In my first two months as your president, I have been honored and privileged to represent you and MLA to our health sciences library and information professional colleagues worldwide. MLA was graciously invited to attend the virtual meetings of the Canadian Health Libraries Association/Association des bibliothèques de la santé du Canada (CHLA/ABSC) and European Association for Health Information and Libraries (EAHIL). I would like to share a bit about these meetings with all of you, and I welcome comments from MLA members who attended these or other international meetings.
First, I thank the meeting organizers and association leaders who made their international colleagues so welcome. At the EAHIL meeting hosted in Istanbul, Turkey, each sister organization hosted a coffee break to connect. I learned about health librarianship and credentialing in Taiwan from Tzu-heng Chiu and Anne Chen of the Taiwan Medical Library Association and heard from Dr. Grace Ajuwon, president of the Association for Health Information and Libraries in Africa (AHILA) about their upcoming conference in March 2022. The MLA allied representative to EAHIL, Carol Lefebvre, was a wonderful colleague ensuring the conversation remained lively in spite of the fact that we were meeting on Central European Time, a nine-hour time difference for me on the West Coast. I also got to meet Ms. Kubra Zayum Gedik, the 2022 MLA Cunningham Memorial International Fellowship winner who is an EAHIL council member from Turkey. We look forward to welcoming her and many other colleagues around the world to the MLA annual meeting May 2–7, 2022, in New Orleans, Louisiana.
My main takeaway is that there are many more similarities than differences in the challenges and opportunities that we all face. Shannon Jones, president-elect, and I attended the CHLA/ABSC Board meeting where we had the opportunity to learn more about Canadian advocacy and communication efforts. MLA is a signatory to the CHLA Statement on the Importance of Hospital Libraries, and the Hospital Library Caucus leadership, MLA headquarters staff, and elected leaders are working together to develop an MLA statement that addresses the United States health environment. At the EAHIL meeting, there was an excellent presentation by the UK National Health Service on the Library and Knowledge Services Value Proposition: The Gift of Time and their strategy released in January 2021 Knowledge for Healthcare: Mobilising evidence; sharing knowledge; improving outcomes.
Virtual meetings provided a tremendous opportunity to explore those connections. I am excited and committed to participating in the March 15–19, 2022, joint meeting of the International Congress of Medical Librarianship (ICML) and the Association for Health Information and Libraries in Africa (AHILA). This will be held as a hybrid meeting in South Africa, and abstract submissions are open through August 31, 2021. I recognize the responsibility I have to represent MLA and share what I learn with all of you, as the ability to travel or even carve out time or professional development funds to virtually participate is a gift that I will never again take for granted.
A sustainable way to learn from experiences are the publications produced by our colleagues around the world. At this year’s MLA InSight summit on Moving toward Equitable Health Sciences Knowledge Sharing, Leslie Chan spoke inspiringly about bibliodiversity, support for the diversity of those acting in scientific publishing. You will hear more about bibliodiversity from one of the InSight summit group recommendations which will be shared this fall. Thinking about bibliodiversity in our own health library literature, and excited by hearing from editors at the international meetings, I commit to broadening my perspective on our profession by regularly reading other health library association journals such as Journal of the Canadian Health Libraries Association/Journal de l’Association des bibliothèques de la santé du Canada, Journal of the European Association for Health Information and Libraries, and the Journal of Health Information and Librarianship: the official journal of the Medical Library Association of Nigeria. I hope that you will join me in exploring one or more of these publications as an effort to expand our reader role to encourage bibliodiversity and remain connected globally.