(Pictured above left to right, Amy Blevins, Michelle Quirke, Aaron Zych. Photo provided by Michelle Quirke)
When grad student Michelle Quirke was looking for an Master in Library and Information Science (MLIS) program two requirements were at the top of her list: a campus with a medical library and a degree that included information science in addition to library science. The MLIS program at the IU School of Informatics and Computing (SoIC) at IUPUI checked all the boxes.
“The MLIS program offered me the chance to complete an internship in medical librarianship while continuing to work. This gave me skills to enhance performance in my current position in areas such as NIH Data Management Plans and working with researchers to maintain Public Access Compliance on publications supported by NIH. But it also provided the academic background to round out my training and build a network of mentors and professional resources to continue growing in my librarian career,” Quirke said.
During spring 2022, Quirke was a graduate library assistant for WISE Indiana. In her role, she conducted comprehensive searches of scientific literature and prepared annotated bibliographies to support the Indiana Family and Social Science Administration’s (FSSA) vision of evidence-informed health policy decision-making. She says she improved her proficiency evaluating and identifying evidence-based research, analyzing scientific literature, and writing annotations and summary reports for stakeholders. “Kym Kramer has been a constant support throughout my program. She guided me in my foundation courses and worked with me to maximize my internship experience. I am eternally grateful for my advisor Brandon Pieczko, Digital and Special Collections Librarian, with Ruth Lilly Medical Library. He referred me for the internship and introduced me to Amy Blevins who served as my internship mentor. Without his encouragement, I would not have found the internship or felt confident to apply,” Quirke said.
Amy Blevins and Aaron Zych were Quirke’s mentors at WISE. Zych explained that many of the projects that WISE Indiana engages in with Indiana FSSA have real life implications in policy decision-making. “For students, it’s important for them to have exposure to a real working environment, as well as for the internship work to have value. We see true merit in engaging students in this work because of the unique and fresh perspective they bring to the table, and the opportunity for them to see their work impact the lives of Hoosiers,” he said.
Blevins said, “Throughout my career, I have benefited from great mentors and try to give back by serving as a mentor when possible. Participating in Michelle’s internship through SoIC has been a great opportunity to work with an enthusiastic student with an interest in health sciences librarianship. I have enjoyed working with Michelle and showing her the value that members of our profession bring to programs like WISE Indiana.”
“My internship introduced me to the value of being part of an inter-professional team. Seeing how the team brought their strengths to review policies and support evidence-informed health policy decisions for Indiana was a new experience. It was highly rewarding knowing that each person worked together to build a healthy community,” Quirke said. “I highly encourage an internship as part of career training. If I had to sum up how I am different than when I started, it is my professional identity. I thought this internship would be literature searches, annotated bibliographies, and working on evidence-based research. But what I discovered is an internship isn’t just about the ‘work’ but about the personal development. If it works in your academic plan, go for it! It will change your career and introduce you to amazing people with similar interests.”
Quirke currently is employed as a Research Operations Manager in the Indiana Alzheimer’s Disease Research Center at the IU School of Medicine. She works with a variety of researchers and National Institutes of Health (NIH) funded programs and utilizes the Ruth Lilly Medical Library and medical librarians when she needs assistance. She believes these interactions demonstrate how she will continue to find value with her MLIS degree throughout her career by applying what she has learned to improve her proficiency with NIH policies, utilize resources to navigate complex interconnected systems, and enhance her health sciences data management skills. After graduation, she plans to continue working in either a medical or health sciences librarian role and hopes to continue supporting NIH researchers and managing research data focused on improving quality of life.
She is scheduled to graduate in December 2022.