Widen the Lens: NAHSL Open Forum

December 1, 2014 at 6:18 pm | Posted in NAHSL Annual Meeting 2014 | 1 Comment

First, let me thank NAHSL for the scholarship to attend the 2014 Conference. It was an excellent conference, and an enjoyable experience.

An important part of the conference, I felt, was the open forum. Here, the attendees at the conference discussed their thoughts about NAHSL, as it exists today, and the future. Following this discussion the executive board sent out a ballot to the members regarding a dues increase from $30 to $50 annually.

The discussion was based upon a summary of a survey that had been distributed to members in the Spring of 2014. 177 members completed the survey. 50% of the respondents are hospital librarians, with another ⅓ who identified themselves as Academic Health Science librarians. The majority of the membership is from Massachusetts and Connecticut (62% in total), with the remainder from the other New England states: Maine (11%), New Hampshire (9%), Vermont (8%), and Rhode Island (7%). The services which were most important to the survey respondents were the annual conference and continuing education opportunities. 86% of responses indicated that NAHSL was important or very important to them.

Confirming the importance of the annual conference, less than 20% are able to attend both NAHSL and MLA in the same year.

When asked about a preferred meeting format, the leading response is the current format with 28%. After that, all the responses are about equal. The choices include alternate between 2 night and 1 night stays (23%),  a one day meeting (23%) and to hold the conference every other year (21%). These answers cannot be combined to create a majority response.

The highest individual response to a question about meeting location is to continue to rotate through the New England states (39%). 29% would like Massachusetts or Connecticut. 23% would like the chapter to find one location and have the conference there every year. Here, a combined answer  would appear to want  to have the conference in one location, somewhere in Massachusetts or Connecticut. This conference was my first visit to Rockland ME, and I certainly want to return. That would put me in the 39% category!

In answering the question about what ideas respondents would like NAHSL to explore, the answers included coordinating CE with other associations, joint meetings with other MLA chapters, and for NAHSL to work actively with the RML to coordinate services and resources.

When asked about the members own satisfaction with NAHSL, the responses were overwhelmingly positive; Very satisfied 29%, Satisfied 51%, Somewhat satisfied 16%, and Not satisfied 4%.

NAHSL, covering all of New England, is recognized for providing an excellent annual conference. 42% consider the conference very important, and an additional 37% consider the conference important.

Continuing education opportunities are ranked very important by 49% and important by 33% of the respondents.

Professional Development Awards consist of scholarships to attend the conference and are available to enable members to pursue another form of scholarship, that may not be provided or supported by their employer. 38% consider this award somewhat important, and 27% consider the award not important. I am surprised by this information.

When asked about ways to stabilize NAHSL finances, the top two choices were to change the annual meeting format to incur lower costs and/or to increase membership dues. This question about dues was just recently formalized by asking the members to vote on an annual dues increase from $30 to $50.  Previous questions indicated the members did not wish to change the format of the conference.

When asked about membership in MLA, 75% indicated that they are members, and that 52% of the respondees indicated that they were not able to attend the national conference in the same year that they attend NAHSL conference. 40% of respondees attend NAHSL conference yearly, an additional 20% attend every other year, and 30% attend at least every five years. I wonder if they may be attending the conference when it is held locally, thus not incurring any hotel bills. The top reasons they attend the conference are to socialize and network with colleagues, to listen to the invited speakers, and to attend the CE courses.

I felt that the discussion was interesting and fruitful. I hope that the entire membership votes to approve the dues increase, as an indication that NAHSL is important to the health sciences community. Finances have dropped over the last several years, and it appears necessary to provide our chapter with additional income as it attempts to continue to provide the conferences and CE courses that we need and desire.

Thank you.

William H. Anger, Jr.
The Miriam Hospital
Providence, RI 02906


Always Something New: Dartmouth Atlas of Health Care

November 10, 2014 at 3:20 pm | Posted in NAHSL Annual Meeting 2014, Professional Development | 1 Comment

One thing I love about the NAHSL Conference is that I always learn something new.  Even though I have been a health sciences librarian for almost twenty years, the excellently chosen NAHSL speakers always have something fresh to present.  Thus the conference truly serves as a continuing education experience.

The one resource that I was most surprised to learn about this year was the Dartmouth Atlas of Health Care (www.dartmouthatlas.org).  This website was highlighted in the plenary talk by Carrie Colla.  It is a data repository complied by the Dartmouth Institute for Health Policy and Clinical Practice that Dr. Colla used as the basis for her presentation.  It has been around for more than 20 years but it was a resource that I was not familiar with.

