Submitted by Steph Hendren, University of Wisconsin-Madison
My Time at the Midwest Conference
As a grant recipient and a second year graduate student I was able to travel to Des Moines for the Midwest MLA Chapter meeting and gain a much larger perspective on what it means to be a medical librarian. One of my first events I participated in was the CE course “Building Partnerships with Faculty, Clinicians, and Other Stakeholders.” This class explored making connections with other people within other departments for those who might have entered a new position (or who are new to the field like me!). I particularly enjoyed this session because it not only covered some of my own questions, such as “how should I advertise myself and what I can offer to my future patrons,” but it also gave me an opportunity to see, speak with, and learn from various medical librarians that fell all over the clinical to academic spectrum.
That evening, I got to meet some of those librarians and speak in more detail at the Mentor-Mentee Meetup and the welcome party. The mentor-mentee pairing was another opportunity that I felt was especially helpful for me, as I could ask questions not only about the conference but about some professional decisions, such as AHIP and tenure vs. non-tenure positions. I would like to thank Dawn Hackman, my mentor, for being so helpful and patient in answering my questions!
The next day I presented a conference paper that I had been working with Mary Hitchcock from Ebling Library on for quite some time. I have to admit that a lot of that day is a bit of a blur from the nerves, but I do remember everyone being very nice and friendly during the paper rounds. I also got to listen to a few other presentations and was amazed at the different types of work being done in medical librarians across our region.
On the final day, after walking through and looking at some poster presentations, I got to see what the Chapter Business Meeting entails. This is the first professional medical librarian conference I have ever attended, and it was a good experience just to see the types of information that are shared, and the different committees that make up the chapter. I gained a deeper appreciation for the type of work and communication that is required to maintain an organization like the Midwest Chapter of MLA, and hope that someday I might be able to contribute in some way.
Overall, I feel that the conference had given me a number of unique and helpful experiences that have helped me understand the field better. Hearing others talk about their jobs, their troubles, and the important issues allowed me to start learning about the details and atmosphere surround medical librarianship, which I feel I wouldn’t have gotten outside of the conference. I am grateful to the committee for giving me the necessary funds to attend, and I hope to use what I have learned in the near future when I become a professional in the field.