Citation

Material Information

Title:
Medical Libraries, Information Technology, and the African American Librarian
Series Title:
The 21st-Century Black Librarian in America: Issues and Challenges
Creator:
Bushhousen, Ellie
Place of Publication:
New York, NY
Publisher:
The Rowman & Littlefied Publishing Group
Publication Date:
Physical Description:
Book Chapter

Notes

Abstract:
Today’s information landscape is dynamic and full of promise and new directions. Search engines, global positioning systems, and social media have altered how people think about locating, accessing, storing and using information. Medical information, whether for the healthcare provider or consumer, inhabits a large portion of the digital landscape. Patients, along with their families and caregivers, struggle to find trusted sources for health news and trials. Health care practitioners stagger under the weight of trying to stay abreast of journal articles, systematic reviews, and clinical trial results. In addition, both sets of medical library patrons are retrieving medical information on handheld devices, such as smartphones, tablets or electronic readers. When I considered the topic of this chapter – challenges facing the African American medical librarian, I decided the focus should be on how African American librarians can become adept with the tools and formats of this new information environment.
Acquisition:
Collected for University of Florida's Institutional Repository by the UFIR Self-Submittal tool. Submitted by Mary Bushhousen.
Publication Status:
Published

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Source Institution:
University of Florida Institutional Repository
Holding Location:
University of Florida
Rights Management:
All rights reserved by the submitter.

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University of Florida Institutional Repository

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E. Bushhousen Medical Libraries, Information Technology, and the African American Librarian 1 Ellie Bushhousen, MSLIS, AHIP Assistant University Librarian Health Science Center Libraries University of Florida 1600 SW Archer Road Gainesville, FL 32610 352.273.8420 ellieb@ufl.edu Medical Libraries, Information Technology, and the African American Librarian Today s information landscape is dynamic and full of promise and new directions. Search engi nes, global positioning systems and social media have altered how people think abo ut locating, accessing, storing and using information. Medical information, whether for the healthcare provider or consumer, inhabits a large portion of the digital landscape. Patients, along with their families and caregivers struggle to find trusted sources for health news and trials. Health care practitioners stagger under the weight of trying to stay abreast of journal articles, systematic reviews, and clinical trial results In addition, both sets of medical library patrons are retrieving medical info rmation on handheld devices, such as smartphones, tablets or electronic readers. When I considered the topic of this chapter challenges facing the African American medical librarian, I decided t he focus sh ould be on how African American librarians can become adept with the tools and formats of th is new information environment Stereotypes have a way of r estricting movement or progress, because the image or story is passed from person to person as the way it is. In a 1988 essay that appeared in Ameri can Libraries Patrick A. H all captured the conundrum stereotypes create: most black librarians and other minority professionals are

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E. Bushhousen Medical Libraries, Information Technology, and the African American Librarian 2 trapped in the awkward position of trying to make people comfortable with them as professionals while reserving enough e nergy to perform their jobs well (p. 900) Librarians chafe at the image of an older, white woman with her finger pressed firmly to her lips to shush patrons. Similarly, if asked to describe an individual who is t ech savvy many people would describe a white male in his teens or 20s The mainstream media perpetuate both stereotypes because the imag es provide a visual cue for an audience: people can readily grasp what the image represents when they see it. In an earlier, less virtually connected world, stereotypes were easier to maintain because no one could refute their veracity on a large scale America in the 21st century, however, ha s an African American president. I n addition there are scores of other African American leade rs, such as Dr. E.J. Jose y, founder of the Black Caucus of the American Library Association, who have demonstrate d perseverance and accomplishment despite societys limited expectations. Todays African American medical librarians must push personal boundaries and dispel the stereotypes regarding prowess with technology. Todays librarians are increasingly called on to use smartphones, mobile readers, and other handheld devices as well as to be able to identify trends and reliable sources for mobile ap plications. Being on the margin of discussions about emerging trends in handheld and personal information technologies is a disservice, not only to us professionally, but also to our patrons particularly those from ethnically and culturally diverse populations Medical librarian s everywhere are encountering an unprecedented wave of digital resources. In addition, many content providers are developing mobile portals as more people own and utilize handheld devices A report released in July

