Come West and Explore Reflections
Submitted by Antoinette Pallotta, Mount Carmel Consumer Health Library, Columbus, Ohio
The theme of the Midwest Chapter of the Medical Library Association Annual Meeting in October was “Come West and Explore.” As the first time attendee at this meeting, I found this theme to accurately describe my personal experiences. I was interested in attending this meeting because I expected this venue to be an excellent way for me to network with fellow librarians. I was not disappointed! I was very pleased to talk with many librarians from the NN/LM and librarians representing other states. Director Stevo Roksandic and I also had an opportunity to talk to an MLIS student who shared her unique perspective working in various organizations and her future career aspirations. Everyone I met was delighted to discuss with me the opportunities and challenges they faced in their profession. Everywhere I explored, I found people to be kind, open, and enthusiastic! I especially enjoyed exploring the vendor booths and looking at products that could assist us in providing information on-demand to our clients.
The presentations during the meeting were very informative. I especially enjoyed Sally Gore’s presentation because she shared her experiences as a librarian and an informationist in her own organization. She was able to dispel myths about librarians and identify successful strategies she used to heighten her value within her organization. I agreed with her that defining the roles of librarians and informationists as valued information partners in any medical organization is critical to librarians’ viability as a profession. Dr. Mark Graber, a national leader in the area of patient safety was very interesting and discussed how important librarians are in providing evidence-based research that can assist the health care provider in their diagnosis.
Director Stevo Roksandic and I told our story of Consumer Health Services in the Mount Carmel Health Library System. We explained how original ideas that were implemented were rethought and analyzed to meet changes in the environment. The feedback that we received was positive and reinforced the direction we are going in. Through this venue, we were able to help others explore the consumer health arena of information services. Much more to come!
First Time Attendee Grant Recipient
Submitted by Martha Knuth, Western Michigan University Homer Stryker School of Medicine, Kalamazoo, MI
I was truly grateful and honored to receive one of the first time attendee awards from the Midwest Chapter. My institution, and ergo our medical library, is in its very first semester as a school of medicine, which makes attending conferences both essential and hard to fund. And what a perfect conference for a first time attendee to attend!
The size of the conference made it easy for me to connect with other medical librarians and pick their brains about a variety of topics. I had a laundry list of things I needed second opinions on and everyone was very kind in answering my incessant questions. Thank you so much to everyone who spent so much time discussing new medical libraries with me!
I was especially eager to participate in the Continuing Education course by Dr. Diane Rein on translational bioinformatics. I have long been interested in the subject but was too intimidated to jump into it professionally. The class, with its hands-on applications and plenty of encouragement from Dr. Rein afterwards, encouraged me to pursue my education in this subject in earnest.
This segued into what I learned from Sally Gore’s presentation on librarians in a “new world”. I took what Sally entreated us to do (not be intimidated by what we don’t know) along with my new skills learned from Dr. Rein and brought it back to my institution. I readily admitted what I didn’t know and then showed them what I did (which, surprise, surprise, was exactly what Sally predicted: a lot more than I or my audience thought I knew), and then asked if I could somehow become involved. Our Department of Epidemiology and Biostatistics was very eager to have librarians more involved in their research and we are now also involved in developing new informatics coursework for our students. I’ve had wonderfully positive feedback and am eager to take more classes in bioinformatics to keep up with the demand!
I learned so much from attending this conference and am grateful for the generosity of the Midwest Chapter for their support that allowed me to attend. My attendance helped my department and my institution at a crucial time in our development as we look for areas of involvement and expansion. It was a conference of firsts: my first time in North Dakota, first time at the Midwest Conference, and first time wearing a mustache!* I had a lovely time and can’t wait to attend more in the future. Thank you again to the Scholarship Fund committee that allowed me to attend.
*Editor’s Note: Yes, you read that correctly. See the conference photo gallery on Flickr to see your fellow chapter members wearing fake mustaches and bandanas!