On behalf of: Elaine Martin, Director, NN/LM NER & Lamar Soutter Library
It is with mixed emotions that I depart my position as director of the Lamar Soutter Lbrary, University of Massachusetts Medical School (UMMS), Worcester, after 18 years in the position and director of the National Network of Libraries of Medicine, New England Region for the past 15 years. Effective October 3rd, I will assume the position of director and chief executive officer of the Francis A. Countway Library at the Harvard Medical School. While it has been a great pleasure being in Worcester, I am ready for a change and looking forward to the new challenges and opportunities the future holds in Boston.
Certainly one of the highlights of my career at the UMMS was being awarded our first five-year contract to serve as the National Network of Libraries of Medicine, New England Region (NN/LM, NER) in 2001. At that time, I had been at the library less than 3 years and it was seen perhaps as ambitious and maybe a little bit bold to compete for the contract. But with the encouragement and support from you our network members, NAHSL, the hospital librarians group and the resource library directors, we were able to convince the National Library of Medicine reviewers and site visit team that we all were prepared for this responsibility.
Others have heard me say that our RML (e.g., regional medical library as NER is also called) has passed through the various stages of development: from infancy during its first five years, through adolescence (2nd-3rd contracts) and now into adulthood. As we enter this current five-year term (2016-21), we are embarking into our fourth cycle, and at the end of it, we would have been your RML for 20 years! How exciting it has been to be part of that developmental journey. I would like to take this opportunity to call your attention to just some of the many accomplishments we have all achieved during this time.
Our region has led the way in many new and exciting outreach initiatives. We have focused on bringing the National Library of Medicine’s resources and services to both underserved populations and librarians throughout the six New England states. Some of these projects have been through our talented RML office staff and others through you our network members via our robust subcontract and awards programming. Through our Focused Outreach program, we have developed a unique approach for developing the community partnerships and library linkages needed to effectively deliver information to those who need it, when they need it, where they need it, in the format they need it–all within a defined geographical area in order to make a difference there. In addition, network members have received funding for outreach projects that provide public libraries access to consumer health information, linking high school students to careers in the health sciences, and engaging consumers, hospital librarians, outreach workers and health professionals in collaborative programming addressing major public health topics such as opioid addition and veteran’s health. We have led the country in fostering the role of librarians in both Knowledge Management (KM) and eScience, e-research, and big data. In doing so, we have created a KM toolkit and funded pilot projects in hospital libraries throughout the region. With respect to eScience we have formed a community of health sciences, sciences and engineering librarians working together to identify the competencies needed to be able to provide library-based data services, and we offer a variety of programming designed to address the learning needs of this community. We developed a specialized digital library aimed at bringing resources to state public health workers, who normally would have no access to full-text electronic journals. This pilot project has now become a national initiative.
Most of all, what I have experienced, is that you our regional members are open to exploring new ways, new technologies and new collaborations that enhance librarian roles in the provision of health information to those who need it. There are a remarkable number of leaders I have had the pleasure to work with over these many years. While too many to mention all, I would like to give a shout out to just a few who have helped shaped our region over the years: Tovah Reis and Marianne Slocomb (both now retired)—for their work with the public libraries and health sciences libraries in Rhode Island; Kenny Marone (also retired)—for her consumer health initiatives in New Haven; Marianne Burke (VT) –for her work in rural medicine; Janet Cowen (retired) and Patty Kahn—for their work with in HSLIC in Maine; Margo Colletti (MA) for her teaching us Knowledge Management and Anne Fladger (MA) for her work on the Hospital Library Advocacy Committee. It was a privilege for me to have had the opportunity to work with all of these outstanding library leaders.
Finally, I can’t leave this position, without recognizing the hard-working and dedicated librarians who have served you as the RML staff over the years. Those early founders of this RML (Debbie Sibley, Javier Crespo, Mark Goldstein, Penny Glassman, Michelle Eberle) took an empty office space in Shrewsbrury (since there wasn’t space at the Lamar Soutter Library) and built the backbone of the program we have today. I leave the RML in great hands, under the leadership of Mary Piorun. She has served as the RML associate director and now as acting director of the library and NER. She and the current staff are ready and able to continue delivering the exciting and innovative programs and services envisioned many years ago throughout the remainder of this grant period and beyond. I wish them and all of you much success. And I look forward to working with you all in different collaborations in my new role at the Countway.