Miles of information for medical librarians #medlibs

I have seen posts before about librarians blogging, tweeting, taping, or capturing their day in some fashion in an effort to illustrate what it means to be a librarian as part of Library Day in the Life Project.  At first I wasn’t sure if I really liked the idea or was even interested, but then I read some of the posts and was intrigued. It readying about the daily events of several different librarians, especially different types of librarians. So why not.

Well, the first issue is I do not have time nor am I able during the day to tweet or post on Facebook. I also did not have time to actually capture my events throughout the day. The details below were gathered after-the-fact. The information is presented to the best of my knowledge (although it probably is not in the exact order as how the events actually unfolded today).Please forgive the length; however, I added details and explanations as a courtesy to non-medical librarians.

Additionally, I did not include any specifics on particular items with respect for my patrons and my employer.

Next, My goals for Monday:

1.                  Complete 3 research request

2.                  Check mail and check-in all new journals

3.                  Prepare for meeting for Disaster Preparedness presentation preparation

4.                  4pm meeting for Disaster Preparedness presentation preparation.


  • 7:50 Opened library (turned on lights, computers, copiers, etc.)
  • Checked email and Docline1 for any urgent requests
  • Answered email questions about an upcoming project (award from NN/LM SE/A to present Disaster Preparedness Information).
  • Checked Google Reader, and went through all new items in specific folders totaling 983 items.
    • Why?3
    • Google Reader is checked periodically throughout the day as I have time. I grouped the entire count for the day here to make it easier.
  • Watered plants in the library and made coffee (yes I’m addicted)
  • Straightened shelves and replenished handouts
  • Filled 2 article requests using PubMed2 and library resources.
    • The 2 articles were requested by a hospital employee. Article requests are made by students, nurses, physicians, pharmacist, and other healthcare professionals including the public and the administration.
    • Articles are often used for research, patient care, creating new guidelines/order sets/policies, or other items.
  • Checked in new journals that I was not able to check in on Friday.
    • This requires checking in new journals into 3 separate places (Excel, library catalog and vendor catalog). Additionally, as new journals are checked in missing issues are noted to claim later in the day. A message to the journal vendor is sent for any missing issues after confirming they are not on the shelf so the vendor can request the publisher send missing issue. This will be done later in the afternoon once the mail for today is checked-in (if I have time to get the mail). For now, the journals are checked in online, a note is made about missing issues to confirm later if they are on the shelf or need to be claimed, and the new journals are placed on the shelving cart.
  • Completed research request #1
    • Research requests are requests/questions submitted by physicians, nurses, students, etc. Here is a hypothetical example: I receive information on the need for the latest research on a particular chemotherapy drug to be used in breast cancer, even though it is not currently FDA approved. I then take the request and formulate a search in PubMed2 and other library resources (Tripdatabase, point-of-care tools (if applicable), etc.).
    • Search request can take anywhere between 30 minutes to several days to complete depending on the complexity of the search, the amount of information provided by the patron, and the amount of information published in the literature.
    • This particular search took 30 minutes.
  • Checked email and Docline1 again.
  • Received a new research request via email
    • Responded to patron that the request had been received and provided estimated completion date.
    • Added research request to list for completing another day
      • Research requests are handled based on priority and order. Requests directly related to patient care receive the highest priority, then rush requests, and finally normal research requests (such as request for a presentation, research needed to write an article, etc.)
  • Filled another article request
  • Filled a Docline1 request
    • Filling a Docline1 request means I pulled a journal off the shelf, scanned a requested article and then emailed it to the requesting library. While this type of request is not difficult, it can be time consuming.
  • Helped library patron #1 in the library find articles
    • Resulted in 9 article requests and will be completed later in the day.
  • Reviewed library budget in preparation for upcoming orders and drafting the next fiscal year budget.
  • Started research request #2
    • This request was slightly complex and took about an hour to complete.
  • Took a short break and, using personal mobile phone, posted a quick message about Library a day in the Life Project.  12:05
  • Started research request #3
    • This request was even more complex than the first two. I prefer to build the difficulty level as the day goes on to help me get in the swing of things. If I start off with a very difficult request I may spend all day on it without getting to any other requests. I try to get very easier requests out of the way at the start of the day.
  • Took a break from researching (running into dead ends) to grab lunch out of the fridge.
  • Fixed lunch and ate at my desk while continuing to work (Refer to post: Why I eat lunch at my desk)
  • Filled 2 Docline1requests.
  • Filled 9 article request from patron #1 who came to the library
    • Resulted in submitting 1 request for an article on Docline1.
      • Requesting items on Docline1 increases the time it takes to complete a request. First is the administrative part to put the request in Docline1 and then there is the time to wait for the request from the Docline1 library. It normally takes 2-8 minutes to request an item in Docline1 which is the time it takes to ensure you have the item, can order, who can order it from, and documenting in reports to maintain copyright compliance. This time frame is provided it is easy to locate a library that will loan a copy of the article and reviewing the cost of borrowing the item. I crashed my computer in the process!
  • Received a new research request via email
    • Sent notification of estimated delivery date to patron.
  • Resumed research request #3.
    • Took 1.5 hours to complete.
  • Worked on purchase order request for Disaster Preparedness Presentation
  • Prepared for 4pm meeting.
  • Administrative Tasks
    • Picked up mail
    • Picked up items from 2 different offices
    • Paid ILL (interlibrary loan) invoices
      • These are the invoices from the article requests on Docline1. When we request an item through Docline1 we have the option to choose who we borrow from. Some libraries charge a fee for borrowing the item. Although we borrow most items for free, we still have to pay for some of the journal articles we borrow.
  • Checked in journals
  • Checked shelves for missing issues
  • Filed claims for missing issues with journal vendor.
  • Updated holdings with 1 new journal title.
    • This means updating holdings information in:
    • I also made sure I had subscribed to the table of contents in my Google Reader.
    • Normally all journals are ordered at the same time; however, this was an additional order after the main order.
    • Also, talked with vendor about the discrepancies in the format of this title as listed on the invoice compared to the request.
  • Worked with purchasing to expedite order of materials for Disaster Preparedness award.
  • Delivered purchase order request for Disaster Preparedness materials.
  • Worked on a recently proposed CME (continuing medical education) Activity.
    • Entered new activity to online system and began paperwork process.
    • CME=Continuing Medical Education. This is continuing education for the physicians, which is required by most states and organizations. Basically your Primary Care Physician or OB/GYN has to complete a specified number of hours of continuing medical education in order to be maintain certification in their specialty. Most hospitals host CME activities for their physicians to not just provide CME for certification purposes but to improve patient care.
  • 4pm Meeting to prepare for the Disaster Preparedness Presentation.
  • Helped library patron #2 with article request
    • Resulted in 1 Docline1 request and 1 article on the shelf
  • Started work on research request #4
  • Created list of to-do items for Tuesday, including completing research request #4 and checking in today’s mail.
  • Cleaned coffee pot and cup
  • Turned off library lights
  • Locked office door and library
  • Left 5:20pm

