How the Role of the Health Science Librarian Has Changed

health science librarian

The role of Health Science Librarian is now a combination of up to date content management, overall procurement, and technical infrastructure management. Half of the information a doctor learns will be out of date within 20 years. This requires a new approach to material sourcing and training platforms.

5 Major Trends

Budget Cuts

Libraries have long operated as a cost center with limited budgets. Curation is a careful process, but it’s a very vital function to most institutions. We’re seeing a flurry of hospital consolidations and cross-library partnerships. Specifically, the past couple of years have seen an average of over 100 consolidations per year. Certain regions, such as the greater New York area have higher than average consolidation rates.

BYO Device

It seems to be common knowledge that mobile devices are becoming requirements for business. There’s now a proliferation of devices that students are using to study and reference: mobile, tablets, Chromebooks, laptops, and even a few big screen TVs. For a while now, we’ve seen a trend in users finding us on mobile devices over traditional computers.

Shorter, Condensed Information

As part of the uptick in mobile usage, we’re seeing that students are demanding short, easy to access, ‘snippets’ of information. Students are using question banks, like BoardVitals, for 10-15 minute bursts. When we ask our customers, they use our product between rounds, on the way home, or when they’re waiting for a friend. This means a few changes for the librarian:

  1. Cumbersome proxies are on their way out
  2. To drive usage up, look for resources that can be digested as discrete elements
  3. Products that offer summaries /well-written abstracts are particularly helpful for the mobile crowd.

More Training, Please!

Products are becoming more interactive. Each one has a different interface, different tools, and different administrative functions. This means that managing the onboarding process, communication to students, and feedback loop is more important than ever. We had several librarians use a tool like Qualtrics or Survey Monkey figure out what products students preferred, and if the product was easy enough to start using. This helps us know where to add additional information and walk-thru’s to make starting with BoardVitals quick and easy.

It Takes a Village

There are increasingly more stakeholders now. Instruction is moving out of the classroom, and it’s moving fast. Faculty needs instructional design support to be able to adapt and reuse content that has been developed by others. Newer platforms offer ways for students and faculty to contribute in a broader ecosystem. For example, we enable faculty to contribute content as part of a learning management/test management system. Students can also flag content that is out of date, creating a feedback loop. We call this concept ‘crowd curation’ and expect it to be a major part of interactive products going forward.

It’s a very exciting time to be part of the transitioning library. The curriculum has to shift to the library as students migrate to online learning. The library is well poised to become the focal point or primary cost center for a very wide curriculum.

Nicole Crawford is the Operations Manager for BoardVitals and has been an active participant in helping the business grow from its early beginnings. Nicky works hard to provide complete solutions to hospitals, schools, and institutions seeking comprehensive board prep. She has 19 years of management experience and performs multiple tasks in order to ensure things run smoothly.

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