An Eye-Opening Moment

November 23, 2015 at 11:59 am | Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Karen Goodman was captivated by Dr. Dipesh Navsaria’s presentation.  She is also a NAHSL Professional  Development Award winner.

Blog post by

Karen Goodman, MSLIS, MA

Dorothy M. Breene Memorial Library

New Hampshire Hospital

Many thanks to the NAHSL Professional Development Committee and the scholarship award that allowed me to attend NAHSL 2015 and listen to all of the wonderful presentations by such talented individuals. I was especially captivated by Dr. Dipesh Navsaria’s interesting and informative presentation focusing on how librarians are integral literacy agents for all ages.  That librarians and pediatricians can partner in promoting early literacy, was certainly an eye-opening moment for me.  While I understood that reading to a child helps promote language skills and literacy, I never thought about the impact a book could have in determining whether a child had any developmental delays or disabilities.  That a book could be used as a diagnostic tool is certainly an intriguing yet brilliant idea!  Instead of walking away with a lollipop for a being a “good” patient during the exam, each child gets to keep the book.  Hopefully Mom and/or Dad will continue to read to their child in an effort to increase vocabulary, and ultimately a love of learning.

As a pediatrician, and Librarian, Dr. Navsaria is not only the founder and director of the Pediatric Early Literacy Projects at the University of Wisconsin, but he is also the founding medical director of the Reach Out and Read program of Wisconsin. After listening to this humorous, yet enlightening talk, I was prompted to do further research (after all, I am a research librarian) and was amazed at the scope of this program.  Reach Out and Read has been so successful, that it has programs spanning the globe.  The message is simple; parents partner with medical providers to learn about early literacy, and the importance of reading aloud to children at a very young age.  In turn, children will develop literacy skills that will help them become successful students.  Medical providers partner with librarians for age-appropriate quality booklists, and encourage families to visit libraries as a community resource and for additional books.

Yes, but how does all of this relate to our profession as medical or health science librarians you ask? Developing literacy skills doesn’t just end in early childhood.  It spans the age and educational continuum as Dr. Navsaria’s presentation indicates, and there are two key places librarians can be agents of change, through our role in helping staff research, cite, and publish; and reforming graduate medical education.  Developing courses or workshops on Information Literacy and Searching Tips is a great place to start.  How many students or clinicians have you encountered in your libraries that barely know how to search using PubMed, Google Scholar, Web of Science, etc.?  More importantly and somewhat disappointing, how many of those students turn to Wikipedia as their first information source?  There are new resources coming on the market every day, and one of our many roles as librarians is to discover and determine which resources work best for the myriad audiences we serve, advertise and provide instruction on how to use those resources.  His challenge to us is to be more visible, so that the first thought that comes to the researcher’s mind is to make an appointment with the official knowledge manager, literacy change agent…or in other words, you…the librarian.


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