Shake, Rattle, and Roll!

Event planning is hard, especially when unexpected things happen.  It is also fun and rewarding when things go right.  Either way it is definitely worth all the work because it is still, even in our iGeneration, the best way to learn, connect with colleagues, and have fun.

One of the main purposes for me to attend #MidwestMHSLA17 was to observe the details of planning a professional conference.  I am on the Planning Committee for the next Midwest MLA Conference in Cleveland in October 2018.  I am a member of the Publicity Committee, and the Webmaster for the conference site.  The Publicity Committee is responsible for getting the word out to the Midwest MLA membership about the conference and promoting the host city and state. We have already been working hard since the spring and the 2017 meeting was our first big milestone in planning.  Besides observing and meeting our counterparts at the 2017 meeting, the 2018 Planning Committee sponsored a table with promotional materials, and announced the conference at the MHSLA Business Meeting and the Midwest Chapter Business Meeting.

The 2018 Publicity Committee (consisting of Margaret Hoogland, Theresa Kline, and me) planned out our table and decided to give out buckeyes (chocolate and peanut butter truffles for those non-Ohioans), Cleveland pins, and chances to win a $50 coupon towards the registration cost of the next meeting. We made a banner and decorated our table with rock-n-roll paraphernalia.  We encouraged visitors to take selfies and tag them with the official meeting hasthtag, #MidwestMLA18.  We benefited from the 2017 Special Karaoke Event which got people thinking in a rock-and-roll mode.  The video featuring our 2018 conference chairs Mary Pat Harnegie and Mary Schleicher, and the music of real life rock star librarian Cathy Murch put an exclamation point on our marketing efforts.  In a happy coincidence, the NLM in Focus blog has been focusing on “rock-star” medical librarians all month – a gift of free marketing for us!

I am sure that all the 2018 Conference Planning Committee members were watching carefully and learning from the 2017 meeting.  Stephanie Swanberg, the chair of the 2017 Publicity Committee, met with us and shared some pointers and volunteered to be available for questions.  I spoke with Emily Ginier, the chair of the CE committee, when my CE instructor suddenly cancelled.  Probably the most important thing I learned from observing this meeting is how to land on one’s feet when that inevitable something doesn’t go as planned. Switching gracefully to Plan B is a conference planner’s biggest challenge.  But the 2017 conference planning committee did an excellent job of moving forward and rolling with the stormy waves.  I told Emily that I actually enjoyed the substituted CE class very much as it ended up giving me a full day crash course on Research Data Management. Although I was disappointed at not getting to hear Curt Guyette speak, I did not mind the gap in the schedule as things just moved on gracefully.

In reflecting on my 2017 conference experience, I am very thankful for this opportunity.  I am thankful to have received an NN/LM GMR Professional Development Award to attend the conference.  I had hoped to take some CEs, and learn from the vendors, paper and poster presenters, and the keynote speaker, but what I learned most is how important personal interaction still is and how valuable physical attendance at a conference is.  Even the “fun” sessions like the welcome party, karaoke night, and down-time are not just icing on the cake, but opportunities to really build relationships among colleagues, have some great discussions, and even establish some mentor and mentee relationships.

All in all I was very pleased with my conference experience – and that is the goal, after all, isn’t it?  I realized that a tight schedule is important, but that just being with and learning from one’s peers is what is most important about conferences.  If I want to learn about a topic I can just search for an article, or watch a video online.  But there is no replacement for meeting people in person.  Even with scheduling snafus, an annual conference still provides that in-person networking and fellowship time that is growing increasingly rare in our society.  I will take this realization back to my 2018 planning work.  I want to keep in mind that building collegial relationships is the most important thing in a conference, not the production of a perfectly smooth, clockwork event.  In that spirit, we can almost guarantee that the Cleveland conference next year will Shake, Rattle, and Roll!!

Donald Pearson, MBA/MIS, MLIS, AHIP
Library Technology Specialist, Mount Carmel Health Sciences Library
Columbus, Ohio |

Midwest MLA Scholarship Fundraiser Successful!

We are happy to report that the scholarship fundraiser was a success. The total amount raised was $1038.00!

Not only did we raise over $1000 but a Chapter ‘Critter’ was selected by a significant margin. The owl won with 158 total votes, 90 more votes than any of the other top 6 ‘critters’.

