Hospital Library: A Day in the Life

by Sarah Elichko

“I didn’t know hospitals even had libraries!”

This is a typical response when I mention my job to someone.  It’s perfectly reasonable to want to avoid spending time at the hospital, so it’s not surprising that hospital libraries fly under the radar.

My name is Sarah Elichko and I work as one of two librarians serving the staff (and occasionally patients) of an academic medical center and healthcare system in upstate New York.  Laura Dixon, the library manager, and I both do a little bit of everything to keep the library running.

Curious about an average day for a hospital librarian?  Here’s an ordinary workday for me.

8:30 am – Arrive at work, turn on the lights and computers in the library.

Today is one of my days to handle article delivery, so I open up the library email account and forward PDFs to patrons.  Then I check Docline for article delivery requests from other libraries, and send those along.

9:00 – 11:00 am –  Send emails to upcoming presenters (physicians and nurses) reminding them that I can help with research and obtaining articles for their Grand Rounds talks.

Open Pubmed and work on a literature search for a physician who needs articles on treatment options for the pathologic subtypes of breast cancer (example), as well as a few other related topics.

My office is the de-facto reference desk in our library, so I also help with questions about mandatory education videos, Excel tutorial sessions, and finding Cochrane Reviews.

11:00-11:15 am – Take a short walk outside for my mid-morning break.  This is the lake across the street from the hospital (one of the perks of living in a rural area).

11:15 am – 12:00 pm – Continue working on the breast cancer search.

12:00-1:00 pm – Walk over to the inpatient building to attend the Nursing Grand Rounds presentation on professional development opportunities.  I offer a few suggestions for how the library staff can help with finding research literature and using technology.

1:00-1:30 pm – Lunch!

1:30-2:00 pm – Responses to my CME emails from this morning have started rolling in, so I divvy up the literature search requests with Laura.  I also manage to
squeeze in a bit of professional development reading:  Medlib (medical librarians listserv) and Krafty Librarian, as well as some journal articles I saved in Mendeley last week.

2:00-3:00 pm – Finish up the breast cancer literature search from before lunch.
I help a medical student log onto the electronic medical record system, send along article requests, discuss a planned search skills training class with a nurse, and renew an ILL book for a physical therapist.

3:00-3:45 pm – Work with an intensive care unit nurse to find articles for a class she is taking.  We go over some search strategies for CINAHL (nursing and allied health database) and how to find the full text articles when only an abstract is provided.

Walk down to the cafeteria to get a cup of tea, and run into some of the nurses I met at Grand Rounds earlier today.

4:00 – 5:00 PM – Start working on a literature search that came in from this morning’s outreach emails.  Check for article delivery requests one last time, write up my to-do list for tomorrow, and go home a few minutes after 5 pm.

If you’d like to read about another typical day in the life of a hospital librarian, I recommend Alisha’s Library Day in the Life post about working as a solo librarian.

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2 thoughts on “Hospital Library: A Day in the Life

  1. Pingback: Chasing Reference: One Year Later | Chasing Reference

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