Must Do More Cooking

Among the indignities I suffer following my bout with the peculiarly aggressive case of transverse myelitis is the gradual atrophy of my cooking skills. This might be slightly more tolerable if it were not for the fact that Tambourine Grrl's abilities have advanced substantially.

Three years ago, and for most of our life together up to then, we split the cooking duties. During the week, I handled suppers, working on the stove top. We ate pastas with a variety of fresh vegetables, stir-frys of endless variety, the occasional risotto, simple meals based on rice or potatoes or roasted vegetables. After a long day at the library, where I rarely had the satisfaction of simple completion, I loved the act of chopping and swirling and turning out a wonderful meal of fresh ingredients and big flavors in 30 to 45 minutes.

On weekends, Lynn took over the kitchen. Soups and stews and roasts and fresh breads and homemade ice creams. She filled the freezer with leftovers so whenever neither of us was in the mood to cook it was simple to pull out something lovely. When we renovated our kitchen ten years ago, stripping it back to the rafters and starting from scratch, she designed it around our two styles, with a 5-burner stove top, work area and dual sink on one side, and on the other a lower work surface and sink (she is short) next to the ovens. And we continued to grow as cooks and share ideas and learn from each other and from Jack Bishop and Serious Eats and I think we were pretty evenly matched and life was good. And meals were delicious.

Then came my collapse and Lynn had to take over all the cooking. Her skills continue to grow. Old favorites are even better now, as she subtly adjusts the seasonings. Every week there is at least one meal that is wholly new, based on some recipe idea she's seen somewhere. She was always better at presentation than me, and the plates are lovingly arranged. She thinks of colors and shapes in ways that I never bothered to.

I am so jealous.

Physically, I'm improving. I'm gradually doing a bit more cooking. I'll make a plate of linguine with clams for my lunch on a Saturday. For Mother's Day I did the grilled steak dinner. I've still managed the meatballs sauce for Christmas. With Josie's help I make potato pancakes for special occasions.  I'm teaching her to make her favorite Cacio e Pepe. But these are all long-time standards. I'm not learning anything! Lynn is so far ahead of me now!  

Case in point. Earlier in the week she made a dish with fresh tomatoes, herbs and linguine, the pasta cooked into the tomatoes. It was good (although not worth the amount of work the peeling and seeding of all those plum tomatoes required. She won't make it again). We had a lot left over. I offered to make a frittata with the noodles if she'd take the tomato drippings and make some kind of sauce. When I got ready for the frittata I drained the pasta and what was left was a little less than a cup of tomato drippings with a quarter inch of olive oil on top. I didn't have any ideas for turning it into a sauce.

I concentrated on the frittata. Simple. Eggs, grated parmesan, a little oil to coat the pan. The frittata was very good. And when we sat down, she brought a little gravy boat of smooth, thick delicious tangy sauce to spread over the top. How did she do that? She described what all she put into it and, frankly, I was simply so impressed I didn't process the details. But that's the kind of thing she can do now.

I am so jealous.

This weekend she's off to visit her Dad, so I'm on my own. Last night I made a big batch of the lemon chicken pasta so we can have that for supper when she gets home. It was good, but again, it was a dish I've been making for 20 years without variation. Today, though, for lunch, I had some leftover spaghetti aglio, olio and pepperoncino from Joe's and I was trying to figure out how to turn it into lunch. There were a few wilted scallions in the bottom of the vegetable drawer, so I trimmed those and cut them into half inch pieces. I put a little peanut oil in the wok, cooked the scallions for a minute, added the spaghetti to heat, and then put in a splash of sesame oil. It was simple.  It was delicious. It was fun.

My energy level isn't to the point where I'm ready to resume the weekday cooking, but I could step up for weekend meals more often.  I have so much catching up to do!

 

 


The spinal cord in springtime

Email alert Wednesday morning that there was a message waiting for me in the patient portal.  Nervous as I logged in, anticipating the results of the previous afternoon's scan.

"Your cervical spine MRI looks good. There is some signal change consistent with old scar tissue. The lesion is slightly smaller in size and does not show any enhancement (active inflammation)."

Flooded with relief.  It's not a surprise.  It's what we expected.  I'd done a good job of not dwelling on the slender possibility that the inflammation would return, but there's no denying the fear.  Generally, transverse myelitis doesn't recur, but there's been nothing typical about my case, so that factoid hasn't given me a lot of comfort.  But now that I'm seven months from the last cyclophosphamide treatment with no recurrence of inflammation I can feel a little more secure.

