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SEA Currents

Newsletter of the NN/LM Southeastern/Atlantic Region

Inspiring People in Our Region: Beth Emmerling, Education/Outreach Manager at The Solidarity Center



“Believing in the integrity and dignity that each person deserves, being part of the solution, and knowing that I have served as a bridge between marginalized people and the NIH/NLM information resource is an enormously satisfying experience for me.”




Beth Emmerling, M.L.S.
The Solidarity Center, Baltimore MD

What is your position?
I am a free-lance adult literacy teacher, as well as a librarian. As the Education/Outreach Manager at The Solidarity Center in Baltimore, MD, I work to make health care and information accessible to all, especially the poor and low-wage workers.

Is there something in your own personal story that led you to do the work you do?
My extended family lived in a rural area of Western Pennsylvania which meant that they never had access to really good health care or health information. There were “remedies” handed down generationally and when something extreme happened they would travel the two hours to the closest hospital.

My parents moved to the D.C. area when I was quite young so I grew up with excellent healthcare. My mother and then I would search for the best information about health issues and send it to our extended family. Thus began my commitment to bridging a health information gap.

I have been a community activist for years, focusing my work on marginalized community members in Baltimore city. With the luxury of higher education, I am committed to sharing my knowledge and skills with those who have not had the same access to education. Feeding the homeless, working on legislation, and working with low-wage workers fighting to make a living wage have given me much insight. Being part of a Books-n-BBQ community, in which we take (free) books to people and work to increase literacy skills, has also been exciting. In my experience, people on the low end of the socio-economic scale have been left behind in many ways. Poverty and the great stress that accompanies it have a profound impact on a person’s health. Blood pressure, heart disease, diabetes, and exposure to the elements are all of special concern in this community.

The reliable health information offered by NIH/NLM websites offers immediate knowledge about diseases and suggestions for how to improve health issues. While in my M.L.S. program, I had the great fortune to work with Dr. Bo Xie on her older adults training classes. I saw firsthand how quickly people learned the technological skills that brought them access to Medline Plus and, sometimes, PubMed. I saw how the older adults learned new health information and wanted to put tips they learned into practice.

The combination of all of this experience led me to think about ways I could reach the marginalized people I worked with. I was aware that members of the low-wage population worked two, even three, jobs so they needed a way to bring the help to them. Homeless folks can be hard to reach because of the transitory nature of their lives, but can be the most committed students. When I learned of funding that could help make my wishes come true, I was thrilled as I am now portable and hold classes in many locations.

What do you love most about your work?
The excitement many students have to learn new skills to find relevant information about their health concerns. Seeing students utilize information to make better health choices is amazing. A few students learned about the importance of mammograms and took advantage of the free mammogram program available in Baltimore city. Others learned some stress reduction techniques that, when practiced in class, lowered their blood pressure by the end of the session. Watching a group of women in a subsidized housing complex attend classes and then start a group to work on stress relieving techniques was exciting.

Believing in the integrity and dignity that each person deserves, being part of the solution, and knowing that I have served as a bridge between marginalized people and the NIH/NLM information resource is an enormously satisfying experience for me.

What is the biggest challenge in what you do?
Challenges I face are:

• finding the best times and places to meet the constraints of the population I work with.
• running classes that students can come to whenever possible and still learn what they need, rather than proceeding strictly on a chronological basis.
• not having the ability to contact people who don’t have phones or permanent addresses, which impacts my ability to send out reminder messages for classes.

What has been the most fulfilling part of your work in terms of getting health information out to your community?
Connecting people with information about their health concerns and the websites’ concrete suggestions for making better health care choices has been important to me. Watching students put these suggestions to use, as they continue to discover additional resources to help themselves, reveals their new self-reliance for finding medical information and treatment options and means I have done my job.

What do you see as the biggest health concerns in the community you serve?
The impact of poverty on health is the number one health concern amongst all of the people who I work with. An enormous health inequity exists and extensive research has shown that class, race and gender play a crucial role in determining quality of life and life-span. I see this first hand. As minimal services continue to be cut, the health of those impacted worsens. It is a public health issue that is frequently swept under the rug.

How did you first come to know NN/LM SE/A?
I learned about NN/LM SE/A while in my M.L.S. program. I had the chance to work on research that was funded by NN/LM SE/A, which allowed me to discover the many resources available. I think it is important to note that one of the benefits, most unexpected, is telling students where the funding for the classes has come from. Students are frequently pleasantly surprised.

In what ways has NN/LM SE/A been of help to you?
They have been the core of my work. Without the financial and reference material available I would simply not be able to do this work.

