Friday, September 01, 2006

Plans for the Second Life Medical Library are well under way! After getting our gorgeous new building, we are busy dreaming and visualizing and connecting with others who are equally excited about the potential for a medical library at SL.

What has evolved, initially, is a 2-track focus on medical research and consumer health. For medical research, we are very pleased to say that PubMed will soon be searchable in-world in a manner similar to the OCLC search interface - but better! Searchers will be able to view the top nine citations, and we hope that the results and individual citations (including abstracts) can be copied to notecards. This is obviously beta, and will have limitations (especially with regard to just-in-time teaching), but it is a big step forward.

Be on the look-out for a display in the medical research area concerning the work of Moriz Gupte, who is conducting an NIH-funded simulation training project for bioterrorism preparedness. A real step forward from desktop simulation models, this project will offer medical and allied health personnel the opportunity to deploy staff and resources in the event of manmade and natural disasters.

We are hoping very much to have the medical research section function as a repository for information about medically related research taking place at SL and other virtual communities - it's a big question in my mind just how this might happen, given the decentralized nature of the beast, but we think it would be a good feature for practitioners and students. Moriz's documentation will be the first piece of what we hope will be a valued collection.

For consumer health, we will be offering links and info to a number of free sites, as well as educational assistance. There are lots of things 'out there' to help - so we will serve as guides to that universe of often bewildering (and frequently misleading) information. Those needing further or more specific assistence will be directed to their local library systems. Plans include a medicinal herb garden with links to research about uses, warnings, and effects (mostly, a terrific site, and Medlineplus, which has really stepped up its coverage of complementary & alternative meds in the past few years).

Notecards on specific topics will be available (and I would very much like to figure out if the notecard could be more of a PDF because that way we can brand the docs), such as smoking cessation, herbs for specific uses, evaluating health information, and assistive devices. By far, however, efforts will be focused on outreach to SL's medical support communities. The big question is: what is needed and wanted? I guess that's why we're here, eh?

be well - Carolina Keats