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Updated: 1 hour 22 min ago

Hello NER!

Mon, 2020-08-10 14:24

Hello NER!

I am excited to join the NNLM NER team as the Interim Associate Director and recognize the incredible leadership of Martha Meacham. As I transition into the role, I am eager to learn about the region, connect with our partners at various institutions and organizations, and continue the conversations on how NER can support the unique health information needs of our region.

The NER team have shared the programs and outreach activities that they have been working on and it is incredible to see the impact and success that they have had! Going forward, we have a full calendar of webinars and programs and I invite you all to participate (https://nnlm.gov/training/classes-by-availability) and just a reminder – we are here for you.

Please reach out to say hello and to connect.  I can be reached at   Jessica.kilham@umassmed.edu.

Categories: RML Blogs

Health Sciences Libraries Webinar Series 2020-2021

Thu, 2020-08-06 11:20

The Health Sciences Libraries Webinar Series is a collaborative series intended to explore products and services provided by the National Library of Medicine through case studies. This series aims to support the work of health sciences and hospital librarians as they serve their institutional communities. The webinars will explore National Library of Medicine resources through real world examples provided by experienced librarians.

  • Identify National Library of Medicine products and services.
  • Integrate National Library of Medicine products and services into workflows.
  • Assist institutional community members in the selection and use of National Library of Medicine products and services.

The series launched in June with Searching LactMed and LiverTox for Drug Effects. Due to the audio issues, the instructor (me!) re-recorded this webinar.

When viewing the recording, I recommend that you enable the captions during the search demonstration. Sharing the screen is a big task for my home laptop and rural internet connection. The sound is a little garbled but much better than the live class! The captions will help. During the webinar, we used these search terms: LactMed; methadone; buprenorphine; buprenorphine and naloxone; LiverTox; acetaminophen; buprenorphine lactation; acetaminophen liver.

I mention two NNLM Resource Picks webinars. Here are the links to those recordings:

Bookshelf (Feb 2020)
LactMed and LiverTox (Nov 2018)

Slides to Searching LactMed and LiverTox for Drug Effects are available upon request. Please email me (link below). If you watch the recording, you are eligible for MLA CE. Here is the evaluation link. You must fill out the evaluation to receive the code for CE.

Upcoming Webinar on Resources for Images

The series continues on Tuesday, August 18th at 1:00pm ET. Join Kelsey Cowles for NLM Resources for Images. The National Library of Medicine offers several unique resources for locating various types of images related to medical and health topics. This one-hour webinar tailored to health sciences librarians will cover how to use several of these resources. Practical and creative ideas for utilizing these resources and introducing them to faculty, staff, and students will also be provided.

Register at this link.

Categories: RML Blogs

My “Externship” Experience with the UMass Medical School Library and the NNLM NER

Fri, 2020-07-31 15:32

The following blog post was written by Regina Agyemang, a rising junior from the Abbey Kelly Foster Charter Public School in Worcester, Massachusetts. Regina is also member of the Girls Inc. of Worcester Eureka program. Regina spent the month of July working with the staff of the UMass Medical School Library and the NNLM NER.




This summer I was given the opportunity to work with the University of Massachusetts Medical School Library and the NNLM NER as an “extern” through the Girls Inc organization. Because of COVID this opportunity was conducted completely remotely. During the past fourweeks of my externship, I was able to meet some of the amazing library staff and also learn about the NNLM organization. When I first found out about this externship, I had no idea what Iwas getting myself into. I had never heard of the NNLM before. However, I decided to take the opportunity to be an extern and I’m glad I did.

Over the course of the four weeks, I met Vivian Okyere from the Library Operations team as well as the members of the Library Research and Scholarly Communications team, and the Education and Clinical Services team. These meetings helped me learn about the medical school library and services the librarians provide for the medical school students. The UMass Medical School Library is a partner of the New England Region of the NNLM.

Several times each week, I met with staff from the NNLM NER. Martha Meacham, Associate Director and Susan Halpin, Education and Outreach Coordinator taught me about the NNLM organization as a whole. I was also able to help with work specifically related to the NER. I provided a young person’s perspective with my input about relevant health and medical information for an educational webinar Susan created and is currently updating for young adults. I also helped with checking links and providing additional descriptions for the resource list that will be part of this webinar.

