Julie Fishman

Steve Thomas: This is Circulating Ideas. I’m Steve Thomas. My guest today is Julie Fishman. She’s the chief of the Stephen B. Thacker CDC library for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta. Julie, welcome to Circulating Ideas.

Julie Fishman: Thanks so much, Steve. I’m very glad to be with you.

Steve Thomas: Can you tell me a little bit about your background and what led to your interest in working in the CDC’s Library Science Branch?

Julie Fishman: Yes. My educational background is a master’s in public health with a focus on health policy and I’ve served at CDC for over 26 years. My experience spans management, programmatic policy, and strategy functions, and I’ve worked across several issue areas at CDC including chronic disease prevention, global health, laboratory science, and environmental health. I also had an opportunity to serve in a detail position in the CDC office of the Director that occurred in the aftermath of 9/11 and the anthrax incidents in 2001, so I’ve had a long career at CDC and have always been a lover of libraries and have held our own library at CDC in great esteem. When the opportunity to lead the library became available and that position opened up, I was immediately interested in applying and bringing my experience working throughout multiple parts of CDC to the library to advocate for the library’s needs and to promote our services and products across the agency.

Steve Thomas: So I don’t know how much my listeners know about the CDC library. So can you tell me a little bit about the mission and the strategic vision of the CDC Library Branch?

Julie Fishman: Absolutely. So the mission of the Stephen B Thacker CDC library, which is our formal name, is to provide the scientific foundation for CDC’s mission to protect the public’s health. And we do this by offering specialized library services, supporting research, information exchange, and learning. Our overall vision is to be a dynamic hub for information, education, collaboration, and innovation.

Steve Thomas: And you kind of spoke to that a little bit, but who exactly are the main patrons of the CDC libraries, and what kind of services do those patrons receive from library staff?

Julie Fishman: Yeah, so our library patrons largely are CDC employees as well as CDC fellows and contractors. We are what would be considered a special library in that we’re a library within another institution, and our staff provide a wide variety of services to CDC patrons. And those include services to assist with their research, such as literature searches, systematic reviews, research consultations, and training courses. We also assist authors with journal selection and teach them how to evaluate their scholarly impact. We also help them navigate our vast collection of resources, including our physical resources in our collection as well as all of our online resources. Finally, we also have especially recently been offering a variety of programming in the library, a variety of events, including author talks, book signings, and public health events.

Steve Thomas: That’s fascinating. How is the CDC Library meeting the evolving needs of the CDC workforce?

Julie Fishman: We have a very diverse interdisciplinary workforce at CDC covering, you know, many, many different specialties in public health. And so as we evaluate the needs of the CDC workforce, we will then introduce new products and services. One example is that we recently brought online BrowZine, which is a tool to access journals both at your desktop and more importantly on-the-go via mobile devices. And since we have a very global workforce, so we have folks throughout the US and throughout the world, having quick access to journal articles at your fingertips is very important. So that was one evolving need that we met. We also have recently updated and changed the physical space of the library here at our Roybal Campus to include collaboration spaces, innovation test space, as well as a dedicated quiet area, based on the needs of our workforce.

Steve Thomas: So that’s how you serve CDC employees mainly, but what kind of role does the library play in educating the public about public health issues?

Julie Fishman: Yes. And so our main focus is the internal CDC workforce, but we do play a role in educating the public first by providing support to all of CDC’s programs, whose mission is to inform the public. And so many, many different programs at CDC are reaching out to the public with information on public health, problems and solutions. And we help provide a lot of the scientific underpinning for their research and programs. We also have the library open to the public, the public can visit us and we’re also happy to help members of the public find the information they need. But it’s important to note that our main audience is CDC scientists and program officials for our library services.

Steve Thomas: And be prepared to go through security. [laughs] So what are some of the unique highlights of the library’s collection that may be of interest to other librarians?

Julie Fishman: Yes, we have an extensive collection of documents and reports that focus on public health history, including a set of reports from the Public Health Service and includes important works like the first Surgeon General’s report on tobacco that came out in 1964. We also have a landmark collection of documents on CDC’s history, and our Pittsburgh location houses an extensive historic collection on mining and mining safety. We of course also have a wide range of public health materials, textbooks, journals, and databases that our scientists use from day to day. We’ve been adding titles to also help promote our interest in collaboration and innovation around the agency. So we’ve added titles on design thinking and emerging technologies such as virtual reality, 3D printing and artificial intelligence.

Steve Thomas: Thank you so much for your time, Julie, and for educating my listeners about some of the work that you guys do at CDC.

Julie Fishman: Thank you very much, and if your listeners want to find additional information about CDC and about the library, they can check out our website which is http://www.cdc.gov and then for the library, http://www.cdc.gov/library and we really encourage your listeners to check out all that CDC has to offer.

Steve Thomas: Absolutely. And it’s also a good source for health information. I use it a lot with my patrons at my library to find, to steer them in the right direction when they’re asking health related questions.

Julie Fishman: That’s great to hear, and thank you so much for having me. I really appreciate it.

Steve Thomas: All right, thank you. Bye.

Julie Fishman: Bye. Take care.