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Second EMTS 2019 Annual Meeting Grant Recipient Shares Her MLA ’19 Experience

Kelsa Bartley received the Educational Media and Technologies Section (EMTS) 2019 Annual Meeting Grant, which enabled her to attend MLA ’19 in Chicago. Read about the experience of Christy Tyson, the other EMTS 2019 Annual Meeting Grant recipient.

Beverly Murphy and Kelsa Bartley
MLA Immediate Past President Beverly Murphy, AHIP, FMLA, and Kelsa Bartley at MLA ’19

This was my third meeting and my first since getting my master of science in information (MSI) degree in December 2018. As a reference assistant, library school student, and now as an early career librarian, attending MLA meetings and becoming more involved in the organization has enhanced my contributions to the profession in ways I never imagined.

Diversity, equity, and inclusion in libraries is something I am quite passionate about. I am a member of MLA’s Diversity and Inclusion Task Force (DITF), so I spent a lot of MLA ’19 participating in activities to further this cause. I co-taught the “Implicit Bias Training for Information Professionals” continuing education (CE) course with Shannon D. Jones, AHIP, Libraries, Medical University of South Carolina–Charleston; and Kimberly Reynolds, Clinical Pediatrics, University of Miami Miller School of Medicine, Miami, FL. I facilitated a diversity and inclusion roundtable at the New Member Special Interest Group’s (SIG’s) immersion session.

At the Diversity Dialogues with DITF event, I led a conversation about initiatives that our organization could take to make our colleagues with disabilities feel more included at annual meetings and in MLA as a whole. I attended two immersion sessions that I was involved in planning:

  • “Microaggressions and More: Continuing the Conversation on Implicit Bias,” a joint effort led by the African American Medical Library Alliance SIG (AAMLA), Health Disparities SIG, Latino SIG, Leadership and Management Section, LGBTQ Health Sciences Librarians SIG, and Social Justice Section
  • “Diversity in Degrees in Libraries,” sponsored by AAMLA, Leadership and Management Section, and Medical Library Education Section.

As part of my DITF duties, I also participated in the “Managing from the Middle Symposium” for librarians in middle management positions.

African American Medical Library Alliance SIG members
African American Medical Librarians Alliance (AAMLA) SIG members at MLA ’19

One of the main reasons I love coming to MLA is for the amazing networking opportunities. I love connecting in person with all the people I have been collaborating with on various projects during the year, and meeting new people is always a major highlight. I checked in with members of the Florida Health Sciences Library Association (FLHSA) for our annual group photo. I went to the EMTS on-site business meeting to meet new colleagues and learn more about the section. I connected with other African American colleagues at various activities planned by AAMLA.

2019-2020 Rising Stars
2019–2020 Rising Stars: Kelsa Bartley, Elaina Vitale, Kathryn Houk, AHIP, and Jane Morgan-Daniel, AHIP

I was an official MLA’ 19 tweeter, and as part of the Social Media, Publicity, and Promotions Committee, I connected virtually with many people by sharing meeting highlights. This year, I joined a new group of colleagues as a member of the 2019–2020 MLA Rising Stars program. It was great meeting everyone in person. We will be working together on a fantastic project until MLA ’20.

Bartley on the Iron Throne
On the Game of Thrones “Iron Throne” in Chicago

While in Chicago, I met a nonlibrarian friend for dinner on the first night I was there. As we were walking to dinner, I saw the Game of Thrones (GoT) display at the AT&T Chicago flagship store. Being a HUGE GoT fan, I was super excited by this random discovery! They had an Iron Throne from the show and other memorabilia. I lined up to sit on the throne as Kelsa Bartley, “Queen of MLA ’19, Finder of Medical Information.” I had not planned on doing much sightseeing in Chicago because of my meeting commitments, but having that one experience of pure fandom made up for it all!

The most important thing I learned from MLA ’19 was that being involved in many activities in such a short span of time is exhausting! In my enthusiasm to fully participate in the many things I am interested in in MLA and in medical libraries, I sometimes found it hard to pass up opportunities. I felt it affected my ability to be fully present at engagements I had committed myself to, especially toward the end of MLA ’19. Going forward, I plan to be more mindful of my tendency to spread myself too thin. I want to have a positive impact in libraries; being more effective definitely requires more self-care on my part!

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