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Updated: 4 hours 8 min ago

Getting the Most from NNLM: Evaluation Planning

Fri, 2020-01-17 08:57

Funding is open for the 2020-2021 year and part of the application process asks you to outline how you will evaluate your project.

Evaluation can be daunting and it’s often not as fun as the rest of the project, but it’s an important step to demonstrate project impact and value to your community, your organization and to funders, both current and future.

Use the 4 Steps to an Evaluation Plan from NEO to make evaluation planning easier.

Step 1: Community Assessment helps you gauge the information and programming needs of your community.  You can survey your community yourself or find community health assessments or plans from other sources to help you support the priorities of your project.

  • County Health Rankings: Provide a snapshot of how where people live, learn, work and play influences health. They provide a starting point for change in communities.
  • Community Health Needs Assessments (CHNA): CHNA is required for all tax-exempt hospitals and must take input from “persons who represent the broad interests of the community served by the hospital facility, including those with special knowledge of or expertise in public health.”
  • You can find local health data and health improvement plans by searching your location + community health data. For example, here’s the Building a Healthy Community information for Worcester, MA.
  • Healthy People 2020: Healthy People provides science-based, 10-year national objectives for improving the health of all Americans. Healthy People also gives you access to health data for HP2020 objectives, including on the national and state levels and on health disparities.

Step 2: Make a Logic Model-Logic models help you plan and clarify visually how your activities and outcomes are linked to make your project successful.

Step 3: Develop Measurable Objectives for Your Outcomes-Learn the difference between Goals (specific results from the project) and Objectives (specific steps that lead to the success of the project goals).

Step 4: Create an Evaluation Plan-Write plans that will evaluate the process you outlined in your logic model in Step 2 and your outcomes from Step 3.

For more information on program evaluation, download Evaluation guides for Planning and Evaluating Health Information Outreach Projects from NEO.

And access NNLM’s On Demand EvalBasics classes to learn more.

Categories: RML Blogs

Yale University Librarians on Serving Nursing and Allied Health Care Professionals

Wed, 2020-01-08 12:46

On Tue, Dec 10, 2019, NNLM NER hosted two Yale University librarians in a webinar addressing the health information needs of nursing and allied health care professionals. The webinar was part of our NER Hospital Librarians series.

This educational series provides professional development opportunities for hospital librarians in the New England Region. Topics are determined by our Hospital Libraries Advisory Group. Previous webinars include: Advanced MeSH; Business of Healthcare; DOCLINE Update; Dietary Supplement Label Database; Librarians Supporting Nursing Education and Scholarship; LinkOut for Libraries and What is RA21. Webinars are scheduled for one hour and are recorded for future viewing.

Each webinar highlights a topic of concern to hospital librarians. In December, the focus was on answering nursing and allied health care questions using National Library of Medicine resources. Hospital librarians in New England are reporting steady, or increasing, requests for assistance from nurses and allied health care professionals. For this webinar, we contacted Janene Batten, well-known in the New England Region for her work with nurses, and her colleague Alexandria Brackett. As a clinical librarian, Alexandria brings valuable insights for our target audience.

The webinar began with introduction of a case study. Janene and Alexandria demonstrated the use of National Library of Medicine resources with time-saving search strategies. Cognizant of the upcoming “new” PubMed, both librarians incorporated relevant screenshots and searching tips for managing the transition away from Legacy PubMed. The webinar covered using MedlinePlus and the LactMed database as well.

Webinar attendees gave high marks to Janene Batten and Alexandria Brackett:

Instructors were both well prepared and switched sections with each other smoothly.

I appreciated the opportunities throughout the session to ask questions.

Very well prepared instructors; flow of presentation extremely easy to follow!

The instructors were thorough, but didn’t waste time. A good balance.

Both were knowledgeable, excellent speakers. The topic and examples flowed well. 

Good job. I’m glad I attended.

Liked the scenario idea and how to use the resources to find relevant info.

Recording Available on YouTube

If you did not attend the live webinar, or if you want to review search strategies, the recording is available on the National Network of Libraries of Medicine YouTube channel. Or, play below!



Categories: RML Blogs

Health Education And Literacy – The HEAL Project

Fri, 2020-01-03 15:47

This week’s blog post was written by Dr. Traci Alberti, the Co-PI of an NER Year 4 Grant Funded Project – “Health Literacy and Health Information Resource Education in the Lawrence, Massachusetts Community.”

