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Updated: 1 hour 26 min ago

Embracing Community: Northeastern Vermont Regional Hospital’s Medical Library

Wed, 2019-11-06 07:16
community garden under blue skies

Community Garden at Northeastern Vermont Regional Hospital

In August, I wrote about my trip to Copley Hospital shortly after librarian Stacy Wein was notified about the library’s closure. After my visit with Stacy, I drove 40 miles to what is known as the Northeast Kingdom of Vermont. I wanted to learn more about the medical library at Northeastern Vermont Regional Hospital (NVRH).

Betsy Merrill greeted me as I walked into the hospital. The Medical Library is located in the Main Lobby, and she spotted me through the glass walls. We commiserated over hospital library closures. We felt the powerlessness of Stacy’s situation. Small hospitals are struggling with their budgets, and librarians are anxious to prove their worth.

NVRH is a 25-bed critical access hospital with affiliated primary care clinics, specialty and surgical services, birthing center and emergency services. According to the 2018 Community Health Needs Assessment 2018, NVRH serves a population of roughly 30,000 people. The area has a population density 48.1 persons per square mile in Caledonia County, and only 9.5 persons per square mile in Essex County. Compare this with 529 persons per square mile in Worcester County, Massachusetts (where my office is located). The Implementation Plan includes actions for addressing transportation, food insecurity and safe housing.

The Medical Library embraces community outreach to assist NVRH in addressing social determinants of health. Betsy, with a staff of volunteers, provides consumer health information in a variety of formats–brochures, books, magazines and videos. The Library offers information on support groups, and provides a public access computer for searching health-related questions.

Betsy handed me a list of Community Health Improvement projects that she participates in:

  • Healthy Choices publication: affordable community health resources
  • NVRH Community Gardens: free garden space and water access
  • AHEC MedQuest Program: high school students exploring health careers
  • Baby Cuddler Program: care for neonates withdrawing from exposure to narcotics

Betsy is involved with the hospital art gallery, Red Cross drives, and job shadowing program. She offers proctoring services for nursing and laboratory exams. She provides a monthly submission to the in-house newsletter, and serves on the Ethics Committee and Palliative Care Committee. Betsy handles these tasks in addition to her work supporting clinicians and hospital administrators.

Literature at the Heart of Medicine

Within the hospital community, Betsy organizes the Literature at the Heart of Medicine program. This facilitated reading and discussion group is coordinated through the Vermont Humanities Council. Literature at the Heart of Medicine meets monthly on the 3rd Thursday from 5:00-7:30pm.

The October read was Slow Medicine by Victoria Sweet. Kirkus Review observes that the author “highlights [moments] that revealed some aspect of what she calls Slow Medicine. Sometimes, it involves nurses and doctors showing calmness, confidence, expertise, and a personal touch; sometimes, it is patients whose treatments provide revelatory moments.” Sweet is very critical of Electronic Health Records as stealing time away from the doctor-patient encounter for the benefit of pharmaceutical companies.

Sounds like an interesting read.

Sweet, V. (2017). Slow Medicine: The Way to Health. New York, NY: Riverhead Books.

Categories: RML Blogs

NER Funded Grant – YWCA Women’s Breast and Cervical Health Educational Outreach Program

Mon, 2019-11-04 11:13


The following blog post was written by Alfee Westgroves. Alfee is the Women’s Health Specialist overseeing the 2019 NNLM NER Community Engagement grant awarded to the YWCA of Central Massachusetts. 

We know that women of color may be most comfortable exclusively in each other’s presence, particularly when confronting their own vulnerability. We also know that the pressures and stressors on women of color are impactful and unique, from those of white women. We further know that health disparities, namely that of breast cancer, include startling mortality rates. The NNLM made curated statistical information on health disparities easily accessible from the: CDC, NIH: National Cancer Institute, DHHS: Office of Minority Health…and all from one search engine.

The YWCA of Central MA, with support from the National Network of Libraries of Medicine- New England Region, will sponsor an on-going support group for women of color who have been diagnosed with reproductive cancers (i.e., breast, cervical, ovarian, uterine). WOC & the (Big) C, or “Woc-C”, will strive to create safe space for women of color to share their stories, resources and support of each other. The group will meet for coffee and tea twice a month and is free and open to the community with pre-registration. There will also be a closed group chat for participants to utilize for immediate physical or emotional support needs. Woc-C will kick off before the end of the year.

To help reach the special population of black women in the community and build relationships, The YWCA of Central MA co-hosted a tea at summer’s end for women who serve as ministers and first ladies of local black churches. NNLM sponsored educator and cancer survivor, Dr. Joyce McNickles, PhD., to present on the topic of black women’s breast health and the importance of screening and early detection. We went to NNLM resources to easily find trusted and supporting fact sheets for tea attendees on topics such as, NIH’s “Dense Breasts: Answers to Commonly Asked Questions”- a factor in black women’s breast health. Connections such as these helped inform the developing WOC cancer support group, as well as help educate, raise awareness and strengthen our caring community.

In addition to the cancer support group for women of color, the YWCA of Central MA aims to enhance our current cancer support programming. A free workshop series will commence in December and continue into the spring to help educate survivors on developing and using available resources to support themselves and others during and after cancer. The first workshop, “Reclaiming your Optimal Health Naturally, during and after Cancer Treatment”, is scheduled for December 2nd and will feature an acupuncturist/Chinese medicine practitioner. The NNLM as a resource will be highlighted with an interactive portion, where participants may use tablet stations to browse the libraries. The stations will promote supporting information on integrative/complementary/holistic medicine via MedlinePlus, to feed the newly acquired knowledge, curiosities and interest of workshop participants.

