The Harvey Cushing/John Hay Whitney Medical Library 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 “whose exemplary actions have served to advance 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.” Located in the heart of the Yale School of Medicine and Yale New Haven Hospital medical campus (and on web browsers worldwide), the Cushing/Whitney Medical Library is vital in supporting the research, clinical, and educational missions of its community.
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 advancement at the Yale Schools of Medicine, Nursing, and Public Health, and the Yale New Haven Hospital. The medical library established one of the earliest library liaison programs in the country, pairing a librarian with every department to provide specialized support. In addition, the “personal librarian” program for health sciences students was an innovation of the medical library’s 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 medical librarians have developed tools to expedite the work of research teams such as the Yale MeSH Analyzer, which has been adopted globally and previously won Yale's Linda Lorimer Award for Distinguished Service.
A history of innovative hiring in bioinformatics, data, 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. It is also notable that medical library staff, particularly paraprofessional staff, provide technical support services to further research projects at both the university and the hospital. The medical library is a leader in research about library/IT collaboration, liaison librarianship, systematic reviews, collection development, history of medicine, bioinformatics, data support, peer review, resource sharing, innovative roles for staff, and scholarly communication. As such, at Yale’s medical campus, librarians are seen as partners in research across the academic and clinical missions and have made innovative contributions to scholarship, as recognized by this prestigious award.
The Harvey Cushing/John Hay Whitney Medical Library and The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center Research Medical Library both received this year’s award.