Yale University Library


Visiting Librarians: Pascal Mouhouelo

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World Health Organization Regional Office for Africa, Brazzaville, Congo


International Associate, Fall 2006

Your idea (if you ever entertained one) of the Perfect African Gentleman—elegantly clad in business attire, French-speaking but almost embarrassingly (for others) multilingual, handsome, charming, and impeccably mannered—suddenly materialized on September 26, 2006, with the arrival in New Haven of Pascal Mouhouelo, Reference Librarian at the World Health Organization Regional Office for Africa and, for the fall semester 2006, International Associate at Yale University’s Harvey Cushing/John Hay Whitney Medical Library.

A native of Congo (the Republic of, or Congo-Brazzaville, not to be confused with the much larger and in the news Democratic Republic of Congo, or Congo-Kinshasa), Pascal has an archival diploma from the Cheick Anta Diop University (Ecole des Bibliothécaires, Archivistes et Documentalistes), in Dakar, Senegal, a bachelor’s and a master's degree in library science from the University of Brazzaville, and a certificate in evidence-based librarianship from the School of Health and Related Research (ScHARR) at the University of Sheffield.

He joined the World Health Organization Regional Office for Africa (WHO/AFRO) in 1991, working first in Brazzaville and then in Harare, Zimbabwe. In 2001 he moved back to Brazzaville via Geneva, Switzerland, where he spent three months at the WHO Headquarters and Library, working on the creation of a database for the management of the Blue Trunk Libraries for Africa and the Middle East.

Based in Brazzaville, the World Health Organization Regional Office covers 46 (out of 53) African countries. In most of these countries there are medical libraries, some of which have Internet access and some don’t. The World Health Organization and its partners are helping those with Internet access with the Health InterNetwork Access to Research Initiative (HINARI), which enables developing countries to gain access to one of the world's largest collections of biomedical and health literature. The libraries without Internet access, instead, are the beneficiaries of the Blue Trunk Library Project, developed to facilitate the dissemination of medical and health information in areas that lie outside the limited academic and institutional network.

Each blue metal trunk (a solution that makes it easier to store and transport) contains a miniature collection of more than one hundred books on medicine and public health, selected to suit the needs of physicians, nurses, and health workers, as well as to reflect the various levels of education among medical staff.

Pascal’s duties and responsibilities as reference librarian at WHO/AFRO include collection development, library instruction, user need analysis, database training (especially for biomedical researchers using HINARI), and outreach field work to train WHO staff and healthcare professionals in both urban and rural settings.

An editor and publisher of best practices Web guides for print and electronic information resources, Pascal is the lead author of a PLOS Medicine 2006 article “Where There Is No Internet: Delivering Health Information via the Blue Trunk Libraries,” an article that describes a practical way to address the local absence of Internet and contemporary medical textbooks in many African health care settings.

He is also an expert with a wealth of information on the provision of library resources and services in collaborative international settings. Some of his WHO activities he organizes and contributes to include: WHO Global Information Full Text (GIFT), the Blue Trunk Libraries, and Infodigest, the AFRO Library monthly Awareness Bulletin.

Just as the WHO is a global organization, Pascal has also traveled to many places in his work to represent the WHO/AFRO Library.  He recently attended the 72nd General Conference and Council of the International Federation of Library Associations (IFLA) in Seoul, South Korea.  However, this is his first trip to the United States.

At Yale, Under the mentorship of Charles Greenberg, Coordinator, Curriculum and Research Support at the Medical Library, Pascal learned about the Library’s collections and services, and the Library’s role in the development of the HINARI and OARE (Online Access to Research in the Environment) technology models.

He also made a number of professional trips and visits to other medical libraries in the United States. In October, he attended the 2006 Annual Meeting of the North Atlantic Health Sciences Libraries (NAHSL, a regional chapter of the Medical Library Association), held in Hartford, Connecticut. Two weeks later he was in Seattle for the annual meetings of Careers in Health Information, Librarianship, and Informatics (CHILI), the Association of Academic Health Sciences Libraries (AAHSL), and the Association of American Medical Colleges (AAMC).

These were followed by trips to Washington (Library of Congress, National Library of Medicine, and Pan American Health Organization Library), New York (NYU Medical Center Library), and Worcester, Massachusetts (University of Massachusetts Medical School Library).