by Jennifer Gallagher, Adult Services Supervisor
Southeast Regional Library
Maricopa County Library District
Southeast Regional Library, a branch of the Maricopa County Library District, in Gilbert, AZ, was honored to be selected to host the National Library of Medicine’s traveling exhibit, The Politics of Yellow Fever in Alexander Hamilton’s America, from January 6 to February 15, 2020. The six-banner traveling exhibition explored how U.S. party politics shaped the response to the Yellow Fever epidemic in 1793 Philadelphia, raising questions about the balance of science and ideology in the nation’s response to a given disease, a timely topic.
The exhibit tied in with the library’s efforts to promote the National Library of Medicine’s databases to provide reliable up-to-date consumer health information to the public. The National Library of Medicine provided bookmarks and flyers on resources such as Medline Plus, ClinicalTrials.gov, and their All of Us Community Engagement Network. The library was able to highlight these sources as a place for the general public to find answers to their health questions. The library also stresses evaluating information that is found elsewhere to be sure information is current, unbiased, and fact-based. In addition to the Yellow Fever exhibit, the library displayed books on evaluating medical information, working with your doctor, and navigating today’s healthcare system.
Southeast Public Library has recently been active in supporting the concept of citizen science as a way to engage our community with important issues that affect us all. The library has worked with Arizona State University and scistarter.org to encourage people of all ages to find scientific projects that interest them, learn more about how these projects are making a difference in our world, and then contribute to these projects by adding data as citizen scientists. The library has citizen science kits that customers can check-out to help in data collection and provides programs for the public to learn more about opportunities to become involved in citizen science efforts. Citizen science engagement is a great way to connect scientific and medical researchers and interested members of the public and local community partners studying local health concerns.
The library also planned to address another local health concern, West Nile Virus, during citizen science month this April. Arizona led the country in deaths and cases from West Nile virus last year. Citizen scientists can use the Globe Observer App and their mobile phones to map mosquito habitats and identify species of mosquito larvae that carry West Nile Virus and other vector borne illnesses. However, this program has been cancelled due to the much larger global health crisis of COVID-19. We hope to be able to offer this program later this summer.