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September 19, 2015 / Christian M.

First Six Weeks on the Job

I have my own office!

I have my own office!

Well I’ve been on the new job for 1.5 months now. What a whirlwind — time flies when you’re having fun! And it has been fun…and a bit challenging too.

As you know, I am the Nebraska/Education Coordinator for National Network of Libraries of Medicine, MidContinental Region. My responsibilities fall into a few different categories:


  • Coordinate the calendar for our regional webinars, assess educational needs of our members, and lead in improving promotion to our target audiences. Sometimes I will host or present for webinars too. Also, maintain the Training & Education section of website.
  • Serve on the NN/LM Education Task Force (this is made up of representatives of all the Regional Medical Libraries).
  • Serve as ex-officio member of Education Committee for our local chapter of Medical Library Association.
  • Administer the Professional Development Award for the MidContinental Region. This award is for librarians in our region.

Nebraska State Outreach

  • Make contacts and build relationships with individuals, organizations, schools, community-based organizations, etc.
  • Teach classes or give presentations on health information resources to health professionals, librarians, educators, and general public.
  • Exhibit at professional conferences and community health fairs.
  • Site visits and support to member libraries and information centers.


  • Write a quarterly column for the Nebraska Libraries Journal (first article is due end of this month!)
  • Contribute to the MidContinental Region blog and newsletter.
  • Write articles on health information resources/programming for other publications whenever opportunity arises.
  • Monitor assigned listservs to keep up to date with news on NLM products & resources

McGoogan Library of Medicine

  • I am based out of this library, and a small percentage of my time goes to supporting the University of Nebraska Medical Center faculty, students, and patients. Fortunately, the library faculty are being gracious and allowing me to focus just on my NN/LM responsibilities for a few months. Later on this fall, I will receive some training and will start to contribute to reference desk shifts, literature searches, blog posts, website maintenance, and consumer health information services.
Who doesn't love being welcomed to a new workplace with chocolate? ;-)

Who doesn’t love being welcomed to a new workplace with chocolate? 😉

So that’s the general overview…now to the nitty-gritty. What have I been doing so far?

  • Trying not to feel overwhelmed. I have been told to expect it to take a couple of years to really feel confident in this position. I believe it. It is a very self-directed and autonomous role. I have a logic model of goals, outcomes, and indicators to guide me…but many specifics are left to me to decide. My colleagues are very supportive though and there are plenty of people I can ask for advice (both in our region and other regions of NN/LM).
  • Meeting people and building relationships. Sometimes these meetings are facilitated by mutual acquaintances, and other times I am cold-calling/emailing or showing up to community meetings. Recent meetings have included North Omaha Community Care Counsel, Omaha Refugee Task Force, the Director of the Three Rivers Library System, and a site visit to Southeast Community College library.
  • Teaching/presenting/exhibiting. There are some conferences and health fairs I am scheduled to attend, and I have a few presentations lined up as well. Today I attended a community health fair, a couple of weeks ago I presented to the Nebraska Department of Health & Human Services Health Promotion Unit, next month I am presenting for two webinars on health literacy and health information resources (one focused on public librarians, and the other is for the Nebraska Cancer Coalition), and in November I will be presenting a webinar on Veterans Health info resources. I also have at least three conferences I will be exhibiting at later this fall.
  • There are a couple of articles I am working on writing that are due…soon.
  • Serving on a search committee. The MidContinental Region is seeking a new Health Information Literacy Coordinator to be based here in Omaha too (at another university). Come work with me if it fits your interest! I have been asked to be on the search committee. After going through three interviews this past spring, I’ve very excited to be able to sit on the other side of the table now!

There are other things I’m doing as well…but you get the gist of it. Sometimes I wonder am I doing enough…am I being strategic enough in my outreach…but for less than two months on the job, I think I’m doing pretty good. 😉

So those are my work updates….and I’ll be writing a separate post soon about the adjustments of relocating. Stay tuned!

Want to learn a little more about the MidContinental Regional Medical Library and the work we’re doing? Check out this article from NLM In Focus: Regional Medical Libraries Making a Difference: Focus on MidContinental Region (published last year).

