Librarianpalooza! Medical Library Rock Stars Take the Stage

We couldn’t resist another encore.

October is National Medical Librarians Month. What better time to once again feature rock star medical librarians?

Our initial idea was inspired by NLM director Dr. Patricia Flatley Brennan who wrote In a blog post last year: “I’m all for the ‘rock star’ librarian idea.”

We were, too.

So, we began posting profiles of rock star librarians.

Last month and last May, NLM in Focus put out a call for even more medical librarian rock stars. We asked them where they’re currently working (the gig), three words that describe their beat, their greatest hit, and the biggest misconception people have about medical librarians.

Dozens of medical librarians—either individually or in groups (We call them bands.)—responded.

You’ll hear from everyone this month.

casual headshot of Basia Delawska-ElliottBasia Delawska-Elliott

Gig: Providence Health & Services | System Library Services, Portland, Oregon

Three words: Fast-paced. Enriching. Interdisciplinary.

Greatest hit: Collaborating on developing nursing evidence-based practice and nursing research educational initiatives.

Biggest misconception: That medical librarians are all about searching. We wear so many hats!

casual headshot of Donna BelcinskiDonna Belcinski

Gig: Greenwich Hospital Medical Library, Connecticut

Three words: Never, ever boring.

Greatest hit: Helping with development of e-curriculum for medical education.

Biggest misconception: That medical librarians are irrelevant because “everything’s on Google.”

casual headshot of Renata GeerRenata Geer 

Gig: Technical Information Specialist, National Center for Biotechnology Information, NLM

Three words: Creative, interdisciplinary teamwork.

Greatest hit: Together with a small group of talented, passionate librarians and library-based scientists, developed bioinformatics educational programs for medical librarians nationwide in support of library involvement in the rapidly evolving landscape of genetic information. Founded the MLA Molecular Biology and Genomics SIG, which coordinated the full-day symposium on “Impact of Genomics on 21st Century Medicine” at MLA 1998 and culminated with the group publishing an article series on “Building the role of medical libraries in bioinformatics” in the July 2006 focus issue of the Journal of the Medical Library Association. My colleagues and co-authors are the rock stars. Without them, the projects would not have been able to happen. It was a group effort they continue to carry forward.

Biggest misconception: That librarianship is a solitary, quiet, and outdated profession. On the contrary, librarians often work as part of interdisciplinary teams to develop creative and cutting-edge solutions to issues that arise from the rapidly growing and constantly evolving information landscape that extends beyond literature to many types of primary data.

headshot of Lynne FerrellLynne Ferrell

Gig: Health Science Librarian & Archivist, Memorial Health System Professional Library, Springfield, Illinois

Three words: Diverse. Invigorating. Satisfying.

Greatest hit: Becoming embedded in your institution is extremely rewarding; word-of-mouth referrals are priceless. Supporting diverse clinicians in hopes of advancing evidence-based patient care, or achieving better patient outcomes, or ensuring greater patient safety via process change is exhilarating and fulfilling.

Biggest misconception: We do the same thing every day. We certainly do not! Each day brings unique challenges, new topics to search, journal articles and books to discover, people to help, technology to learn. In my decades of being a solo hospital librarian, I have never been bored, have never had two days alike, and have never stopped learning.

casual headshot of Sally GoreSally A. Gore

Gig: Research Evaluation Analyst, University of Massachusetts Center for Clinical and Translational Science (UMCCTS), University of Massachusetts Medical School. I track, measure, and report on the impact of the programs and projects of the UMCCTS.

Three words: Limitless. Engaging. Advocating.

Greatest hit: Five years ago, I started a blog to record and share my experiences as an informationist. Since then, my blog has become a tool to reach not only medical librarians, but others with interests in everything from libraries to biomedical research to data management and visualization. My blog gives me opportunities to travel and speak to professional groups about the work I do, as well as lead instructional sessions on professional development and data storytelling. It’s the one consistent piece of my work I’ve taken with me throughout my changing roles in the field and the one that’s had the most impact for me, personally and professionally.

Biggest misconception about being a medical librarian:  Medical librarians work as librarians in medical libraries. Not all of us do. My title may not directly state my profession, but I am most definitely a medical librarian, utilizing every skill I honed working in a medical library, along with others I’ve picked up along the way.

professional portrait of Adela Justice holding a bookAdela V. Justice

Gig: University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center’s Learning Center, also the Vet Tech Institute of Houston

Three words: Fulfilling. Exciting. Educational.

Greatest hit: Still having so much fun and growing my brain after 20+ years in this business.

Biggest misconception about being a medical librarian: Lack of public awareness of the skilled activities we perform in order to keep the library running and the varied fields in which we are experts. I think your average person would be blown away observing a day in our lives.

casual headshot of Jill Barr-WalkerJill Barr-Walker

Gig: Zuckerberg San Francisco General Hospital Library

Three words: Dynamic. Rewarding. Humbling.

Greatest hit: Being surrounded by others who are passionate about reproductive justice and health equity. Feeling like I’m making a difference in the research and patient care happening at my safety net hospital.

Biggest misconception: That we don’t teach. I teach more now than I did as an academic librarian! I think we have a lot to learn from our colleagues in academia; I’d love to see more medical librarians utilizing feminist and critical pedagogy and assessment in their teaching efforts.

casual headshot of Gwen SpragueGwen E. Sprague

Gig: Clinical Medical Librarian for Truman Medical Center Lakewood in Kansas City, Missouri

Three words: Satisfying. Dynamic. Innovative.

Greatest hit: Providing timely information that directly affected patient care and outcomes through a clinical consultation.

Biggest misconception: That they can perform searches better than I can.


You’re invited to subscribe to receive word of future articles. We welcome your comments, likes, and shares.

2 thoughts on “Librarianpalooza! Medical Library Rock Stars Take the Stage

  1. Can you run this every month? I think that this should be a year-round listing, because some of us weren’t able to make the Sept 15 deadline!

  2. Hi Carolyn!

    Thanks so much for writing. We might revisit this idea in the future.

    Keep on rockin!

    -Kathryn McKay, editor

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s