Meet Gretchen Arnold, MLS, Director, Health Sciences Library

July 6, 2017 by   |   Leave a Comment

Gretchen Arnold, MLS, Director, UVA Health Sciences LibraryWhat resources does the UVA School of Medicine Claude Moore Health Sciences Library offer faculty?

Gretchen Arnold, MLS, Director, Health Sciences Library, answers that question and more.

This post is part of a series of interviews with faculty and staff who offer resources to SOM faculty. Stay tuned for more interviews with your colleagues!

Q: Can you tell us about the resources that the Health Sciences Library offers faculty?

The Health Sciences Library is the primary library for the Health System, and of course we serve the whole University when it comes to biomedical information.

Most people tend to think of libraries as books and journals, and certainly, that’s part of what it is, but I like to tell people that libraries have always been about knowledge. Books and journals are just one way to convey knowledge, but there are many other ways now to do it. Libraries have always been about organizing knowledge, preserving knowledge, and helping you find the right information and knowledge.

Now we do it in a digital world, where things are even born digitally. It doesn’t necessarily even have a print counterpart. We want to help people not only find that information but go about creating that information. For example, people are starting to use social media to publicize their research, their articles. The library can help them develop that expertise, to know how to effectively use these different ways of creating and distributing knowledge.

We’re very involved in data, data analytics and data sciences. We have a relationship with the Data Science Institute. We offer workshops here for students, researchers, and others, on tools that will help them analyze their data. We have a partnership now with the Department of Public Health Sciences. We have PHS at the library five afternoons a week. They have their staff come over and provide consultations. They answer questions like, “What is a good statistical tool to analyze my data,” or, “How do I frame my research question,” or, “What size study participants do I need, in order to make this an effective study.”

We have librarians who specialize in supporting researchers. We have a new patient quality and process improvement librarian who is working with the hospital and the new service line heads, to find best practices for how to manage patient populations, instead of looking just at individual patients, how do you manage a group of patients.

We have some cool technology. We have a presentation studio, with a sound room, a green screen, and video equipment. We have something called the BioConnector.  The BioConnector is a service: it’s where we keep our data support services on the website. But we also have a physical space in the library that we call the BioConnector. One whole wall is a white board, and we have comfortable seating, where you can plug in your computers, and we have monitors, so a lab or a group could come and interact together. We have teleconferencing in that room, too.

We’re also putting the finishing touches on an area we call the MILL [Multimedia Interactive Learning Lab]. It’s a flexible area with tables and chairs that can be put together or moved apart in pieces. We’re using it for events, and when it’s not being used for events, it can be used for groups, such as for group study. We’ve found that a lot of medical students have already staked it out. They really like that area.

Our librarians provide consultations. We can help faculty look at their publication metrics, what their H index is, things like that. We teach workshops in altmetrics, which is an emerging area that measures how many social media hits have you had, how many blogs, things like that, as a way to gauge not just your conventional scholarship metrics, but new ways of communication and scholarship, which are being used by researchers.

Our patient and family librarian is working on a project with Epic, so we can give information prescriptions for faculty to give to their patients, if they want patients to learn more about a particular condition or test.

Q: How long have you been at UVA?

I’ve been here since 1986.

Q: When you were younger, what did you want to be when you grew up?

I don’t think I really knew as a kid. It wasn’t until I got into college, and I realized that I was curious, and that libraries were a more-or-less endless resource for curiosity.

Q: Do you have a favorite local restaurant or hangout spot here in Charlottesville?

My husband and I like to go to brunch at Rock Salt on Sundays.

To reserve the presentation studio or another room in the library or to schedule a consultation with a librarian, call HSL at (434) 924-5444, visit to find the email address for a specific librarian, or simply stop by the front desk

Filed Under: Administrative Support Interviews, Interviews



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