Limitations in health literacy are associated with ineffective care, poor compliance, increased use of health services, worse health status and even death. Nearly 77 million Americans experience limited health literacy, with greater proportions among Latino populations.

Utilizing NNLM funds, Co-investigators Dr. Traci Alberti, Nurse Practitioner and Assistant Professor, and Catherine Wong, Health Science Librarian, both from Merrimack College, have partnered with the Merrimack Valley Area Health Education Center (MV-AHEC) and the Notre Dame Education Center-Lawrence (NDEC-L) to provide health literacy and health information resource education for English as Second Language Adult Learners in the Lawrence, Massachusetts community.

The Notre Dame Education Center- Lawrence provides free educational opportunities for community members that include English as second language classes and work skills classes.  Adult community students taking English classes at NDEC-L participated in Health Education And Literacy (HEAL) classes and a MedlinePlus consumer health information workshop during the fall, 2019 semester. HEAL is an established national health literacy program developed by Literacy for Life, which is based out of the School of Education at the College of William and Mary, Williamsburg, VA. The 8 week curriculum is designed for English as second language learners and covers education around basic health and nutrition knowledge, emergency recognition, pharmacy and medication safety and access to healthcare. A MedlinePlus consumer health information workshop was also taught by Ms. Wong, a Health Science Librarian.  The health information workshop taught the adult learners how to access MedlinePlus from their mobile phones, utilize language options, sign-up for email notifications and how to use this resource to access information on health and wellness topics of their choosing.

 Based on post-program survey data, HEAL participants significantly improved their knowledge on health information, nutrition, healthcare access, and confidence in speaking with healthcare providers. Participants also reported learning new health information resources and skills with plans to utilize these resources in the future.

The program will run again during the spring, 2020 semester.  Plans for program expansion and sustainability within the community partners is currently underway.

Categories: RML Blogs

A New Year’s Resolution

Thu, 2019-12-26 12:29

Another year is coming upon us and so is another year of New Year’s resolutions. What will it be this year? A popular resolution is to exercise. So this begs the question how much exercise?  The answer can be found in MedlinePlus. Most adults should work out between 2 to 5 hours a week. At minimum, most adults need at least 150 minutes or about two and a half hours of moderate exercise per week or 75 minutes of high intensity physical activity per week. A rule of thumb moderate exercise means you can speak in sentences but probably cannot sing, whereas vigorous intensity you won’t be able to say more than a few words without stopping for a breath. In addition, to maintain muscle and bone strength, adults should engage in strengthening activities twice a week, such as pushups, sit-ups, lifting weights or exercise bands. The strengthening exercises should be repeated 8-12 times per session.

Kids need their exercise too.  For preschool age children between the ages of 3 and 5, should be physically active throughout the day and should get a mix of structured play, such as a sport or a game, and unstructured play, such as at a playground. Children and teens, should strive for 60 minutes of physical activity every day.  This activity can take many forms such as walking, running, biking, hiking, skiing, swimming, playing basketball, dancing.  

If you are like me you may be asking where am I going to find the time for two and a half hours of exercise or laughing it off as what a luxury. But there is hope. Start slowly, and combine exercise with daily activities, such as walking to the store by parking farther away from the entrance or taking the stairs instead of the elevator, maybe dance as you are mopping. My favorite is combining family time on weekends with hiking/ walking the dog.. The family is together, exercising but really it is a scavenger hunt to find whatever leaf, flower, or animal we can find. Sometimes we even combine our hikes with a citizen science project, some great ideas are available at: or The dog, kids and I try to identify tracks and other signs of birds or animals and then use a cell phone to take a picture an upload the data. We get some exercise both moderate and vigorous, and we come away with pictures, memories, and a healthier heart. 

Categories: RML Blogs

NNLM NER Funding Applications Now Open

Wed, 2019-12-18 09:30

hand holding coinsThe NNLM NER is happy to announce that Request for Proposals (RFPs) for funding in the upcoming year (2020-2021) have been posted and we are accepting applications. Awarded projects will start May 1, 2020 and run through April 30, 2021.

Please review the information found on our Funding Opportunities page ( You will find the specific RFPs under each award type. Applications will be due March 20th, 2020. We have a new online application system. Please review the directions for submitting an application carefully.

