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South Central Region
Updated: 9 min 52 sec ago

Oklahoma Healthy Aging Initiative

Mon, 2020-06-29 05:55

We are happy to bring you a series of guest blog posts that will highlight some of the completed projects from Year 4 subawardees. We hope you enjoy this little peek into what network libraries are doing with their funding; perhaps you will even get some inspiration for your own future projects! 

This week’s post comes from the Oklahoma Healthy Aging Initiative.

In the spring of 2019, flooding along the Arkansas River Basin did an estimated $3.1 billion in damage across Oklahoma and Arkansas, according to the National Center of Environmental Information.  After the flood water receded, the Oklahoma Healthy Aging Initiative stepped in to assist individuals affected by the flooding with education on chronic diseases and mental health.

The Oklahoma Healthy Aging Initiative is a sponsored program of the University of Oklahoma Health Sciences Center’s Section of Geriatric Medicine, within the College of Medicine.  The program uses a multifaceted approach focused on improving the health and quality of life of older Oklahomans and their caregivers through community-based health education and outreach.

OHAI’s statewide senior health network includes Centers of Healthy Aging in five regions across the state. Each center offers educational programs geared toward seniors, caregivers and professionals throughout their respective regions. Programs include topics ranging from healthy aging to assisting individuals living with chronic diseases.

Thanks to a grant from the National Network of Libraries of Medicine, South Central Region, OHAI was able to provide two different programs to individuals who were affected by the flooding in the Arkansas River Basin.  This funding allowed OHAI to provide Healthy Brain, Healthy Mind and Diabetes and Beyond. The funding also allowed OHAI to provide Aging Simulation in Sensitivity Training  to health care providers in the Tulsa metro area.

Healthy Brain, Healthy Mind helps older adults understand the many ways they can maintain a healthy brain. Through more than a dozen methods – such as establishing good habits and routines, physical activity and nutrition – participants will learn how to improve their physical and mental health.

The Diabetes and Beyond programs provide comprehensive education on how to better manage diabetes. Through this interactive class, participants will take control of their health by learning how to help control their diabetes with proper diet, exercise and medication.

The Aging Simulation Sensitivity Training provides a general overview of many of the chronic conditions affecting older adults. ASiST provides hands-on exercises that are meant to show what it’s like to handle everyday tasks while dealing with such challenges. This training allows for discussion on how age-related health challenges may impact elders’ autonomy and ability to live independently. The training also allows participants to consider solutions and supports currently available to elders — and brainstorm other potentially successful interventions. Sharing their experiences with their peers helps them process lessons learned in a meaningful, memorable way — even as the training directs their focus to positive problem-solving.  As a result, providers become more compassionate and effective in their work.

The funding allowed OHAI to provide additional information and education on disaster preparation while educating individuals on the different resources provided by the Network of the National Library of Medicine. OHAI educators provided training to over 50 individuals throughout the affected region.

Thank you, OHAI! 

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Categories: RML Blogs

Find Trusted Health Information in Spanish for Your Patrons / Encuentre Información de Salud Confiable en Español para Sus Usuarios

Tue, 2020-06-23 05:05

This post comes to us from our friends in the NNLM Pacific Southwest Region and MidContinental Region. Although this content did not originate locally, we think it is relevant to many communities in the South Central Region.

Find Trusted Health Information in Spanish for Your Patrons

When library patrons ask you for health information in Spanish about COVID-19 or other issues, NNLM has resources to get you started.

Available tools range from Spanish-language videos featuring Latino medical professionals to resources selected by trusted members of the Spanish-speaking community. The materials come from reliable sources like the National Library of Medicine and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Many of these resources are recommended by promotores, members of the community who serve as connections between them and healthcare systems, information, and resources. Because promotores are the heart of their communities, they are able to deliver assistance where it is needed the most.

Vision y Compromiso (VyC), is a nonprofit organization dedicated to supporting, training, and most importantly celebrating promotores across the nation. Vision y Compromiso is marking 20 years of work devoted to improving the lives and health of their communities.

In response to the pandemic affecting Spanish-speaking communities Vision y Compromiso developed a series of webinars for participants to learn about trusted places to find health information, myths about COVID19, and how to take care of oneself during these safer at home times.

You can find the recorded webinars and resources on the Vision y Compromiso COVID-19 page. The NNLM PSR shares the promotores mission of building healthier communities and created a page with Spanish Language COVID-19 health information materials to support Spanish speakers as well. The PSR has previously collaborated with promotores, described by Yamila El-Kkayat, in this video about outreach work in Arizona.

The JUNTOS Center for Advancing Latino Health at Kansas University Medical Center has created JUNTOS Radio, an ongoing series of podcasts in Spanish on health topics. The podcasts feature interviews with Latino health professionals about issues of concern to the Latino community in Kansas and elsewhere.

JUNTOS partnered with a health sciences librarian to include credible and authoritative consumer health information resources that were relevant to the different health topics discussed in each episode. Brenda Linares, health sciences librarian at the A.R. Dykes Library, pictured below, also recorded a Health Literacy and evaluating websites episode.

Topics so far include COVID-19, child obesity, Alzheimer’s disease and exercise at home. Each podcast also includes information on the All of Us Research Program, an effort to enlist one million or more people from across the U.S. to help speed up medical research by sharing their medical information.

