Ebooks: Why Are Some Well-Known Books Not Online Through the Library?

This year's list of required medical school course books has now been distributed to students and posted in Blackboard. The Library is pleased to offer an e-book option for all of the course books that are sold to libraries as e-books. Out of the 41 books required or recommended for Years 1 and 2, the Library provides access to 22 of them online.

Yes, that's right, there are still some well-known books required for courses that are only available through the library as "paper" books! Some students and faculty may find this very surprising. After all, we are well into the digital age, and most people expect that the resources they need will be available online. Some of these texts might be available in Kindle edition on Amazon, so an ebook is available. Why wouldn't the library offer an ebook?

In order for the library to provide access to ebooks, the library has to sign a license agreement with the publisher, and pay a different price than individual users for access to the same ebooks. Unfortunately, we find that many publishers are reluctant to sell library access to many of their books, especially some of their widely adopted textbooks.

In fact, the library recently lost our license to several popular online USMLE review books including First Aid for the USMLE, solely because the publisher (McGraw Hill) decided to stop selling them online to libraries. Other important books that are not sold to libraries in online format (at the time this post was written) include: Grant's Dissector, Essential
Cell Biology
, Molecular Biology of the Cell, Costanzo's Physiology, Goljan's Pathology, both of the books required for the Brain and Behavior course: Purves Neuroscience and Introductory Textbook of Psychiatry and more.

Some publishers will allow libraries to purchase or rent "single user" e-books that can be checked out digitally one at a time, much like a print book is checked out. At Mount Sinai we have always pursued licenses that allow us to provide access to multiple members of the Mount Sinai community simultaneously, both on and off-campus. Directing all our students to a "single user" ebook during a course or before an exam never seemed like a good idea!

Although libraries can't license them for multiple users, publishers will often sell these core
books online directly to individual students and faculty members, through such providers as VitalSource. While the ebook marketplace is still evolving, it does appear that many publishers think their bottom line will improve if they focus on selling to individuals, rather than to libraries!

Librarians (and hopefully our library users too) are concerned that the library's mission to provide resources to support academic programs is being partly undermined when publishers flat out refuse to sell their widely adopted texts as ebooks on the library market.     

So, what can you do if you'd like to see your favorite text online through the library, available whenever you'd like to access it?  Well, probably the best thing students and faculty can do is not purchase individual access to an ebook that is not sold to institutions… of course, this may not be practical if you'd like to work from an online copy!

If you attend conferences where publishers exhibit, express your dissatisfaction to those that do not sell their core texts to institutions, or consider filling out publisher surveys or sending a quick email to their "contact us" page that you'd like to see this text available through your library. 

Levy Librarians have frequently discussed these issues at length with our publishing reps and we will continue to do so. Perhaps if they hear from enough of us, their policies will change! We can hope!

If you have any questions about this, please contact a librarian at refdesk@mssm.edu



Handbook of Porphyrin Science

The Levy Library has licensed a highly regarded set of ebooks entitled “Handbook of Porphyrin Science: with applications to Chemistry, Physics, Materials Science, Engineering, Biology and Medicine”. Edited by leaders in the fields of porphrin research: Karl M Kadish, Kevin M. Smith, and Roger Guilard, the series of volumes aims to “deal in detail with the synthesis, chemistry, physicochemical and medical properties and applications of polypyrrole macrocycles.”

Access the Handbook of Porphyrin Science directly here: Volumes 1-5, Volumes 6-10, and Volumes 11-15, and from the Levy Library’s Ebooks search page: http://librarycf.mssm.edu/levy/ebooks/

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Download Ebrary E-books to Multiple Devices

Adobe_digital_editionsEbrary, one of the Levy Library's largest ebook platforms, now allows you to download e-books from its site to your computer and many other devices. Ebrary contains over 70,000 e-books from many publishers and covers many disciplines including medicine, life sciences, social science, psychology, education, computers/IT and more. 

Mount Sinai ebrary users have two downloading options: create an image PDF of a chapter or page range; OR download an entire e-book using Adobe Digital Editions (Free online, although it does require registration). Adobe Digital Editions is available for most devices, but not the Kindle. Full e-book downloading is permitted by most of the publishers participating with ebrary, but there are a few exceptions.

To read more about ebrary's downloading options, including step-by-step instructions, visit ebrary's downloading guide.



This Devil’s Cauldron of Genius

Every December I create a list of the important anniversaries will occur in the coming year of events that happened at Mount Sinai 25, 50, 100, or even 150 years ago.  These are usually building openings, new programs starting, or organizational changes in structure or leadership.  I also look at what milestone papers were published in those anniversary years to show how Mount Sinai has created new medical knowledge.

While often inspiring, I am always frustrated by how limited a view this is of the institution, especially when it comes to the intellectual activity that has long been part of the environment at Mount Sinai. But how do you get across to people the scientific milieu that led to the greater achievements? 

I realized this year that one of the ways to understand the intellectual environment here at Mount Sinai in the past is to look at a series of volumes that was created by the librarians of the Jacobi Library.  They gathered together the reprints of articles authored by Mount Sinai staff and bound them into thick books, starting with what they could find for 1874 and continuing to 1966.  Reading the list of articles that appears in the front of each volume transports you to a different time.  Some articles seem quaint – “A New and simple method of sterilizing catgut by boiling” (1901) – and others seems current:  “Dynamics and therapy of depressive states” (1937).

