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Talicia Tarver: Get to know new liaison to Allied Health programs

June 21, 2016
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New to VCU, Research and Education Librarian Talicia Tarver serves as the liaison from Tompkins-McCaw Library for the Health Sciences to the School of Allied Health Professions. She says: "I am excited to be working for you and assisting you in navigating VCU Libraries' resources for all your research and education needs. You can also get started using our resources through this research guide. Feel free to contact me with any questions." and (804) 827-2095. Get to know her and how she approaches her work in this Q&A.

Virginia Commonwealth University is one of only a few institutions in the nation that provides education in all the major allied health professions. The school offers curriculum at the certificate, baccalaureate, masters, post-graduate, and doctoral levels. All of its programs are approved or accredited by the appropriate professional or educational organizations. The school has been a pioneer in the development of distance education programs at the University, and offers the only interdisciplinary, internet-based doctoral program in allied health in the country, the Ph.D. Program in Health Related Sciences.

Tompkins-McCaw Library for the Health sciences supports--through its collections, research services and programming--every one of the nine departments in the School of Allied Health Professions. How do you approach your role?

My job as liaison includes raising faculty and student awareness of the resources pertinent to their disciplines. This includes resources the library already owns, as well as any new resources we add to our collection. To make sure our collection meets my liaison group’s needs, I speak to faculty to get a sense of which textbooks, journals and databases support their curriculum. From that information, I customize research guides with links to these resources for each discipline. I also submit to our collections librarian any requests faculty make for specific resources, if we don’t have them in our collection. I also deliver classes and workshops to incoming students (upon faculty request) and teach students how to access resources and search the literature. Finally, I offer personal consultations. These consultations allow faculty and students a chance to meet one-on-one with a librarian for any assistance they need in searching scientific literature for research projects and assignments. 

What are your professional goals for working with the School in 2016-17 academic year?

Because I’m new to the VCU campus, I’m still learning how to best serve the Allied Health faculty and students. However, I plan to work with the faculty to create classes and hold business hours that will help students learn literature searching and assessment skills. Part of my required training here with the Tompkins-McCaw Library includes classes in conducting systematic reviews and teaching evidence-based practice. With this knowledge, I hope to develop relationships with the faculty such that I can assist them with their research. I have already begun working to promote Scholar’s Compass to Allied Health faculty and students so that they may submit their research to VCU’s institutional repository.

Can you briefly characterize how you see each of the programs/student types  in Allied Health regarding its connection to the libraries or to the literature?

The Allied Health student base is varied. Some are coming to the graduate programs right after completing their undergraduate degrees, while others are re-entering the classroom after many years of professional experience. There is also a mixture of distance and onsite students. Finally, the information needs the individual departments range from administrative and research-oriented to a more clinical focus. Therefore, my job so far entails updating them on remote access to our collection and how to search multiple databases that pertain to their disciplines and related fields. It requires me to stay abreast of each discipline’s searching needs and which databases provide the most pertinent literature to each group.

Can you share an example of how VCU Libraries develops custom content for specific courses or groups?

The most recent example is that of a literature searching class the library liaison for Allied Health has always delivered to undergraduate and graduate Clinical Laboratory Science (CLS) students. When meeting with the CLS faculty to update the class materials, the faculty requested that I add a component on writing for the sciences. They thought it would be a helpful to refresh the students on good writing practices, as this particular library class complemented the CLS classes in which the students would have to choose a topic and write a literature review. I had some previous experience and training working with a health sciences writing center and was able to insert that in the pre-existing class materials.

How are you actively engaged with the school?

With the help of the previous liaison, Jennifer McDaniel, I have been introducing myself to all the faculty. Through these introductions, I have been getting their feedback on what has worked before and what they would like to see the library offer in terms of collections and instruction. So far, I have been able to make some collection requests on their behalf and deliver several classes and consultations. I have also been encouraging Allied Health Ph.D. students to consider entering their dissertations (and any research they are conducting) in VCU’s institutional repository, Scholars Compass. I’m constantly on the lookout for new opportunities to engage with the entire school.  

The School offers a number of doctoral programs. How do you see yourself assisting these candidates?  

So far, the doctoral students generally need assistance with literature searches for their dissertations and research proposals. I have held some personalized consultations and have directed these students to the Scholars Compass website should they wish to contribute their research to the VCU community. I am scheduled to hold office hours this summer for the Ph.D. students, who will be working on their dissertations at that time, and therefore may be needing assistance with their literature searches.

Are there particular services or opportunities VCU Libraries provides that you want to stress? 

The main resource I would like to call their attention to is the list of Allied Health Research Guides we have created and customized for each department. I want all Allied Health faculty, students and staff to think of these guides as “community property." These guides belong to them as well, and so I will continue to update and customize these guides based on their feedback.

  1. During the semester, the VCU Writing Center holds office hours in Tompkins-McCaw Library. 
  2. VCU Libraries offers an Open Access Fund for faculty who may need to pay to publish their research in open access journals. A number of Allied Health faculty could benefit from accessing this fund.
  3. One thing that I stress during each orientation is that Tompkins-McCaw works with Cabell Library to fill our patrons' information needs.Both libraries are part of the VCU Libraries system, which is helpful for our Allied Health students who have multidisciplinary focus. For example, disciplines like gerontology include psychology and social work components, two disciplines that generally have resources located in Cabell. Our Allied Health students and faculty can request materials from Cabell and pick them up at Tompkins-McCaw. Graduate students and faculty may also access the Graduate Student and Faculty Research Center on the fourth floor of Cabell Library.


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