Tuesday, December 10, 2013

#Medlibsfail: Of Faceplants, Failures and Other Fateful Deeds

Edit: Transcript available at http://bit.ly/1bzFAzL 

#Medlibsfail: Of Faceplants, Failures and Other Fateful Deeds 
Thursday, December 12, 2013
9:00 pm Eastern/6:00 pm Pacific time
#medlibs Twitter chat

This week, we'll discuss learning from our mistakes.

As a young #medlib, I was tasked with promoting a regional scholarship, and thus sent an email out to the venerable medlibs-l email list to publicize it, as one did in the olden days. Much to my junior librarian's dismay, more seasoned listserv members quickly pointed out that not only was the acronym for Arkansas incorrect (AR versus AK, as it were), but I also managed to misspell my own state of Louisiana as LOUSIANA.

Egregious, from a SNOOT's perspective, but so it goes. I sent a corrected message and mea culpa. What I didn't expect was another message on the list, clearly meant for one individual, joking about the Louisiana misspelling. 'They spell it the same way they say it!' 'LOOOOOSIANA LULZ' (had lulz existed back then) and so on. Not hurtful, but what a spectacular #medlibs #fail! The listserv inbox overflowed with horrified replies and hurried apologies.

3 lessons were learned that long ago day: always spell check, know your acronyms, and double, triple, quadruple verify addresses when forwarding incriminating emails.

  • What examples of professional faceplants can you think of? 
  • What are some of the library failures out there? 
  • What changes, good or bad, came about because of them? 
  • What's the best thing you ever learned from a mistake? 
I know, most folks don't enjoy talking about personal gaffes. So bring your anonymous anecdotes of 150 characters or less, and we'll chirp about #medlibsfail & failures in general, and what we can learn from them.

  • Burning down the Library of Alexandria (surely some medical scrolls went down in flames)
  • Johns Hopkins’ Tragedy: Could Librarians Have Prevented a Death? - Information Today article from August 2001 discusses a popular #medlibsfail example: medication error
  • RX for Medical Libraries (2005) - Library Journal responds to the March 2005 NEJM series on the future of medical libraries. "The author worries that small medical and hospital libraries will be closed in the future. There are four main threats to medical libraries: deprofessionalization, a failure to do outreach, a shift in the culture toward fast information, and library budget shortages." 8 years later, how correct she was. 
  • Throwback fail:  User and Library Failures in an Undergraduate Library College and Research Libraries, Nov 1978. "Almost half the circulating collection was unavailable due to four main reasons: (1) lack of knowledge concerning reserve materials; (2) user error; (3) books in circulation; and (4) materials unaccounted for."  These 4 reasons can easily apply to ebooks, hmmm. 

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