Defining the Path Forward for NLM’s New Office of Engagement and Training

Header that highlights the word "Engage" when describing NLM's Office of Engagement and Training.

Guest post by Amanda J. Wilson, Chief, Office of Engagement and Training, NLM.

During the NLM Board of Regents (BOR) meeting held last week, I had the distinct honor of introducing the new Office of Engagement and Training (OET). This office brings together many of the outreach, training, and capacity-building staff, programs, and services from across the Library.

Since OET was established in June 2019, our team has been occupied with moving into our new space, getting to know one another, exploring the depth and capacity of the resources we have to accomplish our goals, discussing what the future holds for our role in coordinating engagement activities, and reflecting as a team on the niche we fill for NLM. In the midst of this summer flurry of activity and, quite frankly, the more mundane tasks of figuring out the fastest way to answer the door to our offices and the mechanics of mail distribution, some themes surrounding what we can, and hope to become rose to the top.

Our vision for OET is a resource that will serve the NLM community as a strategic connector between NLM and our audiences, as well as across the Library, as a trusted authority on the NLM experience when engaging with Library resources. We are also an incubator for new approaches to engagement.

What, exactly, does that mean?

It means we understand the broad range of both new and existing NLM users, their needs, and the most effective pathways to reach them. And it also means we are closely connected to NLM researchers, developers, information professionals, program managers, and product owners, including knowing what information is most important to them and has the greatest impact on their work.

This vision also involves knowing how all segments of NLM’s audiences respond to different types of engagement activities. That knowledge will position OET to use our expertise, capabilities, and connections to bring NLM’s trusted resources to communities when and where those resources are needed most. And, considering our unique position, it means we can be a catalyst for exploring novel, effective ways to connect, build, and enhance opportunities for all audiences to engage with NLM.

But that’s not all.

As we started working toward these goals and aspirations, we asked the BOR for advice and thoughts to guide us. For some activities that we currently engage in, such as surveys, webinars, meetings, and exhibits, the BOR provided encouragement for us to continue. The BOR also challenged OET to explore new strategies for engagement, such as working with U.S. Public Health Service Commissioned Corps officers who are part of the Prevention through Active Community Engagement (PACE), in the Office of the Surgeon General. Another suggestion was to engage in community theater productions to help convey our message.

The possibilities that BOR members provided, as well as input from our colleagues at NLM and other partners, have given OET much to consider as we chart our path forward.

What does this vision of OET mean to you?

I’ve been called corny by one of my colleagues (said with a smile) for my obvious enthusiasm about the future of OET. But I absolutely embrace that sentiment! I’m enthusiastic because I have an opportunity to lead a wonderful team of experienced, knowledgeable colleagues dedicated to our mission. I’m also enthusiastic because OET has the support of NLM leadership and the BOR to continue creating an office that supports NLM’s goals with evidence-based engagement and training, built on collaboration and inclusivity and with an eye to the future.

This is an exciting time, and I look forward to all that we can do together! I invite you to join us along the way.

Photo of Amanda Wilson, Chief of the Office of Engagement and Training.

Amanda J. Wilson is Chief of the NLM Office of Engagement and Training (OET), bringing together general engagement, training, and outreach staff from across NLM to focus on the Library’s presence across the U.S. and internationally. OET is also home to the Environmental Health Information Partnership for NLM and coordinates the National Network of Libraries of Medicine. Wilson first came to NLM when appointed Head, National Network Coordinating Office, in January 2017.

4 thoughts on “Defining the Path Forward for NLM’s New Office of Engagement and Training”

  1. Oh my goodness, welcome!. I’ve been immersed in a software standards project this week so I’m glad I cane across this before it washed past in the flood!

    A first question: do you have a formal definition of engagement? I ask because there’s much murk on this in the specific field of patient engagement – to activists like me it means participatory medicine (collaborative practice) while to others, e.g. some in pharma, it means getting patients to eat their pills and buy more. (The author of a Health Affairs article in 2013 said his company has given up on patient engagement.)

    As the banner of my website has said for some years, I seek a formal *science* of patient engagement, which requires definitions. And of course collaborative medicine requires robust information flow.

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    1. Response from Amanda Wilson:

      Thanks for the welcome, epatientdave!

      For your question about a definition of engagement, we are defining and refining it for NLM over the next few months as we plan the initial activities for the office. Our primary goal is to support NLM’s long-range plan, particularly goals 2 and 3 – to reach new users in new ways and to build a workforce for data-driven research and health. Our definition and approach to engagement will be crafted to guide OET’s work contributing to those goals for the library.

      We will plan to communicate our definition of engagement on the Office of Engagement and Training’s website (https://www.nlm.nih.gov/oet/).

      Thanks again for your question!

      Like

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