Last week the NNLM NER teamed up with the Connecticut Association of Health Science Librarians (CAHSL – pronounced castle) to exhibit at the Connecticut Library Association Annual Meeting. This was a great opportunity for health science librarians in Connecticut to connect with peers from other types of libraries, while also giving all attendees at the conference valuable, vetted health information tools from the National Library of Medicine.
Public librarians, school librarians, academic librarians, and others can face health questions from their very diverse patrons. These groups often have fewer specific resources to draw upon when attempting to direct, say, a public patron to reliable health information. We asked almost every public librarian we talked to, “Do you have someone who specializes in consumer health or medical topics?” The answer, with only one exception, was basically, “No. We all cover a bit of everything.” (The one exception was a former hospital librarian now working in a public library. While not official, she has become the de facto person whenever a patron comes in with a health related question.) Similarly, many academic librarians not at a medical school often work with allied health fields, or liaison to health related departments. These librarians may not have the specialized resources of a medical school library. By adding more tools to the reference tool belt in the form of information resources AND network connections to other health science librarians, all staff, in any type of library, will be equipped to help serve their patrons.
Additionally, it was important for the NNLM NER to partner with CAHSL because, while having information resources is valuable, one of the most powerful tools those in libraries can arm themselves with is partnerships. CAHSL is a valuable, knowledgeable, and helpful group of librarians who have spent their – sometimes considerably long – careers building knowledge and skill. And as most in the profession know, librarians love sharing knowledge and skill. CAHSL is also intimately aware of the unique needs and circumstances in Connecticut. Even within our relatively small region, drawing upon the experience of CAHSL helps the NNLM NER and others gain a deeper understanding of, and therefore better serving, those unique communities. Helping communities connect is one of the missions of NNLM NER. We are fortunate enough to know and work closely with many of the members of CAHSL. It seems a natural extension to build this powerful partnership with CAHSL in order to reach all those who might benefit.
If you would like to know more about CAHSL, please visit http://nahsl.libguides.com/cahsl. Please feel free to contact anyone in the NNLM NER office to learn more about partnering or exhibiting opportunities.