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Posts Tagged ‘hospital’

July in Medical Libraries

Just as with any public service job, there are seasons of business in libraries, and those vary with type of library.  Academic libraries see a drastic increase in use at the end of each semester.  Even the students who planned well still have finals to study for and last-minute research to do!  This month I’ve been enjoying seeing my public librarian friends preparing for and starting various summer reading programs.  Summers are a busy time for public libraries!  Kids are out of school, people are vacationing, and there’s the ever-present summer reading programs of course.  If I ever end up working in a public library, I know I’ll enjoy the summers as I love being busy at work, and I absolutely adore summer reading programs.

In my current medical library, however, all has been pretty quiet this month.  Why is that?  Well, hospitals operate on a different yearly schedule than other learning institutions.  Hospitals start new residents and medical students in July.  This means that by June most of the people in the hospital who will use the library the most are old hats at it.  They come in, sure, but they don’t need too much research help.  On the other hand, July…..

Well, there’s a reason your doctor friends advise you not to get sick in July.  July is when the new residents start.  They’re super-excited!  They’re super-busy!  It’s kind of like having a bunch of freshmen in your library, only freshmen who are on an insanely tight schedule and carry beepers they have yet to entirely figure out how to use and who often are so terrified of getting sued or are so diligent about being excellent doctors that they request research for evidence-based medicine for every single decision.  It’s busy as all heck, but to me, it’s also a lot of fun.  These young doctors are still so passionate about their work.  They desire so badly to make a difference.  They’re so profoundly grateful every time you help them, even if it’s just pointing them to a phone to call to see what that page was about.  Their passion and belief in their ability to change the world reignites my own.

So while you academic librarians enjoy your summer respite and public librarians rush around with everything summer reading, I’ll be gearing up for and teaching new residents all about how to find the evidence for practicing evidence-based medicine.

And where there’s wifi.

And what SafeBoot is.

And where they can sleep.

And where phones are for returning pages.

And where the residency training rooms are.

And enjoying every minute of it.

Friday Fun! (Featuring My Niece and Swaptree)

January 15, 2010 14 comments

My lovely loyal readers and friends, so sorry there’s been no book reviews this week!  The book I’m currently reading is really long, and I’m not enjoying it that much so the pace of my reading is a bit below average.  I definitely should ring in next week with a review though, as it’s almost done!

This week I played pub trivia for the first time and discovered that I am not good at trivia.  This is funny and ironic cause I know lots of random facts, but apparently I don’t know trivia type facts.  I mean, really, who’s a tall athletic actor who guest starred in 1970s tv shows?  Jeez, I dunno.  I also didn’t enjoy that the music to keep teams from overhearing each other meant that I had to yell all night.  That’s only worth it for a concert.  Ah well.  Lesson learned.  I guess I should stick to arcade games, pool tables, and dart boards when we go out.

Some of you are aware that I welcomed my first niece into the world on December 23rd.  My brother and my sister-in-law made the choice to have her, even though she has Down Syndrome.  I know they have plenty of love in their hearts for a special baby, and they are just wonderful with her.  Unfortunately, one of the elements of Down Syndrome is that the babies almost all have heart problems.  They usually operate on the babies at 6 months (I have no idea why at that particular point, but I’m sure there’s a reason).  Anyway, due to the heart condition, my niece is not very strong.  She struggled to learn how to eat.  I guess that takes a lot of energy she didn’t have at first.  Finally she gained enough weight and was eating well enough to come home.  I was going to go meet her and visit my brother and father this weekend, but unfortunately she had to get readmitted to the hospital.  She wasn’t gaining weight, which babies are supposed to do.  This is of course difficult for my brother and sister-in-law who also have an almost 3 year old little boy to take care of and a small farm to run.  Thankfully, most of my family lives near them so they have lots of help.  I wish there was something I could do from a distance to help my brother, but there’s not much beyond being an ear to listen when he needs to talk.

In much happier news, allow me to tell you guys about Swaptree.  Swaptree allows you to list books you have but don’t want and books you want, and then it sets up 1:1 trades for you (or you can browse and request trades yourself).  This works extra well since they set up 3 way trades, which helps you find a lot more books.  The matches they make are in no particular order on your want list, so it’s a bit of a surprise what you get, particularly if your want list is as long as mine.  Since part of ringing in the new year was weeding my personal library, I excitedly decided to try this out.  It’s so awesome!  So far I’ve gotten rid of 8 books for books on my tbr list.  For those wondering, my weeded books were mainly textbooks I will never ever read again, some romance novels that came to my library for free that my boss gave me, and books from a point in my deconversion when I was wondering if maybe I should be pagan.  For the record, I’m not pagan.  I guess I’m deist.  Anywho, so the books I’ve received in exchange so far are:

