National Network of Libraries of Medicine
English Arabic Chinese (Simplified) French Hindi Japanese Korean Persian Portuguese Russian Spanish

NER News

Subscribe to NER News feed
Updated: 2 hours 2 min ago

Science Boot Camp for Librarians – Scholarship Recipient Blog Post 2

Mon, 2018-07-16 18:10

This is the second blog post in a series authored by individuals who received scholarships to attend the 2018 Science Boot Camp held at Brandeis University on June 13-15, 2018. Please watch for more posts about this event and from scholarship recipients in the upcoming weeks. Read the first post here.


Andrew Lambert
Science Boot Camp 2017 Blog Post

Hi everyone! First and foremost, I would like to extend a sincere ‘thank you’ to the Science Boot Camp committee for both selecting me as a scholarship recipient as well as their tireless effort in putting on such an enjoyable and rewarding camp at UMass Amherst.

Boot Camp was an entirely new experience for me as this was the first year I attended camp, so I’d also like to pass along my thanks to my mentor, Zac Painter, as well as my colleague at Holy Cross, Barbara Merolli, for making the experience that much more welcoming overall.

The first day started off right away with insightful tours of both the Digital Media Lab and Morrill Greenhouses at UMass Amherst. Both sites were extraordinary in what they offer the community at UMass and seeing the collaboration of both science and technology at both sites was very interesting, to say the least.

Wednesday afternoon began with an overview of Mathematics & Statistics with Adena Calden and Julie Blackwood then Britt Florio discussed the overall sustainability efforts going on with UMass dining services later in the evening. Personally, I was very pleased to hear UMass dining is focused on allocating more funds each year to local farms and producers throughout Massachusetts and New England to supply the university’s culinary needs.

Thursday was focused on Geosciences, with Isla Castaneda and Jon Woodruff, and Biomedical Research with Wilmore Webley and Michele Markstein, in the afternoon. It was a pleasure to hear these four speakers discuss what is going on now and what is expected to happen in the not-too distant future in their respective fields and in research library settings.

Friday was the capstone session focusing solely on scholarly communications and how it is shaping UMass now and moving forward. This is a field I personally have a great deal to do with on a regular basis and was glad to have the chance to hear from the four individuals from UMass’s scholarly communication office along with sitting in on breakout sessions to discuss matters further.

Once again, I would like to thank everyone involved with making Boot Camp such a fun and great experience – the planning committee, my mentor, and the rest of the camp attendees who were incredibly nice and always curious to get to know more about each other. It was a terrific experience and I’m already looking forward to Boot Camp next year.

For more about this year’s Science Bootcamp resources or other upcoming events, please visit this NNLM NER website, or contact anyone in the NNLM NER office.

Categories: RML Blogs

Stay Safe in Summer Heat

Wed, 2018-07-11 10:34

Thermometer reading 100 degrees Fahrenheit with a blue sky and bright sun background.Summer is a great time to be outside going to the beach or community events, having fun.  But with heat waves happening more often and for longer stretches of time, it’s important to stay healthy by being prepared.

Who is most at risk?

The elderly, children, people with chronic diseases such as diabetes and heart disease, and people who work outside may be at greater risk for heat related health issues.

  • NEVER leave children or pets in the car. Cars quickly heat up to dangerous temperatures even with the windows open.
  • Check on elderly family and neighbors to make sure they’re drinking enough water and staying cool.

Visit the CDC’s Protecting Vulnerable Groups from Extreme Heat page for more information.

Stay Cool, Stay Healthy:

  • Stay hydrated by drinking plenty of water. Avoid alcohol and drinks with caffeine.
  • Wear loose, lightweight, light-colored clothing.
  • Spend a few hours in air conditioning during the hottest part of the day to help manage body temperature. It’s a great reason to visit your local library.
  • If you have to be outside, take frequent breaks and rest in the shade.

Visit the Red Cross’s Heat Wave Safety page for more information.

Health risks of extreme heat:

Extreme heat can lead to heat illness which can progress to heatstroke.  Heatstroke can cause brain damage, organ failure and even death.  It’s important to know the early signs of heat illness and treat them accordingly.

Know the symptoms of heat exhaustion:

  • Muscle cramps
  • Very heavy sweating
  • Fatigue
  • Thirst
  • Headache
  • Dizziness
  • Weakness
  • Nausea and vomiting

If you or someone around you is experiencing symptoms of heat exhaustion, lie down in a cool place, apply cool clothes, and sip water.  If the person loses consciousness or starts having seizures, call 911 immediately.

Know the symptoms of heatstroke.  Heatstroke is a medical emergency; call 911 right away.

  • Fever
  • Irrational behavior
  • Extreme confusion
  • Dry, hot, and red skin
  • Rapid, shallow breathing (panting)
  • Rapid, weak pulse
  • Seizures
  • Unconsciousness

Visit MedlinePlus’s Heat Emergencies page to learn more about symptoms and treatments for heat illness.

Now that you know how to beat the heat, you’re ready to take advantage of the fun things that summer has to offer.


