The Medical Library and the Millennial Learner

Research | September 26, 2018

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Today’s medical library must meet modern expectations including user experience and the physical space. But what if your medical library is behind in meeting those expectations?

The medical library is more multifaceted now than ever. The space and its resources not only cater to a diverse group of users, but must also meet modern expectations, in terms of user experience and its physical space. But what if your medical library is far behind in meeting those expectations? What if it’s struggling to become a modern center for learning and information? What if the physical space is out of sight and therefore out of mind? As the administrator of these resources and space, how can medical librarians ensure cohesive flow between the medical library, graduate medical education and clinical education?

This was the exact set of problems that faced Julie St. Martin, Manager of Clinical Education, and Carrie Cuchens, Library Information Specialist, at the University Hospital & Clinics Medical Library. Cuchens and St. Martin followed a process that helped to transform both the physical and digital space of their medical library. Below are some of the key actions they took to help transform their medical library:

Identify your audience

Before setting off on a plan to transform the library, make sure you understand who uses your medical library. In the case of UHC, they had a diverse group of users which included nurses, clinicians, graduate medical students and even attorneys. Understanding who the audience is and what their needs are enabled St. Martin to carve out a purpose and mission for the medical library.

Look at how other medical libraries are working

The basic notion of creating a user-friendly medical library environment for the millennial learner is what sent Julie St. Martin to the New Orleans Medical Library. She saw firsthand that only about one-fifth of the large space is dedicated to physical books and journals, and all other resources are electronic. The physical space of the library reflected a strong technology presence, but also had a comfortable atmosphere. Gathering spaces in the library allowed millennial learners to utilize the library’s technology devices or their own. Julie realized this was the aesthetic she wanted for the UHC Medical Library.

The medical library is more multifaceted now than ever. The space and its resources not only cater to a diverse group of users, but must also meet modern expectations, in terms of user experience and its physical space.

Dive deep into your digital resources

In terms of the digital resources, the team took a dive into what was available in the library and found that there were many subscription resources that had low or no usage. Digital resources were in disparate locations, with too many vendor access points and too many logins to easily navigate the content. A decision was made to streamline access to these resources under the “same cyber roof.”

Implement tools to meet the millennial learner’s expectations

Streamlining access to digital resources is one piece of the UX puzzle. The team also wanted to implement tools and technologies that would match the search experience that many millennial learners have today, leading them to decide on a discovery platform for their medical library.

Learn more about how the UHC researched, transformed, and even marketed their medical library in the white paper, “A Total Transformation How One Medical Library Took Charge of its Physical and Digital Space”.

White Paper

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