Meet Dean Giustini, Reference Librarian and blogger at UBC’s Biomedical Branch Library at Vancouver General Hospital.
What’s been the biggest change to health libraries and librarianship that you’ve encountered during your career?
Two equally important trends that have changed health libraries and librarianship are: 1) the shift to digital forms of medical information and 2) the rise of evidence-based practice in health care.
In some ways, these are two complementary trends. Medical information is much easier to locate now because of the Internet and Google searching. Go to Google.ca, plug in a few symptoms, a drug name or a suspected diagnosis, and presto. You have some possible answers. Freely accessible medical information on the Internet can also be a huge detriment to patient care so with the shift to online forms of information comes the importance of teaching people how to assess the verity of what they are finding. Health literacy is a trend that is now a part of most major health care systems around the world.
The rise of evidence-based practice in health care continues to have a major impact on my work as a health librarian. I used to do all the literature searching for physicians at the start of my career; now, I teach others how to do it themselves using tools like PubMed, Scirus and Google Scholar. For in-depth searching for clinical trials, grants and systematic reviews, there is no other major test of my skills as a searcher that is quite as rigorous. All of this is in support of the work that we as librarians do in health.
You’ve been called a “tech evangelizer” in health librarianship. In terms of technology, what is the next game-changing development that will impact your field?
The confluence of mobile devices and social forms of learning is important. I also think that associated trends in electronic health (e-health) and creating electronic patient records for access by physicians and patients are on the horizon.
You’ve been an active blogger in your field for years. How has blogging impacted your role and reception as a health librarian?
I owe a great debt to blogging for all the opportunities it has afforded to me during my career. Authoring a blog is a lot of work but it requires discipline and staying current with trends so it’s well worth the time if you can do it. I’ll never retire from blogging. I enjoy it too much.