What advice would you give others who are interested in doing health outreach work in their communities?
I had an advantage in that I was already working with my target populations, which meant I had some “street cred” in terms of trust. Show up at activities held by and for your target population. I was surprised how quickly word of mouth spread about the classes and the number of folks who sought me out. Finding key members of communities and getting them to participate is a great way to gain the trust of a wider community. If you find groups willing to partner with your work it strengthens your network and can increase the success of your program.

If you would like to share your story or suggest another person for our “Inspiring People” feature, please email Nancy Patterson, Community Outreach Coordinator at:

SE/A Survey Series: Communications

For the fourth and final survey of our 5-minute survey series, SE/A requests your feedback and comments regarding NN/LM SE/A communication activities during 2011-2015. Please consider participating to enter to win a $1500 professional development award.

Survey located at:

To preserve anonymity, participants will be asked to enter contact information through a separate form once the survey is complete. This survey will close at 11:59pm on Thursday March 5.

Questions about the survey questions or contest can be directed to

Additionally, an Open Discussion will follow on Friday March 6, 12-12:30pm. To join this open discussion, we will use Adobe Connect.

What do you need to join this Open Discussion?

  • A computer (with Flash installed)
  • A telephone

How do I connect?

Go to this URL:

  • Enter as a Guest
  • Sign in with your first and last name.
  • Follow the instructions in the meeting room to have Adobe Connect call your phone (this is the preferred way; however, if you have an extension or for some reason cannot let Adobe connect call your phone, call 1-800-605-5167 and enter the participant code 816440 when prompted.)

Test your connection:

Get a quick overview:

Inspiring People in Our Region: Julia Cleaver, Knowledge Services Manager (aka Head Librarian), Allison Long, Knowledge Services Advisor, Alli Buehler, Knowledge Services Advisor and Courtney Fenters, Graduate Assistant

Introducing, Ipas, a new North Carolina DOCLINE library
By: Allison Long, Knowledge Services Advisor, Ipas
Edited By: PJ Grier, Outreach/Access Coordinator, National Network of Libraries of Medicine (NN/LM), Southeastern Atlantic Region (SE/A). Contact PJ at:

Ipas is an international non-profit that works in 20 countries in Africa, Asia, and Latin America to reduce death and injury from unsafe abortion and increase women’s ability to exercise their reproductive rights. Headquartered in Chapel Hill, North Carolina, Ipas is rare among international NGOs in that it has its own research library and employs three full-time librarians and a part-time graduate student assistant.

We have been members of NN/LM for several years and are really excited about our newly minted DOCLINE account. We are also a part of the Association for Population Libraries and Information Centers (APLIC), an international consortium of health and demography libraries; the Association of North Carolina Health and Science Libraries (ANCHASL) and the North Carolina chapter of the Special Libraries Association (NCSLA).

The Ipas library collection contains over 25,000 items, half of which are available electronically 24 hours a day to over 400 staff worldwide. We believe that we have the largest abortion-specific collection in the world –because we don’t know of any others! We collect books, journal articles, grey literature, audio-visual materials, posters, flipcharts and ephemera pertaining to abortion and reproductive healthcare from all regions and countries. Drawing on these resources, we are able to provide our colleagues with the latest clinical and programmatic evidence they need to train health care providers, educate and mobilize communities, and liberalize restrictive reproductive health policies.

Our research has contributed to the publication of dozens of peer-reviewed journal articles and official Ipas publications, such as our Clinical Updates in Reproductive Health and the quarterly Because Magazine. On a weekly basis, we send out current awareness newsletters on a variety of topics that are relevant to our field in order to keep staff up-to-date with the latest news and papers. We also offer EndNote setup and training assistance for Ipas staff and we help our authors negotiate copyright agreements with publishers.

We are pretty sure that our staff like what we do, as evidenced by these testimonials:

“It’s a tremendous benefit to the organization to have such erudite, knowledgeable colleagues generating information that supports the collective performance of the organization.” – Senior Health Systems Advisor

“My work life would be unimaginably more difficult now that I’m accustomed to having a resource library at my fingertips.” – Senior Clinical Advisor

“I LOVE LOVE LOVE the library. I mean, I SERIOUSLY LOVE IT!” – Research and Evaluation Manager

(We keep a wiki page of compliments we receive to remind ourselves of the good work we are doing. We highly recommend that every specialized library adopt this practice.)

While Ipas recognizes the immense value of maintaining a fully-staffed library, many other organizations in our field (and elsewhere) do not. Some of our partners have never invested in information professionals, while others who once housed robust libraries have defunded or even cut their information programs entirely. However, the services provided by informational professionals are still in high-demand, and we have actually been approached by multiple people from partner agencies who are interested in using our library services. Due to our current copyright agreements, this is not possible, but we are exploring contract services as an option to broaden our service availability and “share the love” – if the copyright deities will allow it. The Ipas library strongly believes in free and open access to information; we hope in the future to be able to more readily contribute to the global knowledge base at the same time that we are helping to save women’s lives.

