Medical Librarian Blogs

I signed up this year for a professional mentorship program with our local MLIS candidates, and the student I was paired up with asked me for some things she could read about health sciences librarianship to get a sense of the field.

I immediately thought some interesting medical library blogs would be a good place to start. Because my student is on the ball, when I brought up blogs she mentioned she’d been to my website, and diplomatically informed me that I hadn’t posted in ages. So I resolved to find her a list of much superior health library blogs, and then blog about it myself so that my own blog would stop being so lame.

Naturally, my first thought was to consult the amazing collective intelligence that is our health library listserv hive brain. I sent out an email on both the CANMEDLIB (Canadian Medical Libraries Listserv) and the MEDLIB (Medical Libraries Discussion List) listservs, asking everyone what blogs they found interesting or would help give students an idea of our field. Here is a summary of the blogs (in no particular order) that were recommended to me. A less detailed summary of this list was sent out to the listservs as well.

Krafty Librarian (*Most Mentioned*)

  • Written by Michelle Kraft (Senior Medical Librarian at the Cleveland Clinic Alumni Library and current Medical Library Association President) & Guests
  • Microblogging more your steam? Check her out on Twitter: @Krafty

Interestingly, Michelle Kraft has lined up a number of guest bloggers to continue posting on her blog while she is busy with her Presidential duties for MLA. What a cool idea!

A Librarian by Any Other Name (*Most Mentioned*)

  • Written by Sally Gore (Research Evaluation Analyst, UMass Center for Clinical and Translational Science at UMass Medical School)
  • Twitter handle: @mandosally

Also referred to by many simply as “Librarian Hats”, Sally Gore blogs about all kinds of things, but I especially like the Sketchnotes and Infographics sections.

Mr. Library Dude

  • Written by Joe Hardenbrook (Reference and Instruction librarian at Carroll University in Waukesha, Wisconsin)
  • Twitter handle: @mrlibrarydude

Though he hasn’t blogged since October of last year, Joe Hardenbrook is very active on Twitter, and also has some timeless gems about preparing for library interviews and advice on becoming a librarian. This blog is definitely worth checking out!

Mark MacEachern

  • Written by Mark Maceachern (Informationist at the Taubman Health Sciences Library, University of Michigan)
  • Twitter handle: @markmac

Mark MacEachern’s blog is an interesting mix of posts about systematic reviews, evidence-based medicine, art, music and more.

Womens’ Health News

  • Written by Rachel Walden (Associate Dean, Department of Learning Resources, Quillen College of Medicine)
  • Twitter handle: @rachel_w

As with several of the other bloggers, while her last post is almost a year old, Rachel Walden is very active on twitter. As the name suggests, this is a passionate blog about women’s health issues, and Walden deals with some tough topics on her blog.

MLA Full Speed Ahead

  • Community blog written by Medical Library Association members, sections, chapters, committees etc as well as other health information organizations
  • Twitter handle: @MedLibAssn (I should note here that this handle is for the whole association, not exclusively for the blog – as far as I can tell there isn’t a specific twitter account for this blog)

Created in March of 2015 to discuss the MLA strategic plan and generate conversation. According to their main descriptive post, they welcome submissions about  “how you’re living out the principles of change, growth, and innovation. Tell us about what’s going on in your chapter or region, what your section or SIG is doing, or how you’re moving things forward in your own library” (Lund, 2015).

Eagle Dawg

  • Written by Nikki Detmar (Health Sciences Curriculum Design Librarian at the University of Washington)
  • Twitter handle: @eagledawg

In addition to being a great blog, Nikki Detmar’s blogroll (bottom left hand side of page) was also highlighted as a good source for Medical Library blogs. You’ll recognize quite a few from this post, but also a number of other blogs that I haven’t yet had the chance to explore. Absolutely worth checking out.

