In this post, meet Roz Broch who recently completed her Consumer Health Information Specialization Level 1. Hear about how her interests and specifically how her interest in supporting health information access has influenced her work at Topsfield Town Library in Massachusetts.
“Up until I was about 15 years old, I wanted to be a doctor with a focus on women’s health in developing countries.” Roz attributes a lifelong passion for human rights, her mother’s nursing career, and reading firsthand accounts from doctors in global health clinics to this interest. Through the doctors’ stories and her human rights work, she learned about the health issues facing women across the globe and wanted to help.
“Sleep. Or sing.” Roz reports that music has always been a part of her life and currently sings in a choir. She said that singing connects her to the memory of her maternal grandmother who sang with the Philadelphia Philharmonic many decades ago.
“I would definitely travel back in time to meet my ancestors, especially on my father’s side.” Roz’s paternal grandmother came to the U.S. from Poland in the late 1930’s. “Most of my family perished in the Holocaust and my grandmother never talked about her experiences fleeing Europe. As you can imagine, there’s quite a blank space on that side of my family tree.“
“I am currently serving as the Assistant Director and Head of Reference at the Topsfield Town Library in Topsfield, MA. I moved out to the North Shore from the Berkshires (western Massachusetts) in 2021, where I had been working in academic and public libraries as well as a stint in municipal administration. I was interested in a new location and opportunities to further develop my skills, knowledge, and experiences. When this position opened up, I applied. The rest is history.
In January 2023, I took over the purchasing of all of the adult non-fiction titles when the library’s cataloguer and primary selector of adult books retired after 40+ years of service. While I am relatively confident in many subject areas, I was the least comfortable purchasing health and medical materials; I felt it was particularly important to purchase accurate, legitimate, and timely medical/health materials. With the abundance of misinformation out there, especially health misinformation, getting my CHIS felt like a responsible course of action.”
Roz learned about NNLM offerings years ago through a Massachusetts Library Consortia newsletter. She feels that supporting health information access brings together her interest in medicine with her natural curiosity and a desire to always be learning and growing. Roz’s health literacy work has allowed her to offer patrons the tools they need to make their own informed decisions. This is one of the things she loves most about libraries.
“In libraries, you never stop learning unless you choose to.”
Roz reports that she would recommend CHIS, especially CHIS level 1. The material covers not just consumer health, but also better understanding your community and learning to break down demographics. She reports that this has helped with consumer health and other subjects in the library. Roz especially likes the On-Demand classes including CHIS On-Demand as the modules are self-paced, reporting that then you can add other classes of interest to meet the CHIS requirements. Roz said the only frustration is that not all of the classes in the catalog are still being offered or not at times that work with her schedule. While she likes the flexibility of on-demand, she said that there are some classes, webinars, and mini-conferences which are more satisfying to attend live.
“I have been developing learning guides that are placed in the stacks so that patrons have access to health information in a private and discrete way. I really enjoy developing these guides. Many of the patrons in my community are reserved and private individuals, so I try to meet their needs in a more comfortable setting. It has been a collaborative effort with the Reference department and a fun project as well.”
Roz mentioned that her department has also updated Tough Topics bookmarks with the message “We’re not here to judge, we’re here to help.” Roz mentioned that they shelve teen and adult non-fiction together in their library so that more resources are browsable together, offering the patron the choice of what material best suits their needs. They also include pamphlets and flyers related to health topics in the stacks as well. By working on these types of resources, they are also able to identify gaps in the collection and plan for collection development.
“I am trying to bring back a library-led book club with a focus on non-fiction titles, including health titles. At the moment, all of our book clubs are patron-run, but there were a few library-led clubs in the pre-pandemic days. I am also interested in creating digital and print promotional materials on various consumer health websites and how to use them. “
“I’ve been talking up MedlinePlus to my colleagues and we’ve been having fun exploring the various pages and resources. It has led to some very interesting and lively conversations about science-based consumer health information.”
“As a public librarian, I interact with many different types of people with very different information needs. Knowing that there are trainings, resources, and certifications to aid in that process is exceptionally helpful. On a more personal note, I have always been interested in medicine, so it’s great to feed that curiosity. “
“The Topsfield Town Library is a classic New England library with a very long history dating back to the 1794. One of the unique features of this library is the focus on art and music. Thanks to a very generous (and long deceased) benefactor, we have a robust concert series each year and an impressive art collection, including a rotating outdoor sculpture exhibit. We are very lucky to have a supportive community that loves the library.”
Did you know that the NNLM offers free classes needed to earn the Consumer Health Information Specialization and has funds to pay for the application fee? Interested in learning more about how you can earn CHIS? This guide Consumer Health Information Specialization | NNLM has all of the information you need to chart your path to CHIS and apply for sponsorship of the application fee.