We will be hosting webinar on January 14th at 1pm to go over funding and the application process. If you would like the information but cannot attend, please register anyway. A recoding will be sent to all registrants.

Please just let us know if you have any concerns about the award categories, your application, the submission process, or the deadline. We are also happy to review any drafts or answer questions at anytime about anything related to your project or applications.

Thank you, and we look forward to your projects!

Categories: RML Blogs

Graphic Medicine for Kids and Teens

Mon, 2019-12-16 10:47

Collage of book covers for Sunny Side Up, Hyperbole and a Half, Ghosts, The Truth About Stacey and Hey Kiddo.

Graphic Medicine is comic books and graphic novels that cover topics of health and wellness.  The visual format makes the information easier to understand and digest.  By reading a personal, non-fiction story, we can learn about issues we may not have experienced ourselves.  These stories can also help us feel less alone in our own lives.

People who aren’t familiar with graphic medicine often assume that it’s mainly a tool for health communication with kids and teens.  When mainstream audiences think about comics and graphic novels, they picture the comics they read as kids (superheroes, romance, teen drama), and may not be aware of the large variety of fiction and non-fiction works written for adults. In fact, a lot of graphic medicine works are primarily focused on communicating with adults with language and illustrations not designed for young audiences.  This isn’t as simple as “adult content”, but also references that may go over younger readers heads or don’t resonate with them.

Here are a few examples of graphic medicine works that were written specifically with kids and young adults in mind.

For Kids:

  • Many of the books by Raina Telgemeier have health and wellness themes including Smile, Sisters, and Guts, autobiographical works dealing with dental issues, sibling rivalry, and “tummy troubles” caused by anxiety. Ghosts and The Truth About Stacey, fiction by Telgemeier, deal with cystic fibrosis, sibling relationships and diabetes.
  • El Deafo by Cece Bell uses animal characters to illustrate the author’s childhood experiences being deaf and having to use the Phonic Ear (a bulky hearing aid).
  • Sunny Side Up by Jennifer Holm and its sequels follow Sunny as she deals with changing family relationships, sibling substance use and growing up.

For Teens:

These are just a few examples of graphic novels with health themes written for young people, but many graphic novels for kids and young adults deal with growing up, interpersonal relationships and other mental and physical health issues.  Your local library probably has titles already in their children and teen collection that they may not have thought of as graphic medicine or for communicate health issues with kids.

Learn more about Graphic Medicine, including lesson plans for grades 7-10, by visiting the NLM’s website for the traveling exhibit Graphic Medicine: Ill-Conceived, Well-Drawn.  Or request a Graphic Medicine Book Club Kit for your library, school or community group to try.

Categories: RML Blogs

Call for Proposals: 2020 New England Graphic Medicine Conference

Mon, 2019-12-09 11:14
Logo for the 2020 New England Graphic Medicine Conference with a reflex hammer and question mark in a speech bubble

Logo by Cathy Leamy

Hey New England, do you have something to say about graphic medicine?  Are you a librarian with a unique approach to integrating graphic medicine into your collections and outreach?  Are you a creator with a unique approach to creation and dissemination? Are you a researcher with insights into how graphic medicine can be used for outreach and communication?

NNLM NER is excited to announce our support for the 2020 New England Graphic Medicine Conference organized by the MCPHS Center of Health Humanities and supported by MCPHS University Libraries, the School of Healthcare Business, and the School of Professional Studies. We had a blast and learned a lot in Worcester in April for the 2019 New England Graphic Medicine event and it’s time to do it again on the MCPHS Boston Campus in March, 2020.

Call for proposals is now open for the 2020 New England Graphic Medicine Conference and the planners want to hear from you.  Find full details and submission requirements here.  Deadline to submit is January 10, 2020.

Get your conference proposals in and stay tuned for more information for attendees.  We hope to see you in Boston in March!

Categories: RML Blogs

Rural America: Impact of Disability on Poverty and Health

Fri, 2019-12-06 14:47

On Nov 14, 2019, the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) released the annual “Rural America at a Glance” report. The USDA’s Economic Research Service (ERS) issues this 6-page report. The ERS studies Rural Poverty and Well-being with a focus on the economic, social, spatial, temporal and demographic factors that affect the poverty status of rural residents.