During Breast Cancer Awareness month, we jumped into fall with an interactive breast cancer presentation at Abby’s House- shelter, housing and advocacy program for women in our community of Worcester, MA. At Abby’s House, we were able to help women engage with the health information being presented, answer questions on the vital issue and share resources to empower them as their own best health advocates. As with all of our efforts, we aim to move toward better health outcomes, with earlier cancer detection and treatment as the key.

Categories: RML Blogs

Librarians Supporting Authors: Interview With Author Karen Iverson

Tue, 2019-10-29 15:52

Since October is National Breast Cancer Awareness Month, this weeks blog features an interview with the author Karen Iverson. She is the author of, ‘Winning the Breast Cancer Battle: Empowering Warriors and Guiding Loved Ones.”   It is a hopeful and inspiring story that keeps you wanting to know more. I had the pleasure of interviewing Karen in person about her journey to become an author, below are a few of the questions and her insightful answers.

Where did you get the idea/inspiration for the book?

I have always loved writing. Since I was a little girl, I wrote poetry and stories. I found I enjoyed journaling. In college, I took English classes and it confirmed my love of writing. I always wanted to write a book but when diagnosed with breast cancer I started journaling. For some reason I liked the tactile sensation of writing. I would fold a piece of paper in half and would write what I could to make myself feel better. I then put it down and re-read it a few days later and would edit it. I would write new sentences and it looked like a jumbled mess, but to me made perfect sense. I realized was writing a book and I wanted to share my experiences, so others would have some knowledge on how to empower their journey and guide loved ones. I put it down the project for awhile but picked it back up to make this book. When I was a child, my dad died of cancer and it took years to process because I didn’t know how to get through it. This awareness went into the tip session located at the end of the book

 What challenges did you face in writing this book?

There is always the aspect of, “is this book good enough and is this going to help people?” It is something that periodically a little bit of doubt creeps up in your mind but you have to have faith that it will help people in a way not expected and help them in the future. The second challenge, when doing the journal and writing I realized I didn’t tell anyone. I decided to show it to another woman who also had breast cancer and I shared a journal entry with her and this put me in a vulnerable position. Before I only shared journal articles with mom. I read her the journal entry and there was just dead silence on the other side the phone and it just stayed silent and I didn’t know how to interpret it. I kept thinking,why is she not saying anything?  When we started talking again, she would change the subject. After that, I stopped writing and I though it didn’t reach her or affect her. It took a while and I start journaling and writing again because I needed to. It made me realize that there is always a critic out there who doesn’t like the work or think it is any good, but there hundreds if not thousands whom this book going to help and need the information. That was a challenge.

What challenges did you find in becoming a published author?

I knew nothing about getting a book published. As much as knew could write well, I did not know anything about publishing, I didn’t think could get a traditional publisher to publish the book. The reason for that was, I could imagine my book sitting on a pile with other books and why would the publisher pick my book? That was because of a fear I heard about the publishing business. I chose to self publish the book. Self publishing was at first tabue but it is now more accepted, with many resources available to guide one through the process.

What have you found rewarding about the experience?

Three things:  I found it very rewarding to know I can help people through words that are written in the book. Second thing, it is an amazing feeling to have the first copy in your hands and say “I did this I accomplished a dream of mine.” The third thing, I was at a writing conference and I received an award, the “Difference Maker” award. It helped reaffirm that what I am doing in the book is going to make a difference in others’ lives and that others are seeing that as well.

 What advice do you have for other potential authors?

You have to really be dedicated and it takes a lot of work and financial support to publish a book. You have to want it enough and have to want it so badly so that you make it happen and you will publish a book.


I highly recommend this book. It is currently available online at The author’s journey is eye opening and the tips, on questions to ask along the journey, are perceptive. There is supplemental information and helpful websites in the resource section of the book. In addition, health information on many health topics can be found at the National Library of Medicine in MedlinePlus. 

Categories: RML Blogs

Resources You Can Use: Health Literacy Month

Fri, 2019-10-18 14:31

October is Health Literacy Month! People working in health information use the term health literacy a lot. But what is health literacy and how can we improve it?  What resources are available to help support health literacy?

What is Health Literacy?

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) defines health literacy as “the degree to which individuals have the capacity to obtain, process, and understand basic health information needed to make appropriate health decisions.” (Healthy People 2020)

Even with this definition, health literacy is a complex issue that is affected by many factors, but culture can be a major component with cultural backgrounds influencing belief systems, communication styles, and understanding and responses to health information (NLM-Health Literacy).

Health literacy also relies on many skills to process information on prevention, diagnosis, treatment and make decisions about the best course of action.  Skills include understanding health care services and insurance, calculating dosages and understanding treatment instructions, communicating with providers, evaluating the quality and credibility of information, understand results and locate health information.

A person’s ability to complete these tasks relay on literacy (visual and written), computer literacy (can use a computer and find information online), and numerical literacy (can calculate and reason with numbers).