Librarian in the City

  • Written by Lisa Federer (Research Data Informationist, NIH Library,
    National Institutes of Health)
  • Twitter handle: @lisafederer

This recommendation was one of my favourites. I’m sorry to bias things (I remained coolly neutral in my summarized email to the medlib listservs – notice how I’ve even put this one in the middle so as not to over-privilege it?), but personally I found it the perfect combination of humour/topics/interests for me.

Library Day in the Life

This blog actually stopped posting in 2012, but is archived for your reading pleasure! This was a blog project in which “librarians, library staff and library students from all over the globe shared a day (or week) in their life through blog posts, photos, video and Twitter updates” (Newman, 2012), and was recommended as a potentially useful resource for aspiring librarians/information specialists.

Hack My Library School

  • This blog isn’t focused solely on medical librarianship, but is rather a community blog  “by, for, and about” MLIS students, covering also sorts of topics.
  • Twitter handle: @hacklibschool

This was an interesting description that I received about this blog, and thought I’d preserve it for this post: “I actually really like HackMyLibrarySchool as a reader, but as a professor have cringed quite a few times when I read the evident misconceptions that a lot of students have about the general MLS, let alone any specializations within the MLS. I tend to see HackMLS as a representation of what students think — for good and bad.”

More Medical Library Blogs:

Looking for more? Here’s a list from the LIS Wiki:

Health Sciences Library Books:

Some books were also recommended by listservers:

  • Ennis, L., & Mitchell, N. (2010). The accidental health sciences librarian. Medford, N.J.: Information Today, Inc. 
  • Wood, M. (2014). Health sciences librarianship. Lanham: Rowman & Littlefield Publishers.


Lund, E. (2015). Full Speed Ahead Now Open for Submissions. Retrieved from

Newman, B. (2012). Library Day in the Life Project. Retrieved from

I’m Back!

Whew! And just like that, there goes a year and 8 months.

I won’t bore you with lamenting about what a terrible blogger I’ve been, instead let’s talk about all the cool stuff I’ve done since my last post!

Since April 2014:

  • I moved back to Nova Scotia from Manitoba to start my job at the Maritime SPOR SUPPORT Unit. It was a happy/sad moment. I really loved Winnipeg and all the people I met and worked with there, but I was also really pumped to be able to live in the same province as my husband again, and start my new position working with health researchers in the Maritimes (and the Maritimes rock)!
  • Weathered the Terrible, No Good Winter of 2014-2015 (good thing I had spent the last winter in Winterpeg, I was totally mentally prepared).
Driveway ice!
Driveway ice!
  • Was an author on my first peer-reviewed research publication. I know, I wasn’t first author or anything, but even the most prestigious of authors has to start somewhere! :-)

Jensen JL, Carter AJ, Rose J, Visintini S, Bourdon E, Brown R, McVey J, Travers AH. Alternatives to Traditional EMS Dispatch and Transport: A Scoping Review of Reported Outcomes. CJEM. 2015 Sep;17(5):532-50. doi: 10.1017/cem.2014.59. Epub 2015 Mar 18. PubMed PMID: 26014661.

  • Ran a leg of the Cabot Trail Relay Race (24 hr relay around the Cabot Trail in Cape Breton, NS)

  • Was an author in my first conference abstract for a lightning talk at the Cochrane Colloquium in Vienna (sadly I didn’t represent the team in Vienna).

Parker RM, Visintini S, Ritchie KC, Hayden JA. Online systematic review methods training resources: environmental scan and identification of key characteristics. Cochrane Colloquium Vienna [Internet]. Cochrane; 2015 [cited 3 December 2015]. Available from:

  • Went on an awesome trip to Scotland with my grandfather
  • Got accepted for a couple of submissions to Mosaic 2016, the joint MLA/CHLA/ABSC/ICLC Conference in Toronto next Spring (I’ll try to post more about that soon)

All in all, it’s been an amazing (nearly) two years, both personally and professionally. I must admit that this post feels like I’m tooting my own horn, but I think sometimes it’s important to look back and celebrate those big and little successes, in order to plan for the future!

