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Snapshot — A Day in the Life of a Medical Librarian at HSLS

Unlike the conventional image of the library as a quiet sanctuary, most medical libraries are vibrant venues animated by the importance of in-depth scholarly research occurring there. Have you ever wondered what librarians actually do all day?

My first activity on November 11th was to complete a systematic review project into an EndNote Library culminating weeks of searching multiple databases. The searches retrieved articles on drug therapy for an intractable condition, assimilating evidence available world-wide to find new knowledge.

As I was preparing to send this to the requester, my e-mail pinged with two clinically-related searches from an affiliated physician. I asked the requester to prioritize the topics, so I could research the most important question first.

Shortly, it became my turn to cover the reference services for onsite, chat, and telephone patrons. As I started my prioritized clinical query, the phone rang, asking for the reference librarian. That question was related to an altmetric ranking system for research articles. Completing that, I returned to my question on the sensitivity and specificity of orthostatic blood pressure measurement.

Within minutes, I was asked to assist a patron at the library’s reference desk. I placed our Chat on “Away.” Returning to my blood pressure search, my phone rang again with a physician’s assistant fielding a publisher’s manuscript query. An attributed quote within the manuscript needed a date. Publishers’ queries require quick turnaround or the article’s publication may be jeopardized. The assistant’s Google searches led to unlikely sources. My one-hour pursuit revealed that the statement originated from a different author with a secondary quotation. I e-mailed the requester a dated citation containing the attribution.

Having completed my reference shift, I gave full attention to my earlier clinical questions. Then the technology staff needed to upgrade my computer which allowed me to grab lunch.

Returning, I found the sensitivity and specificity of blood pressure measurements to answer question one, synthesized the data and sent it; then I began researching the prognosis of renal failure in oncologic syndromes.

Piling up on my desk were minutes to write for my co-chaired national committee, an inquiry to a department chair about ORCID, and follow-up on a resident’s patient safety search.

All in the day’s work of one HSLS medical librarian in the Research, Instruction, and Clinical Information Services Department.

~Michele Klein-Fedyshin

Posted in the January 2016 Issue