Visit to Memorial Sloan-Kettering Medical Libraries

A few weeks ago, I mentioned that I was visiting NYC and asked for suggestions of libraries to visit. Kaura Gale, an awfully nice medical librarian at the Seymour J. Phillips Health Sciences Library of Beth Israel Medical Center, said Memorial Sloan-Kettering libraries were really worth seeing and that their director was very friendly.

I emailed Director of Library Services JoAnne Sparks, and heard back from her very quickly that she’d be out of town, but that she’d ask Vlad Makarov to expect me. She mentioned that Vlad was MSK’s programmer and an S.U. Alum.

Due to an unexpectedly smooth trip (NO problems with the flight or airports- it was really weird), I had lots of time to kill and wandered over to MSK much earlier than expected and chatted with Karenann Jurecki for a while. Vlad came by and we went out to lunch, and I was a very happy person to be chatting about library school, medical libraries and Web geekery with two medical librarians.

To say that Vlad is very smart would be an understatement of terrible proportions. Check out his CV: THREE masters degrees and an MD. When I grow up, I sort of want to be Vlad (though I’ll never earn an MD).

Vlad Makarov

Vlad and Karenann showed me MSK’s CyberLibrary Cafe. With a coffee shop, cafe tables, desktops (PCs and Macs!)

Coffee shop with cafe tables

Wider view with carrels and Librarian’s desk

Librarian Julie Fernandes at the CyberLibrary Desk

Carrels have Macs!
Carrels have Macs!

Laptop cabinet Mac notebook
Cabinet full of Laptops…including Macs! Cabinets keep notebook charged and run Deep Freeze overnight. Users check out laptop by trading their Employee ID for it.

The library serves a pretty wide variety of patrons and the staff (12 degreed librarians, no paraprofessionals) manages what looked to me like a great number of ILL requests in an incredibly efficient manner using custom tools Vlad built. For detail on some of these tools, see this PDF of Vlad’s presentation slides on the topic.

The best thing about my visit to MSK, though, was how incredibly warm, helpful, accommodating and generous everyone there was.

Many, many thanks to JoAnne, Karenann, Vlad and Julie for the above-and-beyond kindness. It was a real treat for me- and I’m very grateful.

Next planned visit to a medical library:
Melissa Rethlefsen (Education Technology Librarian at the Mayo Clinic College of Medicine) says she’ll show me around the Mayo Clinic’s libraries when I visit Minnesota in July! How cool is it that these medical librarians all seem to be so welcoming and generous with their time? Very, very cool.

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