June 9, 2010

The Maven returneth…

Posted in Blog Announcements at 1:34 pm by Alexia

Wow, over two years since my last post.  I wish I could say time flies when you’re having fun but I can’t.  The cessation of posts coincides with the “transformation” MPOW underwent, leaving the library with 95% fewer staff than before the transformation.  That is all I will say on that topic other than we’ve had a rough time reinventing ourselves.  Of the two staff members left, neither work full time.  I work 36 hours per week and the LTA works 24.  We mostly do literature searches and interlibrary loans.

I’ve gotten to the point where hiding doesn’t work.  I miss the connectedness I felt when I blogged.  People knew who I was and I knew who they were.  I had the change to attend MLA ’10 and realized that networking and putting myself out there is the only way I’m going to survive.  So, here I am.  I’ve got a topic I’m working on for my first real post, which will be written by the end of the week.

In the mean time, it’s back to work for me.

April 8, 2008

Coincidence? I think not.

Posted in Musings, Opinion at 11:02 am by Alexia

MPOW, and the health system it is a part of, is going through a transition.  By transition I mean layoffs.  In an email sent to associates, administration stated that layoffs of clinical personnel would be minimal  so as to affect patient care as little as possible.

I contend the library should fit into that category.  While I agree librarians do not interact directly with patients I will argue we affect direct patient care.  What would the surgeon, who was in the operating room with his patient open on the table, have done if he did not have the librarian to call when he needed information immediately about something he didn’t expect to see occurred in his patient?  What would a cardiologist do when a patient arrives with a rare condition?  What would the ER do when patients suffering from a bioharzardous chemical with which they do not know the antidote?

I do not think administration thinks of us in this  manner.  We do not know yet if we are affected or not, but I content we are as clinical as the pathology lab or biomedical engineering.  Only time will tell how administration feels.  All bets are off when a consultant is brought in but I had hoped that our hard work and effort had paid off.  We shall see.

EDIT: I left an entire portion of this post out accidentally, and it was an important part.  Mental note to self – never post before coffee.

Two of the hospitals in our health system, including MPOW, were recently ranked in the top 15 for major teaching hospitals.  What do these two hospitals have in common?  You guessed it – larger libraries with more than one professional librarian on staff.  Is this a coincidence?  I think no.t.  I think that in order to be an excellent center for clinical practice and education you need an excellent knowledge-based information center (aka – library) will excellent professional librarians to help clinicians find the best, most appropriate information in the time they  need it.

This reminds me of the time a nurse from the ED came down to the library.  He’d been searching for treatment of chemicals released from burning PCP piping and had been searching for over two hours.  This was for the ED’s monthly hazmat drill.  Had this been an actual emergency the patients would have been out of luck.  We found the information for him in 10 minutes.  He was so impressed that he invited the librarians to the debrief meeting and from there we ended up on the hazmat team.  Ergo, librarians DO affect patient care directly, even if we don’t directly care for patients.


March 13, 2008

Take a survey, help new grads…

Posted in Survey at 10:39 am by Alexia

I recently (today) received a request to post something on my blog (which I’ve done below)  but before that I wanted to let everyone know I am alive.  Work got very busy and my home life as a single mother is always busy, so blogging fell by the wayside.  I have had more than one person tell me they have missed reading my posts so I am going to try to blog more regularly.  I’m going to start off easy – by posting something for someone else!

Practicality vs. Theory: Are we Preparing Health Sciences Librarians? 

Click here to take the ‘Practicality vs. Theory’ Survey!


As new librarians in the Health Sciences field, Ivonne Martinez and Michele Malloy (Dahlgren Library, Georgetown University Medical Center) discussed the correlation between courses offered within MLS programs and the job duties included in everyday Health Sciences library work.  At the MLA 2008 annual meeting we will present a paper entitled ‘Practicality vs. Theory: Are we Preparing Health Sciences Librarians?’, and are asking for your participation. We are seeking newly graduated librarians (within the past 5 years) from ALA accredited programs who are now holding professional positions in Health Sciences within the United States.

