Friday, February 25, 2022

Henrietta Lacks and HeLa Cells


Henrietta Lacks: The Mother of Modern Medicine 

Smithsonian National Portrait Gallery

This post is a summary and follow-up to some of the things I learned about Henrietta Lacks through AAMLA's Experience MLA in February.  The African American Caucus of the Medical Library Association hosted a 3-week online book discussion of The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks by journalist Rebecca Skloot.

In small group discussions with facilitators, participants had the opportunity to thoughtfully and eloquently wrestle with some of the ethical, health equity, patient-provider communication and other difficult issues raised by the case.  I was grateful for the opportunity: Some books are definitely better discussed!

  • The month-long focus on Henrietta Lacks culminated in a talk by Chris Belter, Informationist at The NIH.   If you have a current MLA Membership, you can watch the recorded Experience MLA 2022 session here.   If you are not a current MLA member, the Bright Talk below is similar:

Analyzing the Legacy of Henrietta Lacks; The Impact of HeLa cells on Research:   
Bright Talk from November 2019

Presented by: 
Chris Belter, Informationist at the NIH Library, and Holly J. Falk-Krzesinski, PhD, ICSR Advisory Board Member & VP, Elsevier
About this talk:
In 1951, a young black woman named Henrietta Lacks was diagnosed with cervical cancer. During her treatment, her doctor took a sample of her cells and tried to grow them in culture. The cells, called HeLa cells, were the first human cells that could be grown in a laboratory and are still the most widely studied cells in biomedical research, having led to treatments for diseases such as polio, HIV, and cancer. 

  • HeLa Cells: A Lasting Contribution to Biomedical Research 
  • The NIH created this site in response to The Lacks Family asking exactly what wonderful scientific advances came of their mother's HeLa cells.  This is the result of Chris Belter's project above ...  in plain language.    
  • After reviewing 110,000 papers published between 1953 and 2016, the website includes a timeline showing SOME of the scientific advances made possible by the immortal HeLa cells, such as:
    • laying the groundwork for the polio vaccine
    • helping scientists understand the effects of x-rays on human cells
    • developing cancer research methods
    • Research on infectious diseases such as how do salmonella and TB make people sick
    • slowing cancer growth
    • understanding HIV infection
    • learning how cells age
    • understanding how viruses cause certain cancers
    • Efforts to protect privacy while advancing science.

Looking for even more information, see this excellent guide from Columbia College:  

Wednesday, February 23, 2022

How music can be used for therapy - WPR's Morning Show

On my way into work today, I heard some of an interesting segment on WPR's Morning Show. Dr. Dale Taylor, Professor Emeritus from UW-Eau Claire, spoke about his experience as a music therapist and where music therapy as a discipline is headed. 

Listen to the segment here.

Tuesday, February 15, 2022

Down the rabbit hole

Did you ever see an article trending on PubMed and then wonder to yourself "WHY on earth is that trending now?"  (Especially when an article that probably SHOULD be trending is much further down the list)Then you click on it because the title is so horrifying and curiosity gets the better of you (which lots of other people probably did too, and now the article is suddenly trending on PubMed).  

Before you know it, you're finding other related horrifying medical articles and staring at the reference list wondering why so many pregnant women were gored by cattle in 1887 that it warranted a study.


Monday, February 14, 2022

Drag Queen Story Hour: Part of Experience MLA

“Tall Tales with True Queens” is a short film directed by Kristina Budelis and Leandro Badalotti that offers a taste of Drag Queen Story Hour from our NYC chapter. As  9-year-old attendee Lilli says in the film, “Drag queens should go on and never stop, because I think it’s a really cool program.” The film was scheduled to premiere at the Tribeca Film Festival (canceled due to the pandemic) and premiered on the LGBTQ news site them.

As part of Experience MLA this February, The Hospital Library Caucus sponsored a session on Drag Queen Story Hour, in an effort to foster diversity and inclusion.

Who doesn't love being read to?

The program was lead by Per Sia, who did the very first Drag Queen Story Hour ever in 2015 in San Francisco.  By day, she is a teacher where reading is an important part of her job.  She understands the importance of reading to children.

The last part of the hour, Ms. Amanda Lynn read 3 stories to us over Zoom (What a treat!) 
DQSH has a favorite list of books that focus on inclusion and diversity.  Ms. Amanda is a big fan of books from the APA's Magination Press that tackle identity and not fitting in.

