MLA ’13 From the Field: Day 1, Part 1

This set of posts details to some extent my experiences at the 2013 MLA annual meeting in Boston, a joint meeting, with the overarching theme of One Health, with the International Congress on Medical Librarianship (ICML), the International Conference of Animal Health Information Specialists (ICAHIS), and the International Clinical Librarian Conference (ICLC).  The majority of the content from the sessions, lectures, and posters are available through the virtual MLA conference (registration required).  Another great resource is the 2013 Conference Blog from the National Program Committee.  You may also be able to find specific content in the presenters’ own spaces.

To try to keep to the spirit of Dr. Richard Besser, this year’s McGovern lecturer (more on that later), I’ve decided to try a story telling format for my blog posts (live from Boston!). Complete with pictures. In fact, I’m going to need to rely on my pictures, because there’s so much going on here that I’ve already forgotten some of the things I’ve done!

So my Day 1 was actually Sunday. I got in late Saturday night, after some public transit adventures (mostly consisting of me waiting for the shuttle that I was thinking never came, but was actually the shiny blue thing that went past me 6 times) and pretty much went straight to bed.

New Members/First Time Attendees Breakfast

Listening to MLA Membership Committee Chair Cindy Logan at the New Members Breakfast

The New Members’/First Time Attendees’ Breakfast has been a tradition at MLA for a number of years.  If’ you’re a new member or a first time attendee at your next MLA meeting, here are the reasons to attend:

  • Free food!  There is no extra cost if you’re registering as a new member/first time attendee, and there’s bacon.
  • Colleague Connection – the breakfast is commonly used as the initial meeting place for “Colleague Connection” mentors and mentees.  Colleague Connection connects new comers with more experienced people to help answer questions about the conference and anything else!  I was a mentor this year (2nd time), and was a mentee at my first meeting.  It’s a great program to take advantage of, as the meeting can be overwhelming.
  • Good overview of the conference & how MLA works – over the course of the 2 hour breakfast, attendees learn about the MLA conference and the MLA organization, are encouraged to attend Section and SIG meetings, and receive Pearls of Wisdom from Lucretia McClure.

MLA ’13 Welcome

Sally Gore Presenting the MLA '13 Welcome

Sally Gore Presenting the MLA ’13 Welcome

  • Sunday morning officially starts with the Welcome plenary session.  The president and members of the National Planning Committee recognize the hard work it took to put the conference together and thank the volunteers.  This year, the official welcome message was delivered by Sally Gore in her role as current chair of  North Atlantic Health Sciences Libraries, Inc. (NAHSL), the local chapter of MLA.  She delivered her welcome as a highly entertaining (and educational!) poem, and was kind enough to post the full version for posterity on her blog!

McGovern Lecture

Dr. Besser Presents the McGovern Lecture

Dr. Besser presents the McGovern Lecture, PowerPoint not included.

The theme of Dr. Besser’s talk was communication, with a focus on story telling.  He had no slides, and simply stood at the podium to deliver his message.  He started off with a quick anecdote that garnered “awwws” from the audience: Boston is rather romantic for him because his worked his first outbreak in the city, and discovered his love for the field… He also revealed that he had gotten married in Boston.  He went on to share his experience becoming the acting director of the CDC (for longer than originally intended).  His stories covered the flu pandemic, going to Africa with a pneumonia vaccine, and ended with children with ACL tears.  For these last two, he shared his ABC coverage of the stories on the screen, and talked about the difficulty of covering very complicated issues with a very short amount of air time.  At the end of his lecture, he thanked the medical librarians who had helped him in his career.  He also invited us to the table, telling us to join his Twitter chats (conversations on Twitter at a set time that use a single hashtag), which are held weekly on Tuesdays at 1pm Eastern, using the hashtag #abcDrBchat.

MLA Business Meeting

MLA Business Meeting

Carla Funk on stage, during the MLA 2013 Business Meeting

The MLA Business Meeting isn’t the most exciting part of the conference, but I personally think it’s pretty important.  Being an active member through following the organization’s issues, voting on changes and leadership, and being aware of MLA’s financial status help us all make sure the organization is meeting our needs.  If you aren’t active, you really shouldn’t complain.  😉  The meeting opened with remembrances of the members we have lost in the past year, with too many great and familiar faces that are dearly missed.  We almost didn’t reach the quorum needed to conduct the actual business of the meeting, but thanks to institutional members, the required 250 was reached.  MLA secretary Michelle Kraft read through the various measures to vote on, and everything passed without a hitch.  We then learned MLA’s finances are slightly into the black again this year after some rough deficits.  Finally, Jane Blumenthal officially stepped down and became the Immediate Past President as Dixie Jones stepped in to the Presidency.  Linda Walton then became President Elect.  Between Michelle, Jane, and Linda, the Midwest Chapter is doing a great job of producing national medical librarian leaders!

Stay tuned for Day 1, Part 2, and all the rest of my adventures!

About Amy Donahue

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