Tag Archives: Health Sciences Librarianship

What Goes Around, Comes Around…

13 Oct

At this time last year, meaning the month of October, I was feeling like a real world traveler, spanning the globe from Massachusetts to DC to Edinburgh and Stirling, Scotland, taking in a trio of really thought-provoking meetings in some wonderful venues. It was something and I vowed to myself that I would do my best to do the same, i.e. travel to an international conference, every year for the rest of my professional days. Taking part in conferences and meetings with people from other parts of the world opened my eyes – and my mind – to a whole host of new perspectives. I was inspired.

Well, here we are, a year later – surely one of the strangest years I could imagine – and the same conferences are all taking place. They’re still international in scope and the content is terrific, but alas, like everything else these days, I’m attending them via a screen; zooming in from my home or my office. And like everything else these days, it’s just missing something for me.

All that said, I’m grateful to be well, grateful to be working, and grateful that I have the means to keep on going. I know that too many people all over the world lack this good fortune right now.

But back to conferencing, one thing I enjoy most about attending a conference is feeling that charge of excitement and enthusiasm that comes with hearing intellectually stimulating stuff. I find myself writing down a dozen ideas for research studies. I come away with a stack of readings. I think, “Why the heck didn’t I get that PhD?”

Well, I didn’t because I thought that, at 39, I was too old to pursue such. I talked myself out of it. And let’s just say that coming up on 20 years hence, I’m not talking myself into it now. BUT, reflecting on a number of the talks and and research presentations that I’ve taken in over last week (NIH Bibliometrics and Assessment Symposium) and this (Transforming Research 2020), I realized something fascinating. At least to me. I realized that way back in 2002, when I had a question about a certain pattern that I observed in exercise physiology research and publications, and I followed it up with an independent study … by golly, I was doing bibliometric analysis!

I’ve always tied this experience to ending up earning a library science degree and pursuing my current career, but only within the past couple of weeks have I put together the pieces and seen (1) how much they truly were aligned and (2) how research continues on in the area. So here’s what happened:

As a grad student at Ithaca College, working on my MS in exercise physiology, I attended a regional meeting of the American College of Sports Medicine. At the meeting, a grad student (female) presented her research that observed the affect of a particular supplement on a group of subjects performing a particular physical training task. After she finished, an established faculty member (older, white, male) asked her about the subjects of her study. In short, her subject pool had consisted of only females. He questioned her on the legitimacy of generalizing any findings of a study that had not included males and said any study using women needed to specifically state that it was a study on women.

Next up, a grad student (male) presented his research that observed the affect of a particular supplement on a group of subjects performing a particular physical training task. His subject pool contained only males. I bet you’re ahead of me in guessing that, well, he didn’t get the same question regarding the generalization of his findings, nor how he titled his research.

And this happened again. And again. I looked through the program and took note of this oddity, and first chance I got, I asked my mentor, “What the hell is up with that?!” Thus was the seed for my independent study, “Current trends in exercise science research: A feminist cultural studies analysis.” I went to the library, went to the stacks, pulled 20 years worth of volumes of several prominent exercise science journals off the shelves, and began taking note of every title of every study looking at the affects of some intervention on training outcomes. (No Scopus or Web of Science, friends. I’m talking bound journals, paper, and pencil. This took awhile!)

[As an aside, my thesis topic also looked at sex differences, but related to factors of muscle fatigue, not words.]

Fast forward 20 years and I’m sitting in conferences attended by biomedical researchers, publishers, bibliometrics and research assessment practitioners, and librarians and here are some of the titles of studies authored and/or cited by the speakers so far:

Plus, the topic of the affects on COVID-19 on the female workforce in research and medicine, well that’s already targeted for study. Stay tuned for the many studies that will surely be published on this.

So what does all of this mean? Well, personally, I find it really interesting that a little spark that I noticed so long ago, didn’t just find only me. I think had I followed it up with that doctorate, I’d likely be doing this very research today with some of these same people. And honestly, I had no idea that was a possibility. It’s nice to know people are still studying and writing about the topic. It’s also frustrating and infuriating that it goes on, but… that’s another post.

All in all, the topic of diversity, equity, and inclusion is being discussed an awful lot today (rightly so), but it’s been a topic for a long, long time. As one speaker said, “We know a lot about what we know. But where is the change?” That’s the real question, isn’t it? And it’s where the real work is. Time to get busy.

Come Together

18 Jul

Photo by Antonio. Used with permission. https://www.flickr.com/photos/antpaniagua/with/8110355091

Photo by Antonio. Used with permission. https://www.flickr.com/photos/antpaniagua/with/8110355091

What an exciting week it’s been! You know those days or moments when you see a lot of groundwork (hard work) start to pay off; like when you see the first tomato appear on the vine or the first sprig of a pepper plant pop up through the dirt? Well, we had one of those this week. For the past several years, we’ve been talking about and planning and laying the foundation to provide library services around the needs that our patrons have when it comes to working with data. Years, I tell you.

When my colleague, Rebecca, arrived last August to take the reins in this effort, I’d been out pounding the pavement for a good while, building relationships and doing individual data-related projects, and perhaps most importantly, getting a sense of who did what and when and where and how. Rebecca got to work strategizing, writing plans, working with our library’s administration and other higher-ups in the university, while Lisa and I provided experience and the connections needed to pull it all together. We developed a Library Data Services Advisory Group, bringing a few vested parties to the table. We did an extensive environmental scan to find out what the different stakeholders on campus thought the Library’s role might be in this area. We talked to lots of people. We surveyed students. We gained a lot of insight.

