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 52 min ago

Health Literacy is not a new topic for Americans

Tue, 2018-09-18 09:16
Smoke traveling across America from California

August 10, 2018 CNN satellite photo of California wildfire

Health Literacy is not a new topic for Americans.  As a nation we have been adjusting to the latest developments on how to keep ourselves healthy for decades.  Whether that be following the national Food Pyramid to the updated “healthy plate” or changing our perspective of how we prevent illness as we age.  We follow an upbeat track to health – well we intend to do that.  Sometimes we just aren’t ready or prepared.  When attending the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention conference in Atlanta this past week I’ve discovered campaigns that try to innovate ways to communicate the “get and stay healthy” message.

Several sessions caught my attention and I’d like to share them.  First, I attended a Pre-Conference on Health Literacy as a Driver of Healthier Communities.  This session provided links to the National Action Plan to Improve Health Literacy @  We reviewed the Needs Assessment with an ‘honest’ approach to who will participate versus who we really want to participate when we are looking into changing community health behaviors.  One large component of this assessment is that we are all trying to organize the same action plan and with the right resources/tools we can get the job done.  Examples used were the National Assessment of Adult Literacy which has state and county estimates and can be found at:; and Health Literacy Universal Precautions Toolkit at  These resources can help with program planning.

Another message I’d like to share with you from this conference was from the “Challenging Traditional Methods of Public Health Messaging” session.  One speaker reminded us to look to the behavioral change not by generalized demographics but to look within each group segmentally.  For example, teens should not be grouped by age but by the things that are meaningful to them. In this case, it was music.  The teens were branded as popular, country, alternative, hip-hop and a moderate/traditional group.  Within the traditional group they were less likely to use tobacco or be part of unhealthy behaviors.  This group was about 30% of all teens.  The second group falls into popular and are more apt to follow others, perhaps for attention and they were more likely to smoke and drink in high school.  The other teen groups, alternative (Goth was mentioned), country or hip-hop had positive behavior changes in reducing or removing negative health habits (smoking, drinking) from their lifestyle when advertisements were paired with their group’s popular musicians tell their audiences that they don’t smoke or drink.  Studies showed that this messaging works!

The last two messages that had an environmental direction in health was regarding a Citizen Science study called Smoke Sense.  This is a downloadable app from the Environmental Protection Agency ( that provides information about air quality, wildland fires, and smoke from those fires across the U.S.  This mobile application provides a way for users to learn how smoke affects their health, allows them to anonymously log health symptoms and smoke observations, and promotes preventive healthy behaviors around wildland fire smoke exposure.

The final segment is all about ticks, yes, those nasty little virus hoarding parasites that apparently are almost as dangerous as the world’s most deadly creature, the mosquito.  Unbeknownst to me, ticks are prolific all year around.  Dr. Mather, aka the Tick Doctor, had a great presentation regarding tick identification, removal of these little pests and how you could be a “tickspotter”  as a Citizen Science project for your school or public library.  One neat fact I learned is that not all ticks are inactive in the fall and winter.   Another reason to learn more about my environment.  Happy sleuthing!


Categories: RML Blogs

National Preparedness Month: Resources You Can Use

Fri, 2018-09-14 14:03

September is National Preparedness Month and there’s still time to make and practice your plan, learn life saving skills, check your coverage and save for an emergency.

National Preparedness Month 2018 Logo. Disasters Happen Prepare Now Learn How. FEMA,

Week 1’s theme was Make and Practice Your Plan

No one knows when an emergency will happen, but making and practicing your plan now will help you during and after.

Here are some planning resources to get you started:


Week 2’s theme was Learn Life Saving Skills

Knowing basic first aid and other life skills means that you can help your family and community during an emergency.


Week 3’s theme is Check Your Coverage


Week 4’s theme is Save for an Emergency


And always make sure you’re following trusted sources for resources and updates on social media to avoid scams and hoaxes.  On twitter, follow @nnlmner, @fema, @femaregion1 (New England), @nws, local news outlets, and local and state government accounts.

Categories: RML Blogs

Words Matter

Fri, 2018-08-31 15:01

Who do you think would receive the better medical care… an “abuser” or a person who suffers from “substance use disorder”? Nearly 21 million people in the US have a substance use disorder, however, just ten percent of that number actually get treatment. What keeps people from getting the help they need? The number one reason why people don’t seek the help they need is because of stigma or fear of judgement. One of the first ways to combat the stigma of substance use disorder is to look at the words we use to talk about addiction. “Often when we call people things like ‘addict’ or ‘junkies’ not only are they incredibly judgmental words, but they also kind of pigeonhole someone’s entire being to that one single characteristic’, states Michael Botticelli, the then director of the Office of National Drug Control Policy, as he testified during a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing on July 26, 2016. Research from Dr. John Kelly, from the Harvard-MGH Recovery Research Institute has evidence that the words we use to discuss patients, affects the clinical care they receive. In a study, Dr. Kelly gave trained clinicians identical scenarios about substance use disorder. The only thing he changed was in one scenario he called the person a “substance abuser’ and in the other scenario, ‘a person with substance use disorder’. The result, even from trained clinicians, was that the substance abuser was given a much more punitive response.