While working with Susan, I learned about other types of outreach programs the NNLM offers. From providing grants to organizations to presenting webinars on health topics and NLM resources, the NNLM actively works with the community to provide health information and trustworthy online resources. My time with Susan allowed me to learn about so many different resources that can benefit my family, friends, church, and myself. Two of my uncles are pharmacists and one is an orthopedic surgeon. The NNLM has online resources that my uncles could use for research regarding their professions. I discovered a printable promotional flyer that lists websites that are specifically geared toward pharmacists that can be printed from the NER website. My church could also use resources from the NNLM to educate themselves. My church is big on living a healthy life spiritually and physically. With the NNLM’s resources such as MedlinePlus, training classes and grants, my church may be able to work with the NER to organize a program to provide information on many different health topics from mental health to healthy eating.

During my meetings with Susan, we talked a lot about mental health. As a high school student, mental health is an important topic to me. Some people fail to realize the amount of stress high school students go through due to grades, college, standardized tests, social media, and many other things. I have seen first-hand the effects of all these things on the mental health of students especially in a time like this. As a result, two of my friends and I decided to start a club on mental health to provide support and resources to other students. However, due to the current pandemic, the club won’t be able to start running this fall. When the club does start, I have a plethora of resources to fall back on thanks to the NNLM. I now know of many different websites and organizations that I can bring back to school. My school, the Abby Kelley Foster Charter Public School in Worcester, Mass received an NER grant to pay for a speaker on mental health. Thanks to the resources at the NNLM, my school will be able to receive the mental health programming that we need.

If you asked me about the NNLM a month ago, I wouldn’t have been able to tell you anything. I now know that the NNLM is a network that helps improve public health by providing the public access to online health information, resources, and data you can trust. This information is all online and is used and promoted through libraries and other members of its network. Even though my externship this year wasn’t conventional, I’m still glad I was able to get to know the staff and learn about their jobs. I now have many people to turn to that are willing to help me with whatever I need. This by far has been my favorite externship.

Categories: RML Blogs

RDM Snippets – File Naming Conventions and Dates

Fri, 2020-07-31 13:19

This is the first post in a monthly series that will share tips, tricks, and resources that help you simplify the process of organizing your data. It’s always good to refresh your skills and think about different ways to manage data, as well as learn ways that librarians and others can communicate this information while teaching or working.

This month let’s look at file naming conventions, including date formatting. Having a file naming convention can save you both time and energy, especially when you’re managing large amounts of data. A good file naming system makes it easy to find specific files, sort by date or time, and to organize different parts of a workflow.

File naming isn’t just for research, it can also help organize your personal or work files.

As you begin a research project or plan to start organizing your files, think about the types of files you have. Determine a simple but descriptive structure. Be sure to share this with anyone you may be collaborating with, and make a file with notes for yourself to keep track of the convention.

Important things to remember when creating with a file naming convention:

  • Be descriptive. Don’t worry about trying to abbreviate or keep the file name short. Descriptive is better than inscrutable. You won’t remember what that made-up abbreviation is next time you go to look at the file, and the people you work with won’t understand it either. If you need to use any abbreviations or shortened terms, make a note of these in your documentation.
  • Make the file name human and machine readable. Use_underscores_ or-use-dashes. Don’t use spaces between terms in the file name. Many software programs no longer allow spaces. Spaces can also cause errors in coding languages if you are using them for analysis.

Bad: stdntsrvjan20

Good: student_survey_january_2020

  • Make your file names extensibile. This means ordering numbers in the file names so that the computer can sort them in the correct order and you can easily read them. You can see in the example below that adding additional digit spaces makes the numbers sort nicely into order.
Bad Good sample_1 sample_001 sample_10 sample_002 sample_2 sample_003 sample_3 sample_004 sample_4 sample_005 sample_5 sample_006 sample_6 sample_007 sample_7 sample_008 sample_8 sample_009 sample_9 sample_010 sample_11 sample_011
  • Avoid special characters such as $ % ^ & # | :,. They can cause errors if you are working with programming or scripting languages, and many software programs won’t accept them.


Dates can be an important part of your file name. Formatting dates the same way each time and in a universal standard format such as ISO 8601 will make them easier to read and avoid confusion over different international formats for writing dates.

The ISO8601 date format is YYYY-MM-DD.




If needed, you can make the date more granular by adding the time including hours, minutes, and seconds for observations that need to have a time stamp.



The full ISO8601 standard has much more information about breaking down dates and times even further.

(insert below comic here, https://imgs.xkcd.com/comics/iso_8601.png to download image or hotlink)

Link to source for posting in the blog: https://xkcd.com/1179/

Further resources on dates and file names:

Data Librarian Kristin Briney has written a great blog post about naming conventions, and has a worksheet  you can use to determine a naming convention for your project.

The ISO8601 standard

DataOne Best Practices for Date and Time

The next RDM Snippets post in August will look at stable file formats for open and/or long term access and preservation.

