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Inspiring People in the Region: Marilyn Teolis, Saint Thomas Health, Nashville, TN

Posted by on January 10th, 2013 Posted in: All Posts

Marilyn Teolis
Library & Information Services Coordinator
Saint Thomas Health, Baptist Campus
Nashville TN

How long have you been a librarian?

In 1981, I started as an Evening Supervisor at the Western Psychiatric Library and Clinic while I was earning my MLS at the University of Pittsburgh. My first professional position was as a reference librarian for Amp, Inc., which is now part of Tyco Electronics. I‘ve had the good fortune to work in medical libraries since 1984.

How long have you been at your current library/in your current position?

I have been on the Baptist Hospital Campus of Saint Thomas Health for 16 years.

What made you decide to be a librarian?

In college I created a course utilizing both the English and Biology departments since I wanted to be a technical writer. One of my class assignments was to create an exhaustive bibliography on caves, bats, and spelunking for the last 25 years. After I tried online searching, I decided I’d much rather be a librarian!

What do you consider your biggest work related challenge?

The greatest challenge is obtaining adequate resources while costs are escalating in a time of stagnant or shrinking budgets.

What do you consider to be the most fulfilling part of your job?

I get the most satisfaction from assisting clinicians so they can make the best evidenced based decisions to provide their patients with the highest quality of care. I especially enjoy working with patients and their families.

What do you see as the biggest concerns in health sciences librarianship?

Health science librarians have to be at the forefront of technology, so we can harness it to deliver information in the most effective ways. We are continually redefining our roles to meet this challenge.  One of my patrons summed it up when he said,” I see you outside the library all the time. The days of the library being inside walls don’t exist any more.”

How did you first come to know NN/LM SE/A?

I learned about them through their listserv. Since I had worked in another region before coming to Tennessee, I knew there would be a counterpart for this region.

Has the NN/LM SE/A been of help to you?

NN/LM SE/A has been an immeasurable help to our library. I received funding for a kiosk project to provide MedlinePlus tutorials to three of our clinics that serve patients who have an income far below the poverty level. An expansion of this project provided tutorials to our three Diabetic Clinics. It enabled us to make topics available in Spanish for our clinic where 90% of the patients were native Spanish speakers.

When our library was relocated and converted to a mostly digital library, NN/LM SE/A provided financial assistance for this effort and made it possible for anyone to have a virtual tour of our library at the web site

Will you share a success story about your library?

One of our biggest success stories was creating a web site adding pictures to MedlinePlus tutorials, so they could be used on a touch screen kiosk (mentioned above). This assisted patient with low health literacy skills because the narrator read the tutorial to the viewer. Our University of Tennessee physicians selected the most frequently diagnosed conditions at the clinic as topics. Then they used information prescriptions to recommend which tutorial(s) a patient should see.

The vendor of MedlinePlus tutorials liked the resulting web site. Therefore, they developed a professionally produced version of the tutorials in English and Spanish.

What advice would you give others who are interested in being a health sciences librarian?

Work in the health care field is very rewarding particularly when you are helping patients and their families. Every day is different from the one before it. There are many opportunities to utilize your skills and interests.

For further information, please contact Sheila Snow-Croft at

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