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A Knowledge Bank Boost at APHA Conference

By Sandi L. Bates MLIS
Head of Reference and User Education
Harley E. French Library of the Health Sciences
University of North Dakota

The 2012 American Public Health Conference in San Francisco had its share of excitement thanks to a more than one-inch thick scientific sessions/meetings catalog, the Giants winning the World Series (their homecoming celebration shut down most of the city for Wednesday), and Hurricane Sandy. I was also one of 12 recipients of the Medical Library Association Public Health/Health Administration section Sewell Stipend. ( I would encourage all health sciences librarians to apply for this monetary award and to attend this conference. The significant and overwhelming amount of research shared during the conference was one big boost to my knowledge bank.

More than 12,500 people were present. Thirty sections covering topics from aging health to vision health offered scientific sessions lasting an hour and one half, during which time four or five speakers would present research projects. Unfortunately, Hurricane Sandy prevented some speakers from being able to attend. There were also sessions for five forums, 13 caucuses, and 25 administrative board meetings.

My conference learning started on the flight out as I was able to talk with one of Grand Forks’ Public Health officials. We brainstormed about common projects we could do through the Harley E. French Library of the Health Science’s National Network of Libraries of Medicine outreach program. Before and throughout the conference, I also spent time with the University of North Dakota’s Public Health department chair. He served as my mentor as part of the Stipend award.

One of the Sewell Stipend’s requirements was that we had to in some way pay service while at the conference. My service was to spend four hours staffing the National Library of Medicine exhibit hall booth. This gave me a chance to talk about many of NLM’s online products to a very wide audience and also learn how the NLM staff demonstrates the various online sources.

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