How can we improve Health Literacy?
  1. Nine out of 10 adults struggle to understand and use health information when it is unfamiliar, complex or jargon-filled.
  2. Limited health literacy costs the healthcare system money and results in higher than necessary morbidity and mortality. (CDC-Talking Points about Health Literacy)

And like many aspects of medicine and healthcare, health literacy has disparities that contribute to disparities in outcomes. Older adults, English Language Learners, people with less than a high school education and disability may influence a person’s health literacy. (Healthy People 2020)

So what can we do?

Categories: RML Blogs

Updates from NER Hospital Librarians Summer Session

Fri, 2019-10-11 09:57
screenshot of PubMed website

Use MyNCBI login with new PubMed interface!

Just over two months ago, twenty-eight librarians gathered at UMass Medical School for our One-Day Summer Session for New England Region hospital librarians.

In the morning, we discussed National Library of Medicine changes to DOCLINE, LinkOut, PubMed and the elimination of LoansomeDoc, as well as the upcoming EFTS transition from UConn Health to the Medical Library Association. We took a long look at the impacts on document delivery services in hospital libraries.

In the afternoon, Michelle Bass, PhD, MSI, AHIP, lead a discussion about Impostor Phenomenon among health sciences librarians, Michelle is Manager of Research and Instruction at Countway Library, Harvard Medical School. She facilitated a brainstorming exercise on ways to cope with this phenomenon.

Participants enjoyed the entire day. They especially commented on the opportunity to catch up with colleagues, and to learn new tips and tricks from one another.

Updates on NLM Changes

During our morning discussion, several questions were raised. We have updates!


Q: I heard a rumor that only e-journals will be listed in any library holdings [in DOCLINE and LinkOut] beginning in 2020. Is that true?
A: LinkOut will be e-journal only for the forseeable future. There are no plans to ONLY include e-journals in DOCLINE. We are however planning to enhance DOCLINE in ways that make e-journals easier to access.

Q: DOCLINE used to say (basically) “hey, your library reports owning this title/issue, are you sure you want to request it?” This was very helpful. Will this feature be added to the new DOCLINE?
A: The ‘you own this’ alert during borrowing is one of the features listed on the DOCLINE user feedback page as high priority for users that we heard about after the launch of DOCLINE 6.  Since then, we have added half of alerts mentioned and ‘in your holdings’ is slated to return, but is not yet on the development schedule.

Q: Several hospital librarians are frustrated with ordering book chapters and NLM books through DOCLINE. One of these librarians left a note: We need UID requesting for NLM book collections specifically. Could you give me information that I can share?
A: Although Book and Book chapter requests do not route ‘automatically’ because there are only serial holdings in DOCLINE, previously you could ‘automatically’ populate your request with all of a Book’s bibliographic information by inputting a Unique ID, whether NLM UI or an ISBN.  Because DOCLINE 6 manual ordering does allow book ordering, and because 98% of requests are for articles, UI ordering for books was not part of the DOCLINE redesign initial release.  Development plans do include improved book ordering in the future.

Q: One of our librarians left a note: We cannot send PubMed search results to “order to” DOCLINE. Not sure if this is a comment about a new change, or a request for an upgrade. Could you give me information that I can share with our hospital librarians?
A: This feature is not currently available in DOCLINE. It is also not currently on our development schedule. This feature existed in the previous version of DOCLINE. As PubMed is currently undergoing a redesign, we are waiting until the redesign is complete before we develop new integrations with the PubMed system.

Q: When will we be able to submit multiple PMIDs in DOCLINE?
A: Now available! Please check the DOCLINE blog for more updates.


Q: Do you know when the training handouts will be updated to reflect the new version of PubMed?
A. We now have slides for your use! Here is the link for slides introducing new users to PubMed.

Q: I am hearing a concern that the new interface will be a difficult transition for older, experienced users of PubMed (clinicians–doctors at hospitals). Are you doing usability testing with older people?
A: PubMed Labs is under active development, and features will be introduced and updated on a regular basis as we continue to enhance the system. We are continuing to prioritize features based on user research, including usability testing and feedback from users. The Labs usability testing has been and will continue to be wide-ranging. We endeavor to talk to as many users as possible [including older users familiar with the PubMed interface].


Q: Will Medical Library Association membership be required when EFTS transitions to be a service hosted by MLA?
A: No, MLA membership will not be required. Please check the MLA blog post for more information.

Please let us know if you have a question that we did not answer. We are happy to investigate for you.





Categories: RML Blogs

Keeping Up with the Facts Related to Lung Illnesses from E-cigarettes and Vaping

Fri, 2019-10-04 12:31


screen shot of the MedlinePlus website when a search about "vaping" is done.















My adult kids vape. Neither ever smoked cigarettes.  Until very recently, I honestly thought, “I have got better things to worry about.” Well, I was wrong.

For a health professional who educates others about substance use and addiction, I was seriously uninformed! The only bright spot in the devastating news of  vaping-related illnesses  that are all over the media, is that this enormous problem of increased tobacco and marijuana use in our younger population is getting a lot of attention. Hopefully, the wide dissemination of health-related information related to e-cigarettes and vaping will save lives.

Did you know?

  • There were 1.5 million more current youth e-cigarette users in 2018 that 2017?
  • 9 million youth were current tobacco product users in 2018
  • Use of any tobacco product grew by 38.3% among high school students (2017-2018)

Massachusetts is  2 weeks into a temporary statewide ban on the sale of all e-cigarettes and vaping products to consumers in retail establishments online, and through any other means. The ban includes all non-flavored and flavored vaping products, including mint and methol, including tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and any other cannabinoid. The four-month temporary ban will allow researchers, public health and medical professionals time to try to understand the link between vaping and at least 530 cases of lung injury reported across 38 states and the US Virgin Islands (according to the CDC).

