President's Message

Neil Rambo
AAHSL President
NYU Health Sciences Library
NYU Langone Medical Center


June 29, 2017

Dear Colleagues,

In spite of me falling behind on the communication front, that's not because nothing is going on in the world of AAHSL. Here is some of what's been happening:

  • AAHSL@MLA: Several AAHSL groups took advantage of their members being in the same place at the same time.
    • The Assessment & Statistics Committee held an all-day meeting to continue their work on revising the surveys and planning a transition to a new platform and host. Expect to hear more about this in a few months.
    • The Scholarly Communication Committee, Research Services Committee, Program & Education Committee, and the Competency-based Medical Education Task Force all met as well.
    • The Fellows and Mentors participated in an all-day Leadership Institute.
    • The newly formed Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Task Force also got together somewhat informally.
  • Interprofessional Education Collaborative: President-elect Jane Blumenthal and I represented AAHSL at the spring IPEC Council meeting, held at AAMC offices in Washington, DC, on June 7. The Collaborative consists of 20 associations representing health professions. The theme of the spring Council meeting was wellness: how each health profession contributes to the well-being of their students, faculty, and practitioners. Health sciences libraries and librarians, naturally enough, come at this topic from a different perspective than those professions that recruit and teach their own students, etc. As with so many of the ways in which we interact with our multiple user communities, our roles as service provider and as "common ground" enable us to be a link between the various health professions. It's worth thinking about how our spaces, services, and practitioners can positively affect the well-being of our users.

  • And, finally, the Retirement Celebration for Betsy Humphreys: I was pleased and honored to participate in the celebration of Betsy's amazing career on June 19 at NIH. I was delighted to see so many AAHSL members there. The program highlighted the countless and lasting contributions that Betsy has made to NLM, NIH, and the library and informatics communities. The totality of Betsy's career is a remarkable record. It occurred to me that we are unlikely to see anything like a career with such impact and import again. Maybe I am being shortsighted on this point, but I know I won't see such a record equaled, let alone surpassed.

That's it for now.

Best summer wishes to all,

April 25, 2017

Dear Colleagues,

As I referred to a few weeks ago, the three AAHSL presidents – Ruth Riley, Immediate Past-President; Jane Blumenthal, President-Elect; and me – made our Spring visit to Washington, DC, to meet with the leadership of partner associations and with NLM. We had seven meetings with 14 people over a 48-hour period. Here’s a snippet of what we learned:

  • We met with Patti Brennan, NLM director, and Betsy Humphreys, NLM deputy director, for a wide-ranging discussion on issues of mutual interest. We learned about the strategic planning process that is now underway at NLM, NLM’s role leading and coordinating data science at NIH, and the challenges presented to these efforts and all NIH programs by the new administration in Washington. The main message from this meeting was NLM’s strong and continuing support for the NLM/AAHSL Leadership Fellows Program. That, of course, is good news and gratifying to hear!
  • We had 3 meetings at AAMC, all of them substantive in their way:
    • We met with Alison Whelan, recently named chief medical education officer, who has particular expertise in competency-based medical education. She was very interested to learn about our CBME task force and the librarian’s role in medical education. Whelan had helpful insights into connecting our work with medical school teaching faculty.
    • We met with David Acosta, brand new chief diversity and inclusion officer, and Laura Castillo-Page, senior director, diversity policy and programs & organizational capacity building. They were enthusiastic to learn about our recently appointed diversity task force. They are interested in learning more about our task force’s efforts and how this may tie in with related AAMC activities in this area.
    • Our third meeting at AAMC was with Heather Sacks, director of constituent engagement. Heather coordinates GIR (Group on Information Resources), GBA (Business Affairs), and GIP (Institutional Planning). We discussed with Heather ways in which AAHSL can continue to work with GIR now that we have separated the Matheson Lecture and AAHSL business meeting and program session from the formal AAMC program.
  • We met with the leadership team of ARL (Association of Research Libraries). Among many topics discussed, diversity issues, data management services in libraries, and the relationship of academic health sciences libraries to university libraries were key.
  • Other meetings included:
    • AMIA, with Doug Fridsma, President and CEO, and Jeffrey Williamson, vice president of education and academic affairs.
    • Tony Mazzacchi, senior director of policy and research, Association of Schools and Programs in Public Health. Tony used to be a policy director with AAMC and continues to be one of the most knowledgeable analysts in Washington on health professions education policy.