The new substance use disorder vocabulary professionals are suggesting we use to discuss addiction is reflective of an updated understanding that addiction is a brain disease, not a moral failing or character flaw. A word like “abuse”  implies violation and intent. Those with addiction do make choices, but they have a disease and they need treatment. Our words not only affect the treatment of the individual, our words can also influence policies we create. If you reflect on the history of how we treat people with addiction, it has been with punitive criminal justice responses instead of a strong health response. Therefore, one of the simplest ways to address the stigma of the past is to use language that does not perpetuate negative stereotypes and negative judgement. Using appropriate language can have a direct impact on how people perceive themselves and the care that they receive.

The following information reflects other suggestions for more appropriate language to use when discussing substance use disorder, provided by Dr. Richard Saitz of the Boston University School of Public Health. Because words do matter.

Information for this article was obtained from the following article:

NNLM NER has a new series of webinars about topics related to Substance Use Disorder.

  • September 5th – How to Save a Life: Naloxone 101
  • October 18th – Using Recovery Coaches in the Treatment of Substance Use Disorder
  • November 28th – Understanding Grief After an Overdose

You can read more about these webinars and register at this link



Categories: RML Blogs

Biomedical and Health Research Data Management Training for Librarians

Mon, 2018-08-27 17:38

Health sciences librarians are invited to apply for the online course, Biomedical and Health Research Data Management Training for Librarians, offered by the NNLM Training Office (NTO). The course is a free, 7-week online class with engaging lessons, practical activities and a final project. The course runs October 15 – December 14, 2018.

The goal of this course is to provide an introduction to data issues and policies in support of developing and implementing or enhancing research data management training and services at your institution. This material is essential for decision-making and implementation of these programs, particularly instructional and reference services. Course topics include an overview of data management, choosing appropriate metadata descriptors or taxonomies for a dataset, addressing privacy and security issues with data, and creating data management plans.

Applications are due September 20, 2018.

Additional details and the online application are available here.

For questions, please contact the NTO:

Categories: RML Blogs

2018 Comics and Medicine Conference Highlights

Mon, 2018-08-27 14:36


Comics and Medicine Conference 2018 poster.

Held this year in White River Junction, VT at the Center for Cartoon Studies (CCS) and Dartmouth College (Hanover, NH), the 9th Annual Comics in Medicine Conference brought together a mix of creators, medical professionals, librarians and others to discuss how graphic novels are being used by a wide array of professionals and artists to connect and educate patients, families, and the public on health topics.

Many sessions were relevant to what I do at NNLM-NER, but here are my top three conference highlights:

  • Can comics help us share health data with community members? We Are Wyandotte (Kansas City, KS) believes that everyone should have access to data about their communities. And they created a comic without words to communicate information about health disparities to people with different reading levels and across languages.  Visit their site to get your own copy of Redlining Parts 1 & 2 and see how they did it.


  • Can telling the story of a traumatic event be therapeutic? The Center for Cartoon Studies partnered with the White River Junction VA to illustrate veterans’ stories.  At the conference, they previewed a second anthology focused on the experiences of female vets and discussed the process of creating the book. To learn more about this project, visit the Cartoonist Veteran page on the CCS site.


  • Can comics connect across language and cultural barriers? El viaje más caro/The Most Expensive Journey is an illustrated series of personal stories from migrant dairy framers in Vermont that was designed to start conversations around isolation and mental health. You can read the full comics in English or Spanish here.


To try graphic medicine with your book club, community organization or staff, request a graphic medicine book club kit.  Kits contain six copies of the book, a discussion guide and topic-relevant health information from trusted sources such as MedlinePlus, the CDC, NIH and more.  Kits are free, so request one today.


If you want to learn more about graphic medicine and you’re in Worcester, MA between September 10 and October 20, 2018, stop by the Lamar Soutter Library (University of Massachusetts-Medical School, 55 Lake Ave North, Worcester, MA 01655) to view the National Library of Medicine exhibit, Graphic Medicine: Ill Conceived and Well-Drawn. See the library’s announcement for more details.

