CommComm posted on May 26, 2010 20:42

I sat down with Blair Anton, Associate Director for Clinical Informationist Services here at Welch, and she addressed several questions regarding the role of the Informationist.  Blair managed to reveal not only a very comprehensive list of duties, but she also opened a window into how Informationists develop, in many cases, highly intersecting relationships with a variety of medical personnel.

Q:  The perception of library “Informationists” is that this is just another name for a librarian who goes out to teach some classes. From your perspective, what is a more authentic definition?

A:  “An Informationist is someone who specializes in information, which includes searching, access, retrieval and storage as well as its organization, management and maintenance.   All this is done within the contexts of Nursing, Biomedical and Public Health Research, Education and Clinical Care.  Our practice is to reach our users in their environments---whether it’s a lab, an office or a care unit.  We try to work parallel to our patron’s work flow. In doing so, we get an idea of how they use information, how they access and retrieve it. The early stages are really an investigation into seeing how we can best appropriate information services to their needs. ”

Blair mentioned that Informationists are matched with departments.  They investigate and make contacts with key members, and attend and participate in activities within them.  They conduct information needs assessments (“tell us about yourself and your work”) with departments in the initial stage.  And essentially, rapport and relationships are built into the full equation of Informationist services.   Ultimately, informationists participate in what are often large-scale project and research collaborations.  “We are working with more faculty, post-docs and fellows who are involved in research.  We find that patrons want to know how to search thoroughly and competently, how to effectively store and manage information, and incorporate ways to stay current with the literature in their fields.”  While Blair stressed that Informationists do all the traditional librarian tasks, including teaching classes and lectures on library services, “we’re often working on a grant, a research project, a study---and frequently we’re working on complex, multiple database searches that can often take hours over several months.”


Q:  Given their scope of duties, what are the challenges most Informationists are faced with, particularly from the speed-of-light-pace that is the medical community?” 


A:  (Blair smiled at this one) “We need more people to do what we do. There are lots of project meetings to attend, and we’re not sitting in as an outside observer, but as a team member.  Informationists have to manage time well, prioritize and multi-task. Working with multi-disciplinary teams and collaborators can be time-consuming because you’re not there just to do a search. We’re there to find and facilitate the flow of information, to assist in organizing and managing it.  As public service providers, we’re on our patron’s time, and are incorporated into their schedules.”

 ---Alonzo LaMont


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CommComm posted on May 26, 2010 05:07

Over in the DIRECTOR'S CORNER.....(a short click away to the link on the left)  we have an interview with Nancy Roderer, Director of the Welch Library. Nancy shares a few thoughts on the current state of the library, as well as the direction of the library for the immediate future. This is Nancy's first blog post, and we're happy to welcome her aboard. Many thanks for setting aside some time in her schedule.  

---Alonzo LaMont


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CommComm posted on May 25, 2010 20:39

You don't want to lose your RefWorks account. Nobody would. So, follow the instructions on the link to ensure that your information stays active. This is valuable info so please read  CAREFULLY.

CommComm posted on May 24, 2010 22:57

Gary Faulkner and yours truly (Alonzo) took a spin in the MS Bike Ride this past weekend. We had BIG Fun.

Taking a rest stop with the Miss. Del-Mar (Delmarva) Watermelon Queen. The Watermelon Queen made herself available for photo ops. You can almost see the outline of her tiara. How many of you can say you have a picture of the Miss Del-Mar Watermelon Queen? What can I say. You ride a bike. You get a Queen. If you know Alonzo like I know Alonzo---you know this fits.


Here's Gary showing some serious SWAGGER at the finish line (the MS folks gave us all medals for participating). I'd say Gary's rockin the bandanna.


I call this one; "Gary Bloodbath". Gary took a spill and I told him I hadda get a picture of the blood. What toughness. What fortitude. He's pulling out a band-aid. I wonder if he fell on purpose---just to showcase his true grit.


I call this one "Handsome Guy onna bike". Again, if you know Alonzo like I know Alonzo.........

All in all it was a great day for a ride. No rain. The landscape on the eastern shore is amazing. The solitude and the beauty of so many places was quite a relief (especially if you ride in the city alot). The Multiple Sclerosis folks provide EVERYTHING. Plenty of munchies and water/gatorade, lots of support vehichles in case anybody has any trouble, and they literally ring bells, blow whistles and cheer at every rest stop. All you have to do is ride. Small price to pay, sez I.

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CommComm posted on May 21, 2010 18:48

Just about every summer David Bell and I end up talking about the a concert in the Sculpture garden at the BMA. There's nothing like jazz under the stars. The atmosphere is tres chic. The music never disappoints, and the audience is always appreciative, as are the musicians. (But I won't use the word "vibe" since it seems that "vibe" winds up in alot of descriptions about music venues or musicians---you get no vibe from me). Best place to go for music in the city. Unless you know a better one?

BMA Jazz.htm (16.36 kb)

CommComm posted on May 17, 2010 17:37

Bet you thought our Photo Contest had just UP AND DISAPPEARED? Gone? Vamoose? Bet you did. Noooooo. We've been getting pictures left and right. Jacqueline Woodruff sent this in as "The Cutest Face". I admit, he's veeeeeery lovable. But I find it's best not to get too attached to cows.....


