CommComm posted on April 29, 2011 08:15


        Peggy Gross, our new Informationist, was born in Long Beach, California---for college, Peggy found herself at the Univ. of Kentucky on a full scholarship for----(wait for it!)----Swimming! You heard right my friends, and I don’t mean she was doing laps in the local pond with Sparky the pool pup. Peggy went to the Olympic Trials twice, in 2000 and 2004 and would probably have made the final cut in 2000 if not for a most unfortunate mishap. Her suit ripped in mid-race, “after that it felt like a parachute”. Talk about your horribly wet fickle finger of fate.

        Let’s fast forward to her library career, which was, sadly,  jumpstarted by her mom getting ovarian cancer. Peggy says, “I had so much trouble finding any decent medical information----and I wondered how other people must feel?” She parlayed this dismay into working for a cancer library in St. Paul, Minnesota. Peggy’s eclectic background found her graduating from the University of Illinois and was a Library Supervisor in Pennsylvania, where she also taught high school for a bit.  And how did she arrive on our fair Hopkins shores? She too was drawn to Welch by our (seemingly-more-popular-by-the-minute) Informationist  Service Model. Peggy adds that she “appreciates that we’re able to be in the same space as our users. I love the team concept, yet it feels as if we (Informationists) can still run our own event.”

        Peggy casually mentioned that her adorable-as-a-munchkin doggie, Cleo,  (isn’t Cleo in the “Official Listing of Adorable Munchkin Dog Names Book?) is officially certified as a therapy dog---what’s a therapy dog you ask?  (

        Finally, as a big-time interest and hobby, Peggy professed her profound affection for 19th Century Literature, specifically Dickens, Eliot, Melville. I know, I know, don’t ring a bell with me either. Informationist and Olympic Time Trial Finalist? That’s just not fair. Welcome, Peggy.



Alonzo LaMont

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Stella Seal, Associate Director of the Welch Services Center, sat down with me for an interview a little while back. Stella has been at Welch Library for 24 years, and has seen many a change come and go. Stella has seen her children (daughter and son) grow up and finish college since she’s been at Welch. And, while I’m sure the “adventure” of raising a family has produced it’s share of roller coaster rides, Stella has also witnessed some Welch peaks and valleys as the nature of libraries and librarianship has evolved right before her eyes.


Q)       What the biggest change you’ve seen in your daily responsibilities since the library committed to become a more virtual experience?

A)        I think I’m spending more time with the mechanics of searching. There’s so much out there, and there’s often an assumption that by the time people get to graduate school they know how to search databases. And to the extent that these are digital natives----of course they know how to search using Google tools and things of that nature, yes. But not everything they need is in Google and sometimes they need to be reminded of that. I spend a lot of time showing people what’s out there, and showing them how to think about finding it.

Google doesn’t really do critical thinking justice. And you need a measure of critical thinking when you’re searching. You need to ask yourself “what is it I really need, and what’s the best way to try and find it”. Also, as a Supervisor I spend a lot of time thinking about the roles of my staff who are largely public service-book-oriented folks, and what their place is in a more digital environment, and how I can help them expand their skills so they can transition over to that environment. I’ve been making strides with that, and for most of staff they spend about half their time doing tasks that require other skills, in addition to being at the desk.

The goal is to find other things that support the library’s mission, tasks that don’t require them to sit behind a desk. Our circulation numbers suggest that, for the foreseeable future, we’ll still need to have people involved with the physical act of checking books in and out, and helping patrons find the physical copies of our books. There was an article several years ago that asked, “is Google making us stupid?” And to an extent I agree with that. However, for everyday information needs there’s nothing wrong with going  right to Google----I do it myselfQ) How did you start out at Welch, and what were your initial impressions of working in a medical environment?


A)        I’ve always loved working in a library. I’m a library geek. When I was in parochial elementary school, I volunteered to work in the library. I volunteered to work in the library throughout high school. I went to Patterson High, I earned my high school “letter” for my service to the school by working in the library. I would come in over the summer and get double hours. I’ve always been interested in books. Connecting people to books.

My first job after college was working in a bookstore. Not a library, but pretty darn close. I went from the bookstore to department stores and ultimately found myself at the Hecht Company. Periodically, I tried getting to the Welch Library. A friend of mine, Melissa Horn was working at Welch as a document delivery clerk. She was photocopying and delivering items by hand. At the time, that’s what we did. As positions would open, she’d tell me about them----I applied----didn’t get a job right away, but I kept at it. Finally I was accepted as a circulation clerk. We had very distinct staff----daytime staff, along with evening and weekend staff.  Valerie Florence was an Associate Director. There’s an article by Florance and Davidoff that started the concept and the need for “Informationists”

(In their 2000 Annals of Internal Medicine editorial, Davidoff and Florance called for a new role on the clinical care team: the informationist [1]. This role was needed, they believed, to bring evidence to clinical practices facing continued growth of published literature, patient safety concerns, and general lack of time available to health care professionals. The Institute of Medicine (IOM) also noted that training and encouraging clinicians to identify and apply evidence was not the complete solution to improving practice [2]. They too suggested that an informationist be part of the clinical team. Davidoff and Florance and the IOM thought clinical knowledge and experience, as well as strong information science and related technology skills, were required to perform this function)

The Welch Library has had a number of people who’ve had an effect on the library world. Nancy Roderer’s vision of the Welch Library is actually a logical extension of Nina’s Matheson’s “Matheson-Cooper Report”.