Higher disability rates reported in rural areas and the SouthIn 2018, the ERS looked at the intersection of race/ethnicity and rural poverty. This year’s report looks at the intersection of disability and rural poverty. While employment is growing nationwide, there are low labor force participation rates in isolated rural counties. The population in these counties are older, less educated and are more likely to be disabled. This graph shows the distinct differences of disability in urban (metro) areas and rural areas.

According to ERS definitions, micropolitan counties are rural areas located near urban clusters of 10,000-49,999 persons. Noncore counties are more isolated and do not enjoy the benefits of nearby urban communities.

The 2013 American Community Survey estimated that 15.1% of the rural population have disabilities. As a result, these rural residents may not have adequate, reliable transportation. Not only does this impact employment and educational opportunities, but also access to specialized healthcare.

In a recent NNLM webinar, participants identified transportation as impacting health outcomes above lack of broadband, insurance and providers. If transportation is a concern in your area, please see the Rural Health Information Hub’s Transportation to Support Rural Health Care topic guide.

This guide includes information such as:

  • States are required to cover non-emergency medical transportation (NEMT) to Medicaid beneficiaries who need transportation in order to access medically needed services.
  • Rural transportation providers who provide a fixed-route service are required to comply with ADA and be accessible. They must provide ADA complementary paratransit service for those individuals with disabilities who cannot use fixed-route service.
View Recording, Do Assignment and Earn 2 MLA CEs

On National Rural Health Day, we hosted a webinar entitled “From the Mountains to the Sea: Rural Health Issues and Resources.” Anyone interested in this topic may watch the recording and contact me for the assignment. Please email NOTE: there is a 10-second delay in the audio for this recording.

The assignment is due on January 7, 2020.

Categories: RML Blogs

NER Funded Grant Project – HPV Educational Interventions in American Indian Populations

Tue, 2019-12-03 11:59

The following blog post is about a current NER-funded grant project. The post was written by the Team Maureen organization, Dr. Allesandro Villa, Lisa Bennett Johnson and Kelly Welch.

No one should die of an HPV-related cancer. Dr. Alessandro Villa from the Division of Oral Medicine at Brigham and Women’s Hospital and Harvard School of Dental Medicine and Team Maureen, a nonprofit dedicated to ending cervical cancer by educating about HPV, have utilized NNLM funds this year to work toward that auspicious goal. Together, they are conducting HPV-related cancer education among health care providers working with American Indian and Alaskan Native (AI/AN) populations across the US with the long-term goal of decreasing the disease burden and mortality rates from preventable HPV-related cancers.

Based on information from an assessment done by Dr. Andria Apostolou of the Indian Health Service, it was clear that oral health care providers serving AI/AN populations were lacking important training and information on HPV and were also receptive to increasing their role in HPV prevention.  Team Maureen and Dr. Villa, who have worked together on numerous other oral HPV related projects, combined efforts to meet these needs in partnership with the Indian Health Service’s Division of Oral Health.

The program, HPV Educational Interventions in American Indian Populations, is working to engage with Tribal oral health providers and connect them to high quality resources and materials about HPV. One of these resources was a custom-made Oral HPV Toolkit, adapted by Team Maureen to be specific to the AI/AN population and their health care system. A key component of the Toolkit highlights the resources of NNLM including PubMed, Medline and MedlinePlus, where providers can find quality information for themselves, and for their patients.

Both the Toolkit and NNLM reference materials were presented during the key note at the Dental Updates conference in June 2019 in Albuquerque, New Mexico. Over 150 providers attended the key note presentation delivered by Dr. Villa. Team Maureen hosted an educational table where attendees could ask questions and receive additional resources, including a physical copy of the newly adapted Toolkit and NNLM reference sheet.

Based on post-program survey data, most of the providers who attended the program significantly improved their knowledge about HPV related cancers and current HPV immunization guidelines. The providers look forward to educating their patients about cancer prevention and the importance of the HPV vaccine.

Although efforts will continue on this project throughout the year, recent accomplishments and highlights to date will be presented by Indian Health Service’s Nathan Mork, DDS at the 7th Annual HPV-Related Cancer Summit on December 6th in Marlborough, MA. Registration is open to all medical and dental providers at

For more information about the Team Maureen organization, visit their website

Categories: RML Blogs

Crowdsourcing, Citizen Science and Edit-a-Thons

Tue, 2019-11-26 13:11

Thank you to all who participated in the Fall 2019 #citeNLM virtual edit-a-thon. In the November crowdsourcing campaign, over 548 articles were edited, over 47 thousand words added, all by 108 editors. To see the amazing work everyone did, check out the #citeNLM Program Dashboard to see statistics on the event.

