29 October 2006


Excerpts from Practicing Medical Reference, by Mary Carmen Chimato, medlibrarian.net, 17 October 2006, URL: http://medlibrarian.net/archives/54

"As a rule, I don’t complete students’ assignments for them (neither does my colleague). I will give them all the help they need, I will even do some hand holding if necessary, but I will never take the assignment sheet, sit down at the computer and conduct the search for them. These are mainly graduate students in the health sciences - they should do their own homework and I strongly believe that they need to learn how to search the medical and health sciences literature.

"Some of our students will not work in large, university hospitals with the benefit of a medical library at their disposal. Some will work in small hospitals that only have Internet access. Some may work in an environment where they have no Internet access. I like to empower the students by showing how to effectively search PubMed. As the largest free biomedical database, this may be the only database they have access to, so learning how to get to the information they need is extremely important.

"The only times I have flat out conducted a full-on database search for someone is when a doctor has come down to the library in scrubs, (this has happened more than once or twice), or about to go into surgery and needs to find out something immediately.

"I think medical librarians remain important when they empart their skills and knowledge to others through instruction and training, not by mechanically answering question after question after question. Anyone can pretend to do that well, but by showing our patrons what we do is a skill and takes time and practice to get really good at doing, they value us more. "

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