Categories: RML Blogs

What Did You Do This Summer? Summer Camp

Mon, 2018-08-20 19:01

One of the questions always asked on the first day back from summer break is: “What did you do this summer?” For many kids summer camp may be involved, either as a camper or as a camp counselor. Summer camp experiences can have a multitude of positive influences, such as building character, teaching independence and exploring new frontiers and gaining different skills. This summer, I had the pleasure of being a guest speaker at several summer camps. Of course for kids at camp, hands on engaging activities and experiments have to be involved (and of course the messier the better.)

In one program high school aged kids were gaining technology skills using mapping software called ARC GIS (,as a guest speaker, I was able to review data literacy and had the campers evaluate what characterizes a good data set. Using pre-selected data sets, the campers used a checklist to critically evaluate the data set. One of the data sets involved cell phone coverage in various countries, and one camper who was traveling out the country to visit relatives in Africa found it fascinating that their cell phone would still work.

In another camp, at the Everett Haitian Community Center, I was asked to create a program on kids health. In this camp visit we discussed what foods to eat for healthy teeth and explored the ToxNet databases. The campers learned about the pH scale that measures the strength of acids and bases. We mixed household chemicals to blow up a balloon, made elephant toothpaste and cleaned pennies with a weak acid. They learned about how the environment can impact human health and what they can do to stay healthy.  It was a great experience. I hope the kids had as much fun as I did.

Listed below are some of my favorite resources that were highlighted in the camps:  

  • NNLM RD3 website for information about data literacy and a data thesaurus
  • At NLM there are various TOXNET databases related to toxicology, hazardous chemicals, environmental health, and toxic releases one of my favorites is is Tox Map 
  • There are online games such as TOXinvaders (National Library of Medicine) an environmental health and toxicology game for iPhone and iPad available free from the Apple Store.
  • Tox Mystery is an interactive learning site helping children age 7 to 10 find clues about toxic substances that can lurk in the home
  • There is Tox Town where you can  explore places and situations where you might be exposed to hazardous chemicals and contaminants and learn how to minimize your risk.
  • The Households Products Database contains health and safety information on household products from arts and crafts supplies to cleaners,personal and even pet care products.

The great news is even if summer camp is over it is never too late to stop exploring and gain new skills.  As the school year gears up and if you are curious about what chemicals are in the products you use everyday, such as your toothpaste or shampoo, look at the ToxNet databases you might be in for a surprise. Or maybe your stuck in a line, download and play ToxInvaders on your i-Phone. It is great entertainment for you and the kids and it may help them brush up on their science for the upcoming school year.

Categories: RML Blogs

Science Boot Camp for Librarians – Scholarship Recipient Post 7

Mon, 2018-08-20 16:48

This is the seventh blog post in a series authored by twelve individuals who received scholarships to attend the 2018 Science Boot Camp held at Brandeis University on June 13-15, 2018. In this installment, describes science boot camp as a networking event. Please watch for more posts about resources from this event and views from scholarship recipients in the upcoming weeks.
New England Science Boot Camp 2018

As a MLS student or early career librarian, attending professional development conferences can be daunting. You, as a first-time attendee, are surrounded by experienced librarians with well-established careers and positions within their institutions. Often the library professionals are not only attending, but also presenting at the event. In order to ask questions or create networking opportunities, you find yourself pushed outside of your comfort zone to initiate often awkward and forced conversation. I think we have all been through this before and it is not unique to the librarian experience, but it is overwhelming nonetheless.

Fully expecting this sort of awkwardness at the New England Science Boot Camp 2018, I prepared for the event by asking my assigned mentor a myriad of questions. I also sought advice from other librarians at my library who had attended the boot camp before. I was surprised to find that when I arrived at Brandeis University, I did very little initiating. People approached me and asked about my library, graduate student experience, and personal interests. I found the environment to be inviting and inclusive. While all of the sessions were informative and eye-opening, I found myself equally enjoying the conversations I had with others about their libraries, librarian career paths, and the projects and research they were involved in. Some of the most interesting stories were about the previous lives of librarians. I met ecologists, teachers, engineers, and people from all walks of life. I quickly found myself approaching others, and without any forced awkwardness, I sat with them at breakfast, walked with them to sessions, hung out with them during the breaks, and laughed with them at the dorm in the evenings.
Many of the librarians who are return attendees to the boot camp told me, “this is my favorite conference.” I believe it! The three-day event was informative, interesting, and honestly, it was a lot of fun. The fact that people continue to attend year after year, and create lasting professional relationships and friendships, should be enough to convince every MLS student and early career librarian to apply for a scholarship or register to attend the annual New England Science Boot Camp. It is a positive, energizing, and surprising experience. I think we can all agree that we need more of those in our personal and professional lives.

I would like to thank the New England Science Boot Camp for offering scholarships to attend this wonderful 3-day event. Also, I’d like to thank all of the awesome librarians who attended. You made me feel welcome from the very start to the very end!

