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October 18, 2014 / LibGirl09

7 Weeks In…

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At grand opening of Henderson-Hopkins School library. Helping to design a mosaic art piece to be put on display. L-R: Me, Holly Thompson (Associate Fellow), Anne Seymour (Welch Library Director)

I’ve been here at Welch Library for seven weeks.  The orientation activities are finished, and now we are delving into the “real work.” I thought I would give a little recap of some of events I have attended, and projects I am starting work on. In addition to contributing to the work at Welch Library, I enjoy having the opportunity to learn more about Johns Hopkins University and the many projects and collaborations that are happening within the University as well as with outside organizations.

Grand Opening of Henderson-Hopkins School Library
My second week here, I attended the grand opening of the library and Early Childhood Center at the Henderson-Hopkins School. Henderson-Hopkins is a K-8 charter school in East Baltimore that is co-operated by Hopkins University and Morgan State University. The school opened last year, and if I remember correctly it is the first public school to be built in East Baltimore in 20 years. The library and childhood center received funding from the Weinberg Foundation. The library is part of Weinberg Foundations ongoing Baltimore Library Project. You can read more about the event, and watch a brief video recap of the grand opening here.

Telling Stories About Science
The goal of this series of events is to help researchers in science and medicine to improve their communication with people outside of their field. Scientists are very good at writing for and communicating with other scientists, but in general they are not trained to communicate with the general public, policymakers, the media, potential funders, etc. There needs to be more training and modeling for how to tell the story of why research is important and deserves funding. The event I attended featured Dr. Bill Nelson, Director of Kimmel Cancer Center and Elizabeth Tracey, Director of Electronic Media at Hopkins Medicine. They reviewed recordings of Dr. Nelson’s past radio and TV interviews, and he provided tips and advice. You can watch a recording here.

Work I’m Involved In

  • Systematic Review Support – The informationists here at Welch participate in a LOT of systematic reviews. I’m very excited to be involved in systematic review support as well. One of the informationists works with the Cochrane Eye and Vision Group here at Hopkins. She creates the search strategies for their reviews. Every review is supposed to be updated every two years. So my first introduction to this process is to assist with updating search strategies for some reviews that need updating. The search strategy I’m working on right now is for “Surgery for Nonarteritic Anterior Ischemic Optic Neuropathy.” I’m going to write a future post about the Cochrane Collaboration and their systematic reviews, because I didn’t know much about them until I came here. I think it’s pretty interesting.
  • Global Health Task Force – I have been invited to participate on a task force of informationists who are preparing to do a needs assessment of Hopkins University to determine what additional services or resources are needed to support the university’s global health programs and activities. In addition to that, I am partnering with one of the informationists to create a new global health LibGuide, and I have been tasked with developing a new class to be offered next year on global health databases and resources.  So I’ll be learning all about global health, the University’s work in this area, and the development of new services and resources to meet user needs.
  • Research support – I sat in on a consultation the other day that an informationist had with one of the staff/researchers here at Hopkins. This researcher is developing training curriculum for medical professionals and hospital staff in a lower/middle income country. She wants her curriculum to be evidence based, and needed some help getting started on a literature search. Hearing about the research topic was fascinating, and watching the process of guiding the researcher through selecting concepts and search words, and building the search strategy was very helpful to me. I’ve done reference interviews in a public library setting, but the questions and topics were always so simple. I feel more confident now, and the informationist said that she would let me know when she has more consults, and even let me take the lead. I guess what made me feel most nervous was not knowing too much about potential research topics. However, most patrons don’t come to us for help with their subject specialty. They need guidance with the actual search itself — forming the research question, identifying main concepts (and synonym terms), creating a search strategy, selecting the appropriate databases, and understanding the differing search syntax for each database. That I can do….although I’m still learning about the different databases.

There are some other projects that I will be involved in at later date, but these are the ones I have gotten started with.

Upcoming Events

  • The Mid-Atlantic Chapter of Medical Library Association Meeting (MAC-MLA) starts today and runs through Tuesday. I will be presenting a poster (my first poster presentation!) on the “User-Centered Approach to Redesigning the NLM Associate Fellowship Program Website”. I will be focusing on the user needs assessment tools and activities I used in the process that can be applied in any library setting. If you’re there, come talk to me (I’m presenting in the morning poster session). If you’re not there, you can follow conference tweets at #macmla2014.
  • I’m really excited that I will be able to attend my first American Public Health Association Conference next month. I’m looking forward to learning more about public health in general and connecting with librarians who work with public health researchers and practitioners. The conference is so huge and has so many events — I’m still trying to decide which ones to attend.
  • Also, I have been invited to be one of the panelists for a presentation on blogging that is sponsored by the DC Chapter of the Special Libraries Association. It will be held in Washington, DC on November 12th, and will be broadcasted over the web as well. There’s a brief event description on the DC/SLA website, I’ll share more details when I have them.

