Miles of information for medical librarians #medlibs

Warning: The presentation today went very quickly today, and had several audio issues (constant beeps!). I attempted to take accurate notes, but I may have missed something or stated something incorrectly. If I have stated anything incorrectly please let me know and I apologize.

PUBMED UPDATES: You can see screen shots of the prototype at:

figure 1

Figure 1: Mock up of possible new PubMed design. Screen shot provided at MLA 2009 meeting, and originally posted by Shamsha at:

Webmeeting 8/5/09:

Today a web meeting was held to discuss the upcoming changes to PubMed. The meeting was a recap of the update at MLA 2009 with some additional comments. I want to thank David and Max for taking time out of their schedule to talk to the over 220 participants. It was very beneficial to have this meeting for those of us who were not able to attend the 2009 MLA meeting, especially since the screen shots are small and screen shots cannot answer all questions.

Date of changes:

The date of these changes is still not final according to David Gillikin today. The release is scheduled for sometime in September 2009; however, this is not concrete. They are working to make sure an announcement and previews are provided well in advanced of the changes being made; however, even if a preview is provided suggestions can be made but will probably not be implemented in this release. David hopes there will be a 2 week preview but this was not certain.

I really hope there is plenty of time to preview the changes prior to implementation. While no functionality is changing, just changing the appearance will have a major impact on library patrons. Look at Google®. It has had the same home page for how long? If you went to Google® one day and there were vast differences . . . it would be difficult to adjust to at first. It could even lead patrons to not want to use the service. I know I already struggle with getting patrons to use PubMed instead of Google, so extra time to prepare patrons for the changes will be very beneficial.

Advanced Search page:

The Advanced Search page is not changing—for now. This is good news, but I’m curious when it might change. I am also curious how it will fit in with all of the other changes. For instance, on the new PubMed home page the drop down boxes are being replaced with radial boxes that you hover over. The advanced search page still uses drop down boxes. Hopefully, when the advanced search page is redesigned it will be uniform with the home page.

Also, since the Advanced Search page will now serve as a life-line for all of the details many librarians want a link that stands out on the page.


The new changes look good and David is correct, PubMed is due for a change. One item of concern to some at the meeting today is the missing link to MeSH. Currently there is a link to MeSH terminology, but by the looks of the sample page there will not be any links to MeSH on the updated version of PubMed. The current link is on the left sidebar, which is disappearing (discussed below).  It will be interesting to see how MeSH is incorporated. I know I often use the link on the left sidebar to review the MeSH terminology.

Left Sidebar:

Speaking of the left sidebar, it is going away.

figure 2 - Copy

Figure 2: Screen shot of current PubMed homepage showing the left sidebar. I added the red lines, arrow, and text.

The sidebar is being replaced with a drop down menu at the top of the page. The drop down menu is where you will find the other databases (Journals and possibly MeSH?). I think this helps ‘clean’ up the screen; however, the new page has radial buttons you hover on in one place but drop down menus in others. This seems inconsistent. Perhaps I am wrong and it will not be an issue. I am just thinking of the patrons who are not as tech savvy.

Tabs: Limits, History, Details, Clipboard

In addition to the left sidebar disappearing, all of the tabs at the top of the page are disappearing.

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Figure 3: Figure 1: Screen shot of current PubMed homepage showing the tabs. I added the red lines, arrow, and text.

This means there will no longer be tabs for Limits, Details, Clipboard, etc. Users will now have to go to advanced search to add any limits which will take longer when doing a complex search to constantly flip between screens as Laikas pointed out in an earlier post.

History will still be in the advanced search box. They are trying to get a link in the recent activity box to history but this is still just a request and may not happen.

Right now, we do not know where Clipboard will be on the page. The functionality will still be there, but the tab is disappearing and David was not sure where a link to it will be. I hope there is a link on the right sidebar (discussed below). If Clipboard is only on the Advanced Search page with the Limits and History I think this will create more ‘clicks’ and confusion. Think after adding all of your items to the Clipboard and completed your searching. .  you then go to Advanced Search to retrieve the items?  I am very curious to see where Clipboard will be on the page.

Display View:

Citation, Abstract, and Abstract Plus will not exist anymore. It will now be just one Abstract view. This was pointed out on the official MLA blog by Allison; however, I didn’t know it also included the removal of citation. Combining all three of these items is logical. It also cleans up the Display options.

Right sidebar:

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Figure 4: Screen shot of current right sidebar. I added the red lines, arrow, and text.

A new right sidebar has caused some frustration throughout the medical library field.  Many librarians have complained about the sidebar taking up valuable real estate and reducing the search results.

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Figure 5:  Screenshot of possible PubMed update. The red box, text, and arrow were added by me. Picture is from the MLA presentation.

There is no way of permanently turning off the boxes on the right side of the page, which shrinks the search results making it distracting and difficult to read the search results. You can minimize the boxes but not totally get rid of them. While the right sidebar takes up probably 30% of the page, remember the left sidebar is disappearing which will free up some space. I think once we are able to preview and ‘test’ drive the updates the right sidebar will not be as obtrusive as it is currently.

The boxes will have the recent activity so you do not have to switch to the history in advanced search. Also, the right side box will ‘advertise’ other databases. Could this be where a link to clipboard will eventually go???


Finally the Linkout icons will display in the right sidebar when looking at the abstract. Not sure how they will display when using abstract view to see the entire search results as abstracts.

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Figure 6: Screen shot of possible Pubmed change. The colored boxes, arrows, and text were added by me.  Picture is from the MLA presentation.

I have tried to show the icons in the figure above and illustrate the placement of all of the icons.

In the meeting Michelle Kraft state: “Good icons are grouped together but library icons should be on top of all other full text icons. Journal/publisher icons should be listed below.” I completely agree with Michelle. The library icons and even PubMed Central should be listed first. At a time where most libraries are constantly working on marketing and demonstrating the libraries’ values, it is important to keep these in mind when placing the icons. If the publishers’ icons are listed first, the patron may never see the library icon below it. It also helps show the library is providing the access to the item, and it emphasizes the importance of libraries.

I know it sounds like a minor issue. Most people are probably saying “What does it matter who is listed first.” But it is actually an important issue. Libraries constantly work ‘behind the scenes’ and with the current economic stress it is imperative that libraries remind patrons, administrators, and others who is providing these useful information services.


It will not be possible to send saved searches to more than one person. The presenter reiterated that they are changing the presentation not the functionality.


The changes to PubMed may only affect the look and feel, but it will nonetheless be a major change. I have only gone over some of the changes in this post please see the links below for more information. Also, the recording of today’s presentation will be posted. I will post a link on the blog once the recording is available.  Change is difficult to adjust to but can be a very good thing. I hope with adequate notice, we will be able to help our patrons smoothly adjust to the changes.

For more information:

Comments on: "PubMed® Redesign: Still left with questions!" (5)

  1. […] This post was Twitted by laikas […]

  2. Why can’t the multiple email people just use PubMed’s RSS? It’s the same….

    • alisha764 said:

      I know you could set-up the results to send to PubMed RSS; however, this would require several extra steps. Plus, not all patrons have an RSS account. If there is a simple way to send RSS feeds as emails then please let me know.

      Thank you for commenting!

  3. My understanding is that when you add stuff to the new clipboard, a little box will appear at the top of the right column, telling how many items are on the clipboard. It will also provide a link to the clipboard contents, and another link to clear the clipboard with a single click. We’ll have to see what really happens, though.

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