Library Advocacy: a Wisconsin example

Session 17 – Eileen Severson, Mary Bayorgeon

I have to admit, I was inspired by this session.  Next week I’ll be doing some advocacy for my senator before the November election, but I’m really considering it practice for sticking up for medical & hospital libraries for the rest of my life.

Eileen and Mary gave an excellent presentation that began with some background info on the requirement for hospital libraries: at one point, New York State threw out the library requirement for hospitals, but as a result, the famous Rochester Study came out.  On the other hand, we’re fortunate here, as there is a Wisconsin Administrative Code for regulating hospitals that requires a health sciences library: DHS 124.09.  Sadly, it hasn’t been enforced.

Some additional info: Wisconin’s COLAND (Library council) advises the state superintendent of public instruction on library issues affecting all types of state libraries.  When hospital library closures prompted Mary to do something, this was the body she was able to approach (she is, in fact, a current member).  In order to be the most persuasive when approaching the superintendent, it was decided that a survey should be sent out.  And while Code 124.09 specified only a requirement for a library and not for staff (124 as a whole deals with all hospital services), the survey asked hospital libraries for information on both.  The survey showed that, I believe, 6 libraries had been closed since 2005.

The survey results were used at a meeting with the relevant administrative bodies last year; attendees also included WHSLA and COLAND representatives along with other various health agencies Mary organized.  In addition to the survey, the meeting preparation included a prepared letter to director of the bureau of health services, division of quality assurance, statements of concern about closures, and references to studies that showed the impact of hospital libraries.  They emphasized how the services provided by a professional librarian save money and argued that hospitals with closed libraries lacked important patient services.

The response was positive and certainly raised awareness…but they found out that the agency enforces federal regulations, and is paid by the federal government.  In addition, it’s a complaint based department, and there had been no complaints, so they hadn’t heard of closures.  They also learned that Code 124 is under revision and was accepting comments.  The trend is less prescriptive in favor of outcome-based requirements

The main outcome of meeting was that the closings were officially recorded as complaints.  And now there is lots of work to do!  They are currently promoting revisions for the code that include a hospital library staffed by a professional librarian.  But the success of this is questionable, especially since the requirements won’t be prescriptive.  What’s needed is an outcome-based requirement that shows a library role.  The public hearing hasn’t happened yet, and Mary/COLAND will get a draft of the proposal beforehand which they’ll use to develop a response.

And so sounds the call for advocacy!  This was a common theme of this meeting, which I’m excited about!

(I apologize for the choppiness of this entry; I think I’m missing some key details about the bodies involved.  Please add any knowledge you might have in the comments!  I’d also love to see Mary’s slides posted…)

Conference Memories

Your intrepid blog editor has made her way back to her humble abode in the Buckeye State. It was a great trip! I so enjoyed my time with my fellow Midwest Chapter members. And, of course, I learned a lot.

Some of the interesting and useful things I learned:

  • From Dr. Navsaria – the similarities between the reference interview and the medical patient interview.
  • From Ruth Holst – how the library can act as a “neutral” partner, without a “political agenda” within the organization, effectively spearheading cross-disciplinary endeavors.
  • From Alexandra Dimitroff – the importance of writing survey questions that will meet survey objectives.
  • From Kelly Thormodson – practical tips for improving the delivery of library instruction through teamwork.
  • From Liz Fine – how librarians are and could be engaged with nursing faculty in DNP programs.
  • From Robert Shapiro – shared advice from Dr. Lindberg: “Get out of the library!”
  • During Xiaomei Gu’s presentation – that “Dental librarians rock!” 

Memorable conference moments:

  • The rapt audience listening to Dr. Dipesh Navsaria reading The Three Questions.
  • During the “Ruthapalooza” keynote presentation – remembering how it was “in the old days” when doing it digitally meant using your fingers.
  • Enjoying the company of once-a-year friends – eating breakfast together every morning, swapping stories about the worst cars we’ve ever owned over beer and appetizers, buying jewelry from street vendors, sharing the colorful atmosphere of the farmers market.
  • Mentoring a first-time attendee and attending her excellent paper presentation.
  • The Executive Board working productively as a team during their meeting.
  • Waiting in the Madison airport with two Michigan librarians watching for Air Force One.
  • Barbara Gushrowski screencasting “on the fly.”
  • Having fun with Pete and Carl.
  • Taking photos, photos, and more photos.
  • Did I mention eating, eating, eating, and eating some more?


Of course, for me the most memorable moment was receiving the gavel from outgoing Midwest Chapter President Elaine Skopelja! Ready to go to work for the Midwest Chapter!

The New MIDLINE and More

Have you seen the new look for MIDLINE? Especial expressions of gratitude go to our webmaster Allan Barclay and MIDLINE Editor Elizabeth Smigielski for getting the Midwest Chapter’s flagship publication re-launched! The intrepid publications crew hopes you like the cleaner simpler look which harkens back to the style of the paper MIDLINE of old.

And speaking of things new, you will have noticed that the header up there on the top of this blog has been changed for the duration of our upcoming conference blog coverage. Doesn’t Madison look cool at sunset? Your intrepid blog editor is getting things all lined up to bring you the fantastic conference news coverage you have come to expect on ConnectMidwest. If YOU are planning to attend the 2010 Midwest Chapter/MLA & WHSLA Conference please consider joining our crack blogging team! Posting to the blog is fun and easy with our new WordPress publication software. Your intrepid blog editor will set you up with a WordPress account, give you a quick lesson, and you will be on your way to being a blogger before you know it.

If you are interested in blogging about the conference, just drop me an e-mail: cleibfar AT kent DOT edu

Six Weeks!

Your intrepid blog editor is publishing a post for the first time using our new WordPress publication platform. If you are reading this post in your feed reader, be sure to click through to the blog itself. So what do you think? How do you like the All New ConnectMidwest beta? We are calling this a “beta” version of our chapter blog because there will be more improvements to come. We will be soon jazzing it up even more for our annual conference coverage, adding fun widgets for photos and more. I would like to personally thank our intrepid webmaster Allan Barclay. You wouldn’t believe how many picky requests he has had to endure from yours truly over the past several weeks. Do YOU have any suggestions for making ConnectMidwest even better? Send them via e-mail to me, your intrepid blog editor! Coming soon: the All New MIDLINE!

And now returning to our regularly scheduled blog post…

Have you looked at the calendar lately? It is time to get in gear! The 2010 Midwest Chapter/MLA & WHSLA Conference is only six weeks away! And the deadline for the early registration discount and for guaranteed hotel reservations is in a week on August 23. Have you looked through the completely updated conference website yet?

You will find everything from registration information to printable program information. The contributed papers and poster presentations are even there. I’m all set to go. On Friday, I gave the handy dandy charge card a workout and registered myself for the conference, signed up for a CE course, and made my plane reservations.

As I’ve mentioned before, our chapter awards and scholarships are an important part of our annual conference. The deadline for the awards supporting attendance at the conference is AUGUST 17, only two days away! Do YOU know a library school student interested in health sciences librarianship or a practicing health sciences librarian who has never attended a conference? Well, contact them right now and help them apply! The deadline for our other awards, the Distinguished Librarian of the Year Award and the Jean Williams Sayre Innovation Award, is August 27!