Monday was a little unusual. I did not have many meetings, and I left at 5:20pm due to an appointment. I often do not leave until 6pm.

I am not sure if the above will help anyone understand the life of a solo hospital librarian or not, but this was my Monday and I did at least learn something:

Nocturnal enuresis is the technical term for bed wetting.

How was your Monday?

To find out more about the Library Day in the Life please visit the Wiki page.



1. What is Docline?!?

“DOCLINE® is the National Library of Medicine’s automated interlibrary loan (ILL) request routing and referral system. The purpose of the system is to provide efficient document delivery service among libraries in the National Network of Libraries of Medicine (NN/LM).”

2. What is PubMed?!?

“PubMed comprises more than 20 million citations for biomedical literature from MEDLINE, life science journals, and online books. Citations may include links to full-text content from PubMed Central and publisher web sites.”

3. Why do I review items in the library’s Google Reader and what does that mean?

  • Google Reader is an RSS reader. Basically you can subscribe to news feeds for almost any website. So anytime a new article is published in the New England Journal of Medicine I receive an alert in Google Reader because I have subscribed to this feed.
  • I use Google Reader to review the table of contents, health news, medical blogs, library blogs, and other relevant news items. I then email select articles to patrons based on a previous request or if I know they are currently working on a particular project.
  • I also ‘tag’ articles for literature alerts.
    • Currently literature alerts are created for specific departments. I am working on a way to automate these alerts but I will save that for another post.

4. What is Linkout?!?

LinkOut is a service of Entrez that allows you to link directly from PubMed and other Entrez databases to a wide range of information and services beyond the Entrez system. LinkOut aims to facilitate access to relevant online resources in order to extend, clarify, and supplement information found in the Entrez databases. Examples of LinkOut Resources include full-text publications, biological databases, consumer health information, research tools, and more.

Comments on: "A solo hospital librarian’s day" (1)

  1. […] you’d like to read about another typical day in the life of a hospital librarian, I recommend Alisha’s Library Day in the Life post about working as a solo librarian. Share this:EmailTwitterPinterestFacebookPrintTumblrLike […]

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