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Executive Vice President, Health Affairs, visits Health Sciences Library

by Kimberley Barker on 2021-04-08T16:48:05-04:00 | 0 Comments

Members of the Health Sciences Library’s Leadership Council were pleased to host Executive Vice President of UVA Health, Dr. Craig Kent, and members of his administrative team, for a tour of the Library, on February 24, 2021.

For members of the Library staff (most of whom have worked remotely for over a year), it was odd but pleasant to be with colleagues once again.

“It’s kind of like a class reunion,” joked Dan Wilson, Associate Director for Collections & Library Services / School of Nursing Librarian.

His colleagues agreed, with Bart Ragon, the Library’s Interim Director, adding, “It’s so good to see everyone in person”. 

It was Ragon, working in concert with Chief of Staff Chip Murray, who arranged the visit, when Murray shared that meeting with departments at UVA Health was very important to Dr. Kent.

          Important to the Library staff attending the meeting was the opportunity to explain how their work (individually and collectively) supports UVA Health’s Mission, Values, and Goals. One of the most high-profile examples are the ways in which the Library’s physical space and services changed in response to the pandemic; as CDC guidance and UVA Health rules about physical distancing, masking, and disinfection developed, so did the Library’s innovative responses to, for example, the changing needs of GME, ensuring that UME had greater access to the Library’s space 24 hours per day, and holding space for saliva testing when that need became clear.

         Mr. Ragon also discussed the ways in which the Library supports both the clinical and educational missions, partnering with the School of Nursing and the School of Medicine (each of whom have a librarian assigned to work only with them; Dan Wilson for the former and Karen Knight for the latter), clinicians, and many others to ensure that vital resources and services are provided. Recent examples of this work include information requests, systematic reviews, critical appraisals, and quality improvement:

· Quality Improvement Librarian Elaine Attridge worked with the Ethics Committee to provide information on the allocation of ventilators for COVID-19 patients. She was also part of a multi-disciplinary team from the departments of Surgery and Internal Medicine tasked with evaluating pre-surgical interventions that will enhance patients’ recovery after surgery.

· Clinical Librarian Kate Joshua and a data scientist are collaborating with an anesthesiology team on a spine analgesia meta-analysis. She also worked with the Nursing Professional Development Services office to improve the quality of research and critical appraisal education in the Nurse Residency Program.

Ragon emphasized that part of what makes librarians vital in their work with clinicians is the value-add of things like executive summaries of in-depth searches, and assuming tasks that allow clinicians to both make more efficient use of their time and free them to concentrate on doing the work that only they, as highly skilled clinicians, can.

Dan Wilson, speaking in his role as School of Nursing liaison, described his work which includes teaching and research assistance. Inspired by Dr. Kent’s appreciation for the growing support of research at the School of Nursing, Dan is working to create a more structured and comprehensive HSL research support structure based specifically on the needs of the School of Nursing.  His areas of exploration include developing a systematic review team, purchasing research related tools, enhancing statistical support, and positioning the Library’s virtual reality and video production activities to support novel nursing research interventions. 

            Research & Data Services Manager Andrea Horne Denton noted that the department’s popular workshops are at the core of its services. These workshops, which range in topics from beginning Excel to Regression in R, serve a diverse group of users, including faculty, staff, and students from all areas of UVA Health. Workshop attendees often reach out to HSL data specialists Marieke Jones, Ph.D. and David Martin, Ph.D. for additional assistance. The department’s one-on-one consultations meet people where they are, with team members striving to work alongside researchers, guiding them as they move through their project. Often after a consultation, researchers realize that their peers could benefit from the team’s expertise and training, and team members are invited to provide training, in, for example, a clinical department or across a health system job role. These interactions are satisfying for both the staff and learners as they often involve real-life problem-solving and peer support and learning.

David Moody, the Library’s Information Technology Director, described the services provided by his team including video production, which is lead by Stephanie Fielding. This service in particular underwent a significant change over the last year as the Studio was equipped with a computer by which patrons recording their video could click a button and connect with Stephanie for in-the-moment assistance. Though consults via email have always been available, this move to real-time consults was new, and much appreciated by patrons for whom video production was important. Some of these projects included a number of Patient Education videos, including:

  • “Ask the Doctor”
  • “Diabetes and Menopause”
  • “HPV”
  • “Colonoscopy”

Other videos included:

  • “Maintaining a culture of Civility”
  • “Heparin Dosage Training”
  • “Employee Personal Safety”
  • “Transplant Education for Nurses”

  Moody described more of his team’s work by sharing other projects completed over the last few years, including:

  • Dr. Brian Gardner's 360-video project, the aim of which was to ease patient anxiety. The Library contributed to the project’s success by offering the use of a top-of-the-line Samsung 360 camera (on loan from Samsung), and also by team members’ providing technical support for the 360-camera.
  •  The Samsung partnership paid further dividends when Dr. Neeral Shah approached the Library for assistance with his medical education project, which was based around students’ content retention; his comparison study of 360 video and virtual reality made use of the 360 camera, the Library’s VR equipment, and the technical expertise of the Library Information Technology team.
  • Dr. Shah's iMotions eye-tracking and biological monitoring project was managed by IT team members. Dr, Shah went on to present the results of this project at Viz Day 2020, a day-long conference sponsored by the Library’s Research and Data Services department.  

