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SEA Currents

Newsletter of the NN/LM Southeastern/Atlantic Region

Archive for November, 2011

Inspiring People in our Region: Gwen Johnson, Greenville County Library System, Greenville, SC

Tuesday, November 29th, 2011

 Gwen Johnson

”Be ready to drop any part of the project plan that doesn’t work and focus on the parts that do.”               

Gwen Johnson
Information Services Manager
Greenville County Library System (GCLS)
Greenville, South Carolina

What is your position? 

I am Information Services Manager for the Greenville County Library System (GCLS) in South Carolina. In this role, I supervise staff who provide reference service, interlibrary loan service, classes or workshops, collection development, assistance in the technology center and library programs for adults.

Is there something in your own personal story that led you to do the work you do?

I grew up in a small rural town in Alabama that had no public library that I could use.  The small collection of books in the  library of the school that I attended until I went away to college was old, unattractive and, with the exception of a few books used for reference, almost never touched. I was aware that many of the adults and children in my community did not have books in their homes and had no feeling of kinship with libraries.  This probably explains my longtime awareness of the need to establish ties with certain groups in the community to show how the library relates to their lives, especially those who feel most disenfranchised but whose need of library services is most acute.

What do you love most about your outreach work?

Connecting people with their heart’s desire is the most enjoyable part of what I do.

What is the biggest challenge in what you do?

Surprisingly, many people do not think of the library as a source of knowledge, assistance and pleasure.  In fact, there are individuals of both limited means and considerable means who could benefit greatly from the services and resources that the library provides who do not know of these services and resources and seem to assume that whatever the library does, it is for someone else, not them.  Getting the attention of these individuals and convincing them that the services and resources of the library can greatly enrich their lives and enhance their well-being is the challenge.

What has been the most fulfilling part of your work in terms of health outreach to your community’s underserved populations?

Most fulfilling has been the response of individuals in the groups involved in the Senior Health Information Project to the idea that the library would assist them in their acquisition of information they could use to improve their health and well being. As a group, they were welcoming, engaging and willing to pursue further explorations with the library.  Some arranged with library staff for classes to help them improve their computer skills after our initial contact.  Others made trips to the main library as a group to become more acquainted with the resources there.

What do you see as the biggest health concerns in the communities you serve?

Greenville County residents are plagued by cancer, cardiovascular disease, COPD, metabolic syndrome and other chronic conditions that affect people throughout the state and nation and have a need for the means to address those conditions.  One of my concerns as relates to this need is that many of those affected lack sufficient health literacy or easy access to reliable health information.  I am convinced that more knowledge about healthful lifestyles, nutrition and the appropriate response to individual health issues would result in disease prevention, effective management of diagnosed ailments and more favorable health outcomes for many.

How did you first come to know NN/LM SE/A?

As librarians, we have always been aware of the National Library of Medicine and its importance to the national accumulation of medical knowledge.  Our involvement with the Hands on Health Go Local project implemented by the Medical University of South Carolina and the University of South Carolina provided the opportunity to learn about the influence of NN/LM SE/A in sponsoring community health related projects in this area.  Most recently,  GCLS Executive Director, Bev James,  brought to the attention of staff the availability of funding for outreach consumer health projects through  NN/LM SE/A and we were able to have two of our projects funded through NN/LM SE/A awards.

In what ways has NN/LM SE/A  been of help to you?

Through an Express Outreach Project Award made to the Greenville County Library System in 2010, NN/LM SE/A provided the means to implement the library’s Senior Health Information Project (SHIP).  This award enabled library staff to travel to community centers throughout Greenville County, with the corporation of the Greenville city and county recreation departments, to introduce senior adults to electronic sources of reliable consumer health information with the goal of improving their health literacy and, ultimately, their health.  The laptops, LCD projector with screen, wireless printer and mobile Wi-Fi connectivity purchased with the awarded funds allowed staff to demonstrate useful online health resources and assist seniors with hands-on practice at centers in their local neighborhoods.  NN/LM SE/A staff also provided training to library staff to better prepare them to assist with health related questions from the public using MedlinePlus and NIH databases.  In addition to the award for SHIP, the library also received another NN/LM SE/A award which allowed staff to coordinate a well-attended community health fair in January 2011.

Can you share a success story about the impact of health outreach in your community? 

Impact was on many levels.  For example, on an individual level, during one of the SHIP practice sessions, a community center participant learned about dietary restrictions that were required by the medication that she had just started taking.  This was important to her as it allowed her to adjust her diet and safely continue her treatment.   Another participant who had some anxiety about the colonoscopy that he was scheduled to take the following morning had the opportunity to learn about the procedure on MedlinePlus, emphasizing the advantage of having useful health information at your fingertips. The surprise visit of a vanload of seniors who came to the library to get library cards after a SHIP presentation so that they could have access to subscription health databases showed that the presentation had an impact on their determination to make use of available resources. 

What advice would you give others who are interested in doing health outreach work in their communities?

I would advise those interested in outreach work to choose projects with worthwhile but manageable goals; to enlist assistance from community organizations with similar goals; and to be ready to drop any part of the project plan that doesn’t work and focus on the parts that do.

