Grants and Scholarships
2010 Cunningham Fellow
The few medical libraries that exist in Lebanon are mostly affiliated with specific
medical schools and educational institutions.
The Saab Memorial Medical Library (SML) of the American University of Beirut
(AUB) is probably the oldest and most developed medical library in Lebanon.
It serves AUB Faculty of Medicine and Medical Center, Faculty of Health Sciences,
School of Nursing, and the entire AUB community.
The Lebanese American University (LAU) Library is another developed library
in Lebanon. It is a general academic library with a print collection of about
350,000 volumes and 2,474 periodicals strongly supplemented by permanent subscriptions
to major online databases.
Established in 1934, the mission of the LAU Library is to acquire, organize
and disseminate information resources that support the academic curriculum and
research needs, and to cater for the intellectual and cultural pursuits of the
I am recently the Reference Librarian of the LAU Byblos Campus Library. My responsibilities
include setting and implementing strategies related to the development, maintenance
and promotion of the reference services, including the reference collections
so as to ensure proper patron serving and safeguarding of assets. I also design
and deliver training modules covering OPAC and other electronic resources tailored
to the needs of the different user groups.
The School of Medicine enrolled premedical students in September 2006. The first
Medicine class actually started in September 2009, M.D. expected in 2013. The
Pharmacy School, which was established in 1993, offers a five-year program leading
to a Bachelor of Science Pharmacy (B.S. Pharm.) and a six-year program leading
to a Doctor of Pharmacy (Pharm. D.). LAU is engaged in an effort to start a
medical library to cater for the needs of the students and faculty of its Pharmacy
School and its newly established School of Medicine.
I applied to the Cunningham Fellowship hoping to meet new medical librarians
and share their varied experiences. The engagement, that I feel will most advance
my professional capabilities, is the exposure to the medical libraries in America
and the chance to share knowledge with leaders in the medical library field.
Activities and Library Visits
Please find below a summary of my activities starting from May 4, 2010 at the
HAM/TMC Library till May 19, 2010 which is the last day of my visit to the Welch
May 04, 2010
I met with Mrs. Deborah Halsted, Senior Associate Director of the HAM-TMC Library,
around 11:30am. She introduced me to some of the librarians and gave me a quick
library tour. After lunch, I met with Joanne Romano, Licensing & Serials
Librarian at the HAM-TMC Library, who informed me about the THSLC which I found
Texas Health Science Libraries Consortium (THSLC)
As stated by Joanne, the THSLC is an agreement formed in 1993 between five health
science libraries in the Houston-Galveston area. It aims to provide educational,
clinical, and research Texas communities an access to the information available
in any of those 5 libraries through shared digital library resources and environment.
Although we do have few consortiums in Lebanon such as ILL/DDS consortium and
Electronic Resources Consortium, we still need to put more effort towards establishing
wider consortium which will encourage other libraries in the region to join.
This will help us to meet the needs of our current users and anticipate the
needs of the community. If we are lucky enough, we might spread the word in
the whole Arabic region and encourage an even wider cooperation and participation
within the various Arabic countries.
HAM-TMC Digital Commons
Meeting with Kate Krause, Digital Projects Librarian at HAM-TMC Library, was
quite beneficial. I was very interested to know that students and faculty are
those who applaud their own theses/dissertations into the repository system
called "Bepress/Digital Commons". They also choose the related subjects
and keywords from a predefined list. I found this very efficient and time-saving
for the librarians at the same time.
The cataloguers on their turn assign the different related subjects according
to the NLM subject headings. Those subjects are searchable in the OPAC while
the other subjects and keywords assigned by the students/faculty are searchable
in the Digital Commons database.
Discussing the search habit of the end-users, Kate noted that most of the end-users
search for those theses in Google and not in the Digital Commons database. However,
the HAM-TMC Library is usually listed in the first 3 hits on the Google results
page. The OPAC is rarely used to locate those theses. This is fairly the case
of the LAU's end-users.
May 5, 2010
Contacting Mrs. Roderer
My second day started by contacting Mrs. Nancy Roderer, director of the Welsh
Medical Library/Johns Hopkins University. We had a fairly comprehensive conversation
in which I pointed out to the main library activities I am mostly interested
History of Diabetes Lecture
I attended a lecture on the history of diabetes which was sponsored by the HAM-TMC
Library. Such lectures are definitely beneficial for they help me get acquainted
with the medical field and update me on any new research that is being done.
Those lectures also provide me with the opportunity to meet some of the faculty
members and students of the medical school which will help fostering a good
relationship with them.
Finding Electronic Resources Databases' Class
I attended a class session on finding electronic resources databases given by
Beatriz Varman, Public Relations Librarian at the HAM-TMC Library. In fact,
I have asked Mrs. Halsted, during the communications I had with her before I
left my country, to attend such session. I wanted to check how exhaustive such
training sessions could be and the way they are being given.
