Library Outreach in Public Health

I meant to do a check in regarding my new job for both September and October, which I will get to eventually, but I just had to share about my library outreach success story.

As you may recall, the UC Merced Library launched a liaison program in late August. We have a small staff, so we don’t have subject specialist roles that involve collection development in that area. Four us were assigned to the School of Social Sciences, Humanities, and Arts. There are a number of minors, undergraduate, and graduate degrees in these areas, so we split them up. My primary areas are public health, management, and economics. Public health has both an undergraduate and doctoral program.

Our task for the semester was to begin connecting with the graduate group chairs. A colleague and I met with the Social Science graduate group chair to explain about the liaison program and possibly get ideas for how to communicate with the faculty and graduate students working in public health, management, and economics. Since public health is the only social science program with a graduate program, the conservation leaned more towards public health. I had already talked with our Head of Collections and Deputy University Librarian about previous conversations the Library had had with public health faculty, so that gave me some history. The grad group chair also briefly went over these previous  conversations, mostly related around access to some specific journals and data services. The grad group chair gave me the contact name of a professor who teaches a professional seminar for first-year doctoral students and said he would send me an email list of all of the graduate students in public health. The list he sent me included not only student names and contact information but also had the name of each student’s faculty mentor. I made contact with the professor of the class the grad group chair had mentioned, asking if there was something we could do for her students. I sent out a couple of messages, knowing it was a busy time of year, and waited.

While waiting, I discovered that there is a Public Health Seminar Series. I had missed the first talk already, but I contacted the professor who coordinates this series, explaining who I was and that I thought it might be beneficial for me to come to these talks to learn more about public health research. She was very welcoming and seemed pleased about my interest. I wasn’t able to stay for the whole talk due to an appointment, but I took notes and followed-up with the coordinator about the featured researcher’s work. (If you’re interested, the researcher is Dr. Joan Casey, and she discussed her article “High-Density Livestock Operations, Crop Field Application of Manure, and Risk of Community-Associated Methicillin Resistant Staphylococcus aureus Infection in Pennsylvania.”)

A little more time passed, and I decided that I needed to contact the students directly. Rather than send out a text-heavy email, I opted for this simple Smore newsletter to introduce myself, the new liaison program, and offer some general services. I also included the link to the article that was discussed at the Public Health Seminar Series for those who, like me, may have missed the citation or were not able to attend the talk. I sent the newsletter to two groups–the students and faculty mentors. I was able to craft different introductory statements in the email that was sent via Smore, so I explained to the faculty mentors that their students had received this information from me. (P.S. The newsletter was viewed 120 times! I also found out that we have a subscription to Mail Chimp, so I will try that next semester.)

The professor I had been trying to contact got a hold of me within a couple of hours after sending out the newsletter! She asked if I could give a session on how the librarians might be able to support students conducting systematic reviews. Thankfully, my colleague, who is the secondary liaison for public health, had done a MOOC on systematic reviews. She sent me some of the materials, so I could look at them. I found a number of useful online guides other libraries have created, which helped me learn more about systematic reviews. After doing some more research on the topic, we created a lesson plan.  The online guides I had looked at also served as the foundation for an online guide we created for the students (below is a screenshot).

Screenshot of Systematic Reviews Guide

We gave the workshop last week, and, although there were parts I could have been better in, it was successful! Some of the students took notes and asked us several questions. We also got good feedback from the students as we were packing up. They seemed happy to have a guide to refer to when doing their own systematic reviews.

The happy story could end here, but it doesn’t. It gets even better.

I sent out a second newsletter with the link to the systematic review guide, information about signing up for an ORCID ID (this campaign had been part of our Open Access Week programming), a reminder about the third installation of the Public Health Seminar Series, and some videos related to using RefWorks. I got a thank you from the professor about coming into her class for the systematic reviews workshop after sending out this second newsletter.

The third installation of the Public Health Seminar Series was this past Tuesday. The talk was given by Dr. Kurt Schnier, an economics professor at UC Merced, who has done work related to organ donation. He spoke about an article under review, “Subsidizing Altruism in Living Organ Donation.” Almost all of the students who had been at the workshop were there, and they recognized me. After the talk, a student asked me about making an appointment to learn how to use RefWorks. When I first walked in, I had heard her talking to someone about some issues she was having accessing an article via Google Scholar, so I asked about that, too. As I was getting up to go, the students mentioned that they were staying to talk to the researcher about his work a bit more, and they asked me to stay!  As the students gave their introductions, I asked the series coordinator if it was okay if I stuck around; it was fine.

It was very interesting to hear some of the students’ concerns. For example, a student was worried that the research she was working on now might pigeon-hole her somehow. The economics professor gave a very good response–that the skills they are learning as graduate students can be applied to the research they will be doing in the future. His background is also varied–he looks at both environmental and health topics through the lens of economics–so that helped eased some of the concerns. I appreciated the connection to lifelong learning; as a librarian, I try to emphasize to freshmen students that the information literacy skills they are learning will help them not only in completing their immediate assignment but throughout their college career and beyond. Even if students aren’t writing papers in the future, they can use what they have learned about information in their work and daily lives.

At the end of this discussion, another student asked me if the library had any book clubs. We don’t, but I am going to look into this. When I got back to my office, I emailed the student who had asked about RefWorks, asking when she would like to come by, and I also asked her about the articles again. She got in touch with me this morning, and I was able to help her track down the articles.

I’m really excited about the the connections I have begun making with our public health graduate students.

#instalibrariancloset

Over the last few years, I have been getting to know a great group of women in the Central Valley who are interesting, vivacious, funny, and passionate. One of these ladies posted this video this past summer.

