Saturday, November 22, 2008

Fun Stuff

While reading The Krafty Librarian's recent post, I couldn't help putting my blog on the scale. Interestingly, Typealyzer also considered my blog as the type of ISTP-The Mechanics:

"The independent and problem-solving type. They are especially attuned to the demands of the moment are masters of responding to challenges that arise spontaneously. They generally prefer to think things out for themselves and often avoid inter-personal conflicts.

The Mechanics enjoy working together with other independent and highly skilled people and often like seek fun and action both in their work and personal life. They enjoy adventure and risk such as in driving race cars or working as policemen and firefighters."

I think all it said is mostly true about me except the last sentence. I have never thought about driving race cars. Driving a stick shift Honda Element might be considered enjoying adventure but not the same as driving a race car. Working as policemen and firefighters has never come across my mind. I know, at least, one thing it didn't catch me: my dream career is to be a professional photographer.

I then tried entering several other blogs I enjoy reading frequently. The Myers-Brigg analysis on those blogs almost matched my judgment about those blogs' authors. It did tell something. At least, it told me what kind of blog I like to read: ISTP-The Mechanics.

As for the reading level of my blog, I'm shock. The Blog Readability Test classified my blog's reading level as Genius. This can't be true as English is not my first language.

blog readability test

All is for fun, though!

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Dear Med Student

Waiting, in vain, for a month hoping to get a reply from a 4th year med student who complained about our library catalog, I think I need to say something. Here is the email we received about a month ago:

"I am a 4th year med student and think the new library catalog format is garbage. I cannot get on pubmed or uptodate like I used to and when I search the catalog even simple basic medical concepts return little to no results. This is severely affecting my ability to gather information and is very discouraging when compared to other institutions access to appropriate research/educational material."

This kind of message would make every medical librarian restless and want to offer the best help they can. The student's complaint about the library catalog didn't worry me much because the new search interface is really simple and easy to use. I tried searching PubMed and UpToDate, both showed up in seconds at the very top of the search results with links to the databases. What struck me the most was something underneath the complaint--the student's information literacy skills and knowledge of researching the library. Obviously, the student had a hard time finding information he needed to complete his course assignments. Let me guess. He didn't know the difference between an online database and the library's catalog. It happened quite often when students with a list of readings from their professors came to the library to retrieve the full text articles, they started searching the catalog by entering the article titles to conduct the search. Of course, nothing came out. Another possible diagnosis. The student had a research topic for a course project. He wanted to know what literatures are available out there. He started searching the catalog. Of course, it would retrieve a list of books and journals, which made him frustrated because he couldn't go into each item to view the content.

Dear med student, if you could spare some time with a medical librarian either by phone, by email, by Live Chat, or drop by the library, your life would be much easier. The librarian would orientate you navigating the library and its resources and point you to the right direction where to look for what you need. Dear med student, don't let this happen again, contact your librarian.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

My Story

I was asked by CHILI (Careers in Health Information, Librarianship, and Informatics) project directors to blog about my experiences working in a library before I received my MLIS degree and how that experiences helped me to be what I am today. Imagine, I'm talking to a group of high school kids visiting my library hoping to inspire them to enter medical librarianship.

During the first semester in McGill Library School, I had no idea of what kind of libraries (i.e., special library, public library, academic library, and hospital library) I should set my feet on in the future. By the end of the first semester something happened that changed my career life. I failed in Dr. Beheshti's Information System Design, a required and core course for all Master of Library and Information Science (MLIS) students. I lost 3 credits! I had a gloomy Christmas for the year 1999 pondering and reflecting how to be more effective and efficient in coping with the Winter 2000 required courses. I was told I must take another course to make up for the lost credits as soon as possible. The earliest chance I could have was Spring 2000 and the only available selective course was Health Sciences Information. I had no choice but registered for the course in order to get the 3 credits back. It turned out to be the turning point in my life. I pictured my career goal from vague to crystal clear by the time I competed the course. I knew what I wanted to be, a medical librarian, a health sciences librarian. I started building my career path by looking for any kind of part-time job or volunteer work or anything that would lead me in achieving my career goal. My every first experience was working as a volunteer in the Nurses' Library in Montreal General Hospital in Canada, part of the McGill University Health Center (MUHC). Another step I took was to take a Practicum and worked at Royal Victoria Medical Library. The Practicum gave me the opportunity to create current awareness program for doctors and physicians. Working 2-3 hours a week in the Nurses' Library, slowly and gradually, I touched almost every aspect of the library's functions from shelving to cataloging. The then librarian, Lynn Kiraly-Batist, was nice and professional, who inspired me and trained me to be a professional medical librarian. She showed me many of the things that were not taught in the library school.

