Looking into the Future

Don’t we all wish that we had a crystal ball to see into the future? Would it show us as yet undreamed of new roles for health sciences information professionals? Would it show us greater job security for hospital librarians? Will funding be easier to come by for all types of libraries in the times ahead? What do health sciences libraries of the future look like? How will degree programs educate us? What will the content of that education be? Which technologies will be used to deliver that content? With what kinds of groups will we be collaborating? Wondering about the future can be fun. It can also be scary but maybe it is comforting to know that we will adapt to our future, whatever it may be. When I went to library school in the seventies, our resources were physical. Some were print and some were audiovisual but none of them were digital. The only computers available to us were mainframes. None of us had smart phones or mobile devices. Catalogs were not online; they were pieces of furniture holding thousands of cards. The World Wide Web didn’t exist. And yet, my classmates and I have all readily adapted to and embraced the many changes that have taken place in librarianship and in technology since the seventies. No more searching through volume after volume of print indexes—hallelujah! What wonders await the future generation? My crystal ball is cloudy and does not give me many clues about what to expect, although you might get a few clues from attending the annual meeting’s plenary panel session on Wednesday, May 21st, or some of the section programs on innovations and the future. I do believe that health sciences information professionals will still be important in the future and that we will adapt to and embrace the latest technologies as have past generations. Librarians will still be organizing information and making it accessible for those who need it whether it is data generated in house or external, knowledge based information. Librarians will still be educating people on finding the best information and evaluating what they find.


For  the immediate future, I am looking forward to MLA’14 in Chicago. The National
Program Committee has brought together content that will be thought-provoking,
useful, and entertaining. Aaron Carroll, MD, nationally known pediatric
informaticist (and so much more, as well) will talk to us about the latest on health
care reform and its implications. Anna Deavere Smith will offer a
non-traditional, theatrical presentation that enthralls us.  Read about both of these presenters in the  preliminary program. You’ll be intrigued! Make your travel plans with these  sessions in mind so that you are here for both. In between these sessions will be the Doe Lecture presented by award-winning MLA Fellow Margaret Bandy and the professional panel on reshaping our professional identity moderated by Elaine Russo Martin. Of course, peer presentations in section programs and poster
sessions are always of interest to me, because they educate me about something
new, validate something my library is doing, or present an improved way of
doing something. It’s always enlightening to see what others are doing in their
institutions and then be able to talk to them about it. If you can come a bit
early or stay Wednesday, consider taking a CE course or signing up for the
symposium on patient-centered care. Of course, there’s lots more packed into
each day of the conference—technology showcases, exhibits, business meetings, Chapter Council Roundtables, the NLM Update, the legislative update, topical forums, sunrise seminars, and committee meetings. If you are a new member or first time attendee, please be sure to attend the New Members Breakfast on Sunday morning to find out what it’s all about! Other major social events include the Welcome Reception and Opening of the Hall of Exhibits on Saturday evening, the International Visitors Reception, the Library School Reunion, the Awards Ceremony and Luncheon where we honor our peers for their achievements, and the “Party with a Purpose” on Tuesday evening. I’m excited about the silent auction associated with the party; funds raised will benefit the MLA Scholarship Fund, the Section Project of the Year Fund, and Chicago’s Literacy Works. I can’t wait to browse through the auction items in the exhibits. Will there be bidding wars? The finale for the auction will be at the party on Tuesday evening.

“Building our Information Future” is a great theme for the 2014 annual meeting. MLA is all about the future! At the November 2013 Board of Directors meeting, a portion of the discussion centered around strategic planning for the future, using a report from the Membership Committee to plan ways to expand our membership base, and approving a retreat for the Future of the Association Task Force so that we can synergize ideas to identify broad goals and strategies that will move MLA into the future. I hope to see you in Chicago in May. I’ll be the one in the hard hat.



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The Fall Flurry

After attending six chapter meetings since July, I have come to appreciate once again, the work and planning that are poured into these events for the benefit of members. MLA is fortunate to have distinct regional units that offer education and networking as well as leadership opportunities. And, of course, fun! Because of scheduling conflicts, it was impossible to attend every chapter meeting, but I learned something at each one I attended, and enjoyed interacting with members in their “local habitats.” Although chapter meetings, of course, were held in different locations, there were familiar faces at each meeting—vendors, MLA members who attend multiple chapter meetings, NN/LM staff whose areas cover more than one chapter and who teach outside their regions, MLA Headquarters staff, and Connie Schardt—former MLA President who has been teaching CE for a number of chapters.

