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My first ALA panel!

I’m so excited to announce that ALA’s Conference Programming Coordinating Team has agreed to sponsor a panel I proposed for the Annual Meeting.

I’ve been really freaked out about this whole anti-vaccination movement for a few years now (sooo glad I don’t live in Oregon anymore, whoa) and what’s really struck me is that this is fundamentally an information literacy issue. We talk a lot about information literacy in library school, but no one is driving home that right now, in our country, information literacy has become a life-or-death issue. Homeschoolers are more likely to skip vaccinations, and they’re also HUGE library users. I feel really strongly that libraries should be doing things like building vaccination PSAs into storytimes, or something, especially in areas with low vaccination rates, and that our professional commitment to “neutrality” shouldn’t overshadow our responsibility to ensure that our patrons are learning the information literacy skills they need to find reliable health information. I have been thinking about this a lot over the last 2 years and I hope to publish something soon. In the meantime, come to my panel on Sunday or Monday and we can start a conversation:

“Public Health and Public Libraries: Librarians as Health Literacy First Responders” will feature Lydia Collins and Christian Minter.

I asked Christian to collaborate with me on this panel because she is in the process of organizing “Collaborating For A Healthier Community,” an “unconference for librarians, public health professionals, community health workers, medical professionals, community organizers, and others interested in improving programs and services that promote community health and health information.”

This is still very much a work in progress but I think we’ll definitely address how to identify underserved communities and have some examples of really effective, low-cost public health interventions that will hopefully inspire people. Lydia will have a lot of training and information resources to share with everyone.

I’ve asked for a 90-minute slot at Annual, and I think we have room for a 3rd person, so I’d love to get some more geographic representation on here. There’s a consumer health librarian in a Kansas library that was supposed to get in touch with me about this panel, but I never heard from her! I’m so excited to be working with Lydia and Christian, but I hope you’ll share this with your networks and let me know if you can matchmake us with another person!

Published in conferences librarianship


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