Improvements continue, although they're slight and not very apparent to the observer.  For short distances (getting around the house, navigating a restaurant, making my way around a classroom building on campus) I can make do leaning heavily on a cane (I alternate between Mr. Whiskers and Roadrunner).  If I've got to do a bit more than that (for example, making my way around a conference) I use a walker, and if there are longer distances to negotiate, Lynn can push me in the wheelchair (Lightnin' McQueen).  It's not great, and I long for the days when I could stroll around interesting cities by myself for hours.  But I can still drive and throughout all of this I've kept up my normal work and travel schedule and gotten to much of what I would have done previously.  I'm grateful for that.

My hands remain too stiff to play guitar, but I still write in my journal with a fountain pen for an hour nearly every morning, and I can type.  I can cook, although I don't do it as much as Lynn or I would like. My overall stamina is the limiting factor there (but when I made the bolognese a couple of weeks ago I was on my feet in the kitchen for two hours straight).

I take baclofen daily, which minimizes the tremors & twitches & spasms that were so prevalent 20 months ago.  The arm, leg and back muscles are all in a constant state of tension, as if I'm flexing them all at once. They never quite relax. (As Hooks put it, I'm perpetually in neutral, never settling into park).  Instead of working smoothly in pairs, the muscles fight each other.  So all motion is difficult and tiring.  I started with a new muscle relaxant yesterday.  As always, we're in uncharted waters.

Strange to think that this has been going on for years.  Looking back, I now realize I was having symptoms three years ago, although it took another six months to get to the paralytic attack that sent me to the hospital the first time.  I don't expect ever to be "fully recovered" although it is still not unreasonable to think that I'll play guitar again and be able to walk more easily.  Exercise and neuroplasticity can achieve amazing things.

Here in the deep south we are fully into early summer.  When I drive home from work the trees on either side of the freeway are thickly lush in a calico of a dozen shades of green.  The good news from the scan of my poor chewed up spinal cord reminds me to pay attention and enjoy the gorgeousness of the sun splattered leaves even while I'm maneuvering through rush hour traffic.  I could be annoyed at the lousy drivers ahead of and next to me or I could grin with pleasure at the personalities of the trees.

Easy choice.

 


We Are Librarians

He's in the family room, half dozing over his evening scotch.  He's feeling pleasantly sluggish from the football game and the beer.  His team won.  Now the kids are watching their latest favorite show.  He's not paying attention, hears the voices drift in and out.  Some silly sci-fi something.  Some group of quirky, not quite normal eccentrics, out to save the world.  Snatches of dialog drift in. 

"Who are you people?"

"We're librarians."

He snaps awake.  The memory comes back.  The one that has mystified him all these years.  Oh my god!  They're real!  I met them!

****

It was 2000.  I'd gotten one of those Marriott timeshare offers -- 5 nights in a deluxe villa near Disneyworld for some ridiculously cheap price.  The only catch was that before you left you had to sit through the hour-long sales pitch.  Why not?  We like Disneyworld.  We'd bring Marian along.  We'd be polite during the pitch.  Hell, maybe we'd even buy in after all (this was just before we found Lynn's dreamhouse).

The villas were quite nice and the vacation was lovely.  By the time we entered the sales office on the morning of our departure we were in a mellow mood.  We weren't inclined to buy, but we were willing to have them try.  It was all relaxed and low-key.  First a video, then we sat down with the very nice, professional agent.  He asked us questions about our likes and dislikes, trying to sort out which of his categories to slot us into.  No, we didn't golf or ski.  No watersports.  More interested in cities than mountains or beaches.  He flipped through the album of pictures of the various properties.

He started to talk about financing options, but Lynn stopped him.  "If we do this, we'll probably just pay cash." An eyebrow went up.  We could see him mentally recalibrating.

So do you travel much?  Quite a bit, actually.  And is that for business or pleasure?  A pretty even mix of both.

And what do you like to do when you're traveling?

"Have lunch," said Lynn.  He looked confused.  I elaborated, "If it's a day when neither of us is working, we'll sleep late and then try to find a nice place for a leisurely lunch.  Then maybe a bit of sightseeing or a museum.  Find an interesting restaurant for dinner and then maybe a local dive bar for drinks and some live music.  That'd be kind of a perfect day."

