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Longtime librarian offered more than mere information

Pamela Corley receives the Divisional Tribute award from James Gordon, chair of the Division of Biokinesiology and Physical Therapy. (Photo/GradImages)

After devoting more than 30 years to USC, Pamela Corley retired from her post at the Norris Medical Library. For her many contributions to the Division of Biokinesiology and Physical Therapy, she was honored with the Divisional Tribute award at a commencement ceremony on May 17.

“Her official title is information specialist,” James Gordon, chair of the division, said of Corley, who was the liaison for the division. “That title, however, does not begin to express who Pam Corley is and what she does. I like to think that her real title should be information therapist.”

Corley never limited her role as a librarian to pointing the way to the right book among the stacks or showing people where the journal articles were kept. Instead, she charted a path that made her a critical resource for the faculty and students in the Division of Biokinesiology and Physical Therapy.

Corley made it her mission to keep on top of new informational services and programs that could be of use to the division. First using a personal computer to conduct information searches in 1981, she was an early adopter of technology. She began teaching faculty and students how to use personal computers for literature searches in 1983. And, rather than waiting for faculty and students to approach her for help, she went to them.

Gordon noted that Corley attended faculty meetings and retreats to share her findings and help the faculty understand how the new resources could make them better clinicians, teachers and researchers. She often held one-on-one sessions with faculty and students so that she could find out the specific information that would be helpful to them and to walk them through the ways to find it.

“She has been especially helpful in keeping us informed about the dizzying developments in mobile and PDA technologies,” Gordon said at commencement. “Not only does she help students and faculty to use and access critical information, but she alleviates their anxieties and actually makes people feel good about it.”

She lectured frequently to medical groups and librarian organizations on the subject of health care resources on the Internet and has published numerous articles on subjects pertaining to information resources available to medical professionals.

When Corley shared her plan to retire at a recent faculty meeting, Gordon said many were dismayed at the prospect of losing such a key player in the division.

“We need to acknowledge the essential role she has played in our success. We need to honor her for her contributions to our division,” Gordon said. “Most important, we need to say, ‘Thank you.’ ”

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