Corpus Callosum Quarterly newsletter of the Claude Moore Health Sciences Library

From the interim Director

Library Director Gretchen Arnold, MLS

Gretchen Arnold, Director of the Claude Moore Health Sciences Library, retired at the beginning of this month, and Bart Ragon, MLIS, Ed.D. was named Interim Director. Continue reading to learn more about Gretchen's career at the University of Virginia and about Bart.

Friday, October 2, 2020 marked the end of Gretchen Arnold's 34-year career at the University of Virginia's Claude Moore Health Sciences Library.

Arnold began her tenure at the Health Sciences Library in October of 1986, having left her position at Welch Medical Library at Johns Hopkins University. Having served in a variety of roles at HSL, she was appointed interim Director in 2005 and became the Director in 2007.

Throughout her career, Arnold has prioritized the reality of users' needs, being less concerned with whether or not the solution to those needs fell under "traditional" library services. As she has stated many times and in various ways, Arnold believes that libraries are about knowledge and that they must adapt and evolve to provide access to new and emerging forms of knowledge. Whether those adaptations revolve around physical spaces or the skill sets of library staff, there is a need to constantly stretch and adapt in order to be relevant to the true needs of the user populations.

When asked about what she perceives as the Library's greatest successes under her leadership, Arnold points to the reimagining of its spaces in response to changing needs in a non-print world; for instance, the Library became a lab for experimenting with new technology such as 3D printing and virtual reality. Further, when the books were removed from the Book Room, Arnold supported the conversion of it into study space, complete with technology-enabled furniture and more electrical outlets which were needed for keeping patrons' devices charged. The establishment of data services in the Library (ultimately leading to the creation of the Research and Data Services Department) has been a huge success as it meets a major needs for all of the Library's users. Lastly, Arnold points to the fact that Library staff are truly embedded into the curricula of the School of Nursing and the School of Medicine.

"I'm especially pleased by that," she notes.

While a retirement celebration wasn't possible due to quarantine restrictions during the pandemic, staff were able to express their appreciation for Arnold's leadership during her last staff meeting.

"I'm staying in Charlottesville, and I'm keeping my UVA email account, " Arnold stated. "Hopefully I'll see many of you around town, when things are back to normal."

Please join us in wishing Gretchen well on this next phase of her life!

Interim Director Bart Ragon, MLIS, Ed.D.

On October 3, 2020, Bart Ragon, MLIS, Ed.D., Associate Director for Knowledge Integration, Research and Technology, stepped into the role of Interim Director of the Claude Moore Health Sciences Library, following the retirement of Gretchen Arnold, MLS. In this interview, we learn more about Bart’s professional life at the HSL and his vision for his time as Interim Director.

MLN: Please tell us about your various roles during your time at the Library.

BR: I started at UVA in 2000 as the Webmaster for HSL. In 2003 I took on the role of Assistant Director for Library Technology Services and Development. In 2011 my role was expanded to become the Associate Director for Knowledge Integration, Research, and Technology.

MLN: Tell us more about what is involved in your role as the Associate Director for Knowledge Integration, Research, and Technology, and how you’ll manage both that role and the role of Interim Director simultaneously.

BR: In my current role, I manage our reference services, research & data services, technology & web support, and emerging technologies & digital initiatives. Additionally, I work directly with our Clinical Librarians (Elaine Attridge and Kate Joshua), Medical Education Librarian (Karen Knight), and Librarian for Digital Life (Kimberley R. Barker). I have strong support from Andrea Denton, our Research & Data Services Manager and David Moody, the Library Director of Information Technology. While UVA Health conducts a national search for a new Library Director, I will continue to manage my team and work with Library Administration. The Library has a talented administrative team in Dan Wilson, Associate Director for Collections & Library Services and liaison to the School of Nursing and Kyle Bowman, Administrative Manager for the library.

MLN: What will be your main priorities as Interim Director?