If you would like to share your story or suggest another person for our “Inspiring People” feature, please email Nancy Patterson:

Reminder: NLM Gateway Changing

Monday, November 28th, 2011

On December 1, 2011, the Lister Hill National Center for Biomedical Communications (LHNCBC) will complete the transition of the NLM® Gateway to the new LHNCBC pilot project. The new site will retain the Web address of the former NLM Gateway. It will have two databases: Meeting Abstracts and Health Services Research Projects in Progress (HSRProj). HSRProj also remains available via a separate search engine through the portal HSR Information Central.

The Meeting Abstracts database contains abstracts from HIV/AIDS, Health Services Research, and Space Life Sciences meetings and conferences. The final update to the Meeting Abstracts database is the addition of the abstracts from the 2010 18th International AIDS Conference which will be completed in December 2011. After this addition, no new meeting abstract data will be loaded.

For additional information on the transition to the pilot project, see the article NLM Gateway Transitioning to New Pilot Project Site.

By Andrea Demsey
MEDLARS Management Section

RML Closure: November 23, 2011

Wednesday, November 23rd, 2011

The University of Maryland’s Baltimore campus is experiencing a system-wide power outage today, November 23, 2011. Consequently, the office of the National Network of Libraries of Medicine, Southeastern/Atlantic Region will be closed today and throughout the holiday, reopening at our usual time on Monday, November 28.

National Library of Medicine and National Network of Libraries of Medicine, SE/A Office Closures

Monday, November 21st, 2011

The National Library of Medicine will be closed on Thursday, November 24, 2011 in observance of Thanksgiving.  The National Network of Libraries of Medicine, SE/A region office will be closed on Thursday, the 24th and Friday, the 25th of November.

What's New With the NN/LM National Library Medicine of Training Center (NTC)

Thursday, November 10th, 2011

The NN/LM National Library of Medicine Training Center (NTC), located at the University of Utah, offers in-person and online training related to NLM products.

PubMed® class

The previous one-day PubMed class is being replaced with a hybrid PubMed for Trainers class. This hands-on course consists of lectures, individual exercises, group work and discussions in four sessions, with independent work before or after each session. The course consists of three 2 hour online sessions and an in-person session. NLM or NTC trainers will deliver the lectures and facilitate discussions.

The objectives of the class are for current and future PubMed trainers to discover and develop:

  1. functional knowledge of the MEDLINE® database,
  2. understanding of the structure and use of the Medical Subject Heading (MeSH®) vocabulary in MEDLINE/PubMed,
  3. expertise in the use of features and functions of the PubMed system, and
  4. techniques and best practices in MEDLINE/PubMed instruction with fellow trainers.

The class is intended specifically for those who train, or will train, others to use PubMed. This class could be for you if you teach PubMed to large groups, small groups, or one-on-one training. We look forward to lively discussions on PubMed instruction and adult education best practices.


The first NTC PubMed for Trainers class was held in October 2011 in Bethesda, MD.   Registration is now open for the PubMed for Trainers class in Chapel Hill, NC from March 13-27, 2012.  The class will also be taught in other locations between February and April 2012:  Los Angeles, CA; Houston, TX; Chicago, IL; and Syracuse, NY.


TOXNET® and Beyond class

We will continue to offer the one-day TOXNET and Beyond class. This course is designed to convey the basics of searching TOXNET, a Web-based system of databases in the areas of toxicology, environmental health, and related fields. The course also teaches students how to use the NLM Environmental Health and Toxicology portal which provides resources beyond the TOXNET® databases. Students learn the content and structure of files covering toxicology data, toxicology literature, toxic releases, and chemical nomenclature. The databases highlighted are TOXLINE®, the Hazardous Substances Data Bank (HSDB®), the Integrated Risk Information System (IRIS), the Toxic Release Inventory (TRI), and ChemIDplus®. The course includes lectures, online demonstrations, and hands-on exercises.


NTC has TOXNET and Beyond classes scheduled beginning in February 2011 in Los Angeles, CA; Houston, TX; and Chicago, IL.


Plans for Online Training


In addition to the hybrid PubMed class and in-person TOXNET and Beyond class, NTC will be offering shorter online Adobe Connect classes for delivery later this year.  In conjunction with the Pacific Southwest Region, we are also developing a Moodle version of the “Effective Training Design: Teaching with Technology” class (see 


In the next few months, will be conducting a needs assessment to identify gaps in the current Web-based training offerings.  After the needs assessment is completed we will be developing additional Web-based training.


Wait, there’s more…


The NTC blog features regularly published short articles about teaching technologies, adult education, and upcoming activities.  You can also follow us on Twitter where we are posting links to resources related to education and NLM products.  Please visit the NTC Web site at for more information, to register for classes and to follow the NTC blog or Twitter feed.


–Sharon Dennis, Assistant Director

Last updated on Tuesday, Nov 8, 2016

Funded under cooperative agreement number UG4LM012340 with the University of Maryland, Health Sciences and Human Services Library, and awarded by the DHHS, NIH, National Library of Medicine.