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June 5, 2018 / Christian M.

Reflections on 2018 MLA Conference

I began attending the Medical Library Association Conference in 2014 and attended three years in a row before taking a break last year. I started to feel like I wasn’t really getting much out of the conference. I also let my membership lapse for a bit. I decided to attend this year because I wanted to present, and both poster proposals I collaborated on were accepted. I didn’t attend a lot of sessions, and instead focused on networking and reconnecting with people I hadn’t seen in a while. I am glad I went this year, and here are the reasons why:

Catching up with friends
Some of my closest librarian friends are people I have met through the Association of Research Libraries diversity programs and the NLM Associate Fellowship Program. We’re all scattered around the country now, and I don’t see them very often. Conferences are where we reconnect. It was nice to talk, laugh, and spend time together face-to-face. I also had the opportunity to be in the midst of a little more diversity. It’s a well-known fact that the library science field is not very diverse, and I live in a part of the country where librarianship is even less diverse. The only time I can be among a group of librarians of color is when I attend national conferences. It felt so awesome to attend the African American Medical Librarians Special Interest Group meeting and be in a room of about 40 other medical librarians who look like me. I saw a lot of new faces there too!


I missed joining in the AAMLA photo this year. 😦

First MLA presentation
I presented a poster “A Pilot Partnership to Provide Health Information to Cancer Patients and Families.” I was a little nervous about presenting on this project, because the results did not provide the level of success that I had hoped for.  However, I have been advised that even less successful projects should be shared through presentations or publications, and there are opportunities for others to learn from any outcome. I am happy that my poster was well-received, and I had some interesting conversations with others doing similar work. We commiserated on challenges and discussed potential opportunities or options to do things differently in the future. I also collaborated on the poster “Developing Library User Personas for Strategic Planning and Advocacy,” and my colleague Emily Glenn presented it.



Expanding my network
Prior to the conference, I joined two MLA groups: CAPHIS and Cancer Librarians. I attended the Cancer Librarians meeting at MLA but couldn’t attend the CAPHIS meeting. It was nice to make new connections with other librarians involved with oncology information services. I also attended the Public Librarians Symposium breakfast, which included a 30-minute mixer for medical librarians and public librarians to meet. I’m always excited to support public librarians, connect them to people and resources, and hear how they are contributing to community health. I also had the opportunity to talk with some of the newer NLM Associate Fellows. It’s been three years since I completed the program, but I try to keep up with new cohorts and remain available to offer any help I can.

Witnessing the making of history
Last but not least, I was able to witness a historical moment. Beverly Murphy became the first African American president of the Medical Library Association. After 120 years in existence, it’s about time! Beverly gave an inspiring and heartfelt inaugural address. I first met her as a library science student. She has always been welcoming and encouraging to others in the field. What an inspiration and I can’t think of a better person to accomplish this historical first.


With Beverly Murphy.


Until next year….maybe…..

August 6, 2017 / Christian M.

One Month In…

It has been two years since I started working for the University

Office Pic Jul 2017

In the office on my birthday.

of Nebraska Medical Center, and one month since I started my new position as Community Engagement and Health Literacy Librarian.

The first month has been good. It is such a relief to only focus on one position instead of two, and it’s been exciting to become involved in more of the “community engagement” projects within the university.

Here are some of the things I have been doing so far:

  • Managing a 6-month pilot partnership with the Buffett Cancer Center Resource and Wellness Center. We have library faculty or staff at the Resource Center four hours a day to answer consumer health questions. I liaison between the manager of the Resource Center and the library, handle schedule for staffing, outline policies and procedures for library’s role, and help select appropriate books and brochures appropriate for cancer patients.  I will also take the lead in assessing the success of the pilot.
  • Promoting the Consumer Health Information Resource Service (CHIRS) within the Nebraska Medicine health system. I am reaching out to primary care clinics and asking to attend staff or provider meetings to talk about CHIRS. I spoke with nursing staff at a geriatrics clinic, and I have a few more scheduled so far over the next couple of months.
  • Giving feedback on university projects. A task force is working to develop a plan for UNMC’s role in rural health. I was invited to review their paper and attend a meeting to give input. Another group is exploring opportunities for outreach to provide science education and advocacy for the public. I’ve been attending meetings and participating in conversation.
  • Continuing to contribute to the library’s strategic planning process. I have been leading the outreach team for several months, and we have been working on outlining initiatives and metrics for CHIRS, and library marketing and promotion activities.

I feel like these type of projects energize me and make me feel excited about coming to work. Looking forward to sharing more soon!



June 30, 2017 / Christian M.

