Thu 13 Sep 2007
The Krafty Librarian had a posting the other day pleading for hospital IT departments not to block YouTube. It seems that a physician wanted a simple video of a beating heart, but the blockade of YouTube prevented any attempt to find one.
This appears to be a common fact of life for hospital librarians. The Social Networking Task Force did a survey this summer of MLA members’ use of and attitude towards Web 2.0 technologies. They got a good response of 495. An important part of the survey was to find out about certain web sites or applications being blocked at work. Here are the results of that part of the survey:
The data haven’t been broken down yet by type of library, but I’m willing to bet that the vast majority of the respondents indicating some form of network blockage work at a hospital. Hospital IT people have different concerns from academic IT people, which have led to their restrictions. If MLA wants to better connect our members using these new technologies, we need to convince IT people that not all Web 2.0 sites or applications are a frivolous waste of bandwidth or a security risk. In fact, this problem even goes beyond MLA activity, in that useful medical information is sometimes blocked, as the Krafty Librarian pointed out.
It’s sometimes difficult to talk with IT people. Like librarians, they have their own culture, values, and lingo that many of us don’t completely understand. But most IT people do understand each other. Which leads me to an idea. While many hospital librarians reported some form of blockage, there are probably some hospital librarians with little or no blockage. Can we get the enlightened IT people at these hospitals to explain to other IT people why they have not blocked these sites or applications? If you are a hospital librarian with little or no internet blockage problems, talk with your IT people. See if they might be willing to write a few paragraphs explaining their choices, and how the hospital is still standing nonetheless. We can put these rationales up on the Social Networking Task Force blog, where MLA members can download them and use them as potential talking points with their IT people. We might be able to change some minds. So who has unblocked internet access in their hospital? Speak up.
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