Posted by Carolyn Martin on June 17th, 2019
Posted in: Funding, Health Literacy/Consumer Health, News from Network Members, Public Libraries, Training & Education
Tags: consumer health, Funding, health literacy, professional development, public library, training
Today’s guest post is from Karen Schaefer, Director of Langlois Public Library in Oregon. Langlois Public Library became a network member a little over a year ago when Karen learned about NNLM and began attending our classes. She applied for our PNR Professional Development award to attend ALA Midwinter. In this post, Karen shares her passion to learn more about health literacy and health information to make a difference in the health of her community.
I have a great suggestion for any librarian, especially from a small library like mine, to take advantage of the courses and grant opportunities with whatever your region is, with the National Network of Libraries of Medicine (NNLM). I happen to be in Oregon, which is Region 6 (The Pacific Northwest Region) PNR. Last fall, I wrote and received, funding from NNLM PNR for a Professional Development Award ($2,000!) to attend a pre-conference session “Implicit Bias, Health Disparities and Health Literacy: Intersections in Health Equity. The session was quite amazing and I still remember, so clearly, the impact I felt from the video on Implicit Bias that day, which left me with both questions and answers.
The Professional Development Award paid for not just the pre-conference, but also the travel, housing, meals, and conference fees for the ALA Midwinter Conference in Seattle. I had already loved Seattle from my old days of Regional Charity meetings I went to and then later on, my present to myself when I sold my Tucson Home Care business. This trip added to my love of the city. What was also interesting, is that our main hotel was a newbie – I mean, as in weeks old and we were the first large group for them to try out their stellar service and way beyond helpful staff. I had decided to exercise the whole time I was there and went to the fitness center and walked to the Washington Conference Center, regardless of the weather. I hate walking – but I loved it there – the damp, misty, rainy and even sunny days. After the first day, I didn’t use their fitness area so much because I had built exercise into my actual day. I would go back and forth from the hotel to the conference center many times throughout the day. It wasn’t like this BIG hike, but did I say, I hate walking! So it was pretty huge for me. Of course I was also lugging bags of vendor items back with me each day. If I could describe the conference in one word, it would have to be amazing. This was my first ALA function. I have now been the library director for 5 1/2 years. Being a Library Director in a small town means, most probably, you are more apt to put money in almost every other area of your budget than for your own professional training. So when my NNLM PNR coordinator, Carolyn, urged me to write the grant – I did just that.
I started working with NNLM PNR about a year and a half ago, with the Stand Up for Health class for public library staff with Carolyn and Bobbi. This course helped me find my place in the world of public libraries, by being able to combine my present work with my past experience of being in Human and Health Services in another life (as in pre-library). After the course I received a CHIS 1 (Consumer Health Information Specialization 1) from MLA. I then started registering for all the classes I could with NNLM. Through an opportunity with the NNLM PNR, I was invited, along with other NNLM Stand Up for Health participants, to a program during the MLA Conference in Atlanta “The MLA Symposium: Health Information for Public Librarians”. It was so great putting faces to the names of instructor’s and students of the NNLM classes I had been taking. It was a great opportunity for me, because although I had been a Library Director for 4 years, at that time, I had never been to any kind of library conference. I was a bit out of my element, and there was a small group of us invited. We were attending only the Public Library Symposium, but it was a sneak peek at what I would attend in Seattle nearly a year later. I am very grateful to NNLM PNR for the funding to make this all possible for me!