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Promoting the Work of Librarians

A message from the NN/LM NER Director, Elaine Martin DA

Many recent listserv and blog postings on the future of medical librarianship have suggested that librarians highlight the impact and significance of their work at meetings of health professionals other than librarians. I would like to take this opportunity to tell you about the NN/LM, NER Public Health Information Access project and the many exciting ways in which we are promoting the work of librarians participating in this project via a variety of public health meetings and publications. As some recent bloggers have predicted, these activities are generating serious interest from our target audience.

The Public Health Information Access Project is designed to identify a core set of online resources that are made available through a digital library to state public health department workers. Partner libraries agree to fill ILL requests for items not available through the digital library. Other RMLs and collaborating resource library partner-librarians assist our project coordinator, Karen Dahlen, MLS, in providing ongoing training and support for the project.  An evaluation of the first phase of the project was indicated that access to information and training, though important, was not enough. Public health workers were so used to NOT having resources, that they were unaccustomed to using the evidence provided to them to make decisions except in one notable case. The next challenge for the project partners is to help the public health departments develop or regain a culture of evidence-based practice.

A presentation about this project was made this past fall at the American Public Health Association Annual Meeting in Boston.  In addition, the article that describes the project and the evaluation findings was recently published in the January issue of the American Journal of Public Health.  The article was jointly authored by the project librarians and our department of public health colleagues. We have also had our abstract accepted at two other Public Health professional meetings: The Keeneland Conference in early April and the Public Health Informatics Conference in Atlanta at the end of April.

For more information, see LaPelle, N., Dahlen, K. Gabella, B, Juhl, A. and Martin, E.R.  “Overcoming inertia: increasing public health departments’ access to evidence-based information and promoting usage to inform practice. American Journal of Public Health. Jan 2014 104(1):77-80.

Note:  This project is funded under a subcontract from the National Library of Medicine, National Network of Libraries of Medicine, New England Region and the National Library of Medicine, NICHSR.

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