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Updated: 27 min 26 sec ago

Farewell from Allison Herrera

Tue, 2017-08-15 09:17


Hello New England Region,

Thank you for the congratulations. This is my last week at UMass Medical School. Working with the NNLM New England Region office, and previously with the NNLM National Public Health Coordination office, has been absolutely wonderful. I’m going to miss everyone and I’m grateful that I got to know y’all. (I’m from Texas, if you didn’t know!)

In the last year my work with NER has been varied and exciting. We’ve accomplished quite a bit through unexpected challenges! My projects involved technology, communications, user experience, website design, virtual reality, and outreach as well. I’m happy to say that our communications and back-end technology initiatives have been going very well and grew incredibly quickly. We launched our new website, our new newsletter, and revamped our social media, such as our Twitter. We started new data analysis that allowed us to create data visualizations that helped inform our decision making processes. We’ve used open communication channels and usability testing to hear more from our members about how we can better serve you as a New England Region and created better experiences form this feedback.

If you aren’t familiar with the NER team, please reach out or get connected with them. Everyone in the team is bright and has exceptional strengths. You still have a window of opportunity to apply to join this team.

Categories: RML Blogs

Science Boot Camp 2017 – Scholarship Recipient Blog Post 1

Mon, 2017-08-14 07:55

This is the first blog post in a series authored by individuals who received scholarships to attend the 2017 Science Boot Camp held at the University of Massachusetts – Amherst on June 14-16, 2017. Please watch for more posts about this event and from scholarship recipients in the upcoming weeks.


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.

— Andrew Lambert —


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

Categories: RML Blogs

Resources for Back to School – NLM’s Online Playground

Wed, 2017-08-09 09:37

When I was a teacher, the days leading up to the end of August would cause me to experience a range of emotions. Knowing that the freedom of the summer would soon be over, made me sad. Conversely, anticipation about new opportunities for learning, new students and colleagues to get to know, and having a shiny classroom and brand new supplies would make me excited. In my current position as an Education and Outreach Coordinator for the New England Region of the NNLM, I am excited to share some educational resources from NLM that are very useful, in or out of the classroom.

Whether you are an educator, teacher, student or parent, there are free NLM resources that can foster learning of all kinds and for all ages. This post will focus on a few key resources for K-12 learning.

The current topics of “Fake News,” and “Alernative Facts” that have become part of our present-day vocabulary provide an opportunity to promote the use of NLM resources as a productive way to begin learning about a new topic, and a smart way to start a research project. NLM resources are trusted resources because they are written by experts, the information presented is peer-reviewed, NLM sites are updated on a regular basis, and advertising is not allowed on any NLM resource.

The MedlinePlus website, which is collaborative effort from the U.S. National Library of Medicine and the National Institutes of Health, offers information about 750 health topics, a dictionary, medical encyclopedia, news, and directories to find physicians. MedlinePlus is written in simple language, for a consumer audience.  Each page of the website is translated into Spanish and depending on the page, there are an additional 40 languages that the information is translated into.

If you are looking to teach students about how to evaluate online health information, MedlinePlus offers a helpful tutorial about what to consider. Many high school and post-secondary classes that use internet resources may find a MedlinePlus tutorial on website evaluation a valuable first step in the process of learning about a specific health or medical topic. The information provided in the tutorial is presented in different formats. The tutorial can be viewed and heard as a video  or accessed in written format,, MedlinePlus also offers a link to a useful website evaluation tool called “Trust it or Trash it” that can be printed as a handout and used as part of a lesson on how to evaluate internet websites. There is also an abbreviated version of the tutorial, that could be used as a review tool for students already familiar with this information.  MedlinePlus has a Children’s page ttps:// and a Teen Page  Medline offers topics that are related, and links to additional information on its pages.  Both the subject matter and language used is age appropriate.

PubMed,, NLM’s most well-known product, is a database of indexed citations and abstracts to medical, nursing, dental, veterinary, health care and preclinical sciences journal articles. PubMed is an excellent resource for high school juniors and seniors to locate articles for research about medical topics, especially if they are taking AP classes or if they plan to pursue a post-secondary education in any of the health sciences. PubMed through its tutorials, can also teach students how to start a health-related research project. Some of the articles from a PubMed search may cost money to access.  However, an alternative that can be used to locate free, full-text articles on topics, is PubMed Central  Another PubMed product, PubMed Health, is a great place to locate information about “hot topics” of interest to teens, such as obesity and mental health.  When PubMed Health highlights a news article, it also provides the source of the news story, what type of research was conducted, whether the research involved animals or humans, and a summary of the research results. PubMed Health has useful resource, England’s Behind the Headlines service from the National Health Service, that contains a section about how to read health news critically.

As a new school year begins, consider sharing these helpful, educational resources with your favorite teacher or student. Those of us who provide education and training for the NNLM NER are available to provide your organization with training for any of the resources we offer.

Categories: RML Blogs

The Making of Medicinal Flora of Massachusetts an exhibit

Wed, 2017-08-09 08:32

TLDR: Medicinal Flora of Massachusetts an exhibit at Lamar Soutter Library from August 1-Septmeber 30. As part of the exhibit, Dayne Laskey from the University of Saint Joseph School of Pharmacy will be presenting “The Medicine Garden: Bioactive plants of the past, present, and future” at UMass Medical on August 22.

Wouldn’t it be great if we had medicinal plants in the medical library, was the thought that crossed my mind before I created a proposal to host a medicinal plant exhibit at the Lamar Soutter Library. The Library provides a unique exhibition space frequented by the Worcester medical community and biomedical researchers as well as members of the public. I have a background in botany and a keen interest in medicinal plants in particular. Having recently moved to the area, I saw the exhibit as a great opportunity to familiarize myself with the local flora while gaining further project management, event marketing, research, and networking experience. Through the exhibit, I have expanded the library’s network of outreach partners and collaborators by reaching out to local organizations to gather materials for the exhibit. The exhibit also showcases our holdings, provides a unique and innovation educational resource to the UMass Medical School community and surrounding Worcester area, and provides an aesthetically pleasing display for the shared school/hospital space used for work and relaxation. The exhibit will also hopefully attract new patrons into the library from UMass Medical, UMass Memorial, and the general public.

