MedlinePlus: Worth Its Weight in Gold

MedlinePlus is a free health information resource from the United States’ National Library of Medicine. This post is not a comprehensive review of the entire site, but will give a general overview and highlight some of my favorite areas. MedlinePlus is geared to provide information for patients and the general public. Most of the information has been written at the 5th to 8th grade level. It is intended to be a consumer-based resource and not for medical professionals. The information within MedlinePlus provides selected links to reliable healthcare web sites and information generated at the National Library of Medicine. It contains links to over 975 medical topics, including links to the A.D.A.M. medical encyclopedia and the Merriam-Webster medical dictionary. The statistics page of the website reports that there is Information from over 1,000 organizations containing over 35,000 links to authoritative health information. Continue reading

Locating Nuclear Energy Data using U.S. Energy Information Administration


Nuclear energy is the energy contained in the nucleus of an atom. When the atoms are broken apart in the fission process, the energy released can be used to generate electricity. The most common element used in nuclear fission is uranium.

The U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA) is a one-stop shop for all data and statistics on nuclear power. Topics covered include nuclear operable units, electricity generation, storage of radioactive waste, and state of operating nuclear power plants. While the focus of this data is on nuclear power in the United States, there is also data provided for yearly international nuclear electricity generation.

Continue reading

NIH Research Portfolio Online Reporting Tools (RePORT)

The NIH Research Portfolio Online Reporting Tools (RePORT) allow researchers to explore projects funded by the US National Institutes of Health, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ), the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA), the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), and the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA).

Continue reading

Scholarly Communication and the History of Flight

Letter to the Smithsonian Institution, 1899
Letter to the Smithsonian Institution, 1899

Powered, controlled flight is a scientific and engineering achievement rich with examples of scholarly communication. Background sources provide a foundation. Correspondence provides insight into challenges and developments in a field. Experimental findings shared via professional meetings and journal articles encourage wider discussion and further exploration. Scholarly conversations between the Wright brothers and Octave Chanute preserved in digital collections at the Library of Congress provide a rich exemplar for students learning about scholarly communication. Continue reading

Understanding BLAST and Improving Your Search


BLAST, the Basic Local Alignment Sequence Tool ( is a data mining tool provided by the National Center for Biotechnology Information (NCBI). It allows users to input a nucleic acid or protein sequence and search against millions of other sequences in the database to identify those based on similarity and not identity. Ideally, search results will hopefully identify known sequences and provide insight into the possible identity and function of the sequence of interest.

Continue reading

WorldWideScience, a Cut above the World Wide Web

Are you still looking for a reliable federated search tool that goes beyond the run-of-the-mill results? Do you miss searching Scirus by Elsevier? might be a worthwhile alternative to explore. Developed and maintained by the U.S. Department of Energy Office of Scientific and Technical Information (OSTI), has partnerships with many national and international science portals and one can search the interface in ten different languages: Arabic, Chinese, English, French, German, Japanese, Korean, Portuguese, Russian, and Spanish. Searching multiple sources, displays results based on their relevance order. Continue reading

I Don’t Know Your Name, But You Look Familiar: Using Chemical Structure Searches

Chemical Structure Searches 1Searching for information on complex organic molecules can be an onerous task. Many organic compounds have both common and systematic names. For example, caffeine can also be known as guaranine, methyltheobromine, 1,3,7-trimethylxanthine, theine, or 1,3,7-trimethylpurine-2,6-dione. Researchers performing comprehensive literature searches will be interested in research involving not only a specific compound but also similar compounds or other molecules containing the same substructure. Searching on a specific systematic name may inadvertently omit stereoisomers, tautomers, molecules containing the same substructure of interest, or molecules differing by the substitution of as little as one atom. Conceiving of all appropriate synonyms for a name-based search would be a Herculean task for both an organic chemist and a science librarian.

Continue reading

Arctic Matters Day

ARCTIC MATTERS DAY is January 14th, 2016  so declares the National Research Council of the National Academies

They have published a lavishly illustrated 32-page booklet explaining, showing that changes in the Arctic affect the whole globe. It was announced in the weekly news from the Academies, in their Friday alert on January 8, 2016. Incidentally, one may subscribe to the newsletter by writing to:

Continue reading

Finding Standards

What are standards?

Standards are guidelines or rules for products, processes, test methods, or materials.

These are created to produce a level of uniformity, interchangeability, reliability, or means of comparison.

Standards influence daily life including our method of communication, the products we use, how we travel to work, and what we eat.

Continue reading

Patents at The Lens


sunflowers by marco magrini
sunflowers by marco magrini

Searching patent information is a challenge for most librarians on a good day whether it is on Google Patents, ESPACEnet, or the USPTO. A rather new site, Lens, has entered the landscape. Lens is a self-described “open public resource for innovation cartography.” Aside from the rather quirky byline on the site’s home page, this open resource searches “nearly all of the patent documents in the world as open, annotatable digital public goods that are integrated with scholarly and technical literature along with regulatory and business data” (

Continue reading