Health Science Librarians of Ilinois

HSLI Newsletter

Serving Illinois Health Information Professionals

RUSA Guidelines for Health and Medical Reference

In June, the ALA’s Reference and User Services Association officially updated its guidelines for health and medical reference. The new guidelines stem from a significant revision of the “Guidelines for Medical, Legal, and Business Responses”, which were released in 2001. The revised guidelines are intended for all library staff, not just those working in medical or hospital libraries. They are aimed at both staff members who routinely answer health and medical reference questions, and those who usually don’t but should be prepared, just in case. For the purposes of the guidelines, “health and medical reference” is defined as questions that cover any area of medicine, health, or biomedicine, such as patient health, public health, consumer health, clinical medicine, and biomedical research.

The guidelines cover three main areas: the role of information-services staff, professional behavior during reference transactions, and ethical issues. A summary of the guidelines under each area is below.

Guideline 1: Role of Information-Services Staff

  • When answering questions covering medicine or health, library staff should make it clear to the patron that the staff’s role is to locate information necessary for answering the question. Staff should also emphasize that the information they are providing does not count as “professional advice” and that, while the staff work to recommend the best resources available, the library cannot be held accountable for the accuracy of the information in those materials.
  • Library staff should be aware of the particular needs of the various user populations, including groups that may face educational or language barriers or that have specific health issues. Staff should ensure that the library’s collection reflects those needs.

Guideline 2: Reference Transaction Professional Behavior

  • When conducting the reference interview, library staff should try to maintain a balance, between obtaining enough information to answer the question and respecting the patron’s privacy while making the individual feel comfortable in seeking help. Staff should be especially diligent in ensuring that the medical terminology related to the patron’s question is correct, including the spelling.
  • In giving patrons information, staff should make certain that the level of service they are providing, and the materials they recommend, are appropriate for the specific populations being served. These considerations should include the educational attainment and cultural background of patrons.

Guideline 3: Ethics

  • Library staff should always maintain the confidentiality of patron inquiries, regardless of the format (in-person, phone, e-mail) in which the reference transaction takes place. They should also respect that users have the right to seek any kind of medical information and should not try to “steer” the patron toward certain sources or health providers.
  • As staff cannot give formal medical advice (see Guideline 1), they should be aware of their institution’s guidelines for using particular reference services that cover health and medicine. If answering a question would be inappropriate for the type of service that their library provides, staff should refer the patron to other resources.

The full set of guidelines can be viewed here.


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(via Rhona Kelley, SIU School of Medicine)

The Medical Library at the Southern Illinois University School of Medicine’s Springfield campus is seeking an individual for the position of Head, Scholarly and Institutional Resources. This person will hold the title of Research Assistant Professor in the Information and Communication Sciences division and will report to the Director of the Medical Library. Main job responsibilities include selecting and providing access to a wide variety of scholarly resources that support the School of Medicine’s mission, particularly research and clinical care. The individual will also oversee the institutionally-produced resources found in the School of Medicine’s archival collection and records-management systems. The person will act as the Medical Library’s specialist for scholarly communications and will represent the Library on School of Medicine committees and in outside professional organizations.

Requirements for the position include a master’s degree in library or information science from an ALA-accredited school. Candidates must also have a minimum of five years of experience in technical services, collection development, or scholarly communications, with at least two years being supervisory. Preferred qualifications include having worked in an academic health-sciences library, in addition to possessing experience with records management or archives, particularly as they relate to e-resources and licensing.

For more information about the position, including a full description and instructions for applying, go here. (One will need to search by the position’s classification, Research Assistant Professor – SMS 2358.) Applications submitted by September 1 will receive priority. Questions about the position should be directed to Rhona Kelley, Head, Education and Research, at

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The National University of Health Sciences in Lombard, IL, has an opening for a full-time Circulation Manager at its Learning Resource Center. Working under the Learning Resource Center manager, the successful candidate will oversee day-to-day circulation operations, which include shelving items, assisting visitors, and maintaining equipment. In addition to managing regular circulation staff, the individual will hire and train student assistants. The person will also compile reports documenting circulation activities, while participating in long-term strategic planning to improve circulation operations and the Learning Resource Center as a whole. Outside of the library, the Circulation Manager will act as liaison to RAILS/MAGIC. As needed, the individual will provide orientation and instruction for students, faculty, staff, and visitors at NUHS.

