In September, Lori Harris joined UC Libraries for the second year of her National Library of Medicine Associate Fellow Program. Lori received her MSLS from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and her BA from Smith College. The National Library of Medicine (NLM) Associate Fellowship Program is a one-year postgraduate training fellowship at the NLM in Bethesda, Maryland, with an optional second year program component at a participating library. The program is designed to provide a broad foundation in health sciences information services and to prepare librarians for future leadership roles in health sciences libraries and in health services research. Below is an interview with Lori upon her arrival at the Donald C. Harrison Health Sciences Library.
- Can you tell us a little bit about your professional background?
For the past year, I have participated in the National Library of Medicine Associate Fellowship Program learning about NLM’s collections, databases, terminologies, research and exhibits that comprise the work and achievements of the National Library of Medicine. I received my MSLS degree in 2013 from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, NC. I completed my undergraduate degree at Smith College, Northampton, Massachusetts, earning a degree in American Studies and two certificates – one in archival studies and the second in museum studies.
- What led you to a career in librarianship and in health sciences libraries in particular?
As an undergraduate and graduate student my research focused on examining health disparities in under-represented communities as well as looking at some of the health information seeking behavior of different groups and determining how those groups utilized health care information and services. Health sciences libraries are on the cutting edge of integrating best practices into research outcomes; are familiar with current health trends and health care policies; as well as staying abreast of new technologies as it relates to data management issues. The field of health librarianship was the perfect choice when it came to finding a discipline that would allow me to combine all of my interests.
- Can you briefly explain what a National Library of Medicine Associate Fellow is? Is it a competitive process for both the fellow and the hosting institution?
In existence for over 40 years, The National Library of Medicine Associate Fellowship Program is designed to provide a broad foundation in health sciences information services and to prepare librarians for future leadership roles in health sciences libraries and in health services research. It is a competitive process to join the program and hosting institutions put forth proposals that Associate Fellows consider for their optional second year.
- Why were you interested in working in the Donald C. Harrison Health Sciences Library (HSL)?
NLM Associates have an opportunity during the first year at NLM to conduct a week-long practicum at any health sciences library in the country. I did my practicum at the Donald C. Harrison Health Sciences Library in March of 2015. During that time I had an opportunity to become familiar with UC Libraries’ Strategic Plan and to meet with a number of HSL upper management, librarians and other staff. It allowed me to gain a deep appreciation for the work, dedication and the level of expertise that makes up the incredible staff of the HSL and the overall UC library community and I wanted to be a part of that synergy.
- What will your role be in the HSL?
Currently, I will be conducting an assessment and evaluation analysis of the HSL’s Informationist Program. My role is one that will evolve over time. My primary focus is to use this year to work collaboratively with other HSL and UC Library personnel in helping to support and move forward the goals and initiatives of the university.
- What are your career plans/hopes after your time at the University of Cincinnati?
I’m interested in leadership and management – helping to collect, organize and disseminate the wide array of health information, especially as it relates to the changing role that health science librarians will continue to play in educating new health care professionals and working collaboratively with current faculty, students, medical professionals and researchers. With the advent of new health care technologies, and the development of national and local health initiatives, the opportunities to engage, educate and work in an interdisciplinary manner in this field are limitless.
- Any early impressions of Cincinnati, UC or the HSL you wish to share?
Cincinnati has an inordinate amount of both hills and parks! The parks are beautiful. However, I didn’t realize how ‘hilly’ certain areas were (I live in Walnut Hills) until I took what I thought would be a leisurely stroll through my neighborhood. I got more of a cardiovascular workout than I had anticipated but the area is lovely – rich in history and I’ve had a great time meeting and getting to know the people of the Queen City.
- Anything else you wish to add?
I’d like to extend an invitation to everyone to stop by the Donald C. Harrison Health Sciences Library to not only say ‘hello’ but also to learn more about some of the great work our informationists, library liaisons and other staff members are doing. Whether you have questions about best practices; how to search specific health databases; or if you’d like to just stop by and see our cool Informatics Lab or spend some time in the Henry R. Winkler Center for the History of the Health Professions – it would be great to meet more members of the UC Community as well as share with them why the HSL is a great place to visit and work!