Grants and Scholarships
The Cunningham Fellow 2003 Recounts Experiences
Director, library and multimedia services, Canberra Hospital, Australia
MLA provides a three-to four-month fellowship annually for one medical librarian from countries outside the U.S. and Canada to observe U.S.-based health sciences libraries. My main objective in applying for this fellowship was to visit and experience U.S. academic medical libraries. I wanted to see the use of information technology and new trends to help establish new resources for my organization and a new medical school.
Beside libraries, I visited professional health organizations such as American Hospital Association and the Medical Library Association, both in Chicago. Since coming back to Australia, I have initiated some projects based on my U.S. experiences, such as using the scanner to provide interlibrary load through Web delivery, installation of self-check system for borrowing 24 hours, seven days a week, and establishing Clarinet Systems' infrared technology, which allows PDA network connectivity without expensive software and hardware. Users and medical students can now beam free and subscribed resources and other information.
I would like to thanks MLA for organizing such a wonderful program and my host libraries for giving me such diverse experiences, including:
I visited various small and large academic medical libraries, attended training workshops, conferences, meetings, and talked to many colleagues in the library, information technology, multimedia professions. The interactive experience involved walking, talking, and learning. I also gave presentations to all my host libraries.
I was most attracted to the consumer information in U.S. medical libraries. Northwestern Memorial Hospital’s Health Learning Center, Chicago, is good example for setting up a consumer health library. I learned that NLMs’ MEDLINEplus is a great resource for patients and physicians and the new project, MEDLINEplus Prescription, will be big hit with doctors, dentists, and other health professionals. These Websites let patients access evaluated information on disease or drugs.
Interlibrary loan through Web delivery is great success in some U.S. medical libraries. Interlibrary used to be intensely dependent upon staff time, posting on the Web makes life easier and quick. The use of big scanners and soft ware, such as Relies and Ariel, can save staff time and money.
E-journals are a gray area where it is hard to manage various vendors and publishers as well as broken links. I learned that big steps have been taken in e-journal management. Big academic medical libraries are using tools such as Serial Solutions, TDnet, and SFX to manage their e-journalsI compared some of these tools for the Texas Medical Center Library and learned about them in greater depth in the process.
PDA use in clinical setting was another learning project for me. Some of the libraries such as University of Chicago, Duke Medical Center, and the National Library of Medicine are doing different projects and training in PDA use. I talked to various clinicians, librarians, and PDA gurus. NLM has produced a PDA version of PubMed, which can be searched, takes up little space, and can be used near patient’s bedside. Doctors often prescribe medication after seeing a patient. But what if that doctor also wants to direct the patient to up-to-date, reliable, consumer-friendly information about a health concern? We are doing a PDA trial in ACT Health Library and talking to colleagues has helped me clarify many concepts.
Library Outreach Program
I attended the Coastal Area Health Education Center’s conference in Winston-Salem, NC, and its outreach program impressed me. This program offered information to rural hospitals, private physicians, nurses, and other health organizations. These libraries are part of a solid, statewide network and their training programs help to provide outreach services. Their digital library program gives desktop services to many nurses and doctors in the rural areas.
Historical Collections and Digitalization
History of medicine collection and digitalization of collections in some medical libraries is great. NLM’s image database, Profiles in Science, and other projects give access to very old and rare collections. Use of technologies in these resources provides a clear path to the future. Some special collections are so rare they are considered a big asset for the library. Preservation labs are often attached with these rare collections.
I saw very good examples of multimedia labs, computer training rooms, and group study rooms. CLICK at University of California–San Diego is great for undergraduate students. It has 200 computers with discussion and study rooms, where student can do their coursework outside the library atmosphere. It is a good example of future libraries.
Planning and Management of Library Buildings
Next year we are extending our library as a part of the new medical school. It was a big help talking to the U.S. libraries, some of which are in the process of building new libraries or extensions. I talked with colleagues who are involved in new library building and new concepts of future libraries. I also saw good example of renovation at Northwestern Memorial Hospital.
Medical Library Association
Last Updated: 2007 October 09