HSLS Bids Farewell to Three Librarians

Emeritus status was conferred on three retiring HSLS librarians at a ceremony in December. Each of these had a long and distinguished career at HSLS, and will be greatly missed by their colleagues in the library community, and by the many students, clinicians, professors, and researchers whom they served through a combined total of more than 75 years.

Smiling librarians hold a sign with the word Retired!
Charles Wessel, Andrea Ketchum, and Rebecca Abromitis

Rebecca Abromitis, MLS

Rebecca was an HSLS faculty librarian for 23 years, beginning as a librarian in the former Western Psychiatric Institute & Clinic Library, and then transferring to Falk Library in 2008. She was the liaison librarian to the School of Dental Medicine for ten years, with an appointment as Instructor in Dental Public Health since 2013. She earned her undergraduate degree from Clarion University of Pennsylvania and MLS degree from the University of Pittsburgh. Prior to her librarian appointment, she briefly served as University Archivist in the University Library System.

Rebecca is a talented and creative instructor, earning accolades from students and faculty in Dental Medicine. She worked closely with faculty on research projects, and co-authored numerous articles and presentations. Through the years, she was heavily involved in the staff development of HSLS librarians and mentored her colleagues on enhancing their instructional skills. Her design and artistic abilities were on display in the many exhibits she created for the library. Her interests also led to participation on the Steering Committee for the Provost’s Year of Creativity.

Rebecca’s retirement plans include continuing to volunteer at her church and the local food bank, and to focus more time on creating art—especially relief printmaking. She also hopes to learn beekeeping with the eventual goal of setting up a community apiary.

Andrea Ketchum, MS, MLIS

Andrea served as an HSLS faculty librarian for 16 years, with a specialization in Scholarly Communication. After earning an undergraduate degree at the College of Wooster and an MLIS at the University of Pittsburgh, she continued her education with an MS in Health Information Systems from Pitt’s School of Health and Rehabilitation Sciences. Prior to her appointment at HSLS, she was a fellow in the Health Sciences Librarianship and Biomedical Informatics program, funded by the National Library of Medicine. Since 2014, she also had an appointment in Pitt’s Clinical and Translational Science Institute.

Andrea’s professional focus grew from supporting narrower topics of consumer health and pediatrics to participating in systematic reviews and clinical research. She became the library’s resident expert in all aspects of scholarly communication, including research impact metrics, open access, copyright, peer review, and public access policy. She was always generous in sharing her knowledge through workshops, guides, and consultations. She has numerous papers, posters, and presentations to her credit. Her intellectual curiosity led to co-leadership of a funded project to review and update the Core Clinical Journal subset in PubMed, which will have significant impact on literature searching and relevant retrieval for clinical questions.

Since her retirement, Andrea and her husband relocated to Travis City, Michigan.

Charles Wessel, MLS

Charlie retired at the end of January after 30 plus years of service. He began his career at Falk Library in 1978, and then left in 1983 to pursue another opportunity. He returned to HSLS in 1986 where he remained until his retirement.

In his years at HSLS, he served in many positions, most recently as Head of Research Initiatives. In addition to his HSLS appointment, he had a secondary appointment in Pitt’s Clinical and Translational Science Institute, and was an affiliated faculty member in the Center for Research on Media, Technology, and Health. He earned undergraduate and master’s degrees from the University of Pittsburgh.

Charlie was a leader in complex literature searching in MEDLINE and other health sciences databases, and shared his expertise through teaching and consultation. He had significant expertise in systematic reviews, having served as the lead instructor and developer of the HSLS 2.5 day Systematic Review Workshop, which attracted more than 700 librarians from across the United States and Canada over 10 years. He co-authored twenty published systematic reviews with health sciences faculty, in addition to dozens of other articles in peer-reviewed journals.

Another major achievement was his role as the creator of the online module, “Responsible Literature Searching: A Self-Paced Interactive Educational Program,” that teaches clinical researchers the fundamentals of responsible literature searching for research practice.

Charlie’s long career mirrors the development of the library technology that we use today. The first technology he used in the library was a noisy Teletype Model 33 electromechanical teleprinter to send interlibrary loan requests to the College of Physicians in Philadelphia and to the National Library of Medicine (NLM). In the early 1980s, the MEDLINE database was only accessible through a librarian. Charlie would meet individually with each person needing a literature search, then compose and input the search using MEDLARS search commands and syntax, and finally transmit the search through an external modem to the NLM mainframe in Bethesda. Search results were received via the U.S. mail, usually within a week. Happily, with the introduction of the Internet in the late 1990s, MEDLINE became accessible to all.

Charlie loves to cook and plans to take cooking classes. He will continue working on his family genealogy, as well as preserving family items, papers, and photographs. He spent the summers of his youth at a family cottage on the St. Lawrence River, and his dream is to have a small cottage on that river near the Thousand Islands.