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SEA Currents

Newsletter of the NN/LM Southeastern/Atlantic Region

Archive for March, 2012

Medical Librarians Provide Consumer Health Workshops in South Africa

Tuesday, March 13th, 2012

Interview conducted by Terri Ottosen, Consumer Health Coordinator, NN/LM, SE/A Region

Cynthia Vaughn and Martha Earl, medical librarians at the Preston Medical Library, University of Tennessee Medical Center in Knoxville, have been invited and sponsored by both the U.S. Embassy in South Africa and the Library and Information Association in South Africa to teach public librarians how to access the best available health information on behalf of their communities. By making this trip and providing training, they hope to provide families throughout South Africa with valuable education and information so they can make informed decisions about health care and do their best to keep their families healthy.

Cynthia and Martha will conduct numerous workshops throughout South Africa to help community librarians successfully navigate and access the wealth of quality online health resources. The National Network of Libraries of Medicine (NN/LM) developed the classes, and the workshops are patterned after those utilized in “A Simple Plan Extended,” a project Vaughn and Earl participated in where they taught health information to librarians throughout Tennessee. The schedule includes presentations in major cities such as Johannesburg, Cape Town, Pretoria and Durban, as well as in the areas of KwaZulu-Natal and Mpumalanga.

Before they left, we had a chance to interview the pair. We wish both safe travels and much success! To follow their progress, please read Cynthia’s blog:

Interview Questions for Cynthia Vaughn and Martha Earl

South Africa Outreach Project

How did you become involved in the project that led to the invitation by the U.S. Embassy in South Africa?

As part of the Outreach State Planning group, Rick Wallace at ETSU obtained an NN/LM award to teach in three Tennessee regions. Later, we partnered with him and Nakia Woodward of ETSU in order to extend the outreach. This project was called “A Simple Plan Extended.”

What is your background or story that led you to do the work you do?

Preston Medical Library has been involved with consumer health for over 20 years.  Outreach to the communities in rural Tennessee is just a natural part of that mission.

What other outreach experience(s) led you to this project?

Preston Medical Library’s consumer health program began as a partnership with the Tennessee State Library and Archives (TSLA) and the Knox County Public Library.  Martha has participated in the Tennessee Continuing Education Planning Summit organized by the TSLA.

Why are you targeting the public librarians in South Africa for this training? Do you think other groups might benefit as well?

We were asked to target the public librarians! While there, we will also have the chance to meet with several medical librarians and find out more about what kind of partnerships are (or are not) currently in place.

What do you love most about the outreach work you do? 

Cynthia: The people. Everyone has a story, and I love meeting new people.

Martha: Consumer health outreach empowers the consumer and the librarian to take care of their own health, and the health of their family and community. 

What is the biggest challenge you encounter in your work? What do you think will be the biggest challenge during this trip?

Here, one of the biggest challenges is health literacy, or more specifically, the lack of health literacy. Also, time is a big obstacle … there is just not enough time to do all the outreach desired.

We expect some degree of language/cultural barriers. Another challenge could be issues with technology.

What do you see as the biggest health concerns in the communities you will provide health information training and instruction?

From the preliminary research we’ve done, HIV/AIDS is the top health concern. We think we’ll also be asked about how to find information about at-home treatments for common ailments and prevention of other communicable diseases. Other major issues are maternal/child health and nutritional challenges.

Can you share a success story about the impact of health outreach in your community? Or, what do you anticipate to be the impact of this trip?

Some of the library staff in the Tennessee outreach told us that what they learned in our classes helped them to make smarter decisions about their health and healthcare, as well as for their loved ones.

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

Go for it!  This Tennessee project was funded by an award from NN/LM. Contact them … the librarians there have resources to help you plan and succeed with your goals.

After the project is completed, do you anticipate future collaboration or outreach either locally or internationally?

We have talked about doing outreach again in 2014 or so to the same regions in Tennessee, so the people we trained before can take CE classes to maintain their MLA Consumer Health Information Specialization, as well as train new staff.  More international work is always a possibility, but we don’t have any concrete plans as of now.