So those are all the updates that I have right now.  This post ended up being much longer than I planned, but I had so much I wanted to share. Until next time…  :)

September 29, 2014 / LibGirl09

Check Out the Storify for “Live and Learn” Twitter Chats!

Last week @SLAhq and @INALJchat co-hosted two sessions of the “Live and Learn” Twitter chat. The chat featured a lively discussion on learning and keeping skills sharp in the library science field. I really enjoyed participating in this conversation and learned some new info on continuing education opportunities. If you missed the chat, here are the links to the Storify stories for both sessions.

It’s been a while since I have actively participated in a Twitter chat. Often I forget about the ones that I do want to follow, or when I do remember, then I end up just lurking. I need to start putting reminders on my calender, and look for specific chat topics that I feel like I have something to contribute to. It’s fine to use chats as a learning activity, but as someone who wants to become involved in the profession beyond my workplace, chats like these provide an opportunity to add my voice to the larger conversation about the many issues swirling around in the librarian profession. It’s a great way to network too.

Both SLA and INALJ also separately host regular Twitter chats. If you want to join in these conversations, follow @SLAhq and @INALJchat for updates.

  • INALJchat hosts #inaljchat on Mondays, 9pm ET.
  • SLAhq will be hosting the next #slatalk on October 28th, 3pm ET.

I also like to participate lurk during the #medlibs chat.  It’s held on Thursdays, 9pm ET.


I’m looking for more Twitter chats. What are your favorite chats to follow?

September 9, 2014 / LibGirl09

Good Morning Baltimore (and Welch Library)!

View of the Baltimore Inner Harbor from Federal Hill Park

Doing a little sightseeing in my new city. The view of the Baltimore Inner Harbor from Federal Hill Park.

As I mentioned in my previous post, I decided to participate in the second year of the NLM Associate Fellowship Program.  I am very happy to be one of the two Associates offered a position at the William H. Welch Medical Library at the Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore, MD. I will be spending my second year continuing to learn more about medical librarianship, and contributing to the mission and services of Welch Library.

The year has begun with an orientation phase, where we are meeting with the department heads and informationists to learn about what they do and about Welch Library services. We are also sitting in on committee meetings and shadowing informationists when they teach classes or lead orientation sessions for students. As we become more familiar with the library, we will be able to take on responsibilities that may include literature searching, systematic reviews, LibGuides, and teaching classes. There are also opportunities to be involved with some really cool special projects.

“Welch Library: Wherever You Are”

The Welch Library serves the students, faculty, and staff of the Johns Hopkins Medical Institutions.  All of the librarians are called informationists, and they are each assigned specific departments to work with. There are five clinical informationists, and six public health and basic science informationists. The informationists operate through an embedded service model where they are integrated into their departments. This integration can include collaborating with researchers, serving on committees, attending meetings or grand rounds, and holding regular office hours in various places around the campus. The goal is to bring the library’s services to the patron instead of requiring the patron to always come to the library. This model also removes the focus from the library as a building or physical collection, and puts more emphasis on the library as a group of skilled information professionals. This nontraditional approach to librarianship is part of what attracted me to Welch. I’m very excited to learn from the informationists and become involved in their activities. At the moment, I am more interested in the public health side than clinical.

A New Place to Call Home

During my first year of the fellowship, I lived in Prince George’s County, MD, very close to the border of Southeast Washington, DC. Driving around the beltway to and from Bethesda was exhausting (at least an hour one way, sometimes longer with rush hour traffic). I knew the commute to Baltimore would be just as bad, if not worse. So I decided to move. I’m now living in Baltimore City, and I can get to Welch Library by a ten-minute bus or shuttle ride. It’s wonderful not to have to drive as much (and also to be able to take time to eat breakfast before I leave in the mornings). In addition to getting to know the new workplace and co-workers, I’m also getting to know a new city. Previously I lived in the DC/PG County area for my whole life (over 30 years), so this is a bit of an adjustment. However, I’m sure I will enjoy my time here.


