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Matas Library of the Health Sciences
Editor’s note: On a regular basis, we publish profiles of librarians who have been an integral part of Doody Enterprises, whether they have served on our Library Board of Advisors, as a Librarian Selector for Doody’s Core Titles, or on the editorial board/as a List Selector for Doody’s Special Topics Lists. This month, we are profiling a librarian who has served as a Librarian Selector for Doody’s Core Titles since 2019: Keith Pickett of Tulane University.
Where do you currently work and what is your position?
I am the Director of the Matas Library of the Health Sciences at Tulane University in New Orleans, Louisiana.
Provide a brief description of your library and its services.
The Matas Library’s history dates back to 1844. We are currently located at the Tulane University School of Medicine building in downtown New Orleans, just a few blocks from the Superdome. We serve the students, staff, faculty, and research community in the School of Medicine, School of Public Health and Tropical Medicine (the first school of hygiene and tropical medicine in the United States), and the Tulane National Primate Research Center. While we offer a comprehensive suite of information resources, the Matas Library prides itself on expert-level, evidence-based instruction and research support services. We hold formal instruction sessions for all first-year medical students through our “Matas 101” course and public health graduate students throughout the curriculum. We also partner with other campus departments on systematic review support, IACUC protocol assistance, registering clinical trials, and much, much more.
When did you start in health sciences librarianship? What was your position? With what institution?
My journey in health sciences librarianship started in 2002 when I was hired as a Document Delivery Associate at the John P. Ischè Library at LSU Health Sciences Center in New Orleans. I earned my MLIS in 2008 and, after a brief stint in an academic library working with digital collections, became a Research Support and Education Librarian at the Matas Library at Tulane University. I’ve been here ever since.
Name two of the most important issues facing the profession today.
Right now, a very important issue is adequate staffing. After “The Great Resignation” spurred on by the COVID-19 pandemic, there are now more available positions than at any time in recent memory. Institutions have to be competitive to attract highly qualified candidates, but in many places, salary levels aren’t keeping up with other fields or inflationary pressures. This has led to critically examining our job postings and position descriptions to make sure we are attracting as many qualified applicants as possible.
Being able to maintain high levels of quality services and resources when budgets are tight also remains a significant challenge. Library budgets are simply not increasing with inflation rates, so tough decisions must be made on a daily basis. Health sciences libraries are often considered cost centers when, in fact, they are investments in student, faculty, and research success. We do more than provide the tools to answer critical questions at the moment of need – we teach the skills and build awareness to foster lifelong learning in the groups we serve.
What is one innovation, product, or service in your library that you’re excited about?
The Tulane MARS Program (Meta-Analysis Systematic Review Support) is a collaboration between the Matas Library and the Provost’s Office. The goal of the MARS Program is to promote scholarship and visibility of Tulane Scholars through increasing high-impact publications and citations by providing Tulane Scholars with assistance in conducting key components of systematic reviews and meta-analyses. Our library works with the Provost’s Office to streamline and increase the efficiency of the systematic review process. The MARS Program has already led to several publications in impactful journals, and more are on the way.
Why do you serve as a Doody’s Core Titles Librarian Selector?
I think it’s an important service to those who wear multiple hats within their organizations. Some hospital libraries are “one-person shops,” so having the community come together to help make crucial collection development decisions is a great thing. I hope you can contribute as well!
Anything else you’d like to share?
We really have a fantastic staff here at the Matas Library. We can offer all the resources in the world, but it is really the people that make the most impact. I am very proud and humbled to be leading this group of outstanding staff and librarians.
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