MLA 2008: on “being important”

One of them will be President by 2020

Who are these folks? They may very well be the people leading MLA into the future. For years we’ve been hearing how librarians will begin to retire en masse. Is this happening? (and indeed, as the McGovern lecture noted, are they even able to?) As this happens, how will MLA deal with changing leadership? What do our new members want, expect, need from our organization? When MLA asked whether members had joined or participated in the New Members SIG when they first started out, 32% responded “What’s that?” Clearly there is a need for more dialogue with newer members whether its their first job or third career.

So that’s where the above picture came from. A number of newer MLA members involved in leadership roles gathered at a special reception to discuss future MLA programs and services that would particularly interest them. Some of the discussion centered around how the MLA leadership structure works: what is this mysterious board? How does one get involved? What are the rules and processes that govern our association work, and how can we make them more transparent, more accessible? As Sara McCoord pointed out, “I didn’t even know there was a manual until after I wrote one.”

One idea I thought particularly interesting was introducing an MLA Board shadowing program for newer members and ’emerging leaders’. (Bart Ragon jokingly called it a “shadow government”.) These ‘interns’ wouldn’t be voting members (this is important because that requires a change in Bylaws), but this is one way to pass on that “50,000 years of collective knowledge” Mark Funk talked about in the opening session.

Around here at LSUHSC we joke about “being important”: serving on committees and sections in our region, writing grants, doing novel work at our institution and in the community that helps serve our patrons better: all this justifies us attending these meetings in the first place. As a national association, we need to think about how every single member can “be important”. There are more ways of reaching out to remote, new or disenfranchised members than ever before. (Live webcasts are a great start.) Getting new members, getting more members involved in MLA work, making the whole governance process more transparent: these are all excellent plans. The question is, now that it’s started, how are we going to continue it?

MLA 2008: Section Shuffle

The first-and-hopefully annual Section Shuffle was a resounding success! This drop in session aimed to educate MLA members on the various sections of the MLA, and what they had to offer. Attendees could vote on their favorite booth, and boy was it difficult to decide with all the candy, costumes and creative exhibits. As a special bonus, everyone who dropped by got 3 free trial memberships to the sections of their choice for the rest of the year. A great way to strike up interest and recruit new members, don’t you think?

Vet Med section
Veterinary Medicine Section

Happy Shufflers

plague doctor
History of Medicine plague doctor.

The History of Medicine Section took home the ‘best section’ award. But the veterinary medicine folks were so cute, they get runner up in this blog!

(Not included here was an awesome 3-D poster created by the Public Services Section, glasses included!)

If you are in one of these pictures and would like it removed, please email me at and I’ll gladly take it down.

MLA 2008: Libraries in Medical Education informal meeting

The Libraries in Medical Education (LiME) informal meeting convened for their inaugural meeting today from 9-10am at MLA’s Annual Meeting in Chicago. For librarians involved in medical education, this is a group of which you should be aware and involved. From the standing room only size of the group, I’d say that word is out!

How does LiME work?
It’s actually not affiliated with MLA, but in fact a part of the AAMC’s GEA (Group on Educational Affairs). The AAMC is a nonprofit group of medical schools, teaching hospitals, and academic societies. It provides assistance for members in the areas of education, research, and more. Further information on the AAMC can be found here.

AAMC’s Group on Educational Affairs is open to individuals with professional responsibility in medical student, resident, and continuing medical education, designated by deans, hospital directors, or academic societies. GEA is organized in four regions: Southern, Central, Northeast, and Western. LiME functions as a SIG (special interest group) to GEA (can I throw another acronym in there?) within the various sections, thus enabling a space for instructional librarians to share and participate with others involved with medical education in their region. What’s even better: there’s no membership fee to become a member. If your institution is a member of the AAMC, you can join. Contact your regional leaders for more info on that from the links below.

What are instructional librarians doing in their regions? Here’s a quick snapshot (& please, if I’m wrong here about anything comment & correct me!):
The Central GEA (CGEA) LiME SIG was established in 2005, and now has about 79 members representing 79 organizations. One of the group member’s poster sessions won a research award at the regional conference last year. They are moving forward and very well organized. Check out (& join!) their Facebook group – it’s open to anyone, not just their region. A SIG website is coming soon. Meanwhile, read more about the CGEA in general here:

The Northeast GEA (NEGEA) LiME SIG has a blog and a webpage. This online poster session provides an overview of what they’re all about. I love their icon! Hopefully all of the chapter SIGs can adopt this so there is a cohesive brand for others to associate with LiME.

The Southern GEA LiME SIG is under formation, having just submitted their paperwork to become an official SIG of the Southern region. LIbrarians in the SCC region of MLA take note: you are considered Southern chapter in the AAMC. The group has just started a blog. The 2009 SGEA conference will be in New Orleans next year, so this is a great time to get involved.

The Western region of LiME just had their inaugural meeting, with 9 members attending. Not only is the Western LiME an official SIG of WGEA, they even have a librarian board member. They plan to develop a baseline for research in the region. As you can see from the AAMC’s WGEA page, a website for Western LiME is coming very soon.

Highlights of the meeting
LiME sections are getting busy! A vote was taken on the official name — librarians or libraries in medical education? Libraries in Medical Education was a resounding win. We also discussed MERC certification and how LiME can get involved. Lauren Maggio discussed an AAHSL/LiME Task Force and some research projects they’re doing. AAHSL also granted some webspace for LiME on their site, a link is coming soon. Julie Solllenberger from the Univ. of Rochester is the AAHSL liaison and also developing a research agenda with the Educational Research Task Force. She had a poster session today (#39) that should be up until tomorrow afternoon called “An emerging alliance: Librarians collaborating with Colleagues in Medical and Health CAre Education”, if you want to check it out. Rikke Ogawa from UCLA Biomed library also mentioned a recent post on the western region discussion list on promoting non-librarian membership in the SIGs–more food for thought. There was also talk of working with the AAMC on KERMIT, a curriculum management database with big potential.

