Reflect and Connect: Building Our Community: Presidential Priorities for 2009/10
To paraphrase Dickens, it is the best of times, although it may seem like the worst of times. It is the age of wisdom, although sometimes it may seem like the age of foolishness. As we watch the demographics of our association shift, the economy falter, and technology expand the options for others to do our business, we must calmly reflect on what we need to do in order to strengthen our community, keep us connected, and energize us as an association and as a profession. The MLA Board has targeted the following three areas for the coming year.
The elephant in the room is the shifting demographics of the association. Roughly 60% of our members are expected to retire over the next 5 years. It is time to prepare for the gradual transition to a leadership that reflects the demographic reality that is now confronting the association. It is time to focus our efforts on bringing librarians into positions of leadership early in their careers and engaging them in decisions that will affect the future of the association.
The 2007 edition of Competencies for Lifelong Learning and Professional Success calls for MLA to continue “its leadership role in creating a vital and responsive professional development program and a dynamic set of coordinated education opportunities.” The document outlines the professional competencies needed by today’s health sciences librarians. However, many new library graduates do not have these competencies, and many experienced librarians who are new to health sciences may not have all of these competencies. (Consider, for example, that 46% of the respondents to the 2007 membership survey reported that their first professional position was not in a medical library.) MLA can take a leadership role in preparing these “new” librarians for the special competencies that are required for positions in health sciences libraries. This will help new graduates enhance their educational portfolios and help academic libraries provide training for new professional staff. This will also strengthen our community of educators and lifelong learners, making MLA a leader in preparing librarians for positions in health sciences libraries.
The annual meeting is our premier opportunity to share new ideas and innovative projects, to conduct the business of the association, and to build our community of colleagues and mentors. Yet many members do not or cannot attend the annual meeting. The 2007 membership survey showed that 48% of the respondents had either attended only 1 annual meeting or none at all during the previous 5 years. That percentage will surely increase as the economy affects institutional support for travel.
Conducting the business of the association is ongoing and need not be limited to a single annual face-to-face meeting. While many committees, task forces, and sections are using wikis and blogs to post and share reports, newsletters, and documents, there is still a need to meet to discuss, interact, and plan. As travel costs become prohibitive, effective alternative methods of conducting meetings need to be considered.
The association priorities for 2009/10 will help strengthen MLA and keep it working for us.
Medical Library Association
Last Updated: 2009 October 07