August 2, 2015 / Christian M.

Farewell Maryland, Hello Nebraska! (Or, I Survived the Road Trip)

So I decided to drive my car from Baltimore to Omaha. My sister, Alyse, and my brother, Elijah were nice enough to drive with me. This is us at the start of the “adventure”:

Start of Trip 7-27-15

And what an adventure it was. We traveled over 1200 miles through 7 states in two days. Enduring blazing heat, smelly manure fumes, a hostel that accidentally gave away our room reservation, tense moments with thunder/lightning/torrential downpour, and very monotonous scenery (think trees, cornfields, windmills, repeat). But we survived, and it was kinda fun. So happy to be done, and I don’t plan on driving that route again anytime soon.

Indiana War Memorial Collage

Pit Stop in Indianapolis

Road Collage

The Road…and Sky

Once we arrived in Omaha, I had to keep my guests entertained for their brief visit. The moving company hasn’t delivered my stuff yet, and my cable/internet hasn’t been set up yet. So with no furniture/TV/internet, of course we had to go see the sights of Omaha! Here are some of the places we discovered:

Of course we had to find the local public library! We took a peek into the Dale Clark branch, which has really cool murals on the walls of their stairwell.

Omaha Public Library Collage

Dale Clark branch of Omaha Public Library.

The Missouri River runs nearby with Nebraska on one bank, and Iowa on the other. We explored some of the riverfront, visiting the Heartland of America Park (and found a few statutes along the way), and walking across the river on the Bob Kerry Pedestrian Bridge into Council Bluffs, IA.

Labor Monument

Labor Monument

Heartland of America Park ...and more of the riverfront

Heartland of America Park …and more of the riverfront

Bob Kerry Pedestrian Bridge...standing on the border of Nebraska and Iowa

Bob Kerry Pedestrian Bridge…standing on the border of Nebraska and Iowa

We visited the Henry Doorly Zoo, which has some really nice indoor attractions (which is a definite plus on a hot summer day!). We especially enjoyed the Lied Jungle, and the Desert Dome.

Zoo Collage

We also learned that Omaha is the birthplace of Malcolm X. We went to visit the Malcolm X Memorial, but couldn’t get close because of some construction being done. Maybe another time…

Photos by Alyse Minter

Photos by Alyse Minter

The Bemis Contemporary Arts Center had an open house for the public to meet the resident artists, tour their studios and look at exhibits. There was a really cool exhibit by Brandon Ballengee called Collapse that was inspired by the Gulf Coast oil spill. I also enjoyed meeting some of the resident artists, and seeing what they have been working on. Bemis offers 3-month residencies that attract artists from across the world.

Bemis Center Collage

“Collapse” by Brandon Ballangee

So those are the highlights of my week — busy, exhausting, and fun! So glad Alyse and Elijah could join me for a few days. It made the transition a little easier, plus it’s always so much more fun to have someone else along when discovering a new place.

Tomorrow is my first day on the new job. More updates to come!

July 27, 2015 / Christian M.

Hot Weather and Hot News (or, I Have a New Job)!

1468609317_79ec2ca537_b (2)Wow, I can’t believe it’s been four months since my last blog post. Winter is long gone and now it’s so hot. But I’m not complaining. I’ll take heat and humidity over cold weather any day! The past few months I’ve been busy with job applications & interviews, attending conferences, facilitating an unconference, giving presentations, and wrapping up my last year as an NLM Associate Fellow. I will do some additional recap posts…soon. But first, my most important hot news: I have a new (permanent) job!

