December 2020 | Issue 51
Meet LKCMedicine's medical librarian Rebecca Lavanie David

If you have stopped by our medical library, chances are, you may have seen Ms Rebecca Lavanie David, one of LKCMedicine’s medical librarians. Ms Rebecca David was recently awarded the ‘Best Presentation Award’ for her work titled, “Abandoning one-time optional information literacy workshops for year one medical students and gearing towards an ‘embedded librarianship' approach” at the 14th International Conference on Higher Education, Research and Knowledge. 

1.  Tell us about yourself, and your role at LKCMedicine

I started off my career at the Ministry of Education and worked as a senior educator at KK Women’s and Children’s Hospital. In 2016, I joined the medical library and as a manager, my responsibilities include driving the ‘embedded’ information literacy programmes, contribute to education research and manage grants for the Medical Library.   

For Information Literacy, I get to work closely with faculty members at LKCMedicine to embed information literacy into the MBBS curriculum and collaborate with them to co-facilitate selected Team-Based Learning sessions. In this way, there was an opportunity to adopt an ‘embedded librarianship’ approach which shifted the teaching of information literacy skills within the structured curriculum. At the Medical Library, I also offer Student Consultation Sessions for students who need additional guidance when engaged in scientific research projects. 

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I also work towards promoting the scholarship efforts of the Medical Library through publications to align with the educational goals of the University. In a nutshell, I manage and provide support for projects that promote excellence in the field of medical librarianship and information sciences.

Here’s something I’d like to share about myself outside work.  I recently began exploring fitness activities to prepare me for climbing opportunities. When ready, I hope to climb a mountain one day to fulfil one of my goals. Also, I have always treasured my love for reading and writing. Perhaps one day I might write a book about overcoming life’s challenges.

2.  How does one qualify to be a medical librarian?

In terms of qualifications, my highest qualification is a Masters in Education from the University of Adelaide. I was ranked among the top 10% from the School of Education and was awarded full membership privileges by the Golden Key International Honour Society. 

I majored in modules such as teaching, learning and assessment, curriculum planning, neuroscience, and education as well as quantitative educational methods. In order to acquire relevant librarianship skills, I completed the Executive Library Management Programme in 2017 which was organised by the Library Management of Singapore (LAS) in association with NTU’s Wee Kim Wee School of Communication and Information. Since 2017, the learning has been continuous, and this has helped to enrich my career portfolio – I aspire to learn new skills to do better in my job. 

3. Why did you decide to be a medical librarian, and why did you choose LKCMedicine to pursue your career?

Being a medical librarian gave me great job satisfaction. I had opportunities to drive successful library projects to value add to the ‘flagship services’ of the medical library and will continue to do so. Working at LKCMedicine provides excellent collaboration grounds which gave me opportunities to work closely with faculty to embed information literacy into Evidence-based Medicine modules of the MBBS curriculum and grant projects. It is a rewarding experience, and suggests that the involvement of medical librarians may gradually increase over time.

4. What were some of the most fulfilling experiences you had as a medical librarian?

When I last worked on a grant project, I had to wear several hats to successfully implement and complete a research study. Upon completion, our research project study was selected as one of the top two projects by the NTU EdeX committee, which gave me the opportunity to present at the 2019 NTU teaching and learning Conference organised by the Teaching, Learning and Pedagogy Division.  This research study to bridge information literacy gaps led me to present at international library related conferences. 

I have presented the “development of a customised five-year information literacy framework for LKCMedicine students” at the 14th LILAC Conference, “partnership efforts between medical librarians, educators and faculty to pilot information literacy interventions for medical students” at the 10th International Clinical Librarian Conference and “abandoning one-time optional information literacy workshops and gearing towards an ‘embedded librarianship’ for Year 1 medical students” at the 14th International Conference on Higher Education, Research and Knowledge.

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As the only Asian representative at these international conferences, it was interesting to learn and exchange views about information literacy practices from a global context. Many thanks to my grant project team members; Professor Michael Alan Ferenczi, Ms Caroline Pang Soo Ling, Dr Preman Rajalingam and Mr Emmanuel Tan Chee Peng for making this possible!
 
My student consultation sessions were another rewarding experience for me. Most of the time, there was good interaction and exchange of feedback when guiding medical students to formulate comprehensive search strategies while ensuring that they understand the use of multiple databases to complete their search process. I have been conducting student consultation sessions since 2016, and the medical students have never failed to thank the medical librarians for their assistance when they pursued their scholarly projects. It is worth going the extra mile to help the students! 
 
This year was rather special for me as I was invited by selected Years 4 and 5 students to co-author the search methodology of their research paper, which is now up for publication. The student consultation sessions not only showcased my training skills but evolved to become a platform that examined the role of medical librarians as a search expert and collaborator for research. I would like to take this opportunity to thank all medical students from LKCMedicine for appreciating the medical librarians and supporting the student consultation sessions.

5. What are some of your favourite books?

What interests me the most is reading inspiring stories and books on quantum mechanics. Albert Einstein is one of my inspirations and I enjoyed reading ‘Einstein's Unfinished Revolution: The Search For What Lies Beyond The Quantum’ by Lee Smolin. I also enjoyed reading ‘Food, Health, and Happiness’ by Oprah Winfrey, who shares healthy recipes for a better life and also her life changing experiences.

6.  How did you feel winning the “Best Presentation Award” in September at the International Conference on Higher Education, Research and Knowledge, held in September as a two-day virtual reality global conference?

It was certainly a pleasant surprise for me. I recall it was a tough fight presenting within a limited time alongside presenters from Vietnam, Thailand, United States, Israel, India, Ukraine, Egypt, Romania, South Africa, Azerbaijan, and Germany. Being the only Singaporean representative and a medical librarian presenting a study on information literacy, it was worth it! This award encourages me to explore future librarianship roles.

7.  Where do you see yourself in the next 5 years?

In five years, I would like to grow into a senior managerial position supporting library educational and education research projects. Hopefully, there will be new emerging roles or specialist tracks that will set career pathways for librarians to lead library educational services or programmes for users. To achieve this goal, I believe in growing professionally with continued learning opportunities presented to me to widen my competencies and become a valuable member of the Medical Library.