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Building a Stronger Network: Takeaways from Listening Sessions with Hospital and Academic Health Sciences Librarians

Posted by on June 30th, 2023 Posted in: Blog, General, News from the Region

Building a Stronger Network

Earlier this month, we connected with several hospital and academic health sciences librarians in the region through two structured listening sessions. We listened as they shared what is inspiring and challenging them right now, and learned about their experiences and needs related to NNLM education, engagement, and funding.

We conducted these sessions last year, and they were such informative and enjoyable conversations that we have decided to hold them annually. The feedback we receive helps inform and improve what we offer in the region throughout the year. We also share what we learn with other Network and NLM staff when developing national classes and initiatives.

The Sessions

Two separate, one-hour sessions were held virtually over Zoom – one for hospital librarians and one academic librarians. One representative from each of the seven states in the region was invited to participate in each group. Participants represented a mix of small and large organizations, held different job titles, and had varying years of experience in the field.

The same, straightforward agenda was used for both sessions. The NNLM Region 6 Medical and Academic Library Outreach Coordinator took a couple of minutes to go over the purpose of the session and how she would be conducting it, and then the participants introduced themselves to one another. The rest of the time was spent engaged in conversation around several discussion topics.

Discussion Topics

Click to enlarge


The Feedback

Academic health sciences librarians:

  • Are inspired by their great teams at work and by their libraries receiving recognition from others on campus.
  • Are challenged by having to balance administrative and budget work with their librarian responsibilities.
  • Find PubMed training to be the most valuable, and they go back to basics often.
  • Wish they knew more about when classes were going on.
  • Would like to have “one-stop shopping” training resources for each NLM resource, composed of tutorials and recorded videos.
  • Would like to see more product guides highlighting how resources can be applied in their work and for different users.
  • Would like to see training on grant proposal writing for newbies.
  • Have a huge interest in creating a community of practice dedicated to troubleshooting PubMed searches that would offer an open space to talk through search problems, share success stories, and learn from one another.


Hospital librarians:

  • Are inspired by local support for the library and by receiving recognition for the library’s contribution to evidence-based practice.
  • Are challenged by budget cuts and the time-consuming bureaucracy of getting licensing and vendor contracts approved.
  • Have had their travel budgets cut completely so they cannot attend MLA or Chapter meetings.
  • Are very involved with their nurses.
  • Would love all the ready-to-adapt training materials they can get.
  • Would like to see more offerings like NLM Office Hours that highlight a single resource.
  • Do not have a need for training in data services.
  • Are very interested in Speaker Spotlight sessions on health equity initiatives, diversity and inclusion, and cultural intelligence in the hospital setting.
  • Also have a huge interest in creating a community of practice dedicated to troubleshooting PubMed searches that would offer a safe space to talk about searches and capitalize on each other’s expertise.


The Takeaways

Priorities for NNLM Region 6 education:

  • Find more ways to publicize our training sessions, especially the PubMed classes.
  • Create ready-to-adapt training materials specifically for nurses and nursing students.
  • Build more “one-stop shopping” training opportunities like our CHIS on Demand and Disaster Planning Moodles.
  • Don’t shy away from scheduling trainings and webinars in November and December.
  • Create a Product Guide for our Community Guide to Advance Health Information Equity.

Priorities for NNLM Region 6 engagement:

  • Pilot a PubMed Community of Practice (CoP) to bring together hospital and academic health sciences librarians in the region with an interest in PubMed searching, provide an open and safe space to collaborate on challenging searches, build personal knowledge and skills, and connect with other members.
  • Plan Speaker Spotlight sessions on health equity initiatives, diversity and inclusion, and cultural intelligence in the hospital setting.

Priorities for NNLM Region 6 funding:

  • Offer training on best practices for librarians applying for funding for the first time.

If you would like to share your thoughts on any of the discussion topics, or if you are interested in participating in next year’s listening sessions, please email Erica Lake at erica-lake@uiowa.edu.

Image of the author ABOUT Erica Lake
Erica Lake is the Medical & Academic Library Outreach Coordinator for NNLM Region 6.

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This project has been funded in whole or in part with Federal funds from the National Library of Medicine, National Institutes of Health, Department of Health and Human Services, under Grant Number 1UG4LM012346 with The University of Iowa.

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