SLA was lucky enough to arrange and enjoy a tour of the Health Sciences Library at UW on 10.27! The tour was a small success, led by Ann Gleason, the Associate Director of the library. We were joined also by Frances Chu, and Nikki Dettmar.
The tour began with a walk-through of the upper floor of the library, which has been designed as a common study space room. The large expansive area with little walls or barriers facilitates group and solo study with a comfortably low level of chatter. The upper floor also contains many computers available for medical student’s testing, classes, and general use. In addition to these study spaces, there is an off-shoot of the Odegaard Undergraduate Library Writing Center, with tutors who are specifically knowledgeable in medical jargon.
The lower floor was a different space entirely. The study spaces were much more quiet, as the librarians noted that sometimes students shushed them, instead of the other way around. Due to the transfer to online access, the librarians referred to their stacks as the “ever shrinking bookshelves”. Despite this, they can boast a large number of physical journals. As the lower floor gets quieter and darker, there are some books to be found.
We were also able to see how the library is evolving as they move books off site and respond to user’s needs. Including the writing center, the library is transitioning staff cubicles into student-used spaces. Currently, the library is working on establishing an audio-visual recording area (contact the librarians for how to get access to this!) and a media-focused conference room.
After the tour, we had the chance to sit down with the librarians and pick their brains about their current jobs, career trajectories, and how the library functioned within the larger campus environment. We tried to find out exactly what their jobs looked like, but it was difficult to pin down. All the librarians mentioned that if you liked variety, health sciences is a great place to experience it.
While the job description varies for these librarians, I have tried to make a rough outline. Their jobs include school related things, orientation, teaching students how to search, etc., publishing (conferences, systematic reviews – which are literature reviews but incredibly more intensive, from what I gathered), administrative duties (assessment, user experience), and reference.
It was a wonderful, knowledgeable experience, and SLA is very grateful to have hosted it. If you were not able to make it to the tour, we encourage to you to look around the health sciences website, or any of the resources listed below. As an additional plug, Ann Gleason teaches an online health science library course in the spring, so be sure to look out for LIS 528 HLTH SCI INFO!