That’s all of my news for now. I will keep you updated on projects as they get started. :)

September 7, 2014 / LibGirl09

Farewell NLM!

"Entrance to the National Library of Medicine, October 9, 2008" by Sage Ross - Own work. Licensed under Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 via Wikimedia Commons

“Entrance to the National Library of Medicine, October 9, 2008″ by Sage Ross – Own work. Licensed under Creative Commons

Wow, the first year of my fellowship at NLM went by so fast! I had lofty goals to document so many moments and experiences here on this blog….and it didn’t quite happen. But as they say “if at first you don’t succeed, try, try again.” Right? I will be continuing the NLM Fellowship for a second year, and this time I will be “stationed” at an academic medical library. Hopefully, I will be able to take the time to share a little more about my second year activities.

But first to reminisce a little about my first year.  How do I put into words just how awesome/challenging/thought-provoking/illuminating this year has been? This was an interesting year that included a 16-day government shutdown, multiple snow days, and NIH Bear running loose on campus. Below are some of the reflections that I shared at the farewell reception.

My favorite memory:
During the first five months the Associates participate in a curriculum, where we take classes from the leaders and staff in various divisions and departments of NLM. I really enjoyed the opportunities for hands-on activities during the curriculum. Some of the highlights for me were creating sample Medical Subject Heading (MeSH) descriptors, decision-making exercises for selecting and preserving library materials, and washing books in the Preservation Lab! I appreciate staff taking the time to share a “taste” of the awesome work they do everyday.

What surprised me about NLM:
There is so much more to NLM and its mission than I had realized. It was fascinating to learn about the research and development activities, and the variety of professional backgrounds that NLM staff have beyond library science. There is a lot of non-traditional library work taking place here. The typical reference work and collection development and management is only a small part of what goes on here. There are staff researching and developing tools and products related to natural language processing, electronic health records, disaster and emergency response, gene sequencing and much more!

What I learned about myself:

  • As a sort of capstone activity to the end of the first year of the fellowship, we are required to give a 20-minute presentation about one of our projects to a large group of NLM staff (including senior staff). Through that experience I learned that I can overcome my stage fright and give a solid presentation despite my nerves. This was the first time that I didn’t feel nervous while presenting and that is a HUGE victory. I am so appreciative to those who helped me to prepare, and to my attentive and supportive audience on the big day. I received compliments on my confidence, presence, and communication and presentation style. I’m actually looking forward to future public speaking opportunities!
  • I didn’t share this thought at the reception, but I also learned that I need contact with patrons. I can’t spend all my time in a cubicle or just interacting with other library staff. I need to see and speak with the people directly using and benefiting from our services. When I left the public library, I was burnt out from interacting with the public because I spent 4-6 hours everyday at the information desk. That was too much. However, while at NLM I only received about an hour a week of direct interaction with the public (when I led library tours). That was not enough. So hopefully in my second year, I can discover what that happy medium should be.


This year has been a very unique and life-changing opportunity. NLM is a place full of passion and innovation, and the staff support of the Associate program is amazing. This experience has helped me to feel more confident and prepared to enter the healthcare field as an information professional. I feel honored to have been chosen, and I will be forever grateful.

Thanks NLM!

May 16, 2014 / LibGirl09

Voyaging to the Future, Learning Spaces, and Global Access

Looking to the future of NLM!

On Wednesday, the National Library of Medicine hosted a symposium: “NLM 1984-2014: Voyaging to the Future.” The day-long symposium reflected on the past thirty years of NLM accomplishments and innovations under the leadership of our director Dr. Donald Lindberg. Topics included training future leaders, funding and building informatics, information for consumers, outreach partnerships and more. You can watch a recording of the symposium here. The purpose of this event is not just to pat ourselves on the back; it’s a precursor to the new long range planning that will begin next year. NLM is seeking feedback from its stakeholders and user community. There is also a new Voyaging to the Future blog where you can provide your feedback. NLM wants to here from you! Please take some time and visit the blog to share memories about your experience with NLM or its resources, and also to provide your input on what you think NLM’s priorities should be going forward. Your voice counts!

Strategic Priorities of IMLS Funding

Also looking to the future is the Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS). Yesterday, IMLS held the second of three stakeholder meetings geared towards providing insight into funding priorities, particularly for the National Leadership Grant program. The first meeting in April focused on access to digital content,  and yesterday’s meeting focused on learning spaces in libraries. There is one more meeting scheduled for June 5th, 9am – 4pm CT, that will focus on STEM learning in libraries. Librarians and the general public are invited to watch the presentations live online and join in the discussion through Twitter using hashtag #imlsfocus. You can find more information and recordings of the meetings here.

