Council Quotes

Communications from the Colorado Council of Medical Librarians

My new favorite children’s librarian

Posted by lynnemariefox on October 4, 2012

Today’s keynote speaker at MCMLA 2012 is a children’s librarian.

I thought he was joking when he said he was a children’s librarian, not a medical librarian.  He was not.

Dipesh Navsaria MD MLS is an assistant professor of Pediatrics at University of Wisconsin School of Medicine and Public Health.

Dipesh, who arrived early to attend the Reception and get to know some of MCMLA’s members, talked about his career path and the role of medical librarians.  He might not just be the only children’s librarian MD hyphenate in the world, he’s probably the only MPH-PA-MD-children’s librarian in the world. He’s not afraid of a few school loans.

Demonstrating his love for and understanding of children’s literature, he wove several excerpts of CS Lewis’ The Magician’s Nephew into the presentation.  He focused on the “woods between worlds” in the book, using it as a metaphor for the librarian’s role.

He became interested in an early literacy program called Reach Out and Read while working as a PA in a low income clinic. He believes that the low child mortality rate requires that pediatricians focus on “developmental assurance” –  making sure that children receive the best possible start in life, ensuring that every child has the chance to reach their potential.

He wandered into the Center for Children’s Books at the University of Illinois Library School to learn more about children’s literature and walked out with a plan to become a children’s librarian. He took a year off from medical school to complete his degree.  Along the way, he says “I learned things I never thought I’d learn about.”  One of his observations was that the reference interview = history taking.  When doctors ask “what brings you in today?” they follow the same stages and use many of the same strategies used by librarians.

One of Dipesh’s projects involved bringing books to hospitalized children.  As a resident, he noticed stacks of DVDs in patient rooms, supplied by the hospital, but no books. He applied for funding and started an inpatient children’s library.

He also started a prescription for reading program which is now integrated into the EPIC medical record at his hospital.

He also works his beliefs about early literacy into the campus “neurons to neighborhoods” program to improve pediatric neurological development.  He’s extended that to his work as a medical school instructor, requiring his students to develop lifelong skills in searching for information through active learning.    His advocacy problem based learning case requires interaction with medical librarians while planning a strategy to advocate for a group or cause.

He challenged us to:

  • Be more visible
  • Get in people’s faces and get into the curriculum
  • Be part of the wider world
  • Find champions to help you from “the inside”
  • Be confident about your status and your ability to contribute
  • You should fill the hunger, not the information amateurs
  • Be the trusted guides for the worlds that the “woods between worlds” leads to.

It was an interesting and inspiring talk.  It made me feel great that someone as talented and smart as Dipesh chose to be part of our world, values what we do and is an evangalist about it to others.

Can we clone him?  Bow tie and all?

[Lynne M. Fox, University of Colorado Anschutz Medical Campus, Health Sciences Library]

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2 Responses to “My new favorite children’s librarian”

  1. skatsh said

    VERY inspiring and captivating. Today’s Nobel news about pluripotent stem cells should help in the cloning process. Until then, we should at least start a fan club.

  2. Deb Weaver said

    Lynne, I loved reading your blog posts. Thank you so much for doing this!

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