Career Profile: Medical Library Technician
Crystal Smith, Medical Library Technician, History of Medicine Division, National Library of Medicine, Bethesda, Maryland
National Institutes of Health: Office of Science Education
I chose this career because…
I chose to become a library technician because of my early work experiences, and because my mentor encouraged me to pursue my goal.
• Associate of Arts, General Studies, Montgomery College, Rockville, Maryland
• Bachelor of Arts, History, Concentration Health Education, University of Maryland at College Park, Maryland
• Master of Library Science, College of Information Studies, University of Maryland at College Park, Maryland
• Certification, State of Maryland’s Library Associate Training Program
My typical workday involves…
My typical workday in the History of Medicine Division (HMD) of NLM consists of several major tasks:
• Creating bibliographic records – typing the details of journal articles into our historical database. Details include the author’s name, journal title, article title, volume and page numbers, language, abstracts if available, and more. In this case, we are focused on articles related to the history of medicine.
• Cataloging specific chapters from books that are related to the history of medicine – typing information into another database called LOCATORplus. This database includes over 800,000 catalog records for books, audiovisuals, journals, computer files, and other materials in the Library’s collections.
• Providing reference services in-person, by e-mail, phone, and letter to HMD researchers seeking access to HMD’s collection of rare materials including pre-1914 monographs, pre-1871 journals, pamphlets, prints and photographs, dissertations and a wide range of manuscripts and historical audiovisuals. I instruct customers in the use of the HMD and NLM databases, and explain HMD procedures relating to all aspects of library services and collection access.
• Updating the Directory of History of Medicine Collections, electronic and print versions, on a yearly basis and promoting new History of Medicine Collections (both nationally and internationally) to be added to the directory.
• Representing the reference staff by serving as a liaison between the Prints & Photos and the Historical Audiovisual sections of HMD.
• Working with onsite photographer, conservation librarian, and conservator to complete photography orders of picture requests from rare books in the HMD collection.
What I like best and least about my work is…
What I like best about my work is interacting with people. I also enjoy tracking down information to answer questions. I feel instant gratification when I find the answers to customers’ inquiries.
My career goals are…
My career goal is to become a reference librarian. I just graduated from my master’s program, so now I qualify for this position. I plan to apply for the position at NLM when it becomes available.
What I like least about my work is when I have to do a lot of typing as part of my technical duties.