New Library Leaders

September 19, 2016 at 9:11 am | Posted in Advocacy and Gov't Relations | Leave a comment

Dr. Patricia Brennan was sworn in as the new Director of the National Library of Medicine (NLM) on September 12, 2016. She is the first woman and the first nurse to serve in that role. In this video, she describes her vision for the NLM and her goal of developing a next strategic plan for the organization. You can also see her swearing in ceremony.

Speaking of new library leaders, Dr. Carla Hayden was sworn in as the new Librarian of Congress. Hayden is the 14th person to hold the office and the first African-American to be appointed. You can see her swearing in ceremony in this video from the Library of Congress.

[Submitted by Gary Atwood, Chair, NAHSL Govt. Relations Comm.]

Call for Nominations for the 2018 Janet Doe Lectureship

August 3, 2016 at 12:00 pm | Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

The Janet Doe Lectureship is a unique award, offering both significant recognition and the opportunity to present a major plenary session lecture at the annual meeting of the Medical Library Association.  “The Janet Doe Lecturer is an individual chosen annually by the Medical Library Association for his or her unique perspective on the history or philosophy of medical librarianship.”

Nominations are due to the MLA Headquarters November 1, 2016.  Nominations should be submitted by members of the association.  Self-nominations are accepted. 

For more information, please contact the Jury Chair, Virginia Carden –

Janet Doe Lectureship Jury:

   Virginia (Ginger) Carden – Duke University, Chair

   Anna Crawford – West Virginia University

   Elizabeth G. Hinton – University of Mississippi Medical Center

   Amy Suiter

   Laura Seigen – Oregon Health & Science University

   Maria Lopez – MLA


“I’ve found my people!”

July 8, 2016 at 11:16 am | Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Our last MLA blog post is written by Kate Nyhan, a new NAHSL member and a first time MLA attendee.  Congratulations, Kate!

“I’ve found my people!”

“I’ve found my people!” That’s what I told everyone who asked how my first MLA was going. Participating in the conference was a great experience for an early-career medical librarian like me, and I can’t thank NAHSL enough for helping me attend. I met librarians from my city and the other side of the world, and everyone was generous with information, introductions, and advice. I’m so glad to be part of this profession!

That feeling of having found my people was especially valuable because medical librarianship is my second career. I come from a world, teaching, which values sharing and collaboration, but I was impressed to see just how welcoming my experienced library colleagues could be. To everyone who stood still long enough for me to engage you in conversation – especially Jennifer Lyon, Matt Wilcox, and Ginny Pannabecker – thank you for the thoughtful advice.

I found so many of the conference presentations useful, inspiring, or both. I’ve arranged some of my favorites here.

Talk: Student awareness of the big picture: teaching and promoting skills for identifying funding opportunities

Presenters: Judy Smith and Kate Saylor, Taubman Health Sciences Library

Key points: Judy and Kate discussed their excellent funding consultation service for public health students planning internships, including a survey, a workshop, a guide, and tailored “on the road” office hours. What a great way to raise the library’s profile with students and faculty advisers, help students achieve their goals, and stay up to date about students’ career plans (and the information literacy competencies they will need).

Quote from my notes: “When I bring home this I’ll be golden!” — and indeed the career office staff of the Yale School of Public Health are excited about working together to build a similar program.

Talk: National Library of Medicine Update

Presenters: Stacey Arnesen and company

Key points: The whole presentation was great. If you watch only one recording, make it this one. Intellectually one of the highlights was the use of vocabulary density in the indexing process, but what blew me away as a practical resource was Disaster Lit, combined with the Emerging Infectious Disease Information pages. Look here for grey literature on public health emergencies – not just the disaster after it has already happened, but also imminent public health threats. The info on their page can be syndicated on yours, with updates and your own curated local additions. Since coming back from MLA I’ve used this often for public health grey lit; it’s worth opening a new tab for sure.

Quote from my notes: “How come the NLM is so far ahead of the Library of Congress?” To be clear, no one speaking for the former criticized the latter during this presentation. But one organization has been giving us cutting-edge bioinformatics tools since the days of acoustic couplers, and the other was stuck in a revolving door of interim chief information officers between 2012 and 2015. I know which one I want to work with. As I said, I’ve found my people!

