Notes from MLA 2010

by Priscilla Stephenson

At the annual EBSCOhost focus group meeting, EBSCO representatives presented options for future development of their databases and asked participants to prioritize recommendations. It’s been interesting to see how (relatively) quickly recommendations from one year’s meeting are incorporated in future years.

Here are some of the newer EBSCOhost changes that are coming our way (expected timeframe for these changes is July/August):

  • There will soon be new “skinnability” options debuting with EBSCOhost,  which will allow libraries more web site color and branding options.
  • We’ll be able to add widgets to EBSCOhost pages, adding local news alerts, RSS feeds, and free images from other sites as well.
  • EBSCOhost will have a wireless mobile version.
  • Nursing Reference Center will go mobile this summer.
  • Rehabilitation Reference Center will be the next product to go mobile.
  • There will be an enhanced PDF viewer that will allow dynamic links from within a PDF file.

A couple of items we learned about that already exist –

  • It is now possible to change the default export from the result list all to >250 (up to 5000 citations). Go to the admin site at
  • The sort results list can now be sorted to descend or ascend, and we can “jump to” a spot in the middle of the list.
  • We can now edit saved searches.

DynaMed has 7,000 iPhone customers – good for users who can use live cell phones in their settings. They can work in “disconnect” mode, which makes it a reliable resource during disasters.

We can sign up on the EBSCO support site to receive email notices of coming changes in the databases and register for no-charge database training webinars: <>.

Quertle Vendor Showcase
This session has to have been the most intriguing of the conference for me. Quertle is a free search engine that aims to produce improved PubMed searches with a more powerful and more user-friendly interface. Designed to especially aid people searching biological and chemical terms, Quertle aims to help resolve language issues of traditional PubMed searches. Give it a try at <>.

Quertle aims to build on what it terms “powerful semantic relationships.” See the Quertle web site <> for the short list of the database’s “power terms” (e.g., $Diseases or $Viruses) and more explanation of the database.

Running one of the suggested searches – “$Chemicals treat migraine” – produces 119 “relationship” documents in Quertle. Running a PubMed search for “Migraine Disorders/drug therapy”[Mesh] produces 5,497 citations. Quertle’s developers would say theirs is a more powerful search engine, and that the Quertle results are more relevant and reflect semantic relationships more precisely.

Quertle also searches news (as reported by FierceMarkets Life Sciences and Health Care) and scientific whitepapers and research posters submitted to Quertle, so it may be especially useful for locating new material.

Priscilla Stephenson, MSLS, MSEd, AHIP
Chief, Library Service
Philadelphia VA Medical Center
Philadelphia, PA

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