San Diego, California is home of beautiful weather, spectacular beaches- and a group of highly motivated, driven and future-ready information professionals. The SLA-San Diego Chapter is proud to join in the conversation with our SLA peers about what it means to be Future Ready. Our San Diego membership boasts a wide range of professional experience and expertise, and we hope that you find our contributions to the FutureReady365 blog to be both thought-provoking and useful!
by Kathy Elliott, San Diego Chapter, Biomedical & Life Sciences Division
Anticipation … no, not the 1971 hit song, and not the feeling you get sitting down to a Thanksgiving feast. I am talking about the act of preparing for the future before it arrives. As information specialists, we often find ourselves juggling too many tasks, struggling to keep them all up in the air. Who has the time to look into a crystal ball? But that just-in-time attitude only has us treading water in tough economic times. Anticipating future trends can give our clients the added value they need to succeed and thrive. This is true for businesses, academic institutions, hospitals, museums … every type of organization that uses information.
What can a special librarian do to anticipate future trends? Obviously, research plays a critical role. But we’re information specialists, not necessarily subject specialists. So I have one more word for you: networking. An idea may start out with one or two people, but librarians are connected to a world of colleagues who are in this business because they love to help others. As a former scientist retooling for a career in libraries, I’ve been struck by this supportive culture. And when librarians reach out to non-librarian specialists, synergy happens.
What does this model look like in the real world? I’ll offer one example. My sister, Judy Kammerer, is the managing librarian for the health sciences library of University of California, San Francisco, Fresno Center for Medical Education and Research and the hospital library of Community Regional Medical Center, while I have experience doing genomics research in the lab. We decided to collaborate on a project that anticipates the application of new genomic medicine discoveries to clinical practice.
As a first step, I am writing a paper on this topic for a Medical Librarianship course at San Jose State University. I started by collecting background information from the literature. Then I posted a questionnaire for hospital librarians on several listservs, asking if clinicians (doctors and nurses) were requesting information in this field, and what resources the librarians recommended. The survey feedback was great. It suggested that this hot new field has not yet made significant inroads into clinical practice. Next, Judy and I plan to network with clinicians and genomics researchers. A key step will be to design an algorithm that can identify articles about clinical applications of genomic discoveries. Finally, we will create a website with links to these articles, relevant RSS feeds, and other resources that will enable clinicians to monitor and understand new applications as they arise.
Experts in the field predict that translation of genomics research into clinical uses will accelerate rapidly. We hope that our website will help doctors and nurses learn about new applications without delay. Reducing the time lag between discovery and application may save not only money but also lives.
For the future-ready librarian, just-in-time is not good enough. Anticipation rocks!
Kathy Elliott is a graduate student in the MLIS program at San Jose State University. She received a BA in Zoology from Humboldt State University and an MS in Biological Sciences from Stanford University. After teaching high school biology, Kathy returned to the laboratory, performing molecular biology research at SIBIA Neurosciences, Merck Research Laboratories, TorreyPines Therapeutics, and in 2009 she played a major role in the start-up of Pathway Genomics. Her career change to librarianship is providing new opportunities to apply her scientific background. Kathy is currently Student Liaison for the San Diego chapter of SLA.
Kathy shares her home in San Diego, California, with one husband, two dogs, and three lizards. In her spare time, she enjoys gardening, singing, hiking, and volunteering for American Brittany Rescue and the San Diego Zoo.
Image: By Courtesy: National Human Genome Research Institute (http://www.genome.gov/17516876) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons”