Victoria Messana, MSLIS, MA
Digital Services Librarian
Health Sciences Library
New York Medical College
When we encounter new situations requiring decisions, one of the most important steps is to make sure we have the information necessary to inform our actions. However, when the volume of information grows so large that it eclipses our ability to parse through it, it inhibits our ability to make decisions based on evidence. Nowhere is this more evident than in the current COVID-19 pandemic. The extent of the crisis has accelerated the pace of research, resulting in a flood of information for scientists and public health experts to wade through in search of the evidence needed to inform public health decisions and the search for treatments.
The Global Outbreak Alert and Response Network (GOARN), partner organizations activated by the World Health Organization (WHO) in public health emergencies, is grappling with this issue. When GOARN Research Lead Lina Moses, PhD, MSPH, realized the volume of information she would have to contend with, she called on Elaine Hicks, MS/LIS, MPH, MCHES, liaison librarian at the Rudolph Matas Library of the Health Sciences, to work with her on identifying resources relevant to making evidence-based decisions related to the pandemic. Understanding the need for librarians’ unique information skills, Hicks formed a group of volunteer librarians, later named the Librarian Reserve Corps (LRC).
Since then, the LRC has evolved into five distinct working groups, each of which contributes to their core mission of responding to information needs in public health emergencies. Currently, LRC volunteers are working to assign relevant metadata to publications in a daily list provided by the World Health Organization to conduct rapid evidence reviews for WHO and GOARN partners and to respond to literature search requests. They’ve completed over 40 searches and search updates and indexed over 16,000 articles.
In keeping with its mission of providing comprehensive information on health sciences resources, Doody’s has gotten involved, too! Bradley A. Long, a member of the Doody’s Library Board of Advisors, has volunteered with LRC. For more information about the LRC and how you can get involved, visit the website: https://librarianreservecorps.libguides.com/home.