The Veterans Affairs Library Network (VALNET) is the largest health care library network in the United States. VA library staff provide a wide range of services, from literature searches supporting clinician evidence-based practice and VHA’s patient-centered care, to empowering Veterans by providing information, access to computers, and classes on writing strong resumes. The library staff serve a diverse group of users including Veteran patients, their families and caregivers, VA employees, researchers, and students and trainees in affiliated teaching programs.
A Network of Health Science Librarians
“I love the mentorship and helpfulness of the VALNET librarians. I also appreciate the variety of people who are holding these positions across the nation. [It] really allows for perspective as items are discussed.” – VA librarian, Clement J. Zablocki VA Medical Center, Milwaukee, WI
VALNET provides many opportunities to collaborate with, assist, and engage in dialogue with other health science library colleagues. While a librarian or library technician may be the only library staff member at a particular VA facility, they are never really “alone,” because VALNET staff go to bat for each other, and there is a supportive and active e-mail listserv. Support between VALNET staff can include providing remote coverage during absences, collaborating on posters and presentations, and regular national calls to keep abreast of the most recent pressing issues.
VALNET also offers the Librarian Manager Mentoring Program to help new library managers acquire the skills and knowledge they need to be effective. New VA library managers are partnered with experienced VALNET librarians who have been selected and trained as mentors. For more information, view the Librarian Manager Mentoring Program Fact Sheet.
Variety of Libraries
“The spirit of friendship and community among VA librarians is exemplary and worldclass. If you need assistance, you can always reach out to all VA librarians to get an answer to your question.” – VA librarian, VA Durham Health Care System, Durham, NC
Due to the unique clinical, research, and educational mix at each facility, variations exist in the size and scope of the library collections and services in VALNET. Library staff may offer consumer health information services, computer-assisted instruction, clinical librarianship, end-user database searching, training in internet navigation skills, therapeutic reading resources for Veterans, and more. In some facilities, the physical library is very small, with many services and resources provided electronically, and there are several VA libraries which are totally virtual. Other VA facilities have a larger library staffed by a mix of professional librarians, technicians, and clerical personnel, and maintain an extensive collection of journals, monographs, and electronic resources.
Resources & Centralized Support
“It’s great to have a group of colleagues that I can ask for advice. The Library Network office provides us with online resources including LibLynx, our library’s portal, and manages those pesky online titles.” – VA librarian, C. W. Bill Young VA Medical Center, Bay Pines, FL
The Library Network Office (LNO), part of VA’s Office of Health Informatics, is the program office that supports VALNET library professionals and staff with centralized purchases, services, policies and procedures, staff development opportunities, and assistance with local library issues. For a full list of centrally funded resources, visit the VHA National Desktop Library, which provides VA staff nationwide with immediate access to full-text access to clinical textbooks, journals and databases, and also connects them to their local facility library staff. VALNET staff have access to a shared union catalog, and there is considerable collaboration across VA to provide the requested resources to VA staff, including through interlibrary loan if needed.
“As a veteran myself it’s an honor being able to serve my brother and sister’s daily providing access to information resources in a library setting.” – VA Library Manager, Olin E. Teague Veteran’s Center, Temple, TX
Virtually all VALNET libraries provide reference/research services, literature searching, instruction, document delivery, and collection development. Electronic library resources are available to clinicians and VA staff via the VA network, and most are also accessible remotely through any computer with internet access. Some VA libraries provide services to Veterans and their families and caregivers, including information about diagnoses at the request of a health care team, computer access for those who do not have their own internet connection, and collections of books and other materials based on information literacy levels and learning styles. Subject content can range from life skills, military service issues, general health, and recreational reading.
For additional information about VALNET email the Library Network Office.