NAHSL Annual Meeting Grant Winners

October 27, 2015 at 10:00 am | Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment
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Congratulations to 14 members who received funding from the NAHSL Professional Development Committee to attend our 2015 annual conference!

Over the next few weeks you will read blog posts written by our award recipients describing their experiences while attending the 2015 Annual NAHSL conference in Providence, Rhode Island.  Our first blog post is written by grant winner, Hongjie Wang.

Searching for Excellence at the NAHSL Conference

Blog Post by Hongjie Wang

October 23, 2015

The theme of “Anchored in Excellence” for this year’s conference in Rhode Island is a smart choice; it’s relevant, inspiring and to the point. With this lofty expectation in mind, I went to the NAHSL annual meeting, pondering upon what “excellence” means for us and what it should entail for the work we do. I am glad I was there, thanks to a partial support from the Professional Development Committee of NAHSL.

To my pleasant discovery, quite a few of my colleagues mulled over the same thing as I did and even came up with their answers.  Margo Coletti and Nathan Norris from Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center defined excellence in the form of asking a question of “After the Poster Session, What Next?” and providing their answer by “Making Institutional Knowledge Searchable and Accessible.” When most people would be happy and satisfied with the successful completion of a poster session, they forged ahead to provide value-added services through the creation of a database to make the posters searchable.  Excellent idea!

To be sure, no value-added services of excellence culminated better than a great tool created and shared by two Yale librarians.  “The Yale MeSH Analyzer,” a new web-based search tool introduced at the meeting’s Contributed Papers Session by Holly Grossetta Nardini and Lei Wang, took us all by storm.  This excellent MeSH Analyzer saves time as it “automatically retrieves the metadata necessary for search analysis, and creates a grid that visually explains the search process” to the users.  The excellence of such a creation can only be matched by the moment of the unbridled excitement and hearty approval when the whole room vibrated with the audience clapping and echoed with loud chants of “bravo!” Talking about “Anchored in Excellence!” Any medical librarians worth their salt should check out the URL of this amazing source at

Excellence, beyond its lexical meaning of being “very good of its kind,” or “first class” as is defined in the dictionary of Marriam-Webster, refers to, in my mind,  the state and quality of something that is creative, visionary and meaningful. It is a result of someone who challenges the status quo and thinks outside the box.  A couple of months ago, I attended a group discussion with some of my colleagues of the UCONN library, to examine the traditional model of library liaison programs and explore the new role of a library liaison.  As part of the discussion preparation, I studied an Ithaka S+R report by Anne Kenney, the University librarian of Cornell University. The report, entitled “Leveraging the Liaison Model” minced no words to point out that the traditional model “focuses on what the liaison is doing rather than what effect those activities have had,” and since it is confusing “inputs with outputs or the means with the ends,” it errs on being outdated. While liaison librarians enthusiastically flash the numbers of faculty meetings they attended or library handouts they shared with the targeted faculty, they missed more important things like “active engagement with faculty” and other “indicators that are motivating your university, not your library.”  It seems that here lies the difference between doing one’s job well and doing it with excellence.  Many of our peers have set great examples to achieve excellence, as they demonstrated and shared at the NAHSL conference this year.  How to follow their path and carry on their great pioneering spirit to achieve our own excellence in other areas of library work that we do remains a new challenge.


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