Director’s Viewpoint

What’s in a Name?

Marianne Burke, Dana Medical Library

Marianne Burke, Dana Medical Library

What do the words Circulation or Reference mean to you? A few years ago we took down the large letter signs over the service desks at the front of the Library that said “Circulation” and “Reference”. The terms seemed obscure, especially in a medical library (Circulation, defined as the continuous movement of blood through the heart and blood vessels.)  “Circulation” was where library users checked out and returned books or journal volumes.  “Reference” was the desk with the knowledgeable medical librarian who readily found answers to questions as they arose.

Since research journals, textbooks, and multi-format media are now available on mobile devices and desktops, thousands of downloads of UVM Libraries licensed content are completed each year without a visit to the brick and mortar library. Along with electronic delivery of services (article delivery requests for example), many queries are now answered remotely .

Yet, students, faculty, and clinicians do visit the library every month. They come to the library to study, seek services, find a book, and consult with a librarian (See “Dana Survey asks…” article). In fact, 13,409 items were checked out in FY2015.  As we evaluated services and library use, we learned that most questions, including topic-based collection queries, were answered effectively by the professional staff at the front service desk. Librarians, as liaisons to medical & health science campus departments and education programs, are frequently out of the library.

In January, the front desk (formerly known as Circulation) was officially renamed the Main Desk.  The Reference Desk was taken down, replaced with on-demand librarians for complex queries and research consultation by appointment.  (See Main Desk article.)

Medical libraries are changing, and our names are changing too.  Does the term “reference librarian” still apply without a reference desk? Many academic health science libraries don’t think so.  Depending on their position, librarians are called knowledge managers, research informaticians, information literacy specialists, and informationists.

What do you think? What’s in a name?  Do you prefer the traditional nomenclature and services of the library or can you envision with us an exciting, unfolding future?

Marianne Burke MA AHIP, Library Associate Professor

Director, Dana Medical Library

Library Main Desk helps more than ever

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Main Desk staff assisting patron

After carefully researching the library literature and conducting wide-ranging discussions among Library faculty and staff, Dana closed and removed its Reference Desk in January. Although the word “Reference” may not be used any longer, an on-demand librarian assistance service is still available through the Main Desk. In addition, the Main Desk now answers a variety of questions. Switching to a single service location maximizes library space and better serves patron needs while becoming the central point for help, information, and services at the Library. Stop at the Main Desk to find an e-journal or get started on a PubMed or CatQuest search on your topic!

Research Support

In 2015, the Main Desk staff encountered 1,840 reference questions and, in the first quarter of 2016 (January to March), the new single service Main Desk received 662 reference queries. Main Desk staff are now, more than ever, prepared to answer research questions. However, for more in-depth queries, staff can refer you to the on-demand librarian.

Assistance from librarians is available on a walk-in basis 10 am to 4 pm each weekday. Or make an appointment on the Library’s webpage. Get focused attention for individual or group research.

Student Curriculum and Technical Support

The Main Desk is also the place to go for curriculum support. Access and place materials on reserve, request articles through electronic article delivery and interlibrary loan, gain support for research, get help with database navigation and reserve group study spaces.  Also, check out books, media and print journals and borrow supplies like ethernet & power cables, standup desks, white boards & markers, and headphones.

Get help with technology for printing, scanning, copying, public computers, wireless access, and referral to external IT support. In addition, the library has a lost and found and can provide emergency cleanup supplies.

Staffed by Lesley Boucher (supervisor), John Printon, Brenda Nelson, Colin McClung and Craig Chalone, with the help of student assistants, the Main Desk is available to help you with all your library needs. Contact them at 656-2200 to get started.

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