Emily Ping O’Brien
Metadata and Discovery Assistant – Gordon Library at Worcester Polytechnic Institute
MLS Student – Texas Woman’s University

I hope you enjoy the latest installment of the Science Boot Camp for librarians. To read the first post please click here. For information about last weeks reflection please click here. For more about this year’s Science Boot Camp resources or other upcoming events, please visit the NNLM NER website, or contact anyone in the NNLM NER office.

Categories: RML Blogs

Learning about NLM’s Dietary Supplement Label Database

Fri, 2018-08-17 07:09

Collection of assorted pills, tablets and capsules.Here at the National Network of Libraries of Medicine (NNLM), we are responsible for raising awareness of the National Library of Medicine (NLM). With that in mind, I sent a survey to New England hospital librarians in May 2018. I offered a list of NLM databases and services. I asked librarians to identify the topics they were most interested in learning about. Dietary supplements and LinkOut were tied for first place. These results are handy. The first topic allows us to raise awareness of a database; the second prompts us to explore a service of the National Library of Medicine.

Dietary Supplement Label Database

According to this 2013 announcement from the National Institutes of Health:

Dietary supplements, taken regularly by about half of U.S. adults, can add significant amounts of nutrients and other ingredients to the diet. Supplements include vitamins, minerals, herbals and botanicals, amino acids, enzymes, and more. They come in many different forms, including tablets, capsules, and powders, as well as liquids and energy bars. Popular supplements include vitamins D and E; minerals like calcium and iron; herbs such as echinacea and garlic; and specialty products like glucosamine, probiotics, and fish oils.

The Dietary Supplement Label Database (DSLD) is a joint project of the National Institutes of Health Office of Dietary Supplements and the National Library of Medicine. The database was developed as a resource for the research community, health care providers and the public. DSLD provides ready access to label information for dietary supplements marketed in the United States. The content of this class is relevant for those working in consumer health information services.

We will be offering a webinar this fall to explore the DSLD. Dietary Supplement Database: Advanced Search and Download is scheduled for 2:00 PM ET on Thursday, September 13. This webinar gives an overview of the database, including filtering for ingredients, specific populations (pregnant/lactating, children, seniors) and health claims. We will review methods of downloading data sets.

For those working directly with consumers, we will highlight the Dietary Supplements Health Topics page in Many of the linked resources are to the NIH Office of Dietary Supplements and the DSLD.

In November: Webinar on LinkOut

In response to the interest in LinkOut, we are scheduling a webinar with Erin Latta from the National DOCLINE Coordination Office. Stay tuned for details. I hope you will join me in learning about these freely available databases and services from the National Library of Medicine.


Categories: RML Blogs

New Graphic Medicine Book Club Kit: Emergency Preparedness and Recovery

Mon, 2018-08-13 14:56

 Hurricane Katrina and New Orleans graphic novel.September is National Preparedness Month.  But why mention that in mid-August?

Because I’m happy to announce a brand-new Graphic Medicine Book Club Kit focused on Emergency Preparedness and Recovery just in time to include as part of National Preparedness Month activities.

Using Don Brown’s Drowned City: Hurricane Katrina and New Orleans, this kit provides a starting point for groups to discuss emergency preparedness and recovery, what happened in New Orleans before, during and after Hurricane Katrina and how learning about other natural disasters and emergencies can help us think about these events in our own lives and communities.

From the Publisher: On August 29, 2005, Hurricane Katrina’s monstrous winds and surging water overwhelmed the protective levees around low-lying New Orleans, Louisiana…The riveting tale of this historic storm and the drowning of an American city is one of selflessness, heroism, and courage—and also of incompetence, racism, and criminality. Don Brown’s kinetic art and as-it-happens narrative capture both the tragedy and triumph of one of the worst natural disasters in American history.

Drowned City tells the story of Hurricane Katrina starting with the storm forming in the Atlantic Ocean, making land fall in New Orleans and the missteps of planning and intervention that lead to tragedy.

The Book Club Kit includes:

  • Six copies of Drowned City
  • Discussion questions
  • How to Read a Graphic Novel handout
  • And information on Disaster Preparedness, Health Effects of Disasters, Helping Children Cope with Disaster, and more from trusted online sources like MedlinePlus, CDC, NIH and others

To order the kit for your book club, or community organization, fill out the book club request form here.  Only one kit is available for this health topic, so put in your request today.

Graphic Medicine Book Club Kits are available for six-week loans within the New England Region.  Other health topics available in the series include Addiction, Mental Health, Aging, Cancer, Veteran’s Health and more.

