Submitted by Beverly Murphy, AHIP, FMLA; edited by JJ Pionke
Note: The “I Am MLA” campaign grew out of the need for us to all gravitate toward the collective understanding that “We Are MLA” and that it is up to us, as members and as volunteers, to do what needs to be done for our association. This starts with each unique individual and culminates in shared vision.
This campaign will serve as a networking portal, membership recruitment and retention tool, and marketing and promotional venue for our members, our association, and beyond. Member profiles will be posted on MLANET, and one individual per week will be highlighted in MLAConnect, starting with this one, my profile.
Become an “I Am MLA” ambassador today by completing the I Am MLA profile form.
We hope that you will engage with this vision and join the mosaic of member profiles that “I Am MLA” MLAConnect Editor JJ Pionke will be curating. We look forward to hearing your stories. We are indeed stronger together.
Institution: Medical Center Library & Archives, Duke University Medical Center, Durham, NC
Title: Assistant Director, Communications and Web Content, and Liaison to Duke Hospital Nursing
Brief description of responsibilities
I manage and maintain the library’s website. I am also the hospital nursing liaison for the Duke Health System, where I teach and assist nurses with their research needs for publication, quality improvement, performance evaluation, and graduate residency.
Why is MLA important to you?
MLA is my professional community home, and it’s all about the people for me. It’s where I form my networks/netplays and bonds, information sharing circles, educational partners, and lifelong relationships and friends. It is my support both professionally and personally.
What was your first library job or first professional position?
My first professional position was technical services librarian at the University of Virginia Science Technology Information Center–Charlottesville. I was recruited straight out of library school and managed two staff and four students.
What is your advice to someone taking on a new role in leadership in MLA or in some other capacity?
I believe you first have to learn to follow before you can lead. Don’t be afraid to take risks but listen and learn from every angle and expect the unexpected. You don’t have to be at the top of the food chain to be an effective leader, but you should be at the top of your game to effect change. Learn everything you can about leadership principles and apply them when given the right circumstances. Be an example people want to follow, engage those around you, and help them shine. Be accountable, honest, and transparent.
What has been the most interesting project you have worked on?
One of my first searches was a request for articles about people eating glass, and since the majority of research was done by hand at the time, it was challenging, though very interesting. In addition to eating glass (which was rare), I discovered that all types of items have been ingested, including small flashlights, whole intact eggs, coins, marbles, and a host of other materials. And there were X-rays to prove it all! It was fascinating! I still have some of those articles.
What do you do in your spare time?
I love spending time with my partner, Jerome, just grilling and chillaxing, like stretching out on the couch with some water and keto snacks and watching old movies, and the Investigation Discovery channel ranks pretty high, too. My next favorite pastime is sleeping.
Is there anything about you that others might be surprised to know?
I met Mohammad Ali while at a Mid-Atlantic Chapter (MAC) meeting in Charlottesville, VA. I just walked right up to him while he was standing outside the front of the hotel, even though he was surrounded by bodyguards. He was so tall, and his hands were huge. Though his speech was limited at the time, we communicated, nonetheless. After chatting, he gave me an autograph (he drew a smiley face which was the design of my necklace) and bent down and gave me a peck on the cheek. It was a special moment seen by all the librarians who had gathered in the lobby. He was so gracious. Just thinking about it makes me teary.
What are you most proud of?
I am proud of and honored about the “firsts” in my career: first African-American chair of MAC, first African-American editor of the MLA News, and the first African-American president of MLA.