Hospital Librarian Shares How She Contributes to Shepherd Center’s Mission
Jessica Callaway, MLIS, AHIP, is a clinical research librarian at Shepherd Center.
How long have you worked at Shepherd Center?
I have worked at Shepherd Center for a little over a year now. I have been a librarian since 2018 in various capacities. Library science is such a big field that includes many specialties like public libraries, academic libraries, museums and hospitals. I have always worked in healthcare in some form, so after undergrad, I pursued my master’s in library and information science (MLIS), focusing on clinical medicine.
What is your role at Shepherd Center?
I manage the library at Shepherd Center, which includes three parts: the clinical library, consumer library and historical archives.
With the clinical library, I work with the team at the Virginia C. Crawford Research Institute, along with medical staff, to help them find answers to clinical questions they have.
The consumer library at Shepherd focuses a lot on health literacy. I help patients and families understand the resources available to them related to topics like mental health, trauma and injury.
Shepherd Center’s historical archives have pretty much everything you could think of related to the hospital! I use it to find facts, photos and memorabilia from Shepherd’s past for various events, milestones and community needs.
How does your role contribute to the hospital’s mission to serve patients and families?
The consumer library I mentioned is specifically for patients and families. I like that the resources we provide can show them they are not alone and there’s knowledge out there for them. Once patients leave the hospital, I invite them to email me with general questions they may have that I can find answers to within our library.
Pre-COVID-19, we did monthly outreach events with themes that are relevant to patients and families. We even have a book club that some patients are a part of. I’m hoping to get these events up and running again soon!
What is the most fulfilling part of your job?
I enjoy being able to find exactly what someone on clinical staff is looking for or to answer a question that they thought was impossible to answer. Everything has an answer – you just have to know where to look for it!
A lot of our patients come to our library and are overwhelmed. I love showing them our handouts with basic overview information and seeing the instant relief on their faces.
You just received the 2021 Medical Library Association (MLA) President's Award. Can you talk a little about the work you did for it and why it is meaningful to you?
When COVID-19 first started, there was a phenomenon called an “infodemic” – too much information was coming out, and we as a society were having trouble keeping up with it. Working in a medical library specifically, you can’t afford to have the wrong information. So, we worked with the MLA to fish out what information was reliable and put it together for quick access not only for hospitals, but for pretty much anybody. A lot of public libraries used this resource. It was an organic document – constantly evolving as new information came out. You can check it out here.
University of Maine – bachelor’s in literature theory
Kent State – master’s in library and information science (MLIS) with a focus in clinical medicine
- Jessica is a Captain America historian. Her bachelor’s degree was in literature theory with a specialization in comic books!
- Jessica is a member of the Librarian Reserve Corps, a group that responds to information needs in public health emergencies in partnership with the World Health Organization’s Global Outbreak Alert & Response Network.
- She also is working with VOT-ER, a team of healthcare professionals who help make it easier for patients to participate in the democratic process of voting. In fact, Shepherd Center’s library received second place last year for getting patients and staff to vote in the presidential and run-off elections.
- Jessica is a huge music fan and is ready for live music to come back.
- Jessica is very excited to be working on a comic book study at Shepherd Center about how disability is represented in comics.
Answers compiled by Damjana Alverson
Shepherd Center, located in Atlanta, Georgia, is a private, not-for-profit hospital specializing in medical treatment, research and rehabilitation for people with spinal cord injury, brain injury, multiple sclerosis, spine and chronic pain, and other neuromuscular conditions. Founded in 1975, Shepherd Center is ranked by U.S. News & World Report among the top 10 rehabilitation hospitals in the nation. In its more than four decades, Shepherd Center has grown from a six-bed rehabilitation unit to a world-renowned, 152-bed hospital that treats more than 743 inpatients, 277 day program patients and more than 7,161 outpatients each year in more than 46,000 visits.