Meanwhile, I continued to do my work with the mammography study team, part of which involved helping put together a mini-symposium around data issues in clinical research. We brought together clinicians, members of our Quantitative Health Sciences (QHS) Department, and members of University’s Information Technology Department. We also surveyed colleagues to gauge their interest and needs in this area. 

Sitting in these different groups, working on these different teams, I started to see pretty clearly that multiple things were happening on campus; that there was at last some real thought and energy being put towards addressing some of the needs we have around data. I also started to see that a lot of right hands weren’t aware of what their left hands were doing. And the most exciting part of that (when I got past being frustrated) was this… I knew what both hands were doing! 

A few weeks back, I wrote about that frustrating part, as well as how I see how exciting it can be when we (librarians and thus, the library) are positioned in a way to make things happen. And this past Monday, was one of those exciting moments. We ALL came together; representatives of each of these groups that I’ve been witnessing talk about what to do to address the data needs at UMMS. The librarians, the clinical researchers, the computing services folks, the QHS people… we were all at the same table where we could share with one another what we do, what we know, and how we can help. And we came away with some very real, tangible projects that we can tackle together. It really was one of those times when I felt a sense of accomplishment in this task that’s been nebulous, to say the least.

And… I was also hired by the University of Rhode Island’s Library & Information Studies program to teach the course on Health Sciences Librarianship this fall. (I’m really excited about it!!) Totally unrelated to the previous tale, but the two events made for a pretty great week. I hope you’ve had the same!

Summertime, and the Readin’ is Easy

30 Jun

I have a half-dozen more substantive and/or reflective, work-related blog posts partially written in my drafts box, but it’s summertime and the warm weather, the slower pace, the better parking at work… well it just seems I can’t finish any one of those. So, as I looked at the pile of books on my coffee table this morning, I sent myself a note to make this week’s post another reading list – my summer reading. Here are some things I’m enjoying. Feel free to add yours in the comments section.

How Music Work_Byrne

I was in high school in the 1970s and college in the 1980s, the perfect timing to become a HUGE fan of The Talking Heads. While they stopped making music together many years ago now <sniff>, I’ve remained a fan of each of the members as they’ve struck out on all sorts of other artistic endeavors. Former lead singer, David Byrne, has kept me well-entertained with music and writing since those band days. I picked up a copy of his book, How Music Works, back in the spring and absorbed myself in the first third of it, but then put it down for awhile – not because it isn’t a good book at all, but because it’s so interesting, well-written, and thought-provoking that I needed some time to mull over all that I’d read. Then, as things go in my reading life, I found something else and then something else and then… well, it’s on the top of the pile for completion this summer.

Creativity_Pettite

A few weeks ago, my family took a day trip to explore Concord, MA. We hiked the trails of Minuteman Park and enjoyed the quaint shops of the small, New England downtown. One of these shops happened to be The Concord Bookshop, a terrific independent bookstore. As we browsed the shelves, we noticed that the staff were setting up for an evening event. When we inquired who was speaking, we couldn’t believe the answer! Philippe Petit – THE Philippe Petit of “Man on Wire” fame – was in town. What luck! Both Lynn and I are fans of the documentary about his 1974 high-wire walk between the twin towers of  New York World Trade Center. Circus act, daredevil, pickpocket, magician, artist… we were thrilled to get the chance to see and hear him talk about his new book, Creativity, the Perfect Crime. Of course, I picked up an autographed copy. Part instruction book, part autobiography; this is a great book to help get your creative juices flowing. What could be a better summer activity?

W is for Wasted_Grafton     Ghosts of Belfest_Neville

No summer reading list of mine is complete without a mystery! This summer, I have a couple in my pile. I have no idea what I’m going to do when Sue Grafton reaches “Z” and Kinsey Milhone rides off into the sunset of literary characters, but for now, I’ve still got 4 titles to look forward to, including W is for Wasted that came out this past winter. I’ve been waiting for the lazy months of summer to catch up on my favorite detective. Now’s the time.

Going from a very familiar author to the debut work of Stuart Neville, the very well-received, The Ghosts of Belfast. Guilt, redemption, political drama… I’m ready for it.

Kate_Becker

 

My friend, Suzy Becker, has a new book out for younger readers, Kate the Great. I am young at heart and Suzy is my hero, so I’ll be reading Kate. Best part… it’s the first in a series! I won’t have to say goodbye to Kate as soon as I meet her. Hey! Maybe I can convince Suzy to turn Kate into a detective so that she can fill the Kinsey Milhone hole when it inevitably appears.

HSL_Wood

And okay, okay… I do have a couple of work-related titles on my list.

Hot off the presses, this updated, revamped, wholly new edition of Health Sciences Librarianship will become required reading for those studying to become medical librarians and/or work in the information world of the health sciences. I have several friends and/or colleagues who authored chapters in this book, so that’s reason alone to read it. If you’re looking for the staff copy, I have it.

Rosalind_Franklin

 

Finally, the Friends of the Worcester Public Library always have a cart of freebies at the entrance to the WPL. I’m forever finding real gems there, the latest being, Rosalind Frankin & DNA by Anne Sayre. Here’s the blurb from Amazon:

Rosalind Franklin’s research was central to the discovery of the double-helix structure of DNA. She never received the credit she was due during her lifetime. In this classic work Anne Sayre, a journalist and close friend of Franklin, puts the record straight. 

I look forward to learning the whole story.

Enjoy your summer, everyone.

I sure hope you’ve got a good book!