Ramblings from the Representative-at-Large

Submitted by Patty Lunsford, Representative-at-Large, Franciscan St. Elizabeth Health, Lafayette, Crawfordsville, and Rensselaer, Indiana 

“The State Liaisons Committee shall serve as a conduit for communication between the chapter and state health sciences library associations, local library groups and library science educational programs. It shall serve as a mechanism for chapter officers and committees to distribute information and receive feedback at the state and local level.”

 Fostering peace and justice in our libraries”—does that sound unusual, or rather unconventional, in terms of our work in health sciences librarianship, our mission, or perhaps one of our professional goals?

As a Roman Catholic institution, my hospitals (Franciscan Health) also include the St. Elizabeth School of Nursing, Indiana’s only hospital-based dual program Baccalaureate and RN diploma-granting college of nursing. We are affiliated as a cooperative nursing program with The University of Saint Francis in Fort Wayne, Indiana.

This week we engaged with The University of Saint Francis in a program which educated us on Catholic Social Teaching (CST), which is intertwined with Catholic Intellectual Tradition (CIT). Our nursing school curriculum and our faculty are required to incorporate aspects of The Seven Principles of Catholic Social Teaching into each nursing course—

  • Life and dignity of the human person
  • Call to family and society
  • Rights and responsibilities
  • Option for the poor and vulnerable
  • Dignity of work
  • Solidarity with diverse peoples and cultures
  • Care for God’s creation

What is realized when we study CST, and actually quite exhilarating and enlightening as we delve into these principles, is that the teachings we encounter are not simply Catholic-based, but global and universal—applying to the collaboration and collegiality with ALL of humanity—persons of every race, color, creed, gender, age, culture, and social, economic, and intellectual level!

Intertwined with Catholic Social Teaching is Catholic Intellectual Tradition—forms of imagination and creativity—the secular disciplines: art, music, literature, philosophy, the sciences, politics, theology, history, the environment, the world—and how we incorporate all these diverse disciplines with our collaboration with humankind.

It is within this entire realm of living and working and understanding and learning that we strive to make this world a more humane and compassionate and humanistic one—and in light of the current rather woeful state of our country, world and environment, this approach and practice seem so uplifting and achievable!

Is this not how we approach our own profession and service as librarians and information specialists?  We all have mission statements for our institutions, and we all create visions and goals for our libraries –and I imagine that regardless of the terminology we incorporate, we all proclaim nearly the same mission and vision and goals: to serve everyone with grace and dignity and respect, to work and live holistically, ethically, and fairly, and to help make our libraries and institutions welcoming havens of lifelong learning, collegiality, and healing.

We can apply CST and CIT to nearly every aspect of our professional and personal lives—and seek, and even facilitate, hope and light in an environment and world which are sorely seeking peace and justice!

As your Representative-at-Large, one of my responsibilities and “joys of this work” is to communicate with our State Representatives and Presidents—and all of our members, actually– and to encourage all of us to share various questions and situations which arise –either as a presented question or issue or challenge…please—share with us all experiences of this kind—how you have planned, gotten the job done, what worked and what did not, and how you coped…and succeeded.


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