The exhibit features native and naturalized medicinal plants from around Massachusetts, highlighting both their historical and modern uses as herbal remedies along with their sometimes deadly side effects. Each pressed plant specimen is accompanied by an illustration, a photograph of the plant, and a short description of its medicinal properties and side effects. The intention of presenting each plant in three ways is to give the viewer a better understanding of each species. Historically, someone wishing to find these herbs would need to rely on a written description or illustration. Today, many plant guides come with photographs which offer one static view of the plant. The pressed specimens allow one to see the minute details such as hairs on the stems and how the leaves are attached. The books that are displayed alongside the exhibit showcase the variation in plant illustration and some of the medicinal plants that were not collected.

Native plants in Massachusetts have been used in herbal remedies by Native Americans for centuries and European settlers prospered from the medicinal plants they found in North America and brought from home. The need to know and understand the medicinal properties of plants is not just ancient history. Herbal remedies are still used today and can be found on drug store shelves as teas, herbal remedies, and components of manufactured pharmaceuticals. Herbal remedies can work alongside modern medicine if doctors and caregivers are informed of the benefits and possible side-effects that may be exhibited by their patients. This is only possible if patients also tell their doctor about herbal remedies they are self-prescribing. Ongoing research is discovering new plant species and new plant-based bioactive chemicals every day. Hopefully, this exhibit will better inform both patients and caregivers and spark the imagination of researchers to the endless possibilities presented by the plant kingdom.

The Medicinal Flora of Massachusetts exhibit is located on the first floor of the Lamar Soutter Library, UMass Medical School, 55 Lake Avenue North, Worcester, MA, and will run from August 1-September 30. As part of the exhibit, Dayne Laskey (PharmD, DABAT), Assistant Professor of Clinical Toxicology at the University of Saint Joseph School of Pharmacy, will provide an introduction to medicinal plant uses and the University of Saint Joseph School of Pharmacy’s evidence-based medicine garden during his talk, “The Medicine Garden: Bioactive plants of the past, present, and future” on August 22nd from noon-1pm in Amphitheater I (S2-102) at UMass Medical School. All are welcome to attend.

By Tess Grynoch
Library Fellow, Lamar Soutter Library, UMass Medical School

Categories: RML Blogs

Teach me to fish, Part 2

Wed, 2017-08-02 07:05

This post is the second in a series about the event Teach me to fish: From instructors to teachers as science and health science librarians that was held on On June 6th, 2017 at the Tower Hill Botanic Gardens in Boylston, MA. Hosted by NER’s Instructional Design Community of Interest, this day long, interactive work shop was taught by Dianne N. Brown, the Social Science Research & Instruction Librarian at Tisch Library, Tufts University, and Megan Bresnahan, the Life Sciences and Agriculture Librarian at the Dimond Library, University of New Hampshire. Below Megan offers her reflections on the workshop. Read the first post from Dianne here.

About the Instructional Design COI

As the role of many librarians have shifted from being collection focused to being instruction focused, the Instructional Design COI brings together librarians interested in developing and refining their teaching skills.  The “Teach Me to Fish” Workshop was an opportunity for teaching librarians of all levels to further develop their teaching skills. This Workshop brought together the elements of well-designed session including creating a lesson plan, developing learning objectives, identifying active learning strategies (that support your learning objectives), and meaningful assessment. While this was just one program that the COI offered, additional programs and webinars will be offered that support the professional development needs of teaching librarians.


Reflections from Megan Bresnahan, Science Librarian

Megan Bresnahan leading the Teach me to fish workshop

The practice of librarianship in the sciences and health sciences often requires that librarians deeply immerse themselves in the context of the discipline and work to continuously expand their expertise of the areas in which their researchers and learners are working. Given the many complex roles for science librarians in supporting their users- offering services around research data management, author rights, fair use and copyright, measuring scholarly impact, evaluating publication venues, etc.- some librarians may find it difficult to also develop a focus on teaching. Additionally, subject or liaison librarian models in academic libraries may de-empathize functional role of teaching in favor of subject knowledge. Though most of us do, in fact, teach regularly, developing as a teacher may feel less urgent when so many other competing professional demands are present.

Adding to this issue, few library schools include a robust curriculum around instructional design and pedagogy. Librarians may enter their first library positions with minimal or no teaching experience. This issue is not unlike that experienced by teaching faculty at research institutions, who have been deeply immersed in a discipline and their research but perhaps not in the discipline of education. How do you work to develop as a teacher? What are the professional developments programs at your institution around teaching and learning for faculty? Can librarians participate in them? Do you have colleagues who have a background as educators? Does your institution provide funding for programs such as ACRL immersion, which has a reputation for being a transformative experience for teaching librarians but comes with a hefty price tag? Importantly, what unique expertise do we, as information professionals, bring to the classroom? What is our value as educators?

Local, free professional development opportunities for science and health science librarians who teach, like the “Teach me to Fish” Workshop, fill an essential spot in our continuing education, especially for those who have limited access to professional development and travel funding. It is important that librarians were able to reserve an entire day for thinking about their teaching practice, how teachers teach, and why we too, librarians, are teachers.

The Workshop was an active day full of conversation and practice. Participants seemed to enjoy applying the concepts presented by creating their very own lesson plans and learning activities.