It struck me. I saved it. I watched it several times.

I have struggled with body image since middle school. I was always chubby. I had awful glasses, braces for years, and I never had nice clothes. When I was 19/20, I lost a lot of weight, about 70 pounds, with diet and exercise that got out of control. I was skinny. I only felt pretty because of compliments from other people. I really struggled with some of the attention I got because I was still the same person I had always been. As awful as it sounds, people do treat you better when you’re thin. I have been on both sides and everywhere in between.

I was in a good place with my weight between ages 22 and 25. I gained a little weight due to life changes and stresses, but it was nothing major. I felt great. It wasn’t until I went to Washington, D.C. for a graduate school fellowship that I started feeling uncomfortable. I gained 10 pounds. And then I sprained my ankle when I got back. I couldn’t walk for a month. I never gained all my weight back, but I was no longer comfortable. I didn’t really recognize myself in the mirror a couple of years ago. I felt terrible. I hid at home a lot.

But watching the video one of my new friends posted really helped me feel a lot better. I’ve always enjoyed clothes, and the video  made me realize that over the last couple of years, I’d gotten into a funk because of my body image. You can be stylin’ at any size or shape, and I should know because throughout the years, I have been a size 4, 6, 8, 10, 12, 14, and 16.

This past fall, in an effort to reclaim my body and clean out my closet of too small clothes, I started documenting my work wear outfits on Instagram with #instalibrariancloset. These are mirror selfies in regular bathroom lighting–nothing fancy. My Instagram is a private account, so I wasn’t looking for followers or anything like that, but it really helped force me to wear all of my clothes and to spend a little more time on myself. I was really not comfortable doing these pictures. It was hard. I did these because I felt myself falling into the “gaining weight is not beautiful” mindset. Facing yourself in the mirror everyday helps you accept yourself.

One of the more surprising things about doing this was a message I got from a longtime friend who I don’t see very often.

I’m so proud of you. I see that you take pictures and you share your style/outfits. A few years ago I wouldn’t have ever thought you’d be posting pictures, sharing them. You used to not want to take pictures or share them. I’m really glad to see you out of your comfort zone per se and sharing you!! It’s encouraging to see!! I see them every now and then and I’m like wow… I don’t even feel comfortable to take pictures of myself and post them often. So, I like that and proud of how strong you’ve become over the years!

My last #instalibrariancloset post was yesterday.

IMG_20160428_185833

There were only a very few things that I didn’t wear this academic year, but I am going to do one final clothes and shoes purge. Not only did I clean out my closet by doing this, but I discovered new combinations, wore more of my jewelry, and I was even able to be better about my exercise and eating. I am actually down a jean size.

I intended for all of my IG posts to be on Pinterest, but I only pinned a few. I am planning to pin the rest. I am also in the process of creating a “Bodyful” playlist to be a source of encouragement when getting ready in the morning, and I also started following body positivity accounts on social media.

What things do you do to help you make peace with your body?

Weight Lifting

weight-plates-299537_640I meant to write something the last few weeks, but I’ve been preoccupied with a summer goal I made in June. This summer, I decided that I needed to get back into fitness. For the last ten years, I have been all over the place when it comes to health, exercise, and eating. There is definitely a reason I don’t follow food through social media or blogs.

Ten years ago, when I was a sophomore in college, I decided to change my life. In October 2004, I started eating healthy and went for long walks outdoors with a friend. Then we worked on incorporating jogging, also outdoors. I got to the point where I was running outside twice a day for quite a few miles, and I HAD to exercise. I was addicted. I also started eating less and less over time. By August 2005, I had dropped 67 pounds based on what I weighed the summer before I started college. Who knows? It could have been more, but I knew not to weigh myself prior because I didn’t want to feel discouraged by the number. My mind and body had definitely not caught up with each other. I felt exposed when I went back to school as a junior–my first test in this new body happened when I went to the orientation for my student job. I don’t mean it the way this is going to sound, but I felt like people treated me more nicely. Or maybe I was feeling better about myself and it resonated with others.

I was really in trouble with my health by the end of 2005. I was still technically not underweight based on the BMI, but I was too thin and hungry all the time, although I didn’t actually know it was hunger. (I still find it really difficult to say the word anorexia.) Then I started dating someone–my first dating experience–and it was surreal. I finally felt accepted, but I struggled with my self-image and confidence. I was still growing up. I had a difficult spring dealing with things. Summer came. My brother went off to the Army. I made it to the beginning of October before I took a leave of absence for the rest of  the semester. It was the right thing to do. The university gave me a year to finish that coursework. I went back to school for the Spring 2007 semester with 10 units, so I could still keep my grants and scholarships to pay for school. Later that spring, I met what would be my husband, and, together, he and I did healthy exercise together, and I learned to eat normally again.

I was in pretty good shape for a while, and then I went to graduate school. I was weighing 20 pounds more than my normal. For the last 4 years, I have struggled with 10-15 pounds, and I decided to do something about it. I re-started a regular exercise routine that is more than just cardio. I am working on building my strength with weight training at the gym near my house, and I have, surprisingly, been enjoying it. My goal for this semester Monday-Friday is to continue yoga (I started last summer) on Monday, a little cardio and weights on Tuesday, cardio on Wednesday, and a little cardio and weights again on Friday. I have a very tight schedule with my commute, so it’s going to be a challenge to keep it up. I also plan on walking during my lunch at work. If only I could will myself to get up 30 minutes early to hit the treadmill or neighborhood.

My weight hasn’t changed since the end of June, but my body has changed in muscle tone, and I have lost some inches. I am also feeling a lot better about myself. I feel like a weight’s been lifted. (Punny, I know.)