Five years of librarian perspectives

Looking Back, Forging Ahead Five years of librarian perspectives A celebration of MLA | SLA 2023

To read the full interviews, please visit:

More than five years ago, BMJ and Doody Enterprises began interviewing North American health science librarians. The goal was simple for both organizations – to connect with the librarian community through story-sharing. As the years passed and more librarians shared their candid and insightful perspectives, we realized that this collection had captured important trends and insights in health science librarianship. With topics ranging from collection management to information literacy, marketing the library to user needs and, of course, COVID-19; the narratives from these experienced librarians represent a range of

backgrounds and members of the health science community – from physicians to medical researchers, nurses to patients. We are delighted to share a handful of quotes from these interviews, organized by key topics relevant to the health science community. We hope you find them interesting, inspiring and enjoy the humor. Thank you to the librarians who generously shared their thoughts, ideas and journeys with us. Enjoy! BMJ & Doody’s


Library Value & Relevance

Health sciences libraries are often considered cost centers when, in fact, they are investments in student, faculty, and research success. We do more than provide the tools to answer critical questions at the moment of need – we teach the skills and build awareness to foster lifelong learning in the groups we serve.

Keith Pickett, MLIS

Access to information at your fingertips is a positive change, but we have to make sure we can keep up with it. Telemedicine is changing so fast and we (librarians) are all a part of it, and it is up to us to stay current.

Frank Fajardo, MA, MPA, MLIS

Administrators don’t understand that you can’t just simply pile everyone into the same library bus for a free ride to resources.

Michelle Kraft, MLS

Today’s medical librarians are as much health sciences educators as they are traditional librarians.

Bradley A. Long, MSLS, AHIP(D)


Marketing the Library

I don’t know a single health sciences librarian who “reads books all day,” yet the hackneyed misconception lives on. In reality, librarians not only keep things running smoothly with budgets, licenses, and contracts, but continuously develop innovative ideas to support and collaborate with our users.

You can have $1M worth of resources, but if no one knows about them or how to use them, what you’ve got doesn’t matter.

Elizabeth Hinton, MSIS, AHIP

I think there has been a consistent struggle during my tenure in medical librarianship for name recognition. This is not unique to medical librarianship. Services such as active research support and negotiating contracts and pricing are notoriously underrecognized components of the services medical librarians provide.

Jonna Peterson, MLIS

Kristy Steigerwalt, MLS, PharmD

In addition to the critical marketing and visual brand recognition needs, I’m thinking of all of our interactions with customers — every touch point we have with them. Do we reflect a consistent quality brand? Does our brand reflect on us as a trusted, valuable, and essential partner to our health sciences students and clinical experts? What can we do to strengthen our brand?

Lynda Hartel, MLS, AHIP


Information Literacy

Users must be given the health literacy training and tools to evaluate such advice for credibility and reliability in order to prevent them from making unwise health choices for themselves and their families.

Gail Fraser

College should promote independent thinking. Getting people accurate information and trying to deal with the misinformation out there is a top priority. Maybe it is because of my career choice, but I still don’t understand how people can go to “Dr. Google” and just type in something and go with the first thing they see. It’s really scary.

Misinformation is a problem that is found everywhere, including academia. To combat this, my goal is to teach information literacy and to incorporate critical appraisal skills into student learning.

Michael S. Fitts, MLIS

Evidence-based practice for medical staff is well established, but now this is catching fire with other health specialties such as audiology or similar. Librarians should be knowledgeable and able to provide good resources and literature reviews for EBP.

Marie St. Pierre, MLIS, AHIP

Lisa Adriani, MLS, AHIP


Diversity & Inclusion

In my role as an academic, I strive every day to serve as an example – particularly to Latinx undergraduate and graduate students – that higher education is important for their futures, that it can be done with hard work and perseverance, and by continuing to contribute to the educational and historical narrative, raising their voices will move us all forward.

Most of the time when you mention diversity, people think black and white. But there are so many other things to keep in mind. We need to be careful. An institution can be diverse in its hiring practices, but it can quickly become a checklist more than a mission. So you can have all of these different people, but still fail at including them. That is why I love working here in this capacity.

Ruby L. Nugent, MALIS

Critical librarianship focuses on thinking more critically about the services we provide, how they are shaped by external forces, and how to design more equitable services to marginalized students.

Michael S. Fitts, MLIS

Tyler Moses, MLS


Budgets & Funding

It is hard to receive funding if it is designated for other areas. Medical libraries are constantly having to update information, which also can be an issue of funding . If we are not able to receive funding, we cannot update resources in a timely manner.

Exploring new products while maintaining current resources is a challenge. There is an endless selection of new (and amazing) resources to evaluate. Without a consistent budget and guaranteed increases in place, it is very difficult to stay on trend and continue to provide access to our essential and high-demand resources.