Talk: If you share it, will they come? Barriers to reuse of shared biomedical research data

Presenters: Lisa Federer

Key points: Noting that there’s an abundance of research data (of different types and varying quality, and stored in different places), Lisa investigated whether researchers can reuse shared data – and equally important, whether they even want to. She found the benefits you might expect: large Ns (and thus increased statistical power), “radical reuse,” productivity, and efficiency. The researchers she studied also reported challenges, including the computational learning curve, proliferating standards (or perhaps, lack of consensus on standards), and low-quality data. Lisa’s presentations were all excellent, using humor and images to convey valuable information, and I’ll make a point of emulating her effective communication style. But even better than her style was this content; real opinions from practicing researchers. I’m always happy to talk data sharing policies and big picture goals for open science, but it’s important to leaven the policy discussion with a reality check now and then.

Quote from my notes: “I MUST show that slide in my next research data management workshop!”

Talk: Embedding librarian expertise across a public health curriculum

Presenter: Abe Wheeler

Key points: The best talk of the conference on embedded library instruction, if you ask me — and not only because of Abe’s public health focus. This is a playbook that you can follow to develop an instruction program integrated into the curriculum. Starting with the competencies that public health workers need to develop, and working in tandem with faculty, Abe identified places in the curriculum where library expertise could play a role. They built outward from core courses to achieve formal, longitudinal embedding of information literacy instruction. So how can we all achieve this glorious integration between the library and the curriculum?

    • Take heart: “You are helping students get where the faculty want them to be anyway!”
    • Identify gaps so that you can fix them. Talk to faculty and administrators to develop a strategic picture.
    • Articulate relevant aspects of information literacy in rubrics, for easier grading by faculty and better understanding of goals by students.
    • Tailor materials to specific courses and specific modules. You’ll invest time at the front end, but it pays off.
    • Start small, then build up and out.
    • I’m writing the last blog post from the NAHSL members who were lucky enough to receive support to participate in MLA. If you’ve read this far, you can see that I learned a great deal, met some great people, and had a great time. I encourage everyone to attend MLA, and if you can do it with support from NAHSL next year, even better! But in the meantime, if you were there and especially if you were not, I’d love to talk to you — by email, on the phone, or in person at this year’s NAHSL meeting in New Haven. The generous support from this organization allowed me to attend MLA, and I’m grateful for it. I’m excited to get to know more NAHSL members, and to give other librarians the chance that you all gave me this year. Thank you!
    • Quote from my notes: “A new metric from faculty: ‘The crap factor of what they have to read is way down.'” If that’s not a pithy description of the goal of evidence-based medicine and information literacy, I don’t know what is.

Lisa Federer slide for NAHSL blog

Submitted by:

Kate Nyhan, MLS

Research and Education Librarian-Public Health

Cushing/Whitney Medical Library, Yale University

MLA 2016: A Chance to Fill in the Gaps

June 3, 2016 at 9:36 am | Posted in Meetings, Professional Development | Leave a comment
Tags: ,

Gary Atwood is another winner of NAHSL’s Professional Development Award to attend MLA 2016 in Toronto.  Gary presented a poster, How to Prevent Your Flip from Flopping:  Five Key Mistakes to Avoid When Switching to the Flipped Classroom Model.  Below is his blog post sharing his experiences.  Congratulations, Gary!

MLA 2016: A Chance to Fill in the Gaps

 Whenever I attend a library conference, my primary aim is to fill some gap in knowledge. Since I’ve only been a health sciences librarian for a few years, there are still a lot of them left to fill. My goal for MLA 2016 in Toronto was to learn how to better integrate both myself as a liaison and the overall library into medical education. I was fortunate enough to see several examples of how others are doing this; of these, three stood out:

In “Pop-Ups!: Extending Consultation Services Beyond the Primary Library,” Julia Kochi described how they created a “pop-up” consultative service on a branch campus that did not have a library. As the name suggests, these were irregularly scheduled times when researchers, faculty, and students could drop by for assistance from a librarian. After a lot of trial and error, they discovered that the need for their services was so great on this branch campus that they established regular hours. My take away: Go where your patrons are.

The second example was “Embedding Librarian Expertise Across a Public Health Curriculum” by Abraham Wheeler. In it, he described how he worked closely with faculty to identify opportunities in the curriculum where the library could provide support. What he discovered was that they wanted help with higher level skills like critical assessment of research instead of more traditional topics like PubMed searching. Although he had to learn new skills, he is now more tightly integrated into their curriculum and is reaching more students. My take away: Redouble efforts to reach out to the faculty and be willing to teach something new.

The last example is “Real Time Education on Location: Developing a Modular Clinical Pediatrics Evidence Based Curriculum” by Nicole Capdarest-Arest. This presentation provided a brief overview of a new program that takes place in a weekly noon pediatric residents meeting. The curriculum is divided into four modules and focuses on skills such as creating a clinical question. Although the implementation hasn’t always gone smoothly, the overall response from the residents has been positive. My take away: Go where your patrons are and design content that is flexible.

