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I Am MLA: Ruby L. Nugent

Submitted by Ruby L. Nugent; edited by JJ Pionke

Become an “I Am MLA” ambassador today by completing the I Am MLA profile form.

Institution: UNLV Health Sciences Library, University of Nevada–Las Vegas

Title: School of Dental Medicine Liaison Librarian

Brief description of responsibilities

In my roles as an assistant professor and School of Dental Medicine liaison librarian, I support dental students, staff, and faculty. I spend most of my time preparing presentations for incoming dental cohorts and providing in-class instruction varying from using library resources, search strategies, and cultural competency to more in-depth research skills like evidence-based dentistry.

Why is MLA important to you?

MLA is important to me because medical librarianship makes up such a small percentage of librarianship but serves an invaluable role to the constituencies we serve in education, consumer health, health literacy, and research. Because of this, we are overlooked and underutilized by those who could benefit from our expertise—including others in our profession. Having an organization like MLA provides me with the ability to network and collaborate with other medical librarians, elevate my professional development and skills, and have a platform to share my contributions to the profession through service and scholarship. I have met some of the most amazing leaders, mentors, colleagues, and humans since becoming an MLA member.

Why did you become a librarian?

I worked in both public and academic health sciences libraries for almost twenty years before obtaining my master’s of library science (MLS). I enjoyed working with the public, particularly underserved and marginalized populations, but I also saw the gaps in consumer health and health literacy among these groups. Medical librarianship just made sense to me. I attended the University of Arizona as a Knowledge River Scholar and benefited from an intern position at their Health Sciences Library. I had the opportunity to work with some great leadership and mentors like Gerald (Jerry) Perry, AHIP, FMLA, and Annabelle V. Nunez, which was an invaluable experience, and my decision was made to be in the medical librarian profession.

What is your advice to someone taking on a new role in leadership in MLA or in some other capacity?

Do not be afraid to make your own path. Sometimes you see things that have fallen off the priority list or are forgotten completely. These are the things you need to scoop up and run with. By showing initiative, you will inspire others to join you, and that is where the real momentum and strength will come from. Look toward other leaders who can add their expertise and knowledge. Reach out to mentors for perspective and support. Lead from the front, be willing to take risks, and do not be disappointed by setbacks—ask for help when you need it.

What do you consider to be the most pressing issues or trends in librarianship?

For me, I am currently focused on Black, Indigenous, and People of Color (BIPOC) representation in our profession, particularly Latinx librarianship, and why it is still low in numbers. There are a lot of mitigating factors of why these are cultural and social norms, value of the degree, the education pipeline. But to me, to know why is not enough. I want to know how we can increase these numbers. What is it going to take to get the representation of the librarian profession to reflect the communities we are serving? It is a pain point for librarianship—White people in librarianship has been hovering at 84% for decades—and in medical librarianship, it is an even larger percentage. I am not claiming to know what the solution is, but I definitely want to talk about it more. I think we all need to.

Bucket list

I have not done much international travel, but I am a huge fan of ancient civilizations and archaeological sites, so I would tour places like Pompeii, Easter Island, the Pyramids of Giza, Greece, Rome, Machu Picchu...those sort of places. It would be awesome to tick them off one by one.

What do you do in your spare time?

I like to be outdoors and visit places to learn more about history, geology, and geography, so I spend much of my spare time in national and state parks hiking, fishing, or camping. I love live music and shows, so attending concerts, musicals, and plays are some of my favorite things to get dressed up for and do. I scored a ticket to Hamilton when MLA ’19 was in Chicago last year—which was amazing!—and saw the band Chicago in Las Vegas a few months ago, which are the most recent shows I have seen.

Is there anything about you that others might be surprised to know?

I am a huge Disney fan! I grew up in Los Angeles and visited Disneyland a million times, and it never gets old for me. For the last few years, I have been taking adult-only trips with a friend—no kids, no spouses—and have discovered Disney Bounding. My favorite ride is Big Thunder Mountain, and my favorite Disney treat is a Dole Whip. I hope to visit again soon, when my friend and I look forward to participating in an upcoming Dapper Days event. We also plan on going to Disney World to stay in the new immersive Star Wars–themed hotel once it is completed. Did I mention that I was a huge Disney fan?!

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