From sideline to stacks: CWRU medical librarian’s unique expertise keeps science in motion at Cleveland Health Sciences Library

Jessica DeCaro on a kayak

With degrees in both sports medicine and library sciences, it would seem to some that Jessica DeCaro’s chosen paths of study would rarely intersect. Yet, as director of Case Western Reserve University’s Cleveland Health Sciences Library, DeCaro has combined her passion for medicine with library expertise to help faculty, staff and students with groundbreaking research that could lead to potentially life-saving discoveries.

“We enable access to the best information available so that students, researchers, healthcare clinicians and providers at all levels can make the best-informed decisions,” said DeCaro.

A former competitive diver, DeCaro knows the importance of practice and acclimating to unfamiliar surroundings. Her goal as a librarian is to help Case Western Reserve’s healthcare community become independent in the library setting through better understanding of evidence-based practices, information searching and retrieval and evidence synthesis. DeCaro says it's critical that everyone learn how to find and appraise the best information available.

“We're here to facilitate the development of those skills," said DeCaro. “It's complicated! Essentially we’re teaching people how to 'fish' for information. You have to know where to go and what kind of gear you need to catch a particular type of fish. The same applies to information.”

DeCaro stresses that it is very important for medical librarians to stay up-to-date on the latest tools and platforms.

Jessica DeCaro holding 10 sign

“We have to be flexible to changes in the information landscape and are always learning,” said DeCaro. “For example, Artificial Intelligence (AI) is new in healthcare and education. Librarians have to be right there on the cusp of innovation to integrate it into our support services. The CHSL is also currently developing new support services for research data management, scholarly communications and a structured systematic review service.”

The Cleveland native grew up with both healthcare and library science as “family businesses.”  Her grandmother worked for the Cleveland Public Library System and many of her family members are clinicians and health sciences professionals. She says the commonality between both professions is service.

I am a very service-oriented person. I like to 'do' for people, it is innately who I am, " said DeCaro. “If you leave the library with what you need, direction on how to proceed and a smile on your face— I feel like I've done my job.”

When DeCaro isn’t working, she spends her time learning Italian, knitting, kayaking and volunteering at CWRU’s community garden.

New resources at CWRU’s Cleveland Health Sciences Library:

The Cleveland Health Sciences Library is located in the Allen Memorial Medical Library and operates a branch at the Health Education Campus of Case Western Reserve University and Cleveland Clinic. Questions? Contact library staff at