Sunday, March 04, 2007

The New Health Librarian

At SLAIS' 2nd Annual Job Fair, I had a wonderful chat with health librarian, Karen MacDonell, Co-Manager of the College of Physicians and Surgeons of BC Library. She gave me some fascinating insight this area of librarianship. Here are the highlights:
(1) Personality - Dreamweaver will come and go, but a person's ability to go out for coffee and talk about vacation planning doesn't. In other words, the most important trait for finding the right job candidate comes down to interpersonal skills. What great advice; very practical and makes common sense. Inner traits can't be taught, but everything else can.
(2) Marketing - Librarians need to know how to market their libraries in order to continue funding. Particularly for smaller, special libraries, fundraising is ever so important. Because libraries are forever in danger of being closed down due to budget cuts, librarians need the skills to continue promoting and reminding everyone why their library is important.
(3) Workload - Longer hours, more librarians, less clerical staff. There's increasingly a hierarchical flattening of library organizations. Because librarians are doing more and more, more librarians are getting hired. The flipside of this is that less library assistants are hired to offset these costs unfortunately.
(4) Outreach - Less people are coming to the library, meaning librarians are increasingly required to take the information to the user. This also means that there is increasingly less need of paper (books and journals); rather, users are increasingly asking for PDF's and other electronic documents that can be accessed anywhere and anytime. Hence, wireless technology is increasingly being relied on by users, particularly to facilitate the need for up-to-the-minute information, usually on PDA's. The "wireless" librarian? That's right: it's just around the corner. . .

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