In a recent hearing on Capitol Hill of the House Committee on Oversight and Reform, Deputy Director Dr. Anne Schuchat reported “We don’t know the cause. No single product, brand, substance or additive has been linked to all cases. This investigation is ongoing and it’s very dynamic. CDC is working closely with state and local public health, with the FDA and clinical community, to get to the bottom of this.”

The purpose of this post is to share some helpful health-information resources you can use to keep yourself  informed, as well as to be a resource to your family and your community about the dangers of e-cigarettes and vaping.

Even if you do not live in Massachusetts, the information provided in a recently issued guide “Vaping Public Health Emergency,” from ( has valuable information for consumers, as well as local boards of health and healthcare providers. There are also resources to help those wanting to quit their tobacco use. There is also a link to national information from the CDC about the recent facts related to the lung injury associated with e-cigarettes and vaping .

CDC Vitalsigns (#vitalsigns) published in February of 2019, ( ) is a short 2-page fact sheet with eye-catching visuals that quickly explain health statistics related to the increase of tobacco use among youth and young adults.

The FDA and the CDC are working closely with state and local officials to investigate incidents of severe respiratory illnesses associated with the use of vaping products. Here is a link to recently gathered  information issued by the FDA (

A guide from The Partnership for Drug-Free Kids “What You Need to Know and How to Talk to Your Kids About Vaping ( is chock full of information about how to have informed conversations within your family about Vaping.

If you type Vaping into the search box of MedlinePlus ( you will receive up-to-date and expertly written information from the National Library of Medicine, the Nemours Foundation, American College of Emergency Physicians and National Institute of Drug Abuse.

Have you wondered about the health issues related to e-cigarettes Vaping that are occurring in other countries where tobacco use is more prevalent? In the September 12, 2019 (updated on September 16) issue of Politico there is an informative article about what European countries are seeing for health issues. (

The NER hopes the websites and resources mentioned in this post help to keep you informed as new information is discovered about the health issues related to using e-cigarettes and vaping.

Categories: RML Blogs

A Librarian can help in a crisis

Wed, 2019-10-02 08:52

From the earliest outbreaks of Bubonic plague many centuries ago, to recent outbreaks of Ebola, I started to think about the information resources people had when confronting these crises. There couldn’t have been much during the dark ages in Europe. As people faced overwhelming illness and mortality, if they turned to anyone at all it would have been the Church. Evidence-based medicine was not really a thing yet.

Even relatively recently, libraries couldn’t do much to assist a population faced with an epidemic. In the article In Flew Enza, Nora Quinlan ( notes that during the 1918-1919 influenza epidemic that claimed millions of lives, most libraries Quinlan looked at closed or had dramatic drops in circulation. She writes,

When the flu pandemic hit, many libraries imposed limited access in response to quarantine orders. Across the country, circulation statistics dropped an average of 10%. Libraries already strapped by staff enlistments saw employees sickened, work time lost, and event the death of staff. Library buildings were utilized for projects related to combating the pandemic, including meeting space and work areas for volunteers.

Nothing in the article discusses what type of information resources were provided to the public during the flu epidemic, but it is not a stretch to imagine that with closures and other limitations, it would have been hard for staff to spend the time and energy need to supply health information to anyone.

Technology has produced a massive change in the way libraries can now respond to emergencies, health or otherwise. Even if a library closes, resources can still be made available. And with the rise and insistence on quality evidence-based information, the public has greater access to reliable information. They just need to know how to find it, something the library can continuously assist with.

The National Library of Medicine has Disaster Lit: A database for disaster medicine and public health ( The CDC (  and the National Library of Medicine ( had  information available about Ebola almost immediately as the most resent large-scale outbreak was starting. MedlinePlus ( has information on almost every known disease, all made accessible to the general public. Information is also available for other crises that have arisen that many call epidemics. From AIDS ( to Substance Use Disorder (, information is available that is current and reliable. There are many, many other examples. It is not the lack of resources that is now the issue. It is the ability of the public to find and use the best resource.

Libraries now play and important role in epidemics, disasters, and public health. The public needs access and guidance to these resources. The internet is a scary place, especially when it comes to health information. There is too much out there, and much of it is garbage. Libraries need to help educate and disseminate evidence-based, reliable information. This takes time and training of patrons, but libraries have always been a trusted resource. That should be leveraged in the important and daunting task of educating about health. Because it is important that a librarian can help, especially during a crisis.

Categories: RML Blogs

Freedom to Read

Tue, 2019-09-24 17:56

This week, September 22, through September 28, is Banned Books Week.  It is an annual event celebrating the freedom to not be in the dark and read.  It brings attention to both current and historical attempts to censor books in libraries and schools.  According to the American Library Association  (ALA), banned books week was launched in the early 80’s around the time of the 1982 Supreme Court Case, Island Trees School District v Pico, which ruled that school officials can’t ban books in libraries simply because of their content.  Libraries including the NLM regularly champion intellectual freedom because it enables librarians to fulfill their primary mission of providing and preserving information. As William Wallace Young said in an interview with Martin Kauffman, “If you want a book to be very popular, you just get it banned, right?” The NLM Digital Collections  provides access to historical books, photographs, images, online transcripts and maps, some of which have been banned or censored in the past

This week during Banned Books Week, celebrate and fight for your right to access information. There are free promotional tools and event listings at  Looking at the current listing of challenged books can be quite a surprise when you recognize some current titles, that are also movies, are on the list. In addition, the ALA is hosting free webinars and downloads for display ideas, tips on how to get involved, some suggestions include joining a Banned Books Week Q&A, donate to the The LeRoy C. Merritt Humanitarian Fund also known as the Merritt Fund or the Comic Book Legal Relief Fund, or participate in the National Read-Out.