Categories: RML Blogs

Science Boot Camp for Librarians – Scholarship Recipient Post 6

Mon, 2018-08-13 12:24

This is the sixth blog post in a series authored by twelve individuals who received scholarships to attend the 2018 Science Boot Camp held at Brandeis University on June 13-15, 2018. In this installment, a view on how science boot camp helps a former science teacher who is now a new science librarian. Please watch for more posts about resources from this event and views from scholarship recipients in the upcoming weeks.
Paige Scudder – Research and Education Librarian, Dartmouth College – Science Bootcamp for Librarians 2018

As a former biology teacher, I feel as though I stumbled into the realm of science librarianship by chance. I went to library school because I wanted to teach skills instead of facts and I wanted to stay in a field that was constantly evolving/growing/changing. In my mind, I would be a public branch librarian or work for a small public library. Maybe spend some time in the children’s department, maybe not. It wasn’t until my advisor asked me why I hadn’t thought of being a science or health sciences librarian that I even considered other ideas of what I could do as a librarian. It wasn’t until I interviewed at Tufts University for a position in their health sciences library that I truly became excited. It wasn’t until I started working there that I realized I found my people, and I thought I had found them just by attending library school.

Finding a cohort of individuals within the library community that have experience with science databases, research and education completely changed the direction that I wanted to take with my career. During my time at Tufts, I spent time working on tutorials for the dental curriculum, assisted with evidence based medicine, lead workshops and more. I am so grateful to have had the learning experience and environment as a paraprofessional, it has made the transition to my professional position exciting and the right level of comfortable.

My supervisor sent me the announcement for Science Boot Camp while I was still in school and I immediately bookmarked the web page so that I wouldn’t miss sign ups. I was excited to listen to speakers within the field I had gone to college in and learn about ways that I could aid their research. More importantly, I couldn’t wait to meet more people within my cohort and learn about what they do.

As a biology major, I took ecology and genetics during my time as an undergrad, but I went to a small school we didn’t spend time discussing real world research and methodology that was used in the field. The speakers were very engaging and I was thrilled to see female scientists discussing their research. It was also exciting to learn about the newest attempt at a Lyme vaccine, which is something that I now look up about once a week to stay up to date on the progress.

Materials Science, on the other hand, was a topic that was more foreign to me. Learning how the topic was discussed, some of the background and research was very helpful. I loved that they had physical examples to pass around, it took the talk to a new level and provided concrete understanding to a topic that would have otherwise been more abstract.

The session I got the most out of was the Friday morning capstone session where we discussed the evaluation of journals and data. We live in a world where we no longer take government gathered data for granted, so it was very helpful to look at guidelines for evaluating that data or published article. Retraction Watch was also a topic not really touched upon in library school, which meant that this session laid the groundwork for a more formal approach to journal/article/data assessment that I can use in my job at Dartmouth College.

Science Boot Camp was a wonderful experience and I’m so grateful for the opportunity to attend. It was the perfect mix of educational, networking and fun – hopefully I’ll be able to attend future events!

I hope you enjoy the latest installment of the Science Boot Camp for librarians. To read the first post please click here. For information about last weeks reflection please click here. For more about this year’s Science Boot Camp resources or other upcoming events, please visit the NNLM NER website, or contact anyone in the NNLM NER office.

Categories: RML Blogs

Science Boot Camp for Librarians – Blog Post 5

Tue, 2018-08-07 12:39

This is the fifth blog post in a series authored by twelve individuals who received scholarships to attend the 2018 Science Boot Camp held at Brandeis University on June 13-15, 2018. In this installment, a view on how librarians juggle many rolls and useful websites highlighted by the presenters.  Please watch for more posts about this event and from scholarship recipients in the upcoming weeks.

Hello fellow participants…past, present and future,
This was my first year attending the New England Science Boot Camp. In fact, it was my first time ever experiencing a conference like this and now all other conferences will be slightly disappointing! What set this conference apart from others I’ve attended was the sense of community that blossomed over the course of just a few days. The shared experience of living in the dorms, dining together at the Faculty Club, attending all the same sessions together, and chatting in the evenings in the dorm living room created a truly remarkable experience.

I read a few of the blog posts from last year and remember someone saying that they knew they wanted to be a librarian from the time they were a small child. I’m almost the opposite. I was an avid library user, from the time I was old enough to leave the house on my own to today. However, it wasn’t until about 5 years after I earned my undergraduate degree that I learned about Library Science. I’d started working for YBP, which has since been bought by Baker and Taylor. It was a bit boring reviewing books in a cubicle all day long, but it did make me aware that there was such a thing as a Masters degree in Library and Information Science. It seemed to me then, and still seems true today, that librarians are actually Masters of all things, jacks (or jills) of all trades, caretakers and caregivers, mentors and friends. We teach research skills, we practice research skills and we advocate tirelessly for information integrity. The Boot Camp reinforced for me that the struggle is real and also necessary. It reminded me that I’m not alone in this and it motivated me to continue working hard. Also, I was reminded that beer with colleagues helps!

