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SEA Currents

Newsletter of the NN/LM Southeastern/Atlantic Region

Inspiring People in our Region: Jan Orick - Biomedical Library, St. Jude’s Children’s Research Hospital

Jan Orick
Director, Biomedical Library
St. Jude’s Children’s Research Hospital
Memphis, TN

How long have you been a librarian?

I received my masters in 1989 from LSU. Prior to that, I worked in libraries in high school and during my undergraduate and graduate degrees, and as a Library Assistant at the Memphis Public Library before going to library school.

How long have you been at St. Jude/in your current position?

I have been at St. Jude since 1995, Director since 1998

What made you decide to be a librarian?

I am embarrassed to tell this, but I cataloged my private book collection, including pockets, cards, and catalog cards (recipe file box), when I was 11. I guess it was my calling! I have just always worked in a library of one form or another – except for a couple of summers at Wendy’s and one summer as a file clerk for the County Courts.

What do you consider your biggest work related challenge?

Balancing what people want and what my budget allows. This is especially difficult now with electronic resources. Everyone wants instant access.

What do you consider to be the most fulfilling part of your job?

I like providing information to our users. It feels good to find the answer that helps with patient care or research.

What do you see as the biggest concerns in hospital and/or health sciences librarianship?

Electronic journals are resulting in fewer hospital libraries, as Administrators have no idea how much behind the scenes work it takes to make access seamless! The library staff has to get out of the library and go where their users are. We can no longer sit in the library and wait for people to come to us.

How did you first come to know NN/LM SE/A?

I learned about NN/LM SE/A at a Southern Chapter meeting.

In what ways has NN/LM SE/A been of help to you?

I am grateful for the assistance with Docline and the availability of classes for CE.

Will you share a success story about your library?

During National Library Week, one of our patrons was telling me how they remembered that when I was interviewed for the Director’s job, I described this vision of an electronic library! Now, 15 years later the conversion to electronic journals continues to impact our institution. Now everything is at the users’ fingertips when it is needed. This improves research and patient care, as there’s no waiting to get the information they need. There are more downloads now because we have access to more journals. We had 400 print journals; we now have 4000 online journals that we keep track of.  We converted to electronic resources so seamlessly they all think it’s free – getting rid of print was hard, but I simply didn’t have a choice. And, with the transition from print to electronic, we managed to keep all of our positions. We re-trained staff to manage electronic journals so we didn’t lose anyone.

What advice would you give others who are interested in being a hospital and/or health sciences librarian?

My advice is to not expect to stay in the library and be successful. Fighting to get people into the library, onto the library website, and away from Google is hopeless: it just won’t happen. You have to get out of the library and go where your users are. Provide access where they want it, how they wish to use it, and make it all as easy as possible for them. Be prepared to do anything: provide the services they want no matter what they are, even if it’s just making photocopies. You can’t pick and choose what you want to do, especially in medical and health sciences libraries. Also, taking on the NIH public access policy is a really good idea. People call and are thrilled I am here to help with their submissions and getting the PMC numbers and tracking the process. Provide a full service library with whatever you’re given, and you’ll be successful. I pick my battles. If it’s coming from the boss, you can’t really argue. Try to find a way to make it work for your library and your patrons.

For more information, please contact Sheila Snow-Croft –

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Last updated on Tuesday, Nov 8, 2016

Funded under cooperative agreement number UG4LM012340 with the University of Maryland, Health Sciences and Human Services Library, and awarded by the DHHS, NIH, National Library of Medicine.