Categories: RML Blogs

Librarians Supporting Nursing Education and Research

Tue, 2018-07-03 11:02

Hosptial patient with surgical nurse at the bedside.On June 19, 2018, NER hosted an informational meeting for an upcoming educational series on Librarians Supporting Nursing Education and Research. Our goal is to develop webinars that meet the needs of our region. We designed this meeting to spark ideas and collect feedback. This webinar series is part of our Communities of Interest (COI) initiative to promote emerging roles for librarians.

For anyone interested in hearing our discussion, we recorded the meeting and will continue to gather input through the end of July. 

Supporting nursing education and research is not a new idea for librarians, but… anecdotally, NER is hearing that hospital librarians are experiencing steady requests from nurses even as requests from physicians decline. This observation is supported by recent literature demonstrating the need for nurses to develop Evidence-Based Practice Skills.

1: Phillips L, Neumeier M. Building Capacity for Evidence-Based Practice: Understanding How Licensed Practical Nurses (LPNs) Source Knowledge. Worldviews Evid Based Nurs. 2018 Mar 23. doi: 10.1111/wvn.12284. [Epub ahead of print] PubMed PMID: 29570938.

2: Alving BE, Christensen JB, Thrysøe L. Hospital nurses’ information retrieval behaviours in relation to evidence based nursing: a literature review. Health Info Libr J. 2018 Mar;35(1):3-23. doi: 10.1111/hir.12204. Epub 2018 Jan 12.Review. PubMed PMID: 29327483.

3: Melnyk BM, Gallagher-Ford L, Zellefrow C, Tucker S, Thomas B, Sinnott LT, Tan. The First U.S. Study on Nurses’ Evidence-Based Practice Competencies Indicates Major Deficits That Threaten Healthcare Quality, Safety, and Patient Outcomes. Worldviews Evid Based Nurs. 2018 Feb;15(1):16-25. doi: 10.1111/wvn.12269. Epub 2017 Dec 26. PubMed PMID: 29278664.

4: Gard Marshall J, Morgan J, Klem ML, Thompson C, Wells A. The Value of Library and Information Services in Nursing and Patient Care. Online J Issues Nurs. 2014  Aug 18;19(3):8. PubMed PMID: 26824156.

Nursing Education and Research Topics

Here are some of the topics generated during meeting. Please contact us with any additional ideas, or to advocate for learning more about supporting nurses with any of the listed topics:

Nursing Protocol/Policy; Unit-Based Practice; Clinical Ladder Advancement; Patient Satisfaction; RN Residency Programs; Magnet Accreditation;  Online Nursing Degrees; Practice and Research Councils; Evidence-Based Nursing; Nursing Research; Health Literacy; Consumer Health Resources; Discharge Planning; Dedicated Education Unit; Nursing Point-of-Care Tools; CE Modules; Teaching Videos (nurses and patients); Quality Improvement; Scholarly Writing; RN-to-BSN; MSN and LPNs Back-to-School.

Categories: RML Blogs

Science Boot Camp 2018 – Scholarship Recipient Blog Post 1

Tue, 2018-07-03 10:38

This is the first blog post in a series authored by individuals who received scholarships to attend the 2018 Science Boot Camp held at Brandeis University. Please watch for more posts about this event and from scholarship recipients in the upcoming weeks.


Kelsey Gibson – Simmons Graduate Student – Science Bootcamp for Librarians 2018

On June 12 I hopped in my car and drove just about five hours from Vermont down to Brandeis. Science Bootcamp had been on my radar for months but for some reason I still felt a little surprised that I was actually going. The scholarships given out by the planning committee offer a fantastic opportunity for LIS students. In my experience as an online student it is all too easy to feel isolated from the professional community and even other students. At Bootcamp, I made connections with other students and librarians that will serve me well as I finish my degree and move into the job search.

I attended the Wednesday morning activity and learned how to solder circuit cards in the Brandeis Maker Lab. The solder workshop was one of my favorite parts of Bootcamp, hands on learning and being able to make something (and it actually worked!) is incredibly satisfying.

This year’s topics were Ecology, Genetic Counseling, and Materials Science. Seth Fraden, the Brandeis physics professor used an analogy in the materials science lecture that has stuck with me: “Right now we plant seeds to grow trees to make lumber to build houses. I want to plant a seed and grow a house. That’s what materials science is about” (not an exact quote). All of the lectures excited me about the future of science and what these fields are doing and what it will mean for the next generations. The overall Bootcamp affect has me excited to continue my pursuits in librarianship and I want more than ever to work with the sciences and participate in the research process.

Although I was not very familiar with any of the lecture topics, I had heard of Retraction Watch, the topic of the evening lecture. Retraction Watch was particularly interesting for a group of librarians, demonstrating the impact that a well curated database has on research. A database of retractions is particularly important given the impact that erroneous or falsified data can have. If you want to consider the effects of a poorly done retraction, just look at the mess caused by the anti-vaccination “research.”

The Friday morning capstone session, on evaluating journals and data built on the Retraction Watch talk and taught us tools to determine which journals are more reliable, something most every librarian will take on at some point in their career.

