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Falk Library Holiday and Winter Recess Hours


Over Pitt’s winter break, Falk Library will have modified hours:

  • Saturday, December 19: 9:30 a.m.–6 p.m.
  • Sunday, December 20: 11 a.m.–6 p.m.
  • Monday, December 21: 8 a.m.–5:30 p.m.
  • Tuesday, December 22: 8 a.m.–5:30 p.m.
  • Wednesday, December 23: 8 a.m.–5:30 p.m.
  • Thursday, December 24, through Sunday, January 3: CLOSED
  • Monday, January 4: 8 a.m.–5:30 p.m.
  • Tuesday, January 5: 8 a.m.–5:30 p.m.
  • Wednesday, January 6: Resume regular hours

The Ask a Librarian e-mail service will be monitored over the break. Continue reading

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PalPITTations Concert in Falk Library on December 11

PalPittationsGet into the holiday spirit by joining us for a holiday concert performed by the PalPITTations, an a capella vocal group of health sciences students from the University of Pittsburgh. The PalPITTations will perform on Friday, December 11, at noon, on the upper floor of Falk Library. Light refreshments will be served. All are welcome for this free concert.

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Director’s Reflections…Goodbye 2015 & Hello 2016!

Barbara Epstein
HSLS Director

Before we head off for our well-deserved winter break, let’s take a moment to look back at 2015. It’s been a busy year at Pitt and at HSLS as well. Our FY15 Annual Report is now available on our Web site. Some highlights:

  • We added nearly 1,200 new e-resources, including more than 325 e-books, to HSLS collections.
  • Researchers writing grant applications can create and share Data Management Plans more easily since Pitt became a partner of the DMPTool.
  • HSLS now licenses 18 molecular biology software packages for Pitt’s research community. We now have a total of 2,753 registered users for these packages, an increase of 883 (32%) this year.

Continue reading

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Updated and Revised eLearning Module Available on Responsible Literature Searching

Responsible Literature Searching for Research: A Self-Paced Interactive Educational Program” is an online module to teach clinical researchers the fundamentals of responsible literature searching for research practice.

In October 2015, the module was updated with new content and resources. To access the module, go to “Responsible Literature Searching” on the Internet-based Studies in Education and Research: University of Pittsburgh Health Sciences eLearning Environment Web site.

To view the module content, click on the Powered by HSConnect icon in the upper right corner and follow the directions to create your free access account.

Completion of this module is highly recommended for individuals involved in human subject research. It provides clinical researchers with knowledge of how to locate scientific literature to enable design of scientifically sound research studies and to protect human subjects from harm.

The program provides a framework, instruction, and guidelines on

  1. accepted practices and principles associated with the biomedical literature search process;
  2. identification and use of major information resources;
  3. the role of HSLS resources and reference librarians in the literature search process;
  4. the limitations of information resources; and
  5. how to determine what is an adequate literature search for topics on drug safety and identification of adverse events.

This program was developed by the Health Sciences Library System (HSLS) with support from a contract granted through a cooperative agreement between The Association of American Medical Colleges (AAMC), and the Office of Research Integrity (ORI) of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. The application by HSLS was sponsored by the Association of Academic Health Sciences Libraries (AAHSL). The author of this module is Charles Wessel, MLS, head of reference and research initiatives.

To learn more about this program, read “Evaluation of a Self-paced Learning Module to Teach Responsible Literature Searching for Research,” by Charlie Wessel, Nancy Tannery, and Barbara Epstein, in the Journal of the Medical Library Association, January 2010.

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Natural Medicines: A Newly Combined Resource

Natural Medicines is a broad-based, easily-navigated resource for information on dietary supplements, natural medicines, and complementary therapies. It merges Natural Standard and Natural Medicines Comprehensive Database into one resource, retaining features and functionality from both. The scope includes dietary supplements, natural medicines, and complementary, alternative, and integrative therapies. Effectiveness, safety, interactions, adverse effects, nutrient depletion, and pregnancy/lactation checkers are among the product’s components. Patient and consumer education handouts are offered in English, Spanish, and French.

The entire database can be searched as a whole, or individual subsections can be searched looking for foods, herbs, sports medicine, manufacturers, commercial products, and medical conditions.

Some references are included, along with a last review date. Updates and refreshed searches occur every 3-18 months, depending upon the topic.

The Commercial Products section is particularly robust with ingredients, effectiveness, safety, interactions, and adverse effects sections for each item. Commercial products may include a “Natural Medicines Brand Evidence-based Rating (NMBER)” using a 1 (lowest rated) to 10 (highest rated) scale. This scale combines the safety and effectiveness ratings of a given product. Individual ingredients are evaluated on their own merit with one summation score per product.

Diverse topics like American ginseng, emu oil, Cannabidiol, iron, muscle milk, and transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation (TENS) are all searchable. Browsing is available within sections.

When reading the monograph, note that even though a substance may be used for a condition that does not mean that it is effective.

A Continuing Education Center offers accredited courses for physicians, pharmacists, nurse practitioners, physician assistants, and registered dieticians.

To access Natural Medicines, type Natural Medicines in the search.HSLS box on the HSLS home page or browse the Databases A-Z list. Also available is the Natural Medicines Comprehensive Database App, which provides much of the same up-to-date, authoritative information as the full database. Data is stored on your mobile device, so you can access the app without an Internet connection. For more information about the app, direct your browser to the HSLS Mobile Resources Web site.

For questions about Natural Medicines database, contact the HSLS Main Desk at 412-648-8866 or Ask a Librarian.

~Michele Klein-Fedyshin


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Treasures from the Rare Book Room: Rare, Medium Rare, or Well Done?