The New York/New Jersey meeting, themed “Batten Down the Hatches,” was held at the Price Center on the Albert Einstein College of Medicine in the Bronx and was co-chaired by Claire Joseph and Aurelia Minuti. Since this area was hit hard by Superstorm Sandy just one year ago, the meeting content revolved around disaster preparation and recovery, with members sharing personal stories. Keynote speaker Neil Rambo described New York University School of Medicine’s Health Sciences Library experience and explained how far along they are in the recovery process at one year out from the event. He proudly noted that library services were among the first to become active in his institution after Sandy shut everything down. Speaking of the disaster, Neil said, “It’s a big loss… and a bigger opportunity.” Laraine Tursi of Coney Island Hospital and Claire Joseph of South Nassau Communities Hospital highlighted the roles they played in disaster management in the wake of Hurricane Sandy. Both Neil and Laraine expressed gratitude to other libraries for their assistance. Laraine’s library set up shop in a patient room. She advocated practice of the “f” word—flexibility. Claire Joseph related how her hospital received the influx from other hospitals to the point that military clinical tents were set up in their parking lot to handle the patient overflow. She advised that every library have a “shelter in place” plan as hospital care continues. She also recommended taking the disaster information courses from MLA. The business meeting was led by outgoing Chapter Chair Racheline Habousha who announced that the NY/NJ Chapter approved sponsoring the fee for chapter members who are first-time applicants to AHIP. MLA’s Hospital Libraries Section Chair, helen-ann brown epstein spoke up on behalf of the section’s new VALUES2 initiative and encouraged hospital librarians to gather at the same table for lunch to have a discussion about their successes and their future. Mary K Joyce received the chapter’s Lifetime Achievement Award, while Antonio DeRosa was honored as the Outstanding New Member. Nancy Glassman was recognized for Outstanding Contribution by a Member and was also the recipient of the chapter’s research grant; Racheline Habousha was honored for Distinguished Achievement for service as Chapter Chair. The lunch break included a tour of the D. Samuel Gottesman Library. One side of the main room and one side of the 24/7 area looks out on a big, green area. (Students at my library would love that if only we had it!) Exhibits rounded out the one-day conference which most attendees were able to attend without a hotel stay.

A few days later, the Mid-Atlantic Chapter held a “Renaissance on the Rivers” in Pittsburgh. The first keynote speaker was Dr. Andrew Watson, a colorectal surgeon who noted that 75% of healthcare costs go toward treating chronic diseases that are preventable. [his source: Escape Fire http://www.escapefiremovie.com/] He said that 30% of his practice is in the cloud through telemedicine, a means of taking healthcare back to the patient. He believes that telemedicine can reduce disparities for those unable to travel to a specialist. Lee Gutkind, author of You Can’t Make This Stuff Up, was the other keynote; his topic was creative nonfiction. One of his main points is that we remember more when information is communicated through a story. He gave examples of narrative medicine, such as works of Oliver Sachs and Atul Gawande. A number of papers and posters were presented—lots of good stuff that I made notes on to bring back home. Speaker for the hospital librarians’ lunch was Michelle Burda who surveyed hospital librarians in the region in preparation for her talk. She shared responses regarding the new roles that librarians have taken, such as teaching CPR. Ideas were shared on how to be more visible in one’s institution. Michelle reminded the group that “It’s a great job—no matter what is happening around us.” The Mid Atlantic Region of the NN/LM is looking at creating a template to help hospital librarians and is setting up a mentoring group through its hospital library advisory body. The chapter had a couple of different events to assist members, a resume clinic and a student/new professionals workshop. At the business meeting, Kristen Chapman represented MLA’s Hospital Libraries Section and asked people to send their ideas for the VALUES2 initiative to helen-ann brown epstein. The Renaissance Hotel was a lovely setting with the main meeting room offering a view of the river. Meeting planners David Nolfi and Nancy Tannery, along with Chapter Chair Stefanie Warlick, planned a delightful evening out for MLA Executive Director Carla Funk and me at the Grand Concourse Restaurant followed by a ride on the Monongahela Incline that ends with a bird’s eye view of Pittsburgh.

After catching up for a few days at home, I headed east to celebrate the “Art of Information” at the Southern Chapter meeting in Ridgeland, Mississippi. Attendees enjoyed the comfort of suites in the Embassy Suites Hotel where a welcome reception started off events for the conference. Howard Teitelbaum, DO, PhD, MPH spoke on “Which Way to the Library?”, courting the audience with statements such as “When you’re in trouble, ask a librarian.” He shared photographs of libraries at Harvard, Yale, NLM and Emory. Much of his talk focused on medical education, as he presented statistics from AAMC on the projected shortage of 91,000 physicians by 2020 and the projected shortage of residencies for medical school graduates. Graduate medical education funds are tied to hospital patient care but care is increasingly provided in the ambulatory setting. He predicted that more community-based hospitals will become involved with residents and students and that integrative teaching models will be utilized for MDs, Dos, PAs, NPs, dieticians, social workers and other health professions. He showed Jenny Garcia’s award-winning poster titled “Hospital Libraries: A Commonality among America’s Best Hospitals.” His presentation was followed by the Hospital Librarians Symposium , a luncheon held at the Anjou Restaurant, featuring past Colaianni Award winner Mary Virginia Taylor who spoke on “Forty Years in a Hospital Library – Sharing the Experience.” At the next general session on the following day, a panel of three presenters shared thoughts on various aspects of open access and the issues surrounding it as experienced and managed by librarians. The final speaker was Dr. Ralph Didlake, who spoke on “Ethics, Information and the 21st Century Medical Library”—a topic that I was delighted to see on the program since ethical awareness is one of my presidential priorities for this year. He explained the difference between ethics and law, stating that law defines the minimum standard of behavior while ethics defines the highest standard of behavior. He talked about the Good Work Project website which discusses the three E’s of leadership found in the effective professional: excellent at what they do, engaged in what they are doing, and ethical about what they do. He highlighted MLA’s Code of Ethics for Health Sciences Librarianship and noted that it is exceptionally well written. Advice to librarians was to become seamless with the core curriculum, take the embedded approach, get a few library slides inserted into other departments’ courses, and become involved in interprofessional education. Recommended reading is the publication Core Competencies for Interprofessional Collaborative Practice a collaborative effort in itself among six associations of healthcare professions. (https://members.aamc.org/eweb/upload/Core%20Competencies%20for%20Interprofessional%20Collaborative%20Practice_Revised.pdf ) In between the general sessions, there was the usual round of contributed papers and posters presented by chapter members on a broad array of topics. The big social event for this conference was held at the Mississippi Crafts Center—a delightful showcase for local artisans whose wares were for sale and where attendees were served wonderful food and entertained with live music.

