I had the privilege of being selected as the recipient of Andornot's 2017 Professional Development Grant in order to fund my attendance at the Canadian Health Library Association (CHLA) conference in Edmonton, Alberta. Having recently started a position as a Reference Librarian at the BC Cancer Agency, the conference offered an opportunity to grow as a new health information professional - and mine exhibitors for free swag (thanks Andornot!).
As a first time attendee, I made it a priority to take advantage of every networking opportunity available. I acted as a CHLA Social Media Ambassador and attended social events like the First Timer's Reception. All of this provided excellent avenues for forging connections with colleagues in BC and across Canada. Free cocktails are always a plus, too.
One of my conference highlights was University of Alberta Professor Tim Caulfield's keynote on celebrity culture and its (spoiler: mostly negative) influence on public health, which left me feeling inspired to be more involved socially as a champion for evidence-based information. The discussion continued during an interactive session around the prevalence of fake news and pseudoscience. One of my main takeaways from all this? The power of personal stories. Health professionals often combat bad information with a 'just the facts' approach. A more effective technique is to focus on personal narratives, and then use facts and evidence to reinforce the message.
I also discovered a number of health information resources that will be extremely useful to my work in a practical sense. Sessions and courses covered everything from research data management tools to health app reviews. You know you're in the right continuing education course when your instructor has the Twitter handle @Grampa_Data!
I love being a health librarian because it allows me to help others - and my experience at this conference will help me succeed in doing that. Mission accomplished in the swag department as well - I have enough tote bags and water bottles to last me at least a year.
My deepest thanks go out to Andornot. I wouldn't have been able to attend this event without their generous support!
Our Awards Banquet table featured librarians from coast to coast. Photo by @katmil2020
BC Health Librarians busy 'networking.' Photo by @Librownian
Me with Tim Caulfield, author of Is Gwyneth Paltrow Wrong About Everything?: When Celebrity Culture and Science Clash