Journal of the Medical Library Association (JMLA)
Obituaries in the JMLA:
Over the years, JMLA has published obituaries of deceased members of MLA. Other persons deemed worthy of mention, because of their connection with the profession or the association, have also been included. Generally, these obituaries have been of a high standard and have been a fitting tribute to their subjects. The need exists, however, for written policies and procedures, hence this statement.
No profession really merits that title unless it has a history and one that is well documented with facts and figures, dates and data. Among the items in any organization's history is documentation of the accomplishments, attainments, service record, discoveries, implementations, initiatives, and the like of its members, practitioners, and staff. Paramount are the obituaries following death.
Obituaries are of two forms:
The latter kind, appearing in the months after death, is the defining statement of a person's birth and background, education and training, experience and accomplishments, and his or her influences on others and on the profession.
Such an obituary also affords the opportunity for an assessment of an individual's special worth and contributions
It is with the latter kind of obituary that this guide is primarily concerned. Firstly, however, MLA's policy regarding deceased members in general.
The association aims to record and publicize the deaths of all its current members and staff, whenever or however these deaths are brought to its attention of MLA Membership Services (see more below on this and on former members and certain nonmembers). To ensure that this is done properly and systematically and to see to it that, as far as possible, no one is overlooked, the JMLA editor has appointed an officer to be in charge, with the title of obituaries editor of the JMLA, and this standard policy and procedures statement has been posted on MLANET. It provides that:
MLA will attempt to announce the deaths of all current and former members and staff, and its Membership Services will notify the MLA News editor whenever it receives word of such deaths, either directly or indirectly.
Periodically, the editor of the MLA News will insert a notice reminding the membership to notify MLA Membership Services of the deaths of members (and not to assume that someone else will do this); better for MLA Membership Services to receive duplicate notification than none at all.
The amount of detail in a death announcement in the MLA News is at the editor's discretion and subject to the space available. The deaths of former members and staff will be reported in the MLA News if they were members of MLA for ten years or more (though this may be varied for cause). The fact that a person has not maintained MLA membership in retirement or on transfer outside the profession does not preclude his or her death being noted, provided the above conditions are met.
The deaths of nonmembers might be noted if warranted, but sparingly. Examples include, but are not limited to
These will appear in a regular feature (or "department") of each issue of the JMLA. The purpose of this page is to recognize significant service, not to amplify what has already been announced in the MLA News. For this reason, inclusion shall require that the deceased person fall into one of these three groups.
Group I: member or staff member at time of death or former member or staff member with continuous membership or service of ten years or more prior to death
Group II: public officials (appointed or elected) and others, whose actions have had an extraordinary effect or bearing on health sciences information work or librarianship
Group III: health sciences librarians, not otherwise covered, who are generally recognized as having international stature.
For those in Group I, the deceased shall have served the association and the profession in a way that demonstrates dedication and commitment to MLA and has significant and lasting achievement in the field. Taken into account too will be the person's role in mentoring and the influence that he or she has had on others. Below are examples of such association and professional activity.
Tenure of a major elective or appointive office in MLA, such as:
Major library directorship or department headship, with unusual or outstanding achievements and responsibilities in such areas as:
Whenever MLA Membership Services receives word of the death of a member or staff member, the facts will be sent to the MLA News and to the JMLA obituaries editor. Whenever the MLA News editor receives word of the death of a member or staff member, the facts will be sent to MLA Membership Services and to the JMLA obituaries editor. Whenever the JMLA editor receives word of the death of a member or staff member, the facts will be sent to MLA Membership Services, to the MLA News editor, and to the JMLA obituaries editor. Whenever the JMLA obituaries editor receives word of the death of a member or staff member, the facts will be sent to MLA Membership Services and to the MLA News editor. Whenever a member of MLA hears of the death of a member or staff member, the facts will be sent to MLA Membership Services, which will relay the word as above.
The editor shall
If the editor of the MLA News ascertains that a Type 2 obituary will subsequently appear in the JMLA, this will be noted in the death announcement.
The obituaries editor shall:
Whereas MLA News publishes a death notice in the next available issue, obituaries are generally published in the JMLA 10 to 15 months after the JMLA obituaries editor is informed of a member or staff member’s death. The longer timeframe reflects the more complex editing process as well as the JMLA's quarterly publication schedule.
From time to time, the JMLA may receive an unsolicited obituary from a member who feels that an obituary for a deceased member is warranted. The fact that such an obituary was not invited does not preclude its being considered for publication or its actual publication (though only contributions from MLA members or staff will be considered).
If the editor receives the uninvited obituary, he or she will refer it to the obituaries editor. If the latter receives it, he or she will inform the editor. In either case, the obituaries editor will weigh the unsolicited obituary against the criteria and requirements previously stated and submit his or her opinion to the JMLA editor, who will make the final decision. If unfavorable, or if an obituary is already in progress, the JMLA editor will notify the writer. If favorable, the obituaries editor will take over and act as is done for solicited obituaries.
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Last Updated: 2011 June 06