I have accepted the position of Nebraska/Education Coordinator for the National Network of Libraries of Medicine, MidContinental Region. I will lead in developing an education plan for this region, and also lead in the promotion of our trainings and presentations. I will also be doing outreach to Nebraska health professionals, librarians, and the general public to promote National Library of Medicine products and databases, as well as other quality health resources. I will be based out of the McGoogan Library of Medicine in Omaha, NE where I will have faculty status and will also be involved in reference services to the University of Nebraska Medical Center (such as research support for faculty/students or consumer health info requests). So basically I’ll be really busy doing all the things I love. 🙂

This also means that I will be relocating from the east coast to the midwest. This will be an adjustment, but I’m excited! I have already found an apartment, and I am driving out there today. So many changes! I’m sure I will have plenty to write about. 😉

You may be wondering, what is the National Network of Libraries of Medicine (NN/LM)? Well I’m glad you asked. The NN/LM is a program coordinated by the National Library of Medicine and has been in existence for over forty years. Its mission is to:

“…advance the progress of medicine and improve the public health by providing all U.S. health professionals with equal access to biomedical information and improving the public’s access to information to enable them to make informed decisions about their health.”

This program splits the U.S. into eight regions, and each region has a Regional Medical Library that receives federal money and is responsible for using that money to provide training sessions and outreach to promote awareness of, and access to National Library of Medicine resources and other quality health information.The MidContinental Region where I will be working includes Nebraska, Utah, Colorado, Kansas, Wyoming, and Missouri. The Regional Medical Library (RML) for this region is the Spencer S. Eccles Health Sciences Library in Utah. The MidContinental Region uses a distributed model to staff it’s region and the outreach coordinators are based in different states. So I will be based in Nebraska, but my other coworkers are based in other states in our region. We rely very heavily on technology to keep in touch and collaborate.

I’ve always thought it would be fun to work for a Regional Medical Library, and I’m really excited this opportunity is available. Well I need to go hit the road now. Stay tuned for more updates!

March 5, 2015 / Christian M.

The Winter That Never Ends…and Other News

This is my "I'm so done with winter" face.

This is my “I’m so done with winter” face.

(I apologize in advance for this long post…)

Hello readers…it’s been seven weeks since my last post and weather-wise not a whole lot has changed. We’ve had more snow, sleet, ice, and artic temperatures…and I am so ready for spring. I was watching the news yesterday and they were talking about how the long winter is contributing to incidents of snow rage around the country. I believe it. Surprise, surprise, it’s actually snowing right now. I’ve heard predictions calling for as much as 8-10 inches in the Baltimore area. Sigh. Fortunately, the university closed and it’s a snow day for me. But enough about the weather….

Working With Students

In my last post, I mentioned that I was starting to take student consults on my own. That is going very well. I have been mostly working with graduate students in the International Health department in the School of Public Health. In the past couple of months, I have met with maybe eight or nine students. Some of them have required multiple meetings or follow up emails. I have helped them with identifying the main concepts of their topic, selecting search terms, understanding the importance of using both controlled vocabulary and keyword terms, and translating search strategies from one database to another. I also provide instruction on how to use databases like PubMed, Embase, Scopus, Web of Science, Global Health (Ovid), WHO Global Health Library, and PopLine. I love teaching, and I love to see the “ah-ha” moment when students understand how to format a search strategy or use a particular database. I also love how grateful they are for my help. It’s always nice to be appreciated.

The conference room where I currently hold my consultations.

The conference room where I currently hold my consultations.

I currently hold my office hours by appointment in a conference room in the Library’s touchdown suite in the School of Public Health building. Students are referred to me by an informationist. Although I did receive a request directly from a student who heard about me from one her classmates. Recently, there has been in an increase of students asking for consultations that are working with a specific research center that is in a separate building. One of the informationists has inquired if I could have regular office hours at that research center. We’re still waiting to hear back from them. That would be great if it works out.

