Interview by Tamika Young, Library Assistant
We went “Behind the Desk” to talk with Levy Library’s Chief Director, Gali Halevi, MLS, PhD. Gali has been with us for one year and has made some wonderful changes and improvements here at Levy Library. We sat down with her to get an inside look on what it’s like to keep the wheels at Levy Library spinning.
Where did you work before joining the team at Levy Library?
Prior to joining the Levy Library, I worked for the scientific publisher Elsevier, for almost 11 years. When I first joined Elsevier, I was appointed as a library relations manager. My job was to visit with academic and scientific libraries around the world and train the librarians and their constituents on Elsevier products and platforms. The years I spent traveling both nationally and internationally, gave me the opportunity to learn how academic and scientific libraries in different parts of the world operate. During these years I learned about library services to faculty, students and scientists and the role of the library as an educator and information provider. In the last 5 years at Elsevier, I joined a newly formed department focusing on “Research Evaluation and Metrics”. Our job was to not only educate scientists and academic administrators about research evaluation methods, but also to develop new, more accurate measures and metrics. This part of my tenure enabled me to better understand the academic promotion and tenure processes and develop metrics to evaluate scientific output and progress. At the Levy Library I put everything I learned into practice. From education, engagement and scientific evaluation – our activities are the product of years of practice on a global scale.
Tell us about your responsibilities here at Levy Library.
First and foremost I’m responsible for a team of library staff who have different tasks and roles that are crucial for the smooth operation of the library. It is my job to understand their strengths, interests and passions and direct those to the appropriate functions in the library. Second, I’m responsible for the library’s collection and ensuring we provide the best journals, books and other scientific materials to our students, faculty and clinicians while providing on-site and off-site access 24/7. In addition, I’m responsible for offering high-quality education in several areas including the use of library resources for research and study, evidence-based patient care and others.
What do you like about working here?
I spent most of my career in corporate environments and while I enjoyed them very much, my passion always laid in the academic world and especially in research. This job is unique whereas it isn’t fully academic. As a fast moving, top of the line hospital and substantive research institution with a Medical and Graduate school, Mount Sinai is special as it embodies different types of institutions; academic, research and business. Serving different communities and working in these fast moving environments provides stimulation and interesting daily work.
What challenges have you faced since taking over as library director?
The biggest challenge I faced was bringing together the library team and creating an environment of collaboration and care. It took me some time to know everyone, understand their areas of interests and their aspirations. It was only after I spent time with each of the team members that I really understood where their interests were and how to accommodate them accordingly. I do believe that today the library team members work for the most part in areas that they are interested in.
One of core values of the Information Technology Department, which Levy Library is a part of, is innovative thinking. How does that factor into your leadership here at the library?
I always try to look at old challenges and problems with an open mind and come up with innovative ways to solve them. However, I believe that innovative thinking is not only reserved to solving problems. Coming up with new ideas regarding users’ engagement, educational opportunities and adding value to the institution all fall within innovative thinking. This type of innovative culture in the library brought forth our “Research Insider” seminars, our “Mindful Medicine” workshops and wonderful students’ events. We constantly look for ways to come up with new paths, approaches and ideas that will benefit our users.
What is your vision for the future of Levy Library?
I would like the library to become “mission critical” especially on the research front. Traditionally, libraries are perceived as a place to come and read, study and sometimes… sleep. What I would like is to turn Levy Library into a leader in the institution’s research and development mission supporting our faculty and scientists in achieving their goals and becoming the ultimate leaders in their fields. By implementing Plum analytics and educating our leaders about research metrics, I hope we will become leaders in this area. In addition, I would like to make our library into a publisher. Today, many libraries take leading roles as publishers in their own institutions. One of my goals for 2017 is to have our own Open Access journal which will publish high quality research in the area of library science.
Is there anything you would like to add?
We have many channels through which we broadcast activities and content. Find us as Levy_Library on Twitter, Facebook, Snap Chat and YouTube and of course our website.
Thank you for taking time out of your busy schedule to allow us Behind the Desk. Happy one year anniversary!