They are posted on Podbean, iTunes and in video format on YouTube and Facebook. You can access the podcasts at the JUNTOS Podbean page, on iTunes, on the JUNTOS YouTube channel for the JUNTOS Center for Advancing Latino Health, or on the JUNTOS Facebook page.

To get an English auto-translation on the YouTube version, go to the settings for the video. Then select Subtitles, Auto-translate and finally English.

Encuentre información de salud confiable en español para sus usuarios

Cuando sus usuarios le pregunten por información de salud en español sobre COVID-19 u otros temas, la NNLM tiene los recursos que usted necesita.

Los recursos incluyen videos en español con médicos profesionales latinos y una selección de recursos en español seleccionados por miembros de la comunidad de habla hispana. Estos materiales vienen de fuentes fiables como la Biblioteca Nacional de Medicina de Estados Unidos y los Centros para el Control y Prevención de Enfermedades.

Muchos de estos recursos son recomendados por las promotoras, quienes son miembros de la comunidad que sirven como conexión entre el sistema de salud, la información, y los recursos disponibles. Como las promotoras son el corazón de sus comunidades, ellas tienen la capacidad de llevar y dar asistencia donde la comunidad lo necesite.

Visión y Compromiso (VyC), es una organización no lucrativa dedicada a apoyar, entrenar, y sobre todo celebrar a las promotoras en toda la nación estadounidense. Visión y Compromiso esta celebrando sus 20 años de trabajo y devoción a mejorar las vidas y la salud de su comunidad.

En respuesta a la pandemia que esta afectando a la comunidad de habla hispana, Visión y Compromiso desarrollo una serie de seminarios web (webinars) para que participantes aprendan sobre lugares de confianza para encontrar información de salud, mitos sobre COVID-19, y cómo cuidarse uno mismo durante este tiempo de quedarse en casa.

Usted puede encontrar las grabaciones de estos seminarios web (webinars) y recursos en la página web de Visión y Compromiso sobre COVID 19. La NNLM PSR comparte la misión de las promotoras de formar comunidades saludables y ha creado una página en español sobre COVID-19 con información de salud y material que apoya a la comunidad de habla hispana.  LA PSR previamente ha colaborado con promotoras. Usted puede ver este video donde Yamila El-Khayat, habla sobre su proyecto y trabajo en Arizona, con las promotoras.

JUNTOS, El Centro para el Avance de la Salud Latina del Centro Médico de la Universidad de Kansas (University of Kansas Medical Center), ha creado JUNTOS-RADIO, una serie de podcasts en español con varios temas de salud.  Los podcasts cuentan con entrevistas con profesionales latinos de salud donde hablan sobre temas de interés para la comunidad Latina en Kansas y otros lugares.

Los temas cubiertos hasta hoy incluyen el COVID-19, la obesidad infantil, la enfermedad de Alzheimer, la hipertensión, y cómo hacer ejercicios en casa.  El equipo continúa produciendo más podcasts con otros temas relevantes para la comunidad Latina. Además de cubrir cada tema en español, cada podcast también incluye información sobre el programa Científico All of Us (All of US Research Program), el cual es una campaña que pretende inscribir a un millón de personas de todo Estados Unidos para ayudar a acelerar la investigación médica,  compartiendo información médica.

Estos podcasts, están disponibles en PodBeaniTunes, y también en el formato de video en YouTube y Facebook.  Usted puede verlos o descargarlos desde la página de JUNTOS-RADIO Podbean, en iTunes, en el canal de YouTube de JUNTOS,  y en la página de Facebook de JUNTOS, El Centro para el Avance de la Salud Latina.

To get an English auto-translation on the YouTube version of the podcast, go to the settings for the video. Then select Subtitles, Auto-translate and finally English.

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Categories: RML Blogs

Healthy Wise County

Tue, 2020-06-16 04:30

We are happy to bring you a series of guest blog posts that will highlight some of the completed projects from Year 4 subawardees. We hope you enjoy this little peek into what network libraries are doing with their funding; perhaps you will even get some inspiration for your own future projects! 

This week’s post comes from Decatur Public Library in Decatur, Texas.

In the late winter of 2018, Wise Health Systems began bringing the community together through their Healthy Wise County initiative. This initiative sought to reduce the top three health related issues in the county: heart disease, obesity, and mental health. At the end of summer reading that year, it was time to plan for 2019 programming. We chose to support the county initiative and combine a health challenge (physical health) into our reading challenge (brain health). The results of this program incorporated several community organizations and increased our participation over 400%.

One challenge in adding the health portion to our challenge was that of funding. We went directly to National Network of Libraries of Medicine (NNLM) after learning of their “Consumer Health Outreach Award”. Our proposal included health related books for the library, health programs including yoga and Zumba classes as well as creating posters for several winners to have their picture on a poster for their school and for the library showing them as healthy heroes.

Our community partners included Fit-N-Wise, the hospital supported rehabilitation and fitness center, Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Office, STAR Council on Substance Abuse, and Decatur Independent School District’s (DISD) Nutrition Department. A challenge for our community and other Texas communities is how to exercise during the hot summer months. Fit-N-Wise helped solve this issue by allowing those participating in our summer reading program to gain access to their health facility at no charge for the duration of the program which included the months of June and July. They also provided instructors for the yoga and Zumba classes held at the library. These instructors were paid through the NNLM award. AgriLife assisted with supporting family health also through their Walk N Talk Program that was held at the library. DISD provided free meals once a week to children in our community. Each week, food would be delivered to our library to be served after the week’s live entertainment.

