Health Sciences Librarianship

By Duncan, Suzanne | Journal of the Medical Library Association, January 2016 | Go to article overview

Health Sciences Librarianship


Duncan, Suzanne, Journal of the Medical Library Association


Health Sciences Librarianship. Edited by M. Sandra Wood, FMLA. Lanham, MD: Rowman & Littlefield; 2014. (Published in cooperation with the Medical Library Association.) 448 p. $83.00 ISBN: 978-0-8108-8813-5. V'

This sixteen-chapter book is broken up into four parts that cover health sciences librarianship in a variety of settings, with an extensive preface that discusses the field of librarianship and information sciences, particularly health sciences librarianship. This book has been created to be a textbook for courses on health sciences librarianship. Each chapter ends with a summary, discussion questions, and substantial references. The chapters are written by different individuals, which in some cases could lead to disjointed or awkward reading but is not the case in this instance. The editor asked the authors to focus on their content relevant to academic or hospital librarians as much as possible, which I think helped with the flow of content.

The first part is on the history and development of health sciences librarianship. Chapter one looks at education, professional organizations, and journals needed to enter or support a career in health sciences librarianship along with job opportunities in this field. Chapter two is about the health sciences environment. The US health care system is presented along with discussions on quality, history, professional education in America, and biomedical research. There are a few paragraphs about global health. Chapter three finishes this section by focusing on emerging trends in the field. Evidence-based practice (EBP), active learning, and research collaborations are presented in detail, as they should be. A fourth trend is strategies for adapting new technologies, which I found interesting. The "hype cycle" and minimum viable product (MVP) are very appropriate and relevant to this trend. This chapter reminds health sciences librarians to stay current and offers ideas beneficial to the new librarian as well.

Collection services is the focus of part two. The cycle of developing a collection, identifying patron types and needs, developing policies (uniform resource locators [URLs] are provided for real-life examples), and putting policy into practice are presented in chapter four. In addition, the information on workflows related to physical resources and electronic products is very useful. The topics of statistics, resource trials, journal evaluation, and budget concerns are also examined. Chapter five concentrates on technical services, defined as "acquiring and organizing information resources so that users can find the information they need" (p.16). Cataloging standards, remote data access (RDA), machine readable cataloging (MARC), and online public access catalogs (OPACs) along with authority control and classification are covered. In addition, discovery tools, link resolvers, linked data, and the semantic web are discussed. Chapter six focuses on technology services such as integrated library systems (ILS), proxy servers, websites, e-resources, computers, and printers. The evolution from print to electronic and its impact on health sciences librarians are discussed. I found this chapter particularly valuable as a seasoned librarian. Information about the technology life cycle and process of using technology are interesting. Reading about the methods of connecting with patrons and types of resource serves as a great refresher.

Part three is the longest section of this book. This part's focus on user services is appropriate as user services function as the main role for the solo librarian and as a vital function in all health sciences libraries. Chapter seven covers reference and information services. Types of library patrons and the value of tracking and evaluating reference services are explained. In addition, "the reference desk" itself and how and where it lives in a library are presented. The difference between general reference services and scheduled in-depth research assistance session is discussed. …

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