Meet Elizabeth Blake: 2022-2025 Eugene Garfield Resident in Science Librarianship 

Elizabeth Blake joined the Penn Libraries’ Holman Biotech Commons this summer as she was completing her Master’s in Library & Information Science degree at Clarion University.  Elizabeth is the Penn Libraries’ fifth Garfield Resident in Science Librarianship, a program that encourages early career librarians, especially those from underrepresented groups, to pursue a career as a science or health sciences librarian. As Elizabeth was intent on developing expertise in science and medical librarianship, she was a great fit for this residency.  

In addition to her M.S. in Library and Information Science from Clarion University (2022), Elizabeth holds a B.A. in Psychology from Temple University (2020) and an A.S. in Sciences of Psychology from Delaware County Community College (2017). She brings experience in technical services and frontline services at public libraries and a keen interest in public services in the health sciences in both public and academic libraries. 

Elizabeth has been tackling several projects in collaboration with colleagues at the Penn Libraries, including: 

  • Working with the Libraries’ Research Services Council to gather data about the many interdisciplinary centers on campus to help inform new ways in which the Libraries can engage with these centers that are hubs for major research initiatives.  
  • A member of the Libraries’ team partnering with Penn Nursing on their Philly CEAL grant, the NIH’s Community Engagement Alliance against COVID-19 disparities.  
  • Shadowing the expert librarians at the Holman Biotech Commons on research consultations, instructional sessions, and database searching, as well as co-teaching a data-visualization workshop. 

We checked in with Elizabeth about her first few months in the position: 

Q. Manuel: What are the aspects of your work that you enjoy the most? 

A. Elizabeth: The aspects I enjoy the most are working with the amazing people at the Holman Biotech Commons and Penn Libraries and learning about health sciences/medical librarianship. I was always interested and wanted to work in the medical field. In my undergraduate studies, I took science courses (Biology, Anatomy and Physiology, Neuropsychology, Medical Terminology, and Health Psychology) to prepare for a career in the medical field. I finished my undergraduate degree in psychology during the pandemic, and at that time, I was working in a public library as a technical services librarian. I was unsure what next step to take, so I took the Strong Interest Inventory career assessment, and one of the careers was librarian. At that time, I was working in a library as a circulation assistant. I enjoyed my job and wanted to learn more about the profession. Once I learned that you could be in the medical field as a librarian, I was excited to use my medical knowledge. 

Q. Manuel: What are the aspects of your job you’d like to develop the most? 

A. Elizabeth: I want to develop my skills in library instruction for workshops and presentations. I’d like to learn about systematic reviews and be involved in a systematic review. Biomedical informatics and neuroscience are exciting fields that I would love to know about and learn how a medical librarian can support these disciplines. I want to develop skills as a bibliographer in health sciences and medicine and work with the STEM Libraries in any way at Penn. 

Q. Manuel: Do you have any thoughts on being the fifth Garfield Resident? 

A. Elizabeth: I am glad to be the 5th Garfield Resident and to learn more about Eugene Garfield and the legacy that he has left. This residency is an excellent opportunity to learn about medical librarianship, the Holman Biotech Commons, and Penn Libraries. 

The Eugene Garfield Residency in Science Librarianship was established by former Penn Libraries Overseer, the late Eugene Garfield, and the program has been renewed by his widow, Meher Garfield, in his honor. The residency provides a new librarian with practical experience and a broad overview of science librarianship, while also allowing the resident to pursue any areas of specialization. Over the years, the residents have brought new insights and fresh perspectives to Penn Libraries, engaged in unique projects, and moved on to advance their careers and make meaningful contributions to the profession. 

Elizabeth has enjoyed learning about Eugene Garfield, a legendary figure in the field of library and information science, having founded the Institute for Scientific Information (now part of Clarivate) which created the first citation-based indexes to allow for locating more recent articles that cite earlier articles, as well as highly innovative table-of-contents services.  To have the Garfield name reflected in the residency’s title clearly establishes that this program is all about a love for innovation in the profession, and Elizabeth Blake truly embodies this spirit. 

Dr. Hannah Rutledge, Director of the Holman Biotech Commons, adds: “Elizabeth is a true member and asset on our team at the Holman Biotech Commons. Her positive energy and curiosity are infectious. She is always looking to learn and to help; she has an open mind and good ideas. It’s an honor to support her in this stage of her career…and it’s simply fun to work with her! I’m thrilled she chose librarianship as a career path and we’re lucky to have her here at Penn Libraries.” 

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