In addition, if you get the opportunity, try to attend next year’s WikiConference North America either online or in person. This year, the conference was held at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, in Cambridge, Massachusetts.The theme was reliability/credibility. There were many great information sessions, posters, meet-ups, open hacking and brainstorming sessions. Many of the sessions were live streamed and recordings are available. It is a great conference for both experienced and novice Wikipedians.

Wikipedia’s health topics pages are visited nearly 7 billion times a year, making it possibly the world’s most visited health information resource. All of us working together, or crowdsourcing, improves Wikipedia’s credibility, reliability, and content. The amazing power of becoming an editor is editing can be done anytime.  If you have specialized knowledge of a topic, see an error or notice missing or incorrect information, or references missing, editors can review, add and correct information at any time. The more people reviewing the content the more reliable it will become.

If you did not get a chance to participate in the latest #citeNLM campaign, it is not too late to become a Wikipedian. There is information about how to become an editor, online training and a guide for organizers for hosting your own edit-a-thon at and be sure to join us in the Spring for our next #citeNLM  

Congratulations everyone for your hard work and thank you again for your help making Wikipedia a credible, reliable resource.

Categories: RML Blogs

Fur-get the Stress

Tue, 2019-11-26 08:58

The Lamar Soutter Library at the University of Massachusetts Medical School has started a program called “Fur-get the stress”. There are games, coloring, museum passes, and other activities, but the main highlight is a therapy dog that comes in every other week. Finn (short for Finnegan) is the dog that visits the library. He is a 2 ½ year old labradoodle (a lab, poodle mix). The students and the staff love him.

Student gather around therapy dogLots of schools have started trying to find ways to increase student wellness. This seems especially important in high pressure, intense places like medical school. A study in the Annals of Internal Medicine found that approximately 50% of students experienced burnout, a state defined by emotional exhaustion associated with work-related stress, feelings of detachment toward patients, and a low sense of personal accomplishment. The American Medical Association published the article Medical school burnout: How to take care of yourself which talks about the reasons for and strategies to overcome the immense pressure and burnout that occurs. One place that many schools and students have not looked for relief is from the library. But many libraries are now putting on programming and advocating for student wellness.

At the Columbia University Medical Center, a weekly visit from a dog can bring 20-100 students, most who “end the encounter feeling lighter, happier, and more relaxed.” The library at Harvard Medical School has regularly brought in therapy dogs for many years and continues to grow its program in response to demand. The Cushing/Whitney Medical Library on the Medical Campus of Yale University found the library had “the opportunity to reinvent itself not only as a place to study and socialize but also a place that provides opportunities for relaxation and stress reduction through opportunities such as a therapy dog program.”

There is a growing body of research literature that has been produced that supports the use of therapy animals in the treatment of a number of conditions. There is the Medical Subject Heading (MeSH) term of Animal Assisted Therapy. A search of articles with with Animal Assisted Therapy as a MeSH term brings up 538 results. MedlinePlus directs searchers to a resource from the Mayo Clinic about the use and benefits of Pet Therapy. A February 2018 article from the NIH News in Health titled The Power of Pets details the health benefits of Human-Animal Interactions.

Ultimately, the way libraries are interacting with students is changing. The library has always been a safe place that provided students with information and services that they needed. With the changing nature of what students need, it is a good time for libraries to re-evaluate what types of information and services can be provided. It might be wellness activities, help with research and projects, or just a quiet place to escape or study. Libraries will continue to play an important role in student’s lives.

A version of this blog post was originally posted on NNLM NER Associate Director Martha Meacham’s blog, here.

Categories: RML Blogs

A Librarian Can Address Substance Use Disorder

Tue, 2019-11-19 09:41

This is conference session for my job at the National Network of Libraries of Medicine, New England Region. That means I get to attend lots of different conferences and meet and connect with a lot of different people. I was at NAHSL last week, and then I attended the symposium, Communities in Crisis: Libraries Respond to the Opioid Epidemic.

The Communities in Crisis: Libraries Respond to the Opioid Epidemic symposium is aimed at librarians and how they respond to Substance Use Disorder. This is an unfortunate necessity. Mainly public librarians, but other libraries as well, are having to address substance use in their communities and in the library. Patrons, coworkers, their own families – almost everyone has been exposed to or had to deal with someone affected by Substance Use Disorder. There are well over 100 people here at this symposium today, which is enough of a testament to how important this topic is.

