Responsibilities at the Trauma Foundation
Andrew asked me to create an injury prevention library at the Trauma Foundation,
so I did. To back up slightly, I got my MA in library science from the University
of Hawaii, and started to volunteer at SFGH’s Barnett-Briggs Medical Library
with Miriam Hirsch. A good friend of hers introduced me to Andrew who invited
me to work with him. I started at the Trauma Foundation in October, 1984.
We got a 2-year library grant from the Irving Foundation, which began in
January of 1985. We were off and running. I knew next to nothing about injury
prevention, but I took Sue Baker’s seminal “The Injury Fact Book”, and followed
its references into a whole new world. I continued to volunteer in the evenings
at the SFGH library, where I found relevant articles, and even used their
interlibrary loan capability to enlarge our scope. Staff members advocated
interventions like motorcycle helmet laws, cigarette flammability standards,
etc. so we focused particularly on what staff worked on.
Other libraries concentrated on one aspect, like motor vehicle injuries, but we considered all aspects of injury, and then violence too. Before long, we had created the most complete injury prevention library in the country.
Liked most about the Trauma Foundation
What Deane Calhoun said was true - the Trauma Foundation was like
a family. We welcomed new babies, mourned deaths, supported each other’s family
life as well as work. I loved this camaraderie. I
enjoyed the challenge of creating a library from nothing. From the beginning,
I knew what we had and did not have, so acquisitions became my focus. I took
great joy in seeing it continue to develop, and the fulfillment which
came from making people safer and saving lives.
It was my privilege to work with Robin Tramblay-McGaw and to assist her in creating a unique classification of injury for our library collection and in compiling a thesaurus of injury terms to access our data base of over 10,000 documents.
The focus on California's motorcycle helmet law, the success of the fire safe cigarette campaign, the violence prevention initiative, and the alcohol and injury work were all very fulfilling. What we did made a difference, which was very important to me.
Learnings still useful
Not so much about library science per se, but I know how to create a whole library out of nothing, and spend far less doing it than one could expect. The library has been here for the past 25 years, and is a wonderful record of the injury field during that time of growth.
I continue to volunteer at the Trauma Foundation library in the afternoons three days a week, being a presence there if someone has reference questions. I continue to track information on certain subjects, like the fire safe cigarette. I do other special projects for staff at the San Francisco Injury Center, and at times assist Andrew with his work advocating for single-payer health care for Californians. Essentially, I maintain what I started, although I do miss being surrounded by all those wonderful people.
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Email address: bill at traumaf.org