Guest post by Robert Pines, MS, Writer/Editor, and Sarah Ashley Jolly, MPH, Writer/Editor and Graphic Designer (Contractor), NIH National Library of Medicine (NLM) Office of Communications and Public Liaison.
This week marks both National Library Week (April 3-9) and National Public Health Week (April 4-10) and we are pleased to recognize this intersection of NLM’s work. While the importance of each observance on its own is clear, their connection may not be as obvious. From our vantage point in the NLM communications office, however, we see the many roles in which NLM staff members and contractors are engaged, and how libraries and public health are linked to create a healthier world. As such, we are pleased to share just how NLM embodies this overlap in observances as a center for information innovation that supports and advances public health.
NLM is the world’s largest biomedical library and engaged in activities as diverse as our global community of users. NLM staff members and contractors are motivated by a desire to serve scientists and society, and are involved with training, community engagement, literacy campaigns, information dissemination, and more. Public health is at the core of NLM’s mission, and it drives the work we do as a library that delivers information directly to stakeholders.
“…to assist the advancement of medical and related sciences and to aid the dissemination and exchange of scientific and other information important to the progress of medicine and to the public health.”
-NLM Authorizing Language
Inspired by many of the daily themes of National Public Health Week, we spoke with six colleagues representing different parts of NLM to hear — in their own words — how their work in a library contributes to public health.
Racism: A Public Health Crisis
“NLM has been an active participant in the NIH-wide UNITE Initiative, which seeks to identify and address structural racism within the NIH-supported and broader scientific community. We’ve worked to recruit change agents from across NLM to advance racial and ethnic equity through a commitment to reform our own policies, practice, and procedures. This effort is rooted in a recognition that we have a responsibility to serve as exemplars for the change we wish to see.”
Maryam Zaringhalam, PhD
Data Science and Open Science Officer, NLM Office of Strategic Initiatives
Public Health Workforce: Essential to our Future
“Trainees who come to NLM have a passion for advancing healthcare, and we provide an environment where they can apply their unique computational skillsets to address public health questions. Among other contributions, their work here has improved our understanding of different diseases and created systems that help other researchers and clinicians better serve their patients.”
Virginia Meyer, PhD
Training Coordinator, NLM Intramural Research Program (Contractor)
Community: Collaboration and Resilience
“NLM cultivates long-term partnerships with communities to help address challenges and opportunities around health equity and information access. For over 30 years, for example, the Environmental Health Information Partnership (EnHIP) has enhanced the capacity of minority-serving academic institutions to engage with environmental health information. EnHIP has had a great impact with almost 150 community-based projects focused on awareness and usage of NLM resources.”
Amanda J. Wilson
Chief, NLM Office of Engagement and Training
“The Network of the National Library of Medicine (NNLM) is committed to providing equitable access to high-quality health information. We make NLM tools and resources available to those who need them in order to build a knowledgeable, resilient health care workforce and public. Through NNLM’s work, individuals are able to make informed decisions about their health, research and public health professionals have the resources they need to make change, and the public health of the nation is improved as a result.”
Martha Meacham, MLIS, MA
Project Director, NLM Office of Engagement and Training
Discover the work of NNLM.
World Health Day: Health is a Human Right
“At MedlinePlus en Español, our team of translators facilitates access to content from NLM using thoughtful translations that consider the breadth and variability of Spanish-speaking audiences. We are proud to enable access to high-quality health information by reducing language barriers and bridging cultural gaps so consumers can make informed health decisions.”
Team Lead, MedlinePlus en Español
Accessibility: Closing the Health Equity Gap
“Accessibility is critical to closing the health equity gap. NLM promotes accessibility by ensuring NLM’s videos include audio description, captions, and proper color contrast so that blind, sight-impaired, or deaf audiences can find and learn about NLM’s various tools and resources.”
Video Producer, NLM Office of Communications and Public Liaison (Contractor)
As echoed in the words of our colleagues, NLM staff members and contractors are dedicated to providing stakeholders with the resources and information needed to create a healthier world. Their work at the intersection of these two observances demonstrates the essential nature of libraries to public health.
We hope you will join us in celebrating National Library and Public Health Weeks. Connect with NLM to learn more about the roles that we play.
Robert Pines is a writer/editor in the NLM Office of Communications and Public Liaison who works on web and digital projects. He also co-chairs the NIH Social Media Collaboration group. Robert holds a Graduate Certificate in Front-end Web Development from the Harvard Extension School, a Master of Science in Management: Public Relations from the University of Maryland University College, and a Bachelor of Arts in International Studies and Business Administration from American University.
Sarah Ashley Jolly is a full-time contractor and serves as a writer, editor, and graphic designer in the NLM Office of Communications and Public Liaison. She is passionate about creating communications materials to distill important and complex topics that are easy to understand, engaging, and visually appealing. She holds a Master’s in Public Health from Emory University with a certificate in maternal and child health, along with two Bachelors of Arts degrees in history and anthropology from Mississippi State University.