Fortune Favors The Bold Medical Librarian

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So, this is what it feels like to say goodbye to a niche group of cyber-surfers and blog fiends. My month has just about come to an end here at The (most beautiful!) Desk Set. I’ll spare you the frowning and tearful emoticons. Instead, I’ll leave you with some advice on becoming a medical librarian.

Know what to expect. Working in a medical library, like any specialty or subject-specific library, is a truly unique experience. Unless you’ve taken a medical librarianship or informatics course in library school, be prepared to learn your sources. I’m still shocked at how well and how often I use resources like PubMed, Web of Science, and EMBASE. You will need to immerse yourself in the intricacies of these tools and refine your technique so that you can recall targeted information for clients in the most seamless of ways.

Be innovative. Don’t be afraid to try something different when it comes to institutional outreach, instruction, or resource development. A huge reason why medical librarianship is such a rewarding and sought-after profession is because it is constantly reinventing itself. Behind these changes are the collaborations between librarians and the clients using the library services. Finding original and creative ways to deliver information is the crux of the profession. Fortune favors the bold in medical librarianship.

(Image courtesy of ClipArt)

Build relationships. Connecting with people is pivotal to being a successful medical librarian. Relationships with certain individuals within an institution can help keep the library within the institution’s vision. Reminding people that the library is present and there for them is an effective way of putting the library’s worth in the forefront of people’s minds. The outgoing and helpful nature of the medical librarian is what the client remembers upon visiting the library facility. It’s important to make a good impression.

Know the hierarchy. Being aware of where you fall within the institutional, and library-specific, hierarchy is important to remember. This will help to keep you on track, focused, and a more productive member of the organization. Librarians, by and large, tend to stay in a position or with a library for a very long time. This is partially due to the current economic climate as well as the passion of the medical librarian. It’s important to note that medical libraries especially are found in mostly the non-profit or academic sectors. Both of which have rigid hierarchical schemas when it comes to employment status. Just like any other profession, paying your dues is essential to reaching the point in your career that you strive for.

GET EXPERIENCE. This point cannot be stressed enough. If you’re unable to get a paying (usually part-time if you’re still in school) job, shoot for an internship. If that’s not working for you… VOLUNTEER! There’s nothing wrong with reaching out to an organization’s library that interests you and inquiring about a volunteer program. It’s something to put on your resume that shows you have some type of medical library experience. Even if it is only a volunteer position, it’s more than what some competitors may have. There’s nothing wrong with getting the experience you need to stand out in an abyss of resumes, even if it takes seeking out permission to volunteer.

(Image courtesy of ClipArt)

I hope you enjoyed my guest blog posts for this month. I’m always willing to chat about library things or otherwise. You can follow me on Twitter, @LibTonio, and I’ll send you my personal contact information in a direct message. Thanks for reading!

*Special thanks to my dear friend, Brittany Good, for acting as my (un)official editor for my posts throughout the month.

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