Teaching health (medical) librarianship: from the students

400px-Raphael_School_of_AthensOne of the most rewarding things I have ever done in my career is teach. And to be frank I haven’t always been very good. I’m a work in progress.

I graduated with my MLS in the late 1980s, and during my time at SLAIS we talked about bibliographic instruction but I had no idea I would teach to the extent I have. I was often really overwhelmed by it all. Now, academic health librarians throughout North America and the world offer courses to support problem-based learning and some have opportunities to teach full semester-long (13 week) courses. I say enjoy it!

I started to teach at UBC’s School of Library, Archival and Information Studies about 15 years ago. I have become a much better teacher over that time, and pursued additional credentials including a Master of Education degree. It’s been quite a ride.

Now, in 2015, I am teaching my introductory course on health information sources and services (LIBR534: Health Information Sources and Services, Sept 2015). I have an intrepid and really delightful group of MLIS and joint MLIS/MAS students in the fall cohort.

Last night, I asked them to spend some time to tell me confidentially one or two things that they have learned so far. I asked them to fill out the back of some old reference cards, and to put their responses in a brown envelope. Truly a blinded early assessment.

Here are some of their responses:

  • Dean, I hadn’t known that the MLA – Medical Library Association (U.S.) was founded in 1898 by two Canadians Sir William Osler and Margaret Ridley Charlton”.
  • Thanks for the opportunity to learn more about Vancouver Style. This is my first encounter with it and I am used to APA…
  • I enjoyed learning about the history and founding of the National Library of Medicine (U.S.) in Washington (Bethesda Maryland).
  • “….Dean it was fun to learn about the Osler Library of the History of Medicine; Vancouver Style was definitely new to me; and I am slowly learning about the roles and importance of health librarians….”
  • I enjoyed learning about the history of medicine (in great detail). I am still struggling with Vancouver Style.
  • Good class so far, really enjoyable. Things I’ve learned: clinicians require resources, and help from medical librarians.
  • The Sollenberger article “The Evolving Role and Value of Libraries and Librarians“was really interesting. I like how she discussed the role of librarians as educators (teaching search and evaluation skills) and their roles in patient education.
  • Love the handouts. So far, the class is very interesting. Dean is encouraging.
  • Medicine was unregulated in Canada until the 19th century, and doctors were from other parts of the world, often working for the Hudson Bay Company as barber surgeons. History of health care in Canada
  • I always enjoy historical material. I appreciate the passion for the course material/by the instructor. I’m looking forward to learning more about MEDLINE.

2 thoughts on “Teaching health (medical) librarianship: from the students

  1. Dean,

    Thanks for sharing this story with us. These students offered some delightful insight! I’m glad that you’ve infused your course with the history of medical librarianship. Contextualizing the principles of librarianship with a firm foundation is an excellent idea.

    Allan

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