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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! :)

April 8, 2014 / LibGirl09

Trip to Birmingham…and Thinking About What’s Next

The view of the clouds on my flight to Birmingham

I was away all last week for my Spring Practicum. The practicum is an opportunity for Associate Fellows to spend a week at a health sciences library of their choice anywhere in the country. During the visit, they observe library operations, learn about the institutional environment, meet with with the director, librarians, staff, and sometimes members of the institution’s administration. Sometimes an Associate may complete a project or give a presentation as part of the practicum. There may also be social activities like going out to dinner with library staff.

I selected the Lister Hill Library of the Health Sciences (LHL) at the University of Alabama at Birmingham (UAB). LHL is one of the resource libraries of the National Network of Libraries of Medicine. This library attracted me because they have an academic health science library, clinical library, and patient resource library — all my areas of interest in one place! I also wanted to learn more about UAB’s merger of all the campus libraries into one organization to serve the whole campus. I will share more details about my experience in my next post. I really enjoyed the visit — the LHL library faculty and staff are great, and the workplace culture is awesome!



I visited a couple of civil rights historical sites. Here I am at the Kelly Ingram Park — the site of important civil rights demonstrations in Birmingham in the 1960s.

Other highlights of my trip were connecting with friends. I met up with Sabrina, one of my friends from my ARL Initiative to Recruit a Diverse Workforce cohort. We visited the Civil Rights Institute and Kelly Ingram Park. Thanks to the wonders of social media, my Twitter friend @laurendodd saw a post on LHL’s Facebook page that I was in the area. We had never met in person, but have been following each other on Twitter for a couple of years. On the spur of the moment, she invited me to come hang out with her and a group of her librarian friends. I had a good time and appreciate the hospitality.


A distant view of Birmingham’s Vulcan Statute — the largest cast iron statute in the world.

Now I’m back home, and getting back into the swing of working on projects. The proposal letters from second year hosts have arrived. Ahhh! More decisions to think about. I’m still looking for jobs, but at the moment I’m leaning more towards continuing into a second year of the Associate Fellowship. There are two host sites that I am particularly interested in. I just have some thinking to do, and I need to talk to them to find out a little more about the libraries and their projects. Decisions, decisions…


April 7, 2014 / LibGirl09

My Advice on Interview Prep

As I mentioned in my previous post, NLM is currently interviewing candidates for the next cohort of Associate Fellows. Several of the interviewees have reached out to ask for interview prep advice, so I thought I would write a post about it. I know it’s a little late since interviews have already started. Don’t worry, I did respond to them individually, so they know everything that I’m about to say. This is a mix of things related to the fellowship as well as my current job hunt.

Know the organization

Take time to put those librarian research skills to work, and look up information about the organization you are applying too. This info can include:

  • Mission, vision, and goals statements
  • The strategic/long range plan
  • Newsletters or news items on the website
  • Background info on your interviewers
  • (or in the case of the National Library of Medicine — fact sheets)

Know yourself

I think self-awareness is very important. Take some time for reflection and be able to explain:

  • Why you want this job (besides just “I need the money”)
  • How your skills line up with the job description
  • Your strengths and weaknesses
  • What previous supervisors and co-workers think of you
  • Your professional goals
  • Your motivating factors and workplace values (you may not receive questions about this, but it should help form the basis for some of the questions you ask the interviewers to determine if the job is a good fit for you).

Practice, Practice, Practice!

Interviews take practice (or so I’ve been told). This is probably my weak point at the moment. I haven’t been reviewing my responses in advance as thoroughly as I should. There is no way to anticipate every single question the interviewer(s) may ask. However, there are some common questions that almost everyone uses in addition to those specific to the job. Thinking ahead will help your thoughts to be more coherent and your communication more polished.

Ask Questions

This is specifically for those applying to the Associate Fellowship program. Don’t hesitate to reach out to current and alumni Associates at any stage of the application and interview process if you have questions about the fellowship or interview preparation. We are expected to be ambassadors for the program and recruit others, so we don’t mind sharing our experiences and answering your questions. :)


Did I miss anything? What are you suggestions for interview success?


