February 17, 2018

Becky Hebert & Siobhan Champ-Blackwell | Movers & Shakers 2005

Taking Their Show on the Road


They’re two very different women with the same mission: outreach to medically underserved populations. Both work for the National Network of Libraries of Medicine. Becky Hebert (left) covers the Southeast/Atlantic region, and Siobhan Champ-Blackwell, the mid-continental region. They spend much of their lives on the road, exhibiting at minority health conferences and librarians’ meetings, teaching minorities to access culturally relevant health information, and building partnerships with community-based organizations.

Both women came to librarianship late but found this work a logical and purposeful extension of their background and values.

Champ-Blackwell was profoundly influenced by her Irish immigrant parents, who came to America because of its promise of freedom and equality. Living with people active in civil rights and other causes, she grew up wanting “to live a life that is socially just.” As a stay-at-home mom, long before she became a librarian, she volunteered with La Leche League and was president of the Nebraska chapter. She says, “I didn’t realize it then, but I was already acting as a health educator, helping new families adjust to caring for a baby.”

The accomplishment she’s proudest of is her web log, Bringing Health Information to the Community (http://medstat.med.utah.edu/blogs/BHIC). “I learned that the organizations I worked with really needed to hear about the latest health information, but they didn’t have time to surf the net to find it. So I filter the information and post what I think will meet their needs.”

Hebert is descended from Delaware Indians and Cajuns. After a few years in jobs that never quite suited her, she discovered librarianship. Once she got into the MLS program, she realized, “Everyone there was just like me. I had found my people!”

Kelly Webster, current president of the American Indian Library Association, is impressed by the work Hebert does for the group and her willingness to share her resources and contacts for Native health information. “She goes to powwows to promote access to health information to American Indian tribes…and provides classes and site visits, helps tribes develop grant proposals, and more.”

An air force brat, Hebert thinks “travel is the best part of the job, because without it, I’d be bored.” More importantly, it gives her the chance to “meet really deserving people and see great things going on that restore your hope in humanity.”

For both these women, the work they do is not really about health, or even information. It’s about the chance to make the lives of real people better by giving them the knowledge and power to take control of their health – and their lives.


Becky Hebert

Current Position Specific Populations Outreach Coordinator, Southeast/Atlantic Region, National Network of Libraries of Medicine, Baltimore

Degree MLIS, Louisiana State University, 2002

Siobhan Champ-Blackwell

Current Position Community Outreach Liaison, MidContinental Region, National Network of Libraries of Medicine, Omaha

Degree M.S., Library and Information Science, University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign, 2002