After another few days back at LSU Health, I drove in the opposite direction to attend the South Central Chapter 40th anniversary meeting “Cowboys,Culture and Change” in Fort Worth. The conference hotel was the Fort Worth Hilton, formerly the Hotel Texas, which is where President John F. Kennedy spent his last night. With this being the 50th year since his assassination, the first speaker was Krishna Shenoy, librarian/archivist at the Sixth Floor Museum, Dealey Plaza, Dallas. She noted that President Kennedy gave his final speech in the very ballroom where we were sitting. Other invited speakers included Edward Flores, an intellectual property expert who is both a lawyer and a PhD molecular biologist, and Arthur Eisenberg, an internationally known PhD in the field of forensic genetics. Dr. Eisenberg, in keeping with the conference theme, showed the cover of The Last Stand of the DNA Cowboys and reminded us that “Forensics is more than what you see on television.” Among other tidbits, he noted that NamUs, the National Missing and Unidentified Persons System is a free service to find missing people. See more at www.NamUs.gov. Hospital librarians had two major events: the HLIS luncheon which featured Dr. Eric Hubli who spoke on “The Science of Business: How Lean, Six Sigma and Other Approaches Have Changed Our Approach to the Business of Healthcare” and a forum led by Karen Keller on what chapter librarians are doing in their hospitals. There was quite a lot of participation in the forum from attendees, and I hope the ideas will be shared with MLA’s HLS for its VALUES2 initiative. There were many peer presentations in the form of posters, papers and tech expos. One of the posters (by Melissa Kash-Holley) presented the results of a survey of hospital librarians in the region, and offered some optimism for South Central hospital libraries. There were three evenings of social events: the welcome reception followed by Karaoke, a trip to the National Cowgirl Museum and Hall of Fame with a western-style dinner and a champagne toast to celebrate the 40th anniversary, and a Halloween party complete with costume contest and dancing. (Monster mash, anyone?) In honor of the chapter’s mascot, one member was even sporting an armadillo costume. At the MLA President’s meeting with students and new librarians, I met an impressive group of individuals who have clear ideas of what they want to do with their careers and who have already become involved in the profession beyond their graduate work and their jobs. Many attendees participated in SCC’s service project which was to “Give a Book a Home” by donating child and adolescent books for kids living in Fort Worth homeless shelters. The business luncheon was highlighted by presentation of the Distinguished Service Award to Dr. Ana Cleveland as well as by the awarding of the first “Armadillo Emeritus Award” to Marty Thompson, longtime parliamentarian of the chapter and one of the most recent entrants into the world of the retired, and the Librarian of the Year Award to Stewart Brower. Although not an official tour associated with the meeting, Dan Burgard took time from his conference responsibilities to squire SCC President Susan Steelman and me to the Gibson D. Lewis Library where he showed off library renovations including the Anatomy Bar which is an area that is actually designed like a bar and features a high-tech Anatomage table along with a traditional, low-tech skeleton.

I found a number of commonalities among the chapters including the following:
* young/new members who are enthusiastic and willing to participate,
* experienced members who are willing to share their knowledge,
* retired members who continue to contribute to the profession,
* interest in new technologies and how they will shape the future,
* willingness to be involved with tackling the management of big data,
* a desire to bring health information literacy to the consumer population,
* a passion for educating health professionals about finding and evaluating quality information for making clinical decisions,
* a belief that open access is a concept worth pursuing to its full potential,
* concern for hospital libraries and willingness to share ways to help hospital librarians succeed,
* and interest in methods for demonstrating value to administrators of our respective institutions.

“New to me” vocabulary learned at chapter meetings:
Pharmacovigilance – drug safety (mentioned by helen-ann brown epstein at the NY/NJ meeting)
Silver tsunami – the aging population as the large generation of baby boomers moves into the senior years (mentioned by Dr. Andrew Watson at the MAC meeting)

In addition to the cavalcade of chapter meetings in October, I participated in a site visit of the NPC 2014 co-chairs and Local Assistance Committee co-chairs at the location for the upcoming annual meeting in Chicago. The Hyatt has been renovated and will be a great setting! Speakers have signed on the dotted line, CE courses have been selected, and social events are being planned in one of the country’s favorite tourist destinations, so stay tuned to announcements regarding details. Plan to attend the annual meeting in Chicago in May and bring your family or friends; they’ll thank you for it!

