Endangered Species Watch: The Hospital Library

Library Shelves
OS Shelf – Eastern State Hospital Library by Washington State Library CC BY-NC 2.0

There’s been a lot of chatter lately on the seemingly steady stream of hospital library closures lately. It seems every month or so there’s an email on the medical library listserv relaying the news of a closure, the most recent of which has caused quite a bit of conversation on what can be done.

There’s been a lot of discussion, but Michelle Kraft of the Cleveland Clinic Alumni Library published a blog post the other day that I thought spoke to these important issues. You can read her original post here, but my major takeaway from her post was the importance of advocacy and organizing. I think librarians are acutely aware of these strategies, but she also addressed the importance of going out to where our patrons area- to their meetings, conferences and journals- and publishing/speaking/presenting in those venues. In my experience, librarians LOVE sharing, but a lot of the sharing we do takes place among ourselves. I appreciate Michelle’s viewpoint that we must pair that with actively seeking opportunities to share our research and ideas with the people we’re trying to reach.

Taubman’s own Jane Blumenthal, Director and Associate University Librarian, took a similar viewpoint in an editorial in the  January 2014 issue of the Journal of the Medical Librarian Association. Many of the underlying themes are the same. Essentially, figure out where your patrons are, and be there meeting their information needs and proving your worth. The editorial goes onto explain how this works in the realm of education, research and patient care. For more details, read the whole article here.

Another shared characteristic of these viewpoints on closing libraries is the importance of staying sharp and visible to users, and getting there by any means necessary. My new mantra (pulled from Jane’s Editorial):

“Never begin a sentence with ‘I didn’t go to graduate school to…’”


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