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Wright Wraps Career as Information Guru

By Eddy ball
February 2010

NIEHS Biologist and Mebane resident Scott Gabel, left,  talked with Wright
NIEHS Biologist and Mebane resident Scott Gabel, left, talked with Wright about development in Orange and Alamance counties. Wright, a Cedar Grove resident, serves on the Orange County Planning Board as an advocate for responsible development. (Photo courtesy of Steve McCaw)

NIEHS Biomedical Librarian Larry Wright, Ph.D., bid farewell to friends and colleagues on a familiar note at a retirement reception in the NIEHS Library on Dec. 30. As well-wishers dropped by to reminisce and talk about his retirement plans, Wright couldn't resist getting in a final word about the value of the specialized library at NIEHS for the scientists who work here and throughout NIH.

At one point, Wright pointed to the library's compact book collection and reminded the visitors that what you see isn't always what you get. With advanced computing ability and ever-expanding online resources throughout NIH, including more than 9000 scientific and medical e-books and access to all the major journals, he said, "Online we probably rank right up there with major medical center libraries" - despite the deceptively small physical facility.

"They [newcomers at NIEHS and visitors] often just don't understand the specialized library," he continued, and its high level of individualized service and research support. A group of NIEHS scientists attending the reception, however, certainly did appreciate the library's contributions to science at NIEHS. Principal Investigator Ken Korach, Ph.D., spoke for many of them when he recalled "all the searches I'd never have gotten done without you."

Like Wright's patrons, his colleagues were sorry to see him go. "We will miss Larry terribly for his scientific expertise and droll humor," observed Library Director Dav Robertson, "but I'm making it a point to recruit a librarian with a strong science background and, hopefully, an equally keen sense of humor."

Wright retired in the same style he worked for the last 20 years - reminding his well-wishers of the NIEHS Library's 15-minute rule and dedication to service. "If you can't find what you need in 15 minutes on your own," he said, "you need to call one of us."

Following his retirement reception and a farewell luncheon with the rest of the library staff over the holidays, Wright set his sights on visits planned for this year to Italy and St. Bart's, as well as to museums and theatre in New York City.

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