A great big thanks to our generous colleagues who donated handmade silent auction items: Jen DeBerg, Carole Gilbert, Karen Hanus, Janna Lawrence, Jolene Miller, Merle Rosenzweig, Nicole Theis-Mahon, and Edith Starbuck.

Thanks as well to the volunteers who monitored the silent auction table, sold ‘critter’ votes and fun ribbons: Jessica DeCaro, Mary Pat Harnegie, Janna Lawrence, Mini Prasad, Nicole Theis-Mahon, Eileen Severson, Angie Tucker, and Beth Whipple.

Special thanks to my co-chair Nicole Theis-Mahon who contributed her ideas, time, silent auction knowledge, and creativity to the fundraiser.

Finally, thanks to all of you who bid on silent auction items, purchased ‘critter’ votes, fun ribbons, and conference magnets! Together we really did make this a successful fundraiser.

What’s happening next year? We’re planning to do another fundraiser that will include a silent auction and another opportunity to purchase fun ribbons and vote on some aspect of the Midwest Chapter / MLA owl. In addition, we will be working with the Executive Board toward creating an official fundraising committee.

More on all of this as the year progresses. Thanks again to all for making this such a successful fundraiser!


Edith Starbuck (

2017 Silent Auction Fundraiser Co-chair

Virtual Reality at MidwestMHSLA ’17

On Sunday, October 15, at the #MidwestMHSLA17 Conference, I attended the NN/LM GMR Technology Topic on Virtual Reality. I had a small hand in helping plan this event, as I was tasked with soliciting vendors for a raffle prize to encourage attendance. After a few emails to my local EBSCO rep, they donated a cool little View-Master Deluxe VR Viewer which reminded me of a toy I had as a kid. This one, however, works with a smartphone and allows for an inexpensive entry into the world of virtual reality.

As further preparation for the conference, I had read an article in Forbes Magazine entitled How VR Saves Lives In The OR which explored uses of virtual reality in medicine in seven areas: training, education, visualization, psychology, telehealth and telesurgery, screen consolidation and physical training, health, and fitness. I was fascinated by the new applications on the healthcare horizon, things like: mapping CT scans onto a patient’s body, surgical simulations with haptic feedback, flight simulator-like surgery rehearsals, and more.  There is great promise in using VR to improve the medical education process.

At the GMR Tech Topic, Jennifer Herron, Jason Lilly, and Kellie Kaneshiro, all of Indiana University Ruth Lilly Medical Library, served on a panel to explore the use of virtual reality in medical practice. Being good librarians, they performed a search of with the key words “virtual reality” and found 439 studies spanning 350 conditions. They found three general categories of use beyond education: rehabilitation, pain management, and psychiatric disorders.

They introduced us to CAREN, the Computer Assisted Rehabilitation Environment system,  which is a multi-sensory system for the analysis, evaluation and rehabilitation of the balance system, especially for injured war veterans. Then they showed us how VR is also being considered as an alternative method of analgesia, for example during labor in the VRAIL Pilot Study (Virtual Reality Analgesia in Labor). Other VR innovations are being used to prevent and treat post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). The STRIVE and Bravemind systems benefit service members who may need both physical and psychiatric rehabilitation.

Despite all these amazing applications of VR, the panel from IU also noted that one disadvantage of VR is that it may cause motion sickness. This problem is more pronounced in women due to differences in their postural sway while maintaining balance. In an interesting aside, the panelists suggested that there is a need for more female VR system designers to help mitigate this problem.

The panel concluded by sharing a list of the many health sciences libraries across the country which are hosting Tech Hubs, Technology Labs, Innovation Spaces and Sandboxes. In a nice followup on Sunday evening, Kellie, Jennifer and Jason held their own VR petting zoo, while karaoke was simultaneously going on at the front of the room. They set up a full VR system and also demonstrated the Virtuali-Tee by Curiscope which gives the VR user a guided tour inside the human body.

The VR Technology Forum was a fascinating, eye-opening, and fun introduction into VR in medicine. Thank you to the NN/LM GMR and Indiana University Ruth Lilly Medical Library for this excellent addition to the conference, and congratulations to Karen Hanus, the winner of the Viewmaster!

