DCT Librarian Selector Profile: Bette Sydelko, MSLS, MEd, AHIP
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Editor’s Note: One of the hallmarks of Doody’s Core Titles is the number of individuals who contribute to its development year after year, including health sciences Librarian Selectors, Content Specialists, medical book distributors, and the staff of Doody Enterprises, Inc. Their belief in the importance of this endeavor and willingness to offer expert analysis is critical to DCT’s success. Because of the cumulative efforts of over 180 individuals, we are able to produce a reliable list of core titles in just over two months every year. With gratitude, this month we present the profile of Bette Sydelko of Grandview Medical Center, who has served as a Librarian Selector for Doody’s Core Titles since its inception.  

Where do you currently work and what is your position? 

I’m very excited to be working part time in the medical library at Grandview Medical Center in Dayton, Ohio. You might wonder why I say “excited.” After 27 years doing reference and instruction in an academic medical librarian position at Wright State University, I retired with no idea what I was going to do with my time. Surprisingly and thankfully, I was soon recruited to work at Grandview. I am now in my “dream” job. I had always wanted to work in a hospital environment and finally, here I am! My years of experience in academia help me provide research support for the residents and fellows. Beyond that, each day brings different opportunities and challenges (I have to learn how to use DOCLINE!). As they say, never a dull moment! I am currently the interim manager. 

Provide a brief description of your library and its services.  

Grandview is one of the eight hospitals of the Kettering Health system serving the greater Dayton area. The medical library, located in the medical education building, affords us the opportunity to play a major role in supporting the osteopathic graduate medical education programs as well as meeting the information needs of all the Grandview employees. Grandview is the only osteopathic hospital in this area, so the library houses a large collection of historical osteopathic medicine books. We provide all the services normally provided by a hospital library – literature searches, interlibrary loans, instruction, research consultations, and much more.  

When did you start in medical librarianship? What was your position? With what institution? 

When I started library school in 1989, I was hired as a graduate assistant in the Library of the Health Sciences-Urbana, home of the University of Illinois Chicago Colleges of Medicine and Nursing branch in Champaign-Urbana, Illinois. It was this position that convinced me I wanted to be a medical librarian, as I had two wonderful mentors. Some of you may remember Ruth Fenske and Victoria Pifalo. My first job as a full-time medical librarian was on a “circuit” based out of the Guthrie Medical Center in Sayre, Pennsylvania. My “circuit” covered seven small hospitals on the Pennsylvania/New York border. Every week I visited each of my seven hospitals, serving as a clinical librarian making rounds. I would note their requests for literature searches, books or journal articles and then the next week, I would deliver the results. Rush requests were faxed. It was a very different world! 

Name two of the most important issues facing medical librarianship today. 

There are two ongoing issues that face medical librarianship. The first is recruitment into the field. Few library schools offer a specialty track, some only offering one course. Ohio, and perhaps other states as well, has found it difficult to keep pace with retirements, so finding qualified staff is a challenge. We must do a better job of convincing library students that medical librarianship is a great career path to follow. It would be easier to do this if it weren’t for the second ongoing issue: that of having to constantly demonstrate the need for and value of medical libraries and medical librarians. Contrary to popular belief, not everything is available on the internet. This is still a misconception held by many. It provides administrators with an argument for withholding financial support or, unfortunately, a reason to close a medical library. We know this is particularly true in the hospital environment where it is a daily challenge to keep the non-profit generating library open and appropriately staffed.  

Why do you volunteer as a Librarian Selector for Doody’s Core Titles? 

I first volunteered to serve as a Librarian Selector because I realized how much the Brandon/Hill list of books would be missed. If possible, I wanted to be on the ground floor of participating in a replacement; the call for volunteers for Doody’s Core Titles caught my eye and the rest is history. I continue to volunteer because I want to help ensure the continuance of Doody’s Core Titles. I have the expertise in collection development that enables me to make sound book purchasing decisions and I am willing to share my knowledge by participating as a Librarian Selector for Doody’s. As a hospital librarian, I am particularly interested in the titles labeled “Essential Purchase” as our library budget is quite limited and every dollar spent must be justified. Doody’s Essential Purchase Titles help make book purchasing decisions easier. 

What is one thing you want to make sure all librarians know about Doody’s services? 

I think it is very important for all librarians to realize how the process of selection occurs – that it is an objective process, not subjective as the process for selecting titles on the Brandon/Hill list was. Once the Content Specialists make the initial selections, the Librarian Selectors take over. Two or three Librarian Selectors for each subject add to the lists from the Content Specialists and then give numerical ratings to each title based on various criteria. Within the subject groups, the ratings from each librarian are averaged and results are shared. At the end of the process, Librarian Selectors choose which titles should be labeled “Essential Purchase.” 

One last comment: 

Be reminded of the number of volunteers that it takes to produce a new version of Doody’s Core Titles each year. Talk to your colleagues about participating.  It is a great opportunity to put your collection development skills to use and to collaborate with others to create an indispensable collection management tool.  

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