Rock Star Medical Librarians: This Week’s Opening Act

NLM in Focus posted profiles of rock star medical librarians in April.

The response has been the equivalent of a standing ovation with people holding up cellphone lights.

So we’re back for an encore of medical librarians. We even have a couple of bands.

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

We are so with her on that.

For three days this week, we’re posting more profiles of medical librarians.

Rock on.

Four women wearing dark sunglasses strike intimidating posesThe Collisions

Erica Lake, Nancy Lombardo, Shirley Zhao, Jean Shipman

Current gig:  Spencer S. Eccles Health Sciences Library, University of Utah

Three words on what it’s like to be on the library beat: Inform. Connect. Innovate.

Rock solid advice for wannabe medical librarians: Work with passion! Be curious and willing to try new things, venture in new directions, and fail.

Biggest misconception about being a medical librarian: You have to have a clinical background. You don’t!

If you’re not rocking as librarians, what are you doing? Recording our next album at a local dive!

casual headshot of Jacqueline LeskovecJacqueline Leskovec

Current gig: Network Librarian for the National Network of Libraries of Medicine’s Greater Midwest Region

Three words on what it’s like to be on the library beat: Stimulating. Enlightening. Fun!

Rock solid advice for wannabe medical librarians: Don’t underestimate the power of serendipity as you enter the field. Be ready to utilize your unique skills in a non-traditional environment. Remember: there is more to you than your degree!

Biggest misconception about being a medical librarian: That we all love books. Books are only part of the equation. By providing access to information, we have the potential to effect positive health outcomes. Medical librarians rock that power every day.

headshot of Diana Almader-DouglasDiana Almader-Douglas

Current Gig: Medical librarian at the Mayo Clinic in Phoenix, Arizona

Three words on what it’s like to be on the library beat: Lively. Altering. Active.

Rock solid advice for wannabe medical librarians: Create connections to health or medical sciences. Volunteer in a medical library, become an active member of professional associations, and grab tasks or jobs that pertain to health or medicine. If you’re in library school, twist your assignments and projects with a health/medicine perspective. Write a plan of where you would like to see yourself in five years. Writing takes your plan from imagination to tangible goal. I hear stories about people landing in medical libraries by happenstance or luck or timing, but this wasn’t the case for me. I had to work hard for close to five years and relocate (several times!) to find my dream job.

Biggest misconception about being a medical librarian: The biggest misconception is that we shelve books all day or read books at work. Another misconception is about the level of education within our profession. Most folks don’t realize that most librarians have advanced degrees in library science.

casual headshot of Anne GarnerAnne Garner

Current Gig:  Curator, Rare Books and Manuscripts, The New York Academy of Medicine, Center for the History of Medicine and Public Health

Three Words about What it’s like to be on the Library Beat: Galvanizing. Historical. Sobering (when looking at 16th century surgical procedures)

Advice for wannabe historical medical librarians: My role is all about sharing and promoting our historical special collections. Know your audience, and tell collections-based stories that will resonate with your crowd.

Biggest Misconception: That our collections are only of interest to doctors and other health professionals, and that I myself have an MD.


We’ll feature more  rock star medical librarians during National Medical Librarians Month in October. We’d like to hear from you. Please send us a photo and very brief answers to these questions. You have plenty of time. We’ll accept submissions until September 15.

  • 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.
  • Greatest hit as a medical librarian.
  • Biggest misconception about being a medical librarian.