As current President, this is the second time I have participated in these visits and I am reminded anew how valuable they are to the progress of AAHSL programs and initiatives. AAHSL is small but we have an extensive reach. These meetings remind our partners who we are and what we are about. I have no doubt that we are able to do more and go farther because of these discussions.

I am happy to discuss or answer questions about any of this.


April 5, 2017

Dear Colleagues,

Next week the AAHSL Triumvirate – Ruth Riley, Immediate Past-President, Jane Blumenthal, President-Elect, and I – will descend on Washington, DC, for our annual meetings with AAHSL partner organizations and associations. This year we will be meeting with the leadership of:

  • National Library of Medicine (NLM)
  • Association of American Medical Colleges (AAMC)
  • American Medical Informatics Association (AMIA)
  • Association of Research Libraries (ARL)
  • Association of Schools & Programs of Public Health (ASPPH)

[The line-up changes slightly from year to year depending on current issues and, typically, calendars. There were a few other meetings we were not able to schedule next week because of schedule conflicts and we will follow up on those with conference calls in the next few months.]

These visits provide the opportunity to educate our colleagues about AAHSL and the vital role that academic health sciences libraries play within their member institutions and in support of their user communities. In return we learn about the issues they are facing and possible areas where we (and/or you!) may be able to collaborate.

If you have any issues that you would like to see addressed during our visits, please let any one of us know.



March 14, 2017

AAHSL Colleagues,

This is a synopsis of the recent Board of Directors meeting held in San Diego on February 23-24. When I started this message I described it as “brief”. It is, in that it skims the surface of the content of the meeting. But it became a bit lengthy, so apologies for that and thanks if you read all the way to the end.

We welcomed the newly elected members – Jane Blumenthal, president-elect; Cynthia Henderson, secretary/treasurer; and, Jerry Perry, member at large – in their official capacities. We enjoyed a productive meeting covering a wide range of issues.

On the agenda were updates on committees and task forces, finalizing a strategic plan update, a report on the January meeting of the Inter-Professional Education Consortium (the first for AAHSL to attend as a new member), planning for the annual meetings of the AAHSL presidents with NLM and associations in and around Washington, DC, and developing a tentative plan and schedule for the AAHSL meetings later this year (November 2-3) in Boston.

A few highlights:

  • Annual Meeting: Plan now to attend our one-day meeting in Boston on Friday, November 3. As with the 2016 meeting in Seattle, the 2017 meeting is expected to include morning committee meetings, annual membership meeting, Matheson Lecture (without having to register for the AAMC Learn, Serve, Lead conference!), education program, and an evening reception. The Board and 2017/18 Fellows/Mentors will meet on Thursday, November 2.
  • Assessment and Statistics Committee: The 2015/16 (39th edition) of the annual, salary, and descriptive surveys have been published. 127 libraries completed the Annual survey, 126 the Salary, and 128 the Descriptive. The committee is conducting an analysis of potential migration of the statistics to a subset of questions from the ACRL survey with a selection of more specific, targeted questions from the current AAHSL survey. Much more to say about this once the committee completes its analysis and other details have been worked through. 
  • Future Leadership Committee: Working from recommendations developed by the FLC, the Board approved a plan to 1) recruit a Program Director to succeed Carol Jenkins, who will be stepping down from this position in September at the conclusion of the 2016/17 Leadership Fellows year, and 2) commit to supporting a 2017/18 Leadership Fellows cohort.
  • MLA/AAHSL Joint Legislative Task Force: Updated background materials are being prepared for the task force meeting and Capitol Hill visits on April 18-19.
  • Research Services Committee: Two new members were recently added to fill vacancies – Marisa Conte (University of Michigan) and Debra Rand (Hofstra Northwell). Welcome!
  • Finance Committee: The Board approved a recommendation to engage an investment consultant to review the association’s financial assets and recommend potential investment strategies.

My thanks to your hard-working and high-functioning Board of Directors:

Ruth Riley, Immediate Past President
Jane Blumenthal, President-Elect
Cynthia Henderson, Secretary/Treasurer
Pam Bradigan, Member
Nadine Dexter, Member
Jerry Perry, Member
Louise Miller, Executive Director, ex officio

As always, I am happy to answer questions or address concerns you may have.


 February 8, 2017

The Association of Academic Health Sciences Libraries (AAHSL) Board of Directors, acting on behalf of the Association, is concerned about recent actions of the new administration in Washington, DC, which we believe are counter to the interests of our communities and at odds with our professional principles. AAHSL represents the values and interests of academic health sciences libraries and the integral role our members play in ensuring the highest quality education, research, patient care, and the health of our communities. Access to scientific information and basing health care practice and policy on the best available evidence are core values.

