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The Research Role of the Librarian at a Community Health Hackathon - A Technical Report


A hackathon is a social event that is focused on building small and innovative technology projects. The 2018 Hackathon hosted by the Washington State University (WSU) Elson S. Floyd College of Medicine aimed to solve rural health problems in Washington state. One major modification to the regular format of a healthcare hackathon was the inclusion of research librarians. Librarians with health sciences and business expertise provided research and library services at a designated Research Station, which included literature, patent, and internet searches. Participant and hackathon librarian observations, verbal feedback, and librarian survey results demonstrate the positive value/outcome of library services to the health hackathon winners. The winning hackathon teams used the services by the Research Station extensively. Areas of strength for this event included collaboration between librarians, promotion of library services, and efficient information retrieval. Areas for improvement included making regular contact with hackathon teams during the event and clearer signage and marketing.

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The authors would like to thank Andrew Richards, the Washington State University College Technology Incubator Officer, for his support, guidance, and direction. I would also like to thank the Grace and Harold Sewell Memorial fund for their librarian fellowship funding.

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Correspondence to Nancy Shin.

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There are none declared conflicts of interest.

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Informed consent was obtained from all individual participants included in the study. This report received IRB Exemption from Washington State University’s Office of Research Assurances on April 23rd, 2018 (IRB # 16863–001).

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Shin, N., Vela, K. & Evans, K. The Research Role of the Librarian at a Community Health Hackathon - A Technical Report. J Med Syst 44, 36 (2020).

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  • Hackathon
  • Librarians
  • Collaboration
  • Education, medical
  • Information services