Patient Education & Consumer Health

I am continue to spend one day a week at the Harrison Medical Library/Community Health Library on the Bayview Medical Center campus. I’m still working on collection development.There are also a couple of “fun” activities I have been able to assist with. The Bayview library director holds office hours at the campus’ cardiology clinic. She collaborates with a physician, and is provided with a private room next to the exam room the physician is using. This room has a computer, internet, and access to the network printer. The physician will bring patients to the librarian before or after an appointment and tell the librarian what type of information would be helpful for the patient. The patients are always happy to comply and their time with the librarian is usually brief, maybe 10-15 minutes. We showed them MedlinePlus and the American Heart Association website, and provided them with folders that contained relevant brochures or printouts from the web. We had one patient that was more “advanced” in his internet searching skills, so we gave him a brief intro to PubMed, and told him to contact the library for further assistance with using the database and accessing full-text. I enjoyed this experience more than the visits to inpatient rooms, because from what I observed, the outpatients seem more likely be in a mental state where they are ready to learn and more interested in asking/answering questions.

Another fun activity this week was attending the Bayview Medical Center Patient Education Committee meeting. The library director wasn’t able to attend, so she asked me to go in her place. This week, we spent most of the time working on editing a draft of a patient handout that was written in-house. The handout was on preventing blood clots during a hospital stay and was written by a working group that included nurses, pharmacists, physicians, hospital quality control, and others. The handout was sent to the Patient Education Committee for feedback. So we sat and talked about it, and came up with ways to simplify the language, use better definitions, reorganize the content, etc. At one moment, we were discussing how blood clots (or venous thromboembolisms) are defined. One person started to do a Google search, and another nurse wondered aloud how MedlinePlus describes a blood clot. Fortunately, I had my smartphone with me and could look it up on the spot. I really enjoyed participating in that process, and appreciated that my input was asked for and listened to.

Collaborating for a Healthier Community Unconference

I’m really excited to be leading a group in organizing the inaugural “Collaborating For a Healthier Community Unconference” on June 20th in Washington, DC. I’ll talk more about this in another post. But short and sweet: This an opportunity for interactive discussion and building new partnerships related to promoting community health and health information. The target audience is public health professionals, medical professionals, lay health workers, librarians, and community organizers. If you’re involved in health/health information outreach programs and services and you want to share your expertise, or learn from others in a collaborative environment – this is the place to be. Registration opens in April. You can find more details on our unconference wiki page. Hope to see you there!

The Job Hunt

Last but not least, my time at Welch Library has been (and still is) awesome…but all good things come to an end at some point. The end of my fellowship is only six months away. So it’s time to start looking for jobs. So far I have applied to one job. I still have some time. But I need to get on the ball and start looking more actively, and get into the job hunting mindset. Because everyone knows that looking for a job is a part time job in and of itself. Wish me luck. 🙂

Those are all my updates for now. More to come soon!

January 15, 2015 / Christian M.

Snow, Teaching, Collection Development and More….


First Snow of 2015 at Mt Vernon Park, Baltimore City

Let It Snow…or Not…

Last week we had our first snow of the year here in Baltimore. The university had a delayed opening. I hadn’t thought to ask about inclement weather policies, so I didn’t know if the library staff were included in the delay. So I went to work pretty close to my usual time…and I found that we follow whatever closings or delays that the university has. Good to know. It wasn’t bad though. A couple of my coworkers had come in “early” too, so I wasn’t alone. Also, I didn’t have to drive, I just hopped on a campus shuttle.

Flying Solo: Teaching a Library Class

Last week I taught a library class on databases and resources for public health. I think I had seven or eight attendees. It was a good experience. I felt very nervous but I don’t think it showed too much. The class was one-hour long, and I talked about creating a search strategy, did a demo of Embase and its controlled vocabulary Emtree, gave a brief overview of our public health LibGuide, and touched on a few web resources (PHPartners Healthy People 2020 PubMed queries, the HSRProj database, and advanced searching Google for grey literature). My preceptor observed me teach and gave me a few suggestions afterwards:

  • To help engage students and build rapport, ask them to introduce themselves and tell you one thing they want to learn.
  • Remember they don’t know what you know. Always provide context (i.e. don’t use abbreviations for databases without saying what they are).
  • I could have explained the hierarchy of the controlled vocabulary a little better.

