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Environmental Factor, October 2012

Library staff in place and ready to assist

By Eddy Ball

Library Manager Erin Knight and the library team

Knight, seated, and the library team are poised to help patron service evolve to meet information challenges. Standing, left to right, are Callahan, Chambers, and Harris. “We’re definitely going to be getting out and meeting as many people as we can to find out how we can help them,” Knight said. (Photo courtesy of Steve McCaw)

Now that she has her full staff on board, contract Library Manager Erin Knight is eager to get the word out about how librarians can help advance science at NIEHS. With the hire of contract Technical Services Librarian Julie Harris in September, the NIEHS Library team now includes three full-time information professionals and one part-time staff member.

Harris joins Knight, contract Information Services Librarian Sandra Chambers, and Theresa Callahan, a contractor providing part-time administrative support to the Library.

Taking the Institute’s pulse about information services

With full staffing, Knight explained, the team now looks forward to continuing its ongoing support for Institute scientists, administrators, and other employees, as well as learning more about what people at NIEHS want and need from their library staff.

The library offers assistance with literature searches, citation and impact factor information, and quick reference help such as locating a new protocol. The information specialists are also available to assist on larger projects, and they encourage NIEHS staff to think beyond traditional librarian duties.

“We want to talk to people and find out how we can save people time and money, as well as help them get better quality information from professional databases, and even when appropriate, from Google,” Knight said. “We’re certainly encouraging new ideas for classes and other services.”

Chambers emphasized that NIEHS employees need to understand how flexible the library staff can be. “We can also work one-on-one with people, if they can’t make a class on the day scheduled or want training more tailored to their group’s needs,” she said. “They can just call us up and get one-on-one training or training for their department.”

In addition, the team wants to take its services to an even higher level, especially in the areas of group and personalized training, Current Awareness search alerts for individual scientists, outreach to new sectors of the NIEHS workforce, the management and expansion of special collections, and the kind of ad hoc individual information support the NIEHS Library has long prided itself in providing. In tandem with new levels and types of services, Knight wants to raise the library’s profile by using many different communication vehicles and hosting events to increase awareness of the resources and services available to NIEHS.

As the needs of users change, the library team envisions pursuing more outreach initiatives. One example Knight cited is an emerging partnership with the Office of Fellows Career Development and the NIEHS Trainees’ Assembly to develop workshops of interest to the trainees. Potential workshops on public and private funding for postdoctoral research and on how to search quickly across multiple databases are being discussed. In addition, Chambers just created a new library web guide for the trainees at the institute.

Today’s special library is more than books

The NIEHS Library still acquires new books each month and maintains an important reference section, but the real growth area of its collection is electronic — the more than 9,000 e-journals and 6,000 e-books that NIEHS researchers can access from their own computer terminals. The expansion of such electronic resources has been rapid, Knight noted, and the library staff can help scientists stay abreast of new developments that are relevant to research underway at NIEHS and acquire resources housed elsewhere through electronic and physical interlibrary loan.

The library is also responsible for overseeing special collections, such as the Rao Memorial Library of pathology resources, and the Work Family Life Collection. The library has many DVDs that employees can view onsite or check out for home or office viewing, including three new ones on Rachel Carson and “Silent Spring” in commemoration of the book’s 50th anniversary, and the collection continues to grow.

The NIEHS Library is operated through a contract with CenterScope Technologies, Inc., which also provides library services for the U.S. Census Bureau and the National Institute of Standards and Technology.


Screenshot of online library guide

In honor of Postdoc Appreciation Day Sept. 21, the library team created an online library guide customized especially for trainees at NIEHS.




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