Price Center - Albert Einstein College of Medicine, Bronx, NY

Price Center – Albert Einstein College of Medicine, Bronx, NY

Bust of Albert Einstein in the D. Samuel Gottesman Library, Albert Einstein College of Medicine

Bust of Albert Einstein in the D. Samuel Gottesman Library, Albert Einstein College of Medicine

View from observation deck at top of Monongahela Incline, Pittsburgh

View from observation deck at top of Monongahela Incline, Pittsburgh

Mississippi Crafts Center (photograph from Center's website)

Mississippi Crafts Center (photograph from Center’s website)

Anatomy Bar neon sign, Gibson D. Lewis Library, UNT, Fort Worth

Anatomy Bar neon sign, Gibson D. Lewis Library, UNT, Fort Worth

Statue of President John F. Kennedy (across the street from the Fort Worth Hilton)

Statue of President John F. Kennedy (across the street from the Fort Worth Hilton)

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North to Alaska

September 15-17, I attended the Pacific Northwest Chapter conference in Anchorage, Alaska. The meeting area was graced with floor to ceiling windows looking out on a beautiful grove of trees—ah, serenity! After the pre-conference continuing education courses, the meeting kicked off with a “Taste of Alaska” welcome reception. The meal was supplied by local librarians who prepared everything themselves—reindeer sausage, moose stew, vegetarian minestrone, freshly caught smoked salmon, raw veggies, and tarts baked with local apples and blueberries.

BP Center meeting room for Pacific Northwest Chapter meeting

BP Center meeting room for Pacific Northwest Chapter meeting

The theme for the meeting was “Visual Stories Transform.” Keynote speaker was Dipesh Navsaria, MD, MPH, MSLIS, a pediatrician from the University of Wisconsin who took a year off during his time in medical school to go to library school.  What he learned while working on his library science degree was that library science breaks down silos better than just about any other discipline, that the public service mission of librarianship is consistently better than most other professions, and that saving other people’s time is a good thing—a concept that ties in nicely with this year’s National Medical Librarians Month theme!  http://www.mlanet.org/resources/nml-month/index.html   He touched on a number of topics, including the neurotoxicity of poverty, the Reach Out and Read program, and effects of adverse childhood experiences on brain development and even on adult heart disease. He offered several pieces of advice to librarians, such as be more visible, get into the curriculum, be a part of the wider world, find champions, and be confident. You can find him on Facebook as DrLibrarian and on Twitter as Navsaria.

Keynote presentation by Dr. Navsaria at Pacific Northwest Chapter meeting in BP Center, Anchorage, Alaska

Keynote presentation by Dr. Navsaria at Pacific Northwest Chapter meeting in BP Center, Anchorage, Alaska

Other speakers included Michael Brubaker, MS, Director of Community Environment and Director, Center for Climate and Health at the Alaska Native Tribal Health Consortium, who noted that his organization identifies health risks and benefits associated with climate change. I will have to admit that I never thought about many of the things he mentioned which are associated with global warming and, in particular, the health effects on people and wildlife. Speaker Lyn Freeman, PhD, President of Mind Matters Research LLC highlighted her work in behavioral interventions to assist in treatment of cancer and chronic disease. She has been actively involved in “chemo brain” research to study cognitive deficits that result from chemotherapy. She noted that breast cancer patients who received behavioral interventions survived longer, regardless of cause of death. Oregon Health and Science University’s User Experience and Reference Librarian, Laura Zeigen, MLIS, AHIP, drove home the point that we should listen to our users in order to be able to create better user experiences for them. Ask your PNC colleagues what she did with oranges to illustrate contrasting user experiences! She mentioned a couple of resources that might be of interest to librarians attempting to enhance users’ interactions with their libraries:

Studying Students: The Undergraduate Research Project at the University of Rochester by Nancy Fried Foster and Susan Gibbons http://www.ala.org/acrl/sites/ala.org.acrl/files/content/publications/booksanddigitalresources/digital/Foster-Gibbons_cmpd.pdf

Mental Models by Indi Young

The RML Update was provided by Cathy Burroughs, Associate Director of the NN/LM Pacific Northwest Region, which is headquartered in Seattle at the University of Washington where Tania Bardyn is Library Director. Several interesting posters were presented as well as four contributed papers and two Stat!Talks.  (I was even able to pass along information from one of the posters to answer a question that a local staff member asked recently on a listserv.) Great content all around! To see abstracts of the contributed papers, go to http://pnc-mla.cloverpad.org/Resources/Documents/Final-Program.pdf .

The conference closed with an invitation to the 2014 meeting. The Mid-Continental Chapter conference was held in Salt Lake City at the same time as the Pacific Northwest Chapter in Anchorage this year. Next year, both of those chapters, plus my own—South Central Chapter—as well as the Medical Library Group of Southern California and Arizona, and the Northern California and Nevada Medical Library Group will all come together (5 chapters!) for the Quint Essential meeting in Denver.

I seem to be making a habit of picking up new-to-me words at meetings. The words/acronyms below are not really new, of course. They just haven’t been part of my own vocabulary until now:

NaSH – Naturopathic Subject Headings (from Noelle Stello’s Stat!Talk)

snmipnuntn – Salish word that means a place to learn (from Kim Granath’s contributed paper; her library has this word on a sign at the circulation desk)

UX – abbreviated term for user experience (from Laura Zeigen’s presentation)

At the conclusion of the meeting, a number of attendees jumped on a bus for a tour of the beautiful Alaskan scenery and a visit to the Alaska Wildlife Conservation Center.

