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Eccles Health Sciences Library: 2020 Year in Review

Dec 21, 2020

It goes without saying that 2020 has been a challenging year. The continuing pandemic, confronting anti-black systemic racism, and a contentious season of election politics grabbed the attention of the world and our nation. These stressors were compounded locally by a significant earthquake in March, a hurricane-force windstorm that swept the state in September, and wildfires that threatened our campus in October. But in the worst of times, we often see the best of people. That has certainly been the case at University of Utah Health.

When yet another new challenge presented itself, faculty, staff, and students all emerged heroic. So it is no surprise then that despite the difficulties of 2020, our University of Utah people and teams accomplished so much. Each of our health science deans has compiled a “2020 Year in Review” reflecting ongoing efforts at improving patient care, enhancing student education, advancing research, and serving our local communities. They say hindsight is 2020, and in hindsight, we have accomplished a great deal in this most unusual year. I know you will enjoy reading these 2020 Year In Reviews.

Michael Good, MD

Throughout 2020, including the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, faculty and staff at the Spencer S. Eccles Health Sciences Library (EHSL) ensured the continuous availability of library services. We also made great strides in every aspect of our new strategic plan. Below you will find a few of the library’s many accomplishments in 2020.


In collaboration with university faculty, EHSL continues to produce internationally used educational resources:

Eccles Library staff
Simon Yim is a student who works in Public Services at the front desk of the
Eccles Health Sciences Library. 
  • Utah Dermatology Education Resources and Modules (DERM), a collaboration between EHSL and the Department of Dermatology, offers peer-reviewed, open-source dermatology education modules for students, residents, fellows, and clinicians. Its digitized library of 15,000 dermatology slides will soon allow learners to search, view, and study this large collection. Resources like this contribute to the increasing number of EHSL web users—more than 21,500,000 in 2020. 
  • Educating faculty, staff, clinicians, students, and the local community on finding, evaluating, and ethically using evidence-based health information is a primary function of EHSL. We continued those efforts exclusively online beginning in March 2020. Despite initial difficulties, we taught more people in 2020 than in any previous year:
    • 5,576 people received training in various research skills
    • 416 education sessions (an increase of 25 percent)
    • Doubled outreach service sessions to 140 
  • As part of the National Training Office for the Network of the National Library of Medicine, we had nearly 8,000 attendees across all training sessions. Nearly all participants reported learning new skills and feeling better able to find useful online health information.

Health Equity an Inclusion

A recent story about shortcomings in education surrounding dermatology and people of color highlighted the lack of images of conditions on skin of color. In response, EHSL reviewed its dermatology resources to identify those focused on inclusivity of skin pigmentation. These resources were shared with the Health Sciences Education Executive Council. The new resources were purchased and are now available for all University of Utah faculty and students:

  • Atlas of Black Skin – Includes more than 800 high-quality photographs and illustrations to help guide physicians in treating the nuances of darker skinned patient populations.
  • Dermatology Atlas for Skin of Color – With more than 300 color photos, this atlas focuses on dermatologic conditions most common in ethnic skin or skin of color.


EHSL plays a dual role in research, facilitating research by others and also conducting our own research to evaluate our methods and the impact of our services. In 2020, EHSL launched two new journals and a digital collection in partnership with University of Utah faculty:

  • Utah Women’s Health Review (UWHR): a peer-reviewed journal focused on sex and gender differences that affect the 7 Domains of Health: physical, emotional, environmental, financial, intellectual, social, and spiritual. With original research or review articles, data snapshots, and commentaries, UWHR is an ideal place for students and others to publish their research.
Michael Good, MD, Eccles Health Sciences Library
Michael Good, MD, looking at the 1543, 1st edition, of De
Humani Corporis Fabrica Libri Septem (On the Fabric of
the Human Body) by Andreas Vesalius.
  • Journal of the Academy of Health Sciences Educators (JAHSE): a unique effort by the AHSE to offer mentoring and pre-publication peer review for dissemination of educational scholarship. JAHSE provides faculty with friendly mentoring peer review of manuscripts to help ensure that a work is ready for submission to a scholarly journal. JAHSE will also publish peer-reviewed publications on educational scholarship, teaching and assessment methods, and related areas.
  • Discovery and Innovation at University of Utah Health Digital Collection: a searchable collection celebrating recent field-changing discoveries and high-impact innovation from U of U Health. More than 52 discoveries from the past five years are archived in this collection, and it is being expanded to include seminal research from the clinical and translational sciences.

As part of facilitating research at the U, EHSL’s Interlibrary Loan (ILL) program subsidizes the cost of obtaining material not available through the university's collections. Despite the pandemic, we had no interruption of ILL services and filled 11,666 requests. Further, EHSL facilitated and conducted 102 systematic reviews during 2019-2020 in partnership with U of U Health faculty.

In addition to assisting in others’ research, EHSL faculty gave 15 national paper and poster presentations and published six peer-reviewed articles in 2020. We also continued into the fifth year of our $10.9M NIH grant and secured several local and national grants.

Faculty & Awards

  • Nancy Lombardo’s research contributions were selected for the 2020 Banner Project. which recognized 20 faculty members across campus.
  • Nena Schvaneveldt and Brandon Patterson were recognized as Research Honorees at the 2020 Celebrate U event.
  • Donna Ziegenfuss won the Viewer Choice Award for Best Paper at the Joint Midcontinental and Midwest/MLA 2020 Annual Conference for her paper titled Revisiting the Value of Qualitative Research Strategies in the Time of COVID-19: Using Public Narrative Data as a Lens for Understanding Health Literacy Challenges.
  • John Bramble received the 2019 Midcontinental Chapter of the Medical Library Association (MCMLA) Outstanding Achievement Award.
  • Brandon Patterson received the 2019 MCMLA Star Award and received four scholarships to attend national and regional conferences.

Parnerships & Collaboration

  • Writing is one way to cope with all that is happening in our lives today. Reading to a sympathetic audience is another. In 2020, we launched Art Loud!, a virtual open mic event that invites people to read a piece of original writing. The online format has enabled many in our community to find a moment of creative respite during uncertain times.
  • In collaboration with the School of Medicine and the AVP for Health Sciences Education, EHSL provided medical students with space, laptops, lighting, and hotspots to hold their residency interviews. We also created a microsite for Rubor’s "Voices from the Residents" project for residents to share personal stories.

Looking Ahead 

In spite of pandemic challenges, 2020 was an exciting year for us at EHSL. We look forward to continued growth in the new year. In doing so, we remind our colleagues throughout the U and the scientific community of our commitment to help advance every aspect of health sciences scholarship and practice. See you in 2021!


Catherine Soehner, MLS, BSN

Catherine Soehner is the executive director of the Eccles Health Sciences Library and associate dean for research and user services at the University of Utah’s J. Willard Marriott Library. Soehner has led delivery of a wide range of library services, including research and information services, library instruction and training for users, and support for faculty, graduate students, and other advanced users in digital scholarship efforts.

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