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A Message from the RML Director: Fall 2009

A real sense of excitement has taken hold at the GMR Office this year.  The GMR staff are packing their bags and exhibit cases, not to go return to school like expectant students, but to meet with you at your libraries and conferences in your home setting.  It’s our favorite time of the year because we get to learn more about you, your concerns, and your ideas, and what better way to build our relationships than to share your experience in your home states.

GMR staff will be traveling to conferences in every state in the region except Indiana from the end of September to the beginning of November.  In essentially a five-week stretch of time, they will present continuing education courses, host exhibits, and talk with you about your needs, the services that we provide, and ongoing ways to link the two for the benefit of the members and the health professionals and consumers that we all serve.

We will also be out in full force at the MLA Midwest Chapter meeting in Columbus, Ohio, on October 2-6.  Ruth Holst, Associate Director, and Jacqueline Leskovec, Outreach and Evaluation Coordinator, will present a course on using evaluation for library advocacy.  Holly Burt, Outreach and Exhibits Coordinator, will be teaching two PubMed courses, and Max Anderson, Technology Coordinator, will be teaching courses on making pod casts and super searching.  For details, see the MC/MLA conference program site ( Ruth and I will also be holding a Town Hall meeting to gather your input and ideas on GMR programs and activities. Start thinking about what you want us to know.  When you’re in Columbus, please stop by the GMR exhibit booth to say hello and share what’s been happening at your library.

The GMR Town Hall meeting in Columbus continues the conversations that Ruth and I are organizing to explore what GMR can improve or change or begin doing as we consider the initiatives of the past four years and look to the next contract period.  In the past several months, we met with the Resource Library Directors and the Regional Advisory Council, as well as reflecting on these questions in a GMR staff retreat.   The Library of the Health Sciences Department Heads also considered our priorities in outreach, informatics, medical history, and collections through the lens of a Regional Medical Library. These conversations will continue as we prepare for the close of one contract period and the beginning of the next one.  Even if we haven’t contacted you specifically, we welcome your thoughts and ideas about the work of the GMR.

The GMR staff did not claim all travel opportunities for ourselves this fall. The Resource Library Directors met at the University of Illinois at Chicago on September 10, 2009.  We enjoyed a spirited discussion about the changing environment for interlibrary loan.  A trend toward more centralized approach to operations in our institutions is having an impact in those providing ILL services and what tasks they are doing.  Other topics – impact of the economy on library budgets, integration of the “community engagement” mission of institutions with the “outreach” mission of the National Network of Libraries of Medicine, and service continuity for emergency preparedness – sparked equally avid discussions.  The Resource Library Directors also provided insights and feedback on the next NN/LM contract.  Among their concerns were standardized language in product licenses, expanding the conception of outreach beyond consumers, subsidizing academic libraries that perform ILL services on behalf of hospital libraries, and exploring meaningful uses of the Electronic Health Record.  There was also interest in fellowships and other programs to help train librarians in these technology-intensive skills.

Further sharing the fun of fall travel, the Regional Advisory Council (RAC) met on September 15, 2009, also at the University of Illinois at Chicago.  This diverse group is comprised of representatives from key constituency groups, such as academic health sciences libraries, hospital libraries, community based organizations, health departments, and public libraries, and it also includes the ten State Representatives.  Their discussions were organized around the framework of the RAC Working Groups, including advocacy for libraries, emergency preparedness, public health, consumer health, communication, and e-licensing.  These dynamic colleagues presented a wealth of exciting ideas that will have significant impact once they are implemented.  The RAC also discussed how to continue to develop the effectiveness of the RAC group, and more specifically, how to make the best use of the time and expertise of the non-librarians who participate in this body.

Finally, a couple of exciting initiatives are in the planning stages at this time.  We issued an invitation to submit a proposal to conduct a study of the impact of the GMR to library science schools and programs within our region.  The study, to be conducted by library school students, will examine the impact that GMR funding has had on the recipient institutions’ ability to conduct local outreach projects.  Also, the Library of the Health Sciences at the University of Illinois is refining a proposal to convert its long-standing, three-day Evidence-Based Medicine course to an asynchronous, distance learning model, an initiative that emerged from the NLM Site Visit held at the University of Illinois at Chicago last summer.

To close, enjoy your opportunities for travel during the fall, especially the opportunities to visit other libraries and meet with other colleagues in the health sciences field.

Kate Carpenter

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