Don Pearson '16

M.L.I.S. Library and Information Science '16
Owner, DSPearson, LLC


iSchool alum shares insights on development process behind medical librarianship curriculum.

Don Pearson’s extensive career in medical librarianship first began when he graduated with two bachelor’s degrees in Computer Science and Russian Language and Literature. In his role as webmaster and technology specialist at Mount Carmel Health Sciences Library, Pearson decided he wanted to pursue additional education in the health sciences.  

Don Pearson in a costume as the Knave of Hearts
Don Pearson attending a library open house dressed as the Knave of Hearts (along with his wife)

“A lot of my family is in medicine, so I was exposed to a lot of topics around me,” Pearson said. “I never wanted to be a physician or nurse, but health information suited me.”

Pearson first learned about the iSchool’s MLIS program after his colleagues at Mount Carmel recommended it to him. 

“I have always liked STEM and liberal arts, so I wanted to take courses in both,” Pearson said. “Librarianship is one field that allows you to study both.”

During his MLIS program, Pearson took classes that would grow him in his career as a hospital and nursing college librarian. Some of these included Academic librarianship, Health Informatics and Website Development. 

In 2020, Pearson served as president of the Ohio Health Sciences Library Association (OHSLA). In this role, Pearson was able to contact the iSchool to inquire about adding courses in medical librarianship. 

“I put Drs. Harper and Meehan in contact with the OHSLA membership and advised them on what to include in the curriculum,” Pearson said. “One thing led to another, and I ended up composing and teaching several classes in the new concentration.”

During the developmental stages of the program, Pearson relied on working medical librarians and OHSLA members to give key insights into the core curriculum and material. 

“The Medical Library Association has also been very helpful, and we have aligned the courses with their professional competencies,” Pearson said. “The Network of the National Library of Medicine has also assisted us in matching the course content to the competencies needed to provide consumer health information.” 

As a result of his hard work developing the medical librarianship curriculum, Pearson was awarded the 2022 iSchool Alum of the Year award. 

“I did not expect to win it because I was just doing my job as President of OHSLA,” Pearson said. “My involvement after my term was done was just part of paying it forward to my profession and being a good Kent State alumni.”

With the addition of this program, Pearson hopes future medical librarians continue to disprove and manage disinformation, especially with the addition of innovative technologies in the field. 

“The pandemic exposed how prone we all are to health disinformation,” Pearson said. “We must still deal with that, as well as an explosion of misinformation and the supercharged spread of information through artificial intelligence.”

Pearson also mentioned that those interested in becoming a medical librarian will have to wear numerous hats during their career in this large, complicated and rewarding industry. 

“Realize that you will eventually become a medical professional as well as a librarian,” Pearson said. “You’ll have to learn medical terminology and work as a part of a healthcare team, as well as going into hospitals, labs and classrooms.”