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On the Road, with Health Sciences Librarians

Posted by on October 19th, 2017 Posted in: News from Network Members

To celebrate Medical Librarian’s Month we have invited medical librarians in our region to submit some information about who they are and the work that they do as medical librarians.

Today we hear from a  health sciences librarian in Montana!

Who am I? Sheila Bonnand, Research & Instruction Librarian

Where do I work? Montana State University Library, Bozeman, Montana

Mary Anne and Sheila (right), on the road

What is it I do?  I can’t describe a typical ‘day in the life’ because the work I do as an academic librarian is so very varied  – and the last six months have been even more atypical. Why? During that time, I was often on the road, driving over 3000 miles across our amazing state with my colleague, Mary Anne Hansen, visiting Montana’s seven tribal college libraries as well as four MSU-College of Nursing sites.

Mary Anne and I are our library’s health sciences librarians. As such, one of our important partnerships is with the College of Nursing (CON). The CON focuses on evidence-based nursing so does not need to be convinced of the importance of the library and librarians; we work regularly with classes as well as with individual faculty and students on information literacy efforts.

The College, however, comes with a big challenge: it is a multi-campus program. There is no community in the state big enough to provide the number of clinical placements needed. Because of this, in addition to the main campus in Bozeman, there are CON branches in Billings, Great Falls, Kalispell, and Missoula.

In order to address the distributed nature of the program, MSU library invested early in using online tools to reach faculty and students. Mary Anne and I have been teaching library instruction sessions via web conferencing for a number of years and also use it for one-on-one research consultations. As helpful as web conferencing and other online communications are to keep in touch with our CON students and faculty, over the years we’ve become convinced that face-to-face contact is equally as important. We also think our work needs to be informed by knowledge about the CON branch campuses. This was our impetus to apply for an NNLM PNR community outreach grant – we wanted to be able to meet busy CON faculty and students where they are and connect in a more personal way. Hence days on the road and miles racked up! Our final trip ended on September 22.

What have been some of the outcomes so far from these in-person visits to our CON campuses? Definitely some intangibles – we heard from folks on each campus how happy they were that we made the effort to visit their facilities. We also heard questions starting with “‘I meant to email you about this …’ But we’ve also started to see some tangible results. For example, we were already invited to meet via web conferencing with Kalispell faculty who couldn’t make our in-person meeting. While on site in Billings, the director there extended an invitation to return to Billings meet with 180+ students at their January orientation. We’ve been contacted by students at these locations for research consultations (and they mentioned meeting us while we were on their campuses). We strengthened collaborations with local librarians who also work with CON students by inviting, for example, our colleagues at Great Falls College join us in a joint presentation to nursing faculty about services available at both of our libraries. We anticipate further positive results over the course of the school year.

We are so privileged to be able to get the support to do this work. Thanks, NNLM PNR! Now about our visits to the seven tribal college libraries – you’ll have to join us for our PNR Partners webinar on October 31!

Image of the author ABOUT Carolyn Martin
Carolyn Martin is the Consumer Health Coordinator for the NNLM Pacific Northwest Region. She works with various libraries and community organizations to increase health literacy in their communities.

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Developed resources reported in this program are supported 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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