In the fall of 2019, posters were presented to the winners of the program. Winners were chosen by drawing from those who had completed both the reading and health challenges, including one student from each elementary, intermediate, and middle school in the local district. Winners were also selected from two of the surrounding school districts. The hope is to garner interest for next year’s challenge as the kids will be given the opportunity to do both challenges again and to receive their picture on the poster that is distributed to their school.

We are grateful to NNLM for their support in this process and for our program. Everyone we worked with at the South Central Region’s office was very helpful and supportive through the entire process. If you are looking for funding for your health programs, look into the grants and awards offered by NNLM.

Thank you, DPL team! 

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Categories: RML Blogs

The Connection: Summer 2020

Fri, 2020-06-12 18:45

Hot off the presses! The first issue of The Connection, our new quarterly newsletter, is now available for you to read! We hope you enjoy our regional highlights and stories, focused on the people and places that make SCR special.

This issue of The Connection can be found here.

We are grateful to everyone who contributed their stories, work, and interests to this newsletter! If you have any questions or if you’d like to give us feedback, please contact E. Bailey Sterling, our Digital Communications Specialist, at

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Categories: RML Blogs

June is Men’s Health Month!

Mon, 2020-06-01 04:55

Each year, NNLM observes Men’s Health Month in June. Father’s Day is Sunday, June 21st, and even if you don’t have a fantastic father to celebrate, this is an excellent time to show a guy in your life – a brother, a son, a friend, an uncle – how much you value him by talking to him about his health. There is significant evidence that men live shorter lives than women in the U.S.;  this is a multifaceted issue with lots of contributing factors, but there are a few straightforward things we can address with the men we love that will certainly boost the number of Father’s Days they get to celebrate!

    • Visit the doc: Men in the U.S. visit their healthcare providers less than women. Regular visits to your doc can help catch illness and disease like prostate cancer before it gets serious. Physicals are a good way to routinely check overall health! Visit for more info on the screening tests you should undergo, and check out this American Heart Association article so you can learn how to encourage dad to see his doc!
    • Exercise: Regular exercise, even just a half hour a day, contributes significantly to overall health – mental and physical. More on the benefits of exercise here.
    • Stop smoking: More American men smoke than women, and smoking makes a person more likely to experience heart problems, lung disease, and cancer among other illnesses. If someone you love smokes, CDC has some awesome resources available to help them quit.
    • Eat your greens: Heart disease claims the lives of more men than anything else. Eating heart-healthy foods – like lots of fresh fruits and vegetables – can decrease the risk of heart disease.
    • Talk about it: Mental health is just as important as physical health. Sometimes, men’s mental health can be overlooked. Check in with the guys you love; a question as simple as “how are you feeling today?” can really make a big difference. If you are concerned for the mental or emotional well-being of someone, encourage them to visit a health professional. See this Blogadillo post for available mental health resources. In case of emergency, always call 9-1-1.

We are happy to report that most health issues that decrease the longevity of men’s lives are preventable. So, armed with this information, take just a minute or two this month to let your favorite fellas know how much you care. Oh, and don’t forget to wear blue on Friday, June 19!

To all the great dads out there, thank you, and Happy Father’s Day!

Visit for more tools and resources focused on men’s health.

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Categories: RML Blogs

Fort Worth Amputee Coalition Mobilizes to Help Amputees

Wed, 2020-05-27 04:55

We are happy to bring you a series of guest blog posts that will highlight some of the completed projects from Year 4 subawardees. We hope you enjoy this little peek into what network libraries are doing with their funding; perhaps you will even get some inspiration for your own future projects! 

Our second entry comes from the Fort Worth Amputee Coalition. 

About 1.9 million people are living with limb loss in the United States. People lose their limbs for many reasons. Fifty two percent lost their limb(s) due to complications related to vascular disease (including diabetes and peripheral arterial disease), 45 percent lost their limb(s) due to a traumatic accident, and less than 2 percent had an amputation due to cancer. According to national hospital discharge data, the number of amputations performed in Texas increased 15 percent from 2007 to 2012, almost twice the United States rate of 8.4% [Texas Fact sheet Amputee Coalition].

Thanks to a grant for the South-Central National Library of Medicine the Fort Worth Amputee Coalition was able to increase awareness and education capacity to utilize health information by providing access, resources and knowledge to amputees, caregivers and health care professionals on how to live healthier lives after limb loss.

This grant facilitated several areas of need in the North Texas Region. First, we were able to redesign our web site.  Check out our new page at to see resources available for you or your patients.  Second, we held a continuing medical education event for clinical providers.  We provided education credit for 42 of the 52 participants on the post-operative and transitional care for a new amputee. Third, we have continued to build the peer visitor program adding 12 new peer visitors in our area.

Our goal to reach out to and empower people affected by limb loss to achieve their full potential through education, support and advocacy, and to promote limb loss prevention has been significantly improved with the help of the National Library of Medicine.

Thank you to our friends at FWAC! Stay tuned for another guest post next week.

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Categories: RML Blogs

Salud y Bienestar: Entrenamiento Para Promotors / Health and Wellness: Training for Promoters

Thu, 2020-05-21 14:54

We are happy to bring you a series of guest blog posts that will highlight some of the completed projects from Year 4 subawardees. We hope you enjoy this little peek into what network libraries are doing with their funding; perhaps you will even get some inspiration for your own future projects! 