I had a short talk with Beatriz after the class. She informed me that they schedule
several training sessions or classes during the academic year, starting from
basic to more advanced sessions. What struck me is that those sessions are open
for anyone, including students and faculty members. This makes it more difficult
for the librarian, having to address several types and levels of end-users.
National Network of Libraries of Medicine South Central Region, NN/LM SCR
Meeting with Michelle Malizia, the associate director of NN/LM SCR, was very
instructive. I was astonished by the service provided through the NN/LM team,
i.e. classes, exhibits, workshops, and providing funding opportunities to the
The NN/LM mission is "to advance the progress of medicine while improving
public health by providing all health professionals and the general public in
the South Central Region
with equal access to biomedical information".
I would be extremely happy if something like this could be done in Lebanon as
well. I have asked Mrs. Halsted if she can arrange for me a visit to the National
Library of Medicine. What I had in mind is to look for the right person in the
NLM with who I can discuss the possibility of similar project in Lebanon. Ms.
Shana Potash was kind enough to give me a very comprehensive tour on May 20.
I had a short conversation with her. However, I feel like I need to sit down
and think seriously what is feasible and what is not feasible for Lebanon.
U.T. MD Anderson Cancer Center Research Medical Library's Visit
Esmeralda Calderon, Library Associate at the Research Medical Library, took
me in a tour and was kind enough to show me every corner of the M.D. Anderson
Library which I found extremely well designed and a welcoming place for the
end-users with its wonderful panoramic view.
The M.D. Anderson library combines a wonderful and functional design with dedicated
and professional librarians.
Esmeralda detailed the various and specialized services they are providing in
order to guide their patrons in finding the needed information that will help
them make informed decisions and more importantly to empower Texans with the
knowledge needed to reduce the impact of cancer. I find this a very interesting
and noble mission. I hope we, at the LAU, can extend our goal to not only educate
the LAU patrons but also the whole community.
Esmeralda pointed out to the benefit of the agreement they did with other libraries
in Texas which allows Texans to have access to information and library materials
available in all participating libraries in the region, which is basically the
I had also the chance to browse the print collection, which triggered an interesting
discussion on the selection and weeding criteria, as well as the shift from
print to electronic format. This is especially vital and one of the most crucial
topic of today's libraries. What are the criteria that will help us to make
wise weeding decision in order to make room for larger study group space, etc.
that will better respond to the new generation's study and work habits?
May 6, 2010
HAM-TMC OPAC and electronic resources
Joanne and I met another time. I wanted to know more about the HAM-TMC OPAC
and electronic resources. Upon my request, she pointed to the electronic resources
that are most highly used which gave me an idea of the recommended resources
for the LAU medical library.
There is one thing I found very interesting while looking at the PubMed/Medline
database which is the "FindIt" feature. The HAM-TMC have added this
feature which allows the end-users to easily locate the full-text access to
any article of interest, be it in print or electronic format, not just in the
HAM-TMC Library but also in any library within the THSLC.
Reference Department's Activities
I met with Lisa Berry, Associate Director for Reference and Outreach, and Shannon
Basher, Education and Emerging Technologies Librarian. We spoke about the different
services provided by the Reference Department through the Help Desk, Ask a Librarian,
email service, online tutorials, etc. I was astonished to see that the end-users
are becoming pretty much similar in all countries. Despite the continuous efforts
from the library part to train its end-users, the attendance could get many
times very low.
Presentation about Lebanon and the Lebanese American University
Fellow librarians gathered for the presentation which was scheduled for Thursday.
I was happy to see that everybody was extremely excited by the end of the presentation
to visit Lebanon. They like the LAU campuses, both Beirut and Byblos and were
glad to see many similarities in the services that the LAU and the HAM-TMC libraries
May 7, 2010
Collection Development Department
I spent a couple of hours with Dean James, Associate Director at the HAM-TMC
Library. We went over the e-journals collection and emphasized on the core journals
for the medical, nursing, and pharmacy majors. He also demonstrated the Access
Surgery, the Nursing Consult, Health Source databases, etc. I was able to get
a comprehensive list of the databases that are essential for the medical, nursing
and pharmacy end-users. We also discussed the difference between Dynamed and
UpToDate databases and the cons and pros of each.
Upon my request, he listed the best tools I should refer to in order to make
proper selection decision while building and developing the collection. Dean
pointed to the importance of the link resolver in accessing the e-journals collection.
McGovern Historical Collections and Research Center
I had a tour at the McGovern Historical Collections and Research Center where
Philip Montgomery, Archivist, showed me the very special collection that they
have and the preservation and management methods they apply.
A meeting was held at the McGovern Historical Collections between some the THSLC
members. I had the chance to attend this consortium meeting.