  • Mommie Dearest by Christina Crawford
    Do not mock me.  I have a thing for memoirs.
  • Living the Simple Life by Elaine St. James
    I’m a big fan of minimalism, and this was highly recommended on minimalist blogs.
  • The Accidental Demon Slayer by Angie Fox
    Yes, another paranormal romance.  However, it’s supposed to be a comical one which will change things up a bit.
  • Life, The Universe, and Everything by Douglas Adams
    I’ve already read this, but I love love LOVE the Hitchhiker series, and didn’t (still don’t actually) own them all, so I’m fleshing out the “trilogy.”
  • Jesus Land by Julia Scheeres
    This memoir is by a woman whose fundamentalist Christian parents sent her to the same reform school in the Dominican Republic that my cousin’s parents sent her to, so I was intrigued.
  • Wild Swans by Jung Chang
    I realized I haven’t read much non-western lit lately, and I enjoyed the nonwestern lit I read in college.  This memoir is about three generations of Chinese women, and I think it looks really good!
  • Neuromancer by William Gibson
    A classic scifi book that my nerdy friends have been berating me for not having read. 😉
  • Feed by M. T. Anderson
    A dystopian book about our heads being plugged into computers.  Right up my alley.

All those books and my personal library size hasn’t increased at all!  I encourage you guys to check Swaptree out.  The only costs associated are shipping, and you can print labels directly from the website for extra ease.  Each book costs around $2.46 to ship.

Have a nice long weekend, everyone!  Rock on Martin Luther King Jr!

Medical Librarian Appreciation Month

October 20, 2009 1 comment

According to the National Library of Medicine, October is medical librarian appreciation month.  Yay!  Now, I’m not just pointing this out because I’m a medical librarian myself (*blush*), but I have noticed a dire lack of knowledge even among librarians about just what a medical librarian does all day.

A medical library, contrary to popular belief, is not just a public library inside a hospital.  It’s more akin to an academic library, but even that isn’t a fair comparison.  The medical library exists to serve doctors, researchers, lab technicians, and nurses in keeping on the cutting edge of scientific knowledge.  It also helps them practice evidence-based medicine.  When your doctor tells you that she wants you to take a certain drug because that drug has proven to be beneficial to people like you, in all likelihood your doctor found an article about a study supporting that information in her hospital’s medical library.

A medical librarian doesn’t generally deal with typical reference questions.  Although we get the “where’s the bathroom” and “how do I photocopy” just like any other librarian, our reference questions are much more often something like:

  • “I found this citation at the end of this article in the current Archives of General Psychiatry.  Can you help me find the original?”
  • “I’d like to set up a recurring search on PubMed for anorexia in men, how do I do that?”
  • “The hospital is getting a VIP patient soon, and I need all articles in the last 10 years on handling VIP patients.”
  • “I have a patient who I believe is presenting with symptoms of schizophrenia, but that is not my expertise.  Can you help me brush up on it?”
  • “We have a patient presenting with delusions, tremors, and missing hair.  Can you run a search in Ovid on those symptoms and see what comes up?”

As you can see, medical librarians, likes subject area academic librarians, need to have a general knowledge of the type of medicine their hospital deals in.  Medical librarians need to speak scientists’ lingo so their patrons won’t get slowed down explaining what they mean to the librarian.  Medical librarians deal with highly educated patrons who generally think with scientific-oriented minds.  They are intelligent, but busy.  The medical librarian is a part of the hospital team.  She is one of the many cogs that exists to provide quality patient care.  She must stay up to date and trained in utilizing scientific databases, in what research is going on in her hospital, and in current medical knowledge and terminology if she is going to help her patrons efficiently.

You won’t find a medical librarian presenting a story hour, themed reading week, or a summer reading program.  You will find a medical librarian skimming the new medical journals cover to cover.   She may have been assigned specific doctors and researchers.  She knows exactly which area of medicine they specialize in and keeps her eye out for new information to forward to them.  They know her by name and stop her in the hospital halls to ask her to find things for them.  A medical librarian may be called upon to conduct a search on a certain condition in a certain type of patient asap for a patient in critical care.  Unlike a public librarian, a medical librarian’s job isn’t to encourage reading or continuing education for the pure fun of it.  Unlike an academic librarian, a medical librarian’s job isn’t to educate people on how to conduct good research.  A medical librarian’s patrons may or may not enjoy reading for fun, but that’s none of her business.  Most of a medical librarian’s patrons already know how to conduct good research.  A medical librarian’s job is simply to provide exactly the type of information her patrons need when they need it.  Sometimes even before they ask for it.  In this sense, it probably makes a lot more sense to call a medical librarian an information specialist.  Indeed, many hospitals are moving toward calling their librarians “informationists.”

I’m taking the time to write all of this simply because I feel medical librarianship is one of the many misunderstood professions.  I suppose this is fine for the general public, but if you are a librarian or a library student, you should understand what it is your medical librarian colleagues do.  Simply not having to explain over and over again that we are not like public librarians would, frankly, be all the appreciation we need from other librarians.  As for any doctors, researchers, nurses, lab technicians, etc… who might be reading this–I know you’re busy.  You may not have ever even gone into your hospital’s library yourself, but your librarian works hard.  Please take the time to tell her or him thank you.  Even if you just happen to spot her in the cafeteria.  Please tell her thank you for being part of the team.  Medical librarians truly enjoy helping you, but we really appreciate being recognized as part of the team.