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Share Your Success: Expanding the Librarian’s Role

Posted by on November 1st, 2013 Posted in: Advocacy

by Karen L. Roth, Manager, Library Services & Knowledge Management, Baycare Health System, Clearwater, FL

After several months of negotiations, I managed to upgrade my position (and salary) along with that of the library assistant (and her salary as well).  My original position was manager of the medical library for Morton Plant Mease Health Care with a half-time (with benefits) library assistant.  In the last 6 months that changed.  My new title is still manager but of library services and knowledgement management.  At this time the “new” job entails running not only the library portion but also all possible knowledge contracts for BayCare, the parent company.  Morton Plant Mease is 4 hospitals, several outpatient centers, lots of doctors and team members.  BayCare is 11 (soon to be 12) hospitals, more outpatient centers, 20,000 team members and probably 4,000 doctors in the Tampa Bay area. 

Physically, we are down to 3 actual library spaces, 1 MLS librarian (me), 1 full-time library services coordinator (originally the half-time library assistant), and 1 full-time research specialist to cover all of BayCare.  I am quickly passing on the daily library work and getting more involved in contracts for BayCare.  I am also presently planning tours at all the BayCare facilities to let everyone know what is available to them and how to access all the material. 

The KM (knowledge management) portion of my new position is still waiting for a fuller definition.  Until I figure that out, I have started working on changing hospital contracts, such as those with Ebsco and Elsevier, into BayCare contracts.  I am trying to keep costs within range since many vendors have decided more employees equals more charges.   Much of the work on contracts is known to me, having negotiated with the same vendors for years.  New vendors are intriguing, trying to sell repackaged products at much elevated prices.  I have begun working with IT more closely, trying to update and reimagine the Physicians’ Portal.  I am also getting involved in the vendor negotiations for the consumer health portion of the public BayCare website ( ).  There are many challenges here because the librarian does not look at these sites the same way the IT professional does.  I find myself trying to educate as well as learn at the same time. 

My reporting structure has also changed.  As librarian for Morton Plant Mease I reported to the Director of Medical Education who is also the head of the one residency program that we have.  I asked to maintain that relationship because I enjoy working on with the faculty and residents and learn much from them.  But now I report to the CMIO, the Chief Medical Informatics Officer.  He is a relatively new person within BayCare and we are learning together how KM will be part of the electronic medical record.

I also have the opportunity to meet more of the doctors and nurses and other staffs in the BayCare facilities.  New faces, new questions make each day different and pose new thoughts.  I believe this new position will continue to grow and embrace new possibilities for many years.

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