It has been a while since I have posted. I want to thank all of the guest posters who have written and kept things going while I took a year off. You guys were great.
So, one of the questions I have gotten over the year is what is like to be President of MLA. I want to take the time to answer that question. I will try to provide as much information without getting so wordy that it becomes the longest blog post ever. With that in mind I am going to make this a two part series. The first part is going to focus on my experiences while the second part will get into the nitty gritty of time and how things are done.
First and foremost it was an awesome experience. I wish everyone who wants to run as President will get to be President.
Attending the Chapter Meetings and the CHLA/ABSC meeting provided me with a rich opportunity to meet more librarians than I would have ever met in my lifetime. Meeting people and sharing stories and experiences, brainstorming ideas, learning from each other is the one thing, hands down, that made the whole Presidential term great. Unfortunately I wasn’t able to attend every Chapter’s meeting, they all overlap a great deal. However, I want to still attend every Chapter’s meeting at least once. I learned so much from different groups that I feel like it will do me good to step out and go to a different Chapter every once and a while. I think we are sometimes so wrapped up in our own groups that we don’t always know what is going on elsewhere and big MLA annual meeting can sometimes be information overload. I kind of got this idea from a librarian friend whose child was graduating college during her Chapter meeting. She decided to go to her child’s graduation and then go to a different Chapter’s meeting (which didn’t conflict with the graduation) and present a poster. So a few years down the road if I happen to be at your Chapter meeting, I am just branching out and expanding my boundaries.
Capitol Hill Visits:
I was both equally nervous and excited when I joined the AAHSL and MLA Joint Legislative Task Force in Washington DC. Because NLM and the NIH are government entities they cannot lobby on behalf of themselves. Who is to lobby for the things we medical librarians use? Well, medical librarians will lobby on their behalf. The first day we met to learn and discuss all of the most relevant and timely issues that we needed to make our Senators and Representatives aware of. We were given packets and created talking points. The next day we were set loose in 3 teams of 3-4 people. We met with the staffers responsible for health affairs for the Senators or Representatives of our states. It helped to be in a group because the members in your group chimed in and provided support while you were talking with your state’s staffer. It was such a cool experience walking the halls of the Senate and House buildings. I felt a part of the governmental process that I learned about when I was a kid in school.
MLA Historical Marker:
I got to be a witness to library history. Last November I went to Philadelphia to attend the unveiling of the MLA Historical Marker at 1420 Chestnut Street (later designated 1420-1422 Chestnut Street). MLA is the world’s oldest association of medical librarians and information professionals! To be a part of such a respected and long standing association and to see it being recognized by the Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission was humbling and wonderful at the same time.
I am still honored that I was elected by the membership to serve as President and to guide MLA forward as an association. Associations and organizations are changing rapidly. It was a great privilege to be a part of the process as MLA members, Board members and staff worked to help the association evolve to meet the needs of future medical librarians. All of us worked together to look at things from a different perspective and not rely on the old “we always did it that way” principle. Rome was not built in a day and we have had some hiccups along the way but to be a part of the evolutionary process is something that I hold near and dear to my heart. As I went to the Chapter meetings, Board meetings, and spoke or emailed with so many people in the association, I always did my best to try and understand people and perspectives and to help the association. I love the people in this organization and I believe that we all are working to make things great.
If you were at the Toronto meeting you might have noticed that I teared up a little and my voice cracked when I thanked my family for their support. I am not a crier. I’m a suck it up kind of person. Being MLA President provided a wonderful personal experience for me as well. My kids have always known that I help doctors and nurses find information to help treat patients. During my term as President they were able to see medical librarianship beyond my day to day job. They would see me chatting on Twitter with other librarians from all over the world (*see funny story below). When I left for Chapter meeting I would tell them where I was going and what I would be doing. My trip to Philadelphia for the historical marker gave me the opportunity to talk to them about the history and evolution of medical librarianship. Finally, they were able to hear about their mom going to Washington DC to talk to our elected officials (well their staffers) to try and influence positive change. Through all of this they saw first hand of what “Oh, the Places You’ll Go!” can be.
My experience as MLA President will stick with me forever. I enjoyed and learned so much during my time. However, I am glad to slow down just a bit and be the past President now. My kids will be sad that they won’t get as much Garrett’s popcorn, but I am ready for the next phase of my career (whatever that may be) to begin.
One Thursday evening while participating in the #medlibs chat, my son asked me who I was texting. I told him I was Tweeting and talking with other medical librarians around the US and the world. He paused a second then asked if I knew every medical librarian in the US in the world. I said no of course not. He then asked if I had met the people I was chatting with. I told him that I had met some but not all. He looked at me and said, “I thought you told us we weren’t supposed to chat online with people we haven’t met in real life. You should be careful Mom.” -I got a dose of my own internet safety speech from my kid.