The Dartmouth Atlas analyzes Medicare data from the federal Centers for Medicare and Medicare Services.  The project analyzes health care expenditures, delivery, utilization, and outcomes.  The data can be broken down by region and local level, even to the level of individual hospitals.  The data is analyzed using a population-based methodology called small area analysis.  This method focuses on the experience of a population living in a defined geographical area or a group of patients using the same hospital.

At the level of the individual hospital the atlas uses Medicare data to create a hospital profile based on the per patient spending in the patient’s last two years of life.  This is broken down by inpatient, outpatient, long-term, home health, and hospice care.  The data is used to create an index called the Hospital Care Intensity Index.  This index can be used to calculate the hospital’s utilization ratios in comparison to the national average.

In addition to the Medicare data, additional data from commercial medical claims is available from the states of Maine, New Hampshire, and Vermont.  In these states the state legislatures require routine reporting of medical claims from commercial insurance plans. All three states offer these data, along with Medicaid claims, for research and public reporting.

This website is freely available.  It includes interactive tools to allow users to use the data to make their own comparisons.  In addition the website includes the reports that have been generated as a result of their data analysis.

If you are not familiar with this website, be sure to take a look.  Also for those of you in states that do not require the public reporting of commercial insurance claims, urge your legislatures to pass laws requiring that this data be made available so that even more information can be added to this valuable resource.

Submitted by Robin Devin, PhD
Health Sciences Librarian, University of Rhode Island Library

Love Those Lightning Rounds

November 7, 2014 at 1:30 pm | Posted in NAHSL Annual Meeting 2014, Professional Development | Leave a comment

The great thing about Lightning Rounds is that they spark creative ideas that we can consider and adapt to our own libraries.  This year’s “Rounds” were again diverse, lively and fun.  The format varied between slides that automatically advanced (definitely a bit more difficult for the presenter) and standard presentations controlled by the presenter.   A sampling follows.

Gary Atwood  from Dana Medical Library, presented “Everyone Can Use a Little ‘Guide on the Side.”  The “Guide on the Side” is with a tutorial for using a database or resource that incorporates active learning.  The guide  which is on the left side of the library’s web page  explains the resource as the student uses it in practice and then takes a quiz.  This provides formative feedback for the guide’s users.   Results  are sent to the guide developer who can then make  any necessary changes in the “Guide. “

“All Charged Up with the Jay Daly Technology Grant”  was presented by Madge Boldt from Rhode Island Hospital/Lifespan.  Madge received a NAHSL  Jay Daly Technology grant to purchase a charging station for her library.  In 2013, the library had over 300 print journals and in 2015 will only provide 6 journals in print.  With the majority of her collection online, she noticed a drop in visits to the library and also a need for hospital  staff to be able to keep their devices charged to use these resources.  Madge purchased a “Kwikboost” charging station that charges a device in one-half hour.    Madge also developed a promotion campaign and a follow-up survey.  Usage of the library since the charging station was installed has increased by 20%.   If NAHSL members have a technology project that they would like to implement but can’t afford through their own budgets, they should consider applying for a Jay Daly Technology Grant. Awards of  $1,000 per year, include software/hardware purchase and other related expenses.  Information can be found on the NAHSL webpage, under the  “Professional Development” tab – http://nahsl.libguides.com/content.php?pid=148095&sid=5069366

Alison Clapp’s presentation “Serendipity… the Library’s Involvement in an Online Journal Club”  demonstrated how we can become involved in a project that may at first seem outside the scope of our usual practice.  After being asked by a nurse researcher for articles on starting a journal club, Alison noticed that one of the articles suggested using Word Press as the platform for implementing and managing the club.  Alison told the nurse that she had experience using Word Press. That became the launching point for her direct involvement with the  nurse scientist, educator and quality improvement team in the Online Journal Club.  Nurses receive CE credit for participating and only articles that the library has online access to are included.  Alison developed the Word Press journal club site that includes information about the journal club, explains how to get started, provides CE information and an evaluation form.   She  also  evaluates the articles that are included.

We were delightfully entertained by Tom Mead’s “How I Teach MESH,” an abbreviated  version  of the presentation  that he uses with the Dartmouth Public Health program.  A cast of notables helped to demonstrate  medical subject headings and the differences in using PubMed and OVID and how terms are mapped to subject headings for better search results.

Hongjie Wang’s  “Medical Librarian as a Fulbright Scholar: You Could be the Next Winner” encouraged us to widen our lens even further.  Ten librarians were included in the 800 Fulbright scholars sent abroad in 2013.  Information on the program is available at http://www.cies.org/.  Females are underrepresented and encouraged to apply.

