Carol G. Jenkins, AHIP
Interim Report #2, January-February 2002
Report on Tri-Chapter Meeting, October 24-28, 2001
The Tri Chapter MLA meeting (Southern, South Central, and Midcontinental
Chapters), held October 24-28, 2001, at the Hilton Riverside Hotel in
New Orleans, lived up to its billing as something close to a "mini-MLA"
meeting, with 50 exhibitors, 55 posters, 45 contributed papers, 15 CE
courses, provocative plenary speakers and, of course, lots of fun. The
MLA Board, officers and staff were well represented, including, in addition
to myself, SC Chair Lynn Fortney, Jocelyn Rankin, Mark Funk, Linda Garr
Markwell, former Board member Roz Dudden, JMLA Editor Scott Plutchak,
and Carla Funk and Beverly Bradley from Headquarters. This meeting drew
over 400 attendees, and was truly a masterful event requiring a huge volunteer
effort and excellent cooperation from all three chapters.
Some of the memorable moments from this meeting for me included
a great talk by James J. O'Donnell, author of Avatars of the Word, about
life after the Internet; live music from a tri-chapter group of musicians
including Scott Plutchak during the welcome reception (they didn't sound
like they had never practiced together beforehand!); Joanne Marshall waxing
eloquent on "Valuing Ourselves and Our Work in the Information Age"; John
Barry describing the ill-preparedness of the biomedical community to address
the flu epidemic of 1918; Lucretia McClure speaking about those who were
her mentors earlier in her career; and more. Exhibits were very well attended;
and each chapter held its own business meeting. The fun climaxed with
a Halloween masquerade party, more great food, and Cajun dancing.
My MLA update was well received. This meeting was so amiable,
everyone seemed to "laissez les bon temps roulez!"
NPC 2002 Site Visit to Dallas, October 29-30, 2001
I flew from New Orleans to Dallas for the NPC 2002 site visit, joined
by the Local Arrangements Committee, NPC chairs Connie Poole and Jo Anne
Boorkman, staff from Hall Erickson, and Carla Funk and Ray Naegele from
Headquarters. We surveyed the hotel and found the exhibit and conference
spaces quite spacious. There will be more information forthcoming soon
about the exciting program and events planned for this meeting. It promises
to be a great meeting!
Legislative Task Force/AMIA Consumer Health Post -Conference
I was off then to Washington DC for a round robin of meetings in November.
The Legislative Task Force was unable to make visits to the Hill since
office buildings were still closed, but NLM updates were provided by Kent
Smith and Jane Griffith; and by Miriam Nesbit from the ALA office. In
addition to the legislative priorities previously established, the task
force discussed creating a position statement about the health sciences
librarian's responsibility to promote access to quality information to
combat bio-terrorism. Several task force members are drafting a statement
and recommended action steps for board review.
We were eager to hear if the Pew Internet & American Life
survey results in which MLA participated would be announced at the AMIA
consumer health informatics postconference on November 8. There were several
references to this study, and publication of the report is expected soon.
Attendees included physicians, nurses, public health professionals, librarians,
and others, all of whom were excited about using informatics to help empower
consumers. Health sciences librarians can and should demonstrate leadership
in helping develop the best information solutions for the public.
Are there "take home" messages from all of these meetings?
We are very busy people! Our interests are broadening as more health related
information becomes available to more people in more ways. We have interests
all along the spectrum, from basic access to technology to public policy
issues of privacy, cost and fair use; from knowledge of user information
needs and search behavior to database design; from recruiting our successors
to empowering the public. And of course there are more. Above all, it
seems to me that our role as health information experts is what is valued
most. We need to continue to be active all along the spectrum of our interests;
but we also need to focus on our expert role to really have an impact
on society; and we need to find the best ways to communicate this value.
Attending the chapter meetings took me from West coast to
East coast to Gulf coast, and was truly enlightening. I am looking forward
to spending more time with members at upcoming chapter meetings, and I
will be even more impressed by all the wonderful things we are doing.