Our first entry comes from Burrell College of Osteopathic Medicine, Health Sciences Library in Las Cruces, New Mexico.

Salud y Bienestar: Entrenamiento Para Promotors / Health and Wellness:  Training for Promoters (Community Health Workers)

The one-year, 2019/2020 NNLM-SCR Express Outreach Project:  Salud y Bienestar: Entrenamiento Para Promotores / Health and Wellness: Training for Promoters (Community Health Workers) is now complete, so the time is right to share results of the project within our region!

BACKGROUND:  The aim of this project was to increase knowledge on Suicide Prevention, HIV/AIDS, and National Library of Medicine and other authoritative health information resources by providing training for current and future Community Health Workers (CHWs) and those they serve in the U.S./Mexico border region of south-central New Mexico.  Training was also open and provided to interested community members, public health or other personnel, educators, and students in this region.

PROJECT PARTNERS & SUPPORT:  The project partners included medical librarians at the Burrell College of Osteopathic Medicine (project lead), and personnel at Southern Area Health Education Center at Center for Health Innovation (SoAHEC@CHI).  Project support was also provided by the New Mexico Department of Health, Office of Community Health Workers, that provided six continuing education units (CEUs) per session for state certified CHWs; and, the Dona Ana Community College, Community Health Worker Program that made training sites available and promoted the training to their enrolled students.  Funding from NNLM-SCR supported contracted services including a Project Consultant, Project Trainer, and Project Translator (English/Spanish); training site fees at one remote location, CEU fees, mileage to training sites, and a laptop and data projector for use by trainers.

TRAINING:  Between August 2019 and March 2020, a total of eight, six-hour sessions were offered at five rural and/or underserved locations that included Deming, Anthony, Sunland Park, Las Cruces, and Mescalero, NM.  Five sessions were provided on the topic of Suicide Prevention (utilizing the Question, Persuade, Refer – QPR program) and three sessions were offered on HIV/AIDS.  These training topics were chosen by the project partners based on the high prevalence of incidents and increasing number of cases within New Mexico populations.  Each session (with the exception of the last session that had limited internet connectivity) included three hours of hands on computer training by the medical librarians on NIH/NLM and other high-quality online resources related to the topic areas and beyond.

OUTCOMES:  All goals and objectives were met/exceeded, as evidenced by the following:

  • Total number of training participants equaled 114, of which were (57) CHWs; (26) Student CHWs; and (31) Other
  • Overall, 74% of the participants increased at least one-level from pre- to post-training knowledge on Suicide Prevention
  • Overall 94% of the participants increased at least on-level from pre- to post-training knowledge on HIV/AIDS
  • Of the 114 total training participants, 83 of which were CHWs or CHW students, 100 responded favorably on the NNLM Training Session Evaluation Form that they plan to start using at least one resource or tool they learned about in the training
  • Follow-up contacts with training participants revealed that 70% personally used an NLM online resource, such as MedlinePlus or MedlinePlus en Espanol post-training; and 93% responded that they had shared information with a friend, family, or community member about an NLM online resource post-training.
  • 100% of the 57 Certified CHWs who attended the training sessions received CEUs required for on-going certification from the New Mexico Department of Health, Office of Community Health Workers.

TAKE-AWAYS:  Most significantly, the project team learned something new about the community/population where each training occurred.  In all sessions, we were made aware of, or reminded, of the barriers (in some cases extreme) that many community members face in these remote, and/or underserved areas in obtaining healthcare, mental healthcare, and access to much needed health information.  Listening to stories from “frontline” workers about people in persistent crisis and the

selfless commitment that CHWs and others have demonstrated to help them, is in large part what made this overall experience so rewarding for the Project Team.  We plan to find meaningful ways to sustain and expand this project post funding.  A Lightening Talk on the project will take place during the virtual 2020

Medical Library Association Conference in August.

Norice Lee:

Erin Palazzolo:


Thank you, Norice and Erin! Stay tuned for another guest post next week.

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Categories: RML Blogs

May is Mental Health Month!

Fri, 2020-05-08 18:49

May is Mental Health Month!

Mental health is a big deal. For centuries, largely disregarded and under-attributed as a vital factor in overall health, so-called “mental hygiene” was first taken seriously in the early 1900s. It’s been more than a hundred years since this revelation in health, but mental illness sufferers, whether their afflictions are chronic or acute, often do not seek the help they so desperately need. There are a number of excellent national resources for those interested in this subject or those seeking help (see image below); this blog focuses on providing a list of resources that are offered in the NNLM’s South Central Region. The list below is sorted alphabetically within each state and does not represent a complete listing of available resources. 

If you or someone you love is in immediate danger, don’t wait. Call 9-1-1.


