After two consecutive years of virtual meetings, North Atlantic Health Sciences Libraries (NAHSL) was thrilled to welcome our members back to an in-person conference in beautiful Portland, Maine. We had originally planned to meet in Portland in Fall 2020, coinciding with the bicentennial of Maine’s admission to the Union as the 23rd state. Sadly, we were unable to gather as a group in 2020 or 2021, although we met virtually for spectacular gatherings in those years! Thanks to our hardworking Conference Planning Committee we finally gathered in Portland at the Westin Portland Harborview November 6-8, 2023, for three days of long-awaited hugs, high fives, networking, and knowledge-building.
Eighty attendees gathered on Sunday, November 6 to take advantage of opportunities at the Portland Museum of Art and the Maine Historical Society, or to participate in a Continuing Education Workshop led by current MLA President Shannon D. Jones and past MLA President Beverly Murphy. Titled Diversity & Inclusion in Libraries: A Call to Action and Strategies for Success, this workshop tackled the importance of Diversity Equity and Inclusion in the library workspace with a focus on best practices in building and maintaining a diverse work environment. We closed our first day with our traditional Lucretia McClure New Member Reception, with a special visit from retired member Tovah Reis, who shared her memories of Lucretia with the assembled guests and our new NAHSL members.
Day two of the meeting featured two keynote addresses, one by Ivan Oransky of Retraction Watch on the state of publishing and retraction, and another by Richie Kahn on the ever-changing landscape of science. The afternoon featured two breakout sessions, focusing on Science Literacy and the COVID Pandemic, and Literature, Art & Medicine. This packed day also including lightning rounds with vendors and NAHSL members, a packed poster session, and plenty of time to meet with our spectacular Exhibitors. We wrapped up with a banquet featuring the drag stylings of Maine’s own Curbside Queens, who were enthusiastically received by all in attendance.
We opened our final day with the NAHSL Business Meeting before joining in a Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Panel moderated by Shannon Jones. Our final keynote speaker, Blackford Middleton, sent us home pondering artificial intelligence in healthcare and research, and with a hearty reminder to vote, as we closed the conference on Election Day.
Many thanks to the hard-working planning committee, our sponsors and exhibitors, and the NAHSL membership who waited so long to gather together in person again! Planning for our next meeting, an online affair, is underway for Fall 2023. Watch this space for more information soon.