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History of the Federal Libraries Section, 1974-1998

Developed by the section for the MLA Centennial, 1998.

This history will highlight accomplishments and programs held during MLA. Interestingly enough, some of the concerns of the group discussed twenty-four years ago are still foremost in federal librarians' minds.

At the 1974 Medical Library Association meeting in San Antonio, TX, Michele Mann Winters, Naval Regional Medical Center, San Diego, CA, and Jane O'Sullivan, Naval Regional Medical Center, Oakland, CA, requested that a new group called the "Military Medical Library Section" be recognized as a special interest group. At this meeting, key members agreed to meet every year with the responsibility of the program planning to rotate among the services.

The Army presented the program in 1974 and the Air Force in Cleveland, OH, in 1975. Bylaws were formulated and modeled after the then simple MLA bylaws. When Michele Winters who was to be chair for the Seattle, WA, meeting in 1977 died tragically of suicide on March 18, 1976, Jane O'Sullivan, secretary, took over responsibilities and Dorothy Mylin of the Fitzsimmons Army Hospital in Denver, CO, served as delegate to the MLA nominating committee. Mary Elsie Caruso of Army Letterman Medical Center, San Francisco, CA, was called upon to fill in as secretary. The humble beginning had its roots in the interests of procurement problems, civilian classification of librarians' position descriptions, resource sharing, strengthening networking ties and dealing with frustrations unique to working within the Department of Defense

Early Years the Seventies

  • In 1975, Marie O'Mara, then at the Naval Submarine Medical Research Laboratory, published the group's first Military Medical Library Group Directory.
  • At the 1975 meeting, the major topic of discussion was "Procurement of Books and Journals."
  • At the 1976 meeting in Minneapolis, MN, the topic of discussion was challenges in document delivery in light of popularity of MEDLINE and a guest speaker; Dorothy Stroup of National Library of Medicine spoke on "How military medical libraries may participate in consortia." .
  • In 1978 at the Chicago, IL, meeting, Copyright Law was of interest with a presentation by a National Library of Medicine staff, Albert M. Berkowitz.
  • The Military Library Section met during the meeting in Honolulu, Hawaii in 1979. The meeting in Hawaii included a tour of the Naval Diving Unit at Pearl Harbor with speaker, LT Emory Bishop, who exemplified the unique nature of the clientele the military serves. LT Bishop emphasized the relevance of Diving Medicine to the contribution of hyperbaric medical applications. After a fascinating subject matter lecture and tour, Erika Love lead a lively and encouraging discussion to become formally organized for the common good.

The Eighties

  • By 1980, a chart from the MLA showed that of the Special Interest Groups, the Military Medical Librarians were only 0.7%, the smallest in the larger association.
  • In the early 1980's, federal librarians became very concerned with the revision of the classification standards for librarians, library technicians, and information specialists. Not until 1993 were the proposed standards publicized for librarians' comments.
  • During the 1983 meeting in Houston, TX, a discussion of the bylaws and an hour presentation by Milton Magee of FEDLINK were the highlights of the meeting.
  • At the 1984 meeting, a newsletter editor was appointed and the group decided to produce an exchange list.
  • In 1985 in New York, NY, members of the Military Medical Librarians and other federal librarians planned for merging and enlarging the group into the Federal Libraries Section.
  • In 1989, Walter Reed reported having used a fixed-fee service with NLM for MEDLINE in hopes that others would use the same benefit.

The Nineties

  • At the 1991 meeting in San Francisco, CA, the section began discussing an outline for Standards for Federal Libraries.
  • In 1991, listservs and e-mail were becoming popular topics
  • In 1991, Total Quality Management/Total Quality Leadership, now Continuous Quality Improvement was the hot topic.
  • A major issue was contracting out federal libraries.
  • In 1992, our newsletter, Library Link, reported about the VA's VALNET. Ann Repetto edited our first "electronic" newsletter.
  • Remember in 1992, Ovid was known as CD-Plus and their activities were reported in the newsletter. Navigating the Internet, Electronic Distribution of Information, and FEDLINK Update were the hot topics.
  • Goals in line with MLA as stated in 1997 by Marcia Batchelor, Madigan Army Medical Center, Seattle, WA, area. Federal librarians are involved with professional development to find out what other professional organizations are doing to promote federal libraries; to create a FLS presence on MLANET by 1 March 1997; to maintain the list of federal libraries on DOCLINE to maximize resource sharing; to promote and to market the benefits and the necessity for supporting health science libraries with appropriate staffing, funding, and technology.