On Thursday night we celebrated the 10th year of Science Bootcamp, complete with speeches and lots of pictures of Bootcamps past. The evening was lovely and casual and I hung out with my mentor and chatted with so many people about their experiences in librarianship and life. The lectures may be the “point” of Bootcamp, but connecting with other people who love their work and this profession is what makes Bootcamp a truly special experience.

I have to thank the Planning Committee and my lovely mentor, Ellen Lutz, for all the work they put in to make Bootcamp what it is.


The Official Duck of Science Bootcamp, currently living on my bookshelf.


For more about this Science Bootcamp or upcoming event, please visit this year’s website, or contact anyone in the NNLM NER office.

Categories: RML Blogs

10th Anniversary of the New England Science Boot Camp for Librarians

Tue, 2018-07-03 10:31

This is the introductory blog post in a series about the 2018 Science Boot Camp for Librarians held at Brandeis University on June 13-15, 2018. In the next few weeks we will feature several individual’s reflections of the science boot camp. These are authored by people who received scholarships to attend the 2018 Science Boot Camp. 2018 marks the 10th anniversary of this amazing event. This year’s topics featured ecology, genetics, and materials science. Over the past 10 years33 different science topics have been featured and 10 different capstone presentations have been given. This year’s capstone featured how to evaluate the quality of journals and data sets. Over the last 10 years there have been about 564 attendees, 39 organizers, and over 25 scholarships granted to new librarians. Bootcamp has shown to be a good economical way to meet people, learn new ideas, and have fun. If you were not able to attend, information about this year’s educational topics, capstone, dinner talk about retraction, and prior years videos can be found in the Resource Section of Science Boot Camp web page

We hope to see you next year!

Categories: RML Blogs

Learn to Cope First Annual Conference

Mon, 2018-07-02 16:06

Massachusetts Governor Charile Baker provides a video welcome to those at the First Annual Learn to Cope Conference




Pillman: Exhibit built with all of the prescription medication bottles formerly used by a man now in recovery







They say knowledge is power. From what I saw and heard at the first annual Learn to Cope ( Conference for families struggling with addiction on June 16th, I certainly came away from the conference empowered with a clearer understanding of addiction as a brain disease that is complex to prevent, as well as treat.

Saturday, June 16th was a picture perfect, summer Saturday on the campus of Worcester Polytechnic Institute in Worcester, MA. Although substance use disorder has touched my personal and professional life in a couple of pretty big ways, I really wished that I was spending my Saturday in my garden, instead of cooped up indoors hearing about the sadness and pain caused by substance use disorder.

Joanne Person is the Founder and Executive Director of Learn to Cope (LTC), a non-profit peer-led support network that she founded in 2004. LTC was designed by Joanne to bring messages of prevention, education, awareness and advocacy to members (of which LTC has over 10,000 involved in 25 chapters throughout Massachusetts). LTC is funded by the Massachusetts Department of Public Health and has grown to have a full staff who collaborate with communities across the state to assist with efforts to combat the opioid epidemic.

The conference was structured with alternating keynote speakers, several of whom were nationally known – for example Matt Murphy and Joe Rannazzisi, the former DEA Agents recently featured on the television news program 60 Minutes ( and breakout sessions with topics that were very relevant such as:

  • Understanding the Physiology of Substance Use
  • Navigating Insurance, Legal Implications, and Protecting Assets
  • Understanding the Laws and Navigating the Criminal Justice System (Drug Courts)
  • Family Changes and Dynamics
  • Treatment and Continuum of Care

Dr. Andrew Kolodny, the Co-Director of Opioid Policy Research at the Heller School for Social Policy and Management and Executive Director of Physicians for Responsible Opioid Prescribing was also a Keynote Speaker. I have left out the mention of several other powerful speakers in order to keep this post brief. If you are interested in seeing everyone all who participated, take a look at the conference link (

Before I knew it, it was time for lunch and I was less focused on what I was missing by not being outside;  instead I felt grateful that I was able to attend such a valuable conference with expert speakers and session leaders. Kindness, compassion and empathy by all who were part of this conference was almost tangible. There was a definite sense that we are “all in this together” and we will solve this health crisis by sharing our knowledge,  thereby gaining strength and power over this disease of addiction.

Did you know that the National Library of Medicine has many helpful Substance Use Disorder online resources? You can access them at this link (

Categories: RML Blogs

How Do You Maintain Science Learning While on Summer Break? Citizen Science

Mon, 2018-06-25 14:27

With summer break on the horizon, the question becomes what can I do with my kids that is entertaining and keeps their curiosity?  The answer is citizen science.

This is where data collection and/or analysis is distributed to members of the public –  kids, adults – collect the data.  Or on rainy days, data, such as images of space, are made available to the public and you can be the scientist and analyze it.  From a data perspective, citizen scientist information is useful for gathering observational data in many locations at the same time or for performing pattern analysis.

There are many projects:

If you want to stay local or are going on a trip you can still be a citizen scientist. The great news is these activities can be done anywhere by anyone so there is no reason for the kids to say “I’m bored” instead have them be a citizen scientist for a day, a week or for the summer.

