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The Symposium on 21st Century Health Sciences Collection Development & Resource Sharing: Meet the Presenters, Part 4

Every week until MLA ‘22 in New Orleans, we'll profile the experts leading each of the six Symposium sessions. This week, Becky Bealer (BB), Jason Burton (JB), Julia Esparza (JE), Connie Manning (CM), and Sylvia McAphee (SA) answer questions about themselves and their session, From Selecting to Weeding: Getting “Hands-On'' with Tools that Help Resources Become a Collection. To learn about all six Symposium sessions, please explore the Symposium booklet.

What are you most looking forward to seeing/eating/experiencing in New Orleans?

JB: Fried seafood is always at the top of my list in New Orleans.

RB: I’m interested in seeing and hearing about what others experience and enjoy, be it their first or fiftieth visit to the city. I’ve lived here most of my life, so I have my own favorites, but having those new perspectives will be wonderful and will likely introduce me to something I’m not familiar with.

JE: My colleagues are the people I’m looking forward to seeing the most at the annual conference. I love meeting and talking with everyone. I’m looking forward to seeing the Vincent van Gogh exhibit and the World War II Museum while I’m in New Orleans.

CM: I am most looking forward to seeing my fellow librarians! I attended my first MLA annual conference in 2019 and had such a wonderful time. Then COVID changed the world. I love the flexibility that virtual conferences have afforded us, but in-person is so special. Plus, it is lovely to visit America’s great cities. I know a lot has changed since I visited New Orleans over 15 years ago, but I bet I can still get a great veggie muffuletta!

SM: I am looking forward to doing at least one tour and a little exploring of the city and its architecture.

What’s a fun or surprising fact about resource management that most librarians don’t know?

JB: I think how much fun it is might be the most surprising part.

RB: Those of us who work on this side of things really love to talk about it and share everything we’ve learned. So don’t ever be afraid to ask us about any of it! Although we can talk your ear off about linking schema, authentication methods, and how we’re part-time detectives when it comes to tracking down problems, we enjoy what we do, and it’s fantastic when others want to hear about it.

JE: I don’t think a lot of health science librarians know how much institutions spend on study prep. This is an area that librarians may be able to offer their expertise.

CM: Adoption of COUNTER statistics by publisher/vendor varies, and not along the lines you would assume. I was surprised that some larger, established publishers are not COUNTER compliant, or they are for some of their platforms but not for others.

SM: Working with resource management makes you a better person to volunteer to work in Public Services, because you get a better view of how to address a question from both sides of a resource.

How did you get started in libraries?

JB: After a grad school pivot to library science, I spent the first six years of my career working at the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health, using my degree on the research side of things. I moved into academic libraries eight years ago.

RB: It all started in high school: I was a member of our Library Club, in part to fulfill annual service hours requirements. That helped me land a work-study job at my university’s law library when in college. That turned into an associate’s position at my current workplace when the folks who loaned me the money to go to that college started wanting it back. Little did I know all of that would give me the opportunity to not only earn my MLIS but continue on to a professional career where what I do directly impacts our patron population every day.

JE: My first job was as a bibliographic/instruction librarian. After a year and a half of that, I spent the next six years as a serial librarian and the electronic resources librarian. I still remember the excitement of purchasing the first site license for my institution.

CM: I majored in Latin in college and had just completed a Master of Arts in Classics when the 2008 recession hit. I was fortunate to find a paraprofessional position at Saint Louis University’s Medical Center Library, and I fell in love with medical libraries. The team at SLU MCL was amazing, and the experience inspired me to pursue my MLIS.

SM: I worked as a work-study student in college.

What’s the most challenging part of resource management for you personally?

JB: It can be a lot of balls in the air at the same time.

RB: The sheer volume of things that require attention and how all of those things are constantly in flux. Nowadays, you are really thinking about resources in the tens of thousands, and every day something needs attention. The work never stops, and every day is a new adventure!

JE: I think the biggest issue is that resources are priced totally outside the prices of common goods in a health or educational facility, where most prices are tied to the consumer price index. Facilities are less and less able to pay the increased prices, and that limits the dollars available for vendor purchases.

CM: The volume of information and tasks to track. This is challenging, but also a blessing, because our resource budget is strong. Our library, which is primarily a digital library, is growing as fast as our progressive institution. Arkansas Colleges of Health Education started with one program in 2017. Today we have four programs, with several in development.

SM: Making time to study new trends and best practices.

What’s the main thing you hope participants will take away from your session?

JB: As with all MLA sessions, I’m hoping for everyone to take something practical back to their work, something that helps them solve a problem or that sparks a new project.

RB: Seeing how all of the bits fit together and how that leads to getting new resources. Sometimes, knowing just a little bit of how it all works pays off when assisting patrons in solving problems.

JE: That the participants will learn about tools that benefit them in their collection development work.

CM: I hope that participants learn that it is okay to start small and scale up over time. I have strong perfectionist tendencies. I struggled at first to accept the limitations, even errors, in managing a large number of resources using basic tools, such as spreadsheets. Fortunately, my colleagues, Director of Library Services, Zahra Kamarei, and Health Sciences Librarian, Sonya Lemke, help me in confirming my approaches and in lending a hand. If you can choose only one tool to start with, teamwork is the best one!

SM: That it is OK to use whatever tools you feel comfortable with to do your job effectively.

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