Some conference highlights for me:
Soldering and Special Collections: I ADORED soldering and immediately acquired my own soldering kit when I got home. This was a perfect way to start the conference. I also attended Special Collections tour just to have something to do and was so glad that I went. I’m a bit of an Einstein groupie, so getting to see a letter signed by him was really special. I’ve been a fan of his since reading the The Einstein-Russell Manifesto (1955) which calls for the end of nuclear weapons and is an inspiring read.
Ecology Session: I’ve added to my Forestry libguide and emailed my faculty, in case they weren’t already aware of it. I hold a Master’s Degree in Forestry so this session did not expand much on my current level of knowledge.

Retraction Session: Ivan Oransky taught me about the wide world of retractions. I’ve sent an FYI email to all ~180 of my faculty members and am keenly interested in holding a workshop at my campus on this topic. This was probably my favorite talk, partly because I wasn’t aware of this organization ahead of time and partly because this is a powerfully important topic.
Genetic Counseling Session: Several noteworthy publically available websites that provide genetic sequencing information and data were highlighted. These include: OMIM (Online Mendelian Inheritance in Man), GTEx Portal (Genotype-Tissue Expression), ExAC (Exome Aggregation Consortium) and gnomAD (Genome Aggregation Database). I also found the conversation about crowd-sourcing of genetic data and the discussion about privacy and genetic ownership thought-provoking.

Materials Science: The lectures were highly technical and did a great job and balancing the science and the business sides of materials science. One of the speakers was from MIT and I found the following free resources he mentioned particularly useful: MIT Publications Online ( and MIT curriculum’s and courses (

A sincere thank you to the organizers, attendees and particularly my mentor, Kara Kugelmeyer, who all made this a totally unforgettable experience. I can’t wait for next year!

– Rachel Knapp, Science and Engineering Reference Librarian, University of Maine, Orono.

I hope you enjoy the latest installment of the Science Boot Camp for librarians. To read the first post please click here. For information about last weeks reflection please click here. For more about this year’s Science Boot Camp resources or other upcoming events, please visit the NNLM NER website, or contact anyone in the NNLM NER office.

Categories: RML Blogs

Where do the French Go When Seeking Health and Medical Information?

Mon, 2018-08-06 15:10





The inside of my elbow swelled up and it was burning and itching. Hardly, a medical emergency, but enough discomfort for me to seek out some treatment information.   I couldn’t help it, before I knew it, the Education and Outreach Coordinator part of me had a nagging question related to work, even though I was on vacation visiting some French friends in the city of St. Etienne (, I had to know, where do the French go when they are looking for health information?

I was just about get onto the website. Thinking smugly to myself, how clever am I to use this sting experience as way to share my favorite health and medical website,  with my French friends? Before I could even type Insect Bites and Stings in the search box, Jeanne Marie offered to take me to the “Chemist” (the French name for “pharmacist.”) Little did I know that my sting would provide me with a lesson (and a blog post!) about the difference between French pharmacies and American pharmacies.  “We don’t look for information on the internet because our “chemists” are highly trained to provide medical information.”

I agreed to visit to the chemist who was located just a few miles away. After asking me a few questions and looking at my arm, the Chemist, went to a nearby shelf and came back with a a tube of hydrocortisone. She instructed, “Rub this lotion on the sting site 2 times each day.”  I followed her instructions and it took only a couple of hours for the swelling to go down and the itching and burning to stop.

Here are some interesting facts that I learned about pharmacies in France (on my vacation no less!)

  • France has about 23,000 pharmacies (to me that seems like a lot of pharmacies since the country of France is about equal in size to Texas.)
  • There are no pharmacy chains like CVS, Walgreens or RiteAid, only a Chemist can own a pharmacy and owership is restricted to just 1 pharmacy.
  • In France, to become a “Chemist” one must study for about 6 years. Chemists are able to make up prescriptions and they have a certain degree of medical training. For minor ailments, most people in France ask their Chemist for advice before they seek assistance from their doctor.
  • At the end of their studies, the title of ‘Docteur en Pharmacie’ is given to students. The students take an oath called le serment de Galien, which is inspired by the Hippocratic Oath.
  • Shampoo and gum are not available in a French pharmacy, only medicine is sold in a French pharmacy. Conversely, you are not able to purchase medicine in any other place but a pharmacy.
  • “Over the counter medications” as they are referred to here in the United States, such as aspirin, or ibuprophen, can only be sold by the Chemist, in the pharmacy.
  • Chemists are also trained to identify certain fungi. Therefore, you can take your mushrooms along to the pharmacy for the Chemist to identify them as poisonous or nonpoisonous!
Categories: RML Blogs

Science Boot Camp for Librarians Scholarship – Blog Post 4

Mon, 2018-07-30 17:17

This is the fourth blog post in a series authored by twelve individuals who received scholarships to attend the 2018 Science Boot Camp held at Brandeis University on June 13-15, 2018. In this installment, a fresh look at how science boot camp for librarians is valuable for those entering science librarianship from the humanities.  Please watch for more posts about this event and from scholarship recipients in the upcoming weeks.