Health Literacy Conference Announcement

Monday, March 12th, 2012

Are you interested in improving the health information literacy of your organization? The Institute for Healthcare Advancement (IHA) invites you to attend the  Eleventh Annual Health Literacy Conference, “Operational Solutions to Low Health Literacy,” May 9-11, 2012, at the Hyatt Regency, Irvine (near Orange County/John Wayne airport). MLA credit is offered for attending. There is even a special discount for librarians! Use discount code MLA12 when you register here, and save $50 off the regular low registration rate. Register early to get this special rate – early registration deadline is on or before April 11th.

Questions? Visit the conference website, send an email to or call (562) 690-4001, ext. 202 for more information.

The National Network of Libraries of Medicine (NN/LM) recognizes that members have a role to play in health literacy and encourages you to attend this conference. The NN/LM and the Medical Library Association will be hosting an exhibit table at the conference to help inform attendees how librarians can support improved health literacy

About Us: Emerging Technologies and Evaluation Coordinator - Andrew Youngkin

Friday, March 9th, 2012

Andrew Youngkin

In December 2011, I became the newest member of the Regional Medical Library team for the Southeastern Atlantic region based at the Human Services & Health Sciences Library at the University of Maryland, Baltimore. As Emerging Technologies & Evaluation Coordinator, my role will be aimed at supporting member libraries discover applications for emerging technologies and plan ways of incorporating new technology into various facets of library programming. I will also be responsible for helping member libraries understand the importance and power of employing evaluation to measure, advocate, challenge, support, promote and validate their efforts to accomplish their missions and support their patrons.


In the first few months of my position, I’ve been working to understand the varied and diverse needs within the region in regards to emerging technologies and evaluation. Currently, I’ve gleaned much of my understanding from the types of popular courses offered in the past as well as those courses and topics that technology coordinators from other regions have identified and targeted. In the near future,  I will be conducting a more structured needs assessment and evaluation within the region so that I can be sure I’m in tune with the specific instructional needs of members in the Southeastern Atlantic region and that my approach is tailored accordingly. As I learn more about the instructional needs of network members and in the spirit of ‘hitting the ground running,’ I’m currently accepting class requests for the following courses: 

We also plan to offer online versions of some of the technology and evaluation courses in an attempt to accommodate those in the region who prefer an electronic format or who may be limited in their ability to travel to in-person sessions. Currently, an online version of Geeks Bearing Gifts: Unwrapping new Technology Trends is being planned and tentatively scheduled for the latter part of 2012. Those interested in participating may contact me to stay updated.


Funding for technology projects as well as evaluation/assessment efforts is currently available. Through specific technology-focused awards, we aim to assist member libraries with projects that strive to adopt existing or emerging technologies to develop or extend specific services, address unique needs, accomplish a challenging project, or enhance accessibility of resources to users.  Some of the technology-specific awards now available with an application deadline of March 9, 2012 include the following: 

Funding is also available to support evaluation and assessment with the Express Planning and Assessment Award

I’ll be glad to answer any questions with regard to any of these funding opportunities and/or the application process. The March 9, 2012 deadline is fast approaching, so don’t hesitate if you have questions or ideas.

As I set out to further explore my new role and responsibilities, I look forward to hearing from you—and hopefully meeting many of you in person soon.

Andrew Youngkin, Emerging Technologies/Evaluation Coordinator, or 800-338-7657


NLM Seeking Disaster Information Continuing Education Instructor(s)/Course Developer(s)

Monday, March 5th, 2012


The Medical Library Association (MLA) is looking for up to five continuing education (CE) instructors/instructor teams to develop and teach courses on disaster information as part of a project to enhance its Disaster Information Specialization project.  Each instructor/instructor team selected will be responsible for developing one new disaster information course.  At the end of this project, 5 new courses will be added to MLA’s specialization. Below are specifics regarding this course development project:

  1. To develop the content and materials for a CE course focusing on disaster information.  We are contracting for two basic courses each 3 hours in length and three advanced courses each 4 hours in length. The instructor will have a liaison from the National Library of Medicine (NLM) for content assistance.   

