Staff Spotlight - Introducing JoLinda Thompson, Systems Librarian
How did you become a medical librarian and how long have you been working at Himmelfarb?
I started working in medical libraries in 1985 when I interned at the library at Lehigh Valley Hospital Center in Allentown, PA. The fax machine was the latest technological breakthrough and I spent time typing catalog cards and verifying citations in print Index Medicus. Boy have things changed! I liked how medical librarianship tied into my Biology minor and I enjoyed literature searching in the days when you had to know command languages to interact with the systems. It was like solving a puzzle.
Since then I’ve worked in a pharmaceutical company library and as a reference librarian at Eastern Virginia Medical School in Norfolk prior to being hired at Himmelfarb in 1995. Not counting a brief break in service, I’ve been at Himmelfarb for over 20 years.
How has your job changed over the years?
I started life here as Head of Access Services which put me in charge of circulation and document delivery. About a year into my job I became interested in the administrative end of the new integrated library system/online catalog that had just been purchased and was mentored by the systems librarian at the time to become his backup. When he was promoted I moved into his old job. The systems I support have changed completely since then, requiring a lot of flexibility and adaptation.
What's been your biggest challenge?
Keeping up with all of the constant change. But that’s also what’s kept the job interesting and engaging. I’m always learning new things. Four years ago we migrated to a new library system which was a mammoth project involving most of the staff in library operations. We split the responsibilities across teams and worked intensely for a four month period to set up the new system and move over all of our data. We all had to figure out how to do much of our day to day work a new way. The staff in library operations did a tremendous job working collaboratively to complete the project on time with minimal disruption in service to library users.
Similarly, I’ve worked closely with staff in information services to customize our Health Information @ Himmelfarb searching service for a health sciences environment. We’ve done a lot of assessment to learn how our users search and to deliver a tool that meets their needs.
What's the best thing about working at Himmelfarb?
Definitely my co-workers. Himmelfarb has a dedicated crew who care very much about the library and the services they deliver. Everyone is kind and supportive and fun to work with. I consider myself extremely lucky to work here.
What do you do outside of work time?
My husband and I just celebrated our 26th anniversary this month and we have a daughter who is about to start college next fall. I’ve been involved in her activities, many music related. We enjoy traveling and watching Pittsburgh sports (Steelers, Pens) together. I’m also a big fan of the Arsenal, an English Premier League soccer team.
I enjoy reading literary fiction and have recently discovered Audible which allows me to multi-task. I like to write and a couple of years ago I authored a professional book on library discovery systems which was rewarding but incredibly hard work. I don’t know that I’d be willing to take a project like that on by myself again!