Arkansas 2-1-1:

Arkansas Crisis Center:

Arkansas Department of Human Services:

Mental Health Council of Arkansas:

National Alliance on Mental Illness, Arkansas :

UA Counseling and Psychiatric Services:

UAMS list of resources:

UAMS Psychiatric Research Institute:


Louisiana 2-1-1:

Louisiana Department of Health, Behavioral Health:

National Alliance on Mental Illness, Louisiana:

Northwest Louisiana Human Services District:

South Central Louisiana Human Services Authority:

The Mental Health Advocacy Service:

New Mexico

2-1-1 of Central New Mexico:

2-1-1 of Northern New Mexico:

2-1-1 of Southwest New Mexico:

Indian Health Service, Albuquerque Area:

National Alliance on Mental Illness, New Mexico:

New Mexico’s Indicator-Based Information System, Mental Health:

New Mexico Department of Health, Mental Health Program:


2-1-1 Oklahoma:

Indian Health Service, Oklahoma City Area:

National Alliance on Mental Illness, Oklahoma:

Oklahoma Department of Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services:

Oklahoma Tribal Behavioral Health Resource Guide:


2-1-1 Texas:

Hogg Foundation for Mental Health:

National Alliance on Mental Illness, Texas:

Texas Health and Human Services, Mental Health & Substance Abuse:

We know our readers have a wealth of knowledge and information; if there are other resources that you think would be great additions to this list, please reach out! We’d love to add to this list for our SCR community.

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Categories: RML Blogs

Take a Breather!

Thu, 2020-04-30 22:05



There’s been a lot of hype around air pollution in recent years, and rightfully so; it affects all of us, every day, around the clock, starting from the exact moment we are born and continuing throughout our entire lives. It has become such a normalized topic that on the evening news, many meteorologists and weather reporters note information about the safety of the air around us. When summer approaches, this coverage only increases as pollutants react on a molecular level to the heat and are released into the atmosphere at an increased rate. We in the five-state South Central Region are especially susceptible to this accelerated release of ozone because of the seasonal heat. It’s a subject we all know a little bit about, but we think right now, before summer fully settles in, is a good time to brush up and even learn more about this vital subject so inextricably linked to us all.

Air pollution – the kind that comes from tailpipes, factories, chimneys, and manufacturing plants – seems like a relatively modern problem. It’s easy to imagine that the time before the Industrial Revolution was probably graced by beautiful, clear, oxygenated atmosphere; in reality, though, commentary on declining air quality has been documented for hundreds of years. In the year 1157 BCE, Queen Eleanor of Aquataine is said to have fled England’s Tutbury Castle because the air in her home was so heavily cloaked in wood smoke that she could no longer bear it. London in the 800s BCE was known for its nearly unbreathable air due in part to its increasing population and, as a result, increasing chimney use. Even dating long before that, there are accounts of Egyptian kings and Roman philosophers remarking on pollution increase. Hippocrates himself, frequently regarded as the father of modern medicine, often wrote about poor air quality, stating that Rome’s was “a situation…generally impure and unwholesome” in his book On Airs, Waters, and Places circa 400 BCE. As it turns out, declining air quality has been a concern for hundreds of years (at least) and, as in the countless generations before us, we must work to understand its effects in order to mitigate the damage it causes.

The week of May 4, 2020, we at the NNLM recognize Air Quality Awareness week as a time to examine and acknowledge the air we breathe and how it affects our health. Fortunately, unlike our ancestors, we have acutely-honed technology that measures and monitors our environment. As a result, there are several resources available to give us real-time updates on air pollution and quality. Visit these sources to learn more about what’s going on where you live:

The American Lung Association’s State of the Air program allows users to access air pollution report cards that outline recent ozone presence and affected populations. This report has been ongoing for more than two decades.

Via, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency offers their now-ubiquitous AQI (Air Quality Index), most notable for its distinct green to red warning levels.

NLM’s ToxTown is home to robust information on environmental health, contaminants, and suggestions for community action.

Do you have young adults in your life? Check out the Air Pollution section of NLM’s Environmental Health Student Portal, designed specifically for middle school students (check out the succinct primer on ozone).

Of course, it’s hard to go wrong with tried and true MedlinePlus, which has tons of information on air pollution, accessible via this page.

We hope you will set aside a little time in the coming week to learn more about air pollution where you live. Becoming well-versed in the effects of atmospheric pollution may just be the breath of fresh air you’re looking for!

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Categories: RML Blogs

So, what is an edit-a-thon anyway?

Fri, 2020-04-24 17:57

The day is drawing near! One of our most important events of the year, the spring 2020 #citeNLM Wikipedia Edit-a-thon, is on Thursday, April 30. This is a chance for all of us – experts and citizen scientists alike – to make sure that medical information on Wikipedia is correct and properly cited, fostering an information environment that is as current and reliable as possible. Edit-a-thons are common practice in many fields, but what are they exactly? And how can you get involved?

Let’s start at the beginning with hackathons. Popular since the late 1990s, hackathons (portmanteau of hack and marathon) are events where, virtually or physically, hackers/coders/developers come together to intensively, simultaneously, and collaboratively build software over a prescribed period of time. Some hackathons last only a few hours, while others last days. There is almost always a common objective or theme toward which participants are working. Hackathons can be very informal or very structured; participants can be divided in a hierarchical team structure or can function individually with free reign over the direction of their work. Usually, at the end of such an event, the product developed over the course of the hackathon is showcased. Similar to hackathons are so-called game jams, during which game developers temporarily pool intellectual and physical resources to build an entire video game, start to finish, in a very short amount of time. All-nighters and energy drinks are very common here.

After popularization of peer-edited resources, most notably Wikipedia, it became almost immediately clear that necessary edits were abundant, and there were not enough editors to complete all of the work that needed to be done. Queue the birth of edit-a-thons.