Ms. Amanda's day job is a Pediatric Cardiology Nurse in Chicago, so she, too, works daily with kids.  It's a natural tie in to have a program like this in the pediatrics dept. of a hospital.  Not just for public libraries!

Quotes from the Queens:

"We're like clowns, only prettier!"

"Drag is not how you identify. It's about bringing a character to life!"

-- Posted by Ms. Wasabi Pearl  

[As part of the program, the Ladies tell how you can choose your own Drag Queen name!  Join the fun!]


Friday, February 11, 2022

Earn Certified Health Education Specialist Credits with FREE upcoming webinars from The Network of the National Library of Medicine!



1 webinar on February 9

The Development of the National Community Health Worker Survey to Advance Professional Identity, Policy Leadership, and Organizational Capacity

Wednesday February 9, 10-11pm CT

This presentation will begin by an introduction of Community Health Workers (CHWs), the National Association of Community Health Workers (NACHW), and an introduction to the National CHW Leadership and Capacity Project. Hear about how NACHW engaged CHW leaders across the country to develop a comprehensive survey about CHW professional Identity, policy leadership, and organizational capacity.  

This webinar qualifies for one CHES education credit.

Learn more and register here


2 webinars on March 2

These 1 hour live webinars will be presented back to back from 12-2pm CT on Wednesday, March 2. Each webinar qualifies for one CHES education credit. Register for one or both!


Commercial Determinants of Health: Tobacco Use

Wednesday, March 2, 12-1pm CT

Amanda Kong, PhD, MPH is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Family and Preventive Medicine and at the TSET Health Promotion Research Center at the University of Oklahoma Health Sciences Center. Dr. Kong discusses findings from studies to demonstrate how place-based interventions and policies may help continue progress in reducing tobacco use equitably.

This webinar qualifies for one CHES education credit.

More information and register for Commercial Determinants of Health: Tobacco Use


Health Statistics on the Web

Wednesday, March 2, 1-2pm CT 

Learn the difference between data and statistics, key features and use of health statistics, steps to finding health statistics, and sources of health statistics at the local, state and national level from Erika Lake, MLS, AHIP, Medical and Academic Library Outreach Coordinator for NNLM Region 6, Hardin Library for the Health Sciences, University of Iowa.

This webinar qualifies for one CHES education credit.

More information and register for Health Statistics on the Web


1 webinar on March 8

Transgender and Gender-Nonbinary Sexual and Reproductive Health

Wednesday, March 8, 12-1pm CT

Learn the principles of taking a transgender-inclusive sexual health history and review evidence-based counseling for gender-diverse people regarding fertility, contraception, and cervical cancer screening with Miles Harris, FNP-BC, (he/him). Miles is a trans and nonbinary-identified Family Nurse Practitioner and the Director of Gender-Affirming Care at the Betty Irene Moore School of Nursing at University of California Davis, and the Lead Provider for Transgender Health at One Community Health.

This webinar qualifies for one CHES education credit.

More information and register for Transgender and gender nonbinary sexual reproductive health


View more upcoming CHES webinars from the Network of the National Library of Medicine

Reprinted/ Reposted from an NNLM Region 6 email.

Brought to your attention by Dora Davis, WHSLA CE Coordinator.

Thursday, February 10, 2022

Long-time WI health science librarian to retire after 44 years!

Congratulations to Marcy Lisiecki, Librarian Senior, who will soon be celebrating her 44th anniversary with Advocate Aurora. Just a few days later, February 25, 2022, she will start enjoying her well-earned retirement after a long and successful career in the Medical Library at St. Luke’s.

Marcy started at St. Luke’s Hospital Library in 1978 while earning her bachelor’s degree from Alverno College. Back then the library was open 7 am-midnight and Marcy worked second shift. During those late-night hours, Marcy helped countless residents, fellows, nurses, and many others find literature and evidence to support their learning, patient care, research, and pursuit for additional degrees.

Over her years as a librarian, Marcy has worked on many projects to support making resources available for library users. She has made thousands of print books, online books, and other resources accessible for use in the library or, more often now, online from anywhere. She mentored many library interns as they assisted with projects and went on to earn their master’s degrees.

