iFusions: Partnerships for Addressing Information Issues—Presidential Priorities for 2008/09
Merriam-Webster’s Collegiate Dictionary defines fusion as a partnership or “a merging of diverse, distinct, or separate elements into a unified whole.” The “i” in iFusion represents MLA’s individual members, interrelationships, integration of information and efforts, interorganizational partnerships, etc. As a diverse group of individual health information professionals working in a variety of settings, MLA members currently face many different challenges and will continue to do so in the future. We can more successfully overcome these challenges when we have strong coalitions or partnerships through which MLA will not only help us meet our individual and local information needs, but also provide a strong unified force in addressing national and global issues of importance to us.
One of the roles of the MLA president is to help set priorities for the association year based on the MLA Strategic Plan. MLA is a productive association with many initiatives currently addressing the goals and objectives in its Strategic Plan. These initiatives include implementing recommendations that were made in recent documents, such as the research and education policy statements and the report of the Task Force on Librarians without Borders. M. J. Tooey, AHIP, and other MLA members are working on the Vital Pathways Project that addresses the status of hospital librarians; the Health Information Literacy Research Project continues under the leadership of Jean Shipman, AHIP, and MLA President Mark Funk, AHIP; and the Task Force on Social Networking Software is working on Funk’s initiative to incorporate the use of current technologies to help the association and its members be better connected. It is important that we continue to work on these and other existing initiatives while also focusing on some new ones.
Recruitment and Retention of Health Information Professionals
- The looming retirement of many Baby Boomer librarians magnifies the need to recruit and retain talented librarians. Since 2003, the MLA Professional Recruitment and Retention Committee (PRRC) has been implementing the “Plan to Recruit the 21st Century Workforce of Health Information Professionals” and will continue to do so.
- In the coming year, the PRRC will expand its efforts to identify ways to help libraries retain talented health information professionals and to utilize the talents of recently retired librarians who want to continue contributing to the profession and to health sciences libraries. The Hay Group/MLA 2008 Salary Survey will gather data on how many people are leaving the profession for other jobs or early retirement and the reasons why. The PRRC will analyze the survey results and will gather information about ways to positively affect retention and productivity, such as work/life balance, flexible work schedules, health promotion in the worksite programs, pay equity, and professional development/involvement. Ideas and information gathered by the committee will be shared through MLA’s Center of Research and Education (CORE) repository
Advocacy for the Profession and Issues of Importance to It
- Objective 3.d of the MLA Strategic Plan is to “serve as a leading advocate for unrestricted, affordable, and permanent access for all to quality health information and scientific communication that improves health.” For several years, the MLA Scholarly Publishing Task Force has addressed issues related to scholarly communication and access to information. Since major changes in scholarly communication that will profoundly change the roles of librarians are currently happening, the MLA Scholarly Publishing Task Force is being converted to the Ad Hoc Committee for Advocating Scholarly Communication and will continue to focus on this issue. In addition to topics already being addressed, such as open access publishing, other topics that might be considered by the committee include the following: the mandatory National Institutes of Health (NIH) public access policy and the NIH data sharing policy, peer review (Arthur Caplan mentioned in his keynote address at MLA ’07 that librarians need to educate their constituents about peer-review issues), citation analysis/impact factors, the proliferation of library journals, the impact of the Internet and Web 2.0 on scholarly communications, and the impact of changes in scholarly communication on librarians’ roles.
- Emergency management (aka disaster preparedness) is an area of current interest in many sectors of our working environment that offers potential new roles for librarians. Most of our institutions are currently working on plans to improve their readiness to respond to emergencies, and many federal agencies, including the National Library of Medicine and the National Network of Libraries of Medicine (NN/LM), are also already actively addressing this issue. MLA units, including the Task Force on Librarians Without Borders, have begun addressing this topic in various ways, and MLANET has a section of emergency management resources. During the coming year, MLA will work with NLM and NN/LM to investigate potential education and service roles for librarians related to emergency management.
- Environmental issues are gaining in emphasis in our workplaces as well as in our association. One of the major goals of the 2008 National Program Committee is to have a “green” meeting, and several MLA chapters have focused on this issue in recent years as well. MLA will increase its efforts to have “green” meetings and will serve as a clearinghouse by providing information on ways in which member libraries can become more environmentally friendly.
Efficiency and Effectiveness of Association Operations
MLA headquarters staff, officers, and committee and task force members attempt to be responsive to the needs of members and to operate the association as efficiently and effectively as possible. Activities planned for the coming year related to association effectiveness and efficiency include the following:
- MLA’s activities are guided by its Strategic Plan, which is usually reviewed and revised every five years. The plan was last updated in 2002/03 and will be reviewed and revised in 2008/09.
- MLA units have recently conducted several surveys, including the MLA Member Survey and the Academy of Health Information Professionals Survey, the results of which will be addressed.
- Some MLA units have also recently issued reports with recommendations that need to be addressed, such as the Section Council Composition Review Task Force’s recommendation to change the composition of the council to make it more streamlined and effective.
- Conflict of interest issues have recently gained prominence in the health care field. MLA has had an ethics code and a disclosure policy for many years. A task force will be appointed to review these documents, as well as MLA’s business model, and to suggest revisions as needed.
In addition to being defined as a coalition or partnership, “fusion” is defined by Merriam Webster’s Collegiate Dictionary as “the union of atomic nuclei to form heavier nuclei resulting in the release of enormous amounts of energy.” By working together, we can generate enormous amounts of energy to help accomplish the goals of MLA and our profession.