Stories of NLM Outreach: The Network of the National Library of Medicine Discovery Podcast

Guest post by Martha Meacham, MA, MLIS, Project Director of the Network of the National Library of Medicine (NNLM), National Library of Medicine (NLM) and Anne Altemus, Senior Visual Information Specialist, NLM Office of Engagement and Training.

Continuing its mission to engage with communities to provide access to trusted information to improve public health, NNLM comprises more than 8,800 academic health science libraries, hospital and public libraries, and community organizations. Last year, NNLM awarded over $1.3 million to enable dozens of creative projects that tackle unique challenges specific to each region.

With so many innovative projects to highlight, NNLM created its NNLM Discovery Podcast Series to feature one story from each of the seven regions and a few others showing connections to the work of NLM and NIH. All of the podcast episodes are now available, and there are also companion videos for the podcast episodes available on the NLM YouTube channel.

In Region 1, the University of Maryland (UMD) Healthy Garden, Healthy Youth project addressed two significant public health challenges: mental health and food insecurity. UMD staff helped people with limited access to food better understand the mental, physical, and cost benefits of growing their own fruits and vegetables.

Region 2 provided funding to host CPR and automated external defibrillator training for members of the Amateur Radio Club on St. Thomas in the U.S. Virgin Islands. Our NNLM grantee also helped purchase equipment to enhance the amateur radio signal throughout the island which provides a vital link to emergency aid and health information in the Caribbean when natural disasters destroy modern means of communication.

A local librarian in Pottsboro County in Texas in Region 3 used an NNLM grant to establish a nationwide model to harness the power of telemedicine to overcome the lack of access to health care in much of rural America.

When the COVID-19 pandemic shut down Wyoming’s Fort Washakie School Community Library, an NNLM grant from Region 4 helped promote health literacy on the road in the form of the Moby Bookmobile. This bookmobile travels the Wind River Reservation delivering culturally relevant books that address mental health and native identity along with other topics.

In Region 5, the podcast highlights three local libraries that received the Collection Equity Outreach Awards. These awards enabled them to expand their collections and promote health literacy in libraries by acquiring more materials from diverse voices.

Region 6 Communications & Finance Coordinator Miles Dietz-Castel shared the story of Richland County Public Health director Dr. Julie Chaya’s initiative to combat the lack of access to menstrual period products in her community of Mansfield, Ohio. 

Very few people know what a medical librarian is or does, so in Region 7, Medical Education and Outreach Coordinator Margot Malachowski spoke to four medical librarians from her region to offer insight into the critical role they play in hospitals and research facilities.

NNLM is very proud of the critical work its grantees do to serve and help educate their communities. We hope that you can listen to our podcast and learn more about these and other projects that take place throughout the United States.

Martha Meacham, MA, MLIS

Project Director, Network of the National Library of Medicine, NLM

Before leading NNLM as its Project Director, Ms. Meacham was the Associate Director of the NNLM New England region within the Lamar Soutter Library at the University of Massachusetts Medical School. She also managed two Veterans Administration Medical Center libraries, worked with the Association of American Medical Colleges, and assisted with patient education at Dana Farber Cancer Institute. Martha holds a B.S. in psychology and was a mental health counselor before earning a Master of Library and Information Science and a Master of Arts in History from Simmons College.

Anne Altemus, MA, FAMI

Senior Visual Information Specialist, NLM Office of Engagement and Training

Ms. Altemus has led the development of innovative media programs and products at NLM since 1991, collaborating with NLM Offices and Divisions, including the Lister Hill National Center for Biomedical Communications, the Office of Communications and Public Liaison, other NIH Institutes, academic institutions, and community health programs across the country.

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