Categories: RML Blogs

Graphic Medicine and LGBTQ Health

Mon, 2018-06-18 11:01

Learning about a new health topic can be hard.  It can feel overwhelming and impersonal.  But Graphic Medicine can help.

Graphic Medicine is comic books and graphic novels that tell personal stories of health and wellness.  The visual format makes the information easier to understand and digest.  By reading the author or illustrator’s personal story, we can learn about issues we may not have experienced personally.  These stories can also help us feel less alone in our own lives.

The Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans*, Queer/Questioning (LGBTQ) Community includes a wide diversity of people and experiences.  LGBTQ themed graphic novels provide glimpses into people’s lives allowing the reader to feel connected and learn about individuals that make up the larger rainbow community.

In honor of Pride Month, here are a few LGBTQ themed graphic novels to check out:

  • Fun Home by Alison Bechdel-Bechdel tells the story of her relationship to her closeted father and how it influenced and was influenced by her own coming out in late adolescence. Fun Home is available as a book club kit from NNLM-NER. Request it here
  • First Year Out: A Transition Story by Sabrina Symington-Based on Symington’s own experiences, First Year Out takes the reader through the physical, mental and emotional journey of transition including coming out, voice training, dating, hormones and more.
  • Snapshots of a Girl by Beldan Sezen-Through short scenes, Sezen’s autobiographical graphic novel touches on coming of age and coming out as lesbian while navigating western and Islamic cultures.

Visit the MedlinePlus Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, and Transgender Health page for more information on LGBTQ Health.

And to learn more about Graphic Medicine visit 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

Bigelow Free Library hosts “For All the People” Exhibit

Sat, 2018-06-09 12:12
This editorial cartoon supports compulsory health insurance to protect workers from losing their livelihoods due to sickness.

“Protected,” American Labor Legislation Review, 1919 Courtesy National Library of Medicine

On June 7, I headed north on Route 70 to visit the Bigelow Free Library in Clinton, MA.  The drive through rural Central Massachusetts is pretty–farms and green, open space. When I arrived, Library Director Marie Mueller greeted me and walked me downstairs to the “For All of the People” exhibit. Marie is actively promoting health-related programming at her small library. A recipient of LSTA’s Framework for Health Literacy award, Bigelow Free Library is making a push to raise awareness of the public library’s role in health literacy.

This spring, Bigelow Free Library offered a diabetes self-management series for Spanish speakers, hosted off-site by nearby Clinton Hospital. For the summer, the library offers a weekly walking program in an adjacent park with a monthly “Walk with a Doc”. Participants have an opportunity to walk and talk with a doctor. For an at-home learning opportunity, the library website features a link to a recent PLA podcast on health literacy.

I met Marie virtually when she participated in NNLM NER’s Community Health Engagement COI. Glad for the opportunity to visit her library, I am impressed with everything she is doing.

For All the People

The National Library of Medicine (NLM) administers a traveling exhibition program. These exhibitions run the gamut from forensic medicine to intoxicants to Harry Potter. The “For All the People” exhibit takes us through the history of the health care reform debate. The publicly visible part of the exhibit is several banners for display. NLM provides lesson plans and a bibliography for programming ideas.

The first banner takes us to the early 20th century, when labor unions and the Urban League raised concerns about high rates of accidents, disease and infant mortality. Moving into the 1920’s, the next banner focuses on citizen groups partnering with doctors and nurses to bring health care into the community. The next banner highlights activist groups, such as the Black Panthers and farm workers organizations, that opened clinics and food pantries in their neighborhoods. The feminist health movement (anyone remember Our Bodies, Ourselves?) and AIDS activists are featured on another banner. The exhibit concludes with a banner on the 21st century conflicts over the Affordable Care Act and the controversy surrounding delayed care at the Veterans Health Administration hospitals.

If you are traveling through Central Massachusetts, I encourage you to stop into the Bigelow Free Library (54 Walnut Street, Clinton, MA 01510). The library is open Tue-Sat. The exhibit will be up until July 15. Please check the website for hours and updated information.

To learn more about NLM’s Traveling Exhibitions, please check the History of Medicine webpage.



Categories: RML Blogs

Meet NNLM NER & All of Us at ALA 2018

Thu, 2018-06-07 13:59

Hello New England Librarians!

Catherine Martin PhotoPlease join Catherine Martin, the Community Education Coordinator for the All of Us Research Program, during the American Library Association Conference in New Orleans, June 21-26, 2018.  Schedules will be quite busy, so the best way to meet up and share potential plans for community engagement at your library will be to schedule a time directly with Catherine. You can reach Catherine at and find her at the conference. You can also connect with any of our other coordinators anytime  We look forward to our future connection!!

Categories: RML Blogs

Funded Project Spotlight: The Center for Cartoon Studies

Tue, 2018-06-05 13:12

This post highlights one of the NNLM NER funding projects during 2018-2019. To learn more about our funding, as well as current and past projects visit

Project Title: Comics and Medicine 2018 Conference
Organization: The Center for Cartoon Studies
Contact: James Sturm, Director of the Center for Cartoon Studies

The Comics and Medicine 2018 Conference seeks to engage health providers, health information professionals, artists, academics and members of the local community in the use of comics as a resource to provide accessible health information and communicate health-related experiences. This year’s conference theme is “The Ways We Work” and will offer panel discussions and oral presentations on the ways that graphic medicine is being practiced by teachers, librarians, healthcare professionals and artists. Proposed workshops will focus on visual literacy, teaching, and contemplative practices. The conference will also host the National Library of Medicine’s traveling graphic medicine, Ill Conceived and Well Drawn.