From the OCLC’s report Public Libraries Respond to the Opioid Crisis with Their Communities, “The United States is experiencing an opioid epidemic, and public libraries across the country are choosing to respond to this public health emergency locally. As central community institutions open to all, public libraries are finding themselves on the front lines of the opioid crisis. Together with community partners, public libraries are providing critically needed information and services, organizing education and training events, and supporting prevention and recovery efforts.”

(Side note on language; the proper terminology is Substance Use Disorder (SUD). Not, drug abuse, or substance misuse, addict, etc. SUD is less stigmatizing and acknowledges that it is a chronic medical condition, rather than a moral failing. Also, while there is a huge focus on the opioid crisis right now, there are many other substances and issues that people may be dealing with.)

I truly wish this was not a topic that libraries had to address. But they do, and libraries are in an important position in the community. My job while attending the symposium is to help librarians have the information tools and resources for their own edification and to share with patrons. I think that given the controversy and misinformation that often surrounds SUD, it is more important than ever to make sure people are getting good, reliable, vetted information. Here are a few of the resources I am promoting:

However, while this symposium is a great opportunity to share information, more significantly, it is an opportunity for so many people come together and support each other. Like I said, there are well over 100 people at the symposium. They are all learning about and starting to break down the stigma surrounding SUD. Unfortunately, people may have to deal with SUD in their work or in their lives, but they now have a whole community to connect with. Librarians love their communities, their patrons, and other librarians. They love to be able to help to make all these groups better. A librarian is not going to be able to solve all the problems facing SUD in libraries, but in some small way librarians can address Substance Use Disorder.

Martha Meacham exhibiting

A version of this was originally posted on NNLM NER Associate Director Martha Meacham’s blog, here.

Categories: RML Blogs

Getting the Most from NNLM: Public Health

Tue, 2019-11-19 09:02

If you’re reading this blog, then you’re probably familiar with what NLM, NNLM and NNLM NER do.

Over the last month, I’ve spent time at public health conferences in Connecticut, Massachusetts and the national American Public Health Association Conference and had similar conversations at all three.  Although many public health partners are familiar with MedlinePlus and PubMed, a lot of them don’t know that these resources are part of a larger group of resources and services. If you work in public health or have public health partners, here are a few reminders or new ideas for how NLM and NNLM can work for you.

Databases and Online Resources

NLM creates and maintains a wide array of databases of health information ranging from information for the general public to highly specialized. You can search all NLM databases, but here is a sample of databases for public health partners:

  • AIDSource offers access to a comprehensive collection of HIV-related resources on topics including living with HIV, HIV prevention and treatment, HIV statistics and surveillance, HIV and pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP) navigation, and more, in both English and Spanish.
  • The LactMed App information about maternal and infant drug levels, possible effects on lactation and on breastfed infants, and alternative drugs to consider. You can also find this information online.
  • The Disaster Information Management Research Center (DIMRC) develops and provides access to health information resources and technology for disaster and public health emergency preparedness, response, and recovery.
  • Environmental Health and Toxicology can help you find environmental health and resources across NLM suite of databases.
  • Community Health Maps provides information about low/no cost mapping tools including case studies and projects that organizations have done using these tools.
  • Partners in Information Access for Public Health Workforce (PHPartners) is committed to helping the public health workforce find and use information effectively and includes listings for trainings, conferences, internships, jobs and more. PHPartners is a collaboration of government agencies, public health organizations and health science libraries.

Webinars and Classes

All NNLM regions create and host webinars that are free and available nationally.  Webinars and classes cover a wide variety of health, information and data management topics including some that may be of interest to public health professionals.

Search the full NNLM class catalog or find NNLM webinars that are CHES eligible.

Certified Health Education Specialist (CHES) is a certification for individuals with a bachelor’s, master’s or doctoral degree in health education or significant coursework in the field.


Funding is available to all NNLM members.  Learn more about funding opportunities and recent funded projects.

To learn more about funding from NER, attend the NNLM NER Funding Meeting on December 16 at the University of Massachusetts Medical School (Worcester, MA).  This is a chance to hear about projects that have previously been funded and connect with NER staff. Learn more about the funding meeting and to register.

Categories: RML Blogs

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