Rock Star Medical Librarians: Today’s Headliners

Ever since 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’ve been onboard.

This week, we’re bringing you more profiles of some of the current rock stars in the field.

You can also see what you’ve missed in our earlier profiles.

headshot of Bethany S. McGowanBethany S. McGowan

Current gig: Assistant Professor of Library Science and Health Sciences Information Specialist at Purdue University, West Lafayette

Three words on what it’s like to be on the library beat: Thrilling. Systematic. Vanguard.

Rock solid advice for wannabe medical librarians: Practice critical thinking and creative writing. Mastering those skills will go a long way in helping you figure out solutions to most of the problems you’ll encounter in medical librarianship. Networking and marketing your services is also important.

Biggest misconception about being a medical librarian: That librarianship is a dying profession is a huge misconception. It’s not, and as technology advances, the opportunities medical librarians have to spread knowledge lend the profession vibrancy and open opportunities. It’s actually a really exciting time to be a librarian!

headshot of Michelle LieggiMichelle Lieggi

Current gig: Clinical Research Librarian, University of California, San Francisco (Medical Center)

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

Rock solid advice for wannabe librarians: Have a flexible attitude.  Be willing to look forward and explore opportunities.  “Know thyself”—Understand you have expertise, and bring that to the table.

Biggest misconception about being a medical librarian:  You’re a medical expert. Many of us (including myself) never had any clinical training. We’re just awesome at finding information.

stylized headshot of Marita Barton MaloneMarita Barton Malone

Current gig: Public Services Librarian at Rowan University School of Osteopathic Medicine

Three words on what it’s like to be on the library beat: Multifaceted. Flexible. Growth.

Rock solid advice for wannabe medical librarians: Be ready for exciting challenges. This job is so much more than you learned in library school.

Biggest misconception about being a medical librarian: We do a bit more than sit around and read print medical books.

headshot of Joan V. ZivichJoan V. Zivich

Current gig: Librarian, Lacera Memorial Library, Community Hospital. I manage the Library, which serves all physicians and employees of the hospital, and do research for them and for new hospital services.

Three words on what it’s like to be on the library beat: Fulfilling. Stimulating. Challenging.

Rock solid advice for wannabe medical librarians: Medical libraries have always been, and continue to be, in an ever-changing environment, which requires you to be adaptable. Be open to learning everything—medical, nursing, business, and legal information, and technology in all its manifestations. Acquire as much information about budgeting and marketing and PR as possible.  Network with your peers in all library environments; allies in different types of libraries are invaluable.

Biggest misconception about being a medical librarian: People have no idea that we provide specific connections to quality information, because they think everything is free on the Internet—until they cannot find “it.”

casual headshot of Michele SpatzMichele Spatz

Current gig: Interprofessional Education and Outreach Coordinator, Pacific University

Three words on what it’s like to be on the library beat: Different Every Day.

Rock solid advice for wannabe medical librarians: Think outside the (old librarian) bun and seek the unique: don’t be afraid to apply your skills and expertise in new and novel ways. Sometimes where there is no path, you need to make one.

Biggest misconception about being a medical librarian: All we do all day is check out books. Seriously, in 2017? Medical librarians are extraordinarily talented across many domains of health and medical information and informatics from information and data storage, retrieval, dissemination, research and nomenclature, to name a few; across many platforms and mediums; across a vast array of health, biosciences, and medical sciences. We are part of a distinct field requiring diverse skills and expertise that helps organize and share the world’s health and medical knowledge, thus opening opportunities for new discoveries. That said, on a personal note, my favorite thing about being a medical librarian is the opportunity to connect individuals with meaningful personal health and medical information so they can participate fully in their health and self-care.


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.

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