SLA Biomedical and Life Sciences Division

2010 Contributed Papers

Biomedical and Life Sciences Division Contributed Papers Breakfast
Monday, June 14
7:30 AM – 8:30 am
Sponsored by Portland Press

Librarian Involvement in a Family Medicine Clerkship Patient Education Project: A Case Report by Anne Beschnett, Amy Donahue, and Elizabeth Fine, Univ of Minnesota.


At the University of Minnesota, students in the School of Medicine are expected to graduate with certain clinical competencies, including communication.  One component of the communication competency is patient education, which is related to health information literacy, an area of interest to many medical librarians.  Since 2007, students in the Primary Care Clerkship (required until April, 2009; the Family Practice Clerkship has replaced it) have been creating plain language “Patient Education Tools,” or PETs, with instruction from UMN’s health science librarians.  These PETs are archived online, in the UMN’s institutional repository (UMN Digital Conservancy or UDC), where they are indexed by Google and accessible to anyone with an internet connection.

This project will explore the librarians’ involvement throughout the process of creation, evaluation, and continued use of the PETs, in an effort to comment on generalizing this type of project for other health sciences librarians, as well as to other settings’ competencies where librarians may play a part, such as work-integrated learning in engineering or public/community engagement in the sciences. 


The process of the librarians’ involvement in the PET creation, as well as the students’ requirements, will be documented from the first point of contact with the students through the final submission of the PET to the UDC for the main component of this descriptive study.

To demonstrate that the PETs are being used, download statistics per month are being continually collected for the original PET uploads in the UDC Primary Care Clerkship collection.  The monthly download statistics for the UDC Family Medicine Clerkship collection (recently uploaded) will also be tracked. 


The current structure of the PET process has a librarian teaching an introduction to health literacy and plain language, providing the requirements for the written assignment, sitting in on the students’ presentations and discussions, and evaluating the PETs. 

There are 196 PETs in the Primary Care Clerkship collection.  Since January 2008, there have been 10,479 downloads from this collection. The Family Practice Clerkship collection currently holds 45 PETs.  This collection has only been available since September 2009, but 107 downloads have been recorded.


Librarians are contributing to the fulfillment of the required communication competency for students in the UMN School of Medicine by providing education in health literacy.  The submission of the PETs to the UDC and their continued use has shown the students, librarians, and faculty involved that this is not only a good exercise for thinking about plain language and health literacy, but a way to create something that is helpful to others when made accessible.  The process of having a librarian first teach a skill, then give students an assignment that can be used in the real world, and finally make the assignment accessible to real world users, is a model that could be generalized to other biomedical fields and disciplines.

VIVO:  A National Resource Discovery Tool for the Biomedical Community
by K.L. Holmes, Washington Univ; M.R. Tennant, Univ of Florida; G.O. Hack, Univ of Florida;     V. Davis, Univ of Florida; M.H. Devare, Cornell Univ; S. Russell Gonzalez, Univ of Florida; and M. Conlon, Univ of Florida, VIVO Collaboration.

Abstract:  Researchers within a particular field are familiar with the leading scholars within their discipline but often face barriers preventing successful interdisciplinary collaboration and communication. This can be especially true for researchers hoping to find collaborators in the ever-evolving realm of biomedical research.  One particularly urgent area is that of translational research.  Translational research supports the goal of decreasing the time from bench discovery to clinical implementation. The National Institutes of Health (NIH) Roadmap for Medical Research highlights the “bench-to-bedside” approach as an integral part of the research process and emphasizes that “a stronger research infrastructure could strengthen and accelerate this critical part of the clinical research enterprise”.   VIVO offers an elegant approach to addressing many of the traditional roadblocks to collaboration that often emerge in the translational research setting.

Beginning as a platform for one institution, VIVO is now an NIH-funded consortium to create a national network of scientists. in development by Cornell University, University of Florida, and Indiana University and implemented at Ponce School of Medicine, Scripps Research Institute, Washington University in St. Louis, and Weill Cornell Medical College.  Each site has a local installation which will share data in flexible and openly accessible ways to a national interface, and beyond.

Libraries are responsible for providing information resources to their communities.  This responsibility has changed tremendously over the last few years, moving from providing access to books and journals toward incorporating in-depth research consultations from bioinformatics specialists and embedded clinical librarians into daily workflows.  Most recently, libraries have engaged their users with innovative approaches to support translational research efforts on site; however, facilitating collaboration beyond institutional boundaries remains a challenge.  VIVO offers librarians a way to transcend traditional liaison-style activities and join the rich cross-section of interdisciplinary interactions between clinicians and bench researchers in support of translational research objectives.  Indeed, libraries and librarians play an integral role in the VIVO project.  Librarians are charged with outreach and support of VIVO locally, including user support and training, and they also play a role in the development of local and project-wide ontological frameworks. Librarians are the perfect conduit between the VIVO platform and the biomedical research community, while VIVO allows librarians to utilize their unique skill set and knowledgebase in support of their entire research community, from bench to bedside.

This paper will highlight the structure and goals of the NIH funded project, the implementation process for partner institutions, the vital role libraries are playing in support and dissemination of the tool on their campuses and how institutions can become a member of the VIVO community.

Road to Open Access in the Sciences: Exploring Publishing Trends in OA Journals at York University by Leila Fernandez & Rajiv Nariani, York University.

Abstract:  Academic freedom and openness are the hallmarks of scholarship. Academic libraries have devoted large amount of monies in acquiring subscription based electronic journals for the academic community. The e-journals are purchased as bundles or are acquired as individual titles. Over recent years there has been an astronomical increase in journal prices and academic libraries are finding it extremely difficult to get new journals or even renew subscriptions. As libraries have struggled to meet the needs of their colleagues, researchers themselves have become dissatisfied that their libraries can no longer afford to buy back their research output even though this is largely provided free of cost to journal publishers. Similarly, research funding agencies have become concerned that the published results of research they fund are largely unread. Scientific progress is being impeded due to inadequate access to research which ironically is being conducted collaboratively with global researchers. As a consequence publishing in Open Access (OA) journals as an alternative route is gaining acceptance within the science community.

Science librarians at York University have created various means to inform faculty members about the benefits of publishing in OA journals. Our libraries support Open Access publishers in the form of institutional memberships thus allowing affiliated scientists to publish in OA journals by paying a subsidized Article Processing Cost. Some faculty members have taken the lead in publishing their work in OA journals. Our present study sheds light on the factors that lead science faculty to choose OA journals over subscription based journals with particular reference to biomedical research. The implications of funding agencies and their policies on OA to funded research are explored during informal interviews with faculty members who have embraced OA publishing. This exercise was intended to identify OA champions on campus for future promotion of OA initiatives.

The study proposes some key points for increasing support to OA journals based on feedback from science researchers. Different strategies and tools adopted by librarians and research officers to promote OA initiatives are examined. This paper highlights the new role of science librarians as awareness builders in the changing knowledge dissemination arena. It speaks to the librarian's role in extending the research capacities of our university to a global audience in view of Canadian research funders’ public access policies.




Rev. March 2010