BR: The immediate priority will be the continued delivery of high-quality services during the pandemic, while also ensuring the safety of library patrons and staff. In almost all cases, the Library has been able to pivot its services with virtually no loss in quality to our patrons. Additionally, we remain keenly focused on supporting the mission, values, and goals of UVA Health. As a service entity, our mission is to leverage the expertise and dedication of our staff in ways that help the UVA Medical Center, School of Medicine, School of Nursing, and University Physicians Group accomplish their goals.

I am excited to say that the Library is also embarking on a new priority to support Inclusion, Diversity, Equity, and Accessibility (IDEA). An IDEA Working Group has begun to align the Library with the diversity goals of UVA Health and the UVA’s Inclusive Excellence framework. I hope to share more information about this important initiative soon.

MLN: What else would you like for us to know?

BR: I look forward to working with our excellent team members at the Library and at UVA Health until a new Director can be selected for the Library.

Pandemic shapes library service model

The Service Desk was redesigned to conform to physical distancing guidelines.

This article was written by Dan Wilson, and edited by Kimberley R. Barker.

As the Pandemic Planning Task Force Co-Chair, Dan Wilson has been heavily involved in leadership decisions concerning the Library's operations. In this follow-up to his article in Volume 1, Issue 1, "Pandemic Planning Task Force", Dan updates readers about the Library's efforts to ensure employee and patron safety, its hours of operation, changes to services, and the state of its collections.

Team Member Safety

The Service Desk has been open since Monday, May 18, 2020, after being shuttered for nearly 60 days. Plexiglass hangs by the ceiling between the desk and the lobby and a roped off area is in place to keep patrons six feet from the Service Desk. All Service Desk team members have been assigned an enclosed office space, a keyboard, and a mouse. To limit the use of shared equipment, the phone is not being used; all communications to the library are via email, chat, and the Ask Us form.

For the safety of our Information Technology team, there is no in-person, on-demand technology support. However, to minimize the possibility of technology failure during the day, a member of our IT team checks the functionality of all public-facing technology every morning before the Library opens, and IT team members are also available for Zoom consultations.

The Library’s popular video production service continues to be supported onsite, though remotely: while the patron films in the Studio producer Stephanie Fielding controls the camera and lighting remotely, ensuring that UVA's Health and Safety guidelines are followed. Read more about this service here.

Patron Safety

Based on federal, state, and UVA guidelines, seating has been greatly reduced in public areas to allow for physical distancing; available spaces are limited in order to assist members of the Housekeeping team in keeping spaces clean. All public areas are cleaned daily and sanitizing gels and wipes are available throughout the library.

Library Hours

The pandemic has limited available funding, which has had a major impact on the Service Desk team. The Service Desk is now open 45 hours per week, Monday through Friday, 8:00 AM to 5:00 PM, and access is restricted to UVA Health ID holders only. Restricting access has allowed us to stay within COVID-19 occupancy limits, as a manageable average of 200 patrons use the Library on any given weekday. UVA Health ID holders have 24/7 access to study space in our 24-Hours space, with access to printers, computers, quiet study, and enclosed study rooms.

Library Services

All other services continue as they were before COVID-19, but virtually. Librarians are still teaching, performing searches, and helping manage systematic reviews from their homes. Our data specialists, too, are performing the same work, but virtually.


The Library’s collections may end up taking the hardest hit from the pandemic. The Library has implemented budget mitigation interventions to help cope with a challenging new budget reality, including reducing Service Desk hours and not filling open positions. Although these steps have yielded savings, they are not enough to not impact the collections budget. We are doing our best to make the collections cuts as painless as possible. Final decisions are in the process of being made, and the list of cancellations will be released over the next couple of weeks.


Beginning in October, the HSL Pandemic Planning Task Force discontinued its weekly meetings. The task force, which began meeting weekly at the end of April, led the Library through its reopening and became the sounding board and decision-making mechanism for the Library’s current pandemic service model. The task force remains intact and will be activated as needed. All feedback that we receive from our patrons is shared with the task force. Please share any comments to Dan Wilson, Associate Director for Collections & Library Services. He can be reached at danwilson@virginia.edu.

Pandemic Pedagogy: Shifting Our Workshops to Online-only

This article was written by Andrea H. Denton, Research & Data Services Manager, and edited by Kimberley R. Barker, MLIS.

