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A friend of the libraries

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As director of the first new medical school library built in the United States in nearly a quarter-century, Barbara Shearer had some explaining to do. The Liaison Committee on Medical Education, conducting a site visit during the medical school’s application for accreditation, was having trouble understanding the lack of books.

Shearer carefully demonstrated that advances in technology permitted Florida State to create its new Charlotte Edwards Maguire Medical Library in an almost entirely digital format. The advantage, she told them, was that the resources could be constantly updated and would be available via the internet any time of day or night to students, faculty and staff from anywhere in the world.

It was an especially important advance in the way libraries are designed because the FSU College of Medicine sends its third- and fourth-year students out across Florida to complete clinical rotations in the community setting. With laptops and hand-held devices, they would be able to access the latest in library resources directly from the patient’s bedside, Shearer explained.

Not only did members of the LCME understand, they began wondering how the medical libraries at their own institutions could be updated to be more like the one at Florida State.

Now, the Friends of the Florida State University Libraries have rewarded Shearer’s efforts. She is recipient of the 2013 Fred L. Standley Award recognizing the Florida State University Academic Librarian of the Year.

The award honors an outstanding faculty member within the university libraries for significant contributions to campus, state, national and/or international research librarianship and library development. It is named for Fred L. Standley, FSU Daisy Parker Flory Professor of English and twice president of the Friends of the Florida State University Libraries.

Shearer is a distinguished member of the Academy of Health Information Professionals with more than 30 years of professional experience in medical libraries, including those at the University of South Alabama and Thomas Jefferson University.

Today, the Maguire Medical Library is nearly 100-percent electronic and serves more than 2,000 faculty members and students.

Shearer helped plan and present a symposium guiding other new U.S. medical schools in creating their libraries. The symposium led to the creation of a permanent committee of the Association of Academic Health Sciences Libraries.

She also recently chaired the Open Educational Resources Task Force at the College of Medicine, resulting in a report on the status and interest in open educational resources at the college and identifying the medical school’s scholarly communications initiatives.

Shearer will be honored the evening of March 22 and will be recognized in a display at the university’s Strozier Library.