Post Conference Tour for Pacific Northwest Chapter

Post Conference Tour for Pacific Northwest Chapter

Pacific Northwest Chapter meeting badge with fun ribbons selected for me by Local Arrangements folks

Pacific Northwest Chapter meeting badge with fun ribbons selected for me by Local Arrangements folks


Pacific Northwest Chapter banner

Pacific Northwest Chapter banner


How ‘bout that ACA, huh? The Affordable Care Act frenzy is in full swing with October approaching.  Things are changing daily in Congress as legislators continue to battle over this issue, with some of them trying to hold the government hostage. What does it all mean for librarians? The legislation as it was originally passed affects librarians in two major ways: 1) downsizing and closure of hospital libraries as hospitals anticipate loss of revenues due to ACA, and 2) the roles that librarians play in providing information to the public about their new health insurance options.  Related to helping the public is the issue of how far librarians can go in assisting people. Are there ethical issues involved? Speaking of ethics, have you completed the ethical awareness survey that was in the September 6 issue of MLA Focus? The Ethical Awareness Task Force needs your input!

One other entreaty–volunteer to serve on an MLA Committee. The online application form is available at www.mlanet.org/members/comappf.html and the deadline is October 31, 2013.

Hope you are gearing up for National Medical Librarians Month–as Dr. Navsaria said, we need to make ourselves more visible in our institutions!

Glacier-covered mountains in Alaska

Glacier-covered mountains in Alaska

Sunset over Turnagain Arm of Cook Inlet

Sunset over Turnagain Arm of Cook Inlet

Alaskan rainbow

Alaskan rainbow

Posted in Affordable Care Act, Chapter meetings, Ethics | Leave a comment

IFLA World Library and Information Congress

After traveling west to California for the first chapter meetings of the association year, I journeyed to southeast Asia, for the IFLA (International Federal of Library Associations and Institutions) World Library and Information Congress (WLIC) in Singapore. This meeting was like the United Nations of libraries with a number of attendees wearing brightly colored clothing representing their countries and wearing headsets for translations. (IFLA has 7 official languages.) There were 3,750 participants from 120 countries. Although not a member of the committee, I attended the Health and Biosciences Standing Committee meeting on the first day of the conference, where I saw the familiar faces of Carla Funk and Judy Consales, who is the secretary for that group. Presiding was Brian Galvin of Ireland. Later that day, I presided over the United States caucus as it was MLA’s turn to host this annual event for delegates from U.S. library associations. IFLA President Ingrid Parent spoke briefly at the caucus, as did Elaine Ng, Chair of the 2013 WLIC, and Etienne Mackiewicz, Chair of the 2014 WLIC to be held in Lyon, France. Reports were given by heads of IFLA divisions, and U.S. library association presidents and their executive directors were recognized. After the caucus, we reconvened at nearby Harry’s Bar for a cordial reception organized by the Chinese American Librarians Association and co-hosted by several U.S. library associations, including MLA.

The next morning, I attended the Newcomers Session, which is very similar to MLA’s New Members and First Timers event. Attendees drank coffee and munched on muffins, as experienced members gave advice on how to get the most out of IFLA membership and conference attendance. This was followed by the opening session, a flashy event complete with a lighted dragon making its way through the audience to the stage, a Chinese lion dance, traditional dancers of the culture, and a stage full of children waving flags. President Ingrid Parent from Canada presided over the opening. Keynote speaker was Ambassador Chan Heng Chee. She spoke of the “technological tsunami” and quoted Pew Project figures on Internet usage in the U.S., as well as statistics on Internet use in Singapore. She mentioned the ways that people are now learning, such as using Coursera. Regarding libraries, she noted that librarians will still be needed but they will have to reinvent themselves. I liked her description of libraries as being “sacred space” for the community.

Other plenary presenters during the course of the conference included Dr. Cherian
George, a Singaporean writer and academic, who spoke on the power of public
knowledge and how those in power monopolize knowledge. See: http://www.mediaasia.info/the-unknowing-of-public-knowledge/.
He talked about how media journalists slant the news they present toward
particular demographics and opined that journalism begins to fulfill its
mission only when it disseminates information that is not aimed at particular demographics. I loved his jabs at selected politicians and “news” shows and his use of Stephen Colbert’s “truthiness.” Dr. Parag Khanna, director of the Hybrid Reality Institute, spoke on “Ubiquitous Libraries in a Hybrid Reality” espousing the idea that technology is becoming ubiquitous, intelligent, integrated, and social. He described the hybrid age as a new socio/technical nexus, the transition period between the Information Age and
the moment of Singularity when machines surpass human intelligence. See: http://bigthink.com/hybrid-reality/whats-your-technology-quotient-tq.

There were a number of sessions on different topics. The Health And Biosciences Standing Committee sponsored a program on “Libraries as Partners for Better Health Outcomes.” First up among the presented papers was one by Prudence Dalrymple about promoting health information literacy in an urban clinic. Other presenters in this session were from Zimbabwe, Canada and India. My favorite papers session was on text and data mining. Ann Okerson of the Center for Research Libraries spoke on discovery through the literature, similar to semantic Medline in making associations via data mining. Martha Speirs spoke on data mining for scholarly journals. She put forth the idea that libraries can be a force for change if they offer access to quality serials publications in a variety of languages, not just easily available English language journals. One site she noted was WorldWideScience.org which allows a user to search in one language and retrieve in another language. David Tempest, director of access relations at Elsevier in the UK spoke on how his company invests in quality and enriches content to maximize discoverability and usability. He said they have developed a content mining solution suite and that publishers are liberal in granting mining rights.

