For National Medical Librarians Month, we will be shining a light on Liz Kellermeyer, MSLS, AHIP, the Director of Library & Knowledge Services, National Jewish Health in Denver, Colorado. Below is an interview with Ms. Kellermeyer about her experience being a medical librarian.
Can you give us the elevator speech rundown of your medical librarian career?
I first joined NJH in 2010 as the Executive Assistant to the Chair of the Department of Medicine, where I spent four years getting to know the faculty and institution before deciding to pursue an MS in Library Science. I joined the medical library team at NJH in 2014 and have since had the unique experience of having been in all the roles at the library—starting as the tech, moving into the Biomedical Research Librarian spot, and finally leading as the Director.
What prompted you to become a medical librarian?
I fell into medical librarianship, but it’s been a terrific fit for my skills and interests.
What are your research interests or top work activities?
I am very interested in how the library can be an integrated partner for different departments at the institution. I enjoy statistics and metrics and believe in their power to tell important stories to relevant stakeholders. I think the intersection of health sciences librarianship and DEI work is crucial and I am always looking for opportunities to continue research and advocacy in these areas.
What is your favorite librarian tool?
One of my favorite tools is Rayyan, a free tool designed to help with systematic reviews, though I use it mostly for less rigorous literature reviews. It has a lot of great features that offer a nice workflow for an initial screening process. It’s an easy way to introduce a systematic review structure to less intensive searches and you can’t beat the price.
What do you think are the most important challenges that medical librarians face?
It’s not a particularly original answer, but I do think one of our continuing challenges is always going to be advocacy for our existence. Even where health sciences libraries are well established, there are always new models of information service that seem to threaten our need to exist. If the people who hold the purse strings don’t fundamentally understand what we do, and if we are not constantly working to showcase the relevance of our services the flexibility of our expertise, we run the risk of seeming irrelevant or outdated. It’s a lot of work to do on top of all the actual library work we do, and we’re not always equipped to market ourselves robustly.
Please tell us about an interaction with a library user that gave you a lot of satisfaction.
I enjoy a challenge, like when I am asked to help with a search on a topic that the researcher is sure there is nothing published on. Often I’m able to find much more than they thought would be out there and their response of surprise and excitement is always a nice boost.
Dana Abbey is an Engagement Coordinator with the Network of the National Library of Medicine, Region 4. For over 15 years, she has worked to improve the public’s access to reliable information to enable informed decisions regarding health, and to enhance access to evidence-based research for clinicians and the public health workforce.