  • In 1996, Terrie Wheeler of the VA Pittsburgh Healthcare system and Mary Fran Prottsman of the Lyster Army Community Hospital, Ft. Rucker, AL, designed and made available a Website for the section.


  • At the meeting in 1984, Judith Arnn agreed to begin publishing a newsletter.
  • In 1989, Deborah Thompson was the newsletter publisher, named Library Link.


  • In 1996, Alice Schad of the VA in Wichita, Kansas designed and had a brochure for the section.


  • Membership grew to 108 in 1993 from 90 in 1975. Many of the libraries listed in the 1975 Directory have been closed due to the Base Closure and Realignment (BRAC).
  • In 1982, Donna Griffitts published the directory.
  • In 1984, the directory was published by Ann Russell Potter.
  • In 1988, we had only thirty members; but by enlarging the section, we had eighty-two members in 1989.
  • 108 members in 1993.
  • Membership in 1996 was 96.

Exchange Lists

  • In 1984, Bettye Stilley of Naval Hospital, Jacksonville provided an exchange list for the section.

Union Lists

  • The Union List of 17 Military Libraries in the West was compiled and published in 1978 and 1980 by Marilyn Schwartz and Deborah Batey. This list had limited distribution, and the effort helped military medical libraries in the west before DOCLINE became popular.
  • The Union List of Periodicals in the VA Library Network became available in 1982 from NTIS.

Chairs and Locations of the Past

1974: Michele Winters, Naval Regional Medical Center, San Diego, CA, in San Antonio, TX

1975: Laura Francis Davis, Letterman Army Hospital, San Francisco, CA, in Cleveland, OH

1976: Jane O'Sullivan, Naval Regional Medical Center, Oakland, CA, in Minneapolis, MN

1977: Judith Arnn, U. S Army Health Services Command, Ft. Sam Houston, TX, in Seattle, WA

1978: Grace Plummer, Chicago, IL

1979: Marilyn Schwartz, Naval Regional Medical Center, San Diego, CA, in Honolulu, HI

1980: Chester Pletzke, Uniformed Services University of the Health Science, Bethesda, MD, in Washington, DC

1981: Rita Smith, Wilford Hall U.S. Air Force Medical Center, Lackland Air Force Base, TX, in Montreal

1982: Robert Evans in Anaheim, CA

1983: Deborah Batey, Naval Hospital Camp Pendleton in Houston.

1984: A. Peri Worthington, Travis Air Force Base, CA in Denver, CO

1985: William Koch, VA Medical Center, San Francisco, CA, in New York, NY

1986: Bettye Stilley, Naval Hospital, Jacksonville, FL, in Minneapolis, MN (meeting conducted by Jane Smith)

1987: Jane Smith in Portland, OR (meeting conducted by Lynn Gera)

1988: Lynn Gera, Walter Reed Army Institute of Research, Washington, DC, in New Orleans, LA

1989: Marylyn Gresser, VA Gainsville, FL

1990: Marilyn Schwartz, Naval Med Ctr, San Diego, CA, in Boston, MA

1991: Rita Smith, Wilford Hall U. S. Air Force Medical Center, Lackland Air Force Base, TX, in San Francisco, CA

1992: Rana Yalcintas, Oak Ridge Associated Universities, Oak Ridge, TN, in Washington, DC

1993: Shirley Campbell, VA Medical Center, Dallas, TX in Chicago, IL

1994: Rosalie H. Stroman, National Institutes of Health, Bethesda, MD, in San Antonio, TX

1995: Gale Dutcher, National Library of Medicine, Bethesda, MD, in Washington, DC

1996: Kathy Eigmey, FEDLINK Section, Library of Congress, Washington, DC, in Kansas City, MO

1997: Marcia Batchelor, Madigan Army Medical Center, Tacoma, WA, in Seattle, WA

1998: Mary Aldous, Naval Health Research Center, San Diego, CA, in Philadelphia, PA

By Marilyn Schwartz, Naval Medical Center, San Diego, CA, Founding Member