You may remember Carl Sagan explaining that as the universe expands, galaxies move away from each other, becoming increasingly isolated in the vast distances of space.
Over the years, the universe of MLA has likewise expandedâ€”into new roles, new functions, and new activities. This is a healthy expansion, and we cannot afford to contract our reach. We must always be adapting and expanding. However, that small, dedicated band of medical librarians who first gathered in Philadelphia over 100 years ago was vastly different from our current membership.
Today, our members are spread out over the globe, working in specialties and subspecialties unknown to our founders. We thrive (although some struggle to survive) in a variety of environments, beyond hospitals and medical schools.
Like galaxies, many of us have become isolated from each other. During my presidential year, I want to decrease this isolation by bringing the association closer to the members and bringing the members closer to each other. In the famous epigraph of E. M. Forster, we must â€œOnly Connect!â€
Every president creates a list of prioritiesâ€”activities that the association will concentrate on during the upcoming year. However, we cannot abandon unfinished priorities of the past: continuity is vital to our strength.
So, the list presented here does not include all of the activities that MLA will pursue for 2007/08. Presidential priorities are an attempt to focus association efforts on new activities and to refocus on unfinished activities.
Connecting to Ourselves
- Upgrade the associationâ€™s use of technology so that we are regarded as a technology leader. Make MLA more of a virtual association. Create new avenues for communication.
- Investigate how to make the annual meeting more virtual, without harming MLA income. How can we better reach out to members who cannot attend the annual meeting?
- Revitalize MLANET: make it â€œstickierâ€ (keeping visitors longer and encouraging them to return frequently) and easier to find information.
- Establish RSS feeds from headquarters, sections, the Governmental Relations Committee, task forces, and other units, so that members can more easily become aware of new developments. Allow members to customize which feeds they want to receive.
- Establish wikis for sections, councils, committees, task forces, and other units in order to increase collaboration and participation. Allow units to enact their own rules for access and editing.
- Investigate methods to make it easier for members to share their research findings, practices, and success stories using MLANET. Think of new avenues of information exchange beyond the Journal of the Medical Library Association, MLA News, and the annual meeting.
- Investigate the capability to personalize MLANET. Is â€œmyMLANETâ€ possible? Could it track continuing education credits and Academy of Health Information Professionals points? What else would we want it to do?
- Publicize the Center of Research and Education (CORE) with the goal of increasing participation and usage. Raise membersâ€™ awareness of CORE as MLAâ€™s repository of intellectual property. Investigate the possibility of members adding â€œbest practicesâ€ to CORE in addition to research and education.
- Complete the initiatives redefining and updating our education and research agendas. Emphasize to our members the importance of educational and research activities that promote the â€œbottom lineâ€ value of the health sciences librarian.
- Study the effectiveness of the Academy of Health Information Professionals. Is it successfully fulfilling the needs of the membership? How can it be improved?
Connecting to Others
- Expand recruitment efforts by concentrating on college students in the popular new health sciences major. Work with schools of library and information science in reaching out to these programs.
- Increase and share the evidence indicating that health information leads to better patient health outcomes, better compliance, and increased patient satisfaction.
- Collaborate with organizations that are concerned with raising health information literacy. Advocate the value of health sciences librarians in this process.
- Promote the new roles and activities of the information specialists in context (ISICs) in nonlibrary venues. Increase the awareness of health care administrators, clinicians, educators, and researchers about this new role for health sciences librarians.
- Collaborate with societies, organizations, and for-profit companies that are involved with creating and defining standards for electronic health records. Emphasize the vital role of librarians and the resources we select and maintain