Much like hackathons, edit-a-thons are short bursts of time during which peer editors work toward a common goal. Usually, these groups choose a specific subject and spend their time looking through Wikipedia (or similar resources) for information that isn’t exactly accurate, is biased, or needs to be appropriately cited. In order to help maintain the accuracy of biomedical information on Wikipedia, we host a spring Wikipedia edit-a-thon, and we would love to have you engage as a citizen scientist and help make the internet a better place! Our directive is an important one; we are aiming to cite NLM or other reliable websites and contribute substantial scholarly support to the articles/topics in Wikipedia. Even better, you don’t have to leave home; you can do all of this from your personal internet-connected device. No all-nighters or energy drinks required!

If this whole thing sounds daunting, if you’re unsure about how Wikipedia edits work, or if you think you don’t know enough to be of any help, fret not! There is ample training available on how to approach Wikipedia edits at the link located at the bottom of this article. Once you get signed up to participate, just choose one of the listed topics that interests you and begin your citation editing! 

It’s the end of Citizen Science Month, and WE NEED YOU! See you April 30!

For more information and to sign up, visit

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Categories: RML Blogs

ICYMI Webinar Recap: Opening Doors to Health Literacy at Your Library

Tue, 2020-04-14 04:55

Over the next several weeks, we will be recapping some of the exceptional webinars that the NNLM/SCR hosted over the course of 2019. If you would like to access an archived version of this webinar as well as many others we have hosted, please click here.

In case you missed it, our November 13, 2020 SCR CONNECTions webinar was presented by Leslie Gelders, Literacy Coordinator at the Oklahoma Department of Libraries. She specializes in collaborating with library- and community-based literacy programs, state agencies, and other organizations to promote literacy throughout Oklahoma.

Leslie begins this conversation by defining health literacy as “the degree to which an individual has the capacity to obtain, communicate, process, and understand basic health information and services to make appropriate health decisions”. She explains that poor health literacy is a stronger predictor of someone’s health than their age, socioeconomic status, and a number of other commonly-named factors affecting health. Poor health literacy can become a challenge whenever a consumer wants to understand medical instructions or benefits, read prescription bottles, or even determine where to go inside a medical facility by attempting to follow signage.

Health literacy has challenged us all at one point or another. These issues do not exist only for people with low general literacy or non-native speakers; everyone has had an experience with struggling to understand medical terminology or a particular diagnosis, or even when trying to use now-pervasive online patient portals. A patient may find it difficult to admit they don’t understand something or might not feel comfortable enough to ask questions. This is precisely why promoting health literacy is so important; it affects everyone.

Leslie’s state of Oklahoma shares the same health problems that are so common in populations from all five states in the South Central Region; diabetes, smoking and obesity are especially prevalent. She shares Oklahoma health ranking information obtained from and encourages us to look up statistics for our own states.



So, what does all this have to do with libraries? According to a 2015 Pew research study, 73% of people who visited public libraries in America were seeking answers to questions about their health. Libraries are trusted, approachable, community-centered organizations where many people are already “plugged in”. Best of all, libraries have librarians, the information experts needed by so many people seeking help with locating reputable health information. What better place to actively promote health literacy? Leslie shares a number of possible library health literacy offerings, some requiring physical space and others living entirely online. These programs promote a broad range of topics like senior health, cooking for wellness, disease prevention, and children’s health. 

Leslie finished her talk by citing community partnerships as being both a major driver for and a major benefit of library health literacy programming. As of November 2019, Leslie’s organizations had more than 250 partnerships established; these partners help to further familiarize librarians and patrons with their communities and further establish libraries as community anchors. NNLM SCR is thrilled to be one such partner! 

This webinar is available to watch on YouTube, and Leslie’s contact information is listed below.

Leslie Gelders

(405) 522-3242

What is your library doing to promote health literacy? How can you reach out to public libraries to help build health literacy programming, both now and a year from now? It’s never too early or too late to plan something that encourages health and wellness. Even now, as we are all at home and interacting remotely with our libraries via social media or streaming services, we are learning that the innovative nature of librarians knows no bounds. We at NNLM SCR have loved watching you on Twitter and Facebook and learning how you are putting health literacy skills into action while extending the benefits of this vital skill to others. Keep up the great work; your communities need you!

Please look out for blog posts in the coming weeks which will recap more NNLM/SCR webinars.

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Categories: RML Blogs

ICYMI Webinar Recap: Fostering Resilience in Older Adults

Fri, 2020-04-10 19:42

Over the next several weeks, we will be recapping some of the exceptional webinars that the NNLM/SCR has hosted over the course of 2019. If you would like to access an archived version of this webinar as well as all the others we have hosted this year, please click here.

In case you missed it, our August 14, 2019 SCR CONNECTions webinar was presented by Patty Bordie, MPA, Director of the Area Agency on Aging (AAA) of the Capital Area and Aging and Disability Resource Center at the Capital Area Council of Governments. There she oversees Older Americans Act services and specialized information and system navigation services for streamlined access to long-term care. Ms. Bordie has spent her career in the aging network, serving older adults and their caregivers in local, regional and state-level programs. Her tenure includes program and policy development in evidence-based prevention and wellness interventions, caregiver support programs and service delivery models which promote successful aging in place.

