I would call this a disturbing trend, but that implies it's something that flies up and down the recognition meter. No, this is something else entirely. A day or so ago I posted this story (not this link) to Facebook. But it seems that not a day goes by when another story that mirrors my initial story comes our way. I may have discovered the true genesis that links one to another.

Simply put, it's belief. Our own belief system creates these stories. We want to believe that whatever a drug says, is whatever a drug does. Some might think this medical reciprocity is a proverbial "contract" between consumers and their pharmaceutical company of choice. But these days it doesn't matter where you are in the world the odds of being told the exact---make that specific language in that "contract" are----well, the odds are not in your favor. Aspirin seems to be doing ok, but once you venture out past that---it's no man's land, it's no woman's land and if you have children, keep the doors locked. 

Can you put ethics back into business and management? Here's a small British take on that very question. But here's my warning on the label: theory always sounds great. In the meantime, find a pharmaceutical belief system and hope for the best.


Alonzo LaMont



Posted in: Director's Corner  Tags:
CommComm posted on January 14, 2011 22:21

I get a little cynical whenever I hear the words "free access". "Why Alonzo?" you may ask. Because it usually falls the way most "free" things fall. This article certainly doesn't change my perceptions any. But, it's the way of the world. And while I'm at it, how's about I throw in "life's just not fair" for good measure. It would appear that publishers pretty much have the world of medicine at their mercy.



Alonzo LaMont

Posted in: Director's Corner , Informationists  Tags:
CommComm posted on December 8, 2010 22:54

I'm sure happy to post this because patrons always ask what our holiday hours are and I'm never-ever up on my holiday hour schedules. So here they are in black and white.

Alonzo LaMont

Welch Library building – holiday hours


Thursday, Dec 23rd – library closing at 12 noon (observed Christmas Eve ½ day holiday)

Friday, Dec 24th – library closed (observed Christmas holiday)

Saturday, Dec 25th – library closed (actual Christmas holiday)


Library will reopen on Sunday, Dec 26th with the regular Sunday schedule


Thursday, Dec 30th – library closing at 12 noon (observed New Year’s Eve ½ day holiday)

Friday, Dec 31st – library closed (observed New Year’s Day holiday)

Saturday, Jan 1st – library closed (actual New Year’s Day holiday)

Sunday, Jan 2nd – library closed (reflects the beginning of the new bldg. hours)


Library will reopen on Monday, Jan 3rd at 9am for patrons (staff report as scheduled)


And a special note to all Welch employees: Please check with your supervisor or department head if you have any questions.  Thanks!

CommComm posted on November 15, 2010 23:28

In case you didn't see Dean Miller's interview in the Gazette, thought I'd pass along the link:



Posted in: Director's Corner , Hopkins Community  Tags:
CommComm posted on October 26, 2010 23:33

3 cheers to Lavinia Wiggs. She'll be joining the Finance and Administration department, filling the position of payroll coordinator. In the words of Matt Damon from "Good Will Hunting"---"Hows about dem apples". Congrats Lavinia!

Alonzo LaMont

CommComm posted on October 13, 2010 21:47

I came across a very nice example of the value of the biomedical literature recently, while reading the Autumn 2010 issue of the  University of Dayton Magazine  (Go Flyers!)  The article is about graduate Ed Timm, biomedical engineer and 25 year veteran of medical sales and marketing, and his passion for issues related to glaucoma.  As the story goes, Timm heard UD President Dan Curran talk about the work of the UD Research Institute on nanotechnology while he was dropping his daughter off to start at UD.  A few days later, Timm was reading a journal article about an experimental device designed to continually monitor intraocular pressure, which included a small footnote that said that FGF2 seems to be suppressed in the presence of carbon.    He calls this his Eureka moment, when he realized that opthalmic instruments are made of the wrong material and that carbon might be the answer.  He made his case to Khalid Lafdi, group leader for carbon materials at UDRI, and 3 years later animal testing is being planned for biocompatible, non-clogging opthalmic implants to relieve excess fluid and pressure in the eyes.  Timm expects the new implants, which will eliminate the risk of rejection and preserve the longevity of the implant,  to be on the market in 3 years.

All because a well-informed biomedical engineer read a journal article and put the pieces together...

Nancy Roderer 

Posted in: Director's Corner  Tags:
CommComm posted on August 18, 2010 20:14

I don't meet many people who aren't in some form of "transition" these days. We're either "transitioning to" or "transforming into". Sigh. It's a sign of the times. Claire Twose gave me some insights into the plans for the Lilienfeld Library (down the street from Welch in the 9th floor of the Hampton House.)

I asked Claire to describe the transformation Lilienfeld is undergoing. Specifically, I wanted to know what is it being transformed into?