Investing in Our Future -- Priorities
In the past month, three new MLA task forces have begun working. The Task
Force on Expert Searching, chaired by Ruth Holst, will identify ways to
promote the role of the health sciences librarian in expert searching.
- The Task Force on Recruiting the 21st Century Workforce, chaired by
Elizabeth Irish, will create a plan for recruiting the highly skilled,
energetic, creative librarians who will work to assure our place in
providing quality information for improved health in this century.
- The Task Force on Online Education, chaired by Lynn Fortney, will
create a plan to expand MLA's online education role as a cornerstone
of the Center of Excellence in Health Information Education.
- Another task force chaired by Jean Shipman is planning an Informationist
Conference to be held this spring, to recommend ways to further explore
and develop this new concept.
MLA has been responsive to national and world events, where there have
been opportunities to promote our members' expertise to help combat terrorism
and bio-terrorism. Expect to hear more about all of these initiatives
through MLA FOCUS, MLA News, and at the Annual Meeting.
Joint Meeting, MLGSCA and NCNMLG, January 31 February 2, 2002
These two chapters held their joint meeting this year in Scottsdale,
Arizona, where expectations of a sunny, warm respite were thwarted by
a brief cold spell that drove temperatures down to the freezing mark.
It still felt pleasant to me, even though the strange winter weather brought
80 degree temperatures to Chapel Hill on the day I left! The organizers
expected a smaller attendance than usual, because of the travel distance
to Arizona and possibly due to Sept. 11. Nonetheless registration was
around 170, I believe. The two chapters mirror the RML boundaries for
the pacific southwest.
The theme of the meeting was "Doing it Ourselves", focusing
on new tools, services and roles we can introduce. Scott Garrison (UNC)
provided the lead-off keynote talk, inspiring attendees to consider open
source software for its power, flexibility and ultimate control. He was
followed by Dick Miller (Stanford) expounding on the merits of XML. Scott
congratulated Kate Corcoran and MLA staff, among others, for their commitment
to using open source software. Kim Dority, who is developing the e-library
for Jones online university, followed. She described her entrepreneurial
efforts to create a system to fill a market gap serving distance education,
and shared advice on how to seize opportunities and manage risk in your
Box lunches were served for attendees at 10 roundtable discussions.
I joined the "leadership" table at which conversation touched
on the need to recruit new professionals who have the attributes we will
need in the future as well as the skills. We discussed the concept that
everyone is a leader; and of the need to be capable of promoting one's
value in the organization. Some expressed frustration at finding time
and money for continuing education courses. Others felt MLA is not responding
quickly enough to national opportunities like the Johns Hopkins incident
and bioterrorism. I hope I was able to address at least some of these
concerns both then and later in my update.
The afternoon was devoted to contributed paper sessions on various topics,
and to the RML and MLA updates. The following day's speakers touched on
consumer health and minority health information services as a theme; and
in the afternoon attendees discussed a presentation by Mike Kronenfeld
and Jacque Doyle promoting librarians as intrapreneurs, creating portal-based
services for their institutions. An interesting aspect of this discussion
was hearing one member express frustration at not having time or money
to move forward in new ways, while another noted that, as a new member
of the profession, she has never known an un-automated library without
an ILS, Medline, and web services. She was clearly a bit frustrated by
those who still see such hurdles to moving ahead. But the overall theme
of this meeting was clear: we need to act now, in creative ways, to meet
needs of our users.
There were two days of CE, and about a dozen exhibits that were well
attended. Carla staffed the MLA exhibit that had many visitors. There
was a poster session displaying some of the benchmarking materials and
I heard compliments especially on the scenarios.
Social events included salsa dancing lessons and a trip to the "art
walk" in downtown Scottsdale. All in all, this was a very successful
meeting, and I enjoyed the opportunity to meet new people and greet friends
And as always, feel free to contact
me with any questions, comments or suggestions.