Time Continues to Fly…as I Start a New Job


Several months ago, I was reflecting on my first year on the job. Now I am starting a new position next week.

Today is my last day working as Education Coordinator with the National Network of Libraries of Medicine (NNLM). I have enjoyed this grant-funded part of my work coordinating educational activities for the six-state MidContinental Region and engaging in outreach to promote National Library of Medicine resources. However, it’s time for a change. The work of NNLM is so important, and I do feel a little sad to be leaving this soon. But I look forward to hearing more about upcoming national initiatives and supporting their efforts in whatever way I can from “the outside.”

I did start looking for jobs and briefly considered relocating again. However, McGoogan Library made me an offer I could not refuse, and I will be staying on at the University of Nebraska Medical Center. What is most exciting is that I was given the opportunity to create my own job description. Who can say no to that???

So my new title is: Community Engagement and Health Literacy Librarian.

You may be wondering, what does a Community Engagement and Health Literacy Librarian do? Ummm, since I wrote the job description, whatever I want do obviously. (Just kidding!!!) I will be responsible for managing the library’s Consumer Health Information Resource Service (CHIRS), which serves Nebraska residents and patients/families of the Nebraska Medicine health system. I will direct the library’s outreach to support community health in Nebraska through educational sessions and collaborations with other libraries and community agencies. I will also collaborate with faculty, staff, and students at the university who are involved in activities related to community engagement, health literacy, and health equity.  And on top of that, I will have liaison responsibilities to specific departments or programs at UNMC, and provide literature searches for faculty and staff.

So parting is sweet sorrow…..but, O-M-G I am so excited by this new position! I look forward to sharing more details soon!

October 1, 2016 / Christian M.

You Know What They Say, Time Flies and All That Jazz: Reflecting On 1 Year on the New Job

August 1st marked one year working for the University of Nebraska Medical Center and the National Network of Libraries of Medicine.  What a fascinating and challenging year it has been. Normally, it is pretty easy to write my reflection posts, but this time I had to mull it over for a couple of months to think about the most poignant lessons learned and what I’m looking forward to next.

Lessons Learned…


I can relocate…and thrive. At first I was going to say I relocated and survived, but I’m more than surviving, I feel like I’m thriving. Some people have commented how brave and badass it is to move by myself to a new place over 1100 miles away from all that is familiar. To be honest, I thought I would never leave the East Coast, or at least not go this far across the country. But life is funny that way, and I don’t regret it one bit.I’m still adjusting, but there is something very empowering about stepping that far out of my comfort zone, and taking on this type of life adventure. Besides, I know quite a few of my fellow early career librarian colleagues doing the same thing. If they can do it, I can do it too.

To roll with the punches. In a previous post, I wrote about how my position changed within a few months of starting the job. Adaptability and flexibility have been key to being productive and effective in my work. A big part of what attracted me to this position was the autonomy, and the ability to be a “department of one” with state outreach and education. When my job changed and I now had to spend 50% of my time focused on the UNMC campus, I went from “lone ranger” to being an integral part of the McGoogan Library’s Education & Research Services Department. I now had to shift to thinking as part of this team, and provide input into the big picture of academic medical library services. I was also somewhat thrust into some “issues” as the library faculty and staff work through some growing pains as we forge towards more innovation and greatness. But it’s working out, and I’m looking forward to all that we will accomplish together while I’m here.

I can’t do it all (I know, it’s shocking but true). In my enthusiasm to take on these two .5 FTE roles, I said yes to so many things. To preserve my sanity, I have realized that I actually need to say no sometimes (go figure). I stepped down off one library committee so far, and I have adjusted some of my responsibilities. It is not a detriment or sign of weakness to ask for help or say that I am overwhelmed.

Goals for the Near Future…



Exercising Skills in Leadership and Strategic Planning. I currently have leadership roles in two strategic planning projects. One is with McGoogan Library. We are in the process of setting goals and objectives for the library for the next 1-3 years. As part of that process we have five strategic planning teams looking at different aspects of library services. I have been asked to lead the Outreach Team, and I said yes. My team will be coming up with strategies and recommendations for outreach activities (anything that happens outside the library’s physical space). The other project is with the Nebraska Breastfeeding Coalition, of which I am a member. NBC is also in the middle strategic planning, and I was asked to lead one of the working groups, looking at outreach to health professionals and how to best distribute educational materials to help improve breastfeeding support. I have been involved in strategic planning efforts in a previous job, but this is my first time being in a leadership role — and now I have two!

