A Teacher at Heart
profile - wanda anderson - spring 2007
By Joshua Jensen
Forget your stereotype of the solitary librarian – Wanda Anderson sees her role at Boston College’s O’Neill Library as an educator and resource person. As Senior Reference Librarian/Bibliographer for Nursing and Health Sciences, Anderson spends much of her day interacting with students and
“We’re here for service, for the School of Nursing and the whole BC community. People come and drop by, and schedule consultations. Whether students are working on a paper, or a faculty member is giving a talk in Japan or needs statistics for a grant, we’re available.
“I really am a teacher at heart. Students come and we consult on their research and get to know their research more in depth so I can provide individualized, customized services at that point in time. It is one thing to have a lot of materials available—like with the millions of records on Google—but you need to access them in a meaningful way. This is where the teaching aspect comes in.
“After working with students for a while you feel as if you’re launching them, and they go on to do such wonderful things. To really be a part of that is very rewarding; knowing that the research helps impact care at the bedside, in the home or in the community.”
Anderson’s diverse experience serves as a basis for her work. “Originally I studied to be a biology teacher. After I got my degree some friends worked in medical laboratories and asked me if I would be interested. So I worked in laboratory medicine for about 10 years. Then I sort of sculpted out my philosophy of health promotion, both preventive screening, and eventually adding the aspect of health education.
“Later, I was working as a biology librarian and was also studying for my master’s degree in health education, so I could round out my approach to health care. When this position at Boston College became available, it seemed a perfect fit. I could use the skills I had gained, participate in the education of future nurses, and also collaborate with faculty to provide resources and services for their own research.”
Anderson believes that providing a high level of service is impossible without this collaboration with faculty and students. “I have to know what’s being published. I have to have the knowledge to discern what is beneficial to the collection, what is going to help the faculty. I do that by working with the faculty and the students. Professor Mary Duffy is the faculty liaison to the library. She keeps me abreast of what’s going on in the school of nursing—the new faculty and new programs. The interaction with the students helps me to know what subjects they are studying, what the research trends are. Each part of my work informs the others; everything is a continuum or circle, everything informs the other part.”
Anderson sees the impact of her work reaching far beyond the campus community. She explains, “We are one of the best nursing collections in the country—certainly the most comprehensive in New England. I recently had the head of a nursing department at a hospital call me and say, ‘You know your library is the standard for nursing libraries and I hope you’re going to keep that challenge.’ So that’s my challenge.”
In the achievement of that challenge, Anderson is quick to give credit to her predecessors and collaborators. “The vision to have a very comprehensive nursing collection was inspired by [founder of the nursing library] Mary Pekarski. Also, I want to emphasize that the faculty at the Connell School have been an inspiration to me; they are leaders in the field of nursing care and nursing research as well as dedicated, caring, hard-working human beings whom I am honored to know.”