I want to sincerely thank NAHSL for their support that enabled me to attend another exceptional  conference.

Jeanie Vander Pyl, MLIS
Director,  Frazier-Grant Medical Library
Cape Cod Hospital

My Take Away from Stephen Abram

November 7, 2014 at 1:25 pm | Posted in NAHSL Annual Meeting 2014, Professional Development | 1 Comment

The final plenary speaker, Stephen Abram, spoke on “Widen the Lens on Libraries: Provocations: Leadership in Transformational Times.”  The presentation certainly was provocative.  Some might have taken offence to his remarks and thought him to be rather pompous.  I, on the other hand, found his talk inspirational.  As Len Levin mentioned in his blog entry, Stephen Abram did use many cute phrases to emphasize his points.

I, personally, liked “change is an attitude,” “What is the sex appeal of librarians,” “What keeps you awake at night, personally and professionally,” If you could change one thing, what would it be,” and “What are you passionate about?”  Those questions were asked of us to remind us of our worth and value in times of closing libraries and attitudes in which people feel that we don’t need librarians because we have Google.  I found those questions stimulating and a positive way to end his talk, but if you didn’t like the ideas he presented in the first place, then you wouldn’t be inspired to observe your users and create the appropriate library sandbox for their user experiences.

My take-away, maybe you don’t want to turn your library into a gadget garage, but maybe you can load your OPAC into a discovery service or search engine to have your library resources rank on top of the search results or maybe you can create a blog or Facebook page.  The suggestions were many.  The point is to observe your users, get their ethnographic profile and customize your library to match their needs so that “context is King, contact is Queen, not content.  As Len already eloquently stated, “it’s not just the tools but the people that help to use and interpret the tools that bring value to an institution.”

Thank you, NAHSL.  Great conference.

Susan  Warthman


NAHSL 2014 – Talents, Gifts and Superpowers

November 5, 2014 at 3:23 pm | Posted in NAHSL Annual Meeting 2014, Professional Development, Uncategorized | Leave a comment

It was wonderful to see such a display of our NAHSL expertise at the 2014 conference!  From the Talent show to the Lightning rounds to the Poster session I learned a great deal from my colleagues and about my colleagues!

Here’s one word about that Talent show – WOW. Not only am I impressed by the variety of talent in our organization, I am impressed by the dedication shown in fostering those talents. Someone may be born with a gift for singing, but it is the discipline and hard work that expands that aptitude into a talent that you can share with others. Thank you to everyone who participated!

And superpowers? What are they? I like to think of those as our talents and gifts applied to solving problems and making the world a better place. Some superpowers I saw on display:

Gary Atwood  (UVM)– helping people learn to navigate information in real time with a “guide on the side”;

Donna Belcinksi (Greenwich) – facilitating access to relevant literature for residents and attendings for morning report and journal club;

Debra Berlanstein (Tufts) – rethinking roles and partnering across libraries to improve communication and access to electronic resources;

Madge Boldt (Rhode Island) – charging up her users and their devices to improve access to mobile content across the campus;

Irena Bond (MCPHS) – partnering with a campus in Peru to improve searching skills and access to the medical literature;

Lori Bradshaw (St. Marys) – making reading material available to patients to improve their experience in the hospital;

Marianne Burke (UVM) – challenging the status quo in the name of justice, libraries and access to medical information;

Alison Clapp (Children’s) – experimenting with blogging software to facilitate journal clubs for busy nurses

Joanne Doucette (MCPHS)  – scanning and transcribing the prescriptions from 19th century Portland, Maine to make this unique collection available online

Anne Fladger (Brigham & Women’s) – using her mad organizational skills to improve a policy and procedure process for rehabilitation staff;

Melissa Funaro (Yale) – making wise decisions about the collection to make space available without hindering access;

Cara Marcus (Faulkner)– expanding the roles of volunteers to give them greater opportunities to use their talents;

Martha Meacham (UMass)– supporting research on women’s health by providing quick access to necessary resources;

Thomas Mead (Dartmouth)– having fun and using humor to teach MESH and searching skills, because Johnny doesn’t work cheap;

Meaghan Muir (Brigham & Women’s) – partnering with psychiatric nurses to develop a rich resource of valuable information;

Hongjie Wang  (UCONN)– taking a chance and winning big on a Fulbright to study and teach in Chengdu, China.

Thank you again to these librarians who shared their superpowers to make NAHSL 2014 so memorable. It was terrific working with you all as Program chair of the conference.

Links above will take you to the posters and slides if available.

Submitted by:

Dina McKelvy, MLS, AHIP

Maine Medical Center Library


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