This December, Ann Duesing, the Health Sciences Library Outreach Librarian based at UVA’s College at Wise, will retire after 22 years of service in Southwest Virginia. When Ann began working at the Library, she focused on providing library services and support to UVA medical students and preceptors in the largely rural area. Additionally, she acted as a consultant for small area hospitals which needed assistance with accessing quality health information via the National Library of Medicine. This pre-Internet time was challenging as the technology and access that we take for granted now were limited (or non-existent!) outside of large urban areas.
“Traveling the mountain roads of far southwest Virginia to small hospitals and clinics during my early Outreach years was a great adventure. I met amazing people who were always appreciative of information services, access, and training to help them meet the healthcare needs of an often underserved population.”
In addition to working with health professionals and hospitals, Ann became involved with numerous community health organizations which formed in response to the health concerns of specific populations. One of the first such organizations with which Ann collaborated was Mountain Empire Older Citizens, the Area Agency on Aging. Ann was part of team which was awarded a $50,000 grant from the National Network of Libraries of Medicine to assist in further developing the Mountain Laurel Cancer Resource and Support Center housed at the Agency. She was an early and long-term supporter of the Appalachian Cancer Patient Navigator Project, as well as a member the Advisory Board for the UVA Cancer Center Without Walls. She worked on taskforces both locally and at the state level with the goal of ensuring that patients and family members could have access to quality health information.
When not out in the community, Ann was based at the John Cook Wyllie Library located at UVA’s College at Wise. Here Ann used her expertise to help science and nursing students find and use specialized resources for their school and careers, as well as providing reference services to the broader student population.
In 2004, Ann received the Marguerite Able Service Recognition Award from the Mid-Atlantic Chapter of the Medical Library Association, which recognized her exemplary service to the chapter.
In 2011, Ann was awarded the Michael E. DeBakey Library Services Outreach Award from the National Library of Medicine. The DeBakey is awarded to a practicing health sciences librarian in order to “recognize outstanding service and contributions to rural and underserved communities”. Ann, with her years of service to the underserved in Southwest Virginia, was much-deserving of this honor.
Though retiring, Ann is not leaving the area where she has made many friends and colleagues. She will continue to live in beautiful and historic Abingdon, Virginia. Come spring, she will begin a new adventure by visiting many state and national parks, and will also spend more time with her son and daughter in-law in Chicago.
We congratulate Ann on her years of service to the Library and the Southwest Virginia community. She has made many important contributions and has been instrumental in improving access to health information for health professionals as well as community members.