Requirements for the position include a Library Technical Assistant certification and at least three years of circulation experience. Preferred qualifications are experience managing public services in a library and having a background in an academic or health-sciences library. Individuals interested in applying should forward a resume to  To see the full job posting, go here. The position is open until filled.


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Upcoming NN/LM – GMR Webinars

This is a reminder that the National Network of Libraries of Medicine – Greater Midwest Region has several webinars coming up in its “Lake Effects” series, which is held on the third Thursday of each month, at 1:00 PM CDT. Sessions cover current topics of interest, such as consumer health, in addition to databases and other resources available from the National Library of Medicine. Each session is worth 1 hour of MLA continuing-education credit.

On Thursday, July 23, Cortland Hoff (Director for Environmental Health at the Chicago Department of Public Health) will host “Introduction to Public Health”. If you cannot attend the live session, you can still receive MLA CE credit if you watch the recording by Thursday, August 6.

On Thursday, August 20, Holly Ann Burt (Outreach and Exhibits Coordinator for the Greater Midwest Region) will present “This is a Disaster: Resources in Times of Need”. If you cannot participate in the live session, you can still receive MLA CE credit by watching the recording on or before Thursday, September 3.

To register for the webinars, go here. To learn more about GMR online courses and webinars, click here.

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Student Intern Position at Illinois College of Optometry

The Illinois College of Optometry has an opening for a Library Intern. This position is intended for a student who is just starting library school. The successful candidate will be expected to work 20-25 hours per week (10:00 AM to 2:00 PM, Monday through Friday, will be the normal hours), at $12.00 per hour. Main job responsibilities include staffing the circulation desk and assisting patrons with reference-type questions, managing circulation records (fines, overdues, holds, etc.), and entering information into the VisionCite citation database for library journals. Related tasks include helping with collection management, including processing and copy-cataloging materials, and performing basic maintenance of the website. When necessary, the individual will also be expected to put together book displays and presentation boards, answer questions via e-mail and telephone, and provide troubleshooting with computer equipment (printers, photocopiers, scanners, etc.). In addition to having strong customer-service and time-management skills, the successful candidate should be familiar with computer software, including Microsoft Office, social media, and, if possible, HTML.

The deadline to apply is Friday, August 7. All questions should be directed to Christine Weber, Senior Director/Faculty, at More information about the position, including instructions for applying, can be found here.

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Strategic Plan for the National Library of Medicine

Last month, the National Library of Medicine released its long-term strategic plan. The plan, which the NLM developed under the guidance of the National Institutes of Health, acknowledges the Library’s ongoing role as a leader in providing health information, while focusing on the Library’s need to continue adapting to changes in the health and medical fields. In particular, the NLM will need to develop tools and strategies that navigate digital data, while also meeting the research needs of a medical profession that is becoming increasingly interdisciplinary. The NLM must ensure that these new technologies for accessing and organizing data benefit all of the Library’s stakeholders—health and medical professionals, researchers, the general public, government organizations, and private industry, both in the United States and around the world.

To this end, the planning committee included six main goals, each accompanied by several sub-goals.

Recommendation #1—NLM must continue to adapt its resources and services so that it remains at the forefront of making biomedical research findings and accurate health information available.

  • The NLM needs to collaborate with related institutions in the U.S. and around the world so that medical and health information can be gathered and analyzed accurately, and distributed as broadly as possible.
  • The Library should work to integrate its databases and search engines with similar online resources, so that information can be retrieved as efficiently as possible.

Recommendation #2—The NLM should encourage transparency in the scientific research process, including sharing findings and ensuring that the information produced is accurate.

  • Scientific information should be viewed as a “public good”, something that is for the benefit of the individual health consumer or researcher, rather than private industry.
  • The NLM should develop best practices and ethical standards for making as much information as possible available via “open source” databases.

Recommendation #3—NLM should be the focal point for “data science” (the analysis of data via various disciplines, including statistics and computer science) at the National Institutes of Health, including its satellite locations.

  • The NLM should take a “big data” approach to organizing and managing the vast and varied amounts of data produced by the NIH. Such a strategy includes representing large amounts of information visually, to make it easier to comprehend.
  • The Library should foster leadership and innovation in data science, particularly as it relates to areas that are vital to the mission of NIH.

Recommendation #4—The NLM will play a key role in training and educating future professionals in biomedical informatics, data science, library science, and related areas.

