The Informationist: Pushing the Boundaries


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Library Director Elaine Martin of UMass Medical School's Lamar Soutter Library described the core competencies, roles, and new professional identity directions informationists are taking in the medical research field. She highlights opportunities for informationists, an emerging role in medical libraries today.

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The Informationist: Pushing the Boundaries

  1. 1. THE INFORMATIONIST PUSHING THE BOUNDARIES ELAINE MARTIN.DA Director of Library Services Lamar Soutter Library University of Massachusetts Medical School
  2. 2. One year ago…. • What does the informationist do? • What are the evaluation outcomes/methods? • What are the competencies? Embedded with the Scientists: Librarians’ Roles in the Research Process Fall 2012 Professional Development Day for New England Librarians
  3. 3. What Does the Informationist Do? • Expert searching and filtering the literature • Bibliographic management and training on use of tools • Knowledge management (across multiple sites) • Data management • Co-authoring publications
  4. 4. What Does the Informationist Do? • Website development • Consultation services
  5. 5. Evaluation Outcomes • Participation in future grants and data management plans; co-author publications; partnerships with Office of Research/Grants and Contracts • Identify what research team learned from informationist • Identify what informationist learned from research team
  6. 6. Generic Measures and Project Specific Measures • Generic--# of training sessions, # searches conducted, # of additional databases, # of articles identified for systematic review, # of studies critically appraised, # of studies organized and shared • Project specific--example data dictionary in UMass project and increase in relevant, high impact literature identified re: protein function discovery in NYU project
  7. 7. Competencies Identified • Information science • Domain specific knowledge • Understanding of the grant funding process • Understanding of clinical and/or basic science research
  8. 8. Competencies Identified • Project Management • Database Management • Database Design • Statistics
  9. 9. Dissemination Strategy
  10. 10. One year later…. • Unexpected outcomes • Preliminary characteristics of success • Changing library structure to support model • Lots of unanswered questions
  11. 11. Unanticipated Outcomes • Balance • Job knowledge (the learning curve) • PI left the institution • Informationist job changes • Problems with research or study design
  12. 12. Preliminary Characteristics of Success • Importance of mentoring • Coherence of the team • Be present • …More to be determined
  13. 13. Library Infrastructure Required to Support Informationist Model • Scholarly communication/research data management services unit • Total reorganization (cohort of fellows) • New service model (consultation and redefinition of liaison) • Research focus
  14. 14. Questions Raised by the Model • Do you need a library to be a librarian? • To whom does the informationist report administratively? • To what extent will the library and/or other department fund the position? Will the funding model influence the informationist’s professional home?
  15. 15. The Evolution of the Informationist: Neither Fish nor Fowl • Neither fish nor fowl
  16. 16. What is the Professional Identity? Bounded Professional
  17. 17. Unbounded Professional
  18. 18. The Blended Professional
  19. 19. Informationist As Blended Professional Member of an interprofessional team Encourages the professions to learn with and from each other Respect for the contribution of each professional Forms partnerships and collaboration Commitment to service not servitude Fosters collaborative practice
  20. 20. Informationist as Blended Professional • Embraces entrepreneurship and change • Risk taking • Independent research • Pride in unique contributions of of librarianship to the team
  21. 21. The Informationist • Bounded professional moving to Blended professional • Defining a new professional identity • Needs additional model development and further study
  22. 22. Pushing the Boundaries