Submitted by Sarah Jane Brown, Cochair, Annual Meetings, Midwest Chapter; Elizabeth Frakes, AHIP, Cochair, Conference, Midcontinental Chapter; Susan E. Swogger, Cochair, Conference, Midcontinental Chapter; and Liz Weinfurter, Cochair, Annual Meetings, Midwest Chapter
The 2020 Joint Chapter Meeting of the Midcontinental (MCMLA) and Midwest Chapters was held on October 14–16 using Zoom, with a total of 249 registered participants and a registration fee of $25 per attendee. The conference website is hosted on the Midwest Chapter’s web space.
The 2020 annual meeting was always intended to be virtual for MCMLA, but the sudden arrival of the pandemic sparked a number of changes. The Midwest Chapter had been planning to hold an in-person conference in October 2020, but when it became clear in April that gathering in person would be impossible, the in-person conference was canceled in favor of a virtual meeting. The two chapters were already in the planning stages of a joint conference for 2021, so in May 2020, the chapters decided to instead plan a joint virtual conference in October 2020.
The two chapters joining forces brought a great deal of positive energy and an expansion of programming. The subsequent changes in format to accommodate an expanded number of participants encouraged the planning committee to innovate with broadened programming, to recruit nationally recognized speakers, to enable wider attendance by drastically reducing registration costs, and to develop a model that can be repurposed and applied to future virtual conferences as either individual or joint ventures for both chapters.
Some key features of the conference
The registration fee included the single-credit continuing education (CE) course “Librarian to the Rescue! Serving Your Emergency Management Team’s Information Needs Before, During, and After a Disaster,” offered by Teri Hartman, University of Nebraska Medical Center–Omaha. This session occurred the first day of the conference and was well attended, as could be expected for such a timely topic.
The conference was headlined by keynote speaker, Jennifer Gunter. Gunter is an international bestselling author, an obstetrician, and a gynecologist with more than three decades of experience as a vulvar and vaginal diseases expert. Her New York Times and USA Today bestselling book, The Vagina Bible, has been translated into nineteen languages, and The Guardian calls her “the world’s most famous—and outspoken—gynecologist.” Gunter graciously waived her speaker fee in lieu of purchase of digital copies of The Vagina Bible for all attending library school students, while a drawing was offered for copies for all other participants.
Other programming of note included updates from MLA by Lisa K. Traditi, AHIP, current MLA president, and from the National Library of Medicine Regional Medical Libraries, presented by representatives for the Greater Midwest and MidContinental Regions. There were two paper sessions, two lightning talk sessions, and a poster session. The poster session was offered via the collaborative workplace Flipgrid, with scheduled time for viewing.
Two well-attended panel sessions were offered by a mix of librarians and other professionals. The first, a panel presentation on health sciences librarianship for early career librarians and library students, quickly evolved into an open conversation about the topic with broad participation. Nena Schvaneveldt, AHIP, University of Utah–Salt Lake City, acted as moderator for librarians Lisa Traditi; Kate Anderson, University of Missouri–Columbia; Nicole C. Strayhorn, American Dental Association, Chicago, IL; and Elizabeth J. Kiscaden, AHIP, Creighton University, Omaha, NE. The second panel focused on health information literacy and health disparities, with panelists Christian Minter, University of Nebraska Medical Center–Omaha; Anna Wirta Kosobuski, University of Minnesota Medical School–Duluth; Emily Vardell, AHIP, Emporia State University, Emporia, KS; and Lakesha Kinnerson, Samford University, Birmingham, AL.
The conference proceedings will be archived in MCMLA’s archival space in Mountain Scholar, where they will be accessible to both participating chapters. Due to the success of the 2020 conference and the continued uncertainty related to the pandemic, MCMLA and Midwest Chapter are again planning a joint virtual conference for 2021.
The Early Career panel on Day 1.