Monday, September 10, 2012


For the past few weeks I have been acting as the interim director for the Palmer College library system. I am not, like everyone else who works in the library, trained as a librarian, and these past weeks have been filled with significant educational adventures. I have a much higher respect for the work our librarians do, and I already held them in high respect before.  There are intricacies in the library that users may never consider. But I will ask you to.

So, consider. There you are, at your desk, looking for some piece of information that you think you can find with a good literature search. You log onto the Library website, click on the link to information resources, and then click on PubMed. You type in a few key words (words that if you are unsure what to use, our resource librarians can certainly help you find), and voila!, there is a paper you can use. You click on the link to the paper, and PubMed then gives you the abstract. You decide you want the full paper. And so you look at the upper right of your screen, seeing a button there that provides the direct link to the full paper. You click it, and a pdf opens, which you then save for later use.

Pretty easy! Well, for you it is pretty easy. That link did not occur by magic, though. It had to be put there, and a librarian put it there for you to use. An entire series of steps took place, all invisible and behind the scenes, that made it possible for you to both find and save that paper. It started with Collection Management, for example, working on the site licenses and subscriptions that allow us to have those links. Palmer spends a great deal of money to obtain access to journals. Links have to be made so that you can obtain papers internally in the institution, and externally from your home or mobile device. Proxy servers are used. Everything is logged in. The website has to be managed, so that you can use it to find links. That is done via Access Services.

When you don’t even know what you need to find, you seek help from an Information Librarian, who in the case of Palmer College also has expertise in evidence-based medicine. If the piece of information you need is archival or older, you might also avail yourself of Special Collections, where for example we hold papers dating back to the early history of our profession.
The library of today is not the same brick and mortar operation we grew up with. Information technology has completely revolutionized libraries, and specialized computer systems allow us to locate information. You may not know what Sirsi-Dynix is, but it is the framework on which our library operates. We have a great library, and I hope you can take time to send a quick note of thanks to everyone working in it. They are usually behind the curtain, so to say, but all them make our life immeasurably easier.

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