March 19, 2014 / LibGirl09

Why Are We Even Here? (or The Purpose of Interviews)

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Interviews make me feel like I’m standing alone on stage under a bright spotlight.
(Image copyright 123rf Stock Photos)

It’s interview season for the Associate Fellowship Program, and it is reminding me of everything I was thinking/feeling a year ago, and what I will be thinking/feeling in the next several months as I (hopefully) start interviewing for jobs. Although I want to help those AFP interviewees, I’m also preaching to the choir with this one.

I will be honest, interviews scare me sh–, um, I mean shoe-less. I am just one of those people that get nervous very easily. And when I am really nervous, it affects me physically. Think shaky hands and voice, sweaty palms, and possibly even….tears. Now I don’t say all that to embarrass myself (although I just did), or to start a therapy session. I just want to let you know, reader, that if interviews unnerve you, then I know how you feel. If you happen to be one of those super relaxed and uber-confident people who don’t get phased by interviews then I envy you….and you can get off my blog right now (just kidding…sorta).

Sometimes I think it would be easier to just submit a cover letter and resume, and let the hiring committee make their decision based off of that alone. It would definitely be less traumatic for me. However, I have to remind myself that the interview is important for multiple reasons.

On the interviewers’ side, it allows them to assess:

  • communication skills
  • critical thinking skills
  • ability to explain your work experience & future goals
  • self-awareness
  • personality (and whether yours is a good match for their workplace)

On the interviewee side, it allows you to:

  • tell them how awesome you are
  • learn more about the position, job duties, and the company
  • observe the workplace culture and decide if it’s a good fit for you

So the next time you’re sitting in that hot seat … or being blinded by that spotlight …  or [insert other equally uncomfortable situation]  just remember to breathe, relax and be yourself. Don’t forget to ask your questions too — the company is on trial being interviewed too.

As for overcoming the nerves and anxiety? Well I’m still working on that one. If you have any sure-fire techniques that have worked for you, please share!

I know being prepared is supposed to be able to decrease anxiety.  I think I can do a little better in my interview prep. I’ll talk about that some more in my next post.

For further reading:

March 19, 2014 / LibGirl09

Halfway Done — Already???

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Copyright 123rf Stock Photos

Yes, it’s true, my fellowship is halfway completed. I have six months left to go…actually it’s more like 5.5 months now. It feels like it was just yesterday that I was submitting my application. In reality, it has been a year since I received the news that I had been selected for an interview. Now the interviewees for the 2014-2015 cohort have already been selected, and I am receiving emails asking for interview advice. How the time flies.

We just finished the curriculum portion of the fellowship at the end of February. Normally, we would have been finished by the end of January, but the government shutdown and some of the snow days pushed it back.

Now I am focused on spring projects.

  • Project #1: Redesigning the Associate Fellowship Program website. The website is primarily used to recruit applicants for the program, and there is general discontent from many users about the design and content. This project involves assessing user needs, developing a content matrix and gap analysis, creating a mockup for the new design, communicating with a developer to make the design happen, editing/adding content, launching the new site, and gathering feedback. Right now I am working on user needs assessments and the gap analysis. I’m really excited about this project, and looking forward to the finished product.
  • Project #2: Creating mapping files for MedlinePlus Connect, which is a service that enables health professionals and patients to receive information from the Medlineplus website through their electronic health record systems. A mapping file creates a connection between specific medical codes and relevant resources from MedlinePlus. I’m working on mapping files for dietary supplements.

I’m also spending some time applying for jobs. I would really prefer to stay in the DC area, but I’m also looking within four hours driving distance as well.  So far I have applied to two jobs (I know, only two). I have a few applications I’ll be working on this weekend though. I need to start putting more energy into the job hunt. The next five months will fly by before I know it.


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