Another very interesting session was on e-books. Dan Mount, from the UK, noted that current models conflict with what users want. Ys Chi said that consumers want accessibility, ease of access, and ease of use. Since he is with the International Publishers Association, he espoused the publisher’s view that e-books create more work for publishers than print and that we are connected to licensing whether we like it or not. He used “e” words for each section of his presentation, concluding with “eternal” because we will continue to have books. The second part of the e-books session was comprised of presentations on e-book issues around the globe with reports from the European Union, Australia, South America, Africa and Asia. Keith Michael Fiels, with ALA, spoke on issues with publishers in the U.S. and Canada. Other sessions I enjoyed were on education and training for STEM librarianship which opened with a paper presented by Suzie Allard of the University of Tennessee, and on open access where six papers were presented, one of them in Arabic.

There were several general sessions in addition to the opening. At one of these, President Ingrid Parent presented the IFLA Trend Report in which five global trends were identified:

  • New Technologies will both expand and limit who has access to information.
  • Online Education will democratise and disrupt global learning.
  • The boundaries of privacy and data protection will be redefined.
  • Hyper-connected societies will listen to and empower new voices and groups.
  • The global information environment will be transformed by new technologies.

More information can be found at http://trends.ifla.org/. At the General Assembly, basically a business meeting, there was not quite a quorum but according to IFLA rules, business can proceed without a quorum if votes on motions are two thirds in the affirmative. (I was amused that on lesser matters such as approval of the minutes, the attendees were merely asked to say “okay.”) At the Final Session, President Ingrid Parent gave her final address and concluded with “thank you” in seven languages. Awards were presented, invitations to Lyon for 2014 and Cape Town for 2015 were issued, and election results were announced.  It was announced that Donna Scheeder of the U.S. Library of Congress was elected as President-elect. Elaine Ng offered a gift to the mayor of Lyon, France—from one “lion city” to another. (Singapore means lion city; there was another Chinese lion on the stage for this portion of the program.) Incoming President Sinikka Sipilä of Finland gave her inaugural address. Her theme is “strong libraries, strong societies.” She told the audience that a strong library meets the needs of its users and that a strong society is free, open and equal. Freedom of access to information and knowledge is a democratic principle which is key to both strong libraries and strong societies.

Poster sessions were similar to MLA, housed adjacent to the exhibits, but the posters were all vertical in orientation and arranged in a zigzag pattern—visually interesting but a little difficult to maneuver. “The Librarians of Fukushima,” presented by Shiho Suzuki, was selected as the best poster.

The meeting was not all work and no play. The exhibits opened with a reception on August 18, followed by a dinner gathering coordinated (with some local assistance) by MLA Executive Director Carla Funk for MLA and IASL (International Association of School Librarians) members at a local restaurant called Grandma’s which serves Singaporean food. The “Cultural Evening” of the conference was a sunset beach party held at the Tanjong Beach Club on Sentosa Island. The buffet tables were loaded with wonderful food under a big white tent. There was music and dancing, games, swimming, professional dancers, and even fire eaters.

My final experience at the conference was a tour of the National University of Singapore (NUS) Medical Library.  The NUS librarians were very hospitable and ended the tour with a slide show and refreshments in their computer lab (fragrant cakes and other goodies). As with many academic health sciences libraries in the U.S., they have small group areas and a 24/7 study area. They gave permission to post the photographs below.

I took lots of notes at the meeting, but it would take up far too much space to share them all here. Suffice it to say that the meeting was educational and enlightening and reinforced the idea that librarians all over the globe are concerned about similar issues.

“new to me” vocabulary from this meeting:

Culturomics – a form of computational lexicology that studies human behavior and cultural trends through quantitative analysis of digitized texts (mentioned by presenter Helen Heinrich in the session on text and data mining, attributed to Erez Lieberman Aiden)

eKitabu – the Swahili word for e-book (mentioned by presenter Maisela Eddy Maepa from South Africa in part 2 of the session on e-books)

Informational impunity – a phrase used by Cherian George to describe instances in which the truth does not seem to matter as much as it should in the dissemination of information

McAloo – a vegetarian sandwich served at McDonald’s in Singapore

Spinternet – a web where spin and propaganda are more important weapons than outright censorship (from Cherian George, attributed to Yvgeny Morozov in his book The Net Delusion)

Technology quotient – phrase used by Parag Khanna to describe one’s proficiency with technology, which he believes people will need to develop to a high degree

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First Chapter Meeting of the 2013/14 Association Year

Chapter meetings for 2013-14 kicked off early with the Medical Library Group of Southern California and Arizona / Northern California and Nevada Medical Library Group joint meeting held on the University of California San Diego campus in La Jolla. The conference began with continuing education courses on July 24th and a reception in the exhibits at the Price Center that evening. The great thing about staying on campus was that meals in the dining hall were included with the room, taking me back to my own days as a college student many moons ago.

