When I tell people I work as a Cancer Librarian, they’re often surprised. The common reply is: “I didn’t realize there were librarians working in hospitals!”
Believe it or not, there are many roles for librarians beyond the traditional public library in your neighborhood. There are librarians who work in law firms, government, universities, banks and insurance companies, and importantly, hospitals and cancer centers. A cancer librarian can be a key ally in your fight against cancer.
Many cancer centers have libraries with cancer librarians, and they’re especially common in teaching hospitals. Sometimes we’re called Clinical Librarians, Medical Librarians, or Hospital Librarians, but despite our different titles, our primary role is always the same - to link patients and care providers to the best published evidence in order to make sure patients get the best treatment!
I work with nearly all members of the healthcare team to provide access to the latest medical information. This includes doctors, scientists working in laboratories, residents, nurses and nurse practitioners, graduate students and even health care administrators. I have four major roles as part of the healthcare team: I search the literature for the best evidence supporting direct patient care, I make sure our collection of books and journals is up to date and optimized, I provide access to research that is not readily available through the library’s subscriptions, and finally, I help oncologists research and publish their work. See some examples of our publications.
But I don’t only work with staff - I also serve patients! Many cancer patients need more information than just the basics. While websites provide excellent resources for understanding the intricacies of cancer, sometimes patients need even more, would prefer a different format (print vs. electronic), or even would like a literature search completed by a Cancer Librarian to answer a highly complex question that they can’t find an answer to online.
This is where I can help!
The resources in our libraries provide advanced detailson all types of cancer, from lung to cervical, ovarian, breast, prostate, colorectal, metastatic disease…. from the newest therapies like Stereotactic Ablative Radiation Therapy (SABR) and personalized medicine, to resources on palliative care, drug and chemotherapy information, and even uncommon cancers. My library does have a website that links to some of the similar online examples of basic patient information, but if you think that you need more information about cancer and the basic patient resources aren’t answering your questions, then it might be time to talk to a Cancer Librarian about finding some advanced answers to some advanced questions.
So feel free to get in touch, either with me, or with a cancer librarian at your center! We’re here to help you to get the information you need to be well-informed.