  • The Library will develop a multidisciplinary curriculum that familiarizes library-science students with health resources, while also providing necessary database training to various healthcare workers.
  • To enhance training and research methods, NLM will work to create partnerships not just within the NIH, but also with other federal agencies and outside institutions that focus on data science and related fields.

Recommendation #5—NLM will take the lead in preserving biomedical research, ensuring that efforts to advance scientific knowledge are available to future generations.

  • Through collaboration with other institutions, the NLM will ensure that best practices are followed in archiving, searching, and analyzing information.
  • NLM should create a strategy that will allow medical information in all formats, including non-permanent ones (such as databases and blogs), to be captured and preserved.

Recommendation #6—Fresh leadership at the NLM should evaluate if the Library currently has the staffing and resources to achieve its mission as fully as possible.

  • The new director of the NLM should thoroughly evaluate all facets of the organization to determine which of its resources are most suitable for accomplishing the goals outlined in the plan.
  • If necessary, NLM administrators should restructure the organization, so that the strategic goals can be reached as quickly and efficiently as possible.

To read the full report, go here.

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(via Carmen Howard)

The University of Illinois at Chicago Library is seeking an Instructor & Regional Assistant Librarian for the Library of the Health Sciences (Urbana branch). This is a full-time, 12-month faculty position with a starting salary of $45,833. The successful candidate will act as a liaison to various colleges and programs, in addition to providing instruction.  The Regional Assistant Librarian will also aid in developing and implementing new technologies, including mobile-based ones. In the absence of the Regional Head Librarian, the Assistant Librarian will administer the Urbana location.

Candidates must possess a master’s degree in library science from an ALA-accredited school. Experience in a health-sciences library is strongly preferred, including familiarity with CINAHL, PubMed, and other online resources for health information.

Individuals applying by Friday, July 31, will receive priority consideration. The deadline for all candidates to apply is Friday, August 14. For more information on the position, including instructions for applying, go here.

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MLA 2015 Webinar Series

The Medical Library Association is sponsoring a series of webinars that will take place over the second half of 2015. Two of them will be held in August, while the remaining four will take place between October and December. (The dates and times for the last four webinars have not yet been determined.) The National Network of Libraries of Medicine – Greater Midwest Region is seeking sites that would be willing to host either of the August webinars. The site should be in a central location so that the webinar can be attended by as many people as possible. The GMR will cover the registration costs of holding the webinar. Only two sites per state will be sponsored.

The dates of the August webinars are as follows. (All times are Central.)

Wednesday, August 12 (1:00-2:30 PM)—“Consumers and Evidence-Based Practice: Understanding the Evidence Behind the Headlines”

For more information, go here.

Wednesday, August 26 (1:00-2:30 PM)—“ Understanding Qualitative Research: Exploring the Motivations of Patients and Clinicians”

For more information, go here.

The deadline for applying to be a sponsored site is Friday, July 24. More information can be found here.

If you have any additional questions, please contact Holly Ann Burt, Outreach and Exhibits Coordinator for NN/LM – GMR, at

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Information-Literacy Standards for Students in STEM Disciplines

Ten years ago, a joint task force—made up of representatives from ALA, ACRL, and STS–put together a set of information-literacy standards for students in the “hard” sciences, including engineering and technology. The standards were based on the ACRL Literacy Competency Standards for Higher Education and were modified to fit the specific needs of students in the hard sciences and technology. Having a set of standards specific to these subject areas was considered crucial, as the fields of technology, science, and engineering presented particular obstacles to locating, analyzing, retrieving, and using scholarly sources. Among these challenges were the following.

  • Since a significant number of the articles in the hard sciences were published in expensive peer-reviewed journals, access to sources was sometimes restricted.
  • As the hard sciences were becoming increasingly interdisciplinary, it was necessary to consult sources in more than one subject area in order to gather all of the needed information on a particular topic.
  • Students in the hard sciences needed to apply their research not just to written papers, but to more “hands-on” activities, such as laboratory research.

To meet these challenges, the report’s authors came up with five broad standards, under which there were, at the time, 25 total “performance indicators”, to assess students’ information-literacy skills in the hard sciences and technology. The report was considered a “living” document that would be subject to modification as needs, expectations, and resources change. Feedback from librarians, students, and administrators was, and still is, encouraged.