In keeping with the organizer’s values of inclusiveness and diversity many of the conference events, including all three keynote speakers, will be free and open to the public. In addition, a special conference rate for artists and students will be offered. Finally, a unique “Comics Marketplace” will allow multiple modes for participants to explore comics as a resource and medium for promoting conversations and information about health experiences.

Learn more about the Center for Cartoon Studies, the Comics and Medicine Conference,  the NLM’s Graphic Medicine Exhibit, and the NNLM NER’s Graphic Medicine Book Club Kits.

Categories: RML Blogs

CNN Looks at the Best and Worst Cities for the Differently-abled

Mon, 2018-06-04 16:06

Kamau learns what it’s  like to be blind


She is a top model and has muscular dystrophy


Reducing Health Disparities Among VIPs and Other Minority Groups was the title of the NNLM NER funded grant project implemented by Visions Consulting in Year 1. Visually-impaired attorney, Liz Myska and business partner Jack Peacock are Visions Consulting, an organization dedicated to improving the interactions between those differently-abled and those in the community. Visions Consulting provides insight, consulting services and technology to organizations to address the needs of the visually impaired, hearing impaired and those with mobility challenges. Visions’ goal is to eliminate social, physical and logistical barriers for those with challenges in our communities. As you can imagine, offering this type of consulting services  necessitates a thorough understanding of community resources that comes from being well-connected in the community. Liz is a busy woman because she is so well-connected in the Worcester community.  Liz shares her time and expertise on many community councils and boards, like the Worcester Council on Disabilities, Community Health Improvement Plan, and as a Trustee of Tower Hill Botanic Garden, just to name a few.

Last fall, when Worcester, Massachusetts was ranked as one of the worst cities in the country for the disabled (, CNN and Kamau Bell found their way to Worcester, MA and to Liz to get her thoughts on this ranking for an episode of CNN’s  United Shades of America. ‘United Shades of America’ follows comedian and political provocateur W. Kamau Bell as he explores communities across America to understand the unique challenges they face. The show on the best and worst cities for the disabled, featuring Liz, aired on May 20th. I recently watched the episode and I was very impressed with the depth, humor and the number of issues the hour-long episode addressed.  I was pleasantly surprised about how uplifting I found the show.  It made me feel good, while at the same time, I learned a lot about the physical, emotional and societal barriers those who are differently-abled deal with constantly. You will be touched by the strength of the differently-abled community that exists across our country, many of whom are using their strengths and talents every day to make our communities more inclusive.

Here’s the 1-minute and 16 second episode teaser that CNN has available:

Here’s a link to the entire show; it has advertisements embedded in it.  Liz has a total of about 3 minutes in the entire show, so watch this to the end.

If you are interested in other episodes of United Shades of America,

Categories: RML Blogs

Thoughts from PULSECHECK: Innovation Leader Event “Transforming Healthcare”

Tue, 2018-05-29 10:36

This past week the innovation accelerator Pulse, a part of Mass Challenge, hosted an event with Innovation Leader about transforming healthcare. The Pulse accelerator is start up friendly health lab where entrepreneurs are connected to experts, institutions, and resources.

Our health care system is facing serious issues, as can be determined from the news and maybe even your own experience. In one session we were encouraged to not accept the healthcare insurance norms and examine why we follow the established procedure. This made me wonder with all this information flowing and gathering why librarians are not more involved in this potential opportunity to further advocate our services. We are the experts at finding authoritative, verifiable information. This was an opportunity to showcase we are a valuable service. This event focused on innovation. Many new entrepreneurs are showcasing their ideas and looking for ideas on how to overcome challenges. Many of the inventions involved linking devices and apps to information. Librarianship is changing, instead of just relying on the established norms of librarianship where the patron comes in to ask the question why not go out to where the patrons are?   The more I chatted with people they were familiar with the National Library of Medicines PubMed database, but then I would mention a specific resource that was also available and pertinent to their start up, such as ToxNet, LactMed, Health Reach, the Drug Information Portal, and get the response “I didn’t think of that what a great idea.”

At the end only did I pass out cards about information sources available I had people on their phones taking pictures of the NNLM NER information (since digital images are sometimes easier to find than paper) that explain our mission, resources, grant and funding opportunities and free training and classes. This seemed to be an effective strategy to showcase the Libraries worth and be there to answer a few reference questions and give potential patrons new ideas to solve problems/ empower learners.

Categories: RML Blogs

2018 NACCHO Preparedness Summit Round-Up

Fri, 2018-05-18 15:07

The 2018 NACCHO Preparedness Summit (April 17-20, 2018-Atlanta, GA) was my first chance to tell people about the emergency preparedness resources available from NLM including DIMRC and MedlinePlus.

