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.

Three Months Later

The summer really flew by! Last Thursday marked three months in my new position. I discovered that working throughout the summer is a much better fit for me. I had two years worth of summers off, and that was enough for me. School started on Aug. 24, and it has been a little strange seeing so many students on campus. We have over 2,000 new freshmen and are up to about 7,000 students or so. It’s a small university, but I came a very small center of a community college, and while my previous library was full just because of its small size, it’s amazing to see how busy it is already.

Below is a quick list of some projects and events I worked on this summer and during the first couple of weeks of school. I also observed instruction sessions, met with students for in-person research consultations, and did some digital reference.

  • attended the Library Instruction West 2016 conference and attended and presented at the National Diveristy in Libraries Conference.
  • updated some Guide on the Side tutorials,  investigated and annotated Creative Commons tutorials from other libraries for our internal instruction online guide, and added readings to another instruction online guide.
  • presented and tabled at new student orientations for freshmen, transfer, and graduate students, including one tabling event for Spanish-speaking parents.
  • co-created an online research guide for our Common Read book, Living Downstream.
  • co-taught two plagiarsim workshops for ASCEND, the university’s new student success conference.
  • taught two website overview workshops for new and seasoned library student workers
  • co-planned and tabled our Welcome Week event.
  • created my very first video tutorial using Camtasia, “Requesting a Full-Text Article through UC-eLinks.”
  • met with a new economics faculty member. I am the primary contact for Social Sciences (economics, management, and public health–we have a new Ph.D. program in public health) and am a secondary contact for Interdisciplinary Humanities. My areas in the IH are Spanish, American studies, and history. I am also helping with psychological sciences. Our liaison program is still very much in its infancy, and our goal for the fall is to meet with all the graduate group chairs.
  • attended an all-day TRAIL workshop and inaugural First Year Writing Symposium.
  • attended and participated in library strategic planning meetings.
  • met with the new librarian at my previous institution. The notes I wrote seem to be helping, and I’m really glad I prepared them and cleaned up files as much as I did. I wish her the best!

Below is a list of what’s on the horizon for this fall and the academic year.

  • For this academic year, I’m serving as the local secretary for LAUC-M (I am featured on the main LAUC website this month!), member of  LAUC’s Research and Professional Development Committee, and member of our library’s Student Recognition Committee.
  • We’re starting to book instruction sessions, and I’m looking forward to working with faculty/lecturers and students in the classroom. It’s nice to be in a library where there are strong relationships with the writing lecturers. My experience as a writing tutor in college is what helped me realize I enjoyed working with college students. A big shout out to my long-time friends Matt and Heather who began this work with the library in 2013! I’m also excited that the pilot for the Writing Center in the library is continuing this year.
  • I started my tenure as the incoming co-convener for the Library Marketing and Outreach Interest Group! This group is what encouraged me to get more involved in professional library associations back in 2014. A big shout-out for the folks who encouraged me to apply to be a co-convener. I’m truly honored. This is the type of group where folks are on the leadership for three years, first as incoming convener, convener, and then a post-convener to help the new conveners. We had out first meeting via Google Hangouts this last week. We submitted a proposal to have a panel session at this year’s ALA Annual Conference. I’m hoping our group gets a slot. The idea is that the interest group at large will vote on three presentation topics submitted by group members. The panel members will be those with the winning proposals. Our next meeting is in October. In addition to planning, I will also be helping to manage the Facebook group.
  • I’m also continuing my tenure as a member of ACRL’s CJCLS’ Communications Committee. I started my appointment in 2015, and although I am no longer at a community college, I will be carrying out my role through June 2017. I help out with the Scholarship page on the blog and have written a couple of blog posts. I am thinking about pitching Zotero for the Scholarship page content.
  • I was secretary for ACRL’s IS’ Instruction for Diverse Populations Committee in 2015/2016, and I’m continuing as a member of the group for 2016/2017. We’ll be focused on updating the Multilingual Glossary. Our next meeting is in mid-September.
  • My colleagues and I are going to visit the Yosemite Research Library at the end of September.

Stay tuned! I am having a great time here. I’m looking forward to this semester.