Key Take-Aways from the Workshop:

  • As librarians in the classroom room, we are not just presenting; we are teaching!
  • Let the students direct their learning by making the class active and fun!
  • Teaching better takes practice and a little trial and error. We all start somewhere and there’s always room to grow.
  • It’s important for librarians to explore their identity as teachers
  • Creativity is part of teaching. Try new things! If they fail, that’s okay.
  • Sharing and partnering with colleagues in the New England region is the simply the best.

We hope to hear how those who joined us for the Workshop use what they developed during the upcoming academic year. Dianne and I were so inspired by the wealth of ideas, especially related to active learning techniques and assessment strategies. We look forward to continuing the collaboration and future idea sharing!

~~ Megan Bresnahan

For more information about this specific workshop, contact Dianne Brown at or @diannelibrarian on Twitter. Or Megan Bresnahan at

For more information about the NER’s Instructional Design COI, please contact COI Leader Jessica Kilham, the School of Medicine Librarian at Edward and Barbara Netter Library, Quinnipiac University at Or Martha Meacham at

Categories: RML Blogs

Staff Changes at NNLM NER

Fri, 2017-07-28 07:18

Please join NNLM NER in congratulating Allison Herrera as she prepares for the next phase of her career. Allison has accepted a position within the Harvard Medical School, Countway Library of Medicine as a User Experience Researcher. Allison’s last day with the National Network of Libraries of Medicine New England Region (NNLM NER) will be August 18th 2017. Allison came to the NNLM NER and Lamar Soutter Library (LSL) at the University of Massachusetts Medical School from the University of Arizona Health Sciences Library in Tucson, Arizona. In the last year Allison work included building the new NER website, blog, and communications tools, as well as launching the National Public Health Coordinating Office website. Allison also provided a  number of popular technology programs to national audiences, such as virtual reality and gamification. She will be missed throughout the region and in the NER office. We wish her much success in her new role.

Categories: RML Blogs

Calling All Entrepreneurs… National Library of Medicine (NLM) Resources Can Add Evidence-Based Value to Your Enterprises

Tue, 2017-07-25 13:07

Three hundred leaders from universities, business incubators, foundations and other organizations across the United States recently gathered at the University of Massachusetts, Lowell for the 6th Annual Deshpande Symposium on June 12th through 14th. The annual symposium is the result of a partnership between The Deshpande Foundation ( and the University of Massachusetts, Lowell. The goal was to bring together academics, policy planners, and practitioners to develop and share best practices for integrating entrepreneurship into the curriculum of higher education.

As I sat at my exhibit table, chockful of printed literature promoting the vast and varied resources of the National Library of Medicine (NLM), I had the opportunity to chat with several movers and shakers of cutting-edge innovation during their breaks between workshops. Many symposium participants were from the health and medical fields, yet were not familiar with the National Library of Medicine and its mission to improve public health by making their online resources freely available to everyone. If you are not familiar with the National Library of Medicine, their free digital resources, free training classes and grant funding opportunities, take a look at the NLM website As I got to know about the work each person was involved in, we discussed how NLM resources could be of value in their work.

Evidence-based research data can be obtained through NLMs more well-known products like PubMed and MedlinePlus. Did you know that as of July 2017, PubMed, NLM’s free search engine contains more than 27.3 million citations for biomedical information from peer-reviewed life science journals and online books? PubMed could be a very useful tool for market research or any other health-related research. Likewise, NLM’s consumer-friendly website, MedlinePlus, provides easy-to-understand information and also links to health information from NIH and many other federal government agencies and non-government websites.

NLM has other evidence-based tools and useful mobile apps that also could be very useful for higher education and entrepreneurial ventures. Reed McManigle, a symposium participant I chatted with, is the Mentor-in-Residence at Carnegie Mellon’s Center for Technology Transfer and Enterprise Creation. After learning about NLMs wealth of resources and tools, Reed has recommended to the entrepreneurs he advises that they investigate the incorporation of NLM resources into some part of their health-related app development. Tamar Krishnamurti, an Assistant Professor in the Department of Engineering and Public Policy, is one of the entrepreneurs Reed advises. Tamar is developing an app to help women avoid complications and pre-term births. When I spoke to Tamar, we looked at various NLM tools like Embryo (,  Daily Med, ( and the Household Products Database ( as a few useful resources that have potential use for either background information during app development or as a part of the app she is developing to evaluate potential pregnancy risks. Likewise, Jeremy Guttman, also from Carnegie Mellon, is developer working on a system of data collection and targeted feedback to help people who are struggling with addiction. After learning about NLM resources related to addiction, like the new opioid and addiction portal ( that includes links to reliable, vetted information covering a number of aspects related to the opioid crisis, Jeremy is looking at how he may use these evidence-based resources in his project. Other NLM resources like Clinical Trials ( and the K-12 Science and Health Education portal ( are just a couple of other lesser known NLM resources that also have potential to add value health and medical entrepreneurial projects.

Now that you have been introduced to just a few of the NLM resources, see how these resources can add evidence-based value to your work. Consider joining the NLM network (–it’s free. Start taking advantage of all that NLM has to offer — free digital resources, free training classes and grant funding opportunities.

Categories: RML Blogs

Your NIH SeniorHealth Questions Answered

Mon, 2017-07-17 08:39

Stephanie Dailey from the National Institute on Aging (NIA) and Brooke Dine from the National Library of Medicine (NLM) recently developed the following responses to the questions submitted by the NNLM Network about NIHSeniorHealth’s retirement on August 1:

  1. For Senior-related consumer health topics, what resource would NLM recommend?
    NLM and NIA are recommending these resources:
    MedlinePlus: Exercise for SeniorsNutrition for Seniors, and Seniors’ Health.
    NIA: Health and Aging section of the Go4Life web site. The Health and Aging section is being redesigned and will be released at the end of July.
    Information from any information center at NIH related to the specific health condition or disease.
  2. Will the information, quizzes, videos, and other “value-added” pieces be included in another resource, like MedlinePlus? I’m thinking of a topic like Breast Cancer, which has a module for risk factors that is simple and easy to read. Links on the MedlinePlus Breast Cancer topic page seem to go to both patient and provider resources. The only way to know is to click on the numerous links on the page and I’m not sure that seniors will be willing to keep clicking on links until they find one that works.
    NIA/NLM Response
    The site will be retired and the information will not be transferred to another site. The videos will still be available via the NIHSeniorHealth YouTube Channel. Any of the NIH-related resources from related Information Centers such as include the “NIH” logo next to the link. NIH is committed to plain-language and the NIH-related resources reflect that principle.