Overall though, she said I did a good job. Yaaay me! 🙂

More Flying Solo: Student Consultations

The last couple of months I did a lot of shadowing with the informationists working with the School of Public Health, and observing how they assist students and researchers with literature searches and systematic reviews. This month I am starting to take the lead with some of the student consults, mostly within the International Health department right now. One of the informationists gives me some consults that she thinks I can handle, but remains available by phone or email if I have a question or need her to peer-review a search strategy. I really enjoy working one-on-one, and explaining the process of creating a search strategy and how to search databases.

Consumer Health Collection Development

At the Community Health Library, I was starting to assist with delivering patient health information to the bedside. However, since it’s the height of the flu season, the library director has decided to cut back on most visits to patient rooms right now. There is one librarian who will continue to round on the floors with residents, and she can take up any resources requested by patients. Around March, we’ll resume our regular visits to patient rooms again. For the time being, I am working on a collection development project for the consumer health books. I am starting by taking inventory to see if any items are missing. Then I will evaluate what items need to be updated, or look for new materials to add to collection.

Those are all the updates I have right now! More to come soon. 🙂

January 13, 2015 / Christian M.

My Evolving Career Goals: The Intersection of Librarian and Birth Worker


So many options for information professionals…

This past December marked five years since I started blogging about my experiences pursuing a career in librarianship. It’s funny to think that when I decided to pursue librarianship, I was looking for a career I could be happy with for “the rest of my life”. I had a pretty one dimensional view of the type of work that an information professional could do. My experiences in library school, networking with other information professionals on social media, and especially participating in the NLM Associate Fellowship Program have really opened my eyes to the variety of ways a librarian can put their skills to work.The more I learn, the more my career goals evolve. I have yet to settle into the exact role/position in libraries that I want for “the rest of my life”. Maybe I never will. Life is an adventure, and so is my career path apparently.

In the past couple of years I have become more and more interested in public health and women’s health issues, specifically as it pertains to maternal and child health. I find myself wanting to go beyond the scope of practice of a librarian and becoming more involved in supporting/educating women in their healthcare options as it pertains to pregnancy and childbirth. I want to be proactive in empowering women to ask the right questions and find the right information to help them 1) understand the normal physiology of pregnancy and birth, 2) know how to evaluate and choose a healthcare provider and birth setting for respectful, evidence-based and patient-centered care, and 3) know their rights as a patient throughout the process of giving birth.

Becoming involved in birth work…

This is where I believe I can combine my skills as an information professional with those of a birth worker.  Birth workers include doulas, childbirth educators, midwives, labor & delivery nurses, lactation consultants, etc. I am interested in becoming certified as a childbirth educator, and possibly a doula as well. I just need some additional training and education as it relates to pregnancy and childbirth. Just as an FYI:

  • A childbirth educator teaches classes (can be group or private) for expectant parents. The classes can cover information on the various aspects of pregnancy, labor and delivery, and newborn care.
  • A doula provides physical, emotional, and informational support to a mother before, during, and after birth. The doula helps the mother with a birth plan, provides information to make informed decisions for care. stays with the mother during active labor and birth to provide emotional support and physical comfort measures, and can assist during postpartum period as well.

Neither of these roles practice medicine or take the place of medical advice from a obstetrician or midwife. They are a part of a mother’s healthcare team, and can help with providing additional information and questions to help expectant parents evaluate the care they are receiving and make informed decisions.

For childbirth education, I am leaning towards the Lamaze certification. I like the way they emphasize evidence-based maternity care, and the way they simply and easily explain healthy birth practices to parents. They have some good professional resources like a monthly newsletter, their own peer-reviewed journal, and mentoring to assist with developing a curriculum.

For doula training, I am considering the Mamatoto Village Certified Community Birthworker program, or the International Center for Traditional Childbearing Full Circle Doula Training program. Both programs seem very well-rounded, and I like that they include information on cultural competency/consciousness and have a priority of increasing the number of women of color doulas and decreasing the maternal and newborn health disparities in the African American community.

My current reading list.

What’s on my reading list…

What is required for certification?