     Abbey Heflin, Manager of Collections and Resource Strategy, explained that the scope of her team’s work includes managing the resources (and, importantly, access to those resources) which make up the Health Sciences Library’s collections- which in turn supports everything done at UVA Health including education, research, bedside care.

     One resources-related project which has consumed much of Heflin’s time involves breaking the Big Deal. Working closely with the University Library (with whom she enjoys an excellent professional relationship), Heflin created a comprehensive evaluation strategy for the Health Sciences Library which allowed her team to make the cuts to Science Direct that were necessary for breaking the deal. Dr. Kent noted that the Health System is fortunate to have Heflin and her team focusing on such an important issue.


During his tour of the MILL (Multipurpose Innovative Learning Lab), Dr. Kent took the opportunity to experience the 360-video created for Dr. Gardner’s and Dr. McCann’s patient anxiety study via the Library’s VR headset and also toured the revamped Studio.

Dan Cavanaugh, Alvin and Nancy Baird Curator of Historical Collections, was pleased to offer Dr. Kent and his team a brief tour of the department’s space and share some of its work. While the department has a small staff- employing only two full-time professional archivists (Dan, and Emily Bowden) and one part-time librarian (Janet Pearson)- it is responsible for a wide range of duties, including:

  • Supporting education in the history of medicine across the University of Virginia and the local community through exhibits, lectures, and instructional assistance
  • Acting as stewards of special collections and archives in the Health Sciences Library. These include rare medical texts dating back to 1493, over 1,000 medical artifacts, Walter Reed's papers, and the permanent records of the UVA School of Medicine and UVA Medical Center. Except for a few items whose access is restricted by law, Historical Collections make all of its materials publicly available to benefit students, faculty, staff, and community members.

In recent years the department has focused its work on three areas:

  • developing the tools to preserve historically significant digital records (e.g., websites, email, office files, digital photographs, and video) 
  • growing the collections that document the history of UVA Health
  • addressing a lack of material in our collections that document the experiences and work of individuals who belong to historically underrepresented groups.

Today much of Historical Collection’s time is spent on an initiative to document the local history of the pandemic at UVA and in the local community. With limited resources, the department is focusing now on preserving ephemeral online resources (web pages, videos, etc.) that are at the most significant risk of being lost. At a later date, Historical Collections hopes to gather resources that will likely exist for at least a few years after the pandemic (oral history interviews, personal records, physical artifacts).

            Kimberley Barker, Librarian for Digital Life, works to educate members of the Health System about contemporary health-related issues such as net neutrality, climate change, and reputation management. Barker is also responsible for marketing, and for the Library’s burgeoning IDEA (Inclusivity, Diversity, Equity, Accessibility) efforts. It was about these that Barker mostly spoke, sharing that the IDEA (Inclusivity, Diversity, Equity, Accessibility) working group’s top three priorities for 2021 are

  • auditing the Health Sciences Library’s collections in order to make sure that any existing gaps in diverse perspectives are filled
  • casting a critical eye on both physical space and the website to ensure that traditionally underserved groups know that they are welcomed and valued
  • surveying Library staff to determine what diversity- and belonging-related needs are currently unmet

Dr. Kent expressed support for these priorities and suggested that the Library might partner with the health system in its own diversity efforts.

The Library’s Administrative Manager, Kyle Bowman, has been heavily involved in a project with UVA’s Delta Force, which involves upgrading the Library's HVAC and lighting and, Kyle shared with Dr. Kent, these changes are projected to save the Library 15-20% on its utility bill over the long-term. The Library is not just a space for books, Bowman shared, but “…a multi-faceted resource of space (makerspace/MILL/audio booth/the Studio) that promotes creativity, collaboration, and ideas.” As Dr. Kent and his team were leaving, Kyle invited him back for Historical Collection’s Black History Tour.

            “It’s a valuable educational resource,” Bowman said. “If Historical Collections had the funds to digitize it, it could educate so many more people. Education is the Library’s whole purpose.”

The Library’s physical space is open 24 hours per day, staffed between 8:00 AM-5:00 PM, Monday-Friday. The website, with its LibGuides and electronic access to databases and ebooks,  is always open: https://guides.hsl.virginia.edu/

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