I am very grateful to June for allowing me to write this post, and I will be grateful to any of you who can assist me in finding a new job within the eating disorders field.
Many of you know me from my work as the eating disorders librarian, but not how I got here. Although my eating disorder (ED) started when I was a child, I did not seek treatment until my late twenties. When I started studying for my masters degree in library science (generally abbreviated as MLS) I often found myself bingeing and purging between classes. In addition to school, I had started my first job at the National Library of Medicine, which is part of the National Institutes of Health, and I was sometimes purging at work. Fortunately, I was able to find a wonderful outpatient therapist and finally tell my parents about my disorder.
Supportive words were nice, but they weren’t getting me anywhere
After graduating with my MLS, I was hired by a company that provides librarians to various government institutes and other organizations. One project they gave me was to look for places that had not previously had a librarian but might be interested in hiring one. I went to them with an idea – maybe an eating disorders group could help! With their support, I contacted the Eating Disorders Coalition, who agreed to pay me to write up a proposal. Although the EDC liked my proposal, they decided the project was outside their scope as a federal lobbying group. At that point, I literally put the proposal away into a drawer.
A few years later, I lost my job with the contracting company and decided to open that drawer and update my proposal. I discussed it with several people within the ED field, who gave the same response: “That’s something we really need; good luck!” The supportive words were nice but weren’t getting me anywhere. I decided to found the Eating Disorders Information Gateway as a non-profit and see if I could make it happen. Imagine my shock when my phone rang less than a year later and Dr Craig Johnson was on the other end. “Would you like to bring your Gateway to Eating Recovery Center?” Of course, I said, “Yes!” I still refer to February 15, the day of that call, as my Craigoversary.
My idea was to create a comprehensive catalog of publications in the eating disorders field
What is the Eating Disorders Information Gateway? My idea was to create a comprehensive catalog of publications in the eating disorders field. Resources such as PubMed, PsychInfo, and Google Scholar are valuable for finding research, but they cover all topics of medicine and psychology, and sorting the relevant information can take a long time. For families looking for more basic information, they may need to visit the websites of several different organizations to find what they are seeking. Creating a single place where everyone, including consumers and professionals, can go, seemed necessary! Of course, due to copyright laws, it would not be possible to actually store every academic article, but I could provide the citations and abstracts, similar to PubMed.
At Eating Recovery Center, this vision became reality. The citation database I had created on my own moved online and grew every week. I passed 20,000 resources and continued adding more. Being able to devote all my time to looking at new articles and other resources meant I was uniquely familiar with the scope of publications available. This put me in the role of assisting people with literature searches, not just at ERC but also for other organizations and outside clinicians. I responded to requests from as far away as Taiwan and Israel. In 2021, I won a “Mover & Shaker” award from Library Journal for my work.
My unique role in the ED field also helped me take on some other titles. I became a member of the Eating Disorders Coalition board and have served as secretary for several years. After joining the Social Media Committee (now called the Online and Social Media Committee) of the Academy for Eating Disorders, I was promoted to co-chair. Then I joined the board of that organization as well. My three-year term ended a few months ago, and I’m proud of our work to get AED through the difficult times of the pandemic. Last, but not least, I spent a few years working with iaedp to strengthen that organization’s classes required for everyone doing certification. I collaborated closely with the director and faculty, fact-checking and ensuring the classes presented up-to-date information.
The Eating Disorder field is my passion
Unfortunately, companies changed their priorities, and after 10 years at ERC, they decided they no longer needed a librarian. So now I am figuring out where to go next. While therapists and researchers can search the AED job board and LinkedIn, my unique role in our eating disorder field has made finding a position more difficult. No one advertises for a medical librarian who specializes in eating disorders. My best hope is to find someone willing to create and fund a position for me. Yes, I am applying for MLS positions outside of our ED field, but this is where my passion lives.
I feel like a piece of me will be lost if I have to find a job elsewhere.
Since the USA does not have nationalized health, I need a job that can give me full-time hours and benefits. I live in Maryland, just across the border from Washington, DC, and I prefer not to relocate. However, I do have friends in the UK and would not mind living there again. Of course, that is a long shot, but worth mentioning.
Upon learning that our amazing Millie is without a job, I became filled with an urge to go out into the global eating disorder field and beat my drum loudly! The work Millie does is invaluable in our field. Millie has shown great initiative and self-motivation in combining her lived experience with extraordinary librarian skills and knowledge to create a position that enriches the ED field in many ways. She has become the go-to person for up-to-date information, research outcomes and much more. She is everyone’s helper. Her knowledge is specific and precious. Her expertise and mastery must be preserved! I hope a suitable position is found/created for Millie very soon so that she can continue to apply her librarian skills for the benefit of all of us. Go, Millie!