  3. What’s going to happen with the Training Toolkit? Public librarians seem to really take to this as it helps them develop any kind of internet/online training for seniors. If there are no plans to continue access to it, several NNLM Coordinators would be willing to take it on and update it as needed.
    NIA/NLM Response
    NNLM Coordinators are welcome to use this model to develop their training resources related to seniors. We recommend you download all of the resources from the toolkit and adapt it to your needs going forward.

  4. How was the decreased usage of NIHSeniorHealth measured? Were multiple resources considered? It would be helpful to know the metrics used for the retirement decision.
    NIA/NLM Response
    The decision to retire NIHSeniorHealth wasn’t based on usage. One of the main drivers was the need to consolidate staff resources needed to create and maintain content. Also, we no longer feel the need to create duplicate content focused solely on seniors since many of the best practices and design features for the web are now senior-friendly and implemented across government websites at NIH.
  5. NIHSeniorHealth was wonderful because of its simplicity. MedlinePlus is a great resource but can be a little overwhelming for those who are new or not used to the internet. NIHSeniorHealth was a great place to start.
    NIA/NLM Response
    We will provide this feedback to the MedlinePlus staff and they can determine how best to improve the senior-related resources. NIA resources have always been and will continue to be focused on older adult and health aging.

  6. The current site has a button that says “Change Contrast” that changes the page to a black background with yellow text (good for those with macular degeneration). Will that feature still be available?
    NIA/NLM Response
    We will not be transferring that feature to MedlinePlus or the NIA site. Many internet browsers have these capabilities built into the technology which allows users to change contrast, text-size, etc. based on their personal preferences.

  7. The decision to eliminate the NIHSeniorHealth website is, in my opinion, totally misguided. Seniors are the largest and fastest growing population in the U.S. Their costs for health care are a disproportionately large part of the health care economy. The National Institute for Aging’s website is a far inferior source of consumer health information. Compare the entries for “glaucoma” on both sites to appreciate the difference. Why are seniors’ health information needs not a priority for NLM?
    NIA/NLM Response
    Health information for older adults continues to be a priority for NLM and NIA and we are committed to continue to provide this information via MedlinePlus and the NIA’s Health and Aging site. The new NIA website will be released at the end of July and will have a more user-friendly interface geared towards all users regardless of age.

Originally posted for the Pacific Southwest Region.

Categories: RML Blogs

Death Cafe at TechSpring

Fri, 2017-07-14 10:11
cup of coffee

Photo credit: Julius Schorzman, 2005

On July 13, I left the office early and headed down the Mass Pike toward Springfield, MA. I was attending the Death Cafe hosted by TechSpring. Death Cafes are an emerging concept in bringing end-of-life decisions into public conversations. I was curious to see how a techie incubator would handle this topic.

TechSpring was launched by Baystate Health in 2014 to support technology advancement in healthcare. They host monthly networking events, bringing together tech innovators, healthcare providers and community members. Manager Jill McCormick was astonished at the turnout for this month’s event–180 registrants–and wondered aloud if the topic was an especially powerful draw.

Peter DePergola, Clinical Ethicist at Baystate Health, opened the discussion by stressing the importance of patient values when making medical decisions. The task is to document those values. Medical resident Deirdre Lewis brought up the disconnect between how doctors die and how patients die. Doctors understand that heroic measures are often futile. As a result, doctors are more likely to create advanced directives.

Death Cafe attendees were invited to “pair and share”, explaining wishes and fears to the person seated next to them. The volume in the room rose up, up, up. Organizers needed to tap on the microphone to bring everyone back into audience mode. Several people shared their fears around dying. One woman spoke of the fear of dying alone, as she has no children or nearby family. DePergola described the No One Dies Alone program at Baystate Health. Trained volunteers are called in to come sit with the dying.

The conversation turned to technology as Boston-area Palliative Care physician Mark Zhang talked about Cake, a platform for storing end-of-life preferences. Cake offers a wide range of topics, from identifying key people, documenting medical preferences, and leaving funeral arrangements, to stating if you want your Facebook account deleted.

Laurance Stuntz, Director of the Massachusetts eHealth Institute, recommended the recently published report Caregivers and Digital Health: A Survey of Trends and Attitudes of Massachusetts Family Caregivers. This report identifies challenges facing caregivers, and suggests tech solutions. Stuntz asked, “how can entrepreneurs support those who are coping with death?”

Technology is the tool. Conversation and documentation are key. Local photographer Sandra Costello closed the event with her story of being hired to take family portraits before the impending death of a beloved mother. She urged us to listen.

Resources mentioned at the Death Cafe:

The Conversation Project

Being Mortal,by Atul Gawande

Categories: RML Blogs

Teach me to fish: From instructors to teachers as science and health science librarians

Tue, 2017-07-11 07:31

On June 6th, 2017 the NER hosted an event at the Tower Hill Botanic Gardens in Boylston, MA called Teach me to fish: From instructors to teachers as science and health science librarians as part of the Instructional Design Community of Interest (COI). This day long, interactive work shop was taught by Dianne N. Brown, the Social Science Research & Instruction Librarian at Tisch Library, Tufts University, and Megan Bresnahan, the Life Sciences and Agriculture Librarian at the Dimond Library, University of New Hampshire. Below Dianne offers her reflections on the workshop. This is the first post of two reflecting on this event and teaching for librarians. Look for more from Megan Bresnahan soon.

