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April 17, 2014 / Christian M.

In Search of Reference Experience

Those who follow my blog may know that I tend to stay overly busy. It’s so hard for me to say no to new opportunities (especially if it might not come around again)! So, in addition to working on two big projects, and leading a weekly public tour of NLM, I also asked Kathel (fellowship program coordinator) to approach the NIH Library, and ask if I could help out and receive some reference experience.   I don’t have much experience with reference and literature searching in a health sciences environment, and I felt like I would feel more comfortable in my next job if I could leave this fellowship with more of that experience under my belt.  I thought maybe I would be allowed to do a couple of hours on the desk each week. Well I had a meeting with the library director and the head of information services. They have invited me to spend one day a week at their library for the next three months. I will be involved in all aspects of their reference (face-to-face, chat, and email), and will also be able to attend leadership team meetings, trainings, and other staff activities. How awesome is that? I will start in May. NLM’s Reference & Web Services also provides reference training and experience for the Associates (two hours a week on the desk), but I wanted to try a different environment.

Maybe you’re wondering, what is the difference between National Library of Medicine and NIH Library? I’m so glad you asked.

  • NLM is the largest biomedical library in the world, and it serves the public locally and around the world. The “public” includes everyone from consumers and students to researchers and health professionals. In addition to providing more “traditional” library services and resources, NLM conducts research, development, and training in biomedical informatics and health information technology. NLM also coordinates the 6,000-member National Network of Libraries of Medicine that promotes and provides access to health information in communities across the United States. For more info, check out their fact sheets.
  • The NIH Library is a biomedical research library that primarily serves the staff of the National Institutes of Health and selected U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) agencies. Limited services are available to the general public as well.


So they are each important libraries, and I’m excited to be able to experience both worlds! 🙂



Leave a Comment
  1. Lisa Federer / Apr 17 2014 12:30 pm

    Hi Christian – looking forward to having you join us here at NIHL soon!

    • LibGirl09 / Apr 18 2014 8:52 am

      Thanks Lisa! I’m looking forward to learning more about NIH Library!

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