Categories: RML Blogs

What is Geroscience?

Tue, 2020-07-28 10:43

A term keeps popping up around the NIH and NLM; Geroscience.

The meaning may be obvious if you understand the parts of the word; gero- in medicine is a prefex indicating the association with old age or aging, and science – the study of something. But that doesn’t really get to the heart of what Geroscience is.

The National Institute on Aging (NIA) has been tackling this topic. In an article, Geroscience: The intersection of basic aging biology, chronic disease, and health, the question is raised, “How does the aging process affect the disease process and susceptibility—and vice versa?” In detail answering, ”Geroscience… seek[s] to understand the genetic, molecular, and cellular mechanisms that make aging a major risk factor and driver of common chronic conditions and diseases of older people.”

Geroscience is a NIH-wide initiative. The Trans-NIH Geroscience Interest Group (GSIG) was formed in 2012 with the goal of stimulating interest and involvement in the basic science of aging across Institutes, Centers, and Offices at NIH. Summits have been held, working groups formed, and much more collaborative work has demonstrated the impact of studying aging in this new way. In an article in Cell they call for geroscience to merge with ongoing research on human chronic disease states, compare and contrast inflammation in aging and disease, and develop new animal models of aging, among other recommendations.

The American Federation for Aging Research advocates that, “By treating aging – not just age related disease – we can stay healthy longer.” Their hypothesis is, ” since aging physiology plays a major role in many — if not all — chronic diseases, therapeutically addressing aging physiology directly will prevent the onset or mitigate the severity of multiple chronic diseases.” With the goal of, “develop[ing] feasible, practical, and safe interventions to delay the appearance of multiple chronic diseases and conditions. Interventions that slow the aging processes would dramatically lower health care costs, perhaps more than the cure of any single disease, while significantly improving quality of life.”

So what is next? By 2050, approximately one-quarter of the world’s population will be over 60 years of age. Growing acknowledgement of the issue and growing research around the topic are successfully introducing new fields to the concept. Geroscience is moving beyond the traditional aliments of old age like cancer, diabetes, Alzheimer’s, and cardiovascular disease. There are areas of musculoskeletal diseases and oral health that have arisen as issues in aging. As the NIA puts it, “The ultimate goal of geroscience is to accelerate research into the basic mechanisms driving aging, which could lead to improved clinical interventions. Toward that goal, the GSIG remains focused on discovering the basic biology at the intersection among aging, chronic disease, frailty, and resilience. Basic biology renders the process of aging the major risk factor for the age-related decline in health, threatening an increasingly older population.”


Links and Resources

American Federation for Aging Research – What is Geroscience? Connecting the Biology of Aging and the Biology of Disease  https://www.afar.org/what-is-geroscience

Cell – Geroscience: Linking Aging to Chronic Disease  https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S009286741401366X

National Institute on Aging: Geroscience: The intersection of basic aging biology, chronic disease, and health https://www.nia.nih.gov/research/dab/geroscience-intersection-basic-aging-biology-chronic-disease-and-health

Penn Medicine News: Geroscience? Much More Than a Reaction to the “Silver Tsunami” https://www.pennmedicine.org/news/news-blog/2014/november/geroscience-much-more-than-a-r


Categories: RML Blogs

Librarians Keep Learning

Tue, 2020-07-28 09:39

Improving one’s self and continuing to learn should be explicitly incorporated into our jobs. It benefits our work, those we work with, and the organization as a whole. Working from home presents an opportunity to learn new things. Obviously, keep doing the work expected of you, but you might find that you have some time that can be used for your own edification.

Below are a few resources that might be of interest. It might be helpful to take classes outside of librarianship. There are so many topics that may not seem to be connected, but all different types of information can be helpful and applicable to librarianship. Knowledge grows at the intersections of topics and disciplines, so why not take advantage of these unique circumstances to broaden your horizons.

Library Specific

This amazing collaborative resource has been put together https://docs.google.com/document/d/1jJt1qoNqe_XteGFvzK2vq_fzutTAP8XCjESH8pHmFxE/edit?pli=1#heading=h.2e411a4p97b It has a lot of different library topics and formats. And if you know any that should be included, you can add them.

Of course it is important to include the NNLM’s recorded webinars available on YouTube. There are also on demand classes from the NNLM

Some other library focused trainings include:

There are many other resources specifically for libraries or librarians, but this is a good time to explore new areas. with an open mind, almost everyone can learn something new, from any topic, that is applicable to librarianship. Why not also take a course on Cognitive Fitness or rhetoric or the Philosophy and the Science of Human Nature. Learning for learning sake is a legitimate use of time. You never know when it might be useful or pertinent. While there are lots of services and products out there, many have a cost associated.This post is focused on free resources, but we make no guarantees on content, cost, or availability.