  1. Check out the Disaster Information Management Research Center (DIMRC) to find resources for preparedness professionals, community organizations and the general public on preparing your community and your family for natural and man-made disasters.
  2. MedlinePlus has health information in plain language, including information on disaster preparedness for families and communities.

I also got to hear about free resources available from organizations across the US.

  1. Do you need to find a way to collaborate across departments? Or between organizations? Let Mesa County, CO teach you how to use FREE Google tools to do everything from mapping and tracking resources to putting up a website.  Learn more on their interactive Google site.
  2. Do you live in a rural area and want to help your community plan for disaster recovery? Check out the toolkit created by the Texas Chapter of Planners4Health (a project of the American Planners Association).  The toolkit lays out best practices for bringing rural communities together after an emergency to help in the recovery.
  3. Do you work with older adults? Do you want to help them prepare for emergencies?  Check out the interactive toolkit from the RAND Cooperation to find out how your organization can help prepare older adults for emergencies and help make them more resilient.

Before joining NNLM-NER in February, I worked for the Philadelphia Department of Public Health on public health preparedness projects including teaching people how to prepare themselves and their families for emergencies. It was great to be able to bridge my past in public health preparedness and present with NNLM-NER by meeting folks at the 2018 NACCHO Preparedness Summit.  And I’m looking forward to continuing to bring NLM and NNLM resources to public health and preparedness professionals.

Categories: RML Blogs

Community Questions: Spring Allergies, Lyme Disease, Natural Remedies

Mon, 2018-05-14 12:45

Last week, I met with staff at the Cambridge Economic Opportunity Committee (CEOC) for a MedlinePlus training. CEOC is an anti-poverty agency which seeks to “empower people and mobilize resources to fight poverty’s causes and impacts through education and organizing.” My goal was to share information about freely available health information resources for 1) personal staff use and 2) raise awareness of a possible resource for the greater community.

City sidewalk

Central Square, Cambridge MA

I began the training with an overview of MedlinePlus and the advantages of this website over commercially sponsored websites. I used slides to go through a compare-and-contrast exercise. Next, I pulled up MedlinePlus and asked the staff for health topics.

The first topic was seasonal allergies. Not surprising. Many of us were sniffling as pollen wafted through the lovely spring air. We explored the Allergy Health Topics page. I demonstrated toggling between the English and Spanish language versions. We looked at allergy triggers (did you know that Asian ladybugs are a trigger for allergies?), and allergy treatments. We talked about the increasing acceptance of using neti pots as a treatment protocol for allergies. We reviewed an antihistamine drug comparison chart from Consumer Reports.

We turned to the topic of Lyme disease, and looked at images of the telltale rash. We reviewed the best ways of removing ticks. We skimmed information from the CDC on post-treatment Lyme disease syndrome. This led to a discussion on natural remedies.

We talked about scientific evidence for natural remedies. Chiropractic, acupuncture and massage therapy are relatively safe methods of supporting your body in healing. I cautioned against the use of herbs, vitamins, and supplements without checking on potential interactions with medications. We took a look at resources available in MedlinePlus, including links to the National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health (NCCIH).

One staff member stumped me on a question about traditional medicine from her country of origin. I promised the group that I would use the subscription database Natural Medicines for further investigation.

Natural Medicines

The remedy is moringa, a plant grown in Asia, Africa and South America. Neither MedlinePlus nor NCCIH have entries on moringa. My search in Google brought up hits from Wikipedia, WebMD, Medical News Today and a host of marketers for natural remedies. I explained to the group that I’d rather consult an evidence-based subscription database before I shared any information about this remedy.

Natural Medicines is my favorite subscription database. Here’s what I learned about moringa: traditionally, moringa is used for anemia, arthritis, asthma, cancer, diabetes, digestive disorders, headaches, heart problems, and reproductive issues. Moringa is applied to the skin for infections and injuries. As food, the seed pods are prepared like green beans and the leaves like spinach. When eaten as food, moringa is likely safe. Root extracts are possibly unsafe. Moringa interacts with drugs for hypothyroidism, liver disease, diabetes, and high blood pressure. Pregnant and breastfeeding women should be cautious. Specifics are listed in the Natural Medicines monograph.

As this level of information is not freely available on the internet, I promote the use of libraries as a way to access this information without a subscription fee. Contact us to learn more.

Categories: RML Blogs

Trends in Adult Learning

Tue, 2018-05-01 12:13


Are you a student or a teacher? My answer is I am both.

Even if you are an educator in a K-12 school, college or a university, I bet you also spend a portion of your time wearing the hat of a student.  Most of us experience being a student because our jobs require us to receive additional training or offer to us opportunities to learn new skills.

Recently I have been researching what’s new in education to give me a foundation as I begin to develop a Communities of Interest program in Instructional Design.  Here’s what I’ve learned are the current trends for adult learning.

  • Learning anytime, anywhere 

Online, mobile learning that is social provides learning opportunities through interaction and collaboration. Document sharing, blogging and video are allowing students to learn from each other and the instructors take on the roles of facilitators, rather than the traditional “teacher” role.  Online, mobile learning gives students flexibility as courses may be available on-demand or be self-paced. Course flexibility also gives students options to learn within a span of time that works with their schedule.

