Lisa Huang, MLS, MS
Librarian, VISN 19 Shared Library Services
Department of Veteran Affairs
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 2006: Lisa Huang of the Department of Veterans Affairs’ VISN 19 Shared Library Services.
Where do you currently work and what is your position?
I have worked for the Department of Veterans Affairs, Veterans Integrated Service Network (VISN) 19 – Rocky Mountain Network (aka “region”) since January 2023. As the Librarian for the VISN 19 Shared Library, I am field based at the Eastern Colorado Health Care System facility in Aurora where I oversee a 100% virtual library. I am a solo hospital librarian covering six medical centers/health care systems, numerous clinics, and the network administrative office. I provide library services for over 12,000 FTEs in Wyoming, Utah, Montana, and Colorado.
This is my fourth Veterans Affairs (VA) position. In 2016, I was appointed to my first position in the VA as the librarian for the VA Palo Alto Health Care System (Palo Alto, CA). I next served as the Supervisory Librarian/Library Service Chief at North Florida/South Georgia Veterans Health System (Gainesville, FL). I became a Health System Specialist for the VA Central Office — Office of Primary Care Virtual Care Integration Team, focusing on integration of the VA’s current and emerging technologies and services into the patient care arena.
Provide a brief description of your library and its services.
The VISN 19 Shared Library concept came to fruition as administrators realized there was increasing demand for library services from VA staff at these sites. At the time, there were no librarians in the VA facilities in Wyoming, Utah, Montana, and Colorado, and none could provide adequate financial support for a full-time librarian. Hence, the facilities agreed to support the Shared Library model.
Today I offer a full range of library services for these locations, including literature searches, interlibrary loan, collection development, scholarly communications, data analysis and curation, and troubleshooting online access issues. I also maintain electronic content for each facility’s library presence, whether that is SharePoint or web page(s) on the Intranet and Internet, and work with each facility’s newsletter team. Outreach to departments/services in each facility while making online training available is a constant effort.
When did you start in health sciences librarianship? What was your position? With what institution?
For my first paid library position, I began my career with a library internship at Mary Kay headquarters, also known as the pink cosmetics company. It was an eye-opening experience where I learned the many ways in which library and information services contribute to an organization’s operations.
My first full-time library position was the Health Sciences and Sciences Librarian at Collin College in 2004 in the Dallas/Fort Worth region. I enjoyed academia, relishing the opportunities to collaborate with departments for programs and activities and teaching courses. Being around students keeps you on your toes! I enjoy the “aha!” moment when they connect the dots.
Name two of the most important issues facing the profession today.
Issue #1: What does the post-pandemic library look like for each library?
Everyone is grappling with this issue on many fronts and unknowns — work life balance, work from home, telework, budgets, new policies, or legislation, etc. The next few years will be interesting; no one has a crystal ball.
Issue #2: Doing more with less, specifically less funds and staff.
In libraries today, we are forced to provide services to more customers/end users amid shrinking budgets and limited staff. Hospital librarians must align our annual goals and objectives with those of our supervisors and the organization’s strategic plans. We need to forecast health care and management trends to survive and thrive.
What is one innovation, product, or service in your library that you’re excited about?
It is extremely difficult to name only one! I am most excited about the fact that I have the opportunity to build a new library presence for these facilities. Some of these sites have never had a librarian or they last had a librarian over a decade ago. The staff are surprised and sometimes shocked to learn that the VA offers ebooks, ejournals, and databases such as UpToDate, VisualDx, and McGraw Hill’s Access Suite available to them 24/7. The staff are excited to learn they can request librarian services such as access to full-text articles, literature searches, and PubMed training, and that they have a full range of electronic resources provided by the VA National Desktop Library.
Why do you contribute as a DCT Librarian Selector?
Because of limited funds, collection development opportunities are scarce. I have been a DCT Librarian Selector since the beginning, when Dan Doody put out the call for librarians to offer collection development guidance following the discontinuation of the Brandon Hill Lists. Being a librarian selector allows me to contribute to a valuable collection development resource that will help other librarians make informed, unbiased decisions. I want DCT to continue to exist; librarians and/or information professionals need collection development feedback from their peers — not merely those sales promotional blurbs from publishers! In short, I want to help create collection development recommendations by librarians and for librarians.
Anything else you’d like to share?
On many fronts, technology is another big issue facing the profession today, requiring librarians to be innovative and agile. For those of us with limited funds, we must be knowledgeable about open-source resources. My library doesn’t have funds for RefWorks, EndNote, or Covidence, so I teach staff about Zotero, Abstrackr, and Rayyan instead. I use MS Teams, which works just as well as Blackboard and Slack for training and communication needs. Keeping up with all the tech changes from library vendors, from Microsoft Office to ChatGPT and AI keeps it interesting!
Observations from opening a new library:
Unless you have a librarian or someone dedicated to promoting and training staff on these point of care tools and resources, staff will not know about their existence.
There continues to be a disconnect between what our customers/end users perceive of our offerings/skill set versus what we can really offer them.