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Farewell, Sherri!

This month, September 2008, marks the resignation of Sherri Fuller as director of the University of Washington Health Sciences Libraries and as our director of the RML.

Thinking about Sherri and the RML, it is very difficult to encapsulate what she has meant to our program, and our region. And, that challenge (how to do so adequately?) is not the point of this post. But, I know that many projects instigated or taken on by Sherri have made a difference in the direction that NLM has taken with the RML program. I’m thinking of several examples such as: Bench to Bedside, the NN/LM Outreach Evaluation project, Tribal Connections, Web-STOC, and most recently public health informatics (i.e. myPublicHealth).

Indeed, in getting to know Sherri, I have learned that she is one of those individuals who has tremendous influence on whatever she takes on– in her career, in her community, in her life. I would not be so presumptuous to figure out how that happens… what is so special about her. But, I know some of it must stem from her brilliant mind, full of curiosity, as much as capacity; and her uncanny ability to make connections and see patterns, solutions, linkages, that may not be apparent at first, but seem obvious after she points them out!

What I have also learned about Sherri is that she is *fun*! For example, I have fond memories of Sherri in tow when making network member visits around the region. One such trip was a few years back when several of us, including Sherri, were lucky enough to make a road trip through southern Idaho, driving from Idaho Falls to Boise, visiting as many network members as we could schedule. There were 4 of us in our rental car, and our conversation ranged widely over many entertaining and interesting topics, while we enjoyed beautiful scenery, and looked forward to our next library visit. As you might guess, much of the conversation was about books. Sherri will freely admit to being a prolific, if eclectic reader!

During the drive, we asked her to recount again how she became a hospital librarian. You’ll want to read the whole story, which she includes in her Janet Doe Lecture, presented at the Ninety-ninth Annual Meeting, Medical Library Association, Chicago, Illinois, on May 17, 1999. But, briefly, while she was a middle school teacher of biology and English in a small town in Mississippi, she told her next door neighbor of her recent library science degree (an MLS from Indiana University) and interest in working in a hospital library. Her neighbor (a hospital administrator for Gulfport Memorial Hospital) told her to go for it! Thus, Sherri’s career began—she literally started the hospital library at Gulfport Memorial.

Something about this story sounds very familiar. Maybe it’s because Sherri has always been a terrific networker, identifying and seizing opportunities, with positive spirit and conviction. In fact, she can be almost unstoppable in that regard! But, it’s that characteristic of hers, and so many other unique qualities of Sherri’s, that will be missed tremendously in the RML.

To Sherri–best wishes, congratulations, and most of all – thank you! I hope we stay in close touch.

To readers of this post– if you haven’t already, be sure to visit this month’s homepage on HealthLinks, featuring Sherri, and highlighting many of her outstanding accomplishments and contributions to date.

(As a side note, when writing this post tonight, I realized that Sherri’s first hospital library is under possible siege by Hurricane Gustav. Quickly going to our Network Member Directory, I find that Roberta L. Burman Medical Library at Memorial Hospital at Gulfport is a DOCLINE library, but the library website is not available. Instead the library page automatically forwards a searcher to the Digital Disaster Response system for the hospital. The system reports that, as of 9:20 pm Eastern Time on September 1, the patients and staff who were at Memorial Hospital during Gustav are safe, and relief teams are asked to report to work on Tues, September 2).

One Response to “Farewell, Sherri!”

  1. Susan Barnes Says:

    Who knew that Sherri established a hospital library in Gulfport, MS? Not me!

    I owe Sherri a lot and am very grateful to her for the impact she has had on my career. First, she decided not to hire me for the first job that I applied for at the UW Health Sciences Library. Thank goodness! Then, she decided to hire me for the second, much better job I applied for, which was the Network/DOCLINE Coordinator position with the RML. Thank goodness thank goodness! A few years later, she promoted me into my current position of Assistant Director, NN/LM Outreach Evaluation Resource Center. This position has provided all kinds of opportunities to challenge myself, to grow and learn, to have my suspicions that I would not like Houston confirmed, to learn that Oklahoma City is a very nice place, and to have many new experiences.

    Thank you, Sherri, and congratulations on following your dream into the arena of global public health informatics!