2022 Year in Review: Spencer S. Eccles Health Sciences Library
This was a year of transition and emergence. The Delta and Omicron coronavirus waves began to give way to a more endemic phase of the pandemic. Then, we were tested again with a “triple-demic.” This new normal presented its own headwinds. We face challenges with workforce, professional and personal burnout, equity, access, and the need for more space—all while our city and state continue to experience rapid population growth.
Amidst these challenges, we have a clear and exciting path forward. We continue to work together and lead with our values, promoting well-being and belonging. We innovate new approaches to providing world-class and compassionate care to our patients, offering unparalleled education and training for our many learners, and advancing scientific research and knowledge that changes the world, all in service to our communities. To share a few glimpses of that great work, each of our health science deans compiled “2022 Year in Review” narratives that reflect our ongoing efforts to excel in our missions. Please enjoy reading about the accomplishments of your colleagues in our schools and colleges at the University of Utah.
— Michael Good, MD
We collaborate with learners across campus to provide timely, relevant instruction for every health sciences discipline. Our audiences include faculty, staff, clinicians, students, and the local community. Helping learners find, evaluate, and ethically use evidence-based health information is a primary function of EHSL.
In 2022, we saw the following:
- 5,543 people received training in various research skills
- 105 education sessions
- 18 outreach sessions, reaching 352 learners
EHSL librarians have also been helping researchers measure scholarly impact using SciVal, a research analysis tool.
As the National Training Office for the Network of the National Library of Medicine, we taught nearly 8,000 attendees across all training sessions. Almost all participants reported learning new skills and feeling better able to find useful online health information.
Health Equity and Inclusion
We seek to build an active, determined, and compassionate culture of diversity, safety, inclusion, wellness, and sustainability. This has been evidenced by our efforts in 2022:
- Hired an inaugural Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion Librarian, Donna Baluchi, who sits on both U of U Health and main campus EDI committees.
- We increased our outreach and pipeline efforts to students from more diverse groups, including those within juvenile justice facilities. We have since connected with 412 high school, junior high, or college students and 130 community members to expand our outreach efforts.
- Surveyed all University of Utah BIPOC staff and faculty to look for successful themes surrounding employee support and belonging to better inform policy and practice around hiring and retention. Survey data is currently being analyzed for a report.
- Furthered development of the UtahDERM project with the digitized library of over 15,000 slides. The slides viewer now offers students and clinicians the ability to search by skin color using the Fitzpatrick Scale, working to bridge the gap in dermatology treatment and research.
EHSL plays a dual role in research, facilitating research by others and conducting our own research to evaluate our methods and the impact of our services. EHSL manages two journals in partnership with University of Utah faculty:
- Utah Women's Health Review (UWHR) is a peer-reviewed journal focused on sex and gender differences affecting the 7 Domains of Health: physical, emotional, environmental, financial, intellectual, social, and spiritual. UWHR has published more than 70 original research or review articles, data snapshots, and commentaries.
- Journal of the Academy of Health Sciences Educators (JAHSE) is a unique effort by the AHSE to offer mentoring and pre-publication peer review to disseminate educational scholarship. JAHSE has published almost 30 peer-reviewed publications on educational scholarship, teaching and assessment methods, and related areas.
To further facilitate research at the university, EHSL's Interlibrary Loan (ILL) program subsidizes costs of obtaining materials not available through the university's collections. Since January 2021, ILL services have filled 16,308 requests. Further, EHSL facilitated and conducted 102 systematic reviews during 2021-2022 in partnership with U of U Health faculty.
Of this service, Joshua Schiffman, MD, said, “Your group is absolutely terrific!! [You] always respond quickly and accurately. The University of Utah community is lucky and privileged to have all of you on campus.”
In addition to assisting in others' research, EHSL faculty gave 45 national papers and poster presentations and published 17 peer-reviewed articles in 2021-2022. We also continued into the second year of our $10.9M NIH grant and secured several local and national grants.
Faculty Awards and Accomplishments
We strive daily to point the way toward inclusive and informed health care decision-making, better care, and better outcomes. Several of our faculty were recognized for their efforts this year:
- Mary McFarland was honored as the Utah Librarian Association's Librarian of the Year.
- Donna Baluchi received the 2022 Utah Librarian Association's Outreach Award for her ability to partner, support, and promote projects that demonstrate how libraries can support public health initiatives, such as Period Equity.
- Rebecca Brown was accepted into the Accessibility Community's Mentoring Program, which brings together emerging accessibility professionals with experts in the field.
- Nena Schvaneveldt was admitted as a member of the 2022 cohort in the Institute for Research Design in Librarianship, a continuing education program for academic and research librarians.
- Christy Jarvis was granted a three-month sabbatical to study inequities in information access for health care providers in Utah. She is exploring what next steps EHSL and U of U Health partners can take.
Partnerships and Collaboration
One of our strategic goals is to engage communities to improve health and quality of life. We have sustained that goal this year through the following projects:
- EHSL partnered with the College of Nursing, Edible Campus Gardens, and the FeedU Pantry to build a Seed Library! It aims to increase access to locally grown food, provide food for those with food insecurity, facilitate local plant resilience to disease, and promote community well-being for students, staff, and faculty.
- Along with student advocates and a grant from the sustainability office, we distributed 701 low-cost menstrual cups directly to the campus community. Due to donation efforts by companies we partnered with, we distributed 1138 menstrual cups!
- Virtual reality (VR) is transforming how health care is accessed, prescribed, and taught worldwide. In partnership with the Spencer S. Eccles Family Endowment and the Therapeutic Games and Apps Lab, EHSL launched the inaugural VR4Health Sciences Education grant program. This year's winner, "Using a Cultural Humility Framework to address Social Determinants of Health through Virtual Reality," will receive funding for one year of design and development, totaling close to $100,000 worth of services.
With EHSL now embedded in Epic, that health care providers can request evidence-based information to assist their decision making regarding the treatment of patients. One recipient of this service, Virginia Memmott, DMin, stated:
“I finally had an opportunity to review the materials you sent me regarding the research question. You hit the target. I sincerely want to thank you for your diligence, your approach, and the data you gathered. Your work is such a valued contribution to health care. Being able to reach out to you is a tremendous option for us for the healing of our patients. I appreciate your wisdom and strength in research.”
We celebrated our 50th anniversary in 2021. Excitement about our commitment to helping advance every aspect of health sciences scholarship and practice continued to grow in 2022. We have exciting news for 2023: EHSL is preparing for an earthquake retrofit! We anticipate construction changes and updates over the next three years.
Lastly, we are grateful for the impact of the health and quality of life our library has provided our campus and Utah communities and look forward to continuing to shape the future of the health sciences with all of you.
Catherine Soehner, MLS, BSN
Catherine Soehner is the director of the Spencer S. Eccles Health Sciences Library and associate dean for research at the J. Willard Marriott Library. During her time at the Marriott Library, Soehner has led the 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. Previously, Soehner served in academic libraries at the University of Michigan and the University of California, Santa Cruz, as well as the National Library of Medicine.