the methods section) with us for when we need them. The instructors stayed on target with the schedule and with discussions and questions. This organization was another plus of the class.

I highly recommend this course to anyone interested in taking a Systematic Review class and am extremely grateful that MAHSLIN provided me with the funds to make it possible.

Stephanie Friree Ford, MLIS
Reference Librarian



Submitted by Heather Edmonds, Director of Library Services, New England College of Optometry,

slack_rgb is a free communication tool that is part-IM service, part-email, part-shared drive that also integrates with numerous productivity apps and other services.  It’s available as a mobile or desktop app, as well as via the web.  Though primarily marketed as a tool for small businesses and start-ups, the staff at my small library has been using it for nearly a year, and we have found it invaluable.

Slack allows for both group conversations — which can be organized by topic/project/etc. via “channels” — as well as direct messages to individuals on one’s “team” (our “team” is small and consists of only library staff members, but teams can be as large or as small as they need to be to accommodate the user group).  Messages are archived, and fully searchable.

Slack also permits the sharing of files among team members directly in the app.  File sharing is particularly easy when using cloud-based services such as Google Drive or Dropbox, as you need only cut and paste the link to the file into Slack in order to share it.

Multi-Device GroupOne of the most useful Slack features for us is the ability to integrate our shared Google Calendars into specific channels that update automatically when an “event” is forthcoming, so that you can see what’s happening on a particular day without having to leave the app.  For example, one of the shared calendars we’ve integrated is our circulation desk schedule, so that it’s easy to keep on top of who is scheduled to cover the desk, and when.

We initially decided to try Slack because we found that email, while useful for many purposes, wasn’t fully addressing our day-to-day communication needs as a staff.  Face-to-face communication is best, of course — but our library is open many hours, and because we cover different shifts we don’t always see each other as much as we’d like.  So we decided to try an IM service, and Slack proved to be the most versatile.  I highly recommend Slack for any library staff interested in communicating outside the email box.




Submitted by Frances Foret, Head of Collection Development at Tufts Hirsh Health Sciences Library.

Browzine allows users to browse, read, and monitor the journals available through their library and is a great tool for non-techies like me. When you first log in it quickly identifies your institution’s journal holdings and organizes them by general subject category. You can, of course, also search and retrieve holdings information by journal title name.


Browzine replicates the feeling of being in the print world of a library reading room where journals are shelved on periodicals display shelves. You can take a virtual trip of walking through the stacks browsing your institution’s journal holdings.


There is a “My Bookshelf” feature that corrals your favorite journals, making it simple to peruse them (this feature requires a personal login).


Browzine is easy to use, and the vendor is well-known for being very responsive to any questions or issues you may have. Browzine is not a free product but requires an annual subscription. At Tufts we have made the mobile and desktop versions available to our users.

Below please find more details about Browzine directly from Third Iron, the provider of this product.

Message from the President

msolomonpicsmallHello MAHSLIN members,

Spring is in the air and MAHSLIN 2017 is around the corner.  If you have not already done so, please register.  MAHSLIN will be held at the Massachusetts Medical Society conference center on Friday, April 7, 2017.

It’s not an easy time to hold on to one’s traditional beliefs, values, skills, and interests when the very profession that once fit them so well is in constant flux. What do you do? How do you remain relevant to your patrons and to your organization? Just as importantly, how do you make sure the very users who need your help know what it is you can do for them?

From taking an inventory of your skills and mapping them to a needs assessment of your users, to developing your message and creating a coordinated campaign to get the word out, the 2017 MAHSLIN Annual Meeting will help you ensure that you’re doing everything you can to remain relevant in today’s environment.

We look forward to seeing you there and register today!


MAHSLIN is looking for members interested in the position of Publicity Chair OR Webmaster.  If you are interested or want to learn more about these positions, please contact me, Meredith Solomon at

Meredith Solomon, MLS, AHIP
Associate Librarian
Brigham & Women’s Hospital
75 Francis St., Thorn 127 | Boston, MA 02115
(617) 525-9234 |


Massachusetts Library System Update

michelleeberle_mls-3-300x300Submitted by:  Michelle Eberle, MLS Consultant

Greetings, MAHSLIN!  I’m enjoying my new position as a Consultant with the Massachusetts Library System (MLS).  MLS serves all types of libraries and most of you are already members.  I will be reaching out to non MLS-member health sciences libraries and inviting them to join MLS.  There are a lot of benefits to MLS membership including free continuing education workshops, access to statewide databases with custom links for your website, and a materials and supply cooperative to save your library money on books, audiovisuals, and needed administrative and technical supplies.

