|Meet Alexandra (Alex) Gomes, Associate Director, Education, Information, and Technology Services|
Alexandra Gomes, Michael Driscoll, and Diston Chiweza at the Mulunguzi restaurant, Zomba Plateau, Malawi
Just like snowflakes, no two days are alike for Alexandra (“Alex”) Gomes, Himmelfarb Library's Associate Director for Education, Information, and Technology Services. Alex oversees the activities of the Reference team, the Web Services division, and the library's technology staff. Each of these departments is engaged in large-scale projects including the upcoming Himmelfarb website redesign, the growth of the embedded librarian initiative in the School of Nursing (SON) and School of Medicine and Health Sciences (SMHS), and the ongoing challenge of maintaining the library’s 200+ computers, printers and related software. In addition, she continues to fulfill many of the responsibilities of a Himmelfarb reference librarian including teaching in the School of Medicine's Problem-Oriented Case-Based Learning course, being embedded in SON's DE courses as the resident librarian, serving as a liaison to three departments, and taking shifts on the reference desk.
Over the past fourteen years at Himmelfarb, Alex has worked with many students and has come to understand how much they rely on the library to support their studies and research. As part of a team from the Himmelfarb Health Sciences Library and Information Technology Department, she recently had the occasion to learn that this is a universal need among health sciences students.
In August 2013, the team had the opportunity to visit the Medical Library at the University Of Malawi College Of Medicine in Blantyre, Malawi and see these similarities first-hand. Thanks to funding from the Elsevier Foundation, Anne Linton, Alex Gomes, and Michael Driscoll were invited to visit the Medical Library during an exciting transitional time. The library is currently moving from a small space to a large, airy four story building located at the center of the College of Medicine campus. The library director, Mr. Diston Chiweza, has plans to not only move the contents of the current library, but also expand the electronic collection to better meet the needs of the students. They rely heavily on the library for access to journal articles as well as textbooks to support their coursework and clinical rotations. Students are spread among various clinical sites, a satellite campus in Lilongwe, and the Blantyre campus. A robust electronic collection would support students in all of these locations, as well as throughout the Blantyre campus due to the recent installation of wireless networking in the dorms as well as classroom buildings. The new library building will serve as a campus core, providing space for multiple campus functions and activities including study, collaborative work, social space, and conference events. The Himmelfarb team and Mr. Chiweza are collaborating to consider additional roles for the library and its new space.
In her spare time, Alex and her husband enjoy travelling, photography, and dancing. One of her favorite local spots is the Spanish Ballroom at Glen Echo Park, a beautifully restored Art Deco ballroom from 1933 with the original wooden floor. "It's hard to beat dancing to live music in a lovely space with hundreds of other enthusiastic dancers." The Ballroom draws diverse crowds -"all ages, ethnicities, and dance abilities are welcomed; everyone just wants to share their love of dancing."
For the past several years, Alex has also entered some of her photographs in the annual Himmelfarb Art Show. "Taking photos is a great way for me to capture memories of my travels. I’m delighted that others are also interested in seeing and enjoying them." Perhaps this spring we’ll be able to see some images of Malawi in the upcoming Art Show!
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