Misc Writings volumes 1

So thank you to the nameless librarians and staff that gathered these 12,913 reprints together and typed the lists of articles that allow us to search them.  If you would ever like to spend some time browsing this wonderful series, please contact the Archives about stopping in.  This resource is evidence for why Bernard Simon, MD, House Staff Class of 1942, would call Mount Sinai “this devil’s cauldron of genius, this witches brew of talent”.

MSSM Course Textbooks Online

MSSM students can now access many of their recommended textbooks online from one easy place on the Library's E-Books site. Click "Course Reserve E-books" to access the e-books that are provided by the Levy Library and are assigned as required or recommended texts by MSSM course directors.

You should find that most of your MSSM-required textbooks are provided by the library as e-books.

Please note that unfortunately some textbooks are still not sold to libraries for institution-wide online access by their publishers (these books include: Essential Cell Biology, Lippincott Illustrated Reviews: Biochemistry, Neuroscience, Introductory Textbook of Psychiatry, Obstetrics & Gynecology and others). Of course, the print copies of these books can be found at the reserve desk of the Levy Library. And, in many cases you can purchase individual access to the e-book from the publisher. However…. if you're not satisfied that publishers are not allowing libraries to provide site access to these books, please let the the publishers of these books know. Please contact a librarian if you have any questions.




“First Aid for the….” Test Prep E-Books

First aid_14509 Fans of the popular "First Aid" review books can now study online! The Library has recently licensed McGraw-Hill's First Aid E-Books collection.  If you are studying for specialty board exams, prepping for third year clerkships, or preparing for this year's Match – make sure you check out the following 2011 First Aid titles online*:

First Aid for the ABSITE
First Aid for the Anesthesiology Boards
First Aid for the Basic Sciences General Principles
First Aid for the Basic Sciences Organ Systems
First Aid for the COMLEX
First Aid for the Emergency Medicine Boards
First Aid for the Emergency Medicine Clerkship
First Aid for the Internal Medicine Boards
First Aid for the Match
First Aid for the Medicine Clerkship
First Aid for the NBDE
First Aid for the NBDE Part II
First Aid for the Neurology Boards
First Aid for the Obstetrics & Gynecology Clerkship
First Aid for the Orthopedics Boards
First Aid for the Pediatric Boards
First Aid for the Psychiatry Boards
First Aid for the Pediatrics Clerkship
First Aid for the Psychiatry Clerkship
First Aid for the Radiology Clerkship
First Aid for the Wards
First Aid Q & A for the NBDE Part 1
First Aid for the Surgery Clerkship

*Die hard fans of the First Aid series may note that "First Aid for the USMLE" is not included in this collection.  If McGraw-Hill makes it available as an ebook, the Levy library would certainly purchase it!

Access McGraw-Hill's First Aid Series here or from the Library's e-books website

BrainNavigator: a customizable online brain atlas

Brainnav A question we answer frequently at the library is whether we have any mouse or rat brain atlases. And we sure do! One of our favorites is the online BrainNavigator, which takes information and images from print brain atlases and, thanks to technology from the Allen Institute for Brain Science, generates interactive 3D brain models for rat, mouse, human and rhesus. Not only can you turn the brain model around on the screen to look at it from different angles, you can also set markers, slice the model at various angles, and even simulate injections into the brain.

BrainNavigator is hosting on online seminar at 11 am on June 2 that will show you how to go beyond even those capabilities listed above and generate custom atlases to meet your needs. You can learn more about the webinar and register for it here.

New! More Online Medical Textbooks

Grays Starting to think about the USMLE? Regretting that you gave away those textbooks you thought you'd never want to see again after your first semester? Good news! The Levy Library has just acquired a new online collection of core medical textbooks. You may already know MDConsult as an excellent source for medical ebooks, clinical practice guidelines and patient education handouts. Now its content has been expanded with the full text of some of the most popular medical textbooks, including MSSM course texts like Gray's Anatomy for Students, Gordis' Epidemiology and Moore & Persaud's The Developing Human.

You can access the new ebooks several ways:

  1. Search by title on our E-Books page.
  2. Search by title, author or keyword in our Library Catalog.
  3. Search across the whole MDConsult collection by following the MDConsult link on our Databases page.

Free Test Prep Ebooks from Kaplan

Kaplan USMLE, NCLEX-RN, MCAT, GRE? iPad, iPhone, iPod Touch, eReader, Nook? Until January 10, Kaplan is offering free downloads of 130 popular eBooks, including many test prep titles. The titles don't expire (i.e., once you download it, it stays on your device until you delete it) so if you are faced with one of these exams in the next few months you might want to grab a free eBook now to help you prepare. Also available are many other educational titles like the Cleveland Clinic Guides, Kaplan 101 Algebra Practice Questions, Sharp Grammar, and the fascinatingly titled Caffeine Will Not Help You Pass That Test. For more information and downloading instructions see http://www.freekaplanebooks.com/ or the Kaplan announcement at http://readkaplan.com/press-room/, and thanks to ResourceShelf for bringing this to our attention!