Submitted by Aidy Weeks, AHIP; edited by JJ Pionke
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Institution: Health Sciences Library, University of Nevada–Las Vegas
Title: Graduate Medical Education Liaison Librarian and Collections Manager
Brief description of responsibilities
In my role at the University of Nevada–Las Vegas (UNLV) Health Sciences Library, I provide liaison support to the Graduate Medical Education (GME) Department of the UNLV School of Medicine. This includes physician faculty, residents, fellows, GME staff, and program coordinators. I support them through library consultations, orientations, presentations, and service on GME committees. I also serve as the collections manager for the library, and in this role, I support the acquisitions and management of our library’s print and online collections.
Why is MLA important to you?
MLA is important to me because it is the only professional organization exclusively for medical/hospital/health sciences library professionals and staff. MLA provides us with a platform to learn from one another and to collaborate on research and projects, and provides the tools and mentorship opportunities to become future leaders in this specialized profession.
Why did you become a librarian?
I became a librarian because of my love for knowledge and the belief that knowledge is powerful. I started my career in libraries as a public library staff member and learned firsthand how crucial it was to help my community with access to information and access to tools that leveraged their ability to apply for jobs, complete school projects, or start a business. I would continue my service of connecting others to information in a medical library setting and see how my skill set helped patients, their caregivers, physicians, nurses, and allied health and hospital workers get access to evidence-based information for critical patient-care decision making, which really impressed on me the need to pursue a degree in librarianship.
What was your first library job or first professional position?
My first library job was right after I graduated from high school. I was a community relations aide for the Community Relations Department of the Orange County Library System. In my role, I assisted professional staff in creating signage for adult library programs, reserved meeting rooms for community groups, participated in library events, and provided assistance during the annual book sale. I was very fortunate to work with a team who loved putting together great programs for the local community.
What is your advice to someone taking on a new role in leadership in MLA or in some other capacity?
My advice to someone taking on a new role in leadership is to connect with past leaders in the new role you are serving in. Be sure to gather background information, history, and any important documents. Always keep those you support informed; communication and transparency are always key. Also, connect to a mentor with leadership experience who can provide guidance, advice, and resources to review/read in helping you become a good leader. Finally, take a break when you need to. Leading takes a lot of work, and it’s okay to set boundaries and step away to refresh.
What has been the most interesting project you have worked on?
The most interesting project I have worked on is Orlando Health UpSkill. I cofounded this program when I was a hospital librarian at Orlando Health. We supported frontline and mid-management hospital workers by providing free computer classes, primarily with Microsoft Office programs. It was a huge collaborative effort with other hospital departments and lasted three years. Stephanie Harris, AHIP, Florida Hospital Center for CREATION Health Research, Orlando, FL, and I will be publishing a case study about the program in the upcoming book, Planning and Promoting Library Events.
What do you consider to be the most pressing issues or trends in librarianship?
I consider the most pressing issues or trends in librarianship to be the need to support and mentor Black, Indigenous, and People of Color (BIPOC) library students, staff, and librarians to better retain them in this field and prepare them for future positions of leadership.
What do you do in your spare time?
In my spare time, to have fun or to relax, I do some house plant care and work on my patio. I’m trying to create a mini oasis in our backyard. I love bringing home new plants and watching them grow. Planting in the desert has been interesting. I’m also fortunate to have met other librarians who share a mutual love of plants, too!
Five words to describe you
Inquisitive, detail-oriented, supportive, bilingual, perpetual learner.
Is there anything about you that others might be surprised to know?
Others might be surprised to know that my career in libraries spans sixteen years (and counting), and I have been a librarian for five years.