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VCU’s health sciences library receives top honor for research advancement from the Medical Library Association

March 27, 2020

Tompkins-McCaw Library for the Health Sciences is the recipient of the 2020 Research Advancement in Health Sciences Librarianship Award from the Medical Library Association (MLA). 

MLA is a global, nonprofit professional development and membership organization with  more than 400 institutions and 3,000 professionals in the health information field.

According to the MLA, this award recognizes organizations whose exemplary actions have served to advance health information research and evidence-based practice in health sciences libraries. Honorees have created and sustained a culture of research that enables and recognizes the research engagement of health sciences librarians whose involvement has contributed significantly to clinical, educational, research, or administrative outcomes in their institutions. Awardees are selected only on occasions when the merits of an organization clearly recommend recognition by MLA. Previous recipients of this honor include the University of Illinois-Chicago and the University of  Saskatchewan, Saskatoon, Canada.

“Tompkins-McCaw Library is one of the nation’s most outstanding health sciences libraries,” says Dean and University Librarian John E. Ulmschneider. “It has an extraordinary collection and a distinguished and much-honored team of faculty and staff. This honor confirms that stature and the respect with which our library is held by its colleagues in the Medical Library Association.” 

Adds Teresa L. Knott, Associate Dean and Director of Tompkins-McCaw: “This award recognizes the outstanding work of our library faculty who engage in research that advances health sciences librarianship and who partner with VCU faculty on research projects designed to inform innovation and discovery. Library faculty engage in a wide range of research from evidence-based practice to quality improvement to systematic reviews that improves human health.”

The MLA Research Advancement Award recognizes the research efforts of the entire Tompkins-McCaw Library. Two letters of support showcase just two examples of the extraordinary research support offered by the faculty and staff at the library.

“The excellent work achieved by the librarians of Tompkins-McCaw Library for the Health Sciences has contributed significantly to the culture of research we prioritize at VCU,” wrote Sally A. Santen, M.D., Ph.D., Senior Associate Dean, Evaluation, Assessment and Scholarship; Director, Office of Assessment, Evaluation and Scholarship; and Professor, Emergency Medicine, VCU School of Medicine. 

Santen wrote in her letter supporting the nomination: “Educational scholarship faculty and staff reach out to John Cryus [librarian for the School of Medicine] on a nearly daily basis to ask for help on various easy and difficult literature searches. I have sent countless people to work with him as they do a background review, look specifically at methodology, and work on the discussion of papers. He is always thorough, timely, helpful and insightful with his reviews. If there are a myriad of articles- he helps to refine the search, and if there are few he helps to expand to understand other approaches. Personally, he has significantly added to my own depth, breadth and productivity over the past year. As I look at the submissions or new projects I have worked on – he has supported at least 20 of them over the past year. He demonstrates in his role as a librarian that they are essential research partners in achieving clinical and institutional goals.”

Jo Robins, Ph.D., R.N., Associate Professor and Interim Director, Ph.D. Programs, VCU School of Nursing also wrote in support of the nomination, noting “The sustained commitment of VCU libraries to our research mission is evident across the university and health system through their support of collaborative relationships between librarians, faculty, students, and clinicians.”

In her letter of support, she wrote:  “The library also shows a commitment to educating about research and all it entails. This is reflected in the fact that Mr. Roy Brown [librarian for the School of Nursing]  teaches in baccalaureate and masters courses as well as doctoral on-campus immersion experiences. The educational sessions he leads address topics within the research lifecycle from creating effective questions, effective database searching, identifying various data/evidence resources, and disseminating findings. As a knowledge expert, Mr. Brown provides feedback on research curricula through his presence at curriculum committee meetings.”  

While library faculty in the Research and Education Department plays a large role in advancing the research mission of VCU Libraries the efforts of staff and faculty in all departments including Archives and Special Collections, Collections, Operations, and Resource Sharing and Delivery equally contributed to this significant recognition.




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