Marcy has seen many changes at the department and institution level including St. Luke’s Hospital’s merger with Sinai Samaritan to form the seed of Aurora Health Care in 1987 and the merger to Advocate Aurora Health over 30 years later. She has many fond memories of St. Luke’s leaders including Ed Howe, Nick Turkal, Marie Golanowski, and more. At the department level she moved offices many times, saw the advent of computers and technology in libraries, and facilitated the transition from print materials to online tools that can be used 24/7 from anywhere in the world.

In addition to all that, she is a friend to animals and even rescued stray cats at St. Luke’s. After a mother cat and her three kittens spent the summer living outside the St. Luke’s Library patio, Marcy started feeding and taking care of them. Before the weather got too cold, Marcy took the mother cat and all three kittens home. Mittens, the longest-lived of the bunch, turned out to be a friendly house cat who never lost her mousing instincts and liked to catch chipmunks in the backyard.

The Advocate Aurora Library team is so grateful to Marcy for all her hard work over the years, but more importantly for her kindness, smiles, and one-of-a-kind laugh that always kept us in good spirits. We will miss you, Marcy!

A heartfelt congratulations on your retirement.
Marcy celebrating her 40th anniversary in 2018.


Since 2016, The New York Academy of Medicine Library has been hosting #ColorOurCollections, an online coloring festivalLibraries, museums, and cultural institutions from around the world participate, sharing free coloring materials online.  New coloring books are released the first week of February, and even better, remain accessible for free download all year!  

I'm a little biased, but UW-Milwaukee has a particularly good coloring book this year

Friday, February 4, 2022

Clinical Librarianship Post COVID – An Interactive Session with Elaine Alligood: An NNLM Region 6 Special Event Feb 24 at 1pm

 NNLM Region 6 Special Event

Please promote widely within your state


Clinical Librarianship Post COVID – An Interactive Session with Elaine Alligood

February 24, 2022

2:00-3:00 PM EST/1:00-2:00 PM CT

Platform: Zoom


Register here


Join your Region 6 colleagues in a conversation about the path forward for clinical librarianship as we emerge from the pandemic.

Elaine Alligood, Clinical Librarian-Informationista, recently retired from the VA Boston Healthcare System, will lead us through a 1-hour, interactive session. We will discuss what our roles look like now, share our challenges and successes with each other, and brainstorm new opportunities to pursue.

Check out Elaine's July 2021 article in the Journal of Hospital Librarianship to get your gears turning:  2021 Clinical Librarians - A Call to Re-think and Re-invent! 

Speaker Bio

Elaine Alligood, MLS, recently retired from her role as Chief of Library Service for the Boston VA Healthcare System. As a member of the New England VA Library Re-Design Task Force, she helped develop a consolidated, network-wide, 24/7 virtual knowledge library, accessible across VA New England. One of the co-developers of the MLA CE program on Diagnostic Error and the Librarian’s Role in Patient Safety, Elaine believes medical librarians’ transforming roles perfectly align us with the clinical and research staff’s ever-changing information needs, and that moving librarians out of the library to where information needs occur – at the point of care and research – benefits clinicians, researchers, and patients. Elaine earned her MLS from the University of Maryland School of Library and Information Science. Prior to joining the Boston VA Healthcare System, she held positions at the Johns Hopkins University Welch Medical Library, the University of Virginia Health Sciences Library, Elsevier Science Publisher’s North American EMBASE Department, Harvard University Countway Medical Library, and the VA Technology Assessment Program as Informationist and Knowledge Manager.  

 [Thank you, Erica for setting this up!]


Erica Lake, MLS, AHIP (she/her/hers)

Medical and Academic Library Outreach Coordinator

Network of the National Library of Medicine, Region 6

Hardin Library for the Health Sciences

University of Iowa


Wednesday, February 2, 2022

Essential Partners in Healthcare Excellence: MLA Statement Calling on Hospital and Health System Executives to Fund Libraries and Library Staff

I wanted to make sure WHSLA's Hospital Librarians saw this new advocacy paper just released by The Medical Library Association (MLA). 

It discusses the value of health information and the need for hospital and health care execs and stakeholders to partner with Hospital Librarians.

If you download the pdf of the paper, it lists some additional references you can use to prove your worth to your organizations.

How will you use this MLA Statement?  Consider the following:

  • Share it with your executive leadership
  • Share it with your stakeholders
  • Work it into an annual report
  • Add it to your email signature
It's best to build your case in defense of hospital library services long before they are endangered.   Share your ideas with WHSLA!