Anne Mackereth, MA
Director of Library Services, Assistant Professor
Northwestern Health Sciences University
Editor’s note: Anne Mackereth has served as Editorial Review Group Chair of Alternative Therapies for Doody’s Review Service since September 2015. Unlike our other ERG Chairs who typically work in departments of their review group specialties, Professor Mackereth is director of library services for Northwestern Health Sciences University, which offers accredited programs in acupuncture and Chinese medicine, applied clinical nutrition, chiropractic, massage therapy, and undergraduate health sciences/post-baccalaureate pre-health. During her tenure, she has recruited 37 reviewers who have reviewed 99 of the 133 books we have sent her. In this article, Professor Mackereth shares how she has been so successful in her unique role as a librarian-ERG Chair.
I accepted the role of Editorial Review Group Chair for Alternative Therapies in September 2015 after being recommended by James Bulger, MLIS, a Doody’s Library Board of Advisors member from Allina Health in Minnesota. Initially I thought the books could be reviewed by librarians, but that soon turned out to be infeasible since we do not have the expertise in the subject areas to adequately judge the quality of the books.
Northwestern Health Sciences University requires scholarly activity as part of the faculty performance review process and some faculty members have difficulty finding such opportunities in their day-to-day activities. A chat with two deans led to an agreement that book reviews of new books in faculty members’ subject areas would be a great way to supplement their other scholarly work. I sent the deans a link to Doody’s website to describe what Doody’s was all about and added that its resources and expert reviews help librarians all over the world develop their health sciences collections. Early on, I solicited recommendations for reviewers from the deans, but as time went on, I was able to approach faculty directly for reviews. I have even been stopped in the hallways by previous reviewers asking when I would have another book for them to review! Of course, getting to keep the book is a definite perk of the reviewer’s job.
I have no magic formula for tracking the reviews since I don’t receive a large number of books monthly. I merely write the reviewer’s name on the letter sent to me by Doody’s each month and keep it in a visible spot on my desk. Since faculty have busy lives, I make sure to check in with them about a week before the review is due to make sure they are aware of the upcoming deadline. The more experienced reviewers know how long the process takes and often wait until the weekend before the due date to spend the necessary time on the process. Newer reviewers, on the other hand, tend to spread the work out over the month and sometimes consult with me about whether they are approaching the process correctly. I have shared examples of past reviews as well as editorial review guidelines with them. They usually find the process rewarding and thank me for the opportunity.
At times, I have difficulty recruiting reviewers because of their intense faculty workload. There are terms when my best reviewers are just too busy to commit to completing a review on time. However, that can lead to recommendations of others in a department who can be considered, which strengthens the pool of available reviewers.
I have enjoyed getting to know our faculty and their expertise, which, as the director of library services, I would not typically get to do since I do not interact with faculty as often as other faculty librarians. Overall, my experience as Editorial Group Chair has been quite rewarding and I hope to be involved for a long time to come.