The three keynote speakers were all outstanding. After chatting over breakfast, Stephen Abram, of Lighthouse Partners and Dysart & Jones, jumpstarted the first full day of the meeting with a thought-provoking presentation. He tossed out many interesting nuggets for people to take home and put to use or at least ponder. He advised us to tell people about our expertise and the amount of labor that goes into our “magic tricks” for producing the right information. We make what we do look too easy! He also advocated avoiding the triple diseases of librarianship: conflict avoidance, passive resistance and risk aversion. Further, he noted that we should market what we do, not what we have. Don’t tout collections; promote the talents and abilities of our staffs. Put staff photos on the website. I was glad to hear him mention Joanne Marshall and her value study, and also MLA’s poster on medical librarians being your best return on investment. He suggested that we determine what health professionals care about, and that we watch what they do, not what they say they do. Ask doctors which apps they are using. Get embedded into clinical context through relationships. Mr. Abram offered a rather long list of competencies which included expected ones such as communication and teamwork, but also included “turning the impossible into the possible” and “propaganda.” He definitely had my attention!

On the final day of the conference, Lee Rainie, Director of the Pew Internet Project, spoke on e-patients and how they seek information. He won over everyone immediately by saying, “A day with librarians is a much better day.” He then went on to say that firefighters and librarians have upheld their reputations as being trustworthy. He spoke of networked individualism as a concept in which social networks have more importance and he noted the implications of networked individualism for health care.  He provided statistics on broadband at home, mobile usage (cell phones, smart phones, and tablets), and social networking. The Pew project, as he pointed out, has no particular agenda. The organization simply reports how people use the Internet. For those who are interested, he mentioned that the Pew Internet Project has a presence on Facebook and Twitter and uses these social media tools to report new findings. People can also sign up for email alerts.

Marcelo Fiszman, MD, PhD, of the Lister Hill National Center for Biomedical Communications spoke on semantic MEDLINE. He quickly noted right off the bat that this is not a product of NLM; currently, it is a research project. He thinks that its development is timely, as the semantic web is coming. Current search engines don’t have meaning. Being able to search with meaning has applications for text mining, connecting text and structured data, question answering, and literature-based discovery. Semantic MEDLINE can be used for biomedical information management and for literature-based discovery by employing the UMLS to extract meaning from text. He explained that one can execute a normal search and the results will be presented in the form of a visualization which graphically represents relationships. These might be relationships such as X treats Y, U also treats Y, B is associated with C, D inhibits G, Y is a process of Q. A user can click on a relationship in the visualization and the system takes the user to the citation that describes that association. One can then go to PubMed for the literature. The idea of scientific discovery through identifying previously unknown relationships as described in existing literature is fascinating! For now, semantic MEDLINE pulls information from titles and abstracts, not full text, as full text can produce “noise” in the results. The chapter librarians in the audience raised good questions, such as how does the system handle articles with conflicting interpretations of the evidence! The answer was that it can show both views, even when the views are contradictory. Development of semantic MEDLINE will be worth watching. Could this be a new research role for librarians?

Chapter members presented papers and posters and participated in roundtables—all the kinds of peer activities that one expects at these meetings. Presenters included newbies who have never before presented, as well as experienced members like past MLA president Naomi Broering. I liked the Guidebook app for viewing the conference schedule on my phone!

One of the fun things about the meeting was exploring the campus–seeing the little frame house hanging off a corner of the engineering building eight stories above the ground, the futuristic-looking Geisel Library which houses Dr. Seuss collections, the Biomedical Library, the snake path and the musical tree in one of the eucalyptus groves. And how could I forget the structural systems laboratory building which has neon-lit “vices and virtues” (faith/lust, hope/envy, charity/sloth, prudence/pride, justice/avarice, temperance/gluttony and fortitude/anger) flashing around the top of it?

Finally, I increased my vocabulary while at the meeting with the following phrase and words which were new to me!

Administrivia –things that are not really important, yet time is spent on them (from Abram)

Stunt cooking  – cooking on weekends to show off (from Abram—definitions may vary)

Tweckle – abuse a speaker to Twitter followers in the audience while s/he is speaking (from Rainie, attributed to the Chronicle of Higher Education)

Thank you, MLGSCA/NCNMLG, for a great meeting experience!

House atop engineering building with reflection in glass walls at UCSD

House atop engineering building with reflection in glass walls at UCSD

Another view of house atop engineering building

Another view of house atop engineering building

close up view of house atop 8th floor of engineering building

Close up view of house atop 8th floor of engineering building

Geisel Library at UCSD (with "snake path" in foreground)

Geisel Library at UCSD (with “snake path” in foreground)

Snake head at top of the hillside path to Geisel Library

Snake head at top of the hillside path to Geisel Library

Carla Funk, MLA Executive Director, with Milton's Paradise Lost on path to Geisel Library

Carla Funk, MLA Executive Director, with Milton’s Paradise Lost on path to Geisel Library

Upon return from California, I attended a meeting of Louisiana academic library directors at the State Library in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, regarding the future of the Louisiana Digital Library. The state library is very close to the Capitol Building shown below. My interest in architecture seems to fit with this year’s building theme!


















