Four Years of Conversation with YOU!

Next month, it’ll be four years since I expanded my use of social media by delivering a weekly blog post. What a four years it has been!

During that time, Musings from the Mezzanine has posted every single week – sometimes twice a week – resulting in more than 200 blog posts with over 300,000 views! I owe the deepest of gratitude to staff in NLM’s Office of Communications and Public Liaison who work closely with me in the production of what appears to be effortless, but in fact, represents dozens of hours of staff time every week!

At its inception, I saw the blog as a chance for NLM stakeholders to get to know me as the new NLM director. While my name is familiar in the informatics community, the medical library and data science/computational biology communities were less familiar with me. NLM views each of these communities as important stakeholders, so this blog served as an important calling card.

I saw (and still see) the blog as a way to have a conversation through comments on individual posts, Twitter messages highlighting a new post, or connections stimulated by ideas advanced in the posts. Over the years, guest-authored blog posts became an important part of our approach, and I invited colleagues to use this platform to share important and timely information related to the mission of NLM and NIH. Sometimes we collaborate with leadership across NIH to announce NIH-wide initiatives, such as this summer’s launch of NIH’s Rapid Acceleration of Diagnostics (RADx) initiative to advance innovative ideas for new COVID-19 testing approaches and strategies, or to comment on the importance of testing and other public health strategies to address the global pandemic.

Musings has shared how academic health sciences libraries are answering the call to provide uninterrupted access to resources and to valuable services and support during the COVID-19 pandemic, and provided information about the role of open access and evidence-based information to improve health for all species.

Over the past 18 months, the blog has become a central channel to communicate the new directions that NLM is moving toward and raise awareness of plans to update and upgrade PubMed, the first major new release of this important NLM service in more than 20 years. We often use the blog to explain how NLM is advancing biomedical informatics research or creating a new, more efficient organizational structure. While not replacing archival manuscripts and official news announcements, the blog stimulates conversations about important NLM investments, priorities, and activities.

The blog also allows me to reflect periodically on the wide range of responsibilities I hold as director of one the 27 Institutes and Centers at NIH.

I have positioned NLM to accelerate data science at NIH, and we have done a great job! Colleagues such as Jon R. Lorsch, PhD, director of the National Institute of General Medical Sciences and Susan Gregurick, PhD, associate director for data science and director of the Office of Data Science Strategy at NIH have contributed guests posts to reach even more readers.

I thank everyone who reads this blog, including my sisters and friends, and those of you who comment and provide particularly helpful or thought-provoking ideas; it means so much to me and my colleagues. Beginning in November, blogs will be published on Wednesday mornings, instead of Tuesday afternoons. If you’d like to get blog updates, sign up below!

Social media provides one opportunity for me, as a public servant, to demonstrate accountability. It helps me reveal what I am thinking, engage the public about the future NLM, and alert you to our accomplishments and initiatives.

Along the way, it also gives you an opportunity to share what’s on your mind, so please don’t hesitate to reach out and let me know if you would like to be a guest blog author. All voices and ideas are welcome!

Author: Patti Brennan

Director, US National Library of Medicine

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