The Health Sciences Library Research & Data Services team has offered hands-on workshops on research software and data analysis software for years. The team prides itself on the hands-on nature of this training, believing that using the software or writing code along with the instructor is the best way to learn new skills. In March 2020, the team was forced to change its approach as COVID-19 moved them abruptly into a virtual world, with all workshops going forward to be held via Zoom.

While teaching online presents its challenges, it affords new opportunities as well. Early in the pandemic, as biomedical labs were closed and student clinical rotations limited, the team found a whole new audience of learners, eager to develop new skills during the pause in normal activities.

Another bonus was related to class size. In-person workshops were typically limited by classroom size to about 20 attendees. Online, those numbers can be increased and the team can be more inclusive of all learners.

Below are some of the ways training has been adapted to the online environment.

1. Short and Sweet

The popular “Essential Skills for Data in Excel” workshop was two hours long as an in-person, hands-on class. How could that session convert to an online, live format, knowing that it’s difficult for learners to follow the instructor AND type along in Excel? The answer was to create “bites” of information! “Excel Bites” sessions are short (20-30 minutes) demonstrations. Learners are encouraged to watch and record notes on provided handouts, then practice on their own.

2. Cut and Consolidate

Coding classes on R were also popular as hands-on workshops but, at three hours long, not well suited for life as a Zoom session (the team quickly learned that time seems to stretch in the online teaching world!) The sessions were shortened to two hours each, focusing on the essential content. The sessions still focus on hands-on, code-along activities to leverage active learning, and utilize strategies such as workspace technology suggestions, in-class assistants, pre-class instructions, and breakout rooms with other learners for exercises (read more below).

3. Workspace Wisdom

There’s no doubt using one computer monitor to both watch a lesson AND follow along in a software program or coding environment can be challenging. The team suggests several technology solutions to attendees for our sessions, including a best option (dual monitors side-by-side), second choices (computer projected onto tv or large monitor, or two computers side-by-side, or one computer (you) and one tv (instructor), or even a “when all else fails”: one computer (you and instructor) and PDF of printed class notes with code or screenshots.

4. Here to Help

The sessions always have a second host who welcomes attendees but also assists with helping learners to catch up and/or troubleshoot. The team still hopes for better technology for this task: while breakout rooms are useful, they do isolate the learner and helper (in the in-person environment helpers were experts at having one eye on the learner and one on the instructor).

Because the instructors cannot touch the learner’s screen as was done during in-person sessions, the team has also developed its vocabulary to better explain sticky points and troubleshooting. Problem-solving in real time through sites such as Google and StackOverflow demonstrates how to troubleshoot, providing a model that a learner can use on their own when they encounter sticky problems in the future.

Peer learning is another strategy: most of the team’s workshops feature hands-on exercises for practicing concepts that were just presented in the session. By pairing learners in breakout rooms for these exercises, attendees can help each other and meet others.

5. Pre-class Preparation

For some sessions, such as “Introduction to R”, we encourage learners to set aside time before class to set up their computers and software and invite people with configuration issues to join the session early for assistance. Our pre-class documentation provides concrete examples (typically through screenshots) of what the software or coding environment should look like. We also post links to short training modules that introduce the learning environment or software, which allows attendees to get a firm foundation prior to the session and thus jump right into learning when the session begins.

6. Tutorials

Sometimes a live, online session may not be the best way to learn. We have posted links to some of our favorite tutorials, including video recordings from providers such as LinkedIn Learning, learning modules from other organizations, online books, web-based guides, and our own learning materials. These materials support many scenarios, including learners who would like to go back after a live workshop to reinforce skills, learners who cannot make it to the live session but who want to learn independently, and learners who like to scan the content prior to the live session in order to prepare for it.

We’re still learning as we go (as are many of our colleagues), but we are still able to offer a “high-tech, high touch” approach in this new world of online instruction. Hope to see you at one of our workshops!

UVA COVID-19 Web Archives Project Update

This is a follow-up to the original article published in Volume 1, Issue 1, on the COVID-19 Web Archives Project.