Course Titles/Topics (see for the list of individual course topics and content):

  1. Basic 1: U.S. Response to Disasters and Public Health Emergencies or similar title
  2. Basic 2: Information Roles in Disaster Preparedness, Response, Recovery or similar title
  3. Advanced 1: CBRN and Hazmat Information Resources or similar title
  4. Advanced 2: See list of suggested topics on MLANET.  MLA will also consider developer-created course subject.
  5. Advanced 3: See list of suggested topics on MLANET.  MLA will also consider developer-created course subject.
  1. To present the course both in-person and virtually. Our goal is to reach approximately 40 individuals per course with the various presentations.
  1. In-person courses:
  1. The two basic courses will take place on Thursday, May 24th directly following MLA’s Annual Meeting in Seattle, WA. 
  2. The three advanced courses will take place with local library groups.  MLA is currently negotiating local venues for hosting the courses.  We plan to host one advanced course per month in June, July and August 2012.
  3. In-person courses should include student interaction beyond the standard Q&A session
  1. Virtual courses:
  1. The virtual courses would need to be taught during the summer of 2012.  Our current virtual hosting schedule is:

    i.June 2012: Basic 1

    ii.July 2012: Basic 2 and Advanced 1

    iii.August 2012: Advanced 2 and 3

  2. The virtual course should include a minimum of 3-4 hours of online instruction with student interaction.  The course should include live, virtual presentations and a variety of “homework” assignments that can include pre and post testing, case studies, journal article reading, and other interactive activities.  These activities may take place before, during or after the live, virtual presentation.  If needed, MLA would be able to assist with the use of their instructional software.
  1. The Scope of Work for Course Developers from NLM (MLA’s project partner) is located on MLANET (see  MLA strongly encourages developers to read this document before submitting a proposal.  
  1. MLA will provide a $5,000 honorarium for the development of the course.  There are also additional funds set aside for honoraria and expenses to teach the course both virtually and in person.

Additional Background Information

The development and instruction of these courses will be a part of the curriculum of MLA’s Disaster Information Specialization.  This specialization is a joint project of MLA and NLM. This program will be designed to develop the capacity of librarians and other interested professionals to provide disaster-related health information outreach.

Our vision of this specialization is to create a continuing education program that will prepare participants to provide disaster-related library or information services as part of their ongoing job functions. The specialization will offer a curriculum of courses that would allow those interested to acquire the knowledge and skills necessary to support their libraries, institutions and communities with information needed for disaster preparedness, response and recovery.

This program would be designed to allow participants the opportunity to expand their roles by offering more specialized training in providing access to information in times of disaster and emergency.

To find out more about the development of MLA’s Disaster Information Specialization check out

The curriculum for MLA’s Disaster Information Specialization already includes one basic course entitled “Disaster Health Information Sources: The Basics”.  This course was developed by Robin Featherstone as part of MLA’s 2010-2011 contract with NLM.  To find out more about Robin’s course, go to

Submission Instructions

If you are interested in being considered as an instructor(s)/course developer(s) for these courses, please send an email to  This email should include:

  • Your name and contact information;
  • A copy of your resume/CV, including your teaching and course development experience;
  • List the course you would like to develop (Basic 1, Basic 2, Advanced 1, 2 or 3);
  • A brief (500-word or less) description of your interest in the project including your experience or knowledge of disaster information; and
  • Your ideas for the course including how you would include student interaction and a brief outline of course content.

Your email and any questions should be sent to Kathleen Combs, MLA’s Director of Professional Development, at by Wednesday, March 14, 2012.

Please feel free to send this email on to anyone who you think would be interested in this opportunity.

This project is funded by the National Library of Medicine under contract HHS-N-276-2010-00782-P

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.