Library Support for Science Education: Guest Post by Dr. John Rossi

Many thanks to our first guest blogger, Dr. John J. Rossi, Lidow Family Research Chair; Morgan and Helen Chu Dean’s Chair; Professor, Department of Molecular and Cellular Biology; Dean, Irell and Manella Graduate School of Biological Sciences.

I recently had the pleasure of being able to present the role of the Graff Library in our graduate education program at the American Library Association convention in Anaheim. The session I was asked to be a panelist for was focused upon science libraries and librarians: “Preparing Tomorrow’s Science Professional.”

Several speakers before me were science librarians at universities and, of course, they have special challenges with large undergraduate populations. It was clear in listening to these talks that the role of libraries and librarians at academic institutions has changed quite dramatically in the digital era. There still is the need for textbooks and other hard copy resources, but this is becoming less important when these are available digitally. I was impressed by how science librarians are assisting in the education of students by holding courses or seminars that educate the students about the resources available to them and how they should use these. By doing this the librarians are in essence becoming part of the teaching faculty, although in an ex officio capacity. Another take home message was that the expertise of librarians in the digital era should be capitalized upon for capturing and storing (archiving) research data. The idea of creating central repositories for research data by using the libraries as the storage source was proposed. I personally was very intrigued by this idea as something we should discuss and implement at some level at the City of Hope. Such a database of research findings and data could be a valuable resource to all our students and investigators.

My final comments concern our own Graff library and its wonderful staff. I received a lot of assistance for my presentation from Andrea Lynch, and was made aware of a video that the library produced about its resources and function–well done and very informative. One of the meeting attendees wanted to access this video to present to her institution. We have an outstanding library staff that works diligently to make our small library an important resource for a diverse population of employees and students at the City of Hope. The library is accessible to our students at all times and the staff provides an orientation to the library during the general orientation period for the graduate students. The library here at City of Hope is an important component of the research effort, and it is accessible without ever having to venture away from the desk or lab via the fantastic collection of digital journals and books.

Presenting this lecture on a topic that I would ordinarily not have been asked to present upon made me realize that we have a remarkable resource that many of us have taken for granted, but quietly and unassumedly the library staff has taken us into the 21st century.

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