The application of information technology has changed the nature of library services and continues to change the tasks of library personnel. It is our objective to explore, from the perspective of recent graduates, the job market practicality of their education. To measure the efficacy of library schools’ current curriculum, we will conduct a survey to measure the impact of our education system on our ability to perform library functions. Survey questions will directly address coursework and job tasks to discover possible correlations and suggest improvements to future library school programs.

Michele and Ivonne thank you in advance for your participation. The survey should take 5-8 minutes to complete. If you have any questions or comments please direct them to PracticalityvsTheory@gmail.com.

Click here to take the ‘Practicality vs. Theory’ Survey!

October 4, 2007

Calling all health system librarians…

Posted in Library Adminstration at 1:25 pm by Alexia

Are you a librarian working in a hospital that is part of a larger “health system”?  If so, we need to talk.  There is an idea floating around our system that a centralized library would save the system money.  There are so many reasons that won’t work but that isn’t the purpose of this post.  The librarians in the system which MPOW is a part of have already done a good job of group purchasing when we can to save us money, but not all vendors give you a price break for purchasing system wide resources.  In addition, not all of our hospitals need the same information.  The short of it is that I’d like to hear from all of you in regards to how the libraries in your health system work together and I’d like to start a dialog where we can share ideas and thought.  For now, lets just start in the comments for this post. Thanks!

October 2, 2007

Web-based file conversion

Posted in Geeky Stuff, Tips & Tricks, Uncategorized, Web 2.0 / Medical Library 2.0 at 11:05 am by Alexia

Many times hospital librarians are expected to also be first tier help desk support yet don’t have the permissions or priviledges needed to really help.  From time to time I run across a really neat web-based tool that can help us “techie” librarians help our patrons.  Zamzar is one such tool.

Last week a patron had emailed herself a .wps document that she could not open on the hospital computer.  We are not allowed to download anything on the pc’s so I did a desperate Google (yes, I used Google.  Sue me) and found Zamzar.  In 4 easy steps her .wps document was uploaded to Zamzar, converted to a Word document, and emailed to the patron.  She was extremely grateful, and I learned something new.


October 1, 2007

Early treat for my readers

Posted in Humor at 7:02 am by Alexia

September 27, 2007

Why librarians are still important.

Posted in Library promotion, Opinion, Rants at 11:10 am by Alexia

How many times, in hospital libraries, have we heard the questions “Why do we need a library or librarians when it’s all on the Internet”?  More times than we can imagine, I suspect.  Worse is when the people posing the question state that “it’s” all FREE on the Internet, though I think Hospital Administrators are slowly getting that it’s not all free and in fact can be rather expensive.

How do we, as librarians, counter this question?  Well, first we can admit that yes, a great deal of medical knowledge and information can be found on the Internet.  Few medical journals do not have an electronic counterpart and electronic books are becoming more prevalent and easier to use.  That does not mean that librarians are superfluous or incidental.  In fact, we may be more important than ever as the amount of information grows exponentially and the number of access points, in varying quality, increases.

How does administration think the resources are found, evaluated, purchased and made readily available to patrons?  A lot of work goes in to making electronic resources easily and consistently available to the doctors, residents, nurses and students.  The job isn’t over after initial purchase and activation of a product.  Publishers change urls.  Heck, even our IT departments sometimes change IP addresses, often times without notifying anyone.  Ever have to tell all your electronic resource vendors that your institution’s IP address has changed?  It is not a difficult process but it can be a time consuming process.  Access issues are only the tip of the iceberg.

T. Scott’s recent post on valuing librariansspeaks more elegantly than I ever could on the higher level aspects of why librarians are important regardless of where and how information is available.  When you add in the purchase and maintenance of print collections, interlibrary loan, and literature searching (things, along with electronic collections, I consider “basic” library services) it becomes clear that human management is needed in order for the library patrons to get quality information when they need it and in the format they need it.  Physicians are experts in patient care.  Librarians are experts in knowledge management.  Let us do our jobs well so that the physicians can to theirs.