(October 2007 marked the 25th anniversary of a special report published as a supplement of the Journal of Medical Education with the formal title Academic Information in the Academic Health Sciences Center: Roles for the Library in Information Management [1]. The report has become known as the Matheson-Cooper Report or the Matheson Report after its authors, Nina W. Matheson and John A.D. Cooper. The report defined a future role and changed paradigm for the academic library operating within the complex information environment of the academic health center (AHC).


The “Matheson-Cooper Report” had a profound effect on how librarians approach their profession. Nina describes this change as “the dimension of librarianship up to now has been basically service...[but] in the service dimension there is no real future...what's needed is not facilitators...[but] tool builders and...system developers...and solving information problems...[to] go beyond presentation and get involved in the application of that information that we're trying to say we manage.” She adds that this “isn't anything...we learn in library school.”



The work was immediately applauded in the health sciences library community and described as "The appearance of a truly seminal work in the literature of librarianship…" and brilliant in forcefully stating the challenges of information technology to libraries [2]. The report's lasting significance and timeless value for libraries and other information stakeholders in the academic health center is not based solely on a description of a future library role or library changed paradigm, but on the challenges of thinking strategically and holistically about the critical importance of effective information management and the seamless integration of information resources across the AHC continuum in support of the various missions of the AHC.)



Q)        What do you see as the greatest transition students will face in terms of using the library?


A)        That’s a little hard because they’re already using so many materials electronically. Actually, they don’t even realize they’re using the library. I talk to students and they say, “well I never use the library,” and you say “but did you download an article from the American Journal of Nursing? (if I’m talking to a nursing student). I tell people that the library spends over 3 million dollars a year providing resources. Last year we spent more on resources than we did on salaries. Actually, I was helping a nursing student who went through the trouble to PAY FOR AN ARTICLE. She didn’t need to pay for it, we owned it. She didn’t see that we had it. There’s constant turn-around of the student population, they have access to these resources and they don’t know about it.



Part of the problem may be our website, it’s not intuitive to some people, and the Internet Service Committee is working hard on this----to make----to allow them to be pointed in the direction they need to go. The hardest part of any information professional is getting to the students at the point when they know they have this information need. If you try too early, their response could be “I don’t need that, or I already know that”. It’s really hard to get them. You can’t do that during orientation, we have them for such a short-short time with them. It’s an ongoing problem. The question is really this: “when can we get them when we’ll have the greatest impact”. And then, finding a way to measure what impact we’ve had. This is truly difficult. What we don’t know is how much of what we’re teaching has made a change.


Q) What is the element that you most look forward to in your daily routine?


A)  Dealing with people. Any kind of people. I don’t have a routine, actually. I don’t have a “typical” day, I may have a day filled with meetings, or I could have a day dealing with patrons, or I have appointments, maybe something last minute.  I still get a charge sitting down with somebody and helping them find what they need. And I get an even greater charge when someone goes “oh my God, I didn’t realize that this was there!” Those “ah-ha!” moments. You open a new window, you say “well have you tried it this way”. I’m not a big puzzle person, but it’s like figuring out a puzzle, it’s detective work. Coming to work and seeing the staff who----well they realize what we provide and they’re committed to doing the best they can, and giving the best that they can----ultimately, it’s about providing our users with the very best effort we can give.



Alonzo LaMont

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CommComm posted on April 22, 2011 22:55


Recently the Welch library welcomed several new Informationists, and I’ll start with Jaime Blanck. Jaime hails from the University of Maryland Health Sciences and Human Services Library where she spent the last 5 years serving as a Liaison to the School of Medicine. So we know she had her hands full being responsible to the entire School of Med. community (researchers, students, doctors, staff, it took about an hour for her to list everyone she interacted with). One busy bee, I’d say.

Jaime has her own original tale to tell. She and her hubby have lived in a variety of places, starting out her love-of-libraries as a volunteer at the Oregon Historical Society. When asked “why libraries?” she said that their gravitational pull came from being in a place where "you had access to so much information, so much of everything you could think of about the world." And here I thought they were just quiet places to browse. My next question was “why Welch?” Jaime was attracted to our new service model, and the opportunity to develop closer relationships to researchers, students, doctors, staff----you see, at the UM Health Sciences Library, she had neither the time nor the opportunity for any of this to happen. Jaime was born in Ohio, just outside of Columbus, and her interests are 1, traveling and 2) spending time with friends. Her interest in medical libraries was sparked in graduate school by Ellen Detlefsen, an Associate Professor at the University of Pittsburgh. Ellen also taught Christina Wissinger and Victoria Goode. Seems Welch has a pipeline in the ‘burgh.

Jamie has extensive experience teaching a variety of library classes, and is itching to jump into the deep end of the Informationist pool here at Hopkins. So if you happen to see her around the way, pass along a little welcome.


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CommComm posted on April 12, 2011 21:12

And it says so right here. Feel the Power, my friend.



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CommComm posted on April 8, 2011 23:32

Whisk the two together and you wind up with a viral sensation. Bieberlicious, sez I.


Alonzo LaMont

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CommComm posted on April 8, 2011 20:13

The Student Outreach Resource Center (SOURCE) presents a week of opportunities. SOURCE is also an excellent link for a variety, a host----dare I say a PLETHORA of community invovlement. Their site is designed to serve the schools of Medicine, Public Health and Nursing.


Alonzo LaMont

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Get that resume and those interviewing skills sharpened up. Look on the right to see "what's new". Would it hurt you to take a class. We can't all be perfect, you know. And while I'm at it, what's your last cover letter look like? You gonna stick with "Greetings," or can you maybe nail it down a little bit. Hey, don't shoot the piano player, I'm just trying to help.....


Alonzo LaMont

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CommComm posted on April 2, 2011 00:46

Don't get dejected----get smart. Here's some info on how to play the game.


Alonzo LaMont

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