The executive order on immigration negatively and unfairly affects students, faculty, and staff at our health professions schools and the availability of needed health care providers for our communities. Also troubling are possible attempts to restrict the dissemination of scientific information from government agencies. Publicly-funded research findings and scientific data should be available to all without political or ideologically-motivated interference.

January 30, 2017

Many thanks to Mary Langman, MLA’s director of information issues and policy, for coordinating the development of joint MLA and AAHSL responses to two recent RFIs (Requests for Information): 

- NLM’s request for information on the NLM strategic plan
- NIH’s request for information on data management, sharing, and citation

Members of both the MLA and AAHSL Scholarly Communications Committees, other MLA members, and many from AAHSL member libraries, contributed to these important statements.

I recommend these to you. Both statements can be found on MLA’s Public Policy Center page.


December 20, 2016

Hello AAHSLers. I hope this finds you warm (for those of us for whom that is an issue) and soon (but not quite yet) to enjoy a happy holiday season! 

I expected a post-annual meeting lull but there has been a lot going on. Much of what is going on, however, is still in process and will have to wait for the next update. But not to disappoint. There is an important development that I am pleased to share now:

Thanks to the vision and effort of President-Elect Jane Blumenthal, and others, and thanks to the willingness of many AAHSL member librarians to volunteer their time and talent, the AAHSL Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Task Force has been formed and is ready to launch. The task force members are listed at the end of this message and the charge is attached. Information about the task force will soon be added to the committee and task force section of the AAHSL website.

As usual with AAHSL, more volunteered than could be accommodated. Thank you to all who stepped forward. I hope all who are interested and motivated will find a way to participate in this work.

More, next time. Until then, wishing you all a healthy, happy, and prosperous New Year!




AAHSL Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Task Force

Cristina A. Pope
Health Sciences Library Director

Martin Wood, MSLIS, AHIP
Director, Maguire Medical Library
Florida State University, College of Medicine

Emily J McElroy
McGoogan Library of Medicine
University of Nebraska Medical Center

Sandra Martin
Shiffman Medical Library
Wayne State University

Barbara Bernoff Cavanaugh
Associate Director, STEM Libraries; and
Director, Biomedical Library
University of Pennsylvania

Letisha R. Wyatt
Basic Science Liaison/Research Data Management Librarian
Oregon Health Sciences University

Stephanie Swanberg
Assistant Professor and Information Literacy and eLearning Librarian
Medical Library at the Oakland University William Beaumont School of Medicine (OUWB) 

Stephen Kiyoi, MLIS, MS HAIL, AHIP
Director, ZSFG Library, UCSF

Board Liaison 
Cynthia L. Henderson, MILS, AHIP
Associate Dean Health Sciences Libraries and
Director Norris Medical Library
University of Southern California

November 11, 2016

Dear Colleagues,

It was great to see so many of you in Seattle a week ago. We had a blockbuster day on Friday, November 11, with several early morning committee meetings, a networking breakfast, our annual business meeting, followed by the Matheson Lecture given by Patti Brennan, NLM Director, a networking lunch, an ambitious afternoon educational workshop (thanks to the Program and Education Committee), and, finally, a reception at the University of Washington Health Sciences Library, hosted by Tania Bardyn and staff. Oof!

It was a lot to pack in. But it was rich and many thanks to all those who contributed to it and made it possible.

A few of you asked me to send you the (selected) remarks I made during my incoming president's address. So, instead, I will brazenly inflict this on the subscribers to AAHSL-All. Admission: the remarks were not written. What I share below is my recollection of what I said, or, more accurately, what I hoped and meant to say. These remarks were given about 48 hours after learning the results of the national election. I was still in the early stages of absorbing the meaning of that (still am).

I would be remiss if I did not address the moment that we find ourselves at. Earlier this week, we as a nation lurched into an uncertain future. We took this step out of fear, anger, and frustration, in the face of uncertainty and unsettling change. That response doesn't usually turn out that well. We, as a professional association, are also facing an uncertain future and unsettling changes to our profession. We, too, can react out of fear. We can retreat and reject the future. We are done if we do so. Instead, we have to have courage and continue forward. We have even more of a challenge before us to advance access to information for the advancement of health. It's who we are and what we do.

Follow me on Twitter @RamboNeil for the latest in AAHSL news. Your money back if you find a more timely source of what's going on in AAHSLland.

AAHSL President