Celebrating National Medical Librarians Month

October is Medical Librarians Month, a time to acknowledge and celebrate our extraordinary team of medical information professionals! At Countway Library your medical information specialists are your partners to advance your research and knowledge. Their expertise spans a range of disciplines including Research, Data Management, Publishing, Community Connections, Education, Accessibility, and Advocacy and Policy.

While many people still believe that librarians only stack books onto shelves, in reality library workers possess a vast array of specialties and innovative skills in order to serve our patrons. In medical libraries, our staff find, analyze, provide access to, and present critical information that improves patient care and supports health and medical education, research, and publication. Partnering with a medical librarian has been shown to help healthcare workers make better decisions faster and avoid healthcare misinformation.

Countway Library serves the Harvard Medical School, Harvard School of Dental Medicine, and Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, as well as affiliate hospital staff and faculty. Because of this wide range of patrons, our team of information professionals are always learning along with our users. At Countway, our information specialists are prepared to educate and support a variety of needs, from data management to literature reviews. Obtaining new knowledge and supporting the growth of our community is always our priority, and we love to collaborate with our patrons. Contact us to see what we can do for you!

To celebrate National Medical Librarians Month, we asked some of our staff what they liked most about being a medical information professional

I love to exchange knowledge with our researchers. I enjoy helping them plug into resources and tools that enable the creation and synthesis of information that informs public policy, care and practice guidelines, and our understanding of science and health. In return, I get to learn about new topics and facets of problems that often shift my perspective and understanding. We mutually benefit from our work together, which aims to improve peoples' lives and health.

-Carrie Wade, Research & Instruction Librarian

I like working in a Medical Library because I get to learn something new quite frequently. Whether it be by interacting with medical professionals, or being able to access groundbreaking research material. I can recall receiving candid information from an obstetrician that frequented our library right before my maternity leave that helped my delivery tremendously. I will forever appreciate the relationships that I have made with these people.

-Erika Nosike, Access Services and Reference Assistant

I know it is considered a bit old school now, with focuses shifting, but I'm a librarian because I think curating and making available collections of resources is a vital public service. At Countway that means building for the needs of our largely health sciences focused communities - for today and tomorrow. There are always new fields, subfields, and ways of doing bubbling up and working in collection management means having an excuse to poke around at those areas that few people are paying much attention to (yet)!

-Matthew Noe, Lead Collection and Knowledge Management Librarian

Way back when I was an undergrad at Boston University, I had a part time job as a “unit clerk” in the Medical Intensive Care Unit at Beth Israel Hospital. In this role, I was often the first person that visitors would see when coming to visit their family member. They would often ask me questions such as “my father was admitted with diabetic ketoacidosis. I don’t even know what that means. Is there something I can read that will give me more information?” I knew we had a medical library in the hospital but I was never sure if they had information just for practitioners or for layperson to read as well. After college, I worked in different roles at Beth Israel in middle management in the nursing department. But the idea of “how can people find out more about medical information” always stayed in the back of my mind. When I decided to go to Simmons to get my Masters in Library Sciences, I focused on medical librarianship because I knew that I would finally be able to do something in response to this idea about “making medical information available.” That was almost thirty years ago and I have not regretted the decision to enter this profession even once since then. Medical librarians can unlock information for all users, both those with extended graduate-level education and those who need to learn for the first time what diabetic ketoacidosis is.

-Len Levin, Deputy Director