I had the pleasure and privilege of being awarded a scholarship to attend the Science Boot Camp at Brandeis University in June of this year, and I’m pleased to be able to acknowledge what a positive and enriching experience it was.

I am new to the world of science librarianship, having come from the humanities, as many of us have. So this boot camp seemed a perfect opportunity to learn from my peers, as well as science and engineering professionals, specifically about what is expected of the STEM librarian in academia. The topics selected this year were all timely and cutting edge: ecology, genetic counseling, materials science, with a keynote of publication retraction and policing. Each one of the topics held good kernels of truth and intellectual depth that really couldn’t have been conveyed in a different setting.

For our ecology talk on Wednesday, I found myself fascinated by Dr. Davis’ understanding of the current and future trends in ecology, and I was also deeply interested in Dr. Olson’s granular knowledge of the tick problem in New England, and how he uses our offerings as librarians to help in his research. Both interestingly acknowledged that, in order to be an effective ecologist, you had to be a sucker for pain, considering the precision involved in mapping ecosystems from the individual all the way to the biosphere. Nota bene: invest in getting more opossums around my property, as they are natural-born tick killers!

Our Wednesday evening speaker, Retraction Watch co-founder, Ivan Oransky, was an engaging advocate for accountability in the academic publishing sphere, a subject near and dear to the heart of every academic librarian that I’m aware of. One key takeaway is that he insisted that the hallmark of a good academic publisher was its willingness to retract articles that require it, which is in contrast to my initial presumption of considering those with few-to-no retractions as the gold standard. Such is the state of academic publishing today: every one of them has likely had occasion to retract, but not all have done so. These retractions, it should be noted, can be performed for reasons ranging from something as generally benign as publisher error all the way to something as pernicious as plagiarism and faked data, or even faked peer-review, which is another type of duplicity on the rise.

On Thursday, we had separate panels on two flourishing scientific fields. The former panel was an interesting overview on genetic counseling, which is one of the hottest careers in the United States and Canada, with projected growth of 29% over the next eight years! The ubiquity of retail genetic tests such as 23&Me and Ancestry also make this a hot-button conversation as well, considering the amount of personal data being willingly given to companies by millions of people. The latter panel was a fascinating look at materials science, with Dr. Christopher Schuh speaking as head of the Materials Science and Engineering Department at MIT, and Dr. Seth Fraden speaking as a professor of Physics at Brandeis. They engaged in a very spirited discussion regarding the direction of the profession, as well as whether it’s a time for optimism or pessimism for materials science in both the near and distant future. (Unsurprisingly, good cases were made for both.) The capstone on Friday tackled the subject of predatory journals and open access, which has become a leech on the hide of many academic fields, and it encapsulated rather nicely Mr. Oransky’s talk on publication retractions two nights previous.

But perhaps the most important takeaway of the entire conference was how kind and accessible so many of the librarians were at this conference, from the organizers to the attendees. I’ve been to other, larger conferences, and they can easily devolve into a networking nightmare, with previously-formed cliques dominating the social scene. This retreat created an experience of bonhomie and openness. I met so many friendly librarians from so many interesting places, and I went back to my home library with a quiver full of new techniques and information. It was a truly worthwhile experience, and one I hope to repeat, perhaps even as a mentee, if time allows in the coming years.

Daniel A. Neal, MLIS
Reference & Instruction Coordinator
Douglas D. Schumann Library & Learning Commons
Wentworth Institute of Technology

I hope you enjoy the latest installment of the Science Boot Camp for librarians. To read the first post please click here. For information about last week’s reflection please click here. For more about this year’s Science Boot Camp resources or other upcoming events, please visit the NNLM NER website, or contact anyone in the NNLM NER office.

