Quapaw tribal library director receives national recognition

Brenda Austin, Today correspondent
9/28/10

QUAPAW, Okla. – Pattie Billings plans to make an impact on her local community by facilitating communication and collaboration in the development and delivery of reliable and relevant health information and services to Quapaw tribal members and surrounding communities. Billings, the director of the Quapaw Tribal Library, is one of only seven librarians nationally to be awarded a Sewell Stipend to attend the American Public Health Association’s 138th Annual Meeting and Exposition in Denver, Colo. on Nov. 6 – 10.

The Grace and Harold Sewell Memorial Fund was developed to promote interaction between scientists, practitioners, administrators and librarians to increase the ability of libraries to provide the most current information available to health care professionals and to better serve communities at large.

The stipend will allow Billings to learn from experts in the field, explore best practices, hear about cutting edge research and discover the latest public health services and products.

Billings has big plans for the tribal library and hopes that by attending the meeting she will get a better understanding of what the greatest medical needs are for rural communities and how to address those needs by providing reliable information. The community of Quapaw, according to Billings, is located in one of the largest superfund sites in the U.S. – the Tar Creek Superfund Site.

“The town of Quapaw has been declared safe,” she said, “but the toxic levels of heavy metals found in the soil and water in surrounding towns has been deemed a serious health risk. Many people living in the surrounding areas suffer from a variety of health-related problems.”

Billings also said the Native population suffers from a high rate of diabetes and cardiovascular disease.

A consortium of seven tribes, including the Quapaw, operate the Northeastern Tribal Health System – one of the largest tribal health centers in the state, which is currently building a new facility including a state-of-the-art medical clinic, pharmacy, diabetes center and laboratory. Billings said her goal is to collaborate with them in providing medical resources, but she is unsure how to undertake such a large project. “I believe the information and knowledge I will gain from this conference will enable me to have a better understanding of the type of medical resources needed and the approach I need to take to accomplish the library’s goals.”

Billings also works closely with the Quapaw Public School to keep them informed of the resources the library has to offer in addition to publishing a monthly newsletter. “The library is committed to promoting a bright future that respects traditions, history and education by providing materials that are high in quality and timeliness while promoting the joy of reading, research, literacy and access to information for people of all ages.

“I feel deeply honored to be selected as a Sewell Stipend recipient. I hope the knowledge and information I gain from the conference enables me to more effectively interact with health care professionals in our community and better understand the type of health resources needed to meet the diverse medical needs of the people living in our community.”

Quapaw is a small community with one bank, two cafes and a handful of small stores on Main Street. With the library quickly becoming a community gathering place, Billings said, “What better place to provide important health information that has the power to positively impact lives?”

Billings has a master’s degree in library and information services from Oklahoma University and a bachelor’s degree in business administration from Southwestern Oklahoma State University.

For more information about the Sewell Stipend visit www.sewellfund.org. For the Quapaw Tribal Library Facebook page go to: www.facebook.com/pages/Quapaw-Tribal-Library/109674875729885 or visit the Quapaw Tribe of Oklahoma’s website and click on the library link on the top of the page.

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