About the Instructional Design COI

 As the role of many librarians have shifted from being collection focused to being instruction focused, the Instructional Design COI brings together librarians interested in developing and refining their teaching skills.  The Teach Me to Fish workshop was an opportunity for teaching librarians of all levels to further develop their teaching skills. This workshop brought together the elements of well-designed session including creating a lesson plan, developing learning objectives, identifying active learning strategies (that support your learning objectives), and meaningful assessment. While this was just one program that the COI offered, additional programs and webinars will be offered that support the professional development needs of teaching librarians.

About the Teach Me to Fish Workshop

Teaching is an essential part of librarianship, but librarians often feel apprehension when it comes to library instruction. Many library science programs offer no explicit training on how to teach and most professional development offerings only focus on one part of the classroom experience, like assessment. Megan and I wanted to do something different – A workshop that demystified teaching just a little, by breaking down the planning and execution of a lesson to its component parts. By walking step by step through developing teaching philosophies, exploring lesson plans, drafting learning outcomes, selecting active learning techniques, learning classroom management strategies, choosing an appropriate assessment and reflecting on the whole process, we hoped our participants would leave feeling excited and empowered to teach. In reflecting on our workshop, I think we were absolutely successful. In our workshop space within the incredibly gorgeous Tower Hill Botanic Gardens, I witnessed science and health science librarians engaging with the content and most importantly, with one another. Walking around the room, I got snippets of conversations where librarians encouraged one another to try new things, challenging the conventional expectations of what library instruction is and pushing for what it could be. I hope that our participants will continue the conversations they started in our workshop with their colleagues at their own libraries, and start building those local communities of practice that can be so valuable. While developing confidence as a teacher takes time, I think the Teach me to fish workshop provided a solid foundation for our participants to start building or rebuilding their teaching toolkits.

~~Dianne Brown

Dianne Brown leading the Teach me to fish workshop

Dianne Brown leading the Teach me to fish workshop

For more information about this specific workshop, contact Dianne Brown at or @diannelibrarian on Twitter. Or Megan Bresnahan at

For more information about the NER’s Instructional Design COI, please contact COI Leader Jessica Kilham, the School of Medicine Librarian at Edward and Barbara Netter Library, Quinnipiac University at Or Martha Meacham at


Categories: RML Blogs

New Opiate Addiction & Treatment Resource from SIS

Wed, 2017-07-05 07:13

The National Library of Medicine’s Division of Specialized Information Services (SIS) has released a new portal for Opiate Addiction and Treatment. This portal includes links to reliable, vetted information covering a number of aspects related to the opioid crisis including Understanding Addiction, Overdose, Treatments, Pregnancy, and more.

As many are aware, opioid use and addiction have hit New England particularly hard. For example, the Chapter 55 report from the Massachusetts state government found, “Opioid-related deaths in the state were more than four times higher in 2015 than in 2000. This recent rate of increase is several times faster than anything seen here before. In 2013–2014 alone, opioid-related deaths occurred in two-thirds of the cities and towns in Massachusetts… The opioid-related death rate in Massachusetts has surpassed the national average, with an especially sharp rise in the last two years. In fact, 2014 marked the first year since 1999 that the fatal overdose rate in the Bay State was more than double the national average.” Similarly, according to the CDC, New Hampshire had an increase in drug overdose deaths of a staggering 73.5% between 2013 and 2014. The other New England states have been similarly affected.

The new Opiate Addiction and Treatment portal released by SIS is just one of the many ways the National Library of Medicine is hoping to help address the opioid crisis. SIS has a long history of providing specialized, targeted resources for librarians, health professionals, and the public. SIS produces information resources covering toxicology, environmental health, HIV/AIDS, outreach to underserved and special populations, HIV/AIDS, drugs and household products, and disaster/emergency preparedness and response. The Toxicology and Environmental Health Information Program (TEHIP) covers toxicology, environmental health, and chemistry. The Outreach and Special Populations Branch (OSPB) works to improve access to accurate, quality health information by underserved and special populations. The Disaster Information Management Research Center (DIMRC) provides online and downloadable resources about emergency preparedness, response, and recovery efforts. The Office of Clinical Toxicology (OCT) develops new resources and enhances existing NLM resources for professionals in toxicology and related fields. SIS also coordinates many of the National Library of Medicine’s HIV/AIDS information activities.

The NNLM NER is also working to address this topic by meeting the specific needs of our region and network members. We hope to provide resources, training, and develop programs that will address this growing issue for public and academic librarians, community organizations, the public, and others. We welcome any questions or comments on what would be most helpful. Please contact our office for more information or to share how we can help.

Categories: RML Blogs

Join Us in Planning Community Health Engagement!

Fri, 2017-06-30 07:55

Guest post by Alan Lampson, Lead, Frymoyer Community Health Resource Center, University of Vermont Medical Center

communityOn June 21 the NNLM NER hosted a WebEx meeting to discuss a new Community of Interest (COI) on Community Health Engagement. We discussed what a COI is – a community of people who share a common interest or passion. We then defined what the purpose of this COI is – to provide a group learning experience in community assessment, outcomes-based planning, and data collection.

There was a presentation on three different types of projects. The first presentation was from Gayle Finkelstein of the University of Vermont Medical Center and the Northern New England Poison Control Center. Gayle talked about a population-based project, her poison prevention work with immigrants and new Americans. The second presentation was by Susan Halpin from NNLM and highlighted a problem-based project, the opioid abused epidemic. This project was called the Learning Curve and was an NNLM funded project. The third presentation was an idea for a technology-based project on Patient Generated Data by Margot Malachowski.

