History of the South Central Chapter

Edited by Christine Willis

In celebration of MLA’s 125th anniversary, we will be sharing caucus and chapter histories throughout the year. Previously published histories are available on MLANET.

Q: What year was your chapter established?

A: 1973.


Q: Has your group had any name changes? If your group has changed its name, please list the names and years these changes occurred.

A: South Central Regional Group (Founded April 1973) to South Central Chapter (May 1988).


Q: What are the top 3 (or fewer) moments in the history for your chapter since 1998.

A: The use of the armadillo appellation continues to be a source of identity and camaraderie for the chapter and has made a significant impact on the chapter’s fund-raising efforts toward scholarships and awards. Longtime attendees of the MLA annual meeting may recall the days of the legendary “Armadillo Ball” co-hosted by SCC/MLA and SCAMeL (South Central Academic Medical Libraries) until 2017. The Armadillo lapel pin made its SCC/MLA debut in 1993, and the selling of armadillo lapel pins as a fund-raising activity has evolved from mass-produced pins to custom orders which reflect the theme of the annual meeting. Armadillo Accolades are also sold to raise funds for the chapter while recognizing a co-worker or colleague for something they have done in the past year. Silent auctions held at annual meetings continue to include a wide range of armadillo-themed items with members engaged in “bidding wars” to win favored items.

Since 1998, SCC/MLA has received the MLA Chapter Project of the Year three times for projects that have impacted practice within and outside of the South Central region. Most recently (in 2023), the Early Career Librarians Initiative was recognized for creating more opportunities for new and early-career librarians to engage in SCC/MLA and to grow as medical and health sciences information professionals. In 2013, the SCC/SCAMeL Writing Retreat was recognized. The Writing Retreat coincides with the SCC/MLA meeting for librarians who require additional time and support in writing research manuscripts—no matter what stage of the research process they might find themselves. A case study on the impact of the Writing Retreat was published in the October 2017 issue of JMLA. And in 2012 an MLA CE Course developed and taught by multiple librarians in the region, “Get Mobilized: An Introduction to Mobile Resources and Tools in Health Sciences Libraries,” was recognized for its efforts to train librarians on different aspects of mobile resources in the health sciences library.

SCC/MLA has a longstanding tradition of supporting the next generation of health sciences librarians and engaging them in the chapter. The Mayo Drake Student Scholarship Award, established in 1993 in memory of Mayo Drake, enables library sciences students to attend the SCC/MLA annual meeting. Annual meetings also kick-off with a reception to welcome new members, first-time attendees, and students to orient them to the chapter and to create a forum for networking and getting acquainted with other members. Library science students are allowed to serve on SCC/MLA committees to foster early engagement in the chapter. In addition, the chapter received the 2023 MLA Chapter Project of the Year Award for the Early Career Librarianship Initiative (ECLI). ECLI is a volunteer-based group that works to create opportunities for new and early-career librarians to engage in SCC/MLA and to grow as medical and health sciences information professionals. This group was established in 2020, formalized in 2021, and has offered programming, including mentorship and networking, for both students and early-career librarians in the South Central region.


Q: Tell us something fun about your chapter.

A: SCC/MLA annual meetings are fun and never boring. Where else can you participate in wild librarian dancing, add to your growing collection of armadillo lapel pins, and hope that you didn’t do something embarrassing enough to be included in the very tongue in cheek business meeting resolution?


Q: What is one thing about your chapter that your colleagues would be surprised to learn? 

A: SCC/MLA’s influence has been felt beyond the five-state region. Its members have been active in all levels of librarianship plus local, state, regional, national, and international. The region has contributed 10 presidents of the Medical Library Association. Twenty-four librarians have been named MLA Fellows for their outstanding contributions to health sciences librarianship and advancement of MLA and 5 librarians from the region were recipients of the Michael D. Debakey Librarian Outreach and Collaboration Award from the Friends of the National Library of Medicine.


Q: How has your chapter become more accessible, equitable, or inclusive than in the past?

A: SCC/MLA has always been a close-knit group and has actively recruited a diverse group of librarians from the many graduate schools in our region. However, recently the chapter has recognized that past efforts have been insufficient. A SCC/MLA DEI Task Force was formed in 2022 and charged with investigating whether a standing committee on diversity, equity, and inclusion issues should be formed. The many accomplishments of the DEI Task Force include surveying other chapters regarding their DEI activities, reviewing SCC bylaws for language that pertains to DEI, deploying a survey on DEI needs/wants/suggestions to the membership and analyzing the results. The task force presented its recommendation to the SCC/MLA Executive Board, and it was approved on September 8, 2023.


Q: What topics do you think your chapter will be addressing in 2048?

A: Some things change and some things stay the same.  Not unlike today, we expect the chapter to be addressing topics related to the changing roles of librarians (version 2048). Librarians will continue to adapt to new content formats and methods of delivery and access. We also expect the trend of remote work and virtual collaboration to expand opportunities for librarians and patrons to engage in work across multiple institutions. Less straightforward institutional affiliations and access entitlements for library resources may become increasingly complex. Undoubtedly, librarians will rise to these challenges, as they always have, by developing innovative solutions to keep healthcare providers, learners, and patients connected to high-quality health information.


Q: Is there additional information you would like to share about your chapter?

The original history of the chapter was written in 1992 and was updated in advance of the chapter’s 25th anniversary. With the arrival of the 50th anniversary of SCC/MLA in 2023, the chapter’s history is being updated once again. The chapter’s history can be accessed from the SCC/MLA Web site at: https://www.sccmla.org/about/history


Chapter members who collaborated on the history submitted: Stephanie Atkins-Sharpe, Jennifer Lloyd, and Jon Crossno.


For additional information on the chapter please visit MLANET page.