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Posts Tagged ‘medical librarian’

Boston Marathon Bombings

April 17, 2013 2 comments

Hello all.  I just wanted to take a moment to let those of you who don’t follow me on twitter or facebook know that I and my loved ones are safe, although a student who goes to the university I am an academic librarian at is one of the (currently) three dead.  My medical library serves the medical school that is affiliated with one of the Boston hospitals caring for the victims, and we also serve as the medical library for that hospital.  Today is my first day back at work after my long weekend (which was pre-scheduled for Marathon Monday).  Things are very subdued on-campus.  My morning commute had a side of national guardsmen and extra police presence as I commute directly through part of the area that was put on lock-down after the bombings.

I am full of mixed emotions.  I am incredibly grateful that myself and my loved ones are safe, but I am also full of empathy for everyone who cannot say that.  I am angry that someone would attack a bunch of innocent people on a day that is about so many positive things.  The Boston Marathon is about athleticism, cheering on the accomplishments of others, and fortitude.  But it also takes place on Patriot’s Day.  Patriot’s Day is celebrated in Massachusetts, Maine, and Wisconsin to commemorate the first battle of the American Revolutionary War.  It celebrates our freedom, and in Boston, it’s about celebrating being the birthplace of our nation.  And I hope that the people of Boston won’t let the events of Monday ruin our celebrations in the years to come.  You defeat terrorism by refusing to be terrorized.  My boyfriend and I have already made a pact that next year we are going to the marathon and we are cheering our guts out.  In the meantime, I am just continuing to live my life and trying to do whatever small part I can to support those who have much tougher rows to hoe.

If your heart has been touched by what has occurred in my city, I ask you not to pray, but to do something.  If you can afford it, donate to the official One Fund set up by Governor Patrick and Mayor Menino.  It is a verified safe way to get the funds where they will reach those in need.  If you can’t afford to donate money and are close by, donate blood. Or donate blood where you are in honor of the event.  If you can’t do either of those things, or even if you do those things, then please show support in other ways.  Express support online, offer a shoulder to cry on or an ear to listen.  Try not to let anyone fall through the cracks.  Let those around you know that somebody cares.

 

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.