Our staff:
cleaverJulia Cleaver, Knowledge Services Manager (aka Head Librarian)

With Ipas since 2001, Julia took a mountain of dusty, unorganized boxes of stuff and made them into what is today called the Ipas library. A graduate of UNC Chapel Hill’s library science program, Julia was a school librarian before moving into population libraries with a position at IntraHealth International, followed by her long tenure at Ipas.



longAllison Long, Knowledge Services Advisor (aka Librarian)

With Ipas since 2008, Allison began as the library’s student assistant during her graduate program at UNC Chapel Hill. She also dabbled in being a school librarian for a few years at Carolina Friends School before becoming full-time at Ipas in 2012.



buehlerAlli Buehler, Knowledge Services Advisor (aka Librarian)

With Ipas since 2013, Alli is a former teacher with a master’s degree in education. She most recently worked at Mazzoni LGBT Center in Philadelphia before returning to school to become a librarian at – you guessed it! – UNC Chapel Hill.



Courtney Fenters, Graduate Assistant (aka fentersLibrarian-in-Training)

With Ipas since 2014, Courtney is scheduled to graduate from UNC Chapel Hill’s library science program this spring. She is currently working on her master’s project with the library at the LGBT Center of Raleigh.



For more information about Ipas, read our 2014 Annual Report, watch this video, or visit our website,

MedlinePlus Tutorials

After Thursday, MedlinePlus is no longer providing a library of interactive tutorials. This is based on trends the National Library of Medicine (NLM) observed from users and NLM’s desire to provide information that most closely aligns with user needs. NLM welcomes your feedback about how you think MedlinePlus information should be presented and what type of content is missing. Please send your suggestions or feedback to the National Library of Medicine through the Contact Us form.

Beyond the SEA Webinar – March 18, 2015 – Hospital Libraries: Challenges and Opportunities

Recording Now Available

Date/Time: Wednesday, March 18, 2015, Noon to 1:00pm (EST)

Presenter: Heather Holmes, MLIS, AHIP, Clinical Informationist, Summa Health System

Contact: For additional information or questions about this webinar, please contact Tony Nguyen, Outreach/Communications Coordinator at

Summary: In this session we will discuss the current state of hospital libraries and consider their future in light of the Affordable Care Act, Meaningful Use, and budget cuts. We will especially consider the role the librarian plays and their effect on these changes, as well as ways the library’s resources (including the librarian) can help offset the expenses hospitals are facing.

Presenter Bio: Heather N. Holmes, AHIP, is the Clinical Informationist for Summa Health System’s Akron City and St. Thomas Hospitals in Akron, OH. She received her Master of Library and Information Science degree from the University of Pittsburgh in 1998. Prior to accepting the position at Summa, Holmes worked for Lake Erie College of Osteopathic Medicine (LECOM) in Erie, PA; Mount Carmel Hospitals in Columbus, OH; and Mercy College of Northwest Ohio in Toledo, OH. She has presented at several international meetings including MLA and the Alliance for Continuing Medical Education (ACME) and was invited to the International Congress on Medical Librarianship (ICML) in Brisbane, Australia, in 2009. Holmes is a 2010 recipient of the National Library of Medicine’s biomedical informatics fellowship held in Woods Hole, MA, as well as one of Library Journal’s Movers & Shakers for 2011. The position that she currently holds evolved from the clinical work she has been doing over the past several years. She is also a Distinguished Member of the Academy of Health Information Professionals and the 2014 recipient of the Lois Ann Colaianni Award for Excellence and Achievement in Hospital Librarianship.

Upon completion of the Beyond the SEA Webinar, each participant will receive 1 hour of continuing education credit awarded by the Medical Library Association. Certificates will be available electronically following completion of the online survey supplied at the end of the webinar.

What do you need to join this conference?

  • A computer (with Flash installed)
  • A telephone

How do I connect?

Go to this URL:

  • Enter as a Guest
  • Sign in with your first and last name.
  • Follow the instructions in the meeting room to have Adobe Connect call your phone (this is the preferred way; however, if you have an extension or for some reason cannot let Adobe connect call your phone instructions will be available when you sign in to Adobe Connect.)

Test your connection:

Get a quick overview:

Last updated on Friday, 22 November, 2013

Funded by the National Library of Medicine under contract HHS-N-276-2011-00004-C with the Health Sciences and Human Services Library of the University of Maryland