 "It's being transformed into a Welch library space. That is to say we are returning the space in which Lilienfeld has been to the School of Public Health. They in turn are offering the kind of office space options that other Informationists use---shared space for office hours in locations within Hampton House. The final locations are yet to be determined."

So how will this affect the Lilienfeld users? 

"Users will continue to receive the many services and resources they are used to. Continued access to electronic journals, databases and e-books. Continued access to electronic course reserves. And of course, continued access to Donna Hesson in Hampton House during office hours and at other times by appointment. For example, this includes help in identifying and finding public health resources relavent to particular topics, formulating searches to support course work and research and help with bibliographic management tools such as Endnote and RefWorks. Donna will also continue to provide orientations and in-class presentations. Patrons will maintain continued access to Informationists by email or phone, including two Informationists assigned to Public Health: Lori Rosman and myself (Claire Twose). We see patrons having access to other library staff, specifically Ivy Garner who teaches and troubleshoots RefWorks."

Claire also stressed that "print-only journals that are currently at Lilienfeld will be moved to Welch, and everyone will still have access to interlibrary loan services. And, printmonographs either purchased or used within the last three years will be available from Welch." 

Finally, I inquired how all this will impact the School of Public Health Informationists?

"The place Donna will hang her hat will be at Welch, this way all the Informationists will be under one roof. Department assignments won't change. Donna's work life will change, of course. Their will be a shift from managing the space/print/journal materials to purely Informationist services---from orientations to teaching, to search support, and so forth. Faculty and staff should actually see an increase in Donna's visibility, in that office spaces and office hours will be closer to at least some of the departments."


CommComm posted on August 16, 2010 01:49

We've got a newbie roaming the stacks and hallways. Katie Lobner, a recent graduate of  the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, has planted her Clinical Informationist flag at the Welch Library.

Yours truly, Alonzo, has the hot scoop on her arrival. Katie credits her fascination with librarianship to a New York Times article ( http://www.nytimes.com/2007/07/08/fashion/08librarian.html) from 2008. I asked Katie, who calls Wisconsin home, about her transition to Baltimore in terms of becoming an urban adventuress. "I do dislike the MVA (dept. of motor vehicles) experience," (she gets no argument there!) "but I like all the quirky little neighborhoods". Ahhh yes, we Baltimoreans have cornered the market on quirky. We eat quirky for breakfast, lunch and dinner. 

Regarding the overall Welch/Hopkins experience Katie confesses that "the lines of communication are open and it's definitely a team effort." Were truer words ever spoken. When asked about what, particularly, she enjoys about being a Clinical Informationist Katie stated "I like tackling projects where people don't exactly know where to go next". As I got a little bit nosier she said that what she's most startled by is that "people often don't expext you to help them, and seem genuinely surprised when you do". She also gleefully noted that "a patron who comes back for more help is a very reqarding interaction."

Katie's Mom and Dad have been around to help with her settling in. And, from her the sound of things she's making her way to a variety of eateries and places-to-go spots. We both shared a smile about the wait-time for the Blue Moon Cafe (on the weekend---fuggetaboutit!), the tasty food factor of The Diz and the nooks and crannies of Charles Village.

Now, Katie's lived in other places,  she's been a little bit here and there, so don't go stigmatizing her about Wisconsin being in the middle of nowhere (it's not). And don't go making jokes about cheese (who doesn't love cheese). These are childish, juvenile attempts at humor. I tried both and they just don't work. 


CommComm posted on August 10, 2010 20:45

The Welch Library had an all-staff meeting on July 29th, and Nancy Roderer, Claire Twose and Blair Anton presented a number of questions pertaining to the current and future status of the library. Included in their talk was a mention of the interviews and articles generated by Nancy, Blair and Claire along with the papers that have been presented at a variety of places (Peru! For one). Needless to say, the "long arm of the library" is now accumulating a very healthy measure of public relations attention, both local and national. For those unable to attend the meeting, or for those who are curious about what Nancy, Claire and Blair addressed, here are the list of questions.

 1.  Is Welch implementing a new model of librarianship

 2.  How do we know that this is what the library’s users want?

 3.  What’s an informationist?

 4.  What do informationists do differently with regard to providing services?" 

 5.  Give examples of services informationists have provided that are more in-depth.


 6.  What challenges do the informationists face with regard to users’ perceptions?


 7.  Where are we on reducing the paper collection and the number and size of physical library spaces?


 8.  Is the new model working? 


 9.  Will library services and jobs continue to change?





Debbie McClellan sat down with Alonzo (dat me) and talked about her time at Hopkins, from start to finish, as it were. We did most of this in the quietest place we could find. The mail room in the basement of Welch.  

Debbie McClellan has more than just fond memories of the Welch Library-she has a great deal of respect for the people working here. And that respect seems to have been there from day one.