What Banned Books Week has shown me is that censorship can happen anywhere, any time.  It is wise to be proactive, and remember to incorporate lessons learned from banned book week throughout the year. If you are a Librarian, when purchasing make sure there are policies in place before the book is challenged.  Train the people at the circulation desk on procedures if a book is challenged, maybe have a checklist to follow if a book is challenged.

If a book is challenged, you are not alone.  There are resources available that may be helpful such such as the ALA Office for Intellectual freedom which provides confidential support to anyone undergoing a challenge or ban. This support can come in the form of letters, book reviews, resources, talking points or emotional support. People can report censorship online, with Challenge Reporting or by calling 1-800-545-2433, ext. 4226 or or email   Censorship and book challenges are difficult but if you face this challenge know there are resources available to you.  Awareness is key, so we are not left in the dark and can keep our freedom to read.



Categories: RML Blogs

Resources You Can Use: Youth Emergency Preparedness

Tue, 2019-09-17 09:02

Prepared Not Scared 2019 National Preparedness Month logo with each week's theme.

September is National Preparedness Month and there’s still time to save for an emergency, make and practice your plan, and get involved in community preparedness.

This year, Week Three of Preparedness Month (September 15-21) is focused on Youth Preparedness.  Kids can be great ambassadors for preparedness and involving them in the planning process can improve their resilience during and after an emergency.

FEMA, the Red Cross, the Department of Education and supports disaster planning for and with youth through the Youth Preparedness National Strategy.  This strategy encourages including and engaging youth in preparedness through planning and programming to build youth resiliency and preparedness leaders.

Here are some more resources designed to teach kids about preparedness:

  • Ready Kids: From, Ready Kids provides preparedness information for kids, teens, families and educators including games and developmentally appropriate handouts.
  • Owlie: From the National Weather service, Owlie is developmentally appropriate weather science and preparedness information with handouts, games and information for kids, teens, parents and teachers.
  • Ready Wrigley: From the CDC, Ready Wrigley is preparedness information designed for kids from 2-11 with coloring books, activities, posters and a mobile app.

It’s also important to help kids learn about how to evaluate information online for accuracy and trustworthiness.  Teach kids critical thinking strategies for finding and using preparedness information with these resources:

And always make sure you’re following trusted sources on social media to avoid scams and hoaxes before, during and after emergencies.  On twitter, follow @nnlmner, @fema, @femaregion1 (New England), @nws (and your local NWS weather station), local news outlets, and local and state government accounts.

To learn more about trusted, online emergency preparedness resources, view the recording of the webinar Are You Ready? Essential Disaster Health Information Resources for Keeping Your Loved Ones Safe taught on August 28, 2019.

Categories: RML Blogs

Being Mindful About Data

Wed, 2019-08-28 10:54

If you have ever taught a class, hosted an event, or counted foot traffic in your library you have probably collected data.  I recently had the opportunity to attend the Research Data Management Roundtable hosted up at the University of Vermont where library data collection was discussed. The morning presentation focused on the library’s use of data obtained from digital learning objectives. The afternoon session had a broader theme of data ethics and the use of consent. It was a very enlightening discussion. 

My take away from that discussion reinforced my belief that information is power. What you perceive as a challenge, might not be a problem to those outside your group or community until you can back up your issue with hard facts or data. Data can tell a story when there are patterns of evidence such as repetition or grouping of facts. Having the right data will help you make your case and prove your points to the people that matter.  I know data is collected by apps and various companies, and that way more is known than I can control. On the flip side, to see if my instruction is working or the program being hosted is valuable, I collect limited data. This information is used to continue the program or figure out how to improve instruction.  

I came away being more mindful in how and why the data that is collected.  Now when I am about to get the new “free” app or solicit feedback on my latest endeavor, I pause before just blindly clicking.  I stop to ask, “Why does the data need to be collected – what is the purpose? and “How will the data be used?” There is a battle waging for control over your information, as a consumer there is a need to be conscious and fight for the right to control your information. 

Presently, there it is an uneven balance between those who collect data and the “free” apps you need to use.  Be educated on your rights when getting new technology so you can limit data collection. Even if you knowingly or unknowingly consented, once that data is out there it is hard to get control over it or get it back.  In the meantime, do your part and be conscious of what data you collect and how it is used.

Categories: RML Blogs

Favorite Experiences at the New England Science Boot Camp for Librarians

Mon, 2019-08-19 17:09

This is the final blog post in a series authored by several individuals who received scholarships to attend the and the New England Science Boot Camp for Librarians. In this installment, a scholarship recipient, Anne Marie Engelsen, the Science Reference Librarian at Fogler Library at the University of Maine, describes her favorite parts of the New England Science Boot Camp for Librarians.  For more information about the New England Science Boot Camp presentations including videos please see the New England Science Boot Camp for Librarians website.  ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~


I was lucky enough to get a scholarship to attend the New England Science Boot Camp for Librarians for the second year in a row. Thank you to the Scholarship Committee and NNLM for the opportunity! This year was another success, and I was so glad to visit the University of New Hampshire’s gorgeous campus. Here are my 5 favorite parts of Science Boot Camp this year (in no particular order).


