Thursday, January 11, 2018

Spotlight on Brenda Fay - Librarian Specialist at Aurora Libraries

Brenda Fay
Former Research and Instructional Services – College of Nursing and Physician Assistant Studies Librarian
Raynor Memorial Libraries – Marquette University and
NOW: Librarian Specialist, Aurora Libraries
Brenda’s new
After hearing about Brenda’s honors course at Marquette, I thought it was time to turn the tables on our WHSLA blogger and learn more about our colleague and the course she taught this past semester.  I interviewed her recently.--- Barb Ruggeri

How did you get the idea for Graphic Medicine- Illness, Disease, and Health in Comics?
In 2011, I attended a major conference graphic novel conference in Chicago.  I was intrigued by the concept but not really sure how to apply it to my work at Aurora.  I started following authors and reading blogs.   At Marquette, the freshman students enrolled in the honors program need to take an additional 1-credit honors course.  Anyone can teach an honors course, you just have to make a proposal to have it accepted.  It was fairly easy to get it approved, I would be compensated for my work, but I could not do any work for the class during work time at the library.  I worked on reading articles about graphic medicine all summer.   I lined up some guest speakers, including James Sturm  who skyped in to talk about his pilot project with graphic novels and veterans.  After we read a graphic novel on Parkinson’s, I had a neuropsychiatrist come in and explain about the tests that are given.

How was it received?
I am very pleased by the students’ progress and how they developed a completely different perspective on comics.  Nine of the twelve students who signed up for the course were premed or health science related students.   They commented they learned more about other health sciences occupations from this course than any other.  They also learned about the other side of medicine, coping with disease from a patient’s perspective.     I was particularly happy to watch one student who original came to class with the attitude that this was the only thing that worked in his schedule and he had no interest in comics.  He became very engaged during the course and became enthusiastic about graphic novels.  In an anonymous survey, two students who were exposed to graphic novel presentations on mental health revealed that they had decided to seek counseling.  One of the books presented was “The Next Day” a graphic novel told by those who had survived suicide attempts.

Brenda- how did you become a librarian?
I attended UWM and was very “wishy-washy” over a major.  I had taken a vocational test and it suggested a librarian, biologist or a chemist.   I wasn’t ready to become a librarian; I completed a degree in conservation biology.  But I did take a job in a public library shelving books.  My first job out of college was a high school library aid.    At that point, I realized I did want to become a librarian and I enrolled at UWM.  I worked in public library, then at Aurora.  While at Aurora, I was particularly proud of being on the team that created the institutional repository.   That project really helped change attitudes at the hospital of what the library could do for the institution.  I came to Marquette 16 months ago.   I am pleased to announce that I will be returning to Aurora on January 8.  My official title is Librarian Specialist, reporting to the new library director who is succeeding Kathy Strube.  I have learned a lot at Marquette, it will be hard to leave.

Hobbies:  With my four-year-old son, Ronan, my only hobbies are hanging out with him!  He attends 4K at a Spanish/English language school. One of our favorite things to do is learn Spanish/English songs together.  

Brenda’s course description:
Graphic Medicine: Illness, disease, and health in comics
Can a patient’s story be as exciting as a superhero’s? This seminar will look at comic and graphic novel representations of illness, disease, and health. Seeing cancer, mental health, disability, aging, neurological disorders, and more through the eyes of patients, nurses, and doctors can help us understand and empathize, as we never could before. You’ll hear from nurses, doctors, and comic artists themselves before getting a chance to create your own four-panel comic. 

·         Graphic medicine website: includes reviews
·         Introduction to graphic medicine (NNLM webinar, March 2017)

Books to check out
             Mom’s Cancer by Brian Fies (this is the book that really started the genre in 2006)
Rosealie Lightning by Tom Hart

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