Health Science Librarians of Ilinois

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Serving Illinois Health Information Professionals

Syed Maghrabi Scholarship 2010: Conference Report from Clare Bonnema, M.L.I.S.

Clare Bonnema, M.L.I.S. is a medical librarian at Ingalls Memorial Hospital in Harvey, Illinois and one of the three winners of the Syed Maghrabi Scholarship in 2010.


Bonnema, Clare

Before describing a few of the highlights of this year’s HSLI Conference in Lisle, Illinois , I need to express my sincere thanks to the committee for their generosity in granting me a Syed Maghrabi Scholarship. Attending the conference without worrying about straining my library’s travel budget was so appreciated!

Having attended previous conferences, I knew that the HSLI Conference provides an invaluable opportunity for education in the medical library field and an excellent avenue for meeting and networking with other medical librarians. This year’s conference was no exception. In the spirit of the conference theme, “Building Partnerships: Pathways to Library Opportunities”, I’d like to share some of the insights I gained regarding sharing, partnering, and connecting with others in my organization and outside of it.

The first session I attended, “Knowledge Sharing” with Lorri Zipperer, was all about sharing and partnering and was a great way to begin the conference. She got us excited about creatively applying the skills we as librarians have to offer, beyond finding articles and books, to other areas of our organization. Besides making the medical librarian role more valuable (and therefore less likely to get cut in the next financial downturn), she encouraged us to use the skills and knowledge we have to improve the care our facilities provide, even involving patients and the wider community in our efforts.

Ms. Zipperer recognized the barriers we all face in our organizations in making these partnerships, but emphasized that we can’t dwell on the negative. Instead of viewing barriers as insurmountable obstacles, we need to realize many of the skills librarians already possess can be used to overcome opposition and achieve our goals. This will take a lot of energy and motivation but the session helped me see my role as one that could potentially impact my organization in a much wider and deeper way than I had previously thought possible. I can’t wait to start on the reading list Ms. Zipperer provided!

The poster session and Nancy ‘s Reception Thursday evening offered another opportunity for sharing and networking with other medical librarians informally, asking questions of those who had posters displayed, and meeting with vendors. Particularly interesting to me was a poster on the work Lisa Jacob and Kathryn Smart did at Advocate Lutheran General Children’s Hospital. Lisa, the manager of the Advocate Library Network partnered with Kathryn, a health educator at the Health Resource Center . Together they connected with a long list of organizations in order to reach high school students and actually improve the students’ use of the Internet as a resource for reliable health information; I was amazed at what they accomplished!

Connecting with other conference attendees at Friday morning’s roundtables was also a valuable experience in sharing. I learned about how to connect with the hospital nursing staff, providing the information they need and learning how to better serve them, especially in regards to helping them search for and analyze evidence-based medical research. I discussed reaching out to administrators at another roundtable where we shared strategies on increasing and expressing our value to those to whom we report.

Lastly, the keynote presentation on using stories to build and strengthen partnerships was both inspiring and practical. Inspiring because of the encouragement Amy Glenn Vega, the keynote speaker, gave: we do indeed have an affect on those around us and our work makes a difference. That is a fact that is not disputed. What we need to do now is to tell others, and how we do this is key (the practical part). We need to connect to emotions because that is how people remember. To connect to emotions, we need to tell stories. Instead of bombarding our bosses with a year’s worth of statistics on library use, sharing one story of how our knowledge helped ease a patient’s fears about a recent diagnosis or of how our skills led to a physician to a research article resulting in successful treatment of his patient will be so much more effective. And I look forward to reading Ms. Vega’s book included in our conference materials and sharing it with our nursing staff!

Once again, the HSLI Conference provided not only information, but also inspiration to connect with others, get outside the library, and make a difference. I’m so grateful for the scholarship and look forward to the 2011 Conference!

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