  1. Citizen Science

For the capstone talk Wednesday night, Malin Clyde (Community Volunteer State Specialist at the University of New Hampshire Extension) spoke about citizen science and her initiative, Nature Groupie, which lists citizen science volunteer opportunities in New England. We also learned about other citizen science initiatives like Zooniverse, a website that links people to small computer-based tasks for an active research project, Aurorasaurus, an app that lets people report active aurora borealis sightings around the world, and SciStarter, a larger scale list of active citizen science projects. For those who enjoy being outdoors and want to contribute to conservation or research projects, citizen science is a great opportunity! If you’d like more information about how you can link citizen science into the library, check out The Librarian’s Guide to Citizen Science from Arizona State University and SciStarter.


  1. Social Justice in Science

The second theme of Boot Camp (the others being Remote Sensing and Assistive Technologies) was my favorite by far. The first presenter was Sofia Lemons, a Lecturer in Computer Science from the College of Engineering & Physical Sciences, who explored the way bias is built into computing systems. When so much of our society and lives rely on computing systems, it’s important to remember that computers are not inherently without bias because computers are made by people, and no person is without bias. This is seen when researchers find that facial recognition is only accurate for white male users. The second presenter was Dr. Elena Long, an Assistant Professor in the Department of Physics. Dr. Long’s talk was equal parts workshop and call to action, highlighting the issue of deadnames in academic publications. Changing names on past publications is significant for trans academics because not doing it can out the academic as trans, which may result in discrimination. The choice becomes either outing themselves or losing some publications in a CV. In a nice change of pace, Dr. Long had the librarians workshop to discuss the barriers, systematic or otherwise, that might prohibit a name changing process from publishers. So what can we do? As librarians, we have a specific role that bisects the academic and publishing spheres and could help support this type of change. If we can connect, organize, and spread the message, we can create some ripples that can help combat the bad ripples that come from the issue itself.


  1. UNH Brewing Science Lab

One of the tours I went on Wednesday Morning was the Brewing Science Lab (complete with samples!!). UNH is the country’s only university that has a distribution license for the beer produced from its brewing science lab, rather than partnering with local breweries. The lab supports a Brewing Science minor and performs analytical testing for New Hampshire Breweries. While we were there, we got to see all of the equipment and science that goes into making beers and ciders, then taste some of the beers made by students! They had a gose that used an invasive seaweed for its salty kick and an IPA with a basil-y finish. It was interesting to see the (admittedly tiny) lab that created some tasty brews and see the passion that Cheryl Parker, Brewery Manager, had for the program and teaching students.


  1. Science Librarians

One of the main draws of Science Boot Camp for me is the community of science librarians that I get to see when I’m there. I was fortunate enough to have two fantastic mentors both years I attended Boot Camp- Sue O’Dell from Bowdoin College and Liz Fowler from the University of New Hampshire. Being from a fairly remote institution (UMaine is so far from anything), I love having this chance to spend time with librarians from around New England for some outside perspective and networking. The intentionally casual atmosphere of the conference allows for relationship building and general collegiality without too much of the pressure that other conferences have. I look forward to this part of the conference the most!


  1. Snacks

Conference snacks can be hit or miss, but my snack experience at Science Boot Camp has been overwhelmingly positive both years. This year, UNH catering provided homemade chocolate pudding (!!!), chocolate-covered strawberries (!!!), snack mix, and more delectable delicacies. I was pleasantly surprised, and I now want nothing less than scratch-made pudding at every conference I go to. Well done.



Anne Marie Engelsen

Science Reference Librarian

Fogler Library | University of Maine


For more information about science librarianship, other upcoming events, or scholarships or funding please visit the NNLM Data Driven Discovery Website and the  NNLM NER website, or contact anyone in the NNLM NER office.

Categories: RML Blogs

Reaching Around the World: Grantees’ Big Summer

Mon, 2019-08-19 09:45

Brittany Netherton and Brenda Lormil two NNLM NER grantees had big summers presenting the work they’re doing at events in San Diego and Sweden!

Brittany from the Darien Library had the opportunity present on graphic novels in the library at the San Diego Comic-Con and her work with Graphic Medicine.

From Brittany:

“On Thursday, July 18 I delivered a lightning round presentation during San Diego Comic-Con’s Comic Conference for Educators and Librarians. The audience included librarians and educators from across North America. My presentation defined Graphic Medicine broadly, and then I spoke about Darien Library’s intentional Graphic Medicine collection development and marketing over the past year. As I was discussing the importance of other libraries creating similar collections, and sharing different resources they could use to get started, I saw people throughout the room snapping pictures of the slides and taking notes. I ended my presentation with an announcement of our NNLM NER grant, which drew excited applause from the audience. After the presentation, an NNLM representative from the San Diego area introduced herself to me, and said that Graphic Medicine is something they’re working on right now, and that she was happy to see me presenting on it.

A few weeks after the presentation, I received a text message from one of the librarians who helped plan the conference. He wanted me to know that in their recap of the event, one of the event organizers said that my Graphic Medicine presentation was particularly well-received and had attendees talking. They see Graphic Medicine as an area they want to intentionally highlight next year, and asked if I might be interested in joining the planning committee.”