Over the past seven months, the COVID-19 Web Archives Project team has worked to document the pandemic at the University of Virginia and in Central Virginia. Our efforts remain focused on building a large collection of ephemeral online content, including websites, news articles, videos, podcasts, and blogs. Each week this content continues to grow, and the collection currently exceeds 370 GB of data. As of October 2020, we have crawled 180 unique websites and collected over 1,350 individual captures. UVA-affiliated webpages make up a large portion of the content, but archived materials also represent local municipalities, businesses, non-profit organizations, schools, and news outlets.

Our partnership with the University of Virginia Library has enabled us to expand the project beyond the capacity of the small team in the Claude Moore Health Sciences Library’s Historical Collections and has allowed us to benefit from the expertise of coworkers across Grounds. Assembling a group of individuals representing different library roles and departments brought energy and enthusiasm to a project which is being run almost entirely remotely. In total, sixteen library staff members across the University have been involved with the project.

Just as all of us have become accustomed to adapting during these uncertain times, the COVID-19 Web Archives project has made certain modifications over the past months. We have focused the scope of our collecting efforts, adjusted to working with a fluid team, and managed expectations for what the final collection will contain. However, the overall project goal remains the same: to create a collection that, once complete, will stand as a valuable resource to help future generations understand how our local community responded to the pandemic. UVA is not the only institution engaging in this work; a recent list gathered by Documenting the Now counted over 130 initiatives to collect materials related to the COVID-19 pandemic. These projects have been launched by libraries, archives, community centers, and other groups around the world, and it is inspiring to know that the UVA COVID-19 Web Archives will be well-complemented by a wide range of other content.

With web crawling and collection workflows well in hand, our project is beginning to move ahead with later stages of the project, including digital preservation, metadata and description, and planning for future access to the collection. The COVID-19 Web Archives project has proved to be an important endeavor, not only for the substantial collection of unique material it has assembled, but also for the opportunities created by the project to develop new skills, establish web archiving workflows, and expand digital collecting programs at the Library.

historical collections & Scholars Lab collaborate to share information about the ancient world

Our replica Roman surgical instruments are among the most popular items in the Claude Moore Health Sciences Library’s Historical Collections Department. UVA faculty and students from diverse academic programs use them in their courses, while researchers worldwide have featured them in textbooks, articles, and presentations. Now, with the use of 3D scanning technology, we hope to give our patrons new ways to experience these valuable educational resources.

Over the course of two days this month, our colleagues Will Rourk (UVA Scholar’s Lab) and Victoria Valdes (McIntire Department of Art and Art History) were joined by architecture student Shaheen Alikhan to scan five replica instruments. The instruments included a knife, a bloodletting cup, and tweezers.

In the coming months, our colleagues will use the data they gathered from the scans to produce 3D models of the five replicas. Then, the Health Sciences Library hopes to make the models and the original data available online to our patrons.

UVA architecture student Shaheen Alikhan scanning a copper replica of an Ancient Roman bloodletting cup.

Important Work Around Inclusivity, Diversity, Equity, and Accessibility begins

This article was written by Kimberley R. Barker.

“It’s not enough to recognize that inequalities exist or even to give marginalized groups ‘a seat at the table.’ Their voices need to be amplified. Sometimes being at an academic institution feels like we live in an untouchable bubble of acceptance, understanding, and respect, but it’s a façade. There is real change to be done here, and we can start with our library. While uncomfortable at times, real change takes real work, and I want real change.” - Kate Joshua, Clinical Librarian

On September 15, 2020, the Claude Moore Health Sciences Library’s newly-established IDEA (Inclusivity, Diversity, Equity, Accessibility) working group held its first meeting. Among its priorities for the meeting were clearly establishing the group’s purpose (prioritizing actionable items in order to achieve real change), approving an IDEA element that the members would submit for inclusion to the position description for the Library’s vacant Director position, and discussing what actions to prioritize for the 2020-2021 academic year.

