Wednesday, April 09, 2008

Don't Mess With Our Access!

Today's Librarian Superhero is: Gloria Won, a librarian at the University of San Francisco!!!

I heard a story today on NPR (how often do I say that, it's annoying!) Anyway-- there is this database called 'Popline' and it's the largest database on reproductive rights. Apparently they blocked the search term: 'abortion'. When Michael Klag, the dean of Johns Hopkins School of Public Health, which maintains the POPLINE database found out that this search function had been removed, he immediately had it reinstated. Here's a link to the article.

How, might you ask, did Michael Klag find out that the search function had been rendered dysfunctional in the first place? "The block was discovered by medical librarians doing routine searches." Gloria Won, USF librarian, discovered that Popline had decided to turn the term abortion into a "stop word." This means if you search the term 'abortion' you get zero hits.

Won is quoted as saying: "...abortion is a perfectly good noun, there's nothing wrong with it," she says. "And we sent it out to some library list-servs so medical librarians would know about this, and it just spiraled after that."

Woo hoo for Won!

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