This COI is to have 4 WebEx meetings.

Session One: Community Health Engagement
  • Share project ideas with peer group.
  • Describe community health engagement process, including ethical standards.
Session Two: Community Assessment
  • Identify community assessment resources.
  • Identify evidence-based community health engagement projects.
Session Three: Outcomes-based Planning
  • Describe data collection methodology.
  • Prepare to gather pre- and post-participation input.
Session Four: Preparing Your Pitch with Data
  • Practice pitch with peer group.
  • Identify methods of data display.

The tentative schedule for the 4 sessions is – Aug, Oct, Nov/Dec, Jan (dates TBD by group).

If you missed the introductory presentation, check this recording.

What do you need to do?

1) Fill out this survey to apply for the Community Health Engagement COI by July 14th.

2) Have an idea of a project you would like to explore.

Please join us for this learning experience. If you have any questions contact Margot Malachowski at


Categories: RML Blogs retiring August 1, 2017

Mon, 2017-06-26 07:59

Launched in 2003, was a database designed for seniors with special features including large print, audio presentations, covering diseases particularly associated with senior citizens. It was ahead of its time in addressing internet accessibility issues. In conjunction with the National Institute of Aging (NIA), provided evidence-based health information to millions of older adults in a format geared to their cognitive and visual needs.

However, many of the features pioneered by the site have now become standard practice. Additionally, the National Institute on Aging has been able to offer a more targeted focus on continued research and resource development specifically to meet the needs of an aging population. Therefore, beginning August 1, 2017, will redirect visitors to the Health and Aging section of NIA Web site. The site will no longer be supported or maintained, but a focus and dedication to improving the health and information for seniors will continue.

The NNLM NER will continue to work with and provide education to seniors and those who work with seniors. This is a large demographic in New England, and we will main a focus on improving the health and access to health information for this population. For example, NNLM NER will continue to offer trainings to help seniors navigate and understand health information on the internet; or provide materials and trainings to anyone in the community who works with seniors. In addition to the valuable resources available through the National Institute on Aging, the NIHSeniorHealth YouTube Channel will be maintained, containing over 110 videos, and MedlinePlus will continue to be a trusted resources for health topics, some with a specific seniors focus.

Please feel free to contact the NNLM NER office with any questions or concerns about this resource or any of our programming and outreach.

Parts of this post have been adapted from the June 20, 2017 NLM Technical Bulletin Announcement.

Categories: RML Blogs

Collective Impact: Cross-Sector Approach to Community Health

Fri, 2017-06-23 07:41

Midway through the 2017 Wisconsin Health Literacy Summit, I put down my iPhone and stopped tweeting. I was captivated by presenters Dennis Johnson and Ben Williams. They were sharing their work as managing partners of Sort Sol Group in Madison, WI. The gist of their session was working the Collective Impact model in community health work. My handwritten notes include these statements: LOGIC; this is a society-wide issue; united advocacy voice for people with barriers; who owns this? there is a problem with ownership; turf issues; backbone support–resources and skills to convene and coordinate participating organizations.

Nearly three months later, I am piecing together these notes as I prepare to convene a group of librarians, educators and community organization staff who are interested in Community Health Engagement. I am particularly interested in the concept of backbone support, as I believe NNLM works with backbone organizations, and may even take on the dual roles of backbone and funder in health information outreach.

Sort Sol Group acts as convener for government, business, philanthropic and neighborhood organizations. They take an evidence-based approach, and facilitate group learning. Two projects mentioned during their session were the Healthy Kids Collaborative, a group of 150 organizations working to improve children’s health in Dane County, and Any Given Child, which brings together 40 education, business and art organizations to improve access to the arts for children in Madison, WI.

In New England, Shape Up Somerville is an example of Collective Impact. The initial project targeted obesity prevention in 1st-3rd graders through environmental change. Schools, retail stores and restaurants offered healthier foods. The city improved the sidewalks, kids were encouraged to walk to school, and city employees received discounted gym memberships. The result was a lower Body Mass Index in the targeted population.

Backbone Support

Collective Impact requires that one organization steps up to provide infrastructure. This backbone support involves facilitating meetings, coordinating communications, and analyzing data. Funders might find themselves drawn into this role, but this is tricky territory. Taking on the backbone support role could lead to questions of ownership.

As a funder, NNLM has the capacity to act as convener. We are working in the health information field, and we have developed relationships in various sectors. NNLM is able to put organizations in touch with like-minded folks. We offer training in how to utilize National Library of Medicine resources in community health work. Yet, we do not own the projects that we fund. We do not reside in the affected neighborhoods.

The Collective Impact model suggests that those neighborhoods are best served if NNLM encourages applicants to align their work with current neighborhood initiatives. Our primary role is to support applicants with training and funding. This video suggests that their ultimate success might depend upon their alignment with collective neighborhood efforts.

Categories: RML Blogs

How do we influence others?

Wed, 2017-06-21 13:28

Hello everyone!

A couple weeks ago I attended a leadership institute and it was filled with amazing ideas and strategies for management and leadership. I wanted to share one of the ideas that we looked at.

This is a way of looking at influencing strategies by organizing them into 9 groups from HayGroup.

Empowerment: making others feel valued by involving them in decision-making and giving them recognition
Interpersonal Awareness: identifying – and addressing – other people’s concerns
Bargaining: gaining support by negotiating a mutually satisfactory outcome
Relationship Building: establishing and maintaining constructive relationships with people that you may need to influence
Organizational Awareness: identifying – and getting the support of – key people
Common Vision: showing how our ideas support the organization’s broader goals
Impact Management: choosing the most interesting, memorable or dramatic way of present ideas
Logical Persuasion: using logical reasons, expertise or data to convince and persuade others
Coercion: using threats or pressure to get others to do what you want

These strategies aren’t right or wrong. We choose and use different strategies in different situations to make all conversations more effective.

