Bring on the New Year!

Marking the turning of the years is a way to make peace with what is and prepare for what will be. There’s a beautiful night passage that I’ve been drawn to reflect on this week:

It is night after a long day.

What has been done has been done;
what has not been done has not been done;
let it be.

These words urge us to accept where we are without judgement as we look forward to the new year.

So, what will 2022 look like for me, my family, and NLM? I am looking forward with hopes of more togetherness – at work, with friends, and with society. I am renovating a 110-year-old home in Easton, Maryland to use as a weekend getaway and vacation home. I am looking forward to meeting neighbors and reinvigorating this beautiful, old structure. My family is looking forward to weddings, graduations, retirements, and other milestones across my nine siblings and 37 nieces and nephews. My 92-year-old mom will move to an independent living facility—bringing treasured possessions from the home she shared with my dad along with the anticipation of making new friends.

NLM has big plans for 2022 as well! We anticipate a gradual return to the physical workspace. However, we won’t be returning to work as we knew it almost 2 years ago; we’ve learned a lot about working remotely, and many staff have found joy and satisfaction with this new way of working. We expect that staff will find a balance between working on campus and working elsewhere.

NLM leadership is working with all supervisors and staff to make sure the return to the physical workspace is a safe, positive, and meaningful experience for everyone. We are tasked with discerning what type of work is best done when one is onsite at NLM and what is best accomplished when working remotely. What we don’t want is to bring our valuable workforce back to the physical NLM location only to have them sit in virtual meetings all day!

With less restrictions on travel, I expect to see our staff attending professional meetings and providing informative talks at conferences once again. This will be particularly valuable for our trainees as it helps socialize them into the professional societies that will form their lifelong career support network. I’ve empaneled a “Future of Work” council, not to plan for 2022, but to look into the distant future to envision what work might be like and how NLM can best organize itself to meet the challenges of the future.

In 2022, NLM will continue to work with the rest of NIH to rectify the impact of structural racism on science and the scientific workforce. Under the UNITE Initiative, hundreds of people across NIH are envisioning ways to create a workplace that is free of harassment, inclusive and welcoming to all, and achieves the highest level of scientific impact by engaging a diverse workforce addressing the challenges needed to eliminate health disparities.

We anticipate that the renovation of our building will continue at full speed. All of us will be challenged to call on our sense of flexibility as we move toward a stronger infrastructure that will take us into our third century.

NLM will continue to acquire, preserve, and disseminate scientific literature to make it easier for scientists, clinicians, patients, and the public to acquire information about clinical trials and health concerns, and make our genomic databases more accessible and more useful for society. Our investigators will leverage the new collaborations they forged during the COVID-19 pandemic to augment their longstanding investments in computational biology and clinical health informatics research. We will bring new scientists into our workforce and strengthen our technical and administrative services.

We’ve got a big year ahead – what would you like to see us accomplish? And, more importantly, I’d love to hear your hopes for the coming year!

[1] The Anglican Church in Aotearoa, New Zealand and Polynesia. (1988). A New Zealand Prayer Book. The Office of the General Synod.

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