The Library of the Health Sciences of the UIC University Library has been selected as one of the first recipients of a new award recognizing excellence and achievement in the health sciences information profession – the Medical Library Association’s 2018 Research Advancement in Health Sciences Librarianship Award. The award recognizes health sciences libraries that have made significant contributions to the clinical, educational, research or administrative outcomes at their institutions by fostering a culture of research among their health science librarians. Along with UIC, one other institution, the University of Saskatchewan, was named as a recipient of the award. “This award acknowledges the institutional responsibility that UIC fulfills to advance research in health sciences librarianship and celebrates the contributions to knowledge that scholars here have made for decades,” said Associate Dean of the University Library and Associate University Librarian for the Health Sciences Kathryn Carpenter.
The University Library is a UIC College consisting of the Library of the Sciences in Chicago and three regional locations in Peoria, Rockford and Urbana and the Richard J. Daley Library. The University Library supports six health sciences colleges (Applied Health Sciences, Dentistry, Medicine, Nursing, Pharmacy, and Public Health) and the Jane Addams School of Social Work. The University Library also supports all other colleges at UIC, all administrative units, student services functions and members of the campus community.
The University Library recognizes the important impact its faculty members’ research makes on the University’s prestigious status as a Carnegie “Research I” institution and on the field of library and information science. As a result, UIC academic librarians are among the top producing research librarians in the U.S. Since 1993, the UIC Library has studied academic librarian research productivity on an ongoing basis. In the most recent study (Blecic et al. doi:10.5860/crl.78.4.442), 696 academic libraries were the source for at least one refereed article published between 2003-2012. UIC Library faculty ranked sixth by publishing 64 articles, with 34 of them authored by at least one UIC health sciences library faulty member. Sandra De Groote, scholarly communication librarian and a co-author of this article, noted “the UIC Library has always been proud of our research accomplishments but it’s especially rewarding to be acknowledged for it in this way. We are a diverse group of faculty that work both collaboratively and singularly to provide excellent service and conduct studies to determine ways of improving that service. Our commitment to excellent service is matched by our commitment to add to the knowledge base of our profession.”
At UIC, Library faculty have been able to achieve this high production rate in part because of the University Library’s commitment to encouraging and supporting research activities. Research is an integral part of librarians’ portfolios. All tenure-track and tenured health sciences library faculty are encouraged to pursue research activities during dedicated time outside of their duties at the library. All tenure-track librarians are assigned librarian mentors to assist them with setting and assessing research goals, and navigating the research and promotion and tenure processes. Through merit-based salary incentives and monetary research awards, librarians are encouraged to publish articles, present research posters or serve on review or editorial boards. UIC librarians have published in the Journal of the Medical Library Association, among many other prestigious journals, and have served on the MLA Research Section, a focal point for initiatives to advance research in health science librarianship.
Recently, the UIC Library of the Health Sciences became a partner institution in the MLA Research Training Institute and will provide the venue for the initiative for the next three years. The Research Training Institute will enable practicing librarians to develop research skills through immersion in instruction, mentoring and work on an individual project. It will encourage them to better assess users’ needs and develop library services to meet those needs, as well as enhance the quality of research to support evidence-based practice.
“The Library has worked hard over the years to provide our library faculty with the support they need to balance exceptional service with exceptional scholarship,” according to University Librarian and Dean of Libraries Mary M. Case. “It is an honor to be acknowledged by the MLA for meeting those goals and for the contributions to the field our faculty have made.”
Associate University Librarian for the Health Sciences and Associate Dean Kathryn Carpenter will accept the Research Advancement in Health Sciences Librarianship Award at the 2018 Medical Library Association Annual Meeting in Atlanta, Georgia on Tuesday, May 22.