Informationist Education

National Institutes of Health Library, Bethesda, MD 10892-1150, USA.
Medical Reference Services Quarterly 02/2008; 27(3):339-47. DOI: 10.1080/02763860802199034
Source: PubMed


The National Institutes of Health (NIH) funds biomedical research and conducts its own research. One way the NIH Library supports this work is by providing librarians with biomedical training and encouraging them to become embedded with researchers and administrators. Some of these "informationists" have degrees in scientific or health fields, and all engage in ongoing training, mostly through coursework at local institutions and at NIH itself. This article elaborates on the training of NIH informationists. Past research has indicated that patrons welcome librarians with biomedical training, which may in turn lead to greater communication between librarians and researchers.

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    ABSTRACT: Because the information world of medical professionals is complex and ever-expanding, a new set of information professionals is needed to serve as a liaison between that world of information and the world of medicine. Davidoff and Florance [1] raised many of these issues when they proposed the concept of the “informationist” – someone who possesses both clinical knowledge and information retrieval skills and expertise. The Institute of Medicine [7] also underscored the need for evidence-based information in the reduction of errors and the delivery of quality care, and identified the need for more training of clinicians in informatics skills and knowledge. Several alternative approaches to educating medical informationists have been proposed and/or field tested. One approach is to train librarians to become informationists. To illustrate this approach, Detlefsen [2] presented a case study of someone with an MLIS degree who uses Vanderbilt’s on-the-job training program to gain additional medical expertise and move into an informationist position in an academic setting. She also encourages medical librarians to consider augmenting their training with a degree or certificate in medical informatics [3]. This is also the approach used at the NIH Library [8]. A second approach is to educate informationists through biomedical informatics programs like the one at the Oregon Health Sciences University [4]. A third approach is the AMIA 10x10 combination of a single course plus a one-day face-to-face session, covering a range of topics in medical informatics and related areas [6]. A fourth approach has been implemented through a dual degree program offered at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill (UNC) and Duke University [5]. In this program, medical students from Duke use their third year to complete the master’s degree in information science at UNC. During this roundtable discussion, proponents of these alternative approaches will be available to describe the advantages of the approach with which they’re most familiar, and discuss the strengths and weaknesses of each approach. This roundtable will be of interest to all those involved in medical/health informatics education, or planning related programs. In this informal discussion setting, participants will be able to express their concerns and share their experiences.
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    ABSTRACT: OBJECTIVE: The goal of this study is to explore the impact of an informationist program at the National Institutes of Health (NIH) Library and to provide a basis for further program assessment. In 2001 the NIH Library began its informationist program, where librarians with training in both biomedicine and information science work alongside researchers. The goal of the program is to facilitate researchers' access to and usage of information resources. METHODS: The researchers used qualitative interviews with key informants to characterize the current informationist services of user groups. Subjects were selected to capture a variety of activities that would show patterns of how the program assists the researchers of various NIH groups. Following the interviews, the authors extracted recurring and significant themes from the subjects' comments. RESULTS: Interview subjects provided their views on the informationists' skills, impact, and team participation. Research results documented that informationists helped find resources, provided instruction, and worked as part of the research team. The NIH groups currently using this service value their informationists' knowledge of library resources and their ability to access information needs quickly. The informationists' skills in finding information save the researchers time, increase the efficiency of the research team, and complement the contributions of other team members. Training by informationists was found useful. Informationist services led to increased self-reported library use, albeit in some cases this use was entirely via the informationist. CONCLUSIONS: Informationists saved researchers time by obtaining requested information, finding esoteric or unfamiliar resources, and providing related training. These activities appeared to be facilitated by the acceptance of the informationist as part of the research team. This exploratory study provides background that should be useful in future, more extensive evaluations.
    Full-text · Article · Jan 2009 · Evidence Based Library and Information Practice
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    ABSTRACT: Embedded librarianship gives librarians a prime opportunity to have a direct, positive impact in a clinical setting, classroom setting, or within a working group by providing integrated services that cater to the group's needs. Extending embedded librarian services beyond the various physical settings and into online classrooms is an exceptional way for librarians to engage online learners. This group of students is growing rapidly in numbers and could benefit greatly from having library services and resources incorporated into their classes. The author's services as an embedded librarian in fully online courses at a medium-sized university will be discussed, as will strategies, lessons learned, and opportunities for engaging in this realm. To develop a foundation of knowledge on embedded librarianship, an overview of this topic is provided.
    No preview · Article · Jan 2010 · Medical Reference Services Quarterly
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