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MLA 2023 Achievement Awards

Time and time again, MLA members demonstrate what it means to be an outstanding practicing health sciences librarian or library educator. MLA honors those who exhibit significant excellence in the areas of teaching, mentoring, and volunteering at the local, regional, and national levels.

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The Virginia L. and William K. Beatty Volunteer Service Award recognizes a medical librarian who has demonstrated outstanding and sustained service to the Medical Library Association and the health sciences library profession. The 2023 recipient is Andrea C. Kepsel, AHIP. Kepsel has shown dedication and commitment to the mission of the association by serving on and chairing committees, presenting at annual meetings, and publishing articles. She has helped to advance the field of medical and veterinary librarianship by leading the Research and Evidence-Based Practice Curriculum Committee and by serving as a mentor to numerous librarians through the years.

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The Estelle Brodman Award for the Academic Health Sciences Librarian of the Year recognizes an academic health sciences librarian at mid-career who has demonstrated significant achievement, the potential for leadership, and continuing excellence. We are pleased to share that there are two recipients this year, Emily J. Hurst and Elizabeth C. Whipple, AHIP.

Hurst’s work at the NNLM South Central Region as Technology Coordinator allowed her to expand and share her knowledge with the region and her colleagues. Emily has served on two MLA National Program Committees, and she was elected to the MLA Board of Directors in 2022. Additionally, she is currently serving as the co-chair for her institution’s Libraries Strategic Action Plan Task Force.

Whipple has shaped and guided the development of Ruth Lilly Medical Library’s support for researchers. Her work has been recognized across her institution and nationally. She developed a curriculum on literature searching for the Academic Pediatrics Association's Educational Scholar Program that has national impact. Additionally, Elizabeth is actively engaged in professional service at the national, regional, and local levels.

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MLA’s Chapter Project of the Year Award recognizes excellence, innovation, and contributions to the profession of health sciences librarianship. This year’s recipient is the South Central Chapter of the Medical Library Association (SCC/MLA) for its Early Career Librarianship Initiative. The initiative is a volunteer-based group that works to create more opportunities for new and early-career librarians to engage in SCC/MLA and to grow as medical and health sciences information professionals. This group was established in 2020, formalized in 2021, and has offered programming, including mentorship and networking, for both students and early-career librarians in the South Central region. Word of what SCC has accomplished has already spread and their Network of the National Library of Medicine (NNLM) region has expressed interest in partnering with SCC/MLA.

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The Lois Ann Colaianni Award for Excellence and Achievement in Hospital Librarianship is given to a member who has made significant contributions to the profession through overall distinction in hospital librarianship. This year’s recipient is Louise McLaughlin. She was an information professional for over 50 years, with almost 20 years in a hospital library setting. During her career she was an advocate for hospital librarians, in particular solo librarians. Louise developed monthly ‘Solo Chats’ for solo health sciences librarians, giving them a place to talk about their unique challenges and helping them feel less isolated. McLaughlin is known as a strong collaborator and mentor by all who have worked with her.

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The Ida and George Eliot Prize is awarded for a published work that has been judged most effective in furthering medical librarianship. The winning article is: Finding Your Seat at the Table: Roles for Librarians on Institutional Regulatory Boards and Committees, by Susan Maria Harnett, AHIP, and Laureen Patricia Cantwell. The authors and editors of this publication managed to present a significant amount of information without academic dryness and a good balance of case studies that remained informational and adaptable to other institutions. Librarians were encouraged to advocate for themselves and useful strategies to apply in any setting were clearly laid out in this monograph.

The Carla J. Funk Governmental Relations Award recognizes a medical librarian who has demonstrated outstanding leadership in the area of governmental relations at the federal, state, or local level and who has furthered the goal of providing quality information for improved health. Aidy Weeks, AHIP, and Ruby L. Nugent are the 2023 Funk Award recipients. They are the co-leads for the Hispanic/Latinx Inclusive Terminologies Project, which has been instrumental in advocating for diverse and inclusive Medical Subject Headings (MeSH).

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The Lucretia W. McClure Excellence in Education Award honors outstanding practicing librarians or library educators in the field of health sciences librarianship and informatics. Emily Vardell, AHIP, is a dedicated, gifted, and memorable teacher who is adept at influencing, motivating, and inspiring librarians and students to learn in person and in the online environment. Vardell has made continuing and significant contributions to MLA, including the MLA Research Training Institute (RTI) program.


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The Erich Meyerhoff Prize recognizes the best unpublished essay on the history of medicine and the allied sciences written by an MLA member. The 2023 recipient is Anne Morgan, AHIP, for her paper: White degeneration, neo-Lamarckism, and the early twentieth century campaigns against hookworm in Puerto Rico and the U.S. South. Morgan’s paper is well researched, relying on both primary and secondary sources to successfully prove its thesis. It is an illuminating discussion of a dark time in American history that is not particularly well known.

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