In light of the need for input, do you think the most recent version of the report is up-to-date, especially taking into account the trends and technologies that are currently impacting student research in the hard sciences and across all disciplines? Are there particular standards or performance indicators that you would modify, replace, or do away with completely? The full report can be accessed here. A summary is below.


Standard One: The information-literate student determines the type and amount of information needed.

  1. The student identifies a research topic or hypothesis and consults with the instructor to determine the scope of the question.
  2. The student becomes aware of the various types of sources (scholarly vs. non-scholarly, primary vs. secondary), while also recognizing that some materials in electronic format may not be freely available.
  3. The student understands how scientific and technical knowledge is produced and distributed, while also being aware that information is organized into various disciplines and sometimes falls across more than one.
  4. The student determines what information is available on the topic and consults experts to identify additional sources, while putting together a realistic timeline for obtaining the necessary information.

Standard Two: The information-literate student devises and implements an effective search strategy.

  1. The student identifies the best investigative technique (literature review, laboratory experiment, simulation, etc.) for finding information, in addition to determining what databases and other information-retrieval resources are available and how to access them.
  2. The student puts together an effective search strategy that includes keywords and Boolean operators, while using citations and references to identify additional useful sources.
  3. The student navigates various classification systems (call numbers and indexes) to locate information in print sources, while also becoming familiar with interlibrary loan services so that one can obtain additional materials, as needed. If the student is conducting an experiment or simulation, the student gathers the relevant data through surveys, interviews, and other appropriate methods.
  4. The student analyzes the quality of the information gathered and identifies any gaps, while at the same time redefining the research question and conducting additional searches, if necessary.
  5. The student uses technology (bibliographic management software, for instance) to organize the retrieved records, while also becoming familiar with different citation styles.

Standard Three: The information-literate student analyzes the gathered information and decides whether additional sources are needed or the research topic itself should be redefined.

  1. The student understands the structure of a scientific research paper and can identify the key concepts.
  2. The student determines the validity of the information in the paper by distinguishing between scientific fact and personal opinion, while considering how well the author or authors present the argument.
  3. The student integrates the most-useful themes and arguments from various papers to enhance one’s understanding of the research topic.
  4. The student compares this new knowledge to past understanding and, if necessary, reevaluates currently-held beliefs about the topic.
  5. The student verifies the accuracy of one’s analysis by discussing the conclusions with instructors, fellow students, and others conducting research in the field.
  6. The student determines whether the original search should be conducted again, with new concepts and sources included this time.
  7. The student evaluates any additional retrieved information, and the search process as a whole, so that one can conduct searches on similar topics more effectively in the future.

Standard Four: The information-literate student grasps the ethical and social issues connected to retrieving and using information, which allows one to conduct research accordingly.

  1. The student understands the legal and socio-economic issues related to information technology, including privacy, censorship, and copyright.
  2. The student obeys the laws, rules, and guidelines for gathering and using information, including the rules for plagiarism and (in the case of laboratory experiments) the use of human and animal subjects.
  3. The student gives appropriate credit to sources when writing or presenting the results of one’s research.
  4. The student takes a creative approach to presenting the research, using data-mining and visualization to draw out and display trends.
  5. The student evaluates the effectiveness of the final product of the research process, considers alternative strategies for finding and using information, and applies any needed changes to the process in the future.
  6. The student clearly conveys the results of the research to others, taking into account the audience and the technology available for presenting.

Standard Five: The information-literate student acknowledges that information technologies are constantly changing, which makes information literacy a lifelong learning process.

  1. The student stays up-to-date by reading literature in the field and applying one’s knowledge to analyzing research from different subject areas.
  2. The student recognizes the impact of emerging, web-based technologies on information production and retrieval, particularly in scholarly communications.
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Job Opening at National University of Health Sciences

The National University of Health Sciences in Lombard, IL, has an opening for a Circulation Manager at the school’s Learning Resource Center, which provides library services. The individual must have at least a Library Technical Assistant certificate and three years of experience in circulation, preferably at an academic or health-sciences library. Day-to-day responsibilities include managing the Learning Resource Center’s collection, supervising the computer lab, and providing instruction on library resources. The Circulation Manager will work with the Learning Resource Center’s director to review the Center’s operations and goals and to promote the Center on campus. The position is open until filled.

To see the full job posting, click here. For more information on the Learning Resource Center at the National University of Health Sciences, go here.


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