"I believe that those with privilege are obligated to use it for Good. That's why I joined the IDEA working group." - Kimberley R. Barker, Librarian for Digital Life

The roots of the IDEA working group date back several years to individual employees who laid the groundwork for the group’s creation through in-Library efforts such as establishing gender-neutral bathrooms and the creation of the Health Inequities LibGuide and in participation with UVA groups such as the diversity offices of both the School of Medicine and the School of Nursing, and groups across Grounds.

In 2019, the Library’s employees were invited to participate in a in a multi-week AAHSL (Association of Academic Health Sciences Libraries)-sponsored discussion of The Person You Mean to Be by Dolly Chugh: those who joined the group met to engage with the book, to listen, and to have difficult conversations. When the book was finished, chief among the feedback was the question, “What’s next?” Though open to the possibility of another book discussion, that wasn’t the action for which many hoped and, over the next several months, discussions about “what’s next” were held both formally and informally. Ultimately (the book discussion group having served as a proof-of-concept for a more permanent, equity-focused group), Kimberley R. Barker, the Librarian for Digital Life, was charged with creating the proposal for the IDEA working group and submitted it to the Library’s administrative team in August 2020. Shortly thereafter, Barker received approval to move forward and her first step was to issue a blanket invitation to every Health Sciences Library employee; ultimately these six people accepted:

Lara Andrake, Senior Fiscal Technician

Kyle Bowman, Administrative Manager

Dan Cavanaugh, Curator of Historical Collections

Kate Joshua, Clinical Librarian

David Moody, Information Technology Director

Bart Ragon, Interim Director

“I believe that libraries should be welcoming places and common good to the communities they support. As a library that supports the clinical, research, and education missions of UVA Health, it is important for us to ensure that our collections, spaces, and services are accessible to all of our patrons.” - Bart Ragon, MLIS, Ed.D., Interim Director

While the working group, having only recently held its second meeting, is still deciding on its priorities for 2020-2021, the members agree that they will closely align with the strategic goals of the University’s 2030 plan, its Inclusive Excellence framework, and the mission of UVA Health. Generally speaking, the members agree that they will lead Library efforts to center IDEA values in the Library’s culture, collections, and staff, and cultivate an environment that is safe and supportive for both employees and patrons.

In the near future, the group anticipates rewriting the Library's mission statement to center IDEA values, working with as many IDEA-focused UVA groups as possible and is particularly looking forward to the hiring of UVA Health’s Chief Diversity & Community Engagement Officer, with whom they hope to work closely.

“I believe that an inclusive business strategy is not an organizational social responsibility but rather a necessary component to the core business model for any organization. This belief … and [being related to people] from diverse cultures compelled my passion to participate as a member of the library's IDEA working group.” - David Moody, PMP, ITIL

The IDEA working group would like to hear from you: what can we do to make the Library a more inclusive, diverse, equitable, and accessible organization? What specific, actionable steps would you recommend to ensure that the Library meets the needs of those who have been underserved? If you have suggestions, please email Kimberley: KRB3K@virginia.edu.

Video production Service continues remotely

The Studio, with equipment set up for a filming and virtual production session.

This article was written by David Moody, and edited by Kimberley R. Barker.

“I had a fantastic experience working at the virtual studio with Stephanie in preparation for our fellowship interview season. Once we knew our recruitment season and interviews will be virtual this year, we had to have the technology and resources to be able to showcase our fellowship program and the hospital in a meaningful way. The only way this could be done was through high fidelity audio-visual representation and we used the Studio's resources for this purpose. Stephanie was able to control the Studio virtually and had a simple guide for us to follow ... the whole process was smooth like butter and we got excellent feedback from the applicants regarding the quality of the videos and other media. This really helped us showcase our program in the best possible way to a virtual audience.” - -- Saad S. Ghumman, Cardiology Chief Fellow

The coronavirus has deeply affected society in many ways and, as a result, medical libraries have responded to the unique challenges that their patron populations face. The Claude Moore Health Sciences Library is no exception and the Information Technology team’s coronavirus response has been guided by a centrally themed question:

How can we provide equivalent or better services during the pandemic, while keeping personal and organizational safety the number one priority?