Enjoying the Moment. For the last five years, with grad school and my post-graduate fellowship, I was always planning ahead. Trying to be strategic in my activities to put myself in a good position to land a good permanent job. Now I have that permanent job, which I originally only planned to keep for 2-3 years then move on. But I’m tired…of job hunting and career planning that is. Being in that hyper-aware, resume-padding frenzy (okay maybe it’s not that extreme) takes a toll. I have a comfortable job, and I’m practicing valuable skills. I will enjoy this moment in time, and not think too hard about what’s next or how long I should stay. I am where I need to be for now.

Further Exploring My Non-Library Interests. A librarian is only one part of who I am or what I want to be. I also have interests in maternal and child health, and figure skating. Being in a smaller community has made it easier to take advantage of some opportunities with both of those interests. With skating, I have returned to coaching Learn To Skate, and I’m working on passing some more skating tests. With the health piece, I have become involved with Nebraska Breastfeeding Coalition, and have started some steps towards becoming certified as a childbirth educator. I look forward to making more community connections as I explore how my interests can best serve the needs of the Omaha area.

Being Kind to Myself. Better self care is a never ending goal. Besides the usual efforts towards more exercise, and better sleep and nutrition, I also recently started seeing a therapist. I know there is still a stigma to talking openly about mental health care. But so what? If I hurt myself physically and needed therapy to recover no one would bat an eye. I don’t have a mental illness (and no shame on those who do). Moving to a new place has brought on some self-reflection and new insight into myself, and I have identified some issues that would benefit from short-term therapy to make me a healthier and more whole person.  It is weird opening up to a stranger, but you get used to it. And it’s nice to have an objective, non-judgmental person help me work through my issues and hold me accountable for self-care activities to counteract stress. So I look forward to getting better at consistently being kind to myself.

And here is where I would make the obligatory promises to write more often. But who am I kidding? Let’s skip that and I’ll just say until next time… 😉

July 16, 2016 / Christian M.

Change is Constant, Just Ask Heraclitus

making-change (3)


“Change is the only constant in life.”

-attributed to Heraclitus, Greek philosopher

On May 1st — just eight months after starting my job — my job title and job description changed. I knew the change was coming… Originally I was hired to do full-time education and outreach for the National Network of Libraries of Medicine, MidContinental Region (NN/LM MCR) through a grant-funded position. After I accepted the position, I was notified that the funding for my position would be reduced by 50% in the next fiscal year (starting May 2016). Fortunately McGoogan Library (my “host library”) had money in their budget to make up the difference. So I’m still working full-time, and have benefits and faculty status.

So what am I doing now?

I continue to work half-time for NN/LM MCR. As an Outreach & Education Coordinator my job still includes promoting health information resources through:

  • Exhibiting at conferences and health fairs
  • Giving presentations and teaching
  • Coordinating webinars and other distance education for a 6-state region
  • Writing articles for local publications
  • and more…

The other half of my job is as an Education & Research Services Librarian for University of Nebraska Medical Center. My responsibilities include:

  • Liaison to Nebraska Medicine (hospitals, clinics, and cancer center). My primary focus right now is participating on the patient education committee, and providing library orientations for residents.
  • Promotion of the Consumer Health Information Resource Service (CHIRS). I am managing a project to revitalize CHIRS and increase awareness and use of this service.
  • Literature searches and systematic reviews (I’m currently collaborating on my first systematic review!).
  • Serving on library committees.
  • and more…

Sounds like two full-time jobs, doesn’t it?



“A pessimist sees the difficulty in every opportunity; an optimist sees the opportunity in every difficulty.”

-Winston Churchill

It has been quite an adjustment going from one full-time position to two half-time positions. Even though I knew change was coming and decided to keep the position anyway, it’s still not exactly what I expected. There are moments when I feel a little overwhelmed and frustrated. But I enjoy the work that I do, and I see the opportunity to add a lot of valuable experience to my resume. This is a very unique position and I plan to take full advantage of all that it has to offer.

More updates to come!

Have you ever been in a situation where your job description changed? Did it turn out to be a difficulty or an opportunity?

February 10, 2016 / Christian M.

5 Things I Learned Exhibiting for the National Library of Medicine


My first exhibit! The Public Health Association of Nebraska.

Fall was a very busy time for me and all of the National Network of Libraries of Medicine (NN/LM) Coordinators. We have a lot of conference exhibits, presentations, and health fairs to attend to promote resources from the National Library of Medicine. I ended up exhibiting at 6 conferences and 2 community health fairs from September through November. It was fun and exhausting. As I get ready to do some more exhibiting in the next few months, I thought I would take a few moments to reflect on what I have learned so far.


