Bioinformatics opportunities for health sciences librarians and information professionals*
Alison J. Helms, Graduate Student (MLS June 2004),1 Kevin D. Bradford, MLS, Information Analyst,2 Nancy J. Warren, MLS, Systems Librarian,3 and Diane G. Schwartz, MLS, AHIP, FMLA, Director of Libraries and Archives4
1Department of Library and Information Studies School of Informatics State University of New York at Buffalo Buffalo, New York 14260-1020
2Lourdes Hospital 1530 Lone Oak Road Paducah, Kentucky 42003
3D'Youville College 320 Porter Avenue Buffalo, New York 14201
4Kaleida Health 100 High Street Buffalo, New York 14203–1126
Universities and medical research institutions are hard at work training researchers in bioinformatics, a multidisciplinary field comprising molecular biology, genetics, mathematics, and computer science. Bioinformatics specialists with undergraduate and graduate degrees find their skills are in high demand in a range of research and development environments, including universities, teaching hospitals, and the industrial sector, including pharmaceutical, vaccine, and biotechnology companies. Researchers in bioinformatics currently receive strong support from library and informational professionals in geographic areas where biotechnology corporations are established. However, stronger support and collaboration will be necessary as the field matures. Health information professionals and science librarians with backgrounds and aptitudes in biological, chemical, and computer sciences; genomics; proteomics; and data analysis are ideal candidates for professional involvement and specialization in bioinformatics.
Professional librarians seeking to contribute their talents to the field of bioinformatics must also expand their depth of knowledge in the biological and computer sciences. Additionally, interested librarians need to systematically evaluate and expand traditional roles and services to include the new resources and tools that are emerging worldwide. The aim of this brief communication is to assist health sciences librarians with finding training programs and to give examples of how some libraries are currently expanding services to support bioinformatics research. The authors have identified six key areas of responsibility where information professionals can expand beyond traditional roles to meet the information needs of bioinformatics researchers. These core areas include communication, collection development, knowledge management, education and training, writing or publishing, and intranet systems development.
Source: J Med Libr Assoc. 2004 October; 92(4): 489–493.