A photo of Patricia Bradley next to the Health Sciences Library exterior
By El Webb

HSLIC Announces Native American Health Research Award in Memory of Librarian

Patricia Bradley, MLSIn the spirit of investing in outreach efforts and encouraging Native American health research, The University of New Mexico Health Sciences Library & Informatics Center (HSLIC) has announced a new research award.

The award is in honor of Patricia Bradley, MLS, a member of the Diné (Navajo) Nation, who served as the HSLIC Native and Distance Services Librarian from 2004 to 2019.

“She was very quiet and didn’t really reveal a lot about herself, but when she did speak, she always said very thoughtful things and people always listened,” said Gale Hannigan, PhD, MPH, MLS, AHIP, HSLIC research services librarian, who worked with Bradley for many years. “This is a way of recognizing someone who wasn’t very self-promotional.”

Bradley’s career in medical librarianship spanned more than 40 years and included leading efforts to grow the Native Health Database (NHD), a research resource that has been accessed by educators, researchers, students and health providers all over the country for many years.

“She had done a lot with the community and with the library to really advance Native American health research, whether it was consumers being able to do their own research or putting time in curating and maintaining our Native Health Database at HSLIC,” said HSLIC Executive Director Melissa Rethlefsen, MSLS, AHIP.

After Bradley unexpectedly passed away in 2019, HSLIC staff and faculty knew they wanted to honor her in some way.

According to the UNM Foundation, the research award will be given annually to a member of the UNM community who is conducting Native American health research.

“Pat was a beloved member of the UNM Health Sciences community, so we really wanted to honor her through this award and be able to give students and other researchers on campus a way to have the ability to receive an award for their work and fund them,” Rethlefsen said.

The one award stipulation is the researcher must use resources at HSLIC, which may include the NHD, the largest collection of information related to the health of Native Americans.

Rethlefsen added that there are many UNM Health and Health Sciences students who are working to enhance the health of Native American communities around the state, and this research award could help their efforts.

“New Mexico is a unique state with having 23 Pueblos, Tribes and Nations here, and it gives us an opportunity to work with those populations to make sure they have access to health information,” Rethlefsen said.

“We know that during the COVID-19 pandemic, those communities were the hardest hit in our nation. We want to make sure those communities are being prioritized in terms of the types of health interventions that are being created, or research done in partnership with those communities to help make sure they can be as healthy as they can.”

Rethlefsen said an anonymous donor generously offered to match donations received with the goal of endowing the fund in perpetuity.

“We’re really grateful to our anonymous donor, who has enabled us to kickstart this fund and to have matching donations,” Rethlefsen said. “Without the inspiration the donor provided, I’m not sure this award would exist.”

The award was appropriately announced on April 26, National Library Outreach Day – a day to celebrate library professionals who are meeting their patrons where they are.

The celebratory day falls during National Library Week, which is a national observance sponsored by the American Library Association every April. The week offers libraries – including school libraries, public libraries and academic libraries like HSLIC – an opportunity to show the just how much they contribute to their communities.

“This is a really good way to highlight distance and outreach services – such a niche area in libraries. We see it as important and critical part of what we do,” Rethlefsen said. “National Library Week is important for reminding people the variety of things we do. There’s always a lot going on.”

Patricia V. Bradley Native American Health Research Award

Categories: Community Engagement, Diversity, News You Can Use, Research