  • Personalized learning

Online learning provides the ability to tailor the content of information to the needs of the student. Learning can be personalized through technology like academic analytics and facial coding built into some online learning environments. Adaptive learning systems and platforms that give real-time assessment provides immediate feedback to the student about their retention of material.  Students have the ability to control the pace of their learning too.

  • AI, VR, AR

Artificial intelligence (AI), virtual reality (VR) and augmented reality (AR) interfaces and applications are giving students a more complete learning experience. Learning is moving from being static to being dynamic and immersive. For example, instead of learning about the circulatory system through a diagram in a textbook, students can experience the heart beating through an AR-supported device that enables visualization.

  • Classrooms, playrooms, unbundled education

Freelancing is on the rise. Design thinking, entrepreneurship and innovation are qualities employers are looking for.  Students are using physical places such as “makerspaces” where they have the space and time to learn through playing, building and discovery. Makerspaces are collaborative learning spaces where students come together to share materials and learn new skills. Some students are using problem solving as a method of learning that provides education across a variety of subjects.  As students learn to solve problems, they are thinking critically and creatively, as well as gaining essential communication and collaboration skills.

  • School-business collaboration and employer partnerships

Educators are realizing their business communities offer some great resources students can use for real-world experience. When schools align learning opportunities based on input from the business community they are providing students with needed skills and ensuring that companies will have a workforce that is prepared for these jobs. School business partnerships can also provide the re-training for workers who need updated skills. Schools and businesses working together is a win-win for both.

In closing, the following quotes from Sandy Shugart, President of Valencia College sums up what many of these current trends will accomplish. “There is no reason any human can’t learn anything,” says Shugart as he stressed the need for educators, entrepreneurs and investors to stop classifying people based on their perceived ability. A successful learning experience occurs when the focus is on the learner and their experience. “Rather than trying to figure out who will succeed and who won’t, now we ask, what are the right conditions for each learner to succeed?”

I used the following articles for the information provided in this post:

Categories: RML Blogs

Everett Haitian Community Center hosts Panel Discussion

Sat, 2018-04-28 10:01

On a rainy Sunday afternoon, I pulled my rolly luggage into a church basement on the Everett/Chelsea line in Massachusetts. I had MedlinePlus materials, printouts from HealthReach, laptop, iPhone and my National Library of Medicine table cover. I heard the congregation singing in the chapel upstairs. Our Lady of Grace celebrates Mass in Haitian Creole on Sundays at 12:30pm. On this day, the Everett Haitian Community Center (EHCC) hosted a panel discussion on legal rights and responsibilities for those with Temporary Protected Status, and the impacts of stress on mental and physical health. All members of the panel focused on telling the congregation where they could access free, reliable assistance. An interpreter translated all comments into Haitian Creole.

People seated at a table in a church basement.

Panel Discussion at Our Lady of Grace Church

The discussion was moderated by EHCC’s Reverend Myrlande DesRosiers and was interpreted by Kam Sylveste. Father James Barry welcomed us to Our Lady of Grace, and Everett City Councilor Michael McLaughlin reiterated Fr. Barry’s sentiment that we all are learning from each other at this event.  Boston City Councilor Ayanna Pressley spoke of her commitment to those living with uncertainty. Temporary Protective Status (TPS) ends for Haitians on July 22, 2019.

Sabrineh Ardalan, Professor at Harvard Law School, warned the congregation about immigration scams. She urged everyone to contact the Harvard Immigration and Refugee Clinical Program for referrals to reliable immigration lawyers. Alex Prie, Coordinator of Somerville’s Immigrant Providers Group, spoke about available health care services. He acknowledged the impacts of stress on mental and physical health. I spoke about accessing health information in English, French and Haitian Creole from MedlinePlus. I demonstrated how to use MedlinePlus on a laptop and a phone. MedlinePlus draws most of its multilingual materials from HealthReach. In addition, I talked about the role of public libraries in assisting those without computer or internet access.

After the panel discussion, I distributed bilingual stress-related health information. I located these topics in HealthReach: violence in the home, suicide prevention, asthma triggers, diabetes management, and the benefits of exercise and mindfulness meditation.


The website is available in English and Spanish. For other languages, MedlinePlus taps into HealthReach. Developed by the National Library of Medicine, HealthReach collects print and video resources from U.S. Federal and state government agencies, as well as from major national organizations such as the World Health Organization. HealthReach works to identify materials created by hospitals, clinics, community health centers, and voluntary organizations who serve people with limited English proficiency. Many of the materials are bilingual. The English-language versions are easy-to-read.

Community-based organizations and health care centers might be interested in submitting translated health print materials and/or videos. HealthReach will want to know the copyright status, type of resource and contact information. Please email HealthReach with any questions about submission.

HealthReach will be discontinuing the “Provider Information” materials due to low usage.