One example of the answer to this question is the way in which the Library IT team modified its video production service from in-person to remote. The team repeatedly faced the issue of patrons who needed to record high-quality video without wearing a mask during filming; however, removing the mask in the presence of our video producer would both violate UVA’s health and safety requirements and possibly endanger both parties.

The team realized that it could offer equivalent library video production services remotely if the producer, Stephanie Fielding, could remotely control the camera and lighting systems. This would also require that Stephanie be virtually present in order to guide the patron during the entire recording, just as if she were in the room physically. The IT team designed and tested a plan to do just that.

After many rounds of testing and modifying the new system, the remote service was launched in October and includes a new remote-control camera system, an Internet of Things (IOT) smart device to control lighting, and the use of Zoom for video conferencing.

Of the change to her workflow, Stephanie said, "I am very appreciative that the Library committed to investing in the equipment to make remote service possible. Our production service is extremely popular, so I was pleased to be able to continue to offer it- and to do so in a way that is safe for both patrons and myself."

The new video production service process is as follows:

#1. The patron requests a professionally guided video recording through the consultation request form located at: https://guides.hsl.virginia.edu/consultation-request .

#2. Stephanie discusses the video production plan with the patron via web conference or telephone, and schedules the Studio for the recording.

#3. The patron arrives at the Library at the agreed-upon time and goes to the Studio, which an IT team member will have set up prior to the appointment.

#4. Stephanie calls in via Zoom video conferencing and guides the patron during the recording, remotely controlling the camera and lighting systems while she records as many takes as necessary to get the perfect video.

Patron response has been very positive, and the quality of the video recording is excellent. It has been encouraging to hear patrons remark that they feel 100% safe and that the new remote-controlled video recording service is just as good or better than the previous in-person service.

If you are interested in discussing a video project, please fill out the “Ask Us” form and someone will contact you shortly.

Update from the administrative team

This article was written by Lara Andrake, and edited by Kimberley R. Barker.

On March 17, 2020, the University of Virginia mandated that all employees who could, should, work remotely, which meant that the Health Sciences Library transitioned its services to virtual delivery, maintaining uninterrupted services to our patrons throughout Spring and Summer of 2020. Key to that successful transition was the combined efforts of the Information Technology team and the Library Administration team who, working quickly, obtained needed equipment for home offices throughout Charlottesville and the surrounding areas; trained patrons, faculty, and staff in the use of teleconferencing technology; and coordinated with UVA Health leaders to provide Library space for their COVID-19 strategic planning sessions. The Library’s Administrative team continues to support Library faculty and staff during one of the most challenging public health events to date.

Prior to the March 17th remote work mandate, the Administrative team carefully monitored the growing crisis and, in preparation for what the team suspected would be a long-term situation, ordered additional cleaning supplies, discussed possible staff, space, and budget scenarios, and reviewed Human Resources’ remote work policies. As the University released updates to those and other policies, the Administrative team worked with managers to disseminate the information to staff in a timely and efficient manner.

As more information about the impact of the coronavirus and COVID-19 became available, the Administrative team formed the Pandemic Planning Taskforce (led by Dan Wilson and Kyle Bowman) to determine best practices for ensuring safety for patrons, faculty, and staff. From rearranging furniture in the Library to ensure proper physical distancing, to the creation of signage, the Pandemic Planning Taskforce reviewed the Centers for Disease Controls' recommendations and thoughtfully planned the reopening of the Library’s physical spaces in tiered phases. The two-month closure of the physical Library provided an opportunity for Delta Force to proceed with planned updates (part of a larger effort to reduce the energy footprint of the University) within the Library.

The Administrative Team remains committed to the success of Library employees and patrons, and will continue to carefully monitor the pandemic and work closely with UVA Health and the University community.

Kimberley R. Barker, MLIS, is the Librarian for Digital Life, and the Editor of the Corpus Callosum.

We hope that you have enjoyed this issue (Vol. 1, Issue 2, Fall 2020) of Corpus Callosum. If you would like more information on anything that you've read, please email Kimberley R. Barker (krb3k@virginia.edu), and she will direct your query to the most appropriate person.