The European Association of Health Information and Libraries (EAHIL) held a fantastic conference in Basel, Switzerland from June 17th-20th with the theme of Bridge, Act, SharE, Learn. Unlike MLA, which is primarily a traditional, lecture-style conference, this year’s EAHIL was comprised of hands-on workshops designed to get participants to engage together and think outside of the typical conference box. I learned about Library Carpentry, an organization that teaches workshops on software, coding, and data skills for people working in libraries, and I am excited to get several workshops on the schedule here at IUPUI University Library. I also experienced an UnConference for the first time as we discussed implementing data management services in libraries, and I enjoyed a workshop that had us identify research ideas in our daily work. I greatly enjoyed this unique style of conference, especially considering I was also a new attendee. It allowed me to meet and work with others in each session, who I would then touch base with throughout the week.
On Wednesday, I presented a workshop called, “Open Access to Health Information: A Social Justice Issue,” which included an overview of health equity, equality, and the social determinants of health, as well as a knowledge café where the participants broke into groups and discussed a list of questions I had prepared from one of three categories: healthcare-related, social and culture, and library-related questions. Examples included:
· What groups of people in your communities have been traditionally marginalized? How does this affect their health, or their access to care?
· With your marginalized groups in mind, how would you advocate to faculty, students, administrators, or doctors regarding why they should make their work open access?
· What impact, if any, has colonialism had on prejudice and discrimination in your society?
· In thinking about medical research, what groups have been understudied or studied unethically? How might this influence their view of the medical establishment?
These questions elicited a lot of rich discussion within each group, and the share-out portion of the presentation was incredibly enlightening due to the variety of participants from different countries and cultural backgrounds.
Luckily, there was also time to explore the city of Basel, which has lots of interesting health-related history. I visited the local Pharmacy Museum, as well as the Basel Paper Museum, which was housed in a medieval (and still working!) paper mill. Although the river was too rough for a swim in the Rhine, I still managed plenty of exercise exploring the city in the evenings.
Overall, I would highly recommend attending EAHIL, and I enjoyed learning about medical librarianship from our European colleagues. Next year will be back to the traditional conference style in Poland, as they alternate the type of conference every other year, but don’t let that deter you. The opportunity to network, learn, and share was invaluable, and I hope I’ll get to attend again in the future.
I'd also like to thank the MLA International Cooperation Section and its committee for the Avraham Reis Travel Grant for this opportunity, the Central Indiana Community Foundation for awarding me a grant from the Minde Browning Professional Development Fund, and IUPUI University Library for allowing me the time to attend.