On one hand, the important things that I learned at MLA 2016 do not seem all that original. Go and teach where the faculty and students are. Work closely with faculty to identify their needs. Design programs that address what they feel is important. Hearing about these great new programs, however, reminded me that information literacy in the curricula continues to be important, even at the upper levels. I still have a lot of reflecting to do about all of the information I gathered, but am extremely grateful to NAHSL for providing me with the support to attend MLA 2016. The conference can be overwhelming, but it can also be a tremendous source of inspiration as well.

Atwood-MLA-Poster Session_1

Atwood-Totonto Skyline

Gary S. Atwood, MA, MSLIS

Health Sciences Librarian

Dana Medical Library

University of Vermont

Systematically Speaking

May 31, 2016 at 9:42 am | Posted in Meetings, Professional Development | Leave a comment
Tags: ,

Beth Dyer, Reference & Instruction Librarian at University of New England in Portland, ME writes our second blog post sharing her experiences at MLA. Beth won a financial award from NAHSL to attend MLA this year in Toronto.  This was Beth’s first MLA conference. Congratulations, Beth!

Systematically Speaking

Attending MLA for the first time was a whirlwind of ideas, people, and products. Choosing which sessions to attend among simultaneous offerings was hard. On Sunday I chose an afternoon session called “Systematic Review Services” which gave me some good ideas and inspiration.

I’ve had systematic reviews in mind lately because I just finished working on one – which was published in the Journal of the American Geriatrics Society just days before the conference! It took a year and a half of teamwork, and almost a year to be published following initial acceptance. I gained firsthand experience in the challenges and time commitment of SRs, and anticipate more requests for help, especially having shown the value of librarian involvement through successful publication.

Systematic reviews and meta-analyses are hot and it seems like everyone wants to do one. Kate Krause (Texas Medical Center Library) presented “Systematic Reviews: the Evolution of a New Library Service.” She pointed to researcher misconceptions and librarian misconceptions, both of which involve the time required to get these done, among other issues. Solutions they’ve implemented include an Online Request Form for researchers to initiate requests and for librarians to gather good information, and a Memorandum of Understanding that the researchers and librarians both sign, which lays out a timeline, duties, and expectations. They offer two layers of services for faculty – basic and full – along with limited services for students. Full faculty service requires five face to face meetings and co-authorship. She mentioned a study that shows the more face to face time spent with researchers, the more likely they are to complete and publish the SR.  To educate researchers on conducting SRs, they developed an information packet and a LibGuide, and offer supporting classes such as literature searching and EndNote.  Two tools that are new to me were suggested: Covidence and DistillerSR. They recommend using the IOM Standards for Systematic Reviews; stating although most SRs only adhere to a small percentage of the standards, they help researchers appreciate what constitutes a high-quality SR.

Lynn Kysh’s (Norris Medical Library) presentation “Blinded Ambition: Misperceptions and Misconceptions about Systematic Reviews from Teachers to Learners” reiterated the misconceptions around systematic reviews and drove home the need to educate our communities on process and quality. She described her role on an SR team as part co-investigator and part educator, striving to direct the team towards high standards and realistic expectations for best results. She described a few instances of asking that her name be removed from co-authorship because the end product did not satisfy her quality criteria.

We teach our users to look for the best evidence, which includes systematic reviews and meta-analyses. With more and more researchers producing these types of articles in more and more sources, we need to remind users to critically appraise them, and to help researchers diligently create them.  Many of us have read systematic reviews with deficient search strategies. The morning after I returned from the conference, a student came to see me about his group research project which he described as a meta-analysis. He wanted to make sure they had not missed anything after having done a keyword phrase search in PubMed. There was no clear question and no stated inclusion or exclusion criteria. We had twenty minutes. In a follow-up email, I suggested some search strategies and links to resources.

Inspired by these MLA presentations and my recent experiences, a new goal is to create some educational materials around systematic reviews on the library website. I don’t know if my library will ever set up a service, or have the capacity to do so, but at the least we can help educate our users on keeping the “systematic” in systematic reviews. Otherwise we may see increasing amounts of faulty evidence, which then contributes to faulty health care.

Keynote speaker Dr. Ben Goldacre (author of Bad Science) stated that we are entering the “second phase of evidence-based medicine” – one in which the focus should lie on improving methods, transparency, reporting, and thus the overall quality of the evidence itself. We librarians can position ourselves to help.

Thank you to the NAHSL Professional Development Committee for making it possible to attend MLA!

 Elizabeth (Beth) Dyer, MLIS, AHIP

Reference & Instruction Librarian

University of New England

Portland, ME


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