As an oncology nurse and lifelong beneficiary of libraries and librarians, I know that libraries provide a solid foundation to frame our points of view, practice strategies, and policies. Even in this age of “just Google that,” any sturdy, scholarly response is rooted in the literature, relying on libraries or, in this day and age, information resources. But, let’s face it, the most robust access to any library system is not possible without the help of an expert navigator: a librarian who knows how to mine information and package it for our own needs.
February is a month of many celebrations, including some you may be familiar with, like Black History Month and American Heart Month. But, did you know that it also is Love Your Library Month? For bibliophiles, February’s Love Your Library designation is already on their calendars.
As an oncology nurse and lifelong beneficiary of libraries and librarians, I know that libraries provide a solid foundation to frame our points of view, practice strategies, and policies. Even in this age of “just Google that,” any sturdy, scholarly response is rooted in the literature, relying on libraries or, in this day and age, information resources (American Library Association, 2018). But, let’s face it, the most robust access to any library system is not possible without the help of an expert navigator: a librarian who knows how to mine information and package it for our own needs (Ginex, Hernandez, & Vrabel, 2016). Librarians (or information resource experts, as they are also known) guide us with focus and skill beyond just conjecture or memory and provide the documentation that supports our familiar statements of “we’ve always done it this way” or “this is the way to do it.”
Case in point is Mark Vrabel, MLS, AHIP, ELS, the information resources supervisor at the Oncology Nursing Society (ONS). Mark has been with ONS for 20 years and represents an information ballast for ONS and a lifeline for ONS members seeking accurate data (contact Mark by email at firstname.lastname@example.org or via Twitter @ONSmark).
In Mark’s role as ONS’s medical librarian, he fields queries about such topics as acuity tools, oncology nursing history, and evidence-based screening strategies, to name a few. He admits to receiving a thrill when he hears from grateful oncology nurses after coordinating a prompt and in-depth response to a question, no matter how simple or complex the request may be.
“I have tremendous respect and admiration for nurses who are on the frontlines of direct patient care or involved in any other aspect (e.g., research, teaching), although my profession is only tangentially a part of this and the ONS mission,” Mark says. “Having worked in a variety of library settings (public, academic, and specialized), I find the ONS setting has the most varied opportunities and is the most rewarding.”
Oncology nurses who have been the beneficiaries of Mark’s services offer some testimonials.
“Mark is very resourceful and responsive to any request,” says Janice Phillips, PhD, RN, CENP, FAAN, director of nursing research and health equity nursing administration at Rush University Medical Center. “This can range from locating a classic oncology article to locating materials to help shape a book prospectus. He is well versed in what’s happening, not just limited to oncology, but with trends and issues germane to library sciences.”
Dr. Phillips credits Mark for introducing her to the Medical Library Association, where she will be presenting on nursing’s use of medical libraries at the association’s annual meeting this summer.
Pamela J. Haylock, PhD, RN, FAAN, past president of ONS, also appreciates Mark’s care and content feeding in the online ONS Communities and their ongoing discussions.
“Since introduction of the online ONS Communities, Mark somehow manages to monitor the posts and discussion threads, and contributes suggested resources from literature most of us would not otherwise know or find. Mark can help,” she says.
So, in the spirit of Love Your Library Month, here’s to libraries and intrepid librarians like Mark. Sincere thanks go out to those who guide us to the right answer or, in some cases, the next question. And thank you for steering us through a morass of information peppered with distractions and bias. Please know that we rely on you for true, valid, comprehensive answers every month of the year.
Ellen Carr, RN, MSN, AOCN®, is a clinical educator in the Multispecialty Clinic at the University of California San Diego Moores Cancer Center. Carr can be reached at CJONEditor@ons.org.
American Library Association. (2018). State of America’s libraries 2018. Retrieved from http://www.ala.org/news/state-americas-libraries-report-2018
Ginex, P.K., Hernandez, M., & Vrabel, M. (2016). A clinical librarian-nursing partnership to bridge clinical practice and research in an oncology setting. Oncology Nursing Forum, 43, 549–552.