May 2021: Library of the Month

Happy hump day everyone! The sun is shining and it is a beautiful day to highlight an awesome Library Association. For May we are featuring The Maritimes Health Libraries Association/Association des bibliothèques de la santé des Maritimes (MHLA/ABSC). Happy Reading!

1)      Who are you and what is your mission? 

The Maritimes Health Libraries Association/Association des bibliothèques de la santé des Maritimes (MHLA/ABSC) is an association of health library specialists that includes librarians, library technicians and library assistants from hospital and educational settings throughout the Maritimes. We are a regional chapter of the larger Canadian Health Libraries Association, and we have members in Nova Scotia, New Brunswick, and Prince Edward Island. We meet twice a year, formerly in person with some videoconferencing arrangements, but now completely virtual due to Covid-19. Our mission is to support the professional lives of our members and to advocate for excellent service provision in the health librarianship field. 

2)       Tell us about any current or big projects you have going on

Supporting our members through advocacy, outreach, and continuing education is our major focus right now, and one thing we have been working on is amendments to our constitution and by-laws. This is to ensure our operating structure continues to evolve with the needs of our members and is in line with our overarching organization, the Canadian Health Libraries Association. We’ve also been focusing more on outreach recently, and have increased our presence on Instagram to encourage members to share what’s happening in their work life. Our main goal is to foster relationships between members, and our projects often revolve around making sure members feel represented and in touch with their colleagues. We are also gearing up to plan the Canadian Health Libraries Association national conference in 2023, which will take place in Halifax where many of our members are located.

3)      Tell us about something interesting you have accomplished.  

A few years ago, our association’s branding needed a makeover. A member had a fantastic idea of crowdsourcing this initiative, by asking a design professor at the Nova Scotia Community College to create an assignment where students got to work with us (i.e. the client) and create some designs. We reviewed all submissions and our members chose a winner by voting for their favorite one. The student who designed it received a letter from us for their portfolio, and we received rights to use their work for our branding. The entire class also got a pizza party, which we paid for as a thank you for their efforts. It was a low-cost way to revamp our association’s look, while also supporting the career of a budding designer!

4)      If someone gave your association a million dollars, what would you do with it? 

Wow! As part of our support for our members’ continuing education, we offer a small grant each year that was created in 2006 and named after a retired health sciences librarian who had a great impact on the community during her career. It would be really fun to increase our financial support for members who want to pursue continuing education, so some of this money could be set up as a scholarship fund for professional development. It would also be fun to sponsor library school students through a scholarship, and also buy more desserts for our meetings (we love eating cake when someone retires)!

5) Is there anything else you want to tell us? 

We are always happy to welcome new members, including students or those who are interested in learning more about the health libraries profession. You can learn more about us at our website: https://library.nshealth.ca/MHLA or see what we’re up to on Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/mhla.absm/. Please feel free to reach out to us – we’d love to meet you!

May 2021: Professional of the Month

How is it already nearly June? The good news is, that it is time for our next featured Professional of the Month! Katherine Luber is a graduate of Dalhousie’s Master of Information program and currently works as a Knowledge Management Consultant. Read all about her job here!

  1. Who are you and what is your current job?

My name is Katherine Luber and I currently work as a Knowledge Management Consultant for the Canadian arm of a global payroll & human capital management company. I’ve been employed here full time since November 2020. Before joining the team in a permanent capacity, I did a couple of part time contracts here while I was completing my Master of Information degree at Dal.

2. What is an interesting or unique part of your job (or an accomplishment you are proud of)?

The Canadian KM team at my company is very small and new, so I have had the opportunity to take on a larger variety of projects than would have been possible in a bigger and more established team. What I’m the proudest of, so far, is the work I’ve done to define our team brand and set us up for success: I’ve created a formal project intake and management process, presented on a strategy to audit and transform our KM content, and helped define our KM scope.

3. What advice do you have for other new professionals in a similar field?

Knowledge management is still a recent discipline, and as a result, lots of organizations are still learning about what KM is and how it can benefit them. Learning how to advocate for the importance of your skillset is essential! Also, there are many jobs with heavy KM components that don’t market themselves as “knowledge management” positions, so don’t be afraid to make your case if you think you’re a good fit for a given role. If you’re a new grad or want to pivot to KM, I recommend keeping an eye out for learning/training, document management, or community engagement positions. They’re not a 1:1 equivalence with KM, but these are good foot-in-the-door opportunities.

4. What learning or experience has been most beneficial to you so far?

The catalyst for my interest in KM was working as a customer service associate for a company that had limited information management infrastructure and didn’t prioritize or facilitate knowledge sharing. I witnessed (and experienced) many instances where customers and employees alike had poor experiences because of that lack. Over time, it became a personal mission to document and share what people knew so that everyone in the company had access to critical knowledge. I didn’t know it at the time, but what I’d stumbled into was a form of knowledge management – and I loved it! I credit my time in that role with giving me such a passion for breaking down information silos and ensuring equitable access to information. 

On a more technical note, I’ve benefitted immensely from learning about technical writing and DITA XML-based component content management systems. If you find yourself in a writing-heavy role, I highly recommend picking up these skills. Not only will they make your working life easier, but they’re also very transferable!

5. What has been your favourite book that you’ve read this year?

Lately I’ve been gravitating toward science fiction – sometimes it’s nice to get a break from our everyday world! Two books I’ve read this year have made an impact on me: Kindred by Octavia Butler and The Left Hand of Darkness by Ursula Le Guin. I highly recommend them both.