One of my favorite strategies is Common Vision. As an example of unique situations, Common Vision is most effective when managing a team with colleagues at your level and below and when you have high personal credibility. This particular strategy is least effective when the organization’s goals are about to change in unpredictable ways or when you are trying to influence people who are cynical about the organization.

Do you have a favorite strategy?

Please feel free to comment below.

Allison Herrera

Categories: RML Blogs

A New Reality: Learning empathy through Virtual Reality

Fri, 2017-06-16 08:16

How do you teach students empathy? That is the main question behind a project spearheaded by librarians at the University of New England (UNE) in Maine, funded during 2016-2017 by NNLM NER. The project entitled, “Empathy Learned Through an Extended Medical Education Virtual Reality Project”, uses a virtual reality (VR) experience to immerse 1st year medical students in the experience of being 74-year-old- patient, Alfred, who has macular degeneration and hearing loss. The goal is that by using a virtual reality experience, students will gain insights and a gateway into the world of an older adult, thereby supporting the model of person-centered care that is comprehensive and empathic toward older adult patients.

Allison Herrera and Mary Piorun testing the “We Are Alfred” VR experience at UMass Medical School

Recently the librarians leading this project, Barbara Swartzlander and Beth Dyer, visited UMass Med and the NNLM NER office to give people the opportunity to experience the VR technology for themselves. They were also presenting a poster about this project that the First Annual UMass Center for mHealth and Social Media Conference. The practical demonstration and hands on experience with the VR program was a huge success, many people indicating that it was their first ever VR experience.  People overwhelmingly agreed that this was a unique and impactful way to help students truly place themselves in the shoes of their patients and instill empathy. The students who participated in the first year of this project would also agree. Feedback from UNE students was incredibly positive. For example, in and open evaluation question, one student reported, “I loved this experience because I think it’s an incredible step forward to incorporating technology into our curriculum and creating a fundamental understanding of some of the symptoms our patients may be experiencing.”

Beth Dyer presenting a poster during the First Annual UMass Center for mHealth and Social Media Conference

While 1st year medical students will continue to participate in this program well beyond the original project, because of the success the VR experience is now being expanded to other UNE campuses and other students, including Physician Assistant students, in a second NNLM NER funded year for the project.

To learn more and see the VR project in action, take a look at this video, “Funded Partner Spotlight: We Are Alfred”. Please feel free to contact anyone in the NNLM NER office to learn more about this project or about Virtual Reality technology and opportunities.


Categories: RML Blogs

Are Patient – Doctor Conversations Stressful for You?

Mon, 2017-06-05 21:40



Do you find that after your doctor appointment is over and you are going over the conversation in your mind, you feel confused? There is a well-known quote by George Bernard Shaw about communication. “The single biggest problem in communication is the illusion that it occurred.” If you are interested in learning some effective communication strategies that could help make your next  appointment less stressful, read on…

Recently, I attended the  Medical Librarians Association conference in Seattle.  I was introduced to a new NNLM program,  called Engage for Health. This program is packaged as a turn-key tool or resource that any organization can share with its members, whether the members are older adults that gather at the senior center or they are high school students attending their required health classes. Engage for Health is a free, community education program designed to alleviate stress and increase patient care satisfaction by teaching the patient how to take a more active role in the doctor visit by learning some best practices for improved communication.

This training is brief, it takes just about an hour. Everything needed to present the program to a group is available online and is free to any organization. What you do need to acquire some new communication techniques is a health care professional and an additional person willing to be a patient so that a  simulated role-play activity can be demonstrated.

The following are examples of the tips that the program suggests:

  •     Take a friend or family member with you
  •     Make sure you understand what your doctor or nurse says by repeating back what you heard
  •     Write things down before and during your visit; this will help you determine any questions
  •     Ask questions, such as, “What is this test for? Why do I need this treatment? How often do I need     to take that medication?”

The tips seem like they are simple enough to put into practice without being involved in an hour-long program, however, participating in the full program is strongly suggested.  The presentation slides, brief videos, and  the role play activity will give you the confidence to implement Engage in Health with eased during your next appointment.

The ‘Engage for Health’ program is now available for libraries, community and faith based agencies, health care providers and high schools to offer in their communities. These are the materials you have access to so that you can use this program:

  • Presentation slides complete with speaker notes
  • Role Play activity
  • Post Evaluation along with Instructions
  • Promotional Poster
  • The Engage for Health logo in .png and .jpg format

If you are interested in offering this program, please feel free to use the materials located through this link

You can contact NNLM MAR for assistance

NNLM encourages you to offer this program, use the evaluation materials, and let us know about the success of your ‘Engage for Health’ program.

Categories: RML Blogs

MLA 2017 – Data and Networking

Mon, 2017-06-05 16:57
3 NER team memebers smiling

3 of the NER team! From left, Martha Meacham, Allison Herrera (me), and Matthew Noe
















Hello everyone!

Last week was the exciting Medical Library Association (MLA) 2017 conference in Seattle, Washington.

One of the great strengths of MLA is the networking and professional connections. I would have never moved to the New England Region to work for NNLM if it weren’t for MLA 2016. Speaking of working for NNLM NER – if you’re interested we are currently hiring an Education and Outreach Coordinator. If you’re curious about the position, but would like to learn more informally first I’d be happy to talk about NNLM at any time ( or my office number is 508-856-5979).

Below are some wonderful colleagues that I was able to meet with this year. I always learn a lot from talking to other professionals in the field, from successes to failures we all seem to have something in common!


3 librarians from the University of Arizona
5 librarians in front of market place










An overarching theme that I found throughout MLA this year was – big surprise – data!

