The International Congress of Medical Librarianship and the European Association of Health Information and Libraries held their joint conference in Dublin June 12th – 16th. Like the MLA conference, it featured a program of keynote speakers, contributed papers, continuing education classes, and committee meetings. MLA by comparison is huge with 1,800+ while ICML+EAHIL Dublin had more intimate attendance with about 400. Another difference is the geographic distribution of participants coming from many nations primarily across Europe. I presented a poster co-authored with a colleague on the "Representation of Non-English Journals in PubMed." Related to my poster, I couldn't help but notice the multitude of languages spoken around me, quite different from most U.S. conferences.
Besides the excellent poster and podium presentations by participants, among the most noteworthy programming was the many interactive workshops included with the conference registration, two of which I describe below.
As a literature searcher who works regularly on systematic reviews, I was especially excited to see several workshops devoted to searching. "Search Strategy Development – Compare, Contrast and Advance" featured five expert searchers who commented on search strategies that participants submitted prior to the conference. They had us search two topics - "quality of life of breast cancer survivors in developing countries" and "the impact of air pollution on cardiovascular disease morbidity" – and submit the search strategies and results beforehand. At the conference the panelists summarized the approaches and findings from participants' submissions (e.g., there was a large range of hits, from just a handful to thousands) and provided tips and answers to questions from the 50+ participants.
Another search-related workshop was presented by a team from Public Health England that demonstrated its methods for producing evidence summaries. Similar to rapid reviews, evidence summaries offer the best evidence in a short document on a timely topic. Information specialists conduct the searches, identify the top studies, and author the summary. They organize the data using the Endnote application by customizing the fields so that they include not only bibliographic information but the narrative and quantitative data as well. This workshop was also very well attended and we had a productive discussion at each of the tables.
The conference was not all work and heavy thinking; there were many chances to network with colleagues and relax through regular coffee/tea breaks, dinners and tours.
Next year EAHIL will meet in Cardiff, Wales. The call for abstracts has already gone out. I urge you to attend!
I'd like to acknowledge the MLA International Cooperation Section and its committee for the Avraham Reis Travel Grant for this opportunity. Go raibh maith agat.