Brenda and partners from Northeastern University School Health Academy (NEUSHA) took HAMA and NEUSHA’s great work developing a model for supporting a quality continuing nursing education (CNE) program that addresses culturally competent services, advocating for health and safety needs of students and strengthening global health for Haitian American students and their families.  HAMA and NEUSHA presented the CNE program they created to participants at the 2019 School Nurses International Conference in Stockholm, Sweden on July 25.  Read the full abstract of the project that Brenda presented on.


Congratulations to Brittany and Brenda on their great accomplishments this summer!  NNLM NER is proud to support the work they’re doing in their communities and look forward to reporting on more of the great work of our grantees soon.

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Musings of an Aspiring Science Librarian By Amanda Doughty

Mon, 2019-08-12 17:38

This is the third blog post in a series authored by several individuals who received scholarships to attend the and the New England Science Boot Camp for Librarians. In this installment, a scholarship recipient, Amanda Doughty, a library student describes the New England Science Boot Camp for Librarians.  For more information about upcoming research data management classes, webinars and events please visit the NNLM Data Driven Discovery Website and the  NNLM NER website.


Musings of an Aspiring Science Librarian

By Amanda Doughty

          The 11th Annual Science Boot Camp for Librarians initially seemed like a chance to learn some new information, network a bit and enjoy the beautiful host campus of the University of New Hampshire. The fact that I also was honored to receive a scholarship to attend was an unexpected bonus! I never would have imagined though, the value and immense amount of knowledge, insight and connections I would gain from those few days in Durham, NH.

         I should preface this by stating that I am not (officially) a librarian. I just completed my 1st year as an MLIS student at Simmons University. Truth be told, I think I may have been the only library student attending boot camp this year! However, from the moment I walked on campus and joined the Ocean Engineering Lab tour with other boot campers, I felt a sense of belonging. In fact, that is one of many things that I quickly realized about this profession: Science Librarians are INCLUSIVE. Making others feel safe and comfortable, both in a library or information setting, and in daily living, is at the heart of these librarians and what they do. And this was echoed again and again starting with when I arrived to check-in, my name badge had a space for preferred pronouns. When the first session began, the Librarians Code of Conduct was reviewed. This code included laying out of expected behaviors by attendees, bystander intervention, the reporting process and support information. Additionally, those on the planning committee with blue “Code of Conduct” pins were always open and available to discuss concerns or incidents one might have witnessed or experienced. The topics on Social Justice also echoed the Science Librarians’ obligation and responsibility for inclusion on all fronts. Sofia Lemons demonstrated that social justice is critical in promoting equity, empowering those who have been historically excluded, and dismantling and replacing systems of privilege and oppression. Sofia also specified the means in which artificial intelligence and computers can, in fact, be biased and what one can do to combat this. One of the resources discussed was the Algorithmic Justice League (, which aims to advocate for a world with more inclusive and ethical AI. As Science Librarians, Sofia encouraged all of us to start making changes in our own lives, personally and professionally, and to push for accountability when social justice is lost. Creating and enforcing codes of conduct (such as the one outlined at Boot Camp) are helpful tools for fostering inclusion and change.

         Science Librarians are also immensely SUPPORTIVE. The quantity and variety of patrons in which those in the profession assist is incredible! From students to scholars to communities and more. I was hopeful that this Boot Camp would help pinpoint and shed more light on the everyday tasks of a Science Librarian, but what I quickly learned is that this list would probably be too long to even measure! During the Remote Sensing session, Michael Palace defined remote sensing as the act of looking at things without touching them. Some examples of this would be drones (AKA unpersonned aerial systems) or satellites. With the amount of information created from one of these remote sensing tools, the data flow can be overwhelming. The scientists have a goal for the use of this information, and the science librarian can assist with data storage and sharing (creative commons), as well as DOI (Digital Object Identification). Librarians also aid in finding data sources and help with metadata for the project. In this same Remote Sensing session, Philip Browne and Barry Rock described their trickle-down concept in which data is collected and analyzed using science, which is peer-reviewed to produce information, which is shared with the public (cue the Science Librarian!) to ensure survival, ultimately leading to a sustainable human civilization in a natural world. In addition, this session gave me a bunch of interesting, inspiring and free tools and websites for future use, such as Google Earth Pro (, Journeys In Film (, the Wayback Machine ( and the Trillion Trees campaign (

         One of my favorite parts of the boot camp was the second Social Justice session presented by Elena Long. This session was very hands on and proved to me another characteristic of science librarians: They are INGENIOUS! The very definition of such a person is to be clever, original, and inventive, and that is exactly what was challenged of us. Elena was needing our help addressing the publication name change dilemma. As it stands now, there is no great answer to update a person’s name once something has been published. There is no way to easily change an author’s published name without referencing a past one. The issue is particularly challenging for transgender people who have transitioned, because linking to a previous name may leave that person at risk for exclusion by others. As a group, we did come up with some ideas. The first of which involves using ORCID ( to publish everything in the future, in which case the author is assigned a unique number and not a name at all. The second really involves establishing a culture change – connecting, organizing and advocating for change. The hope is if we, as science librarians, can be accepting and inclusive of everyone, this will have a ripple effect and impact others around us. When that day comes, the publication name change will not even be an issue!

         At the end of my few days of the Boot Camp, I was exhausted mentally and emotionally from all I had learned and everyone I met in such a short period of time. Now that I have had the chance to reflect on my experience, I am even more inspired to become an inclusive, supportive, and ingenious Science Librarian myself! I am so thankful to have had this opportunity and look forward to becoming a part of this amazing community.


