New Year’s Resolution: Don’t Forget!

January 7, 2011 at 4:39 pm | Posted in General News | 1 Comment

I attended the Open House and Fall Student Exhibition at Worcester Art Museum last night. I went to support my spouse who teaches there, to see the art, to talk to some artists and to sign up for a winter class. What I didn’t expect to do was be a biomedical research librarian, but that’s exactly what happened!

I was talking to Tracy Spadafora who teaches a workshop on encaustic painting. She had some of her work on display at her table and I was drawn to a couple from her “DNA Series”. They are really wonderful pieces and I couldn’t help but notice the nucleotide sequences that are a part of each. I asked her if they were in any way related to the particular pieces themselves, she said no, but that she’s often asked this question by people who recognize the familiar strings of As, Gs, Ts and Cs.

We talked about how it would be neat if she could actually tie a real sequence with the subject of a piece and she told me how she’d love to do that, but didn’t know where to find that information. She said she’d done some searching about with Google and was either unsuccessful or led to sites that wanted her to pay for the information she sought.

Well, as you can imagine, I couldn’t just pass up such a gift-wrapped opportunity to be a medical librarian, regardless of the setting. I said, “All of that information is online and you’ve already paid for it”, and then I proceeded to give her a quick rundown of helpful databases and tools she can access through NCBI. She wrote down the names and website addresses and was genuinely thankful – and no doubt a bit surprised – to learn about them at the open house.

Awhile later, I was on my way out and stopped to wish a good night to a new friend of mine, another very talented artist, Suzy Becker. Tracy passed by and as Suzy went to introduce us, Tracy shared how we’d already met and that I’d helped her by telling her about those databases. I said, “You just never know when you’ll need a medical librarian” and Suzy replied, “And it’s good to know one when you need one.”

It’s good to be known. It’s good to be needed. And it’s good when we don’t forget that.

Mark Your Calendars! Suzy Becker will be one of the keynote speakers at MAHSLIN’s Annual Meeting, May 6, 2011.

(And while Tracy isn’t planned as a speaker at the Meeting, I bet she’ll remember just what health sciences librarians have to offer.)

Submitted by Sally Gore, Chair, NAHSL Electronic Communications Committee and Vice President & Program Chair, MAHSLIN.



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  1. Excellent story! I bet others have similar stories of times they helped someone find medical information – helping them in ways they wouldn’t have expected! Thanks for sharing it!-Dina


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