Academic journal article Journal of the Medical Library Association

Enhancing Library Impact through Technology *

Academic journal article Journal of the Medical Library Association

Enhancing Library Impact through Technology *

Article excerpt

INTRODUCTION

Technology continues to be a powerful driver of deep and sweeping changes in health sciences libraries. At the same time, libraries are facing unprecedented challenges due to massive cuts in public spending and increased requirements for accountability and transparency. In this environment, librarians need to think more strategically about technology and to look at how it can offer energizing possibilities and solutions to address these challenges. Technology provides the chance for librarians to innovate, boost quality, measure success, and align services with the priorities of their organizations. With technology, librarians can reintroduce themselves as visible, valuable, and essential partners in achieving common goals. This is especially important in the context of today's tight funding climate and the never-ending struggle to advocate for and secure necessary funding and support for libraries.

The seven virtual projects featured in this year's column have been selected by a panel of experts and are real-life examples of how health sciences librarians have implemented new technologies or applications to elevate their impact and take library services to the next level. Each report provides a brief narrative description of the project, technical background information, and a contact person for readers who would like to follow up for more information.

While consumer-oriented, social media technologies have become ever present and widely used, they continue to evolve and can be quite adaptable to use as discovery and dissemination tools. Librarians at the National Center for Child Traumatic Stress Network describe one such project that uses Pinterest to build, curate, and disseminate resources on children's mental health after discovering with web analytics that their fellow community members were currently using this platform in their every day jobs. With a shiftto mobile content consumption, library users expect access to library resources anytime and anywhere. The vital role that librarians play in providing ubiquitous and mobile information access is highlighted in the report on the Response and Recovery App in Washington (RRAIN), a collaborative project spearheaded by the University of Washington Health Sciences Library that created a mobile-optimized website and mobile app to support disaster response and recovery outreach for first responders and emergency management communities in the state of Washington.

Health sciences libraries continue to make headway in delivering library services closer to user workflows. Successfully embedding digital reference services into clinical workflows is the focus of a report offered by two tenacious hospital librarians, who describe the deployment of an ''Ask-a-Librarian'' button within their hospital's electronic health record (EHR) system as a natural outcome of years of determined effort to build strong relationships and promote the value of library services.

New government regulation and calls for accountability in research have prompted libraries to explore new approaches to assist users who increasingly need to demonstrate evidence of their research impact. Collaborating with researchers to assess their publication productivity and scholarly impact is in the current wheelhouse of services that librarians offer, yet the report from the Galter Health Sciences Library goes a step farther and illustrates how librarians have amplified this role by providing a new service model that uses more robust and comprehensive indicators of research impact and visualization tools to quantify, document, and communicate biomedical research impact.

The assessment movement has huge implications for health sciences libraries, too, as they need to show institutional relevancy and value in clear, measurable ways. The University of Virginia provides a detailed description of a unique library analytics tool that was built using a combination of technologies and aligns library assessment data with institutional strategic goals. …

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