Libraries staff win Technology Innovation Award

Libraries staff win Technology Innovation Award


Like the proverbial needle in a haystack, information can be hard to find but its value is far greater.

Rowan University library staff recently developed the means to better locate medical e-books – information that’s vital to faculty and students at Cooper Medical School of Rowan University (CMSRU) and Rowan University School of Osteopathic Medicine (RowanSOM) – and have been honored with a Technology Innovation Award.

The award, from the New Jersey Library Association College and University Section/Association of College and Research Libraries (NJLA-CUS/ACRL), recognizes programs and projects that address technological challenges at four-year academic libraries.

Rowan’s award-winning project is the result of a multi-campus, multi-departmental effort to improve the searchability of medical e-books using the Rowan University Libraries website.

Work began on the “Rowan Medical Subject Searching Project" when CMSRU medical librarians Nancy Calabretta and Sharon Whitfield identified issues with returned search results in the category of OBGYN materials. In this particular search, only four resources were discovered when many more existed.  Furthermore, the majority of the returned results were not even medical e-books, but had been mislabeled by a vendor’s keywords.

Library staff formed a team to identify e-books that had been labeled or categorized incorrectly and enlisted programmer Philip Shafer from University Web Services to customize the list of categories and create a database. The team identified search terms to yield immediate results and an appropriate number of categories to which they assigned simplified subject headings.

“After implementing the new medical subject headings, access numbers doubled,” Whitfield said. “Our vendor reports show that some resources had previously not been accessed at all, but are being accessed now.”

Members of the Rowan Medical Subject Searching Project team are Kevin Block (RowanSOM), Nancy Calabretta (CMSRU), Viola Loder-Smithcors (Rowan University), Micki McIntyre (RowanSOM), Philip Shafer (Rowan University), Karen Stesis (CMSRU), and Sharon Whitfield (CMSRU).  

Team members will travel to the Revel Resort and Casino in Atlantic City in June to accept their award at the NJLA Annual Conference, a series of events attended by more than 2,000 academic, state, and public library representatives.

View the results of the team’s efforts at