We are thrilled to announce that we have a hospital librarian serving on our Executive Board.  Stephanie Friree Ford, Reference Librarian at the Massachusetts Eye and Ear Howe Library was recently elected to the MLS Executive Board.  Thank you, Stephanie!

If you are looking for useful, local, and free professional development workshops, MLS is offering over 36 workshops this spring in all regions of the Commonwealth.  You can register for our upcoming spring professional development workshops on our event calendar.

Upcoming workshops relevant for health sciences librarians include:

  • Facing the Future:  Strategic Planning in Libraries, Presenter: Kristi Chadwick
  • Howdy Partner:  Let’s Get Creative with Community Engagement, Presenter:  Michelle Eberle
  • Inclusive Programming Skillshare, Presenter: Kristi Farrar
  • Keep Calm and Manage On:  A Time Management Workshop, Presenter:  Anna Popp
  • Library Round-Up! Using Assessment to Improve Your Programs and Services, Presenter:  Kelly Jo Woodside
  • Universal Design for Libraries, Presenter:  Kristi Farrar

Our strategic plan identified social justice as a primary concern for our membership.  In response, our spring meeting on June 13th at Devens will focus on social justice.  Also, we are hosting a Massachusetts Libraries’ Declaration of Inclusion Planning Session on March 2nd at our Marlborough office in collaboration with the Massachusetts Library Association’s Intellectual Freedom/Social Responsibility Committee.

If you like the Unshelved Comic, you will definitely want to join us on May 3rd at UMassMed School for two presentation on customer service by Gene Ambaum.  Please save the date.  The event will be added soon to our workshop calendar.

We are also conducting a listening tour throughout the Commonwealth.   MLS wants to hear from you how we can better serve you and how we can continue to encourage a co-creator culture and make libraries future ready. Some dates are already posted in our calendar, which will focus on discussions about fake news. We hope you can join us for one of our listening tour events.

I’m hoping to strengthen the relationship between MAHSLIN and the Massachusetts Library System.  If you have any questions about MLS, please reach out to me at


Hats Off to CAHSL

Submitted by Cara Marcus

An email sent through the MAHSLIN listserv caught my eye – our neighbor CAHSL sent MAHSLIN members a friendly invitation to their holiday luncheon. Dr. Dayne Laskey from the University of St. Joseph School of Pharmacy was the speaker, and the topic sounded fascinating: the history of plants and medicine.  Not only is history one of my favorite subjects, I recently began teaching adult education herbal cookery.  In addition, my newly graduated daughter just studied herbal medicine, and the topic would be of interest to her as well.  So off we went for an afternoon in Connecticut!

The presentation was superb.  No standard PowerPoint here; Dr. Laskey whirled images on the screen of plants and medicines, many from his hospital’s own medicinal garden, while surprising the group with a live aloe plant, and an astounding demonstration of how black light makes quinine (from tree bark) glow in regular bottles of tonic.  Quinine-enhanced tonic was given to early sailors to help them stay healthy on-board.  One of the most surprising things we learned was that about 79% of herbal supplements sold today do not actually contain the herb listed on the label (Dr. Laskey also talked about regulatory efforts attempting to control this issue).  Of course, with an audience of librarians, he discussed the evidence base for herbal medicine, and left the group with much food for thought for their own reference work in alternative medicine.

Besides a great lecture, the meeting was fun!  The CAHSL group was very congenial, the setting was lovely for the holidays, and the lunch included make-your-own Caesar salad and mac-and-cheese bars with lots of fixings. Another highlight of the afternoon was a Yankee Book Swap.  Everyone brought a wrapped, new book and went home with a new great book to read.  So – many thanks to CAHSL and happy holidays to all!


Searching for Reusable Images via Google

Did you know you can filter Google Images to find ones with usage rights?

To find reusable images on Google click the Tools button. This will bring up a number of options including Usage rights. From here select the type of usage rights you are interested in viewing.



Public Domain images are not owned by anyone. You can use, publish, or change them. Attribution is not required but you should do it anyway.

Creative Commons is a type of Copyright that simplifies sharing and reuse. There are six different types of CC licenses. You MUST attribute Creative Commons materials and some hold greater restrictions.

For more information visit

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