Nicole Theis-Mahon, Librarian Liaison to the School of Dentistry & Health Science Libraries Collections Coordinator, was recently promoted from Assistant to Associate Librarian with continuous appointment (similar to tenure). This is one of a series spotlighting the librarians who received promotions in 2020.
What are a couple of things you have accomplished that contributed to your receiving the promotion?
I am most proud of my own research and being part of research teams in the School of Dentistry who recognize the expertise that I bring as an information professional. I have co-authored several systematic reviews with faculty. My own research has centered on user and information or information integrity. This last year I collaborated with my colleague Caitlin Bakker on a research project investigating the impact of retractions in the dental literature, which will be published in the July issue of the Journal of the Medical Library Association.
A goal of mine was also to increase my involvement in the Medical Library Association (MLA), and I sought out opportunities to increase my engagement. In 2017-2018, I was selected from a national pool to be an MLA Rising Star. I served as the Chair of the Dental Caucus of MLA. In 2018, I joined the Academy of Health Information Professionals (AHIP) as a Distinguished Member. This is a credential from MLA based on professional experience and accomplishments and is the highest level awarded.
How and when did you decide on pursuing a career in libraries?
It was serendipitous. I started working in libraries as a student employee and was drawn to this work. I am a curious person who wants to know many things; my work in the libraries fulfills this curiosity, since I am always seeking information or answers to questions.
Where did you begin your libraries’ career?
Although most of my career has been at the University of Minnesota Libraries, I started working in libraries with several part-time positions. I paged items from the research library at the Minnesota History Center, and I worked with the photograph archive at the Hennepin History Museum. I also worked for Minitex before I started working at the Bio-Medical Library.
In your opinion, has the profession or your specialty in it changed over the years?
Librarians have changed and adapted to meet ever-changing needs and expectations of their users and continue to do so. I am so fortunate to work with many creative colleagues who challenge and inspire me.
When you look back at your path so far, have you had any surprises?
When I started pursuing a career in libraries, I wanted to work in a special collection or archive. I was drawn to historical collections, but I ended up as a health sciences librarian. This was not something I initially expected, but I enjoy the opportunities and challenges it brings.
When you introduce yourself to a new person as a librarian, what is the first thing most people say?
“You must like books” or “What do you do – check out books?” I was not an avid reader as a child and am not a bibliophile. For me, there is a curiosity about finding information or answering questions. My passion is about how people interact with information and what they create with it through their research and learning.