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NEC Spotlight April 2nd, 2023
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NEC Profile: Karen Gutzman, Northwestern

Posted by on January 26th, 2023 Posted in: NEC Profile

Emerging early in her career, Karen Gutzman, MSLS, MA, nurtured a “deep appreciation” for the Network of the National Library of Medicine’s (NNLM) perpetuation of library leadership. As a former Associate Fellow with the U.S. National Library of Medicine, she has long recognized the fundamental resources libraries provide at the forefront of healthcare advancement and the communal knowledge experience. 

As part of the fellowship, I learned about the immense impact of the network and gleaned everything I could about library leadership from conversations with directors of NNLM Regional Libraries,” says Gutzman. “I am incredibly thankful for the time and effort that these leaders gave to me and the other fellows, so that we could learn from them.”

These internalized lessons helped bridge a natural transition to Gutzman’s current role as an NNLM National Evaluation Center librarian specializing in data visualization, bibliometrics, and information dissemination. She attests to the importance of library preservation and acknowledgement for societal benefit; functioning as head of the Dissemination and Impact core within the NEC, she argues the necessity for libraries to be accessible for both public and academic audiences by virtue of the service benefits they provide.

Libraries are incredibly important hubs to improve literacy, support education, and enhance healthcare in our society. In many ways, libraries are being undermined by lack of funding, battles around censorship, and the complexities of information access.”

For this reason, she is appreciative of the NNLM for their continued acknowledgement and support of library ventures — especially in the current pandemic climate.

“The NNLM supports libraries, library workers, and their communities by providing funding for public health activities, access to quality health information, and training on NLM resources and products. I can’t imagine a more useful and critical mission in these ongoing days of the COVID-19 pandemic, and I am glad to have even my small part in it.”

After earning her undergraduate degree in biological sciences at South Dakota State University, Gutzman became a registered EMT-paramedic, which eventually led her to working in children’s health research with the National Children’s Study Center. Before coming to Northwestern, Gutzman worked for two years as a fellow with the U.S. National Library of Medicine. She spent one year on the National Institutes of Health campus learning more about their services and working on projects related to information standards. Her second year was spent at Becker Medical Library at Washington University in St. Louis, learning more about research impact assessment and evaluation, which ultimately influenced her decision to come to Northwestern.

Gutzman is grateful for the chance to work with NNLM staff members and the insight gained through these communicative staff activities.

I think my favorite part of the job are the conversations I get to have with staff at regional libraries and the other offices and centers. I learn so much from all that they do, and I am so thankful for their work, in creating opportunities and supporting our communities — this is such a unique and important role.”

An additional goal of Gutzman’s entails data analysis and visualization, a passion she enjoys in enhancing comprehension of evaluation center topics. As such, Gutzman and her team are leading the NNLM Data Visualization Challenge. Gutzman understands highlighting and visualizing connectivity is vital to the library service interface.

“I am very excited to support the Data Visualization Challenge so that other data-viz lovers can get recognition and kudos for their amazing work. We will begin accepting submissions in February.”

Written by Alex Miranda

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NNLM Evaluation Center (NEC)
Galter Health Sciences Library & Learning Center
Northwestern University
Feinberg School of Medicine
320 E. Superior St.
Chicago, IL 60611

Phone: (312) 503-8126
Email: nec@northwestern.edu

This project is funded by the National Library of Medicine (NLM), National Institutes of Health (NIH) under cooperative agreement number UG4LM012343 with the University of Washington.

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