Categories: RML Blogs

The Unlinkable Data Challenge

Tue, 2018-07-24 13:12

If you have concerns about data privacy here is your chance to advance the privacy and security of information and public safety data! There is a contest called the Unlinkable Data Challenge: Advancing Methods in Differential Privacy to address the issue of protecting individual privacy while allowing for data to be used by researchers for positive purposes. It is posted by the National Institute of Standards and Technology, and the Public Safety Communications Innovation Accelerator. The challenge is to propose a mechanism to protect personally identifiable information while maintaining a data set’s utility. The Unlinkable Data Challenge is a multi-stage Challenge with prizes. There are many ways to participate, as a contestant, individually or as part of a team, or as a voter. The planned prizes for the Stage 1 Concept Paper are:

  • $15,000 – Grand Prize
  • $10,000 – Runner up prize
  • $5,000 – Honorable Mention Prize
  • $20,000 – Four, $5,000 People’s Choice Prizes

The more ideas and more people involved the better we all will be. The NIST official rules to the contest are posted on and a full copy of those rules are in the Challenge Specific Agreement on the HeroX Unlinkable Data Challenge: Advancing Methods in Differential Privacy website. To register for the challenge competition: go to the HeroX website. and register with a username and password. Official entries are accepted only through the HeroX platform on or before 5 PM ET August 2, 2018.

  • Submission deadline August 2, 2018 @ 5pm ET
  • People’s Choice Voting August 14 – August 28, 2018
  • Winners Announced September 12, 2018

Registration for Stages 2 and 3 will take place in September and November 2018 through the TopCoder platform. Announcements will be posted to for the final two ‘algorithm’ stages. With your help we can assure trust in the privacy and security of information and data through vigilance, proactive policies and innovative technological developments.

Categories: RML Blogs

Science Boot Camp for Librarians Scholarship Recipient

Mon, 2018-07-23 15:07
This is the third blog post in a series authored by 12 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. For more about this year’s Science Bootcamp resources or other upcoming events, please visit the NNLM NER website, or contact anyone in the NNLM NER office.

Alex Goudreau– Science & Health Sciences Liaison Librarian at University of New Brunswick Saint John, Canada

Attending Science Boot Camp 2018 was the best professional development I’ve had so far as a new academic librarian. Supporting the science side of my new role is my biggest challenge, and learning more about the topics at Boot Camp has started to fill in my knowledge gaps.

Boot Camp was a short and sweet experience; 2 ½ days really flew by. Despite this being my first boot camp, I felt immediately welcome by members of the Planning Committee and fellow attendees. I arrived early enough Wednesday morning to wander around the lovely Brandeis campus (bunnies everywhere!), and attended the pre-camp visit to the Robert D. Farber University Archives & Special Collections. The archivist was thrilled to show off the science and medical special collections; weird and wonderful pieces included a book on the science of toenails!
This year’s topics covered ecology, genetic counseling, and materials science, and I learned so much! Miranda Davis of UConn gave an easy to understand overview on ecology, and Brandeis’ own Eric Olson’s presentation on his Lyme disease and tick research was especially fascinating. We learned about tick lifecycles and how they contract Lyme, how deer end up as walking singles bars for adult ticks, and how possums may be our saviors to help lower the spread of Lyme.

The show and tell Materials Science presentation delivered by Chris Schuh from MIT was such a great experience. As the “architects of solid matter” he showed us how materials scientists bring ideas from other science disciplines and engineering to create really useful things – including 3D metal printing, foam made out of aluminum, neural interface fiber probes, and super elastic wires.
Being a scholarship recipient was very beneficial. Having the registration covered was helpful, and being assigned a mentor was even better. I really appreciated the dedicated time in the schedule for meeting with mentors – I wish it was longer! Talking with my mentor, Barbara Merolli, was invaluable. We had similar work experiences, and after peppering her with questions I felt like I was on the right track settling into my new role. Having buttons identifying mentors and mentees was a great idea, and helped the mentees in particular mingle with each other. Maybe sensing kinship, many of the librarians I spent time with at camp were fellow mentees.

This was also only my second experience live tweeting and following an event hashtag (#sciboot18) on Twitter. It was great engaging with fellow campers on Twitter, and sharing what was being presented for everyone who couldn’t attend. It was also amusing to be recognized at breaks from my Twitter profile and it helped break the ice meeting people.

Boot Camp was educational yes, but also a lot of fun! Meals were great, staying in the dorm was an experience in and of itself, and the banquet was a blast. I can’t say enough positive things about the Planning Committee, and how well everything was organized; their hard work showed. And the food! I’m someone who has to snack often or I get hangry, and I never went hungry with all the delicious snacks and meals at Boot Camp!

I loved my time at Boot Camp, and will definitely attend in the future. If you’re looking for an opportunity to connect with your community of science librarians, learn about interesting science topics from interesting people, then I highly recommend New England Science Boot Camp! Thank you again for the scholarship and the opportunity to attend.

I hope you enjoy the latest installment of the Science Boot Camp for librarians. To read the first post please click here. For information about last weeks reflection please click here. For more about this year’s Science Bootcamp resources or other upcoming events, please visit the NNLM NER website, or contact anyone in the NNLM NER office.
Categories: RML Blogs

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