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Chapter News: News from the Medical Library Group of Southern California and Arizona

At MLA ’14, the chairs of the Joint Annual Meeting of Medical Library Group of Southern California and Arizona (MLGSCA) and Northern California and Nevada Medical Library Group (NCNMLG) and the president of the MLGSCA connected with other chapters struggling to redefine and implement successful chapter meetings. MLGSCA was awarded the Majors/MLA Chapter Project of the Year Award in Chicago for the 2013 chapter conference project, “Substance over Style: Exploring a Cost Effective Model for Chapter Meetings.” Danielle Linden, AHIP, Robert Johnson, and Nita Mailander also presented a poster, titled “Building on a Solid Foundation: A New Model for Chapter Meetings.” The poster is available at: www.eventscribe.com/2014/posters/MLA/SplitViewer.asp?PID=NTEzMjQ5MDI1.

The chapters hope to continue the conversation among members regarding being agile and trying new venues and chapter meeting models to promote dissemination of research, professional development, and member networking. In light of the dynamic conversations at MLA ’14 with other chapter members who are facing similar challenges, and to continue the dialogue, some additional details from the application for the Majors/MLA Chapter Projects of the Year follow.

Beginning in late 2011, in response to both external and internal financial challenges, the MLGSCA and NCNMLG joint meeting was moved away from hotels and conference centers toward a “boot camp” model held on a college campus, stripped of typical comforts afforded by hotels. The meeting was held on the University of California–San Diego campus at the Price Center. Catering during the meeting was arranged through the campus’s catering service. On-campus housing was arranged in the Warren Apartments for Wednesday, July 24, and Thursday, July 25, and additional nights were offered for those travelling from out of town. Complete dining in the Canyon Vista Restaurant and parking was included in the two night housing package.

Members benefited from an affordable price (all inclusive with 2 continuing education courses, full meals, housing, and access to the conference was just over $500, with lower price points for those not staying on campus or only attending for 1 day) and were able to share their work with colleagues (12 papers, 8 lightning talks, 22 posters, and scheduled vendor time). The organizations benefited from cost-saving measures by generating an income of over $10,000 and demonstrating commitment to member engagement over comfortable surroundings. In addition to financial concerns, this meeting also tested a mobile app called Guidebook instead of using paper programs. Among those who used the app, it was a welcome addition.

“What’s Past Is Prologue”

The MLGSCA/NCNMLG Joint Meetings have moved to this model based on the excellent foundation already laid. Member presentations and posters, vendor participation, and interesting plenary speakers have been and will remain part of these chapter meetings. The novel idea of this meeting was to shed the extracurricular trappings and distractions, and focus solely on the content. By hosting a meeting at an alternative site, while supplying the same content to which members are accustomed and posting income of over $10,000, MLGSCA has established a precedent of substance over style. This project proves to MLGSCA members that sacrificing comfort does not mean sacrificing content or value, and that members’ financial concerns are being heard.

The image and status of medical librarians is enhanced when all its members are fully engaged in professional excellence. Local meetings are a major aspect of participating in active and passive continuing education, forming collegial partnerships outside their institutions, keeping up with trends, learning how to demonstrate value to their institutions, and gaining opportunities to present local innovation. Mitigating costs is an effective way of encouraging participation across the spectrum of our members. This mentality supports MLA’s efforts in using tools like MegaMeeting for business meetings and continuing education, and may prompt MLA to seek different venues, schedules, and models for future national meetings.

Comments

I attended this conference, and just wanted to comment that I think the phrases "boot camp" and "stripped of typical comforts" may overstate the character of the accommodations. Was it the Hilton, no, but I've definitely experienced worse. The room was clean, well maintained, plenty of hot water in the shower, and my twin bed was comfy. No TVs in our room, so instead we got together with colleagues and interacted face to face!--no loss there either. Besides, I doubt I would have received permission from mgmt to attend if not for the low cost. I would encourage other chapters to explore alternative venues like this in order to allow more members to attend live meetings. Thanks again to the organizers!