Vote for Your MLA Leaders
Candidate Responses: Board Candidate Forum
The Nominating Committee asked each candidate for a response to this question:
Advocacy for members and for the profession in times of rapid change is of strategic importance for MLA. Advocacy reaches into many areas of concern and can exist in various forums, such as governmental relations, vendor relations, partnerships with other health care organizations and professional associations, and education of our members and on behalf of our members. We need to continue to expand our partnerships with quality, nursing, hospital executive, and educational initiatives and associations and, through those partnerships, promote our value to the entirety of the health care community.
I note that in the realm of scholarly communications the final report of the Ad Hoc Committee for Advocating Scholarly Communications recommended in May 2011 that a standing committee be established to continue this important work within MLA and that the MLA Board approved a new Scholarly Communications Committee. In my positions at our health system and the medical school, I have become increasingly involved in multiple aspects of scholarly communications, complex negotiations with vendors, National Institutes of Health (NIH) public access policy compliance, educating staff and faculty regarding publishing issues, exploration of an institutional repository, etc. With my background in hospital libraries as well as my new role at the medical school in a library with an almost entirely digital collection, I have a perspective and experience that I believe will be useful as MLA moves forward in advocating for and with our membership on these issues. We need to be inclusive of the issues facing libraries of any size while continuing to work in collaboration with the Association of Academic Health Sciences Libraries, the Scholarly Publishing and Academic Resources Coalition, and other organizations.
The Medical Library Association helps members and students articulate new roles for librarians while promoting the values of our existing roles. People who use health sciences libraries are facing tremendous challenges in managing health information. Patients navigate complicated consumer health websites. Librarians help them become health literate. Research scientists must comply with data sharing mandates. Librarians help them develop metadata schema and digital preservation plans. Clinicians need evidence-based information to treat patients. Librarians teach them to search for and critically appraise current research. In response to these challenges, new people are entering the profession—from clinicians to public health workers, from computer scientists to basic science researchers, from ontologists to patient advocates. Medical librarians use our experience with cataloging and organization of information to translate services to new models. MLA must support our members with relevant programming and education opportunities.
Throughout my career, I have worked in a wide variety of settings. I helped hospital librarians get on the Internet, supervised science graduates’ library school assistantships, taught continuing education classes for health professionals and librarians across the Midwest, built public health websites, presented at regional library association meetings, and more. Currently, the Oregon Health & Science University (OHSU) Library is creating an ontology group, developing e-science programs, and working regionally to support emerging roles for librarians. I have had the good fortune to work with excellent colleagues and mentors who have prepared me for the challenges of finding new ways to demonstrate the value of medical librarians.
I know that our varied skills, whether acquired on the job or fresh out of library school, make us valued partners in the health sciences professions. I believe I have the vision, energy, and commitment to make a positive difference for the Medical Library Association. I would be honored to serve on the MLA Board.
My first job as a librarian was in a rural hospital. I would have been completely isolated—and, to tell the truth, kind of clueless—if not for the support and encouragement of colleagues I met through the various library associations I joined. I’ve been convinced, since then, that active membership in MLA can provide beginning librarians with the foundation they need for successful careers.
I’ve always, for this reason, considered membership issues to be of the utmost importance. I’ve tried to help out in this area by serving on MLA’s Membership Committee and by chairing both chapter and section membership development committees. As current chair of the International Cooperation Section, I’ve come to believe that recruiting more international colleagues into the association would make us stronger and more diverse.
I would like to see us concentrate on two membership issues: First, continue the impressive efforts we’ve made in welcoming new members into the association. They have succeeded in making many of us think differently about such things as communication, technology, and innovation. They have much to contribute, and we need to provide them with greater leadership opportunities and committee responsibilities so that they have a stronger voice in the association. By involving them in MLA at the outset of their careers, it is likely that they will become lifelong members.
The 2013 MLA annual meeting will be held in conjunction with various international library associations, including the International Congress on Medical Librarianship (ICML). We should take full advantage of this opportunity, both at this meeting and afterward, to promote further cooperation with health sciences librarians from around the world. Working together with our international colleagues is a way for us to increase our influence and effectiveness on a global scale—and to attract a new and diverse group of members to the association.
I believe it is of strategic importance for MLA to address promoting the unique skills we have as health sciences or medical librarians/information professionals to those we serve. While metrics have a value, our continued method of counting resources and resource use limits the picture of what we provide as gatekeepers, expert searchers, and information managers of complex systems.
To complete the picture and illustrate the complexity of our current profession, we need to promote research that gathers information on our roles. How do librarians directly change clinical care? How do librarians save time for clinicians or administrators? These concepts are difficult to research, yet it is imperative that as an organization we begin to look at ways to answer these questions.
Through my leadership roles in MLA sections and committees, I have learned that librarians are anxious to be proactive in their organizations. As someone who has actively worked on assessing the value of clinical rounding, I know many of the complex issues involved in creating studies to obtain relevant information. In the past, I surveyed and reported on the unique ways hospital librarians were stepping into health literacy roles. In addition, as a member of MEDLIB-L and HLS-L email discussion lists for the last five years, I have promoted new ways librarians can make connections using literature published in librarianship and the clinical setting that could place librarians at the table of patient safety teams, risk managers, and administrators in the hospital setting. By promoting articles that address evidence-based medicine/practice teaching and evaluation methods, I have tried to encourage academic health sciences librarians to reconnect with their school leadership. My knowledge of the complex research issues and enthusiasm for promoting our skills will be significant as the Medical Library Association and members face ongoing challenges to our survival.
Medical Library Association
Last Updated: 2011 October 14