Shannon D. Jones, MEd, MIS, MLS
Director, Libraries and Learning Resource Centers
Medical University of South Carolina
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 served as a List Selector for the inaugural Doody’s Special Topics List on Health Equity: Shannon D. Jones of Medical University of South Carolina.
Where do you currently work and what is your position?
I am the Director of Libraries for the Medical University of South Carolina (MUSC) in Charleston. In addition to this role, I serve as Director, Region 2, Network of the National Library of Medicine, which is headquartered at MUSC.
Provide a brief description of your library and its services.
The MUSC Libraries serves as one of the few stand-alone academic health science centers in the country and the oldest medical school in the South. As South Carolina’s only comprehensive academic health center providing a full range of programs in the biomedical sciences, MUSC engages in clinical, educational, and research activities statewide. Founded in 1824, MUSC educates and trains more than 3,000 students and nearly 800 residents in six colleges: Dental Medicine, Graduate Studies, Health Professions, Medicine, Nursing, and Pharmacy. MUSC Health is comprised of 10 hospitals situated throughout South Carolina and employs 17,000 care team members. To serve this diverse population, the MUSC Libraries provides access to a robust electronic collection. We no longer maintain a physical collection of materials except those held in the Waring Historical Library, the special collections and rare book library. A hallmark of our program is deep patron engagement anchored by a liaison librarianship program, a learning commons, and community outreach initiatives. Our services consist of a mixture of the traditional (reference and research support, instruction, circulation, interlibrary loan/document delivery, university archives, etc.) and technology-infused (computer-based testing, 3D printing and AI/VI support, and technology equipment lending).
The MUSC Libraries is also the headquarters of Region 2 of the Network of the National Library of Medicine. Region 2 provides programs, services, and dedicated support for NNLM Members in Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Mississippi, South Carolina, Tennessee, the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico, and the U.S. Virgin Islands.
When did you start in medical librarianship? Tell us about that journey.
My interest in pursuing a career in librarianship was ignited purely by accident when I accepted a position at the Brickell Medical Sciences Library at Eastern Virginia Medical School (EVMS) in Norfolk. It was at EVMS that I was introduced to clinical medical librarianship where the librarians rounded with physicians. Until that time, all my library interactions had been limited to public and academic librarians. So, to learn that there was a career path for librarians in the healthcare environment was eye-opening. Even more, the fact that EVMS librarians were making worthwhile contributions in support of the school’s research, education, and patient care missions was intriguing but the coup de grace was the fact that the librarians were well respected and appreciated by the patrons they were serving. This was the type of job satisfaction I wanted from my chosen vocation.
I graduated from North Carolina Central University’s School of Library and Information Science in May 2002 and was selected for participation in the National Library of Medicine’s Associate Fellowship Program, a one-year postgraduate training fellowship. I completed the optional second year in the fellowship program at Virginia Commonwealth University’s Tompkins-McCaw Library for the Health Sciences (now the VCU Health Sciences Library). After completing the fellowship, I was appointed to the role of Education Services Outreach Librarian at VCU. My time at VCU was rich in learning and opportunity. I was able to grow my knowledge and expand my skillset through professional development, influence decisions by serving on multiple library committees and groups, and assuming a variety of leadership roles. I held multiple positions at VCU with increasing responsibilities to include the Interim Head – Education Services, Head-Outreach Services, and Associate Director, Research and Education. As Associate Director, Research and Education, my primary responsibility was to raise the visibility of the library on our campus. To accomplish this goal, I led a team of faculty librarians who developed innovative library instruction, research support, and outreach initiatives for five professional schools and a teaching hospital. The experiences gained at VCU positioned me to assume the Assistant Director for Program Development and Resources Integration position with the MUSC Libraries where I was appointed in January 2014 after over 10 wonderful years at VCU. I came into librarianship with a goal of being a library leader. Achieving this goal required me to be strategic about the professional roles assumed, professional development opportunities pursued, volunteer opportunities accepted, and leadership institutes or programs completed attended. A key aspect of this strategy was having mentors and sponsors to show me the way and walk with me on this journey. I very much believe having a laser-focused strategy improved my readiness for assuming the role of Library Director.
Name two of the most important issues facing medical librarianship today.
As I see it, two important issues that are impacting medical librarianship are 1) burnout and 2) recruiting and retaining BIPOC librarians. Medical library workers are tired. Many of our libraries remained open during the pandemic to meet the information needs of our campuses. Many of these services were provided onsite during the height of the pandemic. Living through over two years of the COVID-19 pandemic has been traumatic on many fronts. In those two years, we experienced the senseless killings of Ahmaud Arbery, Breonna Taylor, and George Floyd; a tense presidential election; shutdowns and social distancing; and budget reductions, furloughs, and layoffs. As we define our new normal, we must prioritize the burnout reduction among ALL library workers, not just librarians.
The second issue relates to recruiting and retaining Black, Indigenous, and People of Color (BIPOC) librarians. The lack of BIPOC representation has been a persistent challenge for decades. I believe this disparity persists because there is a misalignment between the diversity talk in libraries and our walk. Failing to acknowledge the impact of whiteness in profession and the role that racism has and continues to play in libraries is of particular concern. Remedying this disparity will require a combination of strategies built upon a foundation of intentionality and strategic action related to:
- Being anti-racist.
- Cultivating inclusive spaces where brave dialogue and differing perspectives are welcomed and honored.
- Normalizing cultural humility and civility in our interactions.
- Inviting BIPOCs to bring their whole selves to their work and not have their voices or perspectives diminished in doing so.
- Disrupting the notion that libraries are neutral spaces.
Tell us about your experience selecting titles for the inaugural Doody’s Special Topics List in Health Equity.
It was an honor to be invited to select titles for the Health Equity list. It provided me the opportunity to expand my own knowledge and awareness about Health Equity, curate a list of resources on the topic, and collaborate with co-selectors with whom I had not worked very closely.
What is one thing you want to make sure all librarians know about Doody’s services?
It is important for librarians to gain an understanding of how they can use Doody’s services to support data-driven collection management.