1. Know Your Audience & Speak Their Language
We are often sharing information about the same resources at different conferences. However, depending on the audience, we may describe them in different ways. For example, MedlinePlus is a consumer health website with content geared towards the general public. When talking with other librarians, using the term “consumer health” works fine. But if I exhibit at a conference for physicians, and tell them about a “consumer health resource,” that doesn’t mean much to them. I have to call it a patient education resource because that is how they would use it – to help educate patients. I was politely chided by a doctor for calling the pages and printouts on MedlinePlus “articles.” When I said articles, he thought of PubMed journal articles. He calls them patient education handouts. He reminded me that I needed to speak his language so we would both be on the same page. Likewise, when exhibiting for public health, I refer to MedlinePlus as “health promotion materials,” and for the education field, it can be referred to as a “health education” or “open education” resource.

2. National Library of Medicine – what’s that???
Unfortunately, the National Library of Medicine (NLM) is not a household name ….yet. Often when people visit my booth, they don’t recognize the name of the library. Sometimes they have heard of at least one of NLM’s products – PubMed/MEDLINE, MedlinePlus, WISER – and I can use that as a way to introduce other related resources. Other times they straight up ask me, “What is the National Library of Medicine?” or look puzzled that a library is exhibiting at their conference. I can’t operate on the assumption that everyone understands the importance of libraries, librarians, or specific information resources. Hence the need for exhibits. Of course I am always happy to educate. On the flip side, it is very gratifying to hear positive feedback from people who had experience with NLM products or librarians and came by to just to say “thanks.”

CUGw7bIUwAEQxVf.jpg large

Christian Minter and Alicia Lillich exhibiting at the Association of Healthcare Emergency Preparedness Professionals in Omaha, NE

3. Know which resources to highlight when short on time.
Conference attendees often don’t have a lot of time to spend talking to exhibitors. There are some who take time for in-depth conversation and have lots of questions. But most of the time, they just spend a few minutes at the booth. NLM over 130 different databases and websites, and I don’t have time to talk about them all. So I have to be ready with my “sales pitch” and identify a couple of resources that I think are most important for that target audience to know about. I have even had some people ask me “what is the most important handout I should take?” or “what is the most important thing for me to know about?” For example, for family physicians (and other related professions like physician assistant or nurse practitioner) I usually start the conversation talking about patient education through MedlinePlus and MedlinePlus Connect. If there is time, I tell them about InformationRX materials as well. For public health I usually promote MedlinePlus as well as PHPartners. Information on NLM’s mobile apps are really popular with health professionals as well. I also include handouts about other resources on my table, so they can browse, or case something else comes up in conversation.

4. Sometimes you need to make the first move.
Everyone has their own “style” of exhibiting. When starting out, I tended to lean towards just letting people come to me. If they were interested in stopping, great, and if not, that’s cool too. However, I have become a little more proactive. I definitely try to make eye contact with everyone who passes by (unless I’m already engaged in conversation), and say “hello” or “how are you doing?” This sometimes encourages people to pause who might have been on the fence about coming to my booth. In general, I’m not big on small talk. But you need small talk when exhibiting! Sometimes I go straight to explaining what NLM provides. Other times I start out asking a few questions: where are you from, what kind of work do you do, how are you enjoying the conference, what information resources do you use, etc. This can help me identify which resources to promote to that individual. It also helps people to open up and tell me more about how they use information. Sometimes if I start out asking “do you have any questions,” they will say no, but if we start talking, I find out that there are some information needs that I can help them with.


Coffee and cookies. The snack of champions when you finish a day of exhibiting and have a 3-hour drive back home.

5. Do your homework.
Some of the conferences I exhibit at have been covered by my colleagues in the past. So I have access to reports and information on their experience exhibiting there. As I explore other conferences, I realized that I can (and should) ask questions before registering. I can contact the conference staff and find out how many attendees they expect (will there be enough people to make it worthwhile to spend XXX amount of money to exhibit there?). I can also ask if there are non-profit discounts on exhibit fees. Some conferences will advertise their non-profit rate, but other conferences you have to ask if they have one. In most cases NN/LM qualifies for non-profit rates because we are not selling anything, and we offer free services and resources.


These are just a few things I have learned. Have you ever exhibited for your library or organization? What are some things that you have learned in the process?

December 8, 2015 / Christian M.

Being New is Hard: Thoughts on Relocating


That six million dollars would really come in handy too….

It’s been 4.5 months since I relocated to Nebraska. My handful of faithful followers may be wondering how things are going. Well…being new is hard!

Someone told me:

“Being new makes you tired. Very tired. You start to wonder if you’re getting old, but you’re not. You’re just new.”