Categories: RML Blogs

All of Us Research Program – Ready to Launch Nationally on May 6

Tue, 2018-04-24 08:31

The National Network of Libraries of Medicine is excited to announce the All of Us Research Program official launch on Sunday, May 6, 2018.  This national event will be held in seven communities throughout the United States and will be broadcast via this website and on Facebook Live.

The All of Us Research Program is a historic effort to gather data from one million or more people living in the United States to accelerate research and improve health. The programs goals are to develop a more effective way to treat diseases and to provide individualized healthcare.  It considers individual differences in lifestyle, environment and biology.  This research program is a key element of the NIH Precision Medicine Initiative.

Additional information about this Program is available through the All of Us Research Program website. Program information is available to download in English and Spanish. NNLM Network Members can learn how they can get involved at a webinar on April 30th at 2pm Eastern Time.

For more information or if you have questions please reach out to the NER All of Us Research Program Coordinator, Catherine Martin – .

Categories: RML Blogs


Tue, 2018-04-17 12:11




Any guesses on what the 2017 “Word of the Year” was?

It was actually a term, not a word. The term was “Fake news.”

Just 18 months ago this term was not familiar to most of us. However, “fake news” has become a very important topic to all of us. According to a recent article written by The Telegraph (April 7, 2018)  “fake news” is considered “one of the greatest threats to democracy, free debate and Western order.”

This blog post is not about current events or politics, however, it is about the importance of knowing how to evaluate the credibility of online information. Our focus here at the NER is health and medical information.  NLM offers some useful tools that you can use to evaluate online health information.  Although health information is the theme of this article, the information presented can be applied as you evaluate other online information, regardless of the subject.

MedlinePlus offers a valuable tutorial about how to evaluate online health information. . You can click on the link you can use the search box at the MedlinePlus home page , just type  “Evaluating Online Health Information” in the search box.

MedlinePlus Guide to Healthy Web Surfing

MedlinePlus provides a detailed guide to evaluate the credibility of a web site

The key points from the guide are:

  • Consider the source — Use recognized authorities –

Know who is responsible for the content. This information is often on the “about us” page, or it may be under the organization’s mission statement, or part of the annual report.

  • Focus on quality–All web sites are not created equal

Does the site have an editorial board? Is the information reviewed before it is posted?

  • Be a cyberskeptic–Quackery abounds on the Web

Does the site make health claims that seem too good to be true? Does the information use deliberately obscure, “scientific” sounding language? Does it promise quick, dramatic, miraculous               results? Is this the only site making these claims?

  • Look for the evidence–Rely on medical research, not opinion

Does the site identify the author? Does it rely on testimonials?

  • Check for currency–Look for the latest information

Is the information current? Look for dates on documents.

  • Beware of bias–What is the purpose? Who is providing the funding?

Who pays for the site?

  • Protect your privacy–Health information should be confidential

Does the site have a privacy policy and tells you what information they collect?

Trust It or Trash It Tool

I find that The Trust It or Trash tool (  is very helpful because I can print out the .pdf file and have beside me as I read and evaluate the credibility of information.

In addition to providing several useful tools to help you become a critical consumer of online health information, here are some additional reasons why you should consider getting your health information from MedlinePlus:

  • Does not include any advertising.
  • Does not ask for your personal information in order to use the website.
  • Provides easy search access, use either the search box or search by health topic.
  • Presents information in a variety of formats, such as videos and podcasts.
  • Provides information written by experts, updated regularly and is peer reviewed.
Categories: RML Blogs

Recreational Marijuana and Impact on Driving

Tue, 2018-04-10 09:15

On the day that the Massachusetts Cannabis Control Commission began accepting applications for Registered Marijuana Dispensaries, UMass Amherst hosted a symposium entitled Marijuana Legalized: Research, Practice and Policy Considerations. The School of Public Health and Health Sciences invited Darrin Grondel, Director of Washington (State) Traffic Safety Commission, to speak about the impacts of legalized recreational marijuana on driving. Washington State legalized recreational marijuana in 2014. Grondel’s message is that drugged driving is difficult to manage. Standard field sobriety tests are inadequate, and warrants for blood draws are time-consuming. Marijuana products are incredibly diverse, and the physiological consequences of using those products is not clearly understood. Social acceptance of driving-while-high is troubling. Public health advocates need to dispute the idea that stoned drivers are safe drivers.

Man at podium and four seated panelists.

UMass Amherst SPHHS Symposium, April 2

What does the research say about marijuana and driving? Read the Marijuana Research Reports from the National Institute on Drug Abuse.

Check the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration for press releases on the impact of impaired driving.

To learn more about the Advanced Roadside Impaired Driving Enforcement Program (ARIDE), the Drug Recognition Expert Program and other training programs for police officers, check the Massachusetts Highway Safety Division.

For fantastic resources to share with your community (slide decks, downloadable infographs) take a look at the Governors Highway Safety Association’s guide on Drug-Impaired Driving.

Massachusetts will allow sales of recreational marijuana starting on July 1, 2018. New England will be watching as the Bay State makes the first move in this direction.

Map of the United States indicating marijuana possession and use laws state-by-state.

Marijuana Possession and Use Laws



Categories: RML Blogs