Search the World with Interlibrary Loan!

Eye_ILL_blogWhether you’re faculty, staff, or a student on the Anschutz Medical Campus, you’re going to find yourself doing a lot of research. And while the library has access to thousands of journals and books, it certainly doesn’t have everything that you may require. But don’t let that limit you! The Interlibrary Loan (ILL) Department can help you obtain the materials that you need!

If you’re an affiliated member of the AMC, the services provided by Interlibrary Loan (ILL) are free! Simply sign up for an ILLiad account and begin placing requests immediately for articles, books, theses, and other research materials. While ILL isn’t a guarantee, we will do what we can to fill your requests.

If you have any questions about the ILL service provided to faculty, staff, and students, or your eligibility, please do not hesitate to contact the ILL office at 303-724-2111 or at

[Brittany Heer, Interlibrary Loan Manager]

PubVenn: Visualize your PubMed searches

In my research career, I have searched PubMed A LOT. I thought I was doing pretty well at it too, although if I would have asked a librarian, I would have known what I was missing.

One of the most confusing parts about constructing searches is the boolean logic, more commonly known as the AND/OR/NOT part of the search strategy. Have you ever wished that PubMed would just draw you a picture your search? Well, now it can with PubVenn.

Ed Sperr, MLIS, created the PubVenn tool to visualize and refine search strategies using the bibliographic data and E-UTILITIES provided by NCBI. Librarians commonly use Venn Diagrams to think through their searches, but this tool automates this process (and probably catches some syntax errors in the process).

Let’s try an example. In my PhD work, I studied how a Toxoplasma gondii protein protects this parasite from being killed by macrophages during infection. So I’m going to search PubVenn for “(Toxoplasma gondii) AND macrophage”.toxoANDmacs

The left hand panel shows a Venn diagram of how these concepts overlap. The upper right hand panel shows the search PubMed performs* when you type in “Toxoplasma gondii AND macrophage”. I color coded it to match the colors in the diagram to illustrate which parts of the search correspond to which parts of the Venn diagram. The number of search results (1005) is also listed after the search strategy. It also lists the references in the right sidebar under the search strategy.

Additionally, you can explore the citations for each individual concept by clicking on the corresponding part of the Venn diagram, which causes the search strategy and the citation on the right to change accordingly.

So why is this important? Well, if I click on the macrophage circle and i’m seeing citations that I would like to see in my search, then I have to rethink my search strategy. Also, I’m a sucker for Venn diagrams.

*If you don’t know what the terms inside the brackets in this search strategy are doing, you can set up a consultation with a librarian or take one of our PubMed classes.

Happy Birthday! Google Scholar Turns Ten

ScholarDo you use Google Scholar?  November 18th marked the 10th anniversary of the search engine that boasts that it helps scholars “See Farther Faster”.  The brainchild of Google search engine staff Alex Alex Verstak and Anurag Acharya, Scholar now provides access to over 160 million scholarly articles.

Scholar allows an “everything but the kitchen sink” approach to searching, so that the more terms searched, the better results can be relevancy ranked and presented to users.  Unlike many databases, Scholar searches full text of articles, patents, legal citations, conference papers & posters, and books, as well as other meta-data associated with the item, then relevancy ranks results using an algorithm that weights items cited more often. This presentation of results highlights classic or influential writings on a topic, while a date range feature allows users to refine results to more recent years.

Scholar offers useful features that have been developed over its first ten years:

  • Search all scholarly literature from one convenient place
  • Explore related works, citations, authors, and publications
  • Locate the complete document through your library or on the web
  • Keep up with recent developments in any area of research
  • Download citations to citation management tools, such as Bibtex or EndNote
  • Check who’s citing your publications, create a public author profile

While Scholar can be a powerful tool for discovering the literature by an author or on a topic, it should be only one stop in the researcher’s journey.  Scholar is not without pitfalls.  Predatory journal expert Jeffrey Beall recently warned that Scholar is opening the doors to “junk science” by failing to be selective enough in its inclusion criteria. Beall proposes that, “To remain relevant and valuable. Google Scholar needs to limit the database to articles from authentic and respected scholarly publications. . .”

Using Scholar in conjunction with resources such as PubMed, EMBASE or Web of Science, as well as common sense, good critical appraisal skills, and knowledge of the literature of a field can mitigate the effects of Scholar’s lack of selectivity.

The last ten years have been a period of tremendous change in the world of online research.  Google Scholar has been there every step of the way innovating and evolving.  Scholar should continue to remain relevant and useful to researchers, providing one valuable tool in a large toolbox of literature search tools.


[Lynne M. Fox, Education Librarian]

HSL Hosts Public Health Case Competition


November 7th & 8th, the library hosted the second annual Rocky Mountain Region Public Health Case competition. The event began Friday afternoon, when the students were given a case study about marijuana exposure in minors after legalization in the state of Colorado and were tasked with coming up with a public health intervention to address accidental exposure in children or intentional use in teens. The students created proposals for a theoretical 3-year, $3 million dollar grant and  gave 10 minute presentation to a panel of judges. All of this research and planning was conducted in a 24 hour period! To facilitate this work, librarians were “on call” Friday afternoon and evening to help the students with their research. The first round of presentations occurred on Sunday November 9th, and the top 4 presentations were selected to go to the finals on Monday November 10th. Read more about what the finalists came up with on the university news site.