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Director's Note

​October is National Medical Librarians Month.

Time to celebrate us!

Medical or health science librarians are found in a variety of settings and support the information needs of many disciplines, including:

  • academic health science centers (such as Penn State College of Medicine/Penn State Health Milton S. Hershey Medical Center);
  • schools of medicine, nursing, pharmacy, dentistry, chiropractic, veterinary medicine and public health;
  • special libraries such as cancer treatment centers, hospital libraries and corporate libraries, including pharmaceutical companies; and
  • community college libraries serving the associated health professions like radiology technicians and dental hygienists.

Most people are surprised when they ask me what I do and I say I’m a medical librarian. Many people don’t realize that medical librarianship is a profession. As with most assumptions about librarians, I find it amusing that people often assume I "read books" for a living - apparently medical books, since that is my specific job.

I point out that librarians need a master’s degree to do their jobs and there is so much more to being a librarian than reading books. In fact, I rarely read books at work. (I prefer mysteries anyway.)

Medical librarians are highly skilled and participate in a wide variety of roles at the academic health center. Librarians:

  • teach health students and professionals how to access and evaluate information;
  • attend rounds with the health care team;
  • connect resources into a patient’s electronic medical record;
  • help patients and consumers find authoritative health information;
  • provide new learning technologies;
  • manage physical and digital libraries;
  • serve on patient safety, IACUC and IRB committees; and
  • contribute to the research being done here via literature and systematic review services.

If you are interested in learning more about the profession, please check out the Medical Library Association's website for more information. And if you know a medical librarian personally, take the time to wish them a Happy National Medical Librarians Month.

Kelly Thormodson, MLIS
Associate Dean for Library and Information Services
Library Director
Harrell Health Sciences Library: Research and Learning Commons