May 10, 2010
I spend another couple of hours with Dean James. He taught me how to use the
NLM cataloging manual, LocatorPlus database, MeSH Browser, NLM Authority Records,
etc. He also showed me some online tutorials that might help me to get started.
University of Houston Libraries
I had a tour of University of Houston Libraries. I extremely admired the Learning
Commons area with the facilities and services provided. The space is also well
designed to provide different type of study and reading areas.
May 11, 2010
I spent another couple of hours with Dean James to elaborate more on the cataloguing
with real examples.
Sheila Green, Partnership and Marketing Librarian, informed me about the kind
of things she does in order to market the library services and to partner with
the faculty members. In addition to the training sessions she and her other
colleagues in the reference department provide on a scheduled basis. I also
spend some times with other reference dept. librarians. We discussed the databases
that are mostly used, the efforts they put in order to provide their patrons
with basic and advanced information skills. They also showed the projects they
did for the public consumers, i.e. booths in some places around the city, etc.
May 13, 2010
Meeting with Nancy Roderer, Director of the Welch Medical Library
I gave Ms. Roderer a short overview of what type of patrons we serve at LAU,
the LAU future plan for the medical library, and the skills and know-how that
I need to develop during my visit.
Ms. Roderer spoke about the Welch Medical Library architectural study, action
plan, action planning committee, and their vision of the future library, which
is quite innovative and interesting. She plans to reach the Welch Medical Library
patrons wherever they are, disregarding of the physical library premises, and
therefore they will go over the collection and perform a severe weeding in order
to keep just few items following a weeding policy they are now developing. On
the other hand, the librarians will try to reach their patrons in their respective
location instead of waiting for them to come over to the library when need be
Clinical Informationist Service
I met with Blair Anton, Associate Director. We discussed the need of the library
patrons and the role of the librarians which has become more proactive now in
the sense that we need to go to them wherever they are instead of waiting for
them to come to the physical library. She informed me about their project to
build strong relationship with patrons based on skills and expertise.
In this same spirit, each librarian has been assigned certain schools departments.
She will be the contact person for all the faculty members and student of those
departments, whenever need be. The librarians first investigate departments
and contact key members. Then they conduct needs assessments, attend open department
activities, determine physical and virtual venues for active informationist
participation, initiate on-site office hours, and hopefully participate in complex
project collaborations. Blair was lucky enough to be part of a big project with
2 other faculty members.
Digital Library Services and discuss collection development
Sue Woodson, Associate Director, informed about their decision to keep 20% only
of their collection in print format and to replace the rest in electronic format.
This triggered a discussion on the weeding criteria, whether for journals or
monographs, especially the reference resources for not the same criteria could
be applied considering that the later cannot be checked out and therefore it
is extremely difficult to identify their usage statistics.
May 14, 2010
Public Health and Basic Science Informationist Services
Claire Twose, Associate Director, took me in a tour of the Johns Hopkins School
of Public Health and Basic Science. Claire was lucky that the School of Public
Health and Basic Science were co operant enough to spare her with an office
within their premises where she spends a couple of hours twice a week. This
is part of the project that Blair informed me about, which is to build close
relationships with the faculty members of the respective school in order to
market the library's services and resources. The more visible the librarians
are, the more the patrons will make use of the library resources and services,
and the more the librarians will get involved in their research complex.
Hypothesis-driven data exploration
I attended a lecture given by Dr. Jian Wang who works for Biofortis organization.
He described how the web search paradigm embodies hypothesis-driven data exploration,
how the beliefs about the hypothesis articulated during search make the way
for pharma and academia into study design and analysis. This is basically what
the Biofortis software does to make their search activity an easier and more
Christina Wissinger, Clinical Informationist, had planned to give a demonstration
about RefWorks. Unfortunately nobody showed up and I have been told that this
is not the first time that they schedule for such demonstration or training
session and got 0 attendees. I was not surprised for we are facing similar situations
at LAU. As nobody showed up, Christina demonstrated to me the RefWorks features
and tools including tips on working collaboratively, and how to move from Reference
Manager or EndNote to RefWorks.
Sue Woodson and Kathy Danko, Manager/Material Processing, explained some of
the NLM cataloging rules. We went through the subject heading and the call number
May 17, 2010
Education Committee Work and Liaison Activities
Victoria Goode, Clinical Informationist, took me in a tour around the Johns
Hopkins Medical Institution and the different library departments. She then
explained the real work of the Education Committee, which is to define education
and training needs of the JHMI user community. Its goals include among others,
establishing more opportunities for curriculum integration and offering programs
in multiple formats.
Advanced Technology and Information Systems (ATIS)
Dongming Zhang, Associate Director of ATIS, informed me of the various and innovative
projects his department is embarking. He also explained how the different portals
work and the advantage of such portals. Dongming is a very creative person.
