Informationist programme in support of biomedical research: a programme description and preliminary findings of an evaluation

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Abstract

Background

The informationist programme at the Library of the National Institutes of Health (NIH) in Bethesda, MD, USA has grown to 14 informationists working with 40 clinical and basic science research teams.

Purpose

This case report, intended to contribute to the literature on informationist programmes, describes the NIH informationist programme, including implementation experiences, the informationists' training programme, their job responsibilities and programme outcomes.

Brief description

The NIH informationist programme was designed to enhance the library's service capacity. Over time, the steps for introducing the service to new groups were formalized to ensure support by leadership, the team being served and the library. Job responsibilities also evolved from traditional library roles to a wide range of knowledge management activities. The commitment by the informationist, the team and the library to continuous learning is critical to the programme's success.

Results / outcomes

NIH scientists reported that informationists saved them time and contributed to teamwork with expert searching and point-of-need instruction. Process evaluation helped refine the programme.

Evaluation method

High-level, preliminary outcomes were identified from a survey of scientists receiving informationist services, along with key informant interviews. Process evaluation examined service implementation, informationists' training and service components. Anecdotal evidence has also indicated a favourable response to the programme.

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