Selected Podcast

Cancer Center Learning Resource Center

UVA Cancer Center treats patients for their disease but places equal emphasis on their well-being throughout the process. Learning about your condition is a great way to be an informed patient. 

Listen as Lydia Witman, MLIS discusses the Cancer Center Learning Resource Center at UVA Health System. 

Learn more about the UVA Patient and Family Library

Learn more about The Cancer Center Learning Resource Center
Cancer Center Learning Resource Center
Featured Speaker:
Lydia Witman, MLIS
Lydia Witman, MLIS is the manager in the Patient and Family Library at UVA Medical Center.


Melanie Cole (Host): The UVA Cancer Center treats patients for their disease but places equal emphasis on their well-being throughout the process. As they’re going through the process, many patients want to learn about what’s going on in their body, what is chemotherapy doing, what is radiation, what is this cancer really all about. My guest today is Lydia Witman. She’s the manager of Patient and Family Library at UVA Medical Center. Welcome to the show, Lydia. So, the Cancer Center Learning Resource Center, tell us about that and what it is doing for cancer patients and their families?

Lydia Witman (Guest): Well, the Learning Resource Center is a new location opened on the third floor of our Cancer Center building here at UVA. It’s a new way for patients, and not only patients but--especially with cancer but really all diseases--the families, the caregivers, the people bringing patients to appointments and helping them get through, they also have a lot of questions. This is something that’s done at other cancer centers, too, and it’s a way for patients and families or caregivers to be self-engaged and empowered to do their own research with good information. So, we make sure that the information that is there is reliable and good. We worry sometimes about what people find on the internet or what they hear from their friends. So, this is a trusted source of good information when people have questions.

Melanie: So, Lydia, if people go there to get this information and, yes, you know, sometimes the internet can be--you know there are forums and things you can necessarily trust. But people don’t always want to sit down with a book either. So, what are you talking about when you’re talking about information resources? Where are you directing them?

Lydia: Well, they have excellent quality printed pamphlets from the National Cancer Institute which is one of the federal agencies. They provide really excellent information both in print and electronic on the computer. So, our learning resource center has a computer that if people want to do more clicking through things on the computer and finding information that way, they can do it that way, and then print things out to take home. Then, there’s also a collection of printed materials. I’m not sure they actual have any books over there. I think it’s all--you know, with adult learners, we’re often more interested in very specific and actionable information that is very specific to us, and something we can do something about. While the book link information, it tends to be some background and too big of a picture sometimes for some of the patients and families.

Melanie: Well, I do still love books, especially to do my research and such, but I can understand because sometimes as the information changes, you want the real-time, and a book, as you say, can be historical or how something came about or how a particular technology came into existence. You want maybe what the new technologies are or the real-time information, yes?

Lydia: Yes, that’s a good point too. It’s hard to keep the printed books current with the newest information because of the book publishing cycles. Even now, with computer aided book publishing, it still takes, sometimes a year, especially with higher quality medical information because it’s very dense information. It sometimes takes a year or more to get a book out in print. With health information, everything can change in a year sometimes. Especially with cancer, this is a topic where the information needs to be very current, and the computer-based web-accessed information is the easiest to keep current. So, we like that. But we also understand that it’s still not comfortable for a lot of people to use a computer to get information. They might have no problem using their handheld cell phone which is really a computer if it’s a Smartphone, they love that but they might not want to have anything to do with a desktop-based computer. So, we do envision it as a touch screen which is a little bit easier to use than a mouse. We had an equipment failure with the first touch screen so another one is on order. We’re just trying to reduce barriers to make it easy for people to find information in a way that they can understand, that’s written in a way that makes sense and is readable and is good quality and current information.

Melanie: And, is there a support staff available or people to help you or even to set up groups or things where they can come to the resource center and meet with other people and discuss things that they’re hearing about or learning about?

Lydia: That’s a great question. I don’t actually manage the Learning Resource Center. I’m sort of a consultant as a librarian and this is essentially a library without a librarian in it, so there’s no full-time staff at the Learning Resource Center and the Cancer Center. They do have education specialists who manage the space, and I know they would love to see groups using it. They also have volunteers coming and helping with making sure the printed material is organized. We, at the Patient and Family Library, which is in a different building at UVA, we are always available, and that’s also what we envision for the Cancer Center Learning Resource Center is the librarians from the Patient and Family Library support it. We just aren’t physically present there in the Cancer Center. We can't be in two places at one time. We’re getting there--maybe someday soon

Melanie: Well, it’s a real wonderful program. Now, tell people in the last few minutes, Lydia, where they can find the Cancer Center Learning Resource Center at UVA Medical Center.

Lydia: Yes, it’s on the third floor of the Cancer Center building, the Emily Couric Clinical Cancer Center, and when they take the elevator up to the third floor, it opens into a large waiting area, and you can't miss the learning resource center. It’s in the large open space there. You’ll see the shelves that have the printed material and the computer and the desk that are there as well.

Melanie: Thank you so much for being with us today, Lydia. You’re listening to UVA Health Systems Radio. And for more information, you can go to That’s for more information on the Cancer Center Learning Resource Center. This is Melanie Cole. Thanks so much for listening.