Patty starts her discussion by sharing the mission and purpose of her organization. Area Agency on Aging (AAA) of the Capital Area serves the needs of older adults (aged 60 and up) in the ten-county Capital area of Texas. AAA offers a grassroots level service for older individuals and their caregivers. This national organization, headquartered in Boston, provides services to and “advocate(s) for the health, safety, and well-being” of older adults, offering bountiful resources such as benefits counseling, in-home services, caregiver support, health workshops, and access to nursing home advocates. AAA also helps to fund other vital resources and services (such as Meals on Wheels) for aging Americans. 

This particular webinar is focused not on community resilience in the face of disasters or crisis, but rather individual resiliency in personal situations. Patty says that psychological (along with social) determinants of health play a part in how humans deal with trauma, disasters, or difficult situations. Some things are within our control and some things are not, and resilient people have a healthy and balanced locus of control that allows them to understand which life circumstances they can control and which they can not. People who experience higher overall satisfaction with their circumstances are more likely to use preventive care, while people who experience depression and/or lower life satisfaction are likely to use more expensive healthcare solutions. Perceptions of personal health and well-being directly impact personal success.

Photo by Kenny Luo via Unsplash

So, what is resilience and how can older adults learn it? Per the American Psychological Association, resilience is the process of adapting well in the face of adversity, trauma, tragedy, threats, or significant sources of stress or “bouncing back” from difficult experiences. The good news is that this trait isn’t stable; it is adaptable, learnable, and teachable.

The first step in fostering this characteristic in older adults is to assess their resilience on a base level; this can be achieved through formal surveys or via a conversational approach. Both of these assessment methods are focused on the personal perspective of the subject; point of view is incredibly important as resilience is born from subjective experiences. These assessment methods also involve people in the resiliency-building process. Patty borrows a mantra from the disabled community, essentially saying that in order for a program or process to succeed and be truly about someone, it cannot be developed without their input. “It’s not about us without us.” 

Many factors affect one’s perception of their own resiliency, including physical, interpersonal, emotional, cognitive, behavioral, and spiritual fitness. Patty discusses the value and importance of social connection for older adults. Isolation can be more detrimental to physical health than many physical conditions, so people – especially those in the aging community – need strong social support to help them maintain health and build resilience. AAA offers many services to aid in this connection, but community members and neighbors can also reach out to help build a social support structure. Providing transportation and mobility equipment and revising city infrastructure to make living areas safer and more accessible to older adults is vital. The ability of this community to interact with the world on a regular basis leads to better health outcomes and allows them to pay it forward; older adults who receive social support are more likely to give it to their peers and loved ones.

Patty rounded out this webinar by sharing a list of AAA partners and programs working to improve resiliency in the aging community:

It’s up to all of us to help each other build individual resiliency. Although this webinar is focused on older adults, people of all ages can take strategies from this presentation and apply them to their own lives. Visit to find your area AAA organization.

This webinar is available to watch on YouTube, and Patty’s contact information is listed below.

Patty Bordie, MPA
(512) 916-6053

Please look out for blog posts in the coming weeks which will recap more NNLM/SCR webinars.

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Categories: RML Blogs

The Ebola Vaccine: A Race Against Time

Fri, 2020-03-27 14:54

In 1976, near the Ebola River in what is now the Democratic Republic of Congo, the disease known as Ebola was first described. For years afterward, scientists fought a largely fruitless uphill battle toward development of an effective and sustainable vaccine for this disease. After sporadically plaguing parts of Africa for decades, a 2014 widespread outbreak of Ebola sent shockwaves through not only West Africa, but the entire world, finally demanding the attention and scientific research support that it had always so desperately needed. The clinical trials and approval process for the rVSV-ZEBOV vaccine, known as Ervebo, were a whirlwind, commonly regarded as a scientific and logistical miracle; however, the road leading to these advancements was littered with seemingly insurmountable obstacles. 

Electron microscopic image of the 1976 isolate of Ebola virus.  Image by CDC

A promising Ebola vaccine backbone was first seriously discussed in the early 1990s – so what took so long to get it developed and approved? It was only through the dogged determination of a few scientists and a laboratory mishap that the vaccine status arrived where it is today.

Barriers on this long road were many. The World Health Organization (WHO) turned down multiple vaccine proposals. Funding was scarce and scant due to lack of interest in working on Ebola prevention and eradication; the pharmaceutical industry brazenly questioned the purpose of pouring resources into research which would largely benefit only poor and rural African communities. Scientists frequently found themselves having to defend their research against persistent scrutiny. Health infrastructure in affected nations was weak. Other more visible widespread health scares such as the SARS virus garnered more attention and therefore more research funding. Urgency simply did not exist. 

In 2009, a German scientist accidentally pricked her finger with a needle containing the Ebola virus, initiating a swift response which would drastically change the course of vaccine development. The unnamed scientist was almost immediately given the vaccine, which was not human grade and completely untested on humans. After several days of quarantine, she was found to be uninfected with Ebola and, more importantly, had not suffered any adverse side effects to the drug. Funding for the Ebola vaccine was eventually secured, but only to the tune of 2 million dollars, small by scientific research standards, from a company focused on biomedical terrorism. The lab in Winnipeg where research was being conducted finally found a development partner, but one who was not specifically interested in the work that was being done, but rather focused on growing its portfolio assets. The lab took the support wherever they could get it.

Then began the now-infamous Ebola outbreak, which likely began in Guinea in 2013 when patients with the disease were misdiagnosed and healthcare professionals contracted the illness from them; it was only then that Ebola was formally diagnosed. In 2014, it began to spread like wildfire in unparalleled ways into urban areas and eventually into other countries. It was declared a global health emergency by the WHO in August 2014.

