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Meet Brenda Green, Geisel’s New Biomedical Librarian

“One thing I can say, and I’ve repeated this several times, is if you’ve seen one medical school, you’ve seen one medical school,” says Brenda Green, the new Head of Education, Research and Clinical Services in Dartmouth’s Biomedical Libraries. She credits a former university chancellor for this astute observation with which she agrees. “Each school’s challenges are different and what works in one environment will not work in another.” Green has witnessed these differences first-hand while working in medical center libraries at Georgetown University, George Washington University, Vanderbilt University, and the University of Tennessee Health Science Center in Memphis.

For Green, knowing both the environment and the people is an important first step in bringing everyone together to decide what the library needs to do to make an impact on campus—learning what the library’s constituents need and want helps focus and target her team’s efforts. Not an advocate for a cookie cutter approach, she has spent her first few months at Geisel meeting with individuals in undergraduate and graduate medical education to familiarize herself with the medical school’s community prior to setting goals.

“When this position opened, I knew I needed a crackerjack librarian who was well-organized—someone who could work well with experienced librarians. To tell the truth, we have absolutely fabulous, wonderful, seasoned librarians, and they didn’t need a supervisor and much as they needed, and wanted, a team leader,” recalls Laura Cousineau, director of Biomedical Libraries. “I knew Brenda was one of the people we would try to recruit for this job.”

Green and Cousineau met years ago during the Association of American Medical College’s Southern Group on Educational Affairs (SGEA) conference at Vanderbilt. They quickly discovered commonalities, including teaching in the medical curriculum at their respective schools. Together they, along with a few other SGEA librarians, co-founded Libraries for Medical Education, a special interest group within SGEA.

Adventurous and possessed with a deep love of the profession, coming to Dartmouth from the University of Tennessee University Health Science Center Health Science Library, was an easy choice for Green. “I approached this decision in the spirit of librarianship—I did my research, I got good information, and I acted on it,” she explains.

The challenge here at Dartmouth, Green notes, is to make the campus aware of the depth and level of services the library provides. To that end, she and her team of librarians are acting on the information gleaned from Green’s meetings and are actively spreading the word about what the library offers to the Dartmouth and Dartmouth-Hitchcock communities, which includes a variety of workshops and seminars.

Among the library’s most popular workshops are those helping clinicians, researchers, and students manage their references when writing articles, and those offering large database search advice.

RefWorks, a reference management software package, which Green says “allows researchers and students to manage their citations by importing them directly from a database into their document with automatic formatting—and if you decide to shift citing to another location in your article, the program automatically reformats the bibliography.”

Getting the best search results from large databases such as PubMed can be frustrating. “You can type anything and get results,” she says. “But PubMed has a lot of user tools designed to decrease recall and increase specificity.” Search tip: when librarians hear clinical terminology, they translate professional jargon into the language of the database for a better search result.

Green and her team is committed to not only meeting the needs of faculty, students and researchers, but to meeting them where they are, whether on campus or at Dartmouth-Hitchcock. “We’re mobile, we no longer expect people to come to us,” she says. In fact, the Dana Biomedical Library is curiously devoid of books—all of the action takes place online.

When young scientists are ready to publish, librarians provide valuable assistance identify publishing venues. “We can present lists of journals likely to publish their article based on their topic and can also talk about the impact factor and status of those journals within the profession,” Green says.

Mentoring young librarians is another aspect of Green’s job and one that is close to her heart. “I like perpetuating the profession by mentoring new biomedical librarians, helping them to see what a librarian looks like today,” she says. “I am also interested in how other librarians are perpetuating the profession. Where are the new hires? Which libraries are offering opportunities?”

Green is clearly enthusiastic about her work, but it is not her only love. She is a die-hard basketball devotee—a Memphis Grizzlies fan with season tickets. “I love all things Grizzlies,” she says with a wide smile, “and I will always be a fan at heart.”

Though her confession has nothing to do with libraries, it reveals something important about her—passion.