I could see that we weren't making this easier for him.  "So where have you been in the last year?"

"Oh, let me think...  Chicago, Cairo, New Orleans..." (It had been a particularly busy year). "London & Paris, Vancouver... DC, Charleston, Bucharest..."

He looked back and forth at the two of us as we sat quietly smiling at his perplexity.  "I'm sorry," he said.  "But I have to ask, what do you do?"

Without missing a beat, and in perfect unison, we said, "We're Librarians."

We didn't buy, but we left content with the knowledge that we had rearranged his impressions of librarians forever after.  I do hope that he sees the show and thinks of us.

****

I know the members of my tribe are split on the merits of the show but Lynn and I rather love it.  Some of my favorite lines:

"Dad? Who are those people?"
"They're librarians, honey."
"Librarians? Wow."
 
"Librarians win with knowledge.  Librarians win with science."
 
"What is a librarian?! [Sighs] They're the ones who protect the rest of us from the magic and the weird and the things that go bump in the night."
 
Story of my life.
 

Of Course She's Going To Get Hurt

I went with JoBug and her Mom to Andrews to have her hand x-rayed.  She'd started having a sharp pain after a particular move during practice the day before.  Her Mom didn't think anything was broken, but better to be sure.  Josie wasn't too concerned about the pain, but there was a competition coming up in two days that she did not want to miss.  Dr. Miner was superb -- working with a doctor who understands young athletes makes a world of difference.  When she came into the examining room she sat down and talked directly to Josie first.  The x-ray showed nothing broken -- most likely an irritated tendon.  Ice it, have the trainer wrap it if need be, but nothing to prevent her from competing.  That's what we wanted to hear.

When I tell people about Josie and her passion for gymnastics and the 20 hours a week she spends in the gym, someone will inevitably ask, "But aren't you afraid she'll get hurt?"  "No," I say, as gently as I can.  "I assume that she'll get hurt."  I certainly hope she doesn't get seriously injured, but the odds are good that there'll be some broken bones along the way.  

In just a few weeks she'll be ten.  The big One-Oh, as Alejandro Escovedo would have it.  During her first year there were times it seemed that I was the only one of us that could settle her when she was colicky.  I'd hold her close, rocking her gently, pacing around the living room mumbling nonsense to her and she'd sleep and snore gently.  I was fifty years old and for the first time I understood the deep terror that accompanies being a parent.  For the rest of my life, I now knew, I'd have to carry the worry about what she would have to deal with.

And the knowledge of how little I could do about it.

Perhaps, if I'd become a parent at twenty, I'd've imagined I could protect my child from harm.  But much of my adult life has been growing to appreciate my own helplessness and by the time I held the little critter in my arms I knew that I could protect her from very little.

More than that, though.  Hasn't it, after all, been my own sorrows and heartaches and mistakes that have formed me just as much as the moments when the best of me has had the good fortune to shine?  Why would I want to keep her from the fullness of a messily wondrous human life?

She was beautiful as a baby, and is growing into an even more beautiful young girl.  Already, when friends see pictures, I get the jokey comments about having the shotgun ready when the boys start coming around.  But I'm not going to be that guy.  Her magnificent mother is making sure that I won't need to be.  She will be able to stand on her own, with a strong moral sense.  She is kind and gentle and coming to understand that what is right and what is easy are often very different things.  I don't think she will give her heart foolishly, but she will give it completely.  So inevitably she will have her heart broken.

 Without a doubt, she will make decisions that she will come to regret.  It makes my stomach turn over to acknowledge these things.  I can't protect myself from that hurt either.

Bones, hearts, the aches of disappointment and failing to live up to one's own standards.  No wonder parents go crazy.

Walking her around the living room ten years ago I knew I could protect her from almost nothing.  Now watching her twirl through the air and catching my breath while I watch for her hand or foot to slip and send her crashing to the mat, I know that the breaks are likely coming.  I can't stop it.

What I can be is part of the safe harbor.  That when the inevitable happens she will never have to face it alone.  Her Mom, Nonni & me, the people that she populates her planet with.  Keeping her safe isn't the goal, helping her to be strong and open to the world is what I hope to contribute to.  It would be foolish in the extreme to think we have the power to do anything more.

