If the third time’s a charm, Joanne Muellenbach — and UNLV — should be in luck. That’s how many times the founding director of UNLV’s Health Sciences Library, has established a library for a new medical school.
I am thrilled to have the honor and privilege of building a new health sciences library from the ground up for UNLV’s new Academic Health Center at the Shadow Lane campus. We will start with support for the new School of Medicine, expanding and integrating with existing services for the Schools of Allied Health Sciences, Community Health Sciences, Dental Medicine, and Nursing. The UNLV Health Sciences Library also will provide services for all of Southern Nevada. Not only am I able to bring my experience in this area to a region in dire need of health practitioners, but this position also enables me to collaborate with talented, diverse, and entrepreneurial colleagues.
What are your general duties?
As founding director of the Health Sciences Library, I am responsible for planning, directing, and implementing all library resources and services.
What drew you to your field?
Initially, it was my love of literature, and my interest in staying healthy. Over time, I also learned to appreciate how librarian-provided services can make a difference in clinical decision-making and patient outcomes.
What is the biggest challenge in your field?
One of the biggest challenges is staying up-to-date with the latest health-related knowledge and the systems for accessing this knowledge. Advances in technology make our work exciting, but it can be frustrating when it takes a lot of time to learn how to use the new tools.
Where did you grow up and what was that like?
I grew up the second of six children, in Milwaukee, where I still have extended family. Growing up there was an adventure! I have been working since the age of 8, helping my father in his fashion design business, and through this family business, I enjoyed interacting with talented seamstresses from all walks of life.
As a kid, I also helped out in my father’s beauty salon and modeling school, and even got to model, and sing in his fashion shows. From these experiences, I learned the valuable skill of sewing. I still stay in touch with many friends that I made in grade school and high school in Oconomowoc, as well as at the University of Wisconsin, Madison.
Tell us something people would be surprised to learn about you.
I have been an avid women’s ice hockey player since my days at the University of Wisconsin. I have played on a variety of women’s ice hockey club teams and on leagues in Wisconsin, Colorado, and in Ontario, Canada.
Finish this sentence, "If I couldn't work in my current field, I would like to …"
Be a costume designer. Back in Wisconsin, I volunteered in the costume shop at the Todd Wehr Theatre. This inspired me to pursue studies in the area of apparel design, until I discovered that the only paid staff in the costume shop was the lead designer!
My love for theater grew when, as an undergraduate, I spent a semester abroad in London, and took a theater class. A course requirement was to attend and write critiques of the plays that we saw, and sometimes I would go to as many as two or three plays per week. In Las Vegas, I have attended plays at the Las Vegas Little Theatre, the summer theater at Spring Mountain Ranch State Park, and Henry V at the Utah Shakespeare (Festival), in Cedar City. I am also excited about the upcoming First Folio events that are scheduled during the month of September at Lied Library.
In my personal life, it was giving birth a to a beautiful baby girl. Professionally, it was being recognized by my colleagues for my on-going efforts to build new medical libraries — for new medical schools — from the ground up. This will be my third time around.
Do you have any hobbies?
I enjoy baking, bicycling, hiking, great literature, live music, and quilt making.
Tell us about an object in your office that has significance for you and why.
On my office desk, I have a small rough amethyst from a mine in northern Ontario, Canada. It reminds me about the happy days that we spent in Thunder Bay, on the shores of Lake Superior, and about our family adventures camping, hiking, skating, skiing, and swimming in that amazing and untamed part of the world, known for its natural beauty.