Donald Pearson, MBA/MIS, MLIS, AHIP
Library Technology Specialist, Mount Carmel Health Sciences Library
Columbus, Ohio |

Educating 21st Century Doctors

The panel on Monday provided great insights and perspectives on educating 21st century doctors and included speakers from Oakland University, Wayne State University and the University of Michigan. Each speaker highlighted a different angle on the topic question and provided great ideas and examples of what the doctor of tomorrow will learn and how this will translate into their patient care.

Dr. Robert Noiva discussed the importance of patient centered care and highlighted how a picture can speak volumes when he showed a picture of a group of doctors discussing their patient care, but with no patient in sight. To focus on patient centered care, Dr. Noiva described how he envisioned a 21st century physician delivering this care – compassionately. In order to provide this compassionate care, the school has promoted a movement towards enrolling medical students who are “more than their score” and focusing on admitting students using a holistic review that looks at both academic achievements and interpersonal competencies. In order to deliver this compassionate care, 21st century physicians need to focus on their personal wellness and OUWB has integrated wellness into the curriculum with wellness events and activities for students to help them cope with their demanding schedules and prevent burnout.

Dr. Laurie Richlin started off her presentation getting attendees to think about what the 21st century physician looked like to them. Giving a short break to chat with our tables, I leaned toward my own personal bias and pictured a techie doctor utilizing all the latest technology to provide in-depth, personalized health care, but chatting with the librarians at my table helped me to see that a collaborator is what a 21st century doctor will be – someone who can communicate with a healthcare team and their patients. Dr. Richlin’s love for medical libraries was obvious from the start of her presentation when she noted that hiring a medical librarian was a crucial first step when opening a practice and continued throughout her presentation. Dr. Richlin highlighted the key roles of a 21st century physician: Healer, Scientist, Advocate, Educator, Colleague, and Role Model. Echoing Dr. Noiva, Dr. Richlin also stressed how compassion is needed as a doctor. Along with compassion, lifelong learning was another skill needed by doctors which can easily be attained by forming a connection with their medical librarian. Dr. Richlin also discussed the Research Readiness Self Assessment (RRSA) which was an excellent example of how the medical library can become more involved with medical education.

Dr. Michelle Daniel concluded the panel with her presentation on the new curriculum at the University of Michigan’s Medical School. Some of the changes to the curriculum include decreasing the number of years in which science is taught, increasing the number of clinical years, including leadership training, and a course on doctoring (covering all 4 years) to enhance students’ communication, collaboration skills, and compassion. The curriculum also wanted to focus on students’ interests and encouraged them to pursue different paths in their education. These “Paths of Excellence” help to prepare students to become agents of change in health care and reinforce the vision of a 21st century physician.

Getting Started with Health Information Outreach

On the first day of Midwest/MHSLA 2017, I attended Getting Started with Community Health Information Outreach, taught by Darlene Kaskie. In this course, attendees learned how to examine specific populations for targeted outreach initiatives.

To do this, we first discussed the various resources available for getting a clearer picture of the populations in certain communities. By utilizing census data and other government health resources, it is possible to develop a better understanding of the demographic makeup of specific communities, as well as the health needs in those areas.

Throughout the course, there was an emphasis on learning and asking questions. For example, if you wanted to speak to a demographic that was culturally different from groups you had worked with previously, it’s important to develop an understanding of that group before trying to start an outreach project. So, if you were working with senior citizens who had limited understanding of mobile technologies, you may not want to lead with the cutting edge mobile apps available to them. However, by communicating with your targeted group and asking questions, you could learn what their particular struggles and health issues might be and how you as an information professional may be able to address them.

One way to learn more about a community is to seek out a community health assessment for that particular region. If an agency or institution has already conducted a community health assessment, you can easily determine what the health needs are for that particular area. Examining a community health assessment also allows you to easily target potential partners for your outreach efforts.

In addition to learning how to target and explore specific communities for outreach efforts, we also discussed NLM and other government resources that are freely available, including MedlinePlus, HealthReach, Genetics Home Reference, and the Disaster Information Management Resource Center.

I have always enjoyed attending conferences for the educational opportunities that help me keep abreast of advancements in our field. These courses teach us how other librarians are problem solving, expanding their roles, and developing new strategies to best utilize their skills in an ever-changing environment. Both continuing education courses I attended at Midwest/MHSLA 2017 gave me the chance to learn about new (or new to me) resources and how librarians are harnessing these tools to create new roles for themselves.