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Recognizing National Medical Librarian Month: Valley Children’s Hidden Gems

Published on Oct. 25, 2022

While everyone who visits Valley Children’s Hospital might not interact directly with medical librarians Brian Baker and Michele Sensano, their vital work impacts all areas of the organization.

Baker and Sensano recognize their own role in delivering on Valley Children’s mission: to ensure the children of Central California receive high-quality healthcare. They do their part through providing access to more than 1,500 books and online sources that help staff and families find journals or articles.

“[As a medical librarian,] I do a little bit of everything,” said Baker, “I look at it like a backstop on a baseball field.”

Valley Children's Medical Librarians Brian Baker and Michelle Sensano

Valley Children's medical librarians, Brian Baker and Michele Sensano


Valley Children’s medical librarians perform the essential task of filling literature requests for physicians, nurses, respiratory therapists, and other clinical and non-clinical staff. Literature requests are used to find both relevance and a deeper knowledge of a certain topic by conducting a well-organized search from already published data, references and articles. The information that is found and sent out directly influences patient care as it impacts the assessment, diagnosis and treatment post-discovery, as well as overall management of diagnosis. The requests require a quick but precise eye, something that both Baker and Sensano unquestionably have in abundance.

In August 2022 alone, Baker and Sensano filled over 400 literature requests. But even that staggering number pales in comparison to May 2022, when they filled more than 1,000. On an even bigger scale, in 2021, Sensano reported that they filled more than 7,000 requests. And as of September 2022, they’ve already filled almost 8,000 requests for the calendar year.

“We work hard to fulfill all requests very quickly,” said Baker, noting that the response turnaround is usually within the first 10 minutes of receiving the request, but that it could be done in as little as a minute.

The Medical Library Association helped establish the Nathalie Wolfe Pediatric Sciences Library located on the main floor of Valley Children’s Hospital in 1975. Having a physical medical library is now relatively rare, as most hospitals have transitioned their medical libraries to virtual-only platforms.

October is National Medical Librarians Month – an opportunity to bring attention to the importance of having librarians available at the hospital and to recognize them for the work they do.

“We do the back work to help physicians save lives,” said Baker.

Sensano adds: "We always tell staff that if they can't find what they're looking for within a few minutes, to send it to us. That's our job. Their job is taking care of kids.”


About the Author

Sydney joined Valley Children’s in August 2022 as an intern with the Marketing and Communications team. Sydney’s experience with media, communications and journalism while attending Fresno State has inspired her to write stories that cater, educate and entertain the San Joaquin Valley community. As someone who grew up in a small aggie town near the Central Coast, she is constantly evolving and immersing herself in the Fresno, city-meets-rural lifestyle. Her favorite aspect of living here is the diversity of cultures and events that the community is made up of and celebrates.