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Honoring Our Past

MLA used to have a Committee on Committees. Its purpose was to review the organization and create new committees as needed and retire those no longer needed. The committee is no longer in existence, because we now have an effective president and Board of Directors who can easily establish new committees.

Louise Darling was MLA president in 1963. She described this Committee on Committees as the “heart” of the association, along with the guidelines that kept the “heart” beating [1]. In the early days, all work of the association was carried out by its members. Presidents or their secretaries had to type and mail all correspondence, the officers kept their own records, and it all took time away from their library responsibilities.

Another difference between today’s organization and the one some seventy years ago is what was called “The Central Office.” In 1961, Helen Brown Schmidt was hired to be the executive secretary, and, for the first time, MLA had an established office. Obviously, one person could not handle all the work of a multitude of committees, but MLA now had a “home” [1].

Today, MLA’s headquarters is staffed by experienced and talented individuals, who bring expertise and skills to the work of the association. The executive director is head of the staff and a leader in the association community. The various committees continue to be an important part of MLA and have the support of the staff at headquarters. A decade from now, we may have a new and different kind of organization as technology and robots continue to rearrange the ways we live and work. Whatever happens in the future, we still will need strong and creative committees to maintain our MLA.


  1. Darling L. Committees and appointments [president’s page]. Bull Med Libr Assoc. 1963 Oct;51(4):588–90.

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