FSU SLIS Alumni Ryan Cohen at National Library of Medicine

Congratulations to Ryan Cohen (FSU MLIS 2012), who started his new job as a reference and public services librarian at the National Library of Medicine in Bethesda, Maryland in the Reference & Web Services Section, Public Services Division, in June 2012!  His primary duties include answering requests and providing technical advice from patrons worldwide  requiring support for NLM products and services including: PubMed (MEDLINE), DOCLINE,  Toxicology databases, ClinicalTrials.gov, MedlinePlus, Genetics Databases,  NIHSeniorHealth, the NLM Catalog, NLM Drug Information Portal, Citing Medicine,  LocatorPlus, IndexCat, LoansomeDoc, the MeSH Browser, and the NLM classification.  Inquiries include requests for information about diseases or drugs, how to obtain copies of  journal articles, how to find clinical trials, citation verification, correction of possible  database errors, assistance with DOCLINE and interlibrary loan, statistics, and other health  research and reference information. He reports, “I have handled over 5000 reference and research requests in person, through email, and by phone, and taught over 30 BI classes since starting in June. And don’t even get me started on all the committees and meetings I sit through and am on!”

Ryan Cohen at National Library of Medicine Reference Desk
Ryan Cohen at National Library of Medicine Reference Desk

Prior to NLM, from July 2011 to June 2012, Ryan worked in a biomedical reference  internship at the University of Pennsylvania Biomedical Library, where he developed subject  expertise under the guidance of the Penn Biomedical Librarians, in medical librarianship and biomedical databases such as PubMed (MEDLINE), EMBASE, Scopus, ISI Web of  Science, and CINAHL. He provided assistance with literature reviews, evidence-based information research, and systematic reviews to undergraduate and graduate students, staff, clinicians, and faculty, from the Penn School of Nursing, the Penn School of Medicine, and the clinical facilities of the University of Pennsylvania Health System.

Ryan recommends to anyone who wants to pursue a career in medical and health sciences librarianship to start planning early in library school. He suggests an internship or a paraprofessional position in a medical or health sciences library is a must have to becoming a medical or health sciences librarian, along with networking with medical and health sciences librarians in person or through social media. He learned of the reference librarian position at NLM through his connections with the Biomedical Librarians at Penn. Ryan notes that FSU SLIS classes in Health Information, Government Information, Introduction to  Information Services, Assessing Information Needs, Virtual Reference Services, and  Information Needs of Adults were “very useful for my current position at NLM.”   Ryan adds  that “classes on information ethics, indexing, and information organization are helpful to  take, as my position requires a great deal of explaining to journal publishers about how to submit article citation data to PubMed, explaining indexing policies, open access policies,  and how information is organized for PubMed/MEDLINE.” He also adds that he “based most of his papers and projects in his library classes to center on theme of medical librarianship, medical libraries, health information resources, and the information needs of the medical/health sciences community.”  In Fall 2010 in Dr. Lorri Mon’s Virtual Reference Environments class at FSU SLIS, Ryan Cohen and Nora Barnett worked together on a project to build a Directory of NNLM Libraries offering virtual reference services to the public.  They are currently working to revise their directory and will present a poster presentation of their directory at the Medical Library Association 2013 Conference.

Ryan Cohen at National Library of Medicine
Ryan Cohen at his office, National Library of Medicine

Today, Ryan teaches two classes a week on topics such as PubMed (MEDLINE), ClinicalTrials.gov, MedlinePlus, Genetics Home Reference, TOXNET, NCBI Databases, and DailyMed/Drug Information Portal. He works everyday with authors, government officials, medical researchers, scientists, publishers, health consumers, librarians, and students from all over the world with their medical and health information needs. He helps NLM carry  out its mission of enabling biomedical research, supporting health care and public health, and providing access to biomedical and health information across the country in partnership  with the 5,600 member National Network of Libraries of Medicine (NN/LM). Ryan says that he loves being told by librarians, who have 20+ years of library experience, from prestigious  medical and health sciences libraries all over the world, after helping them with searching and using PubMed that they can’t believe he has only been at NLM for three months. To  quote one librarian he assisted with explanations of advanced search strategies in PubMed,  “you are perhaps the most knowledgeable librarian I have come across that really knows  his stuff…you must have gone to a great library school.” Ryan’s reply: “Sure, did!  FSU!!”