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Cushing/Whitney Medical Library Receives 2021 Research Advancement in Health Sciences Librarianship Award

March 16, 2021
by Dana Haugh

The Harvey Cushing/John Hay Whitney Medical Library (CWML) has been selected as the recipient of the 2021 Research Advancement in Health Sciences Librarianship Award from the Medical Library Association. This award recognizes organizations who have advanced health information research and evidence-based practice in health sciences libraries and have created and sustained a culture of research that has contributed significantly to clinical, educational, research, or administrative outcomes in their institutions.

Supporting Yale Schools of Medicine, Nursing, and Public Health, and Yale New Haven Hospital (YNHH) —with users on campus and on web browsers worldwide — the library staff, as CWML Director John Gallagher explains, are seen as vital research partners and contributors to the success of the clinical, research, and educational missions of the health professional schools and hospital, with a profound impact.

Barbara Rockenbach, Stephen F. Gates ‘68 University Librarian, Yale University Library, says the tremendous achievement of receiving this award recognizes the outstanding work of the medical library staff, pointing out that “the need for their expert, timely research support has never been greater. The medical library is a center of excellence for both the Yale medical community and Yale University Library.”

Throughout its history, the medical library has kept pace with tremendous change in the biomedical and health sciences fields, working strategically to influence research and scholarship at the Yale health professional schools and YNHH. The medical library established one of the earliest library liaison programs in the country, pairing a librarian with every Yale School of Medicine department to provide specialized support. In addition, the “personal librarian” program for health sciences students was a CWML innovation and established medical librarians as thesis topic consultants, research collaborators, and scholarly communication advisors.

Yale’s medical librarians are national leaders and advocates for librarians' role on systematic review research teams and, more recently, as peer reviewers. Yale was the first US library to license Covidence to support enterprise-wide systematic reviews and its medical librarians have developed tools to expedite the work of research teams such as the Yale MeSH Analyzer, which has been adopted globally.

A history of innovative hiring in bioinformatics, data, and clinical support, plus a flexible endowed fellowship has pushed the medical library deeper into novel research areas. Unique historical materials allow partnerships with clinicians and faculty to teach and discover through collections, and support for open access and scholarly communication opens daily conversations about research dissemination. Overall, 37 staff members support the research needs of a clinical and educational enterprise of 20,000 employees. Medical librarians partner with research teams to work on evidence-based research and clinical practice changes, bioinformatics analyses, data projects, historical retrospectives, and consult on all aspects of the scholarly communication lifecycle.

Medical librarians publish research and program assessment papers in the health sciences literature and in the library science literature, present at regional and national conferences, and produce posters about research and innovative services. In the last 10 years alone, publications by medical library staff have exceeded 160 articles, chapters, and monographs, and the volume has tripled every three years. Additionally, medical library staff, particularly paraprofessional staff, provide technical support services to further research projects at both the university and the hospital.

Deputy Dean for Education and Professor of Obstetrics, Gynecology and Reproductive Sciences Jessica Illuzzi, MD, MS, says, “Yale’s medical library is undoubtedly one of the best in the world. I am so honored to be affiliated with its leadership and so grateful on behalf of all our trainees and faculty for the amazing resource that has been created and nurtured for the health sciences.”

CWML was a co-recipient of the award with The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center Research Medical Library.

Submitted by Abigail Roth on March 16, 2021