Global Health & Health Equity

Immersion Session

Elevating the "Open" Conversation: Access to Health Information as a Social Justice Concern

Sunday, May 5
2:00 PM - 3:25 PM
Room: Columbus GH (East Tower, Ballroom/Gold Level)

Social justice, including equitable access to information and bridging the digital divide, are concepts familiar to many librarians. As a result, these ideas create a natural intersection for advocacy as health information professionals. As a brief background before the panel, we will review the literature on open access and social justice to provide context for the topic, and discuss survey results from undergraduate student opinions regarding open access. Panelists will then speak to the topic from their individual perspectives, and the audience will have an opportunity to engage and ask questions.

Caitlin Ann Pike, AHIP

Health Sciences Librarian
IUPUI University Library
Indianapolis, Indiana

Caitlin Pike is the Research Engagement and Scholarly Services Coordinator at Indiana University Purdue University Indianapolis (IUPUI)'s University Library. She also serves as a health sciences liaison librarian, where she provides instruction and searching expertise to the IU School of Nursing. Her research interests include open access, scholarly communications, and developing relationships with students and faculty to facilitate library outreach. She received her MLS from North Carolina Central University, and her undergraduate degree in creative writing from North Carolina State University. Caitlin is currently finishing a second master's in public health at the IU Fairbanks School of Public Health, with a concentration in social and behavioral sciences.


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Jere Odell

Scholarly Communication Librarian
Indianapolis, Indiana

Jere Odell (, Scholarly Communication Librarian, IUPUI University Library, Indianapolis, IN. Open access, open data, open education. Learn more at:


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Beth St. Jean

Associate Professor
University of Maryland College of Information Studies
College Park, Maryland

Beth St. Jean is an Associate Professor in the College of Information Studies (, the Assistant Director of the Information Policy and Access Center (iPAC) (, and an affiliate faculty member of the Horowitz Center for Health Literacy (, all at the University of Maryland, College Park, USA ( Beth's research aims to improve people's long-term health outlooks by exploring the important interrelationships between their health-related information behaviors, their health literacy, their health-related self-efficacy, and their health behaviors. She has worked with both adults and children over the past several years. Working with her colleague, Mega Subramaniam, Beth co-developed the NLM-funded HackHealth after-school program ( to help improve disadvantaged middle school students’ health-related self-efficacy and their digital health literacy skills. Beth’s most current research focuses on the concept of health justice, particularly aiming to identify the information-related causes of, and potential solutions to, health disparities.


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Bharat Mehra

Professor and EBSCO Endowed Chair in Social Justice
School of Library and Information Studies University of Alabama
Tuscaloosa, Alabama

From January 2019, Dr. Bharat Mehra joined the School of Library and Information Studies at the University of Alabama as Professor and EBSCO Endowed Chair in Social Justice. From January 2005 – December 2018, he was a faculty member in the School of Information Sciences at the University of Tennessee. His research focuses on diversity and social justice in library and information science (LIS) and community informatics or the use of information and communication technologies to empower minority and underserved populations to make meaningful changes in their everyday lives. He has applied action research to further engaged scholarship and community engagement while collaborating with racial/ethnic groups, international diaspora, sexual minorities, rural communities, low-income families, small businesses, and others, to represent their experiences and perspectives in the design of community-based information systems and services. Dr. Mehra primarily teaches courses on public library management, collection development, resources and services for adults, diversity services in organizations, and grant development for information professionals.
In the position of the EBSCO Endowed Chair in Social Justice he is very excited to have the opportunity to shape the LIS area of the college-wide doctoral program through a concentration in social justice research. It resonates deeply with his lifelong commitment to further diversity, fairness, and justice working with underserved communities on the margins of society. Further, in this unique progressive collaborative initiative he looks forward to a leadership role in mobilizing the LIS and communication professions in engaged scholarship to help expand their traditional definition, scope, extent, representation, and relevance in the 21st century.


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Elevating the "Open" Conversation: Access to Health Information as a Social Justice Concern

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