 

 


The Goorin Guys and Their Magic Hats

The shop was closed when we passed by after dinner, but the Goorin guys were still there, rearranging the hats on the shelves, mixing & matching the colors & forms just so, getting the visuals ready for tomorrow's opening. 

The King Street store is long and narrow, with the slightly old-fashioned, but comfortably hip feel that Goorin Bros. cultivates.  The hats are stacked atop one another on shelves to the ceiling, fedoras & cloches & bowlers & gatsbys, browns & greens & soft purples & reds arranged as if haphazard; but watching them now, through the glass, we could see that it was anything but random. 

When we'd been there in the afternoon I'd begun to suspect, watching Chris scamper up the shelves, that they might be slightly other than human, these slender young men, with fine features, and wisps of facial hair.  The way that they, and their female colleague, moved through the store, tending to customers and phone as if it were an effortless dance, as if it were all just great fun. Now, watching their quick, slick movments and the way they balanced their arrangements I thought of the old tale, The Elves and the Shoemaker...

Tapping on the glass didn't get their attention, so I pulled out my phone.  Chris answered and I said, "I'm just outside.  We were passing by..."

Instantly one of them was at the door, "Please, come in, come in...  You have a hat to pick up...?"

"Well, it's my Stetson, actually.  I left it here this afternoon to be cleaned.  I don't know if you've had a chance..."

"Just finishing it up..." another one said, he of the twirled mustaches, coming out from the back, giving it a few more flourishes.  "Chris did a fabulous job.  He's the master."

My hat looked better than it has in very many months.  I'd come in that afternoon, tipped off to the place by Mr TomCat, who'd bought a dandy flat cap a day or two before.  My Royal Flush Stetson had gotten quite bedraggled and I was looking for a replacement.  Chris tried many options, skittering among the shelves and the styles, knowing my size without asking, coming close but, we agreed, not quite finding the one that was right.  He was crestfallen, but optimistic that the next time I came in, just the perfect hat for me would be there.  In the meantime he offered to keep my hat and get it cleaned and reshaped.  "This is very good felt," he said, fingering the brim. "Beaver...  maybe some rabbit..."  He might've been a young Olivander, fingering a wand.

Now, with my finely refreshed hat in hand, I looked at the three, all smiling, bright eyed albeit weary from the busy day. I fumbled, "And what can I owe you..."  "Oh no, nothing at all."  "Happy to do it."  "A free service."

"Well, I'll certainly be in the next time I come through Charleston.  In the meantime, I'll send everyone here that I can."

I know that I will buy a hat from them one day.  The perfect hat will arrive.  I wonder which one it will be.

 

 


Settling In At The Edge of Chaos

I left the MRI clinic about 11:00 Monday morning.  A little after 6:00 I got an email that there was a message for me in the patient portal.  It was Dr. Bashir, with the results:

Your MRI of the cervical spine shows almost complete resolution of the abnormal signal within the cervical spinal cord. There are no areas of enhancement. Previously noted transverse myelitis seems to have resolved completely without any loss of spinal cord volume (spinal cord atrophy). This is a very good result from cyclophosphamide therapy.

Based on the July MRI, this is what we were expecting and hoping for, but you never know, so I was a little distracted during the day waiting to hear.  Despite all the positive signs, there's always the worry of things regressing.

But at least for now, my overeager immune system has quit chewing up my spinal cord.  How much function I'll eventually regain remains unknown.  We'll see where the combination of physical therapy and neuroplasticity gets me.  Things have been slowly improving for several months, so I'm optimistic (while trying to stay realistic).  And I am quite relieved that I can stop the monthly cyclophosphamide infusions.

We were in Denver last week for the Quintessential MLA chapters meeting.   When we went out for lunch to the Cool River Cafe about half a mile away, Lynn pushed me in the lightweight wheelchair we call Lightning McQueen.  But at the hotel/conference center, I was able to get around pretty well with Roadrunner (my walking stick) and Guido, the 3-wheeled rollator.  (My wheeled assistive devices are all named for Cars characters).

I mentioned to several people that since I have labwork done every two weeks I know that I'm in excellent health -- blood pressure, kidneys, liver, cholesterol, etc., are all in great shape.  I can't walk and can't use my hands, but I'm in excellent health!

I use it as a laugh line, but I am certainly grateful that it's true and that I'm not trying to wrestle with a bunch of other health complications as well.