So true! I was not prepared for the emotional and physical exhaustion of just being new. Granted, everyone’s experience is different. I think mine was compounded by the fact that a) this is my first major move ever, b) I moved here alone, and c) I immediately started a job that required a lot of outreach and interacting with people. Some aspects of the job take a toll too because as an introvert social interaction is physically and emotionally taxing to me. For example within the first four months, I exhibited at 7 conferences, gave about 5 presentations/webinars, and set up numerous meetings with people at the University and in local organizations to introduce myself. Looking back…maybe it was a bit much…just maybe…

In all honesty, these first few months I have spent a lot of my time off work binge-watching Netflix. I refuse to feel bad about it either. Gotta recharge that social battery somehow. But it hasn’t been all solitary confinement. So what’s a new (introvert) girl to do when acclimating to a new city far from home? Well here are some tips from my experience:

 1. Give it time…however much time it takes. I had to come to the realization that it takes some time to make new friends and to feel “at home” in a new place. This means that yes I will feel lonely and homesick. But it’s not the end of the world. Besides it’s been less than 5 months. Also, I have learned not to compare myself to others. I know other people who have moved and seemed to adjust really quickly. Sometimes I wonder why can’t I be that way. But everyone handles change differently, and if it takes me a little longer to adjust, so be it. Besides it’s been less than 5 months (I have to keep reminding myself I haven’t been here that long).


A walk along the riverfront…ok, I did this alone, but still counts as going out and doing stuff…

2. Go out and do stuff…stuff that involves interacting with other people. Such a novel idea right? Trust me, I have not been holed up in my apartment 24/7 (as comforting as that sounds). I have returned to figure skating and found a local figure skating club. I hired a new private coach, and we’re working on getting me ready to pass some skating tests in February (fingers crossed). I even started teaching youth Learn To Skate classes through the club. I also enjoy yoga and ballet, and found local yoga and dance studios, but I haven’t been consistent. I’m thinking about trying belly dancing again if I can find a place for that. I have also gone to some events like BarCamp Omaha, TEDX Omaha, and I attended a poetry slam one evening and volunteered as a judge. As much as I am a homebody, I really do feel better sometimes after I go out to events and activities.


We had some snow last week…

3. Have a travel budget for when you need to get away. I am in the largest city in Nebraska…but it’s still smaller than the DC Metro area that I’m used to. So sometimes I want to get away. Either to experience a larger city, or to visit family. My first priority has been to visit family. I went to Asheville, NC for Thanksgiving, and I’ll be back in the DC area for Christmas/New Year’s. I’m starting to think about where I want to travel next year though. Maybe somewhere outside the US borders….


4. Find someone that you can be honest with about how you feel. And when they say, “you can tell me the truth,” take them up on it. When you’re new, people are always asking you questions. “Are you settling in?” “Did you finish unpacking?” “How are you liking the city?” “What new places have you discovered?” Often this comes from new co-workers who want to make sure that you are happy, and that you’re not about to jump on the next plane out of there and not come back. They really mean well. But sometimes I’m not exactly happy, and no I don’t exactly love Omaha (yet). I don’t feel comfortable sharing my negative feelings with everyone because I don’t want to look like a Debbie Downer, or I don’t want to offend someone who is Midwest native and loves Omaha (i.e. most of my coworkers at the library), or I’m just a private person who does not wear all my emotions on my sleeve. But I have come across some folks who are transplants like me from larger cities and we have been able to commiserate about what we miss. My honest feelings about Omaha at the moment: I don’t hate it. And that’s good enough for now. Check back with me in 8 months.


Fortune cookies from the apartment property managers…very sneaky…

5. Remember this is not forever. At least for me it’s not. I have met a few folks who moved to Nebraska recently because of their spouse’s job or family. They will be here indefinitely although it’s not their first choice. I will pray for them. For me, that’s not the case. I told my boss when I interviewed that I only see myself being here 2-3 years, getting some very valuable work experience, and then moving on. That’s what I’m thinking today…who knows how I will feel in a couple of years. I might be so in love with Omaha I never want to leave …..yeah, okay… But while I’m here I do want to embrace the experience. The Midwest is different…and has its own unique quirks. I definitely want to enjoy my time here. So while I’m making my list of places to travel outside the state, I’m also making my list of cultural and community events to experience inside the state as well.


So that’s how things are going so far. Sometimes I have to pinch myself because I can’t believe I actually moved out here. I was so adamant that I was never leaving the DMV area or at least never leaving the East Coast. Haha, God had other plans for me. But I have no regrets, and it only gets better from here….right?

(I should edit to add that I am LOVING my job. It’s just the relocation that’s taking some getting used to.)