When I first came to the University of Michigan and the University Library, many people (none of them at U of M, of course) asked me why I had made this job change. Like most career and life decisions, this one was multi-faceted, but among the motivations were a strong interest in biomedical research, belief in the community service and community engagement roles of publicly-funded institutions, and a sense that at UM the library, the health professional schools, the research enterprise, and the health system were all poised to begin a dynamic and qualitatively different relationship.
A little more than a year later, I answer enthusiastically that the position has lived up to my expectations, and that I am having a great time in a job I love. Building on strengths in curriculum integration, evidence-based medicine, and faculty partnerships, the UM Health Sciences Libraries have furthered their involvement in all the schools’ curricula and committees and in graduate medical education. We’ve been invited to participate in Wolverine Island in Second Life and to join in the development a new Health Sciences Education Building in real life.
On the research side, the library partners with the National Center for Integrative Biomedical Informatics and the Center for Computational and Molecular Biology on informatics projects and planning; is part of the Clinical and Translational Science Award team; and is collaborating with our science and engineering libraries to enhance support for interdisciplinary life sciences research. We are exploring and evaluating the role of the informationist in biomedical and clinical research. We’re part of grant proposals and their funding.
We are a resource library and an outreach library for the region, and have exciting new subcontracts for health information outreach to people with disabilities and to the public health workforce. We’re building partnerships with campus, health system, city, county, and state non-profit and municipal organizations to serve the needs of the community.
And we have plans for much, much more in all of these areas.
Last week, UM’s president, Mary Sue Coleman, gave an address to the university community, Five Years Forward: An Address to the University of Michigan Community – Nov.15, 2007. In it, she made a financial and philosophical commitment on the university’s behalf to initiatives that are integral to what Michigan is, and to what attracted me here, among them interdisciplinary research and the university’s public mission. Concepts such as outreach, engagement, investment in the local community, innovation, creativity, entrepreneurship, leadership, and diversity, and specific endeavors such as the University Research Corridor and Michigan HealthyU are all part of her vision for the future.
So that’s why I’m here at UM and at the University Library. Why I am here at this blog is another question, and one I’ve struggled to answer during my intermittent blogging history. There are many librarians writing about the big issues and many more focusing on breaking news and latest technologies. I haven’t found a unique voice in those areas. On the other hand, as many of my colleagues have pointed out, there is a dearth of directors who blog. So I’m wondering if I can use this forum to think aloud about my macro micro issues, about the day to day fabric of my professional life, and perhaps shed some light on what we mysterious managers think and do.