Shelly Choo sent this one from Ghana. Yeahhhhh, buddy---we've gone global. Yes, schoolchildren. The reason they may look a bit 'foreign' to me is---well heck, they seem well-behaved. I know it's a concept we're not too familiar with. And maybe they run amok just like the lil rug-rats we see everyday. Maybe with the cameras off they're into their share of mischief. Something tells me they don't roll like that in Ghana. But hey, what does Alonzo know?


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CommComm posted on May 17, 2010 17:37

This is from Elizabeth Smith. What you don't see is Alonzo flying through the clouds. Not a care in the world. Bliss. Karma. What? You didn't know I had wings? Had a little Superman in me? I don't usually like to brag but.....

We're getting lots of great pictures for the Photo Contest. So if you know a friend---tell 'em to dust off the Nikon and send us some love.


CommComm posted on May 14, 2010 20:25

Summer WILL arrive (eventually!) and maybe this weekend you should stop by Patapsco State Park. I've been there a few times, and all that Nature can get all up in ya. I love it.


Q:  In the near future the library will be moving out of the physical space it now occupies. I know there’s been much thought and discussion about such a huge relocation. What do you see as the chief reasons for the move?

A:  I can think of two reasons. First, given the library model of the future, the actual building, wasn’t needed. The collection’s online, the databases are online and the librarian now comes to you. The second reason, the more practical reason is simply---the physical space. The library is very expensive to maintain.  If we no longer take up the actual space and don’t have to pay for that space, we can use that money for better purposes.   There was a period when we tried to get people to come to the library so they could get exposed to the books and we provided them with study space, and reading space. We got quite wrapped up in the idea of getting patrons in the door. But that was then, and this is now. Does it make sense for students to come to the library, or does it make more sense for students to have places of study in the building with their classroom? Students like to be in environments where they can do multiple things. Most people’s concept of a library is ---the personal service. We felt it was important for patrons to have the actual services of a real human being.  Individual help.  Because the technology allows us to do it, we decided we could offer individualized service. Having a real relationship with a real librarian seems to make a difference. You can now have a librarian work with you. This led to the development of the Informationists.    


Q:   Everyone who works at Welch is well aware that our pride and joy is the online collection. Are you proud of the strides we’ve made with respect to the growth of the collection?

A:  I would say we’ve worked very hard over the years to find out what’s needed, and then to go get these materials. We’ve worked very hard to stretch our budget---Certainly the growth of the collection is partly the result of publishers, virtually everything is online, and this has happened faster in medicine than in other fields. 

Q:  How did the growth of the collection factor into the decision to leave the library?


A:  The electronic collection grew, the physical collection shrunk.  The physical collection can shrink further because we have many older volumes that are now available electronically. The challenge was whether users wanted to come to the library to get it, or have it on their computer, right there in the office. 

Q:  Are you pleased with the strides Welch is making in implementing such a new model of operations? 

A:  Yes.  The challenge of the collection is mostly related to the budget but also finding out what people need. It’s the job of the library Director to see what we can do next, and then, what we can do after that.

There’s also something else that’s worth mentioning………….I’m not unaware that these transitions represent very big changes for the people who work at the library. So the human element, the emotional aspects---I’d put those right up there on the list of major challenges. I think what we started with was a vague idea that people could do other jobs.  We merged the circulation desk---it’s now the Welch Service Center desk---it used to be the circulation/reference. That desk now handles circulation, along with some reference questions and it serves as a referral desk for questions that are relayed to our Informationists. That move worked, so we moved on to “well, what other changes can be made with other jobs?”  Now, this isn’t a perfect system. We’ve tried to do it as gradually and as gently as possible. Part of this is adapting jobs to the work load. That’s the kind of thing you have to do sometimes. Go from where you were, to where you need to be next. I’d be the first one to admit that this kind of transition is very hard to do. For many people there’s a great comfort in doing the same thing. But if that thing is no longer needed, then what?

Q:  What progress do you see in the immediate future regarding the transitions the library is faced with?  

A:  We’re going to have a busy summer because we’re moving a lot of the collection to recycling, and people see that as a very big deal. It does mean a lot of work, because things have to be identified and we have to be sure the right items go to the right places. What needs to be weeded out, what needs to be saved.  I was talking to some faculty in the School of Public Health. When I finished presenting, one of the faculty blurted out, “you’re taking away my library!” and before I could respond another person said, “but you don’t go there”.  As we get closer and closer to things happening we’ll, of course, go back and repeat just what led us to our decisions, and what we see as the future. That faculty member who thought we were taking away his library was referring to the physical place.


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CommComm posted on May 12, 2010 00:12

I'm sending this along because I did the Stoop 2 years and had a blast. In case you haven't heard of it (and if you live in b'Mo you SHOULD have heard of it), Stoopstorytelling has performed at the Creative Alliance in Highlandton, Centerstage, the Meyerhoff and now they've they've moved on up to the bigtime. The shows are usually HILARIOUS. I was---I mean the show I did was :-) And I give them 2 thumbs up and 5 stars out of 5. The stories are out of this world, and they always have a theme. This is a great night out for anybody, and you get a real birdseye view of Baltimore, and elsewhere.

Stoop Storytelling Series in Baltimore, Maryland Everyone has a story_ What's yours.mht (189.39 kb)

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