“When I was a graduate student I was really in awe of the library. I was so impressed with the Welch, and the thought that I would ever be associated with it was a tremendous honor. I consider it a real  privilege to have worked here.”

“From the very beginning, I felt like I belonged because everybody made me feel very welcome. I was able to do things I liked to do: I was able to spend half my time teaching and the other half doing editing for people. So it’s been nice because the one thing feeds the other. I get all my good and bad examples from the editing I do for people, and that helps the teaching.”

When I asked about her future as an officially retired person….

“I’m going to continue to do editing. But what I’m really looking forward to is being able to have the time to travel with my husband. My youngest child is starting college, my daughter just graduated from a college in New Jersey. My husband plans to work another 4 years, till our youngest gets out of college.  Then we’ll really be free to get around.

“When I started doing editing, I felt the work was what I was really meant to do, because there aren’t many scientists who also like to work with words. I wouldn’t say I was literary--I’d say I was someone who cares about communication, and writing, and what I enjoy doing is taking the science and translating it so that the authors end up saying what they really meant to say. A lot of what I do is reading something for the scientific sense, and then trying to figure out what the author really intends. I have to try to get inside the head of the person who’s writing, because I want to make sure that their words convey just what they intended, in a clear way. AND I want to make it sound like they wrote it.  

“When an author says to me, ‘I like the way it reads now,’ I know I’ve begun to do my job; when that person doesn’t need my help any more, I’ve actually done it.

“I’ve always been a person who liked to help people, but I like to stay in the background. I learned very early on that doing science WAS NOT my thing, but helping other people get their science across to the rest of the scientific community WAS. I was telling a student the other day that I’m almost a scientific great-grandmother by now because I’ve worked with two, sometimes three “generations” of students from the same research lab. I’ve found my clients by word of mouth; I’ve never advertised anywhere except the Editing Referral Service here at Welch. I guess I’ve had about 170 clients by now, and I’m currently editing more than 100 documents a year.”  

On her vast network of national and indeed international clientele who utilize her editing service…..

“I have people all over the world that I work with, and everything’s done by e-mail.”. Debbie was very excited by the possibility of actually meeting (face-to-face) the people she’s worked with. “My dream someday is to go around the world and visit my clients and the many countries where  they live.” 

Debbie mentioned the challenges she encounters in managing the accounting aspects of being paid by different universities where different rules for banking apply, especially in Europe. “I get W-2 statements from Sweden, and all I can read on them is my name and ‘kroner’. More and more universities require you to fill out form after form. I’ve been doing work for a research center in D.C., and not only did they send me lots of forms, but I had to sign a 3-page contract, and one of the stipulations was that I had to have a million dollars in liability insurance in case anybody ever sued me if I said something wrong. I guess what they were worried about was  big operations using subcontractors. (Debbie laughs) That’s not me--I don’t ever subcontract stuff.”

When asked what she wouldn’t miss about coming to work, Debbie mentioned, “The thing I can REALLY LIVE WITHOUT is my commute.” Bike-riding Alonzo notes that if he’d gotten to Debbie sooner, she’d be on a bicycle sailing back and forth to work! Ok-OK, so I’m dreaming—it’s a LONG pull uphill on the way back to Catonsville!!

“I always tell people that my first priority is my teaching. I tell my clients, I’ll get your document done as soon as I can, but only after I’ve met my teaching commitments.” However, this seems a tad tricky in the editing business because, as Debbie says, “the key operative phrase is always---I need this tomorrow.”

Debbie observed that “this business of public speaking has always been a very, very difficult thing for me. So I tell myself, “Look, you’re not a performer, but you have something to say that people seem to value. So get up there and say it. And if your delivery’s not perfect, don’t worry about it, because people want to know about the content. I find it very fulfilling when I give a lecture and people are out there nodding in response, and I see the light bulb go on. They get it.

“One of the neat things I’ve discovered about teaching is that things that students were publishing 15-20 years ago as brand-new, experimental procedures in medicine are now practices that, years later, have become  standard of care in the field--they’re something that everybody knows or everybody uses. It’s thrilling to see the progress of science.

“My students have been wonderful. The sense of scientific camaraderie that I’ve seen in my graduate-level classes is terrific. I love to hear them commenting on each others’ writing, making important suggestions about the research or the writing that I could never have made myself. I have learned so much from my students!”

One of good things I came away with after speaking with Debbie is that she respects her craft, and she is proud of what she’s done and how she’s managed to do it. Not everybody gets to go down that road. Whether it’s for a job, or your own personal life---how many of us can hold their head up and breathe in that whiff of internal satisfaction? OK-OK, put your hands down, it’s not a test. Anyway, I’m not going to get sappy about Debbie, she’s already told me what a softie I’ve been. All I’ll say is that--- she’ll be missed.


Alonzo LaMont


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