For more about data science or other upcoming events, please visit the NNLM Data Driven Discovery Website and the  NNLM NER website, or contact anyone in the NNLM NER office.


Categories: RML Blogs

World Breastfeeding Week

Mon, 2019-08-05 13:21


The World Health Organization has named the first week of August as World Breastfeeding Week! You can read lots of important health information about breastfeeding on Twitter using #WorldBreastfeedingWeek.

Most of us know that health professionals recommend that babies be breastfed for the first 6 months, if possible. Initially, breastfeeding may require a little time and energy to get the hang of, but usually after a short time, both mother and baby settle into a routine that becomes very convenient.

One of the most important benefits of breastfeeding is the bonding that occurs between mom and baby. According to NLM’s MedlinePlus website ( the following bullet points provide other health benefits of breastfeeding:

  • Breast milk naturally has all the nutrients babies need to grow and develop.
  • Breast milk has antibodies that can help prevent your baby from getting sick.
  • Breastfeeding can help prevent health problems in your baby, such as allergies, eczema, ear infections, and stomach problems.
  • Breastfed babies are less likely to be hospitalized with breathing infections.
  • Breastfed babies are less likely to become obese or have diabetes.
  • Breastfeeding may help prevent sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS).
  • Mothers who breastfeed find it easier to lose weight after pregnancy.
  • Breastfeeding may help lower the risk for breast and ovarian cancers, diabetes, and certain other diseases in mothers.
  • You can breastfeed almost anywhere and anytime your baby is hungry. You do not need to make formula before feeding, worry about clean water, or carry it with you when you go out or travel. And you save money on formula, which can cost $1,000 or more a year.

The National Institute on Drug Abuse or NIDA provides current info about using medical marijuana and other drugs during and pregnancy and breastfeeding. The website also has many helpful materials you can share .

Another useful tool for breastfeeding mothers is NLM’s LactMed database ( that contains information on drugs and other chemicals to which breastfeeding mothers may be exposed.

LactMed includes information on the levels of such substances in breast milk and infant blood, and the possible adverse effects in the nursing infant. Suggested therapeutic alternatives to those drugs are provided, where appropriate. All data are derived from the scientific literature and are fully referenced. A peer review panel reviews the data to assure scientific validity and currency.

Categories: RML Blogs

Protected: Library Closure at Copley Hospital, Morrisville VT

Mon, 2019-08-05 09:16

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Views of Science Librarianship from the New England Science Boot Camp

Mon, 2019-07-29 13:29

This is the second blog post in a series authored by several individuals who received scholarships to attend the and the New England Science Boot Camp for Librarians. In this installment, a scholarship recipient, Jodi Coalter, describes her opportunity to attend the New England Science Boot Camp for Librarians.  For more information about upcoming research data management classes, webinars and events please visit the NNLM Data Driven Discovery Website and the  NNLM NER website.

As an early career librarian, I’m still learning what it means to be a liaison to the sciences. Finding my way through my new job and my new institution has been, if I’m honest, a bit daunting; there are so many aspects to the job that I need to learn, which makes it fun, but also confusing. Thanks to the generosity of the NLM and the New England Science Boot Camp organizers, I was able to attend the 2019 Boot Camp. While there I met with and talked to people who have walked the same road before – people who are excited about science, but also understand (academic) librarianship.

One of the greatest aspects of Boot Camp is the ability to explore how science is studied by researchers in various institutions, and the discussions between librarians about how we can support that research. Librarians get to see into the past, explore what researchers have done before, and help our colleagues push science into the future. We stand with researchers on the bleeding edge of science. This dual perspective means that we are invaluable to our researchers (even if they don’t know it!), and it’s one of the greatest parts of my job. Unique challenges and problems arise from this threshold position between past and present, which makes talking with colleagues in the field even more important.

For example, one of the greatest segments of this year’s Boot Camp was the exploration of social justice in science. This was my first Boot Camp, but from what I understand, the themes that we explored this year was a new feature. And it was one of the best features. Coordinators of the Camp brought together speakers who addressed a specific theme in science and research, which made each segment a deep dive into a topic. The social justice segment explored how LGBTQ folks are coping with a very homogenous science field, the challenges and discrimination they face, and how librarians can help faculty cope with those challenges. It was an amazing glimpse at a unique perspective, and I walked out of that segment with a deeper awareness and a better understanding of the problems LGBTQ folks face. In talking with the presenters and my fellow attendees, we were even able to achieve some basic ideas of how libraries can help our LGBTQ faculty achieve success in academia.

It is so exciting to be a science librarian right now. Scientific discoveries in all fields are being made at breakneck speeds, and science librarianship is moving just as fast. To be a science librarian now means being flexible and creative, almost changing the job description from year to year. To be the most effective librarians, I’m finding that it’s easier to keep up with all these changes if I lean on the knowledge of my colleagues, listen to their problems and solutions, and continue to educate myself on best librarianship practices. Attending Science Boot Camp for Librarians was a vital aspect of that discussion for me – and I look forward to next year’s Camp!

Jodi Coalter
STEM Librarian
University of Maryland, College Park


For more about data science or other upcoming events, please visit the NNLM Data Driven Discovery Website and the  NNLM NER website, or contact anyone in the NNLM NER office.

Categories: RML Blogs