It was during this time that scientists worked at a fever pitch to accelerate the development of the vaccine they so fervently believed in, often navigating murky ethical waters. Even after the drug was found to be clinically effective, the Food and Drug Administration in the United States expressed no interest in it. Still, researchers pressed on. Out of sheer necessity, complete clinical trials were eventually conducted, taking (from start to finish) fewer than 12 months, an unprecedented timeline in the field. Even after apparent vaccine success, there was substantial backlash doubting whether its efficacy was adequately proven.

Since another outbreak, this time in 2018 in the Democratic Republic of Congo, healthcare workers in the area have agreed to administer the vaccine via a “compassionate care” model. Since then, around 260,000 people have been successfully vaccinated.

At long last, the end of 2019 brought the news that scientists had been waiting for; In November, the European Commission approved Ervebo and in December, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) did the same.

Read the full remarkable story here. To learn more about Ebola’s chronology, visit this page maintained by the Centers for Disease Control (CDC).

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Categories: RML Blogs

A Note from Executive Director Brian Leaf

Fri, 2020-03-20 16:14

The following is a note from NNLM SCR Executive Director Brian Leaf regarding the COVID-19 outbreak and its effect on our office. This was originally distributed via email on March 13. 2020; it is being re-posted here in order to reach all of our network members. As always, feel free to contact us with any concerns or questions. We are committed to your well being and that of our communities.

As COVID-19 continues to impact the nation, our office hopes that you and your loved ones are able to stay safe. The University of North Texas Health Science Center in Fort Worth, where our office is based, has encouraged everyone to work remotely from home, and our staff will do so as well beginning Monday, March 16th. We’ll still be available via phone and email.

Given widespread travel restrictions, we have canceled or postponed all of our planned travel as well as events we were hosting through May 2020. We understand that these restrictions have impacted your projects and personal lives. We are continuing to work in conjunction with our national office to explore solutions for those who are currently working or receiving funding from us.

We always want to provide consistent, accurate, and timely information. If you’re looking for information regarding COVID-19, we encourage you to consult the following resources:

If you are on social media, you might consider following these accounts:

  • Twitter: @CDCgov
  • Facebook:
  • Instagram: @CDCgov

And of course, please don’t hesitate to contact me if you have any program-related issues or just want to let me know how you’re doing. I’m always happy to chat.

Thank you,


Categories: RML Blogs

ICYMI Webinar Recap: Are you Ready? Essential Disaster Health Information Resources

Wed, 2020-03-18 05:20

Over the next several weeks, we will be recapping some of the exceptional webinars that the NNLM SCR has hosted over the course of 2019 and early 2020. If you would like to access an archived version of this webinar and the others we have hosted, please click here.

In January of this year, our Executive Director Brian Leaf presented a webinar entitled “Are you Ready? Essential Disaster Health Information Resources”. After viewing this recording, the learner will be able to:

  • Describe trends and terms used in disaster preparedness
  • Describe factors that impact different audiences and their ability to respond to disasters
  • Brainstorm programming and potential interventions to better educate and prepare older adults for disaster response
  • Identify NLM databases, resources, and apps that can help provide disaster health information to older adults during all parts of the disaster cycle.

Brian begins by introducing and discussing project partnerships, such as a “Stop the Bleeding” event and the SCR CONNECTions emergency management webinar by Bill Inenogle in 2018. Brian also mentioned that funding of $15,000 is available as the Disaster Preparedness and Recovery Award.

It’s vital that communities recognize the very important role that libraries play in times of disaster. FEMA has recognized libraries as essential resources for relocation funding in the event that facilities become unusable. Brian cites the functions libraries have served in t he wake of hurricanes in the past, becoming places of physical shelter and resources for research, bilingual staff, and communication with youth. To help support this role, the NLM and MLA have partnered to offer a Disaster Information Specialization; further information on this is available from both the NLM and MLA.

Diving into the meat of his presentation, Brian outlines and defines the four phases of disaster management:

  1. Mitigation
  2. Preparedness
  3. Response
  4. Recovery

He also goes over some examples of disaster types, both manmade and natural, from terrorism to fires to radiation emergencies. The disaster management cycle is presented in graphic form, which is included in this column.

Where we get our information can make or break our complete understanding of any event or subject. Brian discusses the difference between resources for “scholarly information” and “grey information”, and offers examples and merits of both. He presents an article that discusses how we search for medical advice online and how these habits translate to understanding reputable resources for disaster management information. In addition to being diligent in our search for reliable information, we should also prepare specific plans for ourselves, our families, our groups, or our organizations in the event that a disaster should strike; Brian discusses strategies for this, taking variables such as communication, supplies, contingency plans, and even pets into consideration. It should also be noted that, because our life expectancy is growing, we must  take special measures to ensure the safety of our older populations, including emphasis on physical fitness as an important factor in disaster preparedness. A resource is presented that offers fitness motivation and support for people 55 and older, but Brian emphasizes that this site contains excellent information for any adults looking to become healthier.

The rest of this webinar focuses on valuable resources for information and training on this subject, most of which are listed below. 

Resources for disaster preparedness information:

This webinar is available to watch on YouTube.

Look out for blog posts in the coming weeks which will recap more NNLM SCR webinars.

Remember to follow us on Facebook and Twitter!

Categories: RML Blogs