“Rock Star” Medical Librarians, Part 1

In a recent blog post, Director of the National Library of Medicine Dr. Patricia Flatley Brennan wrote, “I’m all for the ‘rock star’ librarian idea.”

So are we.

NLM in Focus reached out to some of the many rock star medical librarians in the field to find out about their current gigs, how they’re shattering stereotypes, and what advice they have for wanna be medical librarian rock stars. We’ll be posting all week.

Read on.

Or shall we say, “rock on?”

Headshot of Ariel DeardorffAriel Deardorff

Current gig:  Data Services Librarian at the University of California, San Francisco. I design classes and programs to teach health science researchers and clinicians how to manage, analyze, visualize, and share their research data.
Three words on what it’s like to be on the library beat: Energizing. Inspiring. Satisfying.
Rock solid advice for wannabe medical librarians: Embrace the world of data and technology. The more programming languages, software tools, or technology trends you are familiar with, the more you can apply innovative ideas.
Biggest misconception about being a medical librarian: That we don’t exist.

Headshot of Peter OxleyPeter Oxley

Current gig: Associate Director of Research Science, Weill Cornell Medicine Samuel J. Wood Library & C.V. Starr Biomedical Information Center. I am developing and running the recently launched Library Bioinformatics Service. I also lead a team that has developed the secure, virtual desktop research computing environment “Data Core.” The library bioinformatics service provides demonstrations, workshops and consultations in bioinformatics resources, data analysis, and visualization. The Data Core provides a secure research computing environment for analysis of protected health information, along with assistance in data management. The research services team also centrally manages scientific software licensing.
Three words on what it’s like to be on the library beat: Stimulating. Enriching. Fulfilling.
Rock solid advice for wannabe medical librarians: Medical and library sciences are in a period of rapid evolution and innovation. Being comfortable in the world of digital “big data” and aware of the new ways libraries can support data management are important. As precision medicine and personalized genomics services become more integrated into medical practice, familiarity with genetic data will prove more and more valuable.
Biggest misconception about being a medical librarian: That we cannot help with the synthesis and critical evaluation of information. That we are just keepers of books, not curators of knowledge.

Headshot of Melissa ResnickMelissa P. Resnick

Current gig: PhD candidate, University of Texas, Health Science Center at Houston, School of Biomedical Informatics
Three words on what it’s like to be on the library beat: Dynamic. Global. Socratic.
Rock solid advice for wannabe medical librarians:

  1. Be collaborative. Medical librarians often work in teams both inside and outside the library.
  2. Be mobile. Medical librarians have become embedded within teams providing direct care to patients.
  3. Be inquisitive. Our clients need information from, until recently, unthought of sources, such as big data. Learn about innovative resources.

Biggest misconception about being a medical librarian: That we spend our time only within a physical library. This couldn’t be further from the truth. Libraries no longer house large numbers of books and journals. They have become meeting places for socialization and studying. Therefore, many medical librarians are informationists bringing information to the client.

Headshot of Christian MinterChristian I.J. Minter 

Current gig: Education &  Research Services Librarian, University of Nebraska Medical Center and the National Network of Libraries of Medicine, MidContinental Region
Three words on what it’s like to be on the library beat: Educational. Collaborative. Influential.
Rock solid advice for wannabe medical librarians: Don’t be afraid to make the first move. Reach out to different librarians and ask about their career path and what advice or networking help they can provide.
Biggest misconception about being a medical librarian: That you need to have a health or science related degree. My bachelor’s degree is in biblical studies.

Headshot of Kathel DunnKathel Dunn

Current gig: Associate Fellowship Program Coordinator, National Library of Medicine
Three words on what it’s like to be on the library beat: Au courant. Off-piste. Cooking with gas.
Rock solid advice for wannabe medical librarians: Know who you are, what you are about, and put your ideas on the table.
Biggest misconception about being a medical librarian: There is such a thing?

Headshot of Kendra GodwinKendra Godwin

Current gig: Associate Fellow at the National Library of Medicine
Three words on what it’s like to be on the library beat: Curiosity. Confusion. Clarity (with many down-the-rabbit-hole days).
Rock solid advice for wannabe medical librarians: Have a strong vision for yourself and the future of health sciences librarianship.
Biggest misconception about being a medical librarian: I’ll give you three! That people think it’s a dying profession, I stack books on their sides like a medieval monk each day, and I’m at all qualified to diagnosis that sore on your leg.

Headshot of Lita AnglinLita Anglin

Current gig: Nursing Research & Education Librarian, New York University Health Sciences Library and Langone Medical Center (Departments of Nursing)
Three words on what it’s like to be on the library beat: Curiosity. Persistence. Beginner’s mind.
Rock solid advice for wannabe librarians: Librarianship is often about trying to solve problems. Librarians bring insight to the table by being flexible thinkers who approach a problem from many different angles and perspectives. In doing this, we see relationships between concepts, and between parts and the whole, faster and differently than others.
Biggest misconception about being a medical librarian: People assume medical librarians must have science backgrounds. Many of my colleagues developed “science fluency” on the job and leverage their humanities backgrounds in very smart, contextualizing ways.


More rock star medical librarians?

Of course!

We’ll be featuring some of the profession’s rock stars all this week.

If you’d like to participate in the next round of rock star medical librarians, please send us a photo and very brief answers to these questions:

  • Name as you’d like it to appear in print.
  • Current gig (where you work).
  • Three words on what it’s like to be on the library beat.
  • Rock solid advice for wannabe medical librarians.
  • Biggest misconception about being a medical librarian.

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