That is the response I get from many librarians when I tell them I’m interested in medical librarianship. Health sciences, medical and hospital libraries are the red-headed step children of the library world, apparently.

I began to notice a trend during the first semester of library school. When I would tell the other MLS students what I was interested in pursuing, they all seemed so surprised. It made me wonder what it was about medical librarianship that caused such a strong reaction. Maybe it’s the science and technology that is off-putting. I know that it’s hard to get a lot of English majors excited about data analysis, informatics, and databases.

While working in the public library, my basic work week included: cutting out a million + 1 construction paper stars for a preschool story time craft, perusing Pinterest for teen program ideas, creating interactive displays for my public patrons and general collection management/public services duties. I excelled in whatever I worked on, but it wasn’t necessarily challenging. Even if I had planned for 25 kids and 75 showed up, or someone challenged a YA book because of content, I never felt particularly overwhelmed. Even though by all standards, I was swamped with work, it was “fun” work.

The work that I do now is immensely more challenging and I actually go home at the end of the day with questions to be answered by Google (or more specialized databases). I no longer make crafts, rarely do I get to make a display, and the “advisory” lists I create are now literature reviews for clinicians.  Instead of reading books entitled ttyl, I’m picking up Health Informatics for Medical Librarians.

While a good majority of my classmates are taking “Designing and Implementing Programs for Children and Young Adults,” or “Resources and Services for Early Learners,” I decided to delve into the more technical world of library science. There are a few brave people who are following the same path, but when I talk to the vast majority of my classmates they appear to be interested in public libraries or just general “academic libraries.” Few are interested in health science libraries, and even fewer want to work in a medical/clinical environment.

So, to get to the point, why not medical librarianship? Because for most, it’s not seen as “fun.” Unless you already have an interest in the health sciences, it’s not an easy transition from children’s programming to literature searches.

I should know, I did it.

Thankfully, my background in the health sciences and my passion for medicine gave me a leg-up. However, for many would-be-librarians, the prospect of searching for the effects of ivermectin on geohelminth frequency, or using PubChem to resource bioactivity data for 2-tert0butylhydroquinone is not only daunting, but down right uninteresting.

What can we do to change the way future librarians look at medical librarianship? Marketing! Many of the library students I talked to didn’t actually know what my job entailed. When I started to explain to them that I was able to utilize emerging technologies in instructional sessions, interface with clinicians through electronic media, research elusive zebra diseases, and even create some dynamic displays that promote subsets of medical literature they became increasingly interested in medical librarianship as a potential field.

“But Aroundthestacks, why do you want more competition for those already coveted positions?!”, you may ask.

Because I want to see information professionals working with health professionals to provide the best possible care! I don’t want medical librarianship to be a last resort for unemployed MLS grads. Instead I want courses taught within MLS/MLIS programs that prepare students for work in healthcare. Without the proper preparation, new grads will be faced with unfamiliar medical terminology, over complicated scientific databases, and a dim view of the role librarians have in healthcare as a whole.

I want LIS students to be excited about medical librarianship! I want them to see how valuable they can be to medical professionals, researchers, and medical students. I want a new generation of physicians who are comfortable searching the literature and utilizing evidence-based medicine in their practices. Librarians can complement physicians, especially when helping them to navigate the murky waters of medical literature and they have to be able to see that this partnership can work, but that has to start in graduate school…



Missouri Building Block Pedo Bear Award

I’m sorry to have to point this out, but the Missouri Building Block Picture Book Award “mascot” is quite creepy and reminiscent of Pedobear.  We received our promotional materials in the mail and I was so excited to read the nominees, then I saw the Bear! What in the world were Missouri Libraries thinking? The PB on the bears sweater is suppose to stand for “Picture Books,” but any pop culture savvy/techie librarian should know that PB on a BEAR (of all places) will be misconstrued. The facial expression of the bear doesn’t help at all either.

Someone had to notice this...

PB for “Picture Book?” Yea right…

>Bookstores: Going Extinct?

>The Last Bookstore

Before launching a business, some people invest in market research and feasibility studies. Josh Spencer is not one of those people — otherwise he might never have opened his downtown L.A. used bookstore in December 2009, let alone moved it a few blocks away this month to a 10,000-square-foot space.

I find this fascinating. People are praising Mr. Spencer for opening a bookstore “in these dire times” and yet they seem to forgot about the thousands of independent booksellers who have remained open in spite of the eBook boom. I’m glad that this has seemingly renewed the interest in bookstores, but I don’t understand why we haven’t been trying to save the bookstores we already have.