 Global Accessibility Awareness Day

I just learned yesterday  that May 15th is Global Accessibility Awareness Day (GAAD). This day is dedicated to raising awareness and educating people about digital access and the users of technology with different disabilities. The GAAD website contains links to various organizations that have special events or activities planned for the day. There is also a list of exercises to do to “walk in the shoes” of those with disabilities, such as going mouseless for an hour, checking the color contrast on a webpage, or trying out adaptive software tools. You can follow Twitter conversations on this topic with the hashtags #GAAD and #a11y.  I’m definitely marking my calendar for next year so I can be prepared to join in the promotion and to check out local public events.

Side note: In celebration of GAAD, Deque Systems is offering one month of free access to their course “Web Accessibility Fundamentals.” Free registration is available until June 15th. You can register here.


May 8, 2014 / LibGirl09

The Making of a Webinar

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Copyright nikkytok / 123RF Stock Photo

The Associate Fellowship Program usually records a webinar about the program every two years or so. The webinar features a presentation by the fellowship coordinator and the current Associate Fellows, and time for Q&A from the audience.

It has been three years since the last webinar, so I took the initiative to organize a new recording as one of the activities for the redesign of the  website.

My responsibilities included:

  • Picking the date & time
  • Reserving the virtual room (we’ll be using Adobe Connect),  and the physical room
  • Reserving a live captioner for 508 compliance
  • Recruiting someone to run the computer & Adobe Connect during presentation
  • Facilitating a discussion on webinar content with the fellowship coordinator and current first-year associates
  • Reaching out to second-year associates to present on their experiences
  • Making a final list of topics for the presentation and creating a sign-up sheet for associates to choose which topic they will cover
  • Creating draft PowerPoint slides for everyone to contribute content on their topic & reviewing the final slides
  • Publicity: posting info on websites,  listservs,  Facebook groups, and Twitter; also sent emails to over forty library school student groups to ask them to share with their school listserv

Today is the moment of truth.

We will hold the webinar today, May 8, at 2:00 pm EDT. The webinar is free and open to the public. Login info is on our website. If you are a current library science student or recent grad interested in medical libraries, I encourage you to attend. The presentation will feature information about the Associate Fellowship Program, and the personal experiences of current first and second year Associates. A recording of the webinar will be made available afterwards as well.

I’m excited to be involved in this event. But also nervous that my publicity efforts were not effective, and maybe no one will join us in for a live audience.

So please come — with questions!

Hope to “see” you there. :)

April 17, 2014 / LibGirl09

In Search of Reference Experience

Those who follow my blog may know that I tend to stay overly busy. It’s so hard for me to say no to new opportunities (especially if it might not come around again)! So, in addition to working on two big projects, and leading a weekly public tour of NLM, I also asked Kathel (fellowship program coordinator) to approach the NIH Library, and ask if I could help out and receive some reference experience.   I don’t have much experience with reference and literature searching in a health sciences environment, and I felt like I would feel more comfortable in my next job if I could leave this fellowship with more of that experience under my belt.  I thought maybe I would be allowed to do a couple of hours on the desk each week. Well I had a meeting with the library director and the head of information services. They have invited me to spend one day a week at their library for the next three months. I will be involved in all aspects of their reference (face-to-face, chat, and email), and will also be able to attend leadership team meetings, trainings, and other staff activities. How awesome is that? I will start in May. NLM’s Reference & Web Services also provides reference training and experience for the Associates (two hours a week on the desk), but I wanted to try a different environment.

Maybe you’re wondering, what is the difference between National Library of Medicine and NIH Library? I’m so glad you asked.

  • NLM is the largest biomedical library in the world, and it serves the public locally and around the world. The “public” includes everyone from consumers and students to researchers and health professionals. In addition to providing more “traditional” library services and resources, NLM conducts research, development, and training in biomedical informatics and health information technology. NLM also coordinates the 6,000-member National Network of Libraries of Medicine that promotes and provides access to health information in communities across the United States. For more info, check out their fact sheets.
  • The NIH Library is a biomedical research library that primarily serves the staff of the National Institutes of Health and selected U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) agencies. Limited services are available to the general public as well.


So they are each important libraries, and I’m excited to be able to experience both worlds! :)


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