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E. Bushhousen Medical Libraries, Information Technology, and the African American Librarian 3 2010 by the Pew Interne t & American Life Project stated that minority Americans lead the way when it comes to mobile access especially mobile access using handheld devices. The report noted that in 2010, 87% of African Americans own ed cell phones and that African American cell phone owners take advantage of a much wider array of their phones data functions ( Smith, 2010, emphasis added). Specifically, the report note d that African American cell phone owners use nonvoice functions such as text and instant messaging, e mail, and access the I nternet via their handheld device. One possible reason for this, the report noted is that white cell phone users may also own a desktop or laptop computer to perform nonvoice functions and, therefore, are not confined to using a sole device African American medical librarians must stay abreast of trends and developments in the digital information pi peline. This is not just for their own edification, but to continue to provide service to their patrons. The next generation of medical librarians and medical informatio n consumers are digital natives if they are using the applications and tools available on these devices, the African American medical librarian must be well versed and adept with them, as well to provide a richer library experience and enhan ce his or her own career trajectory. Two of this countrys premier national library organizations, the American Lib rary Association (ALA ) and the Medical L ib rary Association have groups that provide professional support and mentorship for African American librarians Th e Black Caucus of the ALA and the African American Medical Librarians Asso ciation

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E. Bushhousen Medical Libraries, Information Technology, and the African American Librarian 4 are communities that gather in cyberspace and at face to face conferences to exchange ideas and consider future directions. One of these future directi ons might include focusing on enhancing and improving African American medical librarians facility with existing and emerging technologies. Todays youth take these tools for granted since they are the born digital generation. Another librarian online community for networking and support that may be of interest i s the Black Librarian Nation Two other organizations African American medical librarians may want to investigate are the Nati onal Society of Black Engineers and Black Data Processing Associate s It is not a stretch to see the potential for medical librarians to collaborate with information technology (IT) and engineering professionals and students to develop useful portals of health inf ormation for diverse populations Librarians understand how information is gathered and organized; IT professionals and engineers know how information can be formatted and packaged for dissemination. Combining these strengths can bolster bo th professions and communities Our challenge therefore, is to make the effort to become more visible and to speak with authority on the merging of IT medical information, and library services. African American medical librarians must seek out opportunities for exploring and using these tools and assisting our patrons t o be v iewed as engaged and taken seriously by our colleagues. Just as important, we must write about these experiences for others to read and learn from. Most medical and hospital libraries are part of, or have a connection to, an academic campus. This

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E. Bushhousen Medical Libraries, Information Technology, and the African American Librarian 5 connectio n provides access to professional resources that can further careers and expand professional horizons. African American medical librarians must make our presence known by publishing in pee r reviewed journal s that focus on special or medical libraries Our research should include case studies of our progress in mastering multiple information technologies, creative ways to use these tools with medical content, and how we are sharing this knowledge with our patrons. These efforts often lead to invitations to p rese nt at conferences or workshops, where we can share our experiences and expertise with our professional peers. As we put ourselves in the public arena we also become role models and mentors for African American students across all disciplines. Each of us knows how disheartening it is to not see ourselves well represented in the intellectual community. African American medical librarians are in the unique position of being individuals who walk in multiple paths information professional s ethnically and culturally diverse, and increasingly adept with current and emerging technology There is much to be shared from this abundance of experience. References Hall, P.A. (1988). Yassuh! Is the reference libraria n! American Libraries 19(10) 900901 Smith, A. (2010) Mobile Access 2010. Pew Internet & American Life Project. A Project of the Pew Research C enter. Retrieved from http://www.pewinternet.org/Reports/2010/MobileAccess 2010.aspx