September 25, 2007

I failed as a librarian mother

Posted in Musings at 8:27 am by Alexia

Last night, while at the computer, my son (who is 9 and in 4th grade) wanted to look up facts on Tiger Stadium.  He and his classmates have been learning how to use the computer and the Internet at school.  He went to Google, which I overlooked because we were at a computer that was not mine and Google was the default home page.  He typed in Tiger Stadium and browsed the list of hits.  He zoomed in on the Wikipedia entry and ignored all others.  When I tried to explain to him that while Wikipedia might be a good source it is not the only source and he needs to use more than one.  He wouldn’t have any of that.  Wikipedia was it.  Granted, in this case the information was very accurate, but still… Wikipedia?  And only Wikipedia?  I’ve definitely fallen down on my librarian mother role.

I am a bit surprised the media specialist hasn’t talked about evaluating sources.  I am hoping she just hasn’t gotten there yet, as this is only the beginning of the third full week of school and they only have “library” on day a week.  What hit home for me for the first time, I mean really hit home, is that my son is going to learn about stuff on the Internet with or without me.

On a positive note, I have convinced my boyfriend that there is more to medical information on the Internet then WebMD.  He was actually going to search MedlinePlus for information last night.

September 20, 2007

I am a librarian…

Posted in Opinion at 10:06 am by Alexia

and proud of it.  What do I do?  I work in a hospital library helping doctors, nurses, students and hospital associates find information they need to do their jobs.  I perform literature searches.  I find information from books and journals, both in the traditional print format and from electronic formats on the Internet.  I assess the electronic resources we use for validity and cost effectiveness.  I manage the library’s electronic presence.  What tools do I use?  Many different tools, including the Internet, email, networked office software and the old fashioned pen and paper.

There is a meme going around called “I Work on the Web“.  The idea is to post pictures of yourself and describe how you work on the web.  In response, the Annoyed Librarian wrote a post on “I work in the library“.  Though the tone of the post made me feel a tad uncomfortable, especially the picture of the monkey working on a computer with the caption “So here’s you “working on the web”:”, I don’t disagree with the general idea.

The web is a tool, not a place.  Librarians have done their jobs long before the Internet and the World Wide Web were developed and will continue to do so long after new technology comes along to replace the Internet.  There has always been and always will be people who are cautious when integrating new technologies into their jobs and there are others who embrace new technology wholeheartedly.  As long as both camps are committed to the basic tenants of librarianship – the gathering and dissemination of information – neither side is “better” than the other.  There will come a time when to old technologies will be completely gone but until then there is a place for everyone, as long as both sides of the camp agree to respect each others opinions and views.

So, here I am… take it or leave it.  I am a medical librarian.  I work in a library in a hospital.  I use the best tools available for any given situation to do my job.  I am willing to learn new technologies but am also willing to use old methods if it serves the situation better.  I am a librarian… and proud of it.

Perhaps I’m reading too much into the IWOW meme.  I guess I think that many librarians worry too much about stereotypes and automatically think that unless you “work on the web” you are perpetuating our negative stereotype.  I also think other librarians fight new technologies kicking and screaming and refuse to see the value in anything new.  In the end it how you do your job using the best tools for the best situation is what matters most.

September 18, 2007

Work / work balance

Posted in Musings at 11:06 am by Alexia

As time goes on and my career progresses I have become increasingly active in local, state and regional associations.  In addition, my job responsibilities have grown.  I am quickly reaching that point in my career where I’m concerned about my work / work balance.

I believe it is important to be active in associations.  The education and networking opportinities are reasons enough.  But, when you come right down to it your employer is paying you to work for the organization and even if, like me, you have “must participate in professional activities” in your job description and evaluation your focus must be your workplace.

Admininstration has revamped our evaluation structure and our departmental and individual goals have to relate to the operating unit’s goals and objectives.  We are being asked to quantify our goals and results and suddenly my entire job is topsy-turvy.  I don’t like making choices between work and professional activities but if I want to keep my sanity I must. 

How do you make choices in terms of work / work balance?

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