Have you ever wondered how rare are the books in the Rare Book collection? What makes a book “rare” and worth protecting? There is no clear cut definition. The general rule is to consider rare any book produced before 1801, except for English books which have to be issued before 1641, and for American books published west of Mississippi before 1850. This understanding encompasses manuscripts, incunabula (books produced in the first years after the invention of the printing press, 1455-1501) and books printed before the era of mass production, when all elements of the printing process such as paper, print, or illustrations were done by hand. In addition to age, any of the following qualifying features should be considered: materials used, scarcity, uniqueness, fine binding and illustrations, or intrinsic importance. Each of these criteria is relative, since not every old book is rare and not every rare book is old. Even when something is unique and irreplaceable, it does not mean it has a high value or is important. There are no clay tablets, scrolls, or illuminated manuscripts in the Falk Library collections, but among rare books there is one which, though not old or scarce, is a “must have” in a medical collection.

Papyros Ebers (Leipzig 1875) is a facsimile edition of one of the oldest medical texts, an Egyptian papyrus dating to circa 1550 BC. There is abundant evidence that it was copied from a series of even earlier books. It is written on a 20 meter long scroll. The papyrus covers mental disorders, surgical knowledge of bone-setting and removal of tumors, eye and skin diseases, and more. It includes about 700 formulas, remedies and incantations and is the most complete record of medical knowledge in ancient Egypt. The scroll is named after Georg Ebers, German Egyptologist from the University of Leipzig who purchased it. The published papyrus included an introduction and hieroglyph-Latin dictionary, but it was not translated until 1890, when the German translation appeared followed by the English translation in 1930.


The facsimile is currently on exhibit in the Library’s front lobby. For further information, e-mail or call 412-383-9773.

~Gosia Fort

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HSLS Staff News

The HSLS Staff News section includes recent HSLS presentations, publications, staff changes, staff promotions, degrees earned, etc.


Reference librarians Rose Turner and Linda Hartman were awarded the 2015 First Place MAC/MLA Research Poster Award for their poster, “Comparing CINAHL and Scopus Coverage of Allied Health Journals,” at the MAC/MLA Annual Meeting in Asheville, NC, October 18-20, 2015.


Author name in bold is HSLS-affiliated

L.A. Maggio, N. Durieux, and N.H. Tannery, HSLS senior associate director, published “Librarians in Evidence-Based Medicine Curricula: A Qualitative Study of Librarian Roles Training, and Desires for Future Development” in Medical Reference Services Quarterly, October-December 2015, 34(4): 428-40.


Presenters’ names in bold are HSLS-affiliated

Michelle Burda, network & advocacy coordinator, NN/LM Middle Atlantic Region, presented “Adolescent Patient Experience and Health Information Literacy: Teaching Adolescents How to Evaluate Health Information” at the Health Care Education Association (HCEA) Conference in Indianapolis, IN, on October 16, 2015.

Lydia Collins, consumer health coordinator, NN/LM Middle Atlantic Region, presented several workshops: “Evidence-Based Practice and Health Information Resources for K-12 Health Professionals” at the Delaware County School Nurses Association Fall Conference in Springfield, PA, on November 3, 2015; “Encouraging Curiosity with NLM’s Online Toy Box: Free and Reliable Health and Science Resources for K–5 Students” and “Engage, Encourage, and Enable Health and Science Exploration through Literacy: Free Resources from the National Library of Medicine,” both at the National Science Teachers Association Philadelphia Area Conference in Philadelphia, PA, on November 13, 2015. Collins also presented “Creating a Culture of Health” at the Community Health Consortium for Central Jersey meeting in East Brunswick, NJ, on November 4, 2015.

Kate Flewelling, outreach coordinator, NN/LM Middle Atlantic Region, presented a workshop entitled “Evidence-Based Practice Literature Searching Skills” at Advancing Nursing: Developing Excellence in Evidence Based Practice and Research, Christiana Hospital, in Newark, DE, on November 6, 2015.

Barb Folb, public health informationist, along with Helena VonVille, presented “Systematic Reviews: Tools & Skills for the Background and Methods Sections of Your Review” at the American Public Health Association Annual Meeting in Chicago, IL, on October 31, 2015.

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Classes December 2015

HSLS offers classes on database searching, software applications such as Prezi, bibliographic management, molecular biology and genetics, and library orientations. For more information, visit the online course descriptions.

Classes are held on the first floor of Falk Library (200 Scaife Hall) in Classroom 1 and on the upper floor of the library in Classroom 2. All classes are open to faculty, staff, and students of the schools of the health sciences at the University of Pittsburgh, who will need a valid Pitt ID or e-mail account. They are also open to UPMC residents and fellows, who will need to show their UPMC IDs.

No registration is required, except where noted. Classes marked with an asterisk (*) qualify for American Medical Association Category 2 continuing education credit.

Class schedules are subject to change. Please consult the online class calendar for the most current information.


FlashClass is a “deal of the week” Groupon-like offer of timely and useful learning. Each week’s offer proposes one or two topics, and you’re invited to sign up to attend a one-hour class the following week. If at least three people sign up, we’ll hold the class. (We’ll notify you either way.) Winter 2016 FlashClasses start in February.


EndNote Basics (Falk Library Classroom 2)

Thursday, December 10 8:30-10:30 a.m.

Painless PubMed* (Falk Library Classroom 1)

Tuesday, December 1 9-10 a.m.
Monday, December 7 11:30 a.m.-12:30 p.m.


Genetic Variation & Cancer Mutation: dbSNP, COSMIC, & More (Falk Library Classroom 2)

Wednesday, December 9 1-3 p.m.


Customized classes can be developed for your department, course, or other group.