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News and info about librarianship, UA SIRLS, and libraries…

What are medical libraries to do? From the Countway at Harvard…

Posted by Editor on August 27, 2009

From JDD:  My last post had to do with the future of hospital libraries and librarians and Connie Schardt outlined what the MLA is doing.  This, from Harvard, addresses what libraries in medical schools need to prepare themselves to do. (If we/they are not already!)

Posted by Isaac (“Zak”) Kohane August 26, 2009 HERE in Countway’s blog…

This is not an abstract question about the future of libraries, although that is also an interesting question. It is a question about what the medical school accrediting organizations have determined. “The Liaison Committee on Medical Education (LCME) is the nationally recognized accrediting authority for medical education programs leading to the M.D. degree in U.S. and Canadian medical schools. The LCME is sponsored by the Association of American Medical Colleges and the American Medical Association.” and this is what they had to say (the bold face is mine for emphasis):

D.        Information Resources and Library Services

ER-11 The medical school must have access to well-maintained library and information facilities, sufficient in size, breadth of holdings, and information technology to support its education and other missions.

There should be physical or electronic access to leading biomedical, clinical, and other relevant periodicals, the current numbers of which should be readily available. The library and other learning resource centers must be equipped to allow students to access information electronically, as well as to use self-instructional materials.

ER-12 The library and information services staff must be responsive to the needs of the faculty, residents and students of the medical school.

A professional staff should supervise the library and information services, and provide training in information management skills. The library and information services staff should be familiar with current regional and national information resources and data systems, and with contemporary information technology.

[Revised annotation approved by the LCME in October 2007 and effective immediately.]

Both school officials and library/information services staff should facilitate access of faculty, residents, and medical students to information resources, addressing their needs for information during extended hours and at dispersed sites.

(This is taken from: found at:
Hat tip David Osterbur.)

These are important recommendations and ones which foreshadow trends from the very near future. We have embraced this educational mission from access of electronic resources to teaching biomedical researchers how to perform bioinformatics-enabled research (see the bioinformatics nanocourses offered to all by Reddy Galli— details here ). The central question is whether librarian training will embrace the information technology that will be required to keep libraries current and relevant to their patrons. The answer to that question will determine where the future librarians are trained and that will in turn determine how central libraries remain to the academic mission.

MY question about all of us is will we librarians (and students and recent grads) embrace the idea of acquiring and advancing these new skills, and is the answer related to where we are in our career development?  Are we willing to take the time to learn this new stuff, and are we willing to wait for salaries to catch up that reflect a new breed of librarian??  Will acquiring new skills make us more employable or help protect our jobs and our libraries? I used to think YES, but am not so sure these days…

Read the blog at


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