By the time I received my MLIS degree in 2001, I was offered a part-time position as a research librarian working for McGill University School of Nursing. It was there I was given a lot of chances to conduct literature searches on medical literature for nursing faculty members. In 2002, after Mrs. Kiraly-Batist moved to another hospital library, I was hired to work solo and manage the Nurses' Library and worked on every aspect of the library including collection development, acquisitions, serials, cataloging, interlibrary loan services, reference and instructional services, training volunteers, recruiting and hiring library research assistants. These experiences helped me understand many of the health science resources either print or electronically and greatly enrich my professional knowledge as a medical librarian. They also laid a solid foundation for me to grow in the field of medical librarianship.

Being a reference librarian in a health sciences library is very challenged and this is the part I like most. Challenges always motivate me and inspire me to keep pursuing for career advancement. I have been active in serving on professional committees of the Medical Library Association (MLA) and Southern Chapter of the MLA, presenting posters and papers at professional conferences, writing and researching related to reference services, and networking with medical librarians across the country. Looking back, I'm grateful and happy for every little step and effort I have been taken to lead me to where I am today. I always believe working persistently towards one's goal will eventually lead you to what you want to be.

Saturday, November 8, 2008

Echo: Feeling Responsible for Everything

Have you ever had this nagging feeling as onellums expressed in ACRLog while working at the reference desk? We are lucky to have our Web team and Circulation to cove many of the requests and problems related to computers, printing system, and copy machines. Whenever we received those questions or requests, we would just do referral. However, I do receive other requests at the reference desk and probably I shouldn't fill:
  • Blank CDs and CD markers
  • Spoons and forks
  • Advil® ( I always keep a bottle in my office)
  • Tissues
  • Printing online articles
  • Retrieving a book from the shelf and put it at Circulation for them to pick up
  • Photocopying articles
  • PDFing articles from print collection
I, too, find myself easily get lost in the ephemera of students’ and faculty's needs! I was told we didn't provide these services, part of the reason was we were lack of people. My reason to take them up was pretty simple: It's hard for me to tolerate patrons leaving the library without getting what they need. I believe library is a great place and promoting the library starts with minor things we might not even consider important. However, little things mean something for each individual patron.

I always enjoy helping others and by doing so I get help, too. Does that make me a bad librarian? Does offering extra help go beyond my responsibilities?

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Rachel 's Unstuck Strategies

We sometimes got stuck no matter we were new to the profession or even at junior or senior level. At the Southern Chapter of the Medical Library Association (SC/MLA) Annual Meeting last week, Rachel Singer Gordon gave a wonderful speech about how to get unstuck when difficult episodes appeared. Here are her 12 strategies to get unstuck:
  1. Set goal: realistic and small objectives
  2. Address your own mindset: identifying negative thoughts and what drew you to the profession
  3. Identify and overcome obstacles
  4. Defeat the status with bias: trying one little change every week
  5. Defeat procrastination: go back to your goals
  6. Get by with a little help from your friends
  7. Keep learning and innovating
  8. Cultivate resilience and neoteny (carry youthful characteristic into adulthood)
  9. Go around if you can't go forward
  10. Realize that change is inevitable
  11. Be proactive: don't sit around waiting
  12. Work from a place of personal and professional power: realize your value and skills
Are you inspired?