Alumni Spotlight: Tony Nguyen
Executive Director (Librarian IV), Network of the National Library of Medicine (NNLM)
When choosing librarianship as a career, Tony decided he would do it as long as the job remained fun. “After 10 years, it’s still been fun because I continue to develop with the evolving library. I can continue to grow…and I really appreciate it.”
In his years in librarianship, Tony has been a Health Sciences Librarian, an Outreach & Communications Coordinator, a Technology & Communications Coordinator and his current role as Executive Director at the Network of the National Library of Medicine (NNLM) at the University of Maryland, Baltimore (UMB). “We serve as the outreach and education arm for the National Library of Medicine (NLM). We do a lot of engagement through our training programs. We help educate the public, community-based organizations, faith-based organizations, public, academic, health sciences, and special librarians, health providers, social workers, community health workers, public health workers, physicians, students, educators, and more. We provide training so they can use the NLM’s popular citation database, PubMed, and their consumer health database, MedlinePlus. The NLM has over 200 different databases and resources focused on genetics, chemicals, drugs, and others. We also train on how to evaluate health information for assessment and to stop the promotion of health misinformation.”
Tony’s work touches on data management, human subject rights protocols, competitive analysis, grant management, managing budgets, and staff development.
“I prefer to be a water skier instead of a diver and skim through and learn a lot of different topics. A generalist mindset is very good for a librarian. And a librarian can fit into any field if you think about how those skills can be applied into other areas.”
“Miriam Matteson’s course on academic librarianship was about the management of academic libraries and it still comes into play for me. Managing a roughly $2 million budget annual budget to support outreach and education requires a lot of creativity to reach such a wide-ranging audience,” Tony says. He also credits Belinda Boone’s class on reference and fielding questions, Nancy Lensenmayer’s class on database design, and found the ethics of the profession taught by Tom Froehlich to be especially important in his career in medical libraries. “What are the ethical limits of what I can provide someone without being a medical professional. That was the line I need to be aware of.”
LEADERSHIP & PROFESSIONAL ORGANIZATIONS
Tony has been involved in committees and task forces at every step of his professional career, focusing on issues such as strategic planning, digital accessibility for learning, web design and usability, data management, bioinformatics education, innovation and entrepreneurship, internship & mentorship, and has chaired working groups, search committees, and diversity and LGBTQIA+ interest groups. Currently, Tony serves as MLA Board Member and is on the UMB Presidential Task Force focused on the Future of Work in academic institutions.
HONORS AND ACADEMIC ACTIVITIES
As a very active librarian, Tony has won a number of awards for his service to the field, including the Ida and George Eliot Prize in furthering medical librarianship, the Medical Library Association (MLA) Presidential Award in transforming MLA Communities, the Marguerite Abel Service Recognition Award, and others. He has published book chapters and peer-reviewed journal articles, contributed frequently to MLA Connect and other publications and has presented often on diversity, leadership and medical librarianship. In addition, he has been an invited speaker to numerous library and health professional conferences.
ADVICE FOR STUDENTS
“First, volunteer, even if you think you can’t,” Tony recommends. “Try to find at least four hours a week where you can volunteer somewhere. I volunteered at a public library where I learned I didn’t have the talent to be a children’s librarian. Second, think about what’s on the horizon that can impact libraries, not just worrying about budget cuts, but new ways to benefit the library. Consider what’s going on with artificial intelligence, currently. What skills will you need to support researchers in this field? What potential applications of AI could be implemented within the library? Third, finding mentors are incredibly important. I strongly encourage more than one mentor. I have 5 people I rely on to help me develop as a librarian and manager. Lastly, just be open-minded and willing to grow and develop.”
You can connect with Tony Nguyen through his LinkedIn profile at https://www.linkedin.com/in/nguyen411/
Learn about other successful iSchool graduates in our Alumni Spotlights.