Other topics or just for fun

There are probably many, many other resources out there. We encourage you to explore and share. The point is, take some time to learn something new and Have Fun!

Categories: RML Blogs

Black Mothers at Increased Risk of Pregnancy-Related Death

Tue, 2020-07-14 08:26

Image from womenshealth.gov.

As I am writing this blog post, I saw a news headline that British YouTube star Nicole Thea died at the age of 24. The article stated that she was eight months pregnant. We do not know the cause of her death. We do know that, as a Black woman, Nicole Thea was at risk for maternal death.

In May 2020, I attended a virtual conference on Pregnancy and Maternal Conditions that Increase Risk of Morbidity and Mortality. This NIH VideoCast was sponsored by the Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development, Office of Research on Women’s Health, National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute and the Office of Disease Prevention.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention:

Maternal mortality is an important health indicator, and correctly identifying and reporting maternal deaths has been a longstanding challenge. A maternal death is defined as, “the death of a woman while pregnant or within 42 days of termination of pregnancy,” but excludes those from accidental or incidental causes. The national maternal mortality rate (MMR) in 2018 was 17.4. The rate for non-Hispanic black persons in 2018 was more than twice that for non-Hispanic white persons, 37.1 compared with 14.7. Rates also increased substantially by age, with rates for women aged 40 and over roughly eight times the rate for women under 25 (81.9 and 10.6, respectively).

Please see the CDC for details.

The US data shows us that Black women are at higher risk of maternal death. Weathering, a term given to us by public health researcher Arline Geronimus, is increasingly evident as a major stressor for Black women, leading to increased allostatic load. Allostatic load refers to wear and tear on the body due to chronic stress.

The responsibility for reducing maternal death falls largely to the health care system, according to this Report from Nine Maternal Mortality Review Committees.  In about one-third of the cases, patients lacked awareness of the warning signs. Raising awareness among Black women is not enough. Even when patients are aware, this report offers ample evidence that health care providers fail to diagnose or effectively treat Black women. Patients encounter a health care system with inadequately trained personnel, inadequate policies and procedures, and inadequate communication between providers who are caring for Black women.

Causes of Maternal Death

The two-day virtual conference, available for viewing through the NIH VideoCast website, covered multiple causes of maternal death. Black women are at increased risk for all of these conditions. As stated by many of the researchers, we need to understand how racism is impacting the health of Black women and girls throughout their lifespans.

  • Postpartum Hemorrhage
  • Pre-eclampsia and Eclampsia
  • Amniotic Fluid Embolism
  • Maternal Sepsis
  • Venous Thromboembolic Disorders
  • Cardiovascular Disease
  • Peripartum Cardiomyopathy
  • Maternal Stroke
  • Chronic Hypertension
  • Sleep Disordered Breathing
  • Pulmonary Hypertension
  • Kidney Disease and Kidney Injury
  • Gestational Diabetes
  • Substance Use Disorders
  • Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities
  • Psychopathy
  • Psychiatric Medications
  • Substance Abuse, Self-Harm and Violence
Risk of Preeclampsia and Eclampsia

Two years ago, singer-songwriter and actress Beyoncé revealed that she suffered from preeclampsia during pregnancy. Preeclampsia is a multi-systemic syndrome–a cardiovascular disease that potentially involves liver or kidney damage. Many people associate preeclampsia with hypertension, yet researchers are considering that this condition could possibly exist without hypertension. Most deaths due to preeclampsia and eclampsia happen during postpartum, disputing the belief that birth will “cure” these pregnancy-related conditions.

Risk of Venous Thromboembolic Disorders

Tennis superstar Serena Williams experienced a pulmonary embolism during postpartum. Pulmonary embolism is a Venous Thromboembolic Disorder.  The 2019 review, Venous thromboembolism as a cause of severe maternal morbidity and mortality in the United States. found that deaths due to pulmonary embolism account for 9.2% of all pregnancy-related deaths. The article states that maternal deaths are more common among women who deliver by Cesarean section. Black women, as well as older mothers and women with co-morbidities, are at higher risk of Venous Thromboembolic Disorders. Despite her physical fitness, Serena Williams was at risk.

Learn More with the Network

Check out these resources from the Network of the National Library of Medicine.

Black Maternal Health Suggested Readings

Anti-Racism in Graphic Medicine

Black/African American Health Resources



Categories: RML Blogs