The specific certification requirements vary depending on the certifying organization (there are a quite a few to choose from too), and at least 2-3 years is provided to finish the requirements. The requirements usually include some mix of attending classes, a required reading list (books on pregnancy, childbirth, and breastfeeding), observing and/or teaching a childbirth education class, and observing and/or attending a certain number of births. An exam may be required as well. If interested in being a postpartum doula, then breastfeeding support and attending postpartum moms will also be included.

What’s next?

For now, I’m still exploring options for certification, and trying to find some childbirth educators and doulas to talk to for informational interviews. I also went to my local public library and checked out a few of the books from some of the reading lists.  At the moment, I am NOT leaving the profession of librarianship. I love being a medical librarian and specifically working in an academic environment. But I see this additional training as a new way to use my informational skills, and become more involved in improving the quality of maternity and newborn care. Keeping my full-time job as a librarian will allow me the flexibility to offer my birth worker services for free or low-cost to those who need them but can’t afford to pay full price. I’m also looking into local nonprofit organizations I could work with as well. Some day, I would also like to return to grad school and pursue a second master’s in public health (with a focus on maternal & child health).

In the past year, I have been increasingly flooding my Facebook page with so many articles and resources related to maternity care (sorry FB friends lol). I promise I won’t turn this blog into a childbirth resource. It will still mostly be about librarianship, but I will occasionally include posts about specific health topics or my progress as a birth worker as well. I don’t feel up to starting a new totally, separate blog at the moment.

How has your journey in librarianship introduced you to new passions or additional professional interests?

December 27, 2014 / Christian M.

Gaining Experience Delivering Consumer Health Information in a Hospital Setting

Ever since my days working in a public library, I have been interested in consumer health information services. My experience with this type of information in the public library was very limited, but I realized the importance of patients and caregivers having resources written at their level of understanding to help them make informed decisions. During the first year of my fellowship with NLM, I completed my certification with the Medical Library Association’s CHIS program, but haven’t had the opportunity to put this training to use….until now.

A librarian brings a book cart to a patient in a hospital (circa 1969). Photo from Thunder Bay Public Library.

A librarian brings a book cart to a patient in a hospital (circa 1969). Photo from Thunder Bay Public Library.

As you know, I’m spending the second year of the fellowship at Welch Medical Library, which serves Hopkins University students, faculty, and staff. I’m really enjoying my experiences providing instruction and research support to the School of Public Health. Welch Library does not provide consumer health information services. However, there are some hospital libraries in the Hopkins health system that do. So I decided to schedule some “field trips” to see what opportunities might be available.

First I visited the Family Resource Library at the Hopkins Children’s Center. This library is managed by a solo librarian who provides leisure reading and health-related books to pediatric patients, and some health information to parents and caregivers. The library has a beautiful space with big windows. I enjoyed my chat with the librarian very much. My next visit was to the Harrison Medical Library & Community Health Library at the Hopkins Bayview Medical Center. This was actually my second time visiting, you can read about my first visit three years ago here.

The Community Health Library provides a circulating print collection of consumer health books, computers, and printouts of patient education materials. The librarians also collaborate with nurse managers, physicians, and patient educators to provide health information to patients and caregivers at the bedside and in outpatient clinics. I am really interested in the health information services they provide, and the patient care and education committees they are involved in. So I asked if I could spend some time there learning and assisting with their patient services. This request was approved by both my supervisor at Welch and the Director at Harrison Library.

Now I spend one day a week at Harrison Library, and the rest of my time is at Welch Library. Some of my activities have included:

  • Shadowing during the delivery of health information resources & leisure reading to patient rooms. I’ve shadowed twice, and will have the opportunity to visit patient rooms on my own soon.
  • Covering the information desk in the Community Health Library.
  • A literature search on using patients and family members as teachers for medical education at the request of one of the a hospital advisory committees.
  • Attending various hospital committee meetings related to patient care, such as the Patient Education Committee, and the Geriatric Community Advisory Board.
  • Talking with the library director about services, budget, management, collection development, and more!

I’m excited to be gaining more experience in providing health information to patients. It’s an awesome opportunity to be able to work in both an academic and hospital setting. Looking forward to sharing more with you all soon!