I'm writing this late in the day from my new office at the Edge of Chaos.  I mentioned to somebody that it has often felt the last few years that I've been swimming in the middle of chaos.  Now that I've moved to the Edge, things are looking quite mellow.

 


The New Job

"Effective September 8, I'll be Director of Digital Data Curation Strategies reporting to the office of the Provost."  I've started sending this announcement around to the discussion lists, alerting the far-flung professional network to my change in circumstance.

There's been a nice assortment of congratulations and well-wishes.  But what has surprised me have been the comments from people who assume that this means they won't see me at the usual library conferences anymore.  What?  I'm still a medical librarian.  I'm still a member of MLA & SCMLA & MCMLA & ALHeLA.  I won't be representing UAB at the AAHSL meetings anymore, it's true, but I'll continue to go to the other conferences.  And given the increasing importance of data curation at research institutions I expect to be more involved with the work of some of my librarian colleagues rather than less.

Lynn reminds me that she went through a similar thing 25 years ago when she left UAB to work for EBSCO.  She had to work very hard to get people to understand that she was no less of a librarian just because she was no longer working in a traditional library job.  I guess I'll have to do the same thing.

John Meador, most recently Dean of Libraries at SUNY-Binghamton, picked up the reins as UAB Dean of Libraries August 5.  The challenge he has accepted is to merge the two existing library organizations -- Lister Hill and Mervyn H. Sterne -- into a single organization serving the entire university community.  Unlike some recent reorganizations (UNC & Florida come to mind), UAB's roots as a primarily biomedical research institution offers some unique opportunities.  The two libraries are similar in size of staff and budget, are located just a few blocks from each other on a compact urban campus, and serve an increasingly multidisciplinary institution.  So while services will continue to be delivered from both buildings, we anticipate that, over time, a single, seamless organization will be formed to provide those services.

It's a bit of a conceptual leap because even though most of the important work that librarians do now takes place outside of the building, we still think of the library organization and the library building as occupying the same space.  As I was trying to explain the goals of the merger to a faculty member he said, "But the biomedical literature will still be based at Lister Hill, won't it?"  I had to tell him, gently, "Actually, since we spend less than 1% of our content budget on print, that hasn't been the case for five years now."  The reference librarians do far more of their work by chat, email, phone, webinar, office hours in classroom buildings, or meetings & workshops around campus than they do in person in the building.  The building is still very important, of course, but basing the organization on the physical limitations of the building is an anachronism.

One consequence of the merger is that the two Director positions go away.  The Director, Lister Hill and Director, Mervyn Sterne functioned as deans, although we didn't have that title.  But we met as part of the Deans Council and had the same level of budgetary and personnel authority as the deans.  Now that there is a single individual with the title, as well as the authority, of Dean, those two director positions are superfluous.

So what has opened up for me turns out to be quite marvelous.  Every research institution in the country is trying to figure out how to effectively manage research data.  What services should the institution provide?  How do you effectively manage security?  How do you establish policies and monitor compliance with the full range of increasingly complex federal requirements?  How do you make data available for reuse in clean and well-structured contextualized environments?

A number of institutions have made some headway in sorting this out, but part of the challenge is that there isn't really a single entity within the modern research university that is the logical home for the full range of issues that need to be addressed and coordinated.  It requires true collaboration among the libraries, IT, the research office and the various pockets of excellence and expertise that exist across the campus -- often unknown to each other.

My task, for the next several months, will be to map what exists at UAB, to figure out who is doing what, to identify where there are significant gaps, and then to work with all of the various players to help develop strategies for pulling all of the pieces together into a coordinated whole.  From this vantage point it looks ridiculously complex.  

I plan to have a lot of fun with it.

 

 


There's Always Music

I like that people ask me if I'm playing any guitar these days, even if the answer that I have to give is not a happy one.  Friends & colleagues know what a major thing it's been in my life, and to look at me at the recent MLA meeting in Chicago, you might've thought that maybe I'm improving enough to be back at it.

Alas, no.  I don't have enough flexibility, agility or acuity in my fingers.  I do keep the '72 Thinline in my study and try to pick it up for 10 minutes a day.  I can form most of the chords -- I just can't move between them with any dexterity.   It's good therapy for my hands.  

In the last couple of months my hands have improved to the point where I'm typing using all my fingers again.  Things are trending in the right direction.  But it is oh so slow.