Catisha Benjamin, MLIS

Subscription costs increase, budgets may not, and it takes creativity and some trading to continue offering the resources and services our patrons have come to expect.

Marlene Bishop, MLIS

Changes in our funding are directly related to changes in our collections, the services we can provide, and the expertise that we are able to deploy to accomplish both. Librarians in the health professions do an exemplary job of stretching resources and services beyond what seems possible on paper.

Lorna Springston. MIS

Martin Wood, MSLIS, AHIP

Unfortunately, funding is becoming more and more of an issue as the state of Iowa shifts support away from higher education. We can no longer afford to purchase titles “just in case,” we must purchase books we know our users need.

Janna Lawrence, MSLIS, AHIP


User Needs

Our top priority is meeting our users where they are. I never want to hoard information in the library, like a dragon guarding its gold. I want to push our resources to users’ phones and tablets as much as possible.

Jeffery R. Ring, PhD, MILS

It’s amazing how even the most self-aware among us can easily slip into the assumption that we know what users need. Without research and feedback, we don’t. As we say in UX, “You are not the user.”

Jill Stover Heinze, MSLS

Make clear connections to how the resource can directly impact or improve their work and research. I see it a lot when I show someone how to use citation managers for example. Learning how a citation management tool can help them easily collect, organize, cite and create reference lists and make their work easier definitely helps promote the chosen resource.

Kelsa Bartley, MSI


Collections Management

Libraries’ budgets simply cannot keep pace with both the escalating costs of electronic resources and the expanding medical and scientific knowledgebase. Add requests for APC support to the mix, and the financial tenability of addressing each of these demands is daunting. Until there’s some stability in the scholarly communications landscape, health sciences libraries are going to continue to wrestle with challenging collection management and development decisions.

Although this has come back to bite me, I prefer to start from the position of saying yes – “Yes, we can get that for you” – until and unless we run into a hard reason to say no if it’s simply outside the scope of our collection development policy. And even then, we try to come up with alternatives to get us to a yes or to at least point the requestor in the right direction.

John Gallagher, MLS

Jeffery R. Ring, PhD, MILS

We always use usage statistics when considering what to renew. We have a solid program on plastic surgery, but the department is pretty small. So I cannot expect to have huge usage because of that; but as long as there’s usage, I take that into consideration.

Hector R. Perez-Gilbe, MLIS, MPH, AHIP



Medical library workers are tired. Many of our libraries remained open during the pandemic to meet the information needs of our campuses. Many of these services were provided onsite during the height of the pandemic. Living through over two years of the COVID-19 pandemic has been traumatic on many fronts. As we define our new normal, we must prioritize the burnout reduction among ALL library workers, not just librarians.

Shannon Jones, MEd, MIS, MLS

Over the years, the medical center has dealt with numerous emergent diseases, such as SARS, H1N1, Swine Flu and the Ebola scare, to name a few. And, even though I am a former fire/rescue EMT who has seen a gamut of emergencies, nothing prepared me for this experience. I’ve never seen such an outpouring of community support for our hospital workers and frontline clinical staff in all my 35+ years of working in a hospital setting. It truly brought out the best in people who generously showered us with encouragement and support, from food to gifts and even free oil changes.

Elisabeth Marrapodi, B.A.


Training & Staffing

There are so many excellent minds out there that would make incredible librarians and we need to work on mentoring these prospects to keep the profession alive and thriving.

Bethany Figg, DEd.T, MBA, MLIS, C-TAGME, AHIP

My department works with vendors to organize trainings applicable for librarians and/or library patrons. Our hope is that by helping our librarians understand how to best use each product, we are better able to help our patrons.

Elyssa M. Gould, MA, MSLS

Finding qualified, well-trained medical librarians is key to maintaining excellent services and remaining relevant to our institutions.

One current challenge faced by librarians is recruiting and retaining new librarians, which includes making a real effort to diversify the profession.

Roy Brown, MLIS, AHIP

Nadine Dexter, EdD, MLS, D-AHIP


Why Librarianship?

While in undergrad, I worked several part-time student jobs, and my last and favorite was in the library. While there, I developed a passion for assisting and meeting the information needs of others. I had a “lightbulb” moment and realized I could turn this into an actual career!

Librarianship suits my personality: it is a perfect combination of public service and detective work.

Tamara Nelson, MLIS, EdS, AHIP

I worked in my college library when I was completing my undergraduate degree in English literature. I knew I didn’t want to go on to be a teacher, but I really liked the environment and work of the library, so I asked the librarians how I could be like them.

Arpita Bose, MLIS

Elyssa M. Gould, MA, MSLS


We’d love to hear from you! If you’d like to share your story, please contact us. Doody Enterprises, Inc.:


Page 1 Page 2-3 Page 4-5 Page 6-7 Page 8-9 Page 10-11 Page 12-13 Page 14-15 Page 16-17 Page 18-19 Page 20-21 Page 22-23 Page 24

Powered by