Can you believe we covered all of this and more in an hour long informal meeting? It will be interesting to watch the future development of this group. LiME is not affiliated with MLA just yet, but with libraries increasingly playing a major role in the education and development of information literacy skills in medical programs and beyond, perhaps they will soon be. Regardless, librarians at LSUHSC will be at SGEA next April, hopefully presenting on what we at do with our medical student instruction and department of medical education research. Maybe we’ll see you there!

MLA2008: Greene Vardiman Black

Most famous dentist in Chicago

In Chicago you can find a statue that will interest you dental librarians with a taste for history. Inventor of the foot-powered dental drill, and the first to use nitrous oxide in dental anesthesia, Dr. Greene Black holds office hours in Lincoln Park now.

MLA2008 Plenary Session 1 ?óÔé¼ÔÇ£ Bring out the Funk

MLA President Mark Funk opened MLA?óÔé¼Ôäó08: ?óÔé¼?ôConnections: Bridging the Gaps?óÔé¼?Ø with an engaging and informed address focusing on his presidential platform of integrating Web 2.0 technology into MLA, and using it to bridge the gaps of our membership to allow more opportunities for participation.

?óÔé¼?ôWe have a collective experience of over 50,000 years?óÔé¼?Ø he said, ?óÔé¼?ôHow do we keep this collective knowledge for future members of the MLA??óÔé¼?Ø Mark offered several ideas he?óÔé¼Ôäód like to see: adding user reviews to the CE clearinghouse (brilliant!), moving away from books to web-centered literature for library hot topics (huh?), and stockpiling our 50,000 years of collective experience in wikis (cool). He asked that future leadership carry on his initiatives.

For pictures from the address (along with shots from the rainy yet awesome bike tour of Chicago) click here.

& for all the MLA blogs in one place, checkout this link:

MLA 2008: Continuing [my] Education on the PhD Experience

Yesterday I had the pleasure of taking the continuing education course The PhD Experience: Graduate School in the Basic Biomedical Sciences. As the library liaison to LSUHSC’s School of Graduate Studies, I was eager to learn more about what exactly goes on in those sometimes secret laboratories nestled away in the nooks of our urban campus.

Michele Tennant, Susan Kendall & Kevin Messner did a superior job at presenting an overview of graduate programs in the Basic Sciences. From departments to dissertations to dictostelium discoideum (that’s slime mold to us laypersons), the instructors gave a well-rounded overview of professional culture within the research community, as well as sound advice and techniques that librarians can use to reach these sometimes distant faculty, staff and students.

The course was about eight hours long, but don’t let that sway your choice if you have the opportunity to take this class. Anyone involved in library liaison activities with Basic Sciences, especially those who do not have a science background, will find this useful. What follows is a list of notes & resources I jotted down throughout the day.

  • ‘omics: suffix indicating biology on a large scale (ie: genomics, proteomics, etc)
  • “gene knockout”: when you knockout a particular gene to see what happens
  • Barlow, Robert B., John E. Dowling, and Gerald Weissmann, eds. (1993). The Biological Century: Friday Evening Talks at the Marine Biological Laboratory Woods Hole: The Marine Biological Laboratory. (ISBN 0-674-07403-3): book recommended by Tennant – collection of science essays giving good overview of the development of biological science in the Twentieth Century.
  • e-science trends – Kendall had attended a conference on this recently and had some interesting words on the development of the research process from a linear to circular structure with the advent of the web, which led to….
  • Talking about a recent discussion in Science magazine about wikifying GenBank. (??!!) I’m all for 2.0 and all, but this does not sounds like such a good idea
  • More info on trends in escience/translational medicine: Check out the session “Translational Medicine and the Library’s Role” on Tuesday afternoon (2-3:30) for more info.
  • This book was recommended by Susan Kendall for information on how laboratory research works.
  • Finally, Kevin Messner’s account offers all kinds of bioinformatics and biology links, in addition to other non-science related bookmarks

I hope you found this useful. Coming soon, the search for my missing mentee, the opening address, and more!

MLA 2008: Greetings from Chicago

chicago river at night
Greetings from Chicago MLA readers! I’ll be back soon with updates from the conference.

MLA 2008: free wifi sites

If you’re going to MLA in Chicago and need some free wifi, here’s a list a free places near the conference hotel.

And for those of us back home, JiWire is a great resource to search for over 200,000 Wi-Fi hotspots in 135 countries.

Thanks to Meredith Solomon for the tip!

MLA 2008: Chicago here we come!

At this time next week, I’ll be writing to you from Chicago, where the 2008 Medical LIbrary Association’s annual meeting is taking place. Several members of the library are attending, including: Kathy Kerdolff, Hanna Kwasik, Wilba Swearingen, and me, Maureen “Molly” Knapp, your ever faithful Reference Librarian and blogger.

What exactly do librarians do at these conferences? All kinds of things, from presenting papers and poster sessions, to continuing education, to networking with vendors and other colleagues across the country that we may only see once a year. Trust me, since I’m an official MLA conference blogger this year, you’ll be sure to get the inside scoop on what we get up to. Stay tuned!

Blogging & Professional Library Conferences

Reference Librarian, Molly Knapp has been selected as one of the official MLA bloggers for the 2008 Annual Meeting in Chicago. What this means for this blog is that starting next week, posts will appear with the subject line of MLA2008 and that the official meeting website will be linking to our little part of the blogosphere.

MLA is the Medical Library Association; this organization is the primary National professional group for medical/health sciences librarians. Molly was one of only 15 librarians to receive this invitation.