Most frustrating is the inability to walk unassisted.  For short distances I can get by with the walking stick Josie named Mr. Whiskers.  For Chicago we brought the folding wheelchair we've dubbed Lightnin' McQueen.  I can also use it as a walker and was able to make my way around the conference hotel and the exhibit hall on my own.  My legs tire easily so I can't go for too long, but we were pretty happy with what I was able to manage.

The prognosis remains maddeningly uncertain.  We don't know how much permanent nerve damage has been done.  The inflammation probably started as much as two years ago, so we can assume it's pretty extensive.  On the other hand, the mysteries of neuroplasticity have my neurons creatively seeking new pathways to get the messages accurately from the brain to the muscles in my hands, legs and hips.  These days I do feel more connection to many of those muscles than I did for a long time.  And then there's the muscles themselves.  After so long with limited mobility the muscles are weak, but still undamaged.  So I see the physical therapist every two or three weeks and I exercise daily.  I've several different routines that I do in 10 or 15 minute blocks for a total of 20 to 45 minutes a day.  If the Cytoxan continues to reduce the inflammation and the exercise continues to strengthen the muscles, it is perfectly conceivable that I will again walk unassisted and be back to playing guitar.

In the meantime, there are other ways to make music.  Several months ago I discovered a recording I'd made of me playing guitar and singing "Little Black Car."  It was from several years ago when I was experimenting with a new little recorder.  I'd pulled the track into iTunes where it got buried in my 18,000+ item library and I forgot about it.  When it resurfaced, I sent it off to the band. Mr TomCat recorded a bass track to go with it and Dook sent me a drum track.  I pulled the pieces into GarageBand and came up with a reasonably serviceable mix.  I sent it to RedMolly who was acting as dj for the Armadillo Ball and we surprised Tambourine Grrl with it.  I wrote it for her 20 years ago, back when I was still living in St. Louis and making the long drive to Birmingham and back to see her.  I introduced it at the Ball as I always did when I played it live, telling the story of that long drive and my passion for the girl at the end of it. "...and so, since I was playing in a country-punk band, I wrote a song about my car."

Hobbled I may be, but not so much as to stop me from arranging to play that song for her.

Next up, I want to talk the band into working on our version of "Wagon Wheel."  I love our harmonies on that one.  I'm fooling around with the harmonica.  And I can still sing.

Little Black Car 

 


 


Always A Librarian First

Long before I became romantically involved with Lynn, before I even met her, I knew her by reputation.  I was impressed then and have continued to be during these nearly two decades that she's been wife and friend as well as colleague.  Now she's bringing the colleague chapter to a close.  This just out:

 

IPSWICH, Mass. — May 16, 2014 — Lynn Fortney, Vice President of Medical E-journals and E-Packages at EBSCO Information Services (EBSCO) will retire on July 5, 2014. That date is her 25th anniversary at EBSCO.

Fortney says, “I have had an amazing career, but my successes have been because of the impressive colleagues I have been privileged to work with, librarians and other information industry leaders alike. EBSCO provided me an incredible opportunity to apply my understanding of the unique issues faced by health sciences librarians to what has become the largest suite of products and services in the information industry. Medical libraries today bear little resemblance to those from the early days of my career and neither does EBSCO. 1973 - 2014; my career has been an awesome, Walt Disney World's Expedition Everest roller-coaster ride.”  

Career Highlights

Fortney started her library “career” in the eighth grade, working as an aide in her school’s library, but it was not until she attended Grinnell College that she learned what a librarian could accomplish in terms of finding information. After graduating in 1972 from Grinnell with a B.A. in American Studies (with a minor in studio art), Fortney attended Emory University’s Division of Librarianship where she earned a Master’s degree in 1973 while working at the Central Library of the Atlanta-Fulton Public Library System.

Her first professional library position was Medical Reference Librarian at the University of Alabama College of Community Health Sciences (CCHS) Library in Tuscaloosa. In 1975, she was appointed Chief Medical Librarian of the CCHS, and was instrumental in developing the plans for and eventually moving the library to Druid City Hospital (now DCH Regional Medical Center). In 1982, Fortney accepted the position of Associate Director of Public Services at the Lister Hill Library of the Health Sciences/University of Alabama at Birmingham, where she was deeply involved in the selection, implementation and training for the library’s first integrated library system (ILS), the Georgetown LIS.