I’m excited to dust this blog off and getting back to posting about things that interest me professionally. Hopefully this will be a valuable read to a few (ya, they say, now she’s humble), but also serve as a good exercise for me to take time to be thoughtful and strategic about what’s going on in my field and around me at work.

Teaching and Librarianship

One of the things I never really thought about going into library school was how big a component teaching was to the profession of librarianship.

How naive was I?

I think part of the reason is that it doesn’t feature much in the program. I had a quick look at Dalhousie, McGill, U of T, University of Alberta and UBC’s course descriptions. Teaching barely registers in many of these top schools. When it is mentioned, it’s either couched in library-speak (“Information Literacy” a top offender in my mind) or perhaps sandwiched in with a variety of other topics (“Services for User Group XYZ”). UBC’s School of Library, Archival & Information Studies, the iSchool, and Dalhousie lead the pack with courses that are dedicated to pedagogy, such as Instructional Role of the Librarian and Design and Evaluation of Information Literacy Programs, and Managing Information Literacy Instruction respectively. What I find interesting here (and perhaps will serve as a balm on my ego for not seeing this coming) is that the course lists for these programs aren’t exactly overflowing with classes on how to be a good teacher. Here and there you find an elective, but just as often you might not.

This isn’t to grouse on the education I received – I opted to take other electives, after all – but more of a reflection on what I expected going out into the library workforce, and increasingly it seems, what is expected from librarians based on the job postings. Had I known what I do now, I would have been signing up for every teaching seminar and taking any class I could.

This post has been kicking around in my brain for a while now, ever since I had the opportunity to attend a Manitoba Association of Health Information Providers‘ continuing  education session on incorporating active learning strategies into instruction (above) presented by the lovely Mê-Linh Lê.

It served as a gentle but firm reminder that teaching isn’t a part of librarianship that can be ignored, and that if I want to be a good librarian, I better learn to be a good teacher too.

Social Media & Health

I recently had the pleasure of presenting in a panel with Social Media Lab Director Dr. Anatoliy Gruzd and Research & Communications Manager Philip Mai about social media, health care, and research.

The panel  was presented for the Integrated Health Research Training Partnership (IHRTP) at Dalhousie University, in Halifax.

We made our presentation available on slideshare – but you can also check it out below!

Library Job Hunting: The Search

Job hunting can be a heck of a slog.

"Cardboard sign" by marsmettnn tallahassee, licensed under CC BY-NC-SA 2.0
“Cardboard sign” by marsmettnn tallahassee, licensed under CC BY-NC-SA 2.0

It’s time consuming (especially if you’re like me and tailor each application to the specific job), emotionally draining, and not without a small amount of its own personal brand of stigma. Even the most innocuous what’s-up-with-you-these-days “So you’re still looking for work then?” can be shame inducing, regardless of whether you’ve been searching for two months or seven.

While talking about the Hunt (it really should be referred to with a capital “H”) with a co-worker who also recently obtained her graduate degree, it occurred to me that this would make a great post; not to mention the fact that it would serve as an excellent space to consolidate my job hunting resources in one place for the next time I need it.

So here goes:

Sarah Visintini’s Guide to Finding an

Information/Library Job


Here’s a list of sites that I consult on a regular basis while job hunting. I find it helpful to have a set list that I check, so that I feel like I’ve covered my bases for the week without worrying that I’m spending too much time on it.

I also like to search according to three different filters: by organizations of interest, fields of interest, and then (once I’ve exhausted those two) a more general search engine, which can be a little tricky in library and information science because we use so many different words to describe ourselves (the irony of not having a standardized language for this is not lost on me).

Organizations of Interest (to Me!)

Capital Health
Horizon Health Network
Vitalité Career Centre
University of Manitoba
Dalhousie University

Library/Information Management Related

Ontario Library Association: The Partnership Job Board
Canadian Library Association
Special Libraries Association Job Board

General Searching

Career Beacon

Additional thoughts on searching:
Sign up for any relevant or popular listservs in your field of interest. The constant reminder in your inbox is as valuable if not more than the gems that they can sometimes bring in.

To be continued…. I’m just getting started!!!