Q & A with a Medical Librarian

StrubelGarybigOctober is National Medical Librarian Month. To celebrate, we caught up with Gary Strubel, SVMC's medical librarian for some questions and answers. 

What led you to seek this profession?
I originally wanted to be a college professor, so that I could teach and conduct research for a living. However, the rough and tumble world of academia was not for me. Librarianship allows me to both teach and conduct background research for others. So, it's a good fit.

What education is required for your position?
You typically need either a Master of Library Science (MLS) or a Master of Library and Information Science (MILS).

What sort of experience led to your hire?
The hospital was looking to provide more online, library resources for its staff. Before starting here, I worked at SUNY Empire State College where I built a fully online library collection from the ground up. I also worked at Albany Medical College as a Reference and Instruction Librarian.

How long have you worked in this position?
I've been the librarian here since 2007.

What three or four tasks do you perform most often in your work day?
First and foremost, I conduct literature research for the hospital staff. I locate the best scholarly articles on their topics, and provide them with the full text. Secondly, I keep our staff up to date on the latest research. Each week, I send e-mail digests on the latest and greatest nursing and clinical research. I'm also in charge of copyright compliance at the hospital. I regularly consult with administration on how we can use published material without infringing on the rights of authors.

What skills have you developed since having been hired?
Because I have a background in instruction, I've been working with the Education department to develop their new-hire orientation curriculum and online staff training modules. Over the years, I've honed my skills in developing multimedia learning experiences.

What personality traits are most important to doing your job effectively?
You need to be incredibly curious and just a little bit stubborn. Staff ask me many different questions. Because I'm curious, I'm dying to find out the answers. Sometimes those answers are hard to find. That's where the stubbornness comes in. Librarians can't let go until we find the answers.

What’s the most challenging thing about your job?
The most challenging thing is the occasional misunderstanding about my job. Most people think librarianship is all about books. I sometimes need to educate people that my job is to support research, rather than be a caretaker of a book collection.

What’s the most rewarding thing?
The most rewarding thing is the knowledge that the research that I do has an impact on patient care. Our hospital prides itself on being "evidence-based," meaning that our patient care is backed by the best published evidence in the field. I'm often the one who finds and provides our staff with that evidence.

Reach Gary at gary.strubel@svhealthcare.org.