25 Years at EBSCO

In 1989, Fortney was recruited by EBSCO to become the company’s first Medical Library Marketing Manager, and subsequently became Vice President/Director, Biomedical Division. In this role, she provided a biomedical library focus for the company by monitoring trends affecting academic medical center and hospital libraries, recommending new services specifically designed for health sciences librarians, and participating in product development and business planning.

She started her tenure at EBSCO at the dawn of MEDLINE on CD-ROM and the early days of email as we know it. In her 25 years at EBSCO, Fortney experienced the impact of the rise of the Internet, the World Wide Web, and electronic journals. A major focus of her career was working on  tools for collection development/assessment and journal price studies, specifically the Index Medicus Price Study (IMPS). In 1999, the Medical Library Association Collection Development Section awarded Fortney the first Daniel T Richards Prize For Writing Related to Collecting in the Health Sciences, for the “Index Medicus Price Study, 1998-1999”, which she co-authored with Victor Basile.

EBSCO Information Services President Tim Collins says Fortney has helped EBSCO shape its ever-expanding medical resources and provided EBSCO with a very valuable medical librarian perspective. “We have been fortunate to work with such a strong advocate for medical libraries for so many years.  Lynn has been a key member of our team for a long time and we believe medical libraries have benefited significantly from the guidance she provided."

Conferences, T. Scott Plutchak and The Bearded Pigs

Fortney has presented at events and conferences across America and around the world, including delivering the keynote address at the Australian Library and Information Association “Specials” Conference, Melbourne, Australia, 2001. She met her future husband, T. Scott Plutchak (at the time, Director of the St Louis University Health Sciences Library), in 1992, when she invited him to speak at a seminar for academic medical library directors she was organizing in Birmingham. Their wedding was the “featured entertainment” of the Midcontinental Chapter’s Welcome Reception in Kansas City in 1995. Plutchak (currently Director, Lister Hill Library of the Health Sciences/University of Alabama at Birmingham), Fortney and several of their musically talented friends in the medical library field formed a band, “The Bearded Pigs,” that played for many years at the MLA Annual Meeting (with incidental proceeds to the MLA’s Grants and Scholarship Fund).

Professional Associations

Fortney has been active in professional associations throughout her career, most especially the Medical Library Association (MLA); teaching MLA continuing education courses and speaking at symposia, serving on various MLA committees and task forces, and in leadership roles of several sections. She was a founding member and first president (1980-81) of the Alabama Health Libraries Association, Chair of the Southern Chapter/Medical Library Association in 2001 – 2002, served on the national MLA Nominating Committee three times (1997, 2004 and 2010), and was elected to the MLA Board of Directors for a three year term, 2000-2003. She says her greatest honor came in 2011 when she was named a Fellow of the Medical Library Association, which she describes as, “a rare tribute for someone who did not work in a library.”  Fortney has always refused to be referred to as “a vendor who used to be a librarian”. For 25 years, she happened to work for a vendor. But she has always been a librarian first.

 


Happy Guy

It is not uncommon, when I'm talking with someone about my physical challenges, for them to comment on my "great attitude."  Or to note that with all of the drama and intensity surrounding issues at work, I generally maintain a calm and unruffled demeanor.

It's not complicated.  I have a wonderful life.  For example, during Christmas week 2012 (just after I was diagnosed with transverse myelitis) I took a long planned trip to New York City with Lynn, Marian and Josie.  JoBug was six weeks shy of her eighth birthday.  I booked a stretch limo to pick us up at the airport as a surprise -- we'd done the same thing for her Mom's first trip to NYC on the occasion of her 18th birthday.  A good Southern girl, Josie was desperate to see Christmas snow in New York.  Looking at the forecast, I assured her that there would be snow.  And indeed, as we settled into our tiny 34th story room above midtown Manhattan, looking through the early evening toward the Empire State Building, big flakes were floating down, lit up and shining from the green, red and golden lights of the city.

That evening, Josie borrowed my iPad to write me this note:

Okay nonai I really need you to save this because  you will miss out on a lot of  fun. So we need to talk this is the best trip I will ever take in my life
so far the three best things happened to me Number one Got to ride a limazen Number two Got some snow And Number Three got a great vu in the hotel You no that means you are the worlds best Grandfather Congratulations. I LOOVE YOU SO MUCH FOR GETING  READY FOR THIS TRIP and allays remeber that you are the best grandfather ever
and everyone in your family loves you.
 
How could I not be an incredibly happy guy?