Virtual services have been part of health sciences libraries for a long time in various forms, including the provision of reference and research services via email or chat, availability of online instruction, access to electronic materials, and the curation of virtual research guides. But when the COVID-19 pandemic forced many libraries to close their doors and pivot to virtual services almost overnight. Moving all services remote, even for just a short time, did highlight what worked well and what did not. The situation increased visibility of these services and made patrons more aware of what was available, perhaps making them more likely to expect and use those services in the future. In some ways, the pandemic showed us ways in which virtual services could even be better than in person services for providing prompt patron services. The situation increased visibility of existing services, making users more aware of what was available, and revealed gaps and needed improvements in virtual services.
In this book copublished by the Medical Library Association, librarians from academic to hospital health sciences libraries, from rural to urban areas, and across a range of service specialties provide blueprints and best practices for building and maintaining sustainable virtual services in health sciences libraries. Each chapter in this volume addresses aspects of providing virtual services in information and access services, reference and instruction, collections, and clinical services written by contributors who have been involved in this work in their own libraries.
Whether you are just beginning an implementation, assessing and refining current offerings, or strategizing for sustainability and looking to the future, this book will provide practical advice, tools, and considerations for maximizing user engagement and satisfaction with virtual library services and resources.
Amanda R. Scull holds an MLIS from Syracuse University and is the head of Education and Information Services at the Dartmouth College Biomedical Libraries, where she has been deeply involved in the transition of both teaching and patron services to the virtual environment during the COVID-19 closure. Prior to Dartmouth, she worked as collection development librarian and information studies faculty librarian at Keene State College.
Table of Contents
Part 1: Information Services, Engagement, and Access
Chapter 1: Community Engagement in the Virtual Library
Julie Evener and Matthew Chase (University of St. Augustine for Health Sciences)
Chapter 2: Countway Library: Building a Brand and Creating Community Through Strategic Communication
Meredith Solomon, Yasmina Kamal, Stephanie Worrell Rubens, Robin Horst (Harvard Medical School)
Chapter 3:Research and Information Services: Empowering and Supporting Staff in Virtual and Hybrid Environments
Amanda Scull (Dartmouth College)
Chapter 4: Digital Access to Educational Materials: Publishing Models and Open Educational Resources for Medical and Professional Students
Katie Harding (McMaster University) and Amanda Scull (Dartmouth College)
Part 2: Research, Instruction, and Clinical Support
Chapter 5: Developing and Sustaining a Virtual Reference Service with a Small Library Team
Charlotte Beyer, KatieRose McEneely, Claressa Slaughter, Chelsea Eidbo (Rosalind Franklin University of Medicine and Science)
Chapter 6: Adapting Instruction and Outreach at a Large Academic Health Sciences Library and Archive
Andy Hickner, Nicole Milano, Vanessa Puig, Judy Stribling, Drew Wright (Weil Cornell Medicine)
Chapter 7: Automating the Hospital Library: A Rural Odyssey
Virginia Trow (Hunter-Rice Health Sciences Library)
Chapter 8: Connect, Guide, Motivate: A Model for Conducting Research Consultations Online
Rosie Hanneke (University of Illinois at Chicago)
Chapter 9: Meeting the Needs of Online Students Through Creative Reimagining and Collaboration with Instructors
Jennifer Monnin and Beth Nardella (West Virginia University)
Chapter 10: Scaffolded Virtual Systematic Review Workshop Series: Taking Evidence Synthesis to the Next Level
Alix Hayden (University of Calgary) and Zahra Premji (University of Victoria)
About the Editor and Contributors
Can people work from home? Should they work from home? Rutgers University librarians Weber and De Fino present evidence that people can and should, arguing that remote and hybrid work schedules are better for employees, libraries, and the environment….Though many recent studies have documented the improved productivity of employees who have chosen to work remotely, libraries were thrown into this largely unexplored realm, most with little or no time to plan as a result of the pandemic. Even were it not for pandemics, unforeseen electrical outages, floods, weather emergencies, earthquakes, terrorism, active shooters, and other unfortunate events require that libraries create emergency plans, taking into account the possibility of short- and long-term closures. Applicable to both public and technical services, this work is required reading for librarians and administrators of all types of libraries.
Given its practical strategies and engaging text, this reviewer finds Virtual Services in the Health Sciences Library: A Handbook to be an inspiring and a highly recommended reference for health sciences libraries.
This comprehensive handbook will resonate with all health sciences libraries, large and small, urban and rural, after their pandemic pivot to exclusive use of virtual resources and services. The Handbook offers invaluable information on virtual services, including community engagement; empowering and supporting staff; adapting instruction and accessing educational materials for students; and models for research consultations online and virtual systematic review workshops. Highly recommended.
A positive outcome of the challenges of Covid, this volume is jam-packed with practical advice and examples for adding and assessing virtual services. Attuned to both the needs of administrators and practitioners, each thoughtful chapter, by a bevy of excellent writers and thinkers, share tips, frameworks, questions, and also provides additional online content. This is a must-read overview as it touches on virtual services from so many adjacent fields: marketing, human resources, assessment, scholarly communication and openness, sustainability. The definition of virtual services is broad – from twitter to telephone – so there are innovative examples in this volume for every kind of librarian, rural or urban, large hospital to small academic setting. You’ll want to keep a copy of this book close at hand; I found myself thinking of colleagues to whom I would refer every chapter.
Chosen as a Doody's Core Title for 2023.
Highly recommended, Virtual Services in the Health Sciences Library: A Handbookis an excellent resource for health science librarians who desire to enhance and optimally maintain their library’s virtual service offerings. There are many thought-provoking ideas and suggestions for creating new services and adapting existing services to maximize virtual engagement with library patrons.
Amanda R. Scull, editor and contributor to the slim but impactful Virtual Services in the Health Sciences Library: A Handbook, has compiled ten chapters that offer insights into how staff at various health sciences libraries not only quickly adapted and pivoted their services during the emergency stages of the pandemic but how they have continued to build upon and utilize virtual services to engage users, build community, and strengthen their assessment processes and instruction as they have transitioned into the new normal.
This book offers technical services professionals practical ideas on how to plan for, transition to, sustain, and (if necessary) roll back remote operations. While written from the perspective of an academic library, much of the authors’ guidance in ensuring the physical and emotional wellbeing of employees is applicable to all types of technical services and library operations. Readers will also find some useful justifications to help push for more remote work options in technical services.
5/12/22, Choice: This book was featured in a roundup of forthcoming titles in science & technology.
6/9/22, Choice: This book was included in a roundup of forthcoming LIS titles.
11/1/22, Library Journal: This book was highlighted in a roundup of the “Best Books of the Month.”