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MLA Celebrates its 125th Anniversary at MLA | SLA '23


Attendees at the Detroit MLA | SLA ’23 Annual Conference raised a toast to the quasquicentennial anniversary of the Medical Library Association. Informational panels celebrating individuals and events over the past 125 years were displayed throughout the conference and could be found outside meeting rooms 240-250. The 12-panel exhibit led with an exhibit introduction followed by a brief description of the first meeting of four physicians and four librarians who officially marked the formation of the Association of Medical Librarians. Addition panels highlighted people and events whose legacy has shaped our organization. Link outs for more information were included as follows:

  • Janet Doe: honored through the annual Janet Doe Lecture.
  • Gwendolyn S. Cruzat: first African American Health Sciences Librarian to deliver the Janet Doe Lecture (1979). Dr. Cruzat spoke on a systems perspective of Health Sciences Librarianship.
  • Frances Groen: a Canadian Librarian and champion for international organizational perspective. Groen served as MLA president in 1990, the time MLA met in Detroit.
  • Naomi Broering: first Latinx president of MLA and champion for health information resources to underserved communities.
  • Michael Homan: promoted the early move towards online content and open access for the Bulletin of the Medical Library Association through PubMed Central.
  • A two-part series appeared in the Journal of the Medical Library Association on racial segregation of libraries, the inadequacy of collections and services for minority populations, and inequities for modern librarians; Part I, Part II.
  • The 2013 One Health initiative held as part of the Boston meeting and in collaboration with the International Congress on Medical Librarianship, the International Conference of Animal Health Information Specialists, and the International Clinical Librarian Conference.
  • The 2015 installation of the MLA commemorative marker in Philadelphia.
  • Elaine Martin, who gave the 2018 Janet Doe Lecture “Social Justice and the Medical Librarian,” re-emphasizing diversity as a core principle of medical librarianship.
  • Beverly Murphy, AHIP, FMLA, 2018-2019 MLA President who received MLA’s highest honor, the Marcia C. Noyes Award in 2021 for her lasting contributions to the association.


A celebration booth was also available in the exhibit hall, anchoring the northeast corner. Attendees were invited to join in the year-long celebration with a photobooth and props capturing the excitement and camaraderie of MLA connections. Polaroid shots were added to a 125-year event photo book. Participants were also invited to peruse historical souvenirs in the form of past-conference mugs, t-shirts, and tote bags. Coasters commemorating the 100-year anniversary and medallions celebrating the 75-year anniversary were also up for grabs to those wishing to add to their MLA memorabilia. Photobooth opportunities were also made available at the closing session. Those who stayed through the Friday afternoon event enjoyed cake and joined together with President Shannon Jones, AHIP, FMLA to sing a rendition of Stevie Wonder’s Happy Birthday.

Celebrations for the MLA 125th anniversary and historical highlights will continue throughout the year and culminate at the 2024 annual meeting and expo in Portland, Oregon. Those who missed the annual meeting displays can find out more at MLA 125: Building a Better Future.

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