I attended many sessions in which librarians discussed data in research, being more data-driven, and using data more efficiently. The variety of data-projects was encouraging and also a bit disjointed. This seems expected when so many professionals are still exploring and testing out the data science field. It also leads me to wonder if we should focus on more “actionable aspects” of data, such as data analysis or data visualizations, instead of continuing to talk in the abstract about “needing more data” or “being more data-driven”. I’m a big fan of big picture leadership that guides us in the long-term, but I also understand how it can be frustrating to constantly hear “data, data, data” without enough practical and reasonable examples.

I believe that more data-literate librarians can only help the profession, but we can’t ignore that our field is openly conflicted about being asked to pursue data initiatives and data-driven practices. What do you think? Should we have an open and informal discussion to hear what New England librarians think?

Feel free to send me an email ( or comment below!


Thank you

Allison Herrera

Categories: RML Blogs

HLAG Seeking Advanced Skills…

Tue, 2017-05-23 12:08
Hospital Libraries Advisory Group (HLAG) seeking advanced skills, survival techniques in evolving healthcare environment

desk with books and an open laptop

On Mon, May 8, 2017, NNLM NER convened an online meeting of the Hospital Libraries Advisory Group (HLAG). Our goal was to gauge the interests of regional hospital librarians before developing NNLM training opportunities for our 2017-2018 fiscal year. In preparation for this meeting, we distributed a survey to identify hot topics. Library closures and hospital mergers are foremost on the minds of hospital librarians. The needs of solo librarians, the impact of library closures on DOCLINE/ILL, and the trend toward virtual libraries are top concerns as well.

The HLAG meeting included an overview of the results from a recently released National Training Office (NTO) Training Needs Assessment. These results pointed to a national interest in honing skills in evaluating outreach activities, learning about open science and data extraction, and gaining advanced skills in searching NLM databases. We reviewed all of these results to identify the best areas for NNLM NER to provide support. We talked about best methods (webinars, in-person events, newsletter items) to engage hospital librarians in learning opportunities.

In response to the HLAG meeting, NNLM NER is developing a schedule of three webinars and one in-person event. New NNLM DOCLINE Coordinator Erin Latta will give us an update on DOCLINE during a webinar in July 2017. Erin, a New Hampshire native, works out of the NNLM Southeastern/Atlantic Region. She will bring an understanding of the New England environment to her presentation.

In September 2017, we will be scheduling an Advanced Search Skills webinar with Rebecca Brown from the National Training Office. Rebecca is an experienced technology instructor. She will teach us advanced techniques in using MeSH to find information on drug and pharmacological actions.

NNLM NER is looking into presenters for a Business of Healthcare webinar in January 2018. We are particularly interested in hearing from someone who will speak about the business decisions of mergers and the elimination of jobs in the healthcare market. We want to better understand the circumstances that we are all facing. Lastly, we are planning on hosting an in-person event at UMass Medical School in March 2018 to discuss the how-to’s of creating a Virtual Library.

NNLM NER hopes this suite of learning opportunities meets the needs our New England hospital librarians. We will update you on the specifics as our plans solidify.

Categories: RML Blogs

From Silos to Strength – librarians at the intersections

Wed, 2017-05-17 08:29

If you listen to the worries and anxieties of other professions, one, you start to realize that they often have the same concerns as librarians; and two, you start to repeatedly hear about breaking down silos. We talk about silos in librarianship as well – which may be a topic for another day – but it seems to be a major and constant refrain in medicine, research, patient care, and the sciences in general – often because of the dramatic innovations that are possible and the depressing results when it doesn’t happen. In research, one lab won’t know want the lab next door is doing, even when they are working on very similar topics. In the clinic, the public health worker doesn’t realize that a problem they are facing is also being addressed by an internal medicine doctor. An intrepid student makes headway on a problem that has plagued a seasoned faculty. Those who work by the bedside don’t always know what is happening at the bench – let alone the public knowing what is going on. We all live in, and are concerned with, the bubbles immediately around us. Innovation and growth occur when we can get these bubbles to intersect.

I propose that librarians serving any field or population – from health science to public librarians – are in the perfect position to help breakdown these silos – to serve as the intersection points for different bubbles. Librarians’ jobs necessitate that they interact with a wide variety of people and information within their institutions and beyond. Librarians are also masters at creating connections; from one resource to another, from a resource to a person, and hopefully, from person to person. We pride ourselves on ensuring access to information. Well, that guy you just helped could be the source of information someone else is looking for. Through our ability to organize and make connections, we could provide the access needed to bridge silos. Librarians are generally curious, inquisitive, and well informed. We also love to share what we know. You know the department you work with better than most. A public librarian knows her community and its needs intimately. A manager may see the business trends or funding implications well before others. A systems librarian knows the tech and works closely with the IT department. How can we work together to employ these connections and intersections, while using them to increase the access and innovation of our communities?

Many librarians already do this, and do it well. What I suggest is that the profession more consciously, explicitly, and deliberately leverage this skill and our positions at the intersections. Librarians are in a very unique position. We must promote ourselves as the facilitators, the connectors, the means to move others beyond their silos. Move beyond the question of, “How does this apply to me?” or “How does this apply to librarianship?” Rather ask, “How does this apply to those I serve?”, “Where is the connection and how can I position myself to provide information and service at that intersection?” Focusing on the informational connections between communities and people, rather than just the connection between the resource and the person, will be the strength librarianship needs.

Hopefully, the NNLM NER can serve to educate and facilitate all in our region on creating connections and building the skill necessary to break down silos. NNLM NER is in the unique position of interacting with a wide variety of fields – librarians of all strips, community organizations, scientists, researchers, students, the public, and so many others. We hope to break down the silos in our own region and for those we serve. I have seen the power of strong networks and connections. We are striving to make NNLM NER an example and leader.

Martha Meacham

(this is an editorial piece and does not necessary reflect the view of the New England Region, the National Network of Libraries of Medicine, or the National Library of Medicine)

Categories: RML Blogs