Farewell from Neil Rambo
Editor’s Note: Neil Rambo has served as Acting Director of the Pacific Northwest Regional Medical Library for the past two years. He has served NN/LM PNR and the University of Washington Libraries for the past two decades. Neil will be leaving us this month for New York City, where he will be the Director of the NYU Health Science Libraries and Knowledge Informatics, and Director of NN/LM’s Mid-Atlantic Regional Medical Library. We wish Neil all the best in his new endeavors!
I don’t look back much. I always feel I don’t have time to reflect; only a need to move on. I’m sure that’s a mistake: I could make the time and my output would probably be improved with a dose of reflection. But as I enter the last few days of my long stint at the University of Washington and in the Pacific Northwest region, I can’t help but reflect on what has gone before. Sorting through things in my office – tossing a few of them into a box to ship to the next stop – is like looking through a kaleidoscope, of sorts, of changes.
The National Network of Libraries of Medicine, Pacific Northwest Region, has evolved from the venerable Pacific Northwest Regional Health Sciences Library Service, and has changed in more than just name. I am struck by what a different world we lived in when I showed up here (21 years ago):
- Although we used email (who remembers OnTyme?) we were largely dependent on print publications to communicate with network members.
- Outreach, a mainstay of the national and regional program for, it seems, forever, was a new and untried idea. This region led the way by piloting a project to test the viability of librarian outreach to health professionals. Outreach was possible with the then new portable computer equipment, modems, and the dial-up time-share networks.
- Grateful Med, of course, was the primary tool of the experimental outreach.
- A document delivery module for Grateful Med was in the discussion stage. A few years later it would debut as Loansome Doc.
- We also led in promoting the use of the Internet by hospital libraries. It’s hard now to think of the Internet and not more or less equate it with the Web, but we began by promoting and providing training in the use of Gopher and other information retrieval and navigation technologies.
You get the point. It has been a transformational time. And we continue to transform our roles and our organizations, using technology and the new opportunities that emerge to improve knowledge management to support an astonishing range of goals: from improved patient care to enhanced research, to healthy communities.
As I prepare to move across the country to take on the challenges of a very different region, I am reminded of the collective ability of the Pacific Northwest region and its members to innovate and forge ahead. I’m grateful to have had the opportunity to be part of it. Thank you for your support through this journey.
The Pacific Northwest is my home and I plan to stay connected. For now, there are challenges to wrestle with, whether on the West Coast or the East Coast, and I wish us all the best as we look ahead and move forward!
Neil Rambo, Acting Director, National Network of Libraries of Medicine, Pacific Northwest Region