I know that I’m partly to blame. I bought a Nook Color recently and I am exceedingly excited to start using it to read my books. I also, however, purchased the entire A Song of Ice and Fire series in paperback because wanted to keep them in my permanent library. Am I a bad person for preferring to read books on an eReader vs a physical copy?

Answer these 10 questions:

1. When was the last time you bought a book from an independent bookseller?
2. How many books do you buy from independent booksellers in a year?
3. What influences you most when it comes to purchasing books?
4. Why do you choose to buy a book vs. checking it out from a public library?
5. Who recommends books to you?
6. Where do you buy most of your books?
7. In what format do you buy most of your books?
8. Do you lend books out that you buy?
9. Would you be more willing to lend an eBook vs a physical copy of a book?
10. If your local independent bookseller had an online catalog, would you be more willing to purchase from them?

Next Post: Nook Color Review

>Outreach: Teens

>I have GREAT program ideas, I really do. I just don’t know how to get teens to actually come to the library. When I have my outreach presentations at the middle school/high school, the kids are super excited and they all sign up for the programs. The day of the program, however, I get 1-3 kids who actually show up.

So I suppose that my questions would be….

1. How do you continue the excitement up until the day of the program?
2. How do you get the teens to actually participate in the program?
3. What kinds of programs do you have that keep the teens coming back to your library?
4. How do you fun your programs?

>The Reserve Wrapper Conundrum

>Since I have started working at my little library, we have always used rubber bands to secure our reserve wrappers. Since I have started working at my little library, I have hated this. I have brought it up to my manager several times that we need to figure out a new system for wrapping our reserves. He has given me several reasons why this will never happen, the number one reason being that our library system is mostly comprised of tenured librarians who dislike change.

Now the system isn’t terrible, but it is bad. There are many reasons why this system does not work, here they are:

1. It wastes paper.

An entire 8×11 sheet of paper is used. If you can print the reserve wrappers on scrap paper, it saves on the amount of paper you use. We don’t, however, generate enough scrap paper to cover all the reserves. The problem with this is that you can not re-use the reserve wrapper paper because it contains patron information and that needs to be shredded.

2. The rubber bands are hard on our paperback books, especially graphic novels. They also do not work on magazines.

When placed on mass market paperbacks, the rubber bands tend to destroy the edges of the books and leave marks on the cover (after repeated “rubberbanding”). Flimsy magazines and graphic novels are also difficult to manage with rubberbands. I have since begun to use paperclips on the flimsy reserve material, but the paperclips are just as hard on the books.

3. The reserve wrappers have to be folded a certain way which isn’t an efficient use of staff time.

Each reserve wrapper has to be folded so that the necessary information is displayed. This means that for each form of media we have in the library the reserve wrapper must be folded a different way. Thus, you have a folding technique for library bound books, mass market paperbacks, DVD’s, CD’s, children’s books, magazines, graphic novels, audiobooks and newsletters. This takes a considerable amount of time when you begin to realize that each item on the the retrieval list must be scanned 2-3 times, the wrapper has to be printed, then folded, then wrapped/banded around each book. We spend 30-60 min just wrapping books in the morning.

4. The reserve wrappers are easily seen by the general public.

We are constantly being reminded of patron confidentiality, but the reserve wrappers (large, bold black letters on white paper) are easily seen by anyone who comes to the desk. This means that if you check out a book for a school project on pornography, a friend/family member could see your name + the name of the book you have reserved. This could lead to some awkward conversations. Just the other day we were scanning reserves in and the stack of books next to me was being read off by a patron standing at the desk. I have put the books on the floor, but that is not physically efficient. I have tried to get all of the books scanned before we open, but the names of the patrons are still visible on our reserve shelf.

5. I doubt it is cost effective.

I can not begin to imagine how much our library system spends on paper each year, but it can’t be pretty. Not only do we print reserve wrappers, but also advertisements, brochures, signs, flyers, personal forms, etc… The reserve wrappers are by far our most printed item and I think that we could improve/streamline the system so that our budget could be adjusted.

6. Librarians within our system print off multiple wrappers for batch reserves.

Say that Mary Jane Manga reserves Inuyasha 1-54. I would print off 1 reserve wrapper for every 4-5 books. Our library system, however, looks down on that. I have been fussed at (not by my manager who agrees that we should print off as few wrappers as possible) by other librarians within our system that each book needs to have its own reserve wrapper. That means that instead of printing off 13-14 wrappers, they would print off 54 individual wrappers, which would then have to be shredded afterward.

As far as alternatives go, I have tried to think of other ways in which we could still label our reserves. Stickers, slips of scrap paper, no labels which requires an extra scan. As of right now I have not found a good way to label the reserves that would eliminate the problems we have with the paper/rubber band options.