Associate Director for Collection Resources, Norris Medical Library, University of Southern California, Los Angeles
MLIS, University of Pittsburgh, 2008
Photo by Polly Antonia Photography
Beginning her career in librarianship at the University of Southern California’s Norris Medical Library took Megan Rosenbloom down a path she never expected. Now this former journalist helps to train the doctors of tomorrow while acting as one of the faces of a burgeoning death positivity movement.
“Our library is on the forefront of work that is making huge changes in how librarians can help to further science and clinical decision-making,” says Rosenbloom. “Educating these students is literally a matter of life and death, and you have to support them.”
Her interest in medical history—including medical ethics and rare books such as those alleged to be bound in human skin—led to her involvement with the Order of the Good Death, an association of academics, artists, and death professionals dedicated to encouraging a more healthy societal relationship with mortality. Rosenbloom soon became the director of the order’s annual meetings, known as Death Salons, at which members can meet and share their work with the public.
The salons provide a safe space for creative collaboration and frank discussion of a subject that remains largely taboo, despite its universality. The latest Death Salon, held at the Mütter Museum and College of Physicians in Philadelphia in October 2015, included programs on the disconnect between real-life medical examiners and TV portrayals, protecting trans people’s identities in their end-of-life care and death, and the way women’s bodies are viewed in medical educational settings, says nominator Alison Macrina (a 2015 Mover & Shaker).
“Attendees are so grateful to have these opportunities to engage with a topic they may be interested in, or that has touched them in some way, but they feel marginalized speaking about,” says Rosenbloom.