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Once upon a Blog… Or, What’s Been Happening with the MLA President since May 2013

The MLA president began her term with a slew of appointments to be made. Although the usual committee and representative slots were filled before the official arrival of spring, the Board at its May meeting passed several motions which resulted in over 40 additional appointments to be made (!), not counting the Board and staff liaisons. That’s actually a good thing. The organization is embarking on projects that will be carried out by the Research Task Force, the Ethical Awareness Task Force, a volunteer to compile historical tidbits for MLA News, and two MLA representatives on the planning committee for the Joint AMIA/MLA/AAHSL Symposium. MLA is also instituting three standing groups: the Eugene Garfield Research Fellowship Jury, the Rising Stars Committee, and the Rising Stars Jury. I think this is evidence of the vitality of the association.

The annual meeting in Boston was a great success, pulling together programming for the 11th International Congress on Medical Librarianship (ICML), the 7th International Conference of Animal Health Information Specialists (ICAHIS), the 6th International Clinical Librarian Conference (ICLC), and the 2013 meeting of MLA, and comprising a larger than usual international contingent. In June, Executive Director Carla Funk and I attended the American Society of Association Executives Symposium where I learned about the concerns that volunteer organizations all have in common and strategies that we can take to continue to function effectively as well as ethically, and to keep moving forward serving the membership and the profession. We also met with Betsy Humphreys and Donald Lindberg, MD, at the National Library of Medicine (NLM). A couple of weeks later, the AAHSL/MLA Joint Legislative Task Force met in Washington, DC, where we were briefed by Betsy Humphreys of the National Library of Medicine, Dave Moore of the Association of American Medical Colleges, and Suzanne Miyamoto of the American Association of Colleges of Nursing. The next day, we divided into teams and personally met with aides of our respective senators and representatives to advocate for funding for the National Institutes of Health and particularly NLM, as well as to educate them about and encourage them to support passage of the Fair Access to Science and Technology Research Act (FASTR). Thanks to Mary Langman for scheduling the appointments for the Congressional visits, preparing the materials and making all the arrangements.

At the end of June, I attended the American Library Association meeting in Chicago where Carla Funk and I met with other association heads to discuss issues of importance to our respective organizations as well as those that we have in common. We also met our MLA-sponsored Spectrum scholars who benefit from “…the Spectrum Scholarship Program [which] is ALA’s national diversity and recruitment effort designed to address the specific issue of under-representation of critically needed ethnic librarians within the profession while serving as a model for ways to bring attention to larger diversity issues in the future.”1 Several MLA members made presentations at the meeting and MLA staffed a booth in the exhibits adjacent to the NLM booth. I won’t attempt to name all the MLA presenters for fear of omitting someone!

ALA Exhibits viewed from one level above the exhibit floor

ALA Exhibits viewed from one level above the exhibit floor

Throughout the conference there was informal discussion about the impact of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) on libraries and the roles that librarians can play. The June 29th session featuring Temple Grandin (who spoke on her experience as someone with autism) began with an ACA-focused prelude: an announcement by Susan Hildreth that the Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS) is partnering with the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) on the Affordable Care Act and a video presentation by President Barack Obama on the assistance that he expects librarians to provide to citizens enrolling in health care plans. The next day, an entire program titled “Libraries & Health Insurance: Preparing for October 1” featured a panel of speakers discussing the Affordable Care Act; one of the presenters was Ruth Holst, speaking from the perspective of the National Network of Libraries of Medicine. She reported that MedlinePlus has information on health insurance, Medicare, Medicaid, and the Affordable Care Act, and that members of the public can get alerts by signing up at the Health Insurance page at the site. Other speakers were Jackie Garner, Medicaid consortium administrator; Susan Hildreth, IMLS; and Kendra Morgan, OCLC.  Resources highlighted were healthcare.gov, marketplace.cms.gov, and consumersunion.org. IMLS is providing funding for a joint initiative by OCLC and ZeroDivide to produce a kit for librarians to prepare them for assisting the public. Maybe ACA is an opportunity for hospital librarians to take on yet another new role in their institutions.

1. American Library Association. Spectrum Scholarship Program.            http://www.ala.org/offices/diversity/spectrum  [8 July 2013].

McCormick Place Convention Center welcome to ALA attendees

McCormick Place Convention Center welcome to ALA attendees

Band entertaining conference goers at ALA

Band entertaining conference goers at ALA

View of Lake Michigan from McCormick Place Convention Center

View of Lake Michigan from McCormick Place Convention Center

Rainbow over McCormick Place Convention Center after storm on day of my arrival

Rainbow over McCormick Place Convention Center after storm on day of my arrival

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Welcome Home!

MLA provides us with a professional home where we can be nurtured as we grow. It is a multigenerational home that melds the wisdom of elders and the fresh ideas of younger members.

In keeping with changing times, this home is regularly remodeled and updated, eclectic in its design and increasingly diverse in its inhabitants. Enduring values are passed from one generation to the next. As we build our future on the firm foundation of this home, we welcome new members and those serving in non-traditional roles. We innovatively employ the latest technologies to make this a “smart home” capable of reaching out to others around the globe while finding novel ways to efficiently meet domestic needs.

MLA aims to be responsive to the needs of its members. The association asks members to volunteer for the chores that keep this fabulous home running and to provide input on ways it can be improved. Given the evolving nature of health information management, it is an exciting time to be a member of a household that expertly provides quality information resulting in improved health for those around us.

Welcome home!

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