I was impressed by the wonderful new ideas that he's got.
Internet Service Committee
I met with Lisa Song, ATIS Chair, whose job is to foster and promote the communication
and collaboration between ATIS and other library departments. We discussed the
relation between the ATIS and other library departments which is very productive.
Lisa provides also suggestions and recommendations for information technology
developments and services. I found this committee very efficient especially
at a time when libraries are becoming in a way virtual or electronic. I will
surely look into having similar committee at LAU Libraries.
May 18, 2010
Welch Service Center and Staff Development Committee
Stella Steal, Associate Director/Welch Service Center and Chair, Staff Development
Committee, informed about the staff planning project which Welch Library has
already started implementing. They have merged the 3 service points, which are
the reference desk, circulation desk, and the reserve into one service point
which is now Welch Service Center (WESC). The aim was to improve the service
by reducing the service points.
The staff development committee is involved in several projects. One of them
is to provide the library staff with opportunities for continuing education,
and developing a survey in order to find out how the staff wants to learn, etc.
This committee takes in charge the orientation for new employees, etc. I admire
the human side of this committee which genuinely tries hard not to loose any
of their staff but on the contrary provides them with new opportunities through
continuing education and staff development.
Internal Communications Committee and Liaison Activities
I met also with Katie Vizenor, Public Health and Basic Science Informationist
and Chair of the Internal Communications Committee. In addition to her duties
as informationist which involves developing good relationships with the respective
faculty for in-depth collaboration, Katie has undertaken several projects, being
the Internal Communication Committee Chair, in order to develop an intranet
portal where all the Welch Staff can communicate, share documents, be aware
of the work done by each informationist, etc. This committee helps to boost
the staff moral by organizing events and gathering and at the same time developing
some leadership character among the staff in order to be a good facilitator
Being the chair of the Assessment Committee, Lori Rosman who is also a Public
Health Informationist, showed me the reports they generate for the different
activities and departments. Those reports give a good snapshot of the library
activities. They help to inform the library staff of what is going on, how much
the databases are being used, which one is the most or the least used, etc.
They are sometimes used to support a project or a plan, i.e. the brave decision
of the director to get rid of the print collection because of its rare use,
except for the historical collection and some titles which are not found in
electronic format, etc.
May 19, 2010
Finance and Administration overview and space planning
Will Bryant, Associate Director/Finance and Administration, showed me the Welch
Budget plan. We discussed the budget shrinking and the Welch Library plan to
repurpose the traditional library and therefore the impact it has on the staff
Communications, Informationist Services and Research Committees
I met with Catherine Craven, Communications, Informationist Services and Research
Committee's Chair. She talked about the project the committee is undertaking,
i.e. the photo campaign in order to promote the library moto "Wherever
You Are". The committee's aim is to promote the Welch Library and to raise
awareness. In this same spirit, it promotes the training session classes and
other library services by posting news, creating a library facebook account,
blog, twitter, etc.
Searching Evidence Based Resources Training
I attended a training session tailored for nurses. In this session, Stella trained
the attendees on how to search evidence based resources by demonstrating several
databases search interface and explaining the Boolean operators, etc. I was
pleased to see the wonderful interaction she got with the nurses especially
when she was able to locate highly relevant articles to a topic they were discussing
on that same day with their instructor. There is no doubt that a successful
training session would be one that tackles examples related to the trainees'
Mobile Computing Committee
Christina Wissinger, Clinical Informationist, and Chair of the Mobile Computing
Committee, and I discussed the efficacy of the new mobile tools, i.e. ipad,
iphone, etc. The big question was how much those tools may be of help in providing
library service to the patrons.
The Cunningham Fellowship came at the right time in my professional career that
I could not have better planned. The LAU has just inaugurated its medical school
in Byblos campus, where I work, and a medical library is firmly in the making.
The exposure and intimate interaction with fellow librarians at the HAM/TMC
Library and the Welch Medical Library/Johns Hopkins Medical Institutions enabled
me to see a new dimension of group dynamics and professional relationships.
I have learnt that Job specialization, which to some extent is lacking in LAU
mainly due to scarcity of recourses, enables focusing on the subject matter
and allows for better concentration and superior results.
Recommendations for Improving the Program
It is not unusual for librarians preparing for a career in medical librarianship
to come from institutions, like LAU, that are at the early stages of developing
a medical library, and therefore those librarians have limited or no chance
to get practical experience in the field of their specialization.Although in
my situation the 2 weeks of observation were extremely enriching, I strongly
believe that they could have been greatly enhanced with a further period of
I would therefore highly recommend extending the program in order to allow for
practical training to augment firsthand experience and provide not only the
knowledge and skills necessary for medical librarians to embark into the medical
librarianship field, but also the practical experience and skills that go with