Get to know: Michelle Kraft, MLS

Get to know: Michelle Kraft, MLS

Library Director
Cleveland Clinic Floyd D. Loop Alumni Library
Twitter: @Krafty • Facebook: @KraftyLibrarian • Krafty Librarian Blog
“We strive to provide research and clinical resources that help our caregivers’ information and patient care needs”

Our fun, new interview with ‘krafty’ librarian and popular blogger, Michelle Kraft, MLS, explores a range of personal and professional topics—from her passion for technology, to ensuring caregivers at the Cleveland Clinic have the essential medical resources they need.

What started as an interest in “finding the answer” led Michelle to an important role as the Director of Library Services for the Cleveland Clinic Floyd D. Loop Alumni Library. As Director, Michelle oversees the library services and resources for the main campus of the Cleveland Clinic, eight community hospitals and a hospital in Abu Dhabi.

Providing both online as well as traditional print resources, the library’s services also include systematic reviews, teaching classes on effective database search strategies, reference management systems like EndNote, Mendeley, etc. “We strive to provide research and clinical resources that help our caregivers’ information and patient care needs,” Michelle said.

The library also has an important role assisting with author and article-level metrics and helping select proper avenues for publication.

Read our latest interview with Michelle from Cleveland Clinic below.

Few librarians share your technology prowess. Has your passion to embrace/leverage technology led to any changes for the library?
I like to experiment a bit with technology. My specific interest is in determining how we can leverage technology to make things better/easier for us and our caregivers. I am always trying to look for ways to improve, and the various types of technology that can help. Sometimes it can and sometimes it can’t. When it can we try to implement it in the library.

Our top priorities are: balancing the needs of our users with the availability and cost of the resources, providing easy seamless access to electronic resources, and providing outreach to caregivers in departments and hospitals.

Medical librarians are becoming more active in clinical education, supporting faculty in various ways. Assisting in the development of evidence-based courses, starting journal clubs and rounding with residents are just a few examples. Have you seen this type of effort at Cleveland Clinic?
We have been involved in creating journal clubs as a way for caregivers to stay on top of the latest information. Another area that we have been really involved in is providing specialty-specific resource pages that can be bookmarked and utilized within the EMR. For example, we have a web page with cardiovascular ebooks, journals, databases and other resources for our Heart and Vascular Institute. Caregivers in this institute bookmark and use this web page full of resources carefully selected just for them. They don’t have to search through the library’s main site to find resources that relate to their job. This page is their “one stop shop” for information related to their discipline. We have created these guides for every department and institute within the Cleveland Clinic and they are using them a lot.

If you were granted three wishes to change the professional education curriculum for medical librarians today…what would you change?
That is hard because Graduate programs vary greatly. However, I think all librarians should acquire some practical experience prior to graduating. It can be an internship, practicum or actual library work.

I wish there were required courses on fundraising, philanthropy, or just alternative methods for finding money beyond your institution. Institutional dollars earmarked for the library are shrinking, while the library resource costs are growing. There is often a shortfall and we need to think of ways to supplement our institutional budget to afford those resources.

Finally, I wish there was a budget and finance class for librarians. Understanding things that your finance team talks about—like EBIDA—can help you understand an institution’s overall finances. It is important to think of performance indicators, such as ROI, and measure that along with other values of our services to ensure we remain relevant to our administration. Too often administrators see the library as a cost center and we need to change that way of thinking.

Sharing your work seems to be a priority in your life. You have published numerous articles and have a robust portfolio. What advice would you give a new librarian regarding the importance of getting their research and other works published/shared?
Start small. Do a few book reviews or smaller articles to see if you like writing and sharing your ideas. You can then work your way into more activities by becoming active within an association. Librarian listservs are also a good way to see what others are doing and if they would be willing to co-author a project that you both happen to be working on.

Many of the librarian blogs active a decade ago are no longer around. Yet your blog remains a popular source for getting a unique perspective on market needs. What drives you to stay committed and keep it current?
I find that by sharing my ideas I am also learning from others. I just want to share what I learn and the blog allows me to do that. It allows me to discuss topics with librarians I will never meet in real life and we are able to learn from each other.

Please describe what being involved in leadership roles at MLA, OHSLA and others have meant to you personally.
I feel like I kind of fell into leadership. I mentioned that I always like to learn from others and I found that getting involved and learning from others allowed me to evolve into leadership roles within the profession. My leadership roles within MLA and OHSLA have allowed me to work with others to advance medical librarianship toward the future.

What do you think will be the biggest changes/challenges to your field in the next five years?
I think the biggest challenge in the next five years is relevancy. As hospitals and academic medical centers merge, and merge their departments and budgets, often times the library is eliminated. Administrators don’t understand that you can’t just simply pile everyone into the same library bus for a free ride to resources. The license agreements for these resources don’t allow that. Every hospital, institution, building, etc., must pay and there are often no bulk discounts. So if a large hospital buys another large hospital, the library costs are going to go up accordingly because the resource vendors count the total number of beds or FTEs when they license the resources. There is no free information ride.

Anything else you’ve learned that you’d like to share with your colleagues?
I think librarians and publishers need to work together. Too often librarians view publishers as adversaries and publishers often view librarians who always cry poor. One of the reasons we are in this mess is that the larger population doesn’t realize that information isn’t free. We need to work together to inform people that information is not free and that the library is providing this information. Librarians have done such a good job at providing seamless access to information that often our doctors and nurses don’t realize the journal article they are reading was bought and paid for by the library. They just assume it is free because they were able to read it. Both publishers and librarians need to work together to better inform people about the need for quality medical information.

What sparked your interest in a library science career?
I was working as a library student worker while I was in college and I learned that I liked finding things that were hard to find. I found doing the research and finding the answer to the question was fun.

About Michelle:
I love sports. I swim and sometimes compete with Ohio Masters Swimming. My husband and I are season ticket holders for the Cleveland Browns, and wish that someday we will witness a winning season. We have 3 kids who eat up the majority of our time as we support them in their sports and other activities. I love to travel and I would love to go back to South Africa again.


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