[Libs-Or] Comments from a medical librarian on the brouhaha over the volunteer opportunity

hleman at samhealth.org hleman at samhealth.org
Thu Jan 13 12:43:06 PST 2011

Hi, all. I have been following the discussion about the volunteer opportunity and I would be interested to see if any medical librarians have any comment on the matter, given that it is a health science-related library that is under discussion.

As someone who had the privilege of working under a very skilled medical librarian and as a recent library school graduate (University of Pittsburgh, 2009), I can say there is a world of difference between the skill level of an experienced medical librarian and a library school student and that not knowing that difference is a grave error in judgment for someone trying to set up a health sciences library, however small. I second Michael Baird on his comments, “The reality is that most current MLS students and recent grads do not have the practical skill set to organize even a collection of 225 books in a worthwhile way without significant guidance. This could easily turn into a huge waste of time for the volunteer and a useless product for the organization.”

Also, I would not necessarily agree with Kendra Schwindt here, " a library *is* a business." Actually, most health sciences libraries are housed in nonprofit settings (e.g., hospitals, medical schools) and so are not businesses but are a public service to healthcare providers and the often uninsured, afflicted people they help.

Finally, I am not clear who wrote, "Dear Alan and Donna,
I'm very disappointed with your public condemnation of this posting.
Without background knowledge of the center and its funding, besides what you find on the web, it would be far more professional for you to let well enough alone. I know many of the library students in the area are interested in additional work experience on their resume and this could be a great opportunity for them."

But I can only commend Donna L. Cohen and Alan Cordle for their courage in bringing this matter up and generating this edifying and (for the most part) collegial discussion. Please do not be deterred, Donna and Alan, from expressing your views. Nothing you said struck me as out of bond in either tone or subject matter.

Hope Leman, MLIS
Research Information Technologist
Center for Health Research and Quality
Samaritan Health Services
815 NW 9th Street Suite 203A
Corvallis, OR 97330
(541) 768-5712

Confidentiality Notice: This e-mail message, including any attachments, is
for the sole use of the intended recipient(s) and may contain confidential
and privileged information. Any unauthorized review, use, disclosure or
distribution is prohibited. If you are not the intended recipient, please
contact the sender by reply e-mail and destroy all copies of the original

More information about the Libs-Or mailing list