The Southern Chapter of MLA (SC/MLA) held its 69th Annual Meeting October 10–12, 2019. Members and guests made their way to the Hyatt Regency Savannah on the riverfront in charming downtown Savannah, GA, where Kim Meeks and the faculty and staff at Skelton Medical Libraries, Mercer University, Macon, GA, hosted the 3-day meeting. This year’s theme, “Squaring the Circle: Libraries Shaping the Future,” reflected the distinctive squares that dot Savannah’s historic downtown and the seemingly impossible nature of what attendees are asked to accomplish at their institutions.
Attendees arriving early could choose from four half-day continuing education offerings taught by experts on emerging technology, data management, leadership, and data visualization. The festivities began in earnest on Thursday evening with a new member/first-time attendee reception. This was followed by the Welcome Reception, where attendees enjoyed Lowcountry-themed hors d’oeuvres, caught up with new and old friends, and mingled amongst the twenty-three exhibitors in attendance.
The meeting marked the first year of an experiment with a condensed three-day conference. So, Friday was jam packed with activities beginning with attendees enjoying a breakfast buffet and visiting with the exhibitors. The first keynote address featured Jeff D. Williams, AHIP, Health Sciences Library, New York University (NYU) Langone Health–New York. His keynote speech, “The Power of Disorienting Dilemmas,” discussed how users’ fundamental understanding of the modern health sciences library needed to be reshaped and how librarians could effect that change. The morning session ended with two concurrent paper presentation sessions from attendees.
The Hospital Libraries Committee hosted a luncheon open to all attendees featuring April Wright, National Network of Libraries of Medicine (NNLM) Southeastern/Atlantic Region, University of Maryland–Baltimore, who shared information about the All of Us program with attendees. The afternoon featured two concurrent paper sessions and a poster session. In total, twenty-four papers and twenty-four posters were presented. The long day ended with a sunset cruise around Savannah Harbor on the Georgia Queen riverboat. Banquet attendees dined on a lavish spread, enjoyed some adult beverages, and socialized into the night. Rumor has it that some “Wobbling” may have taken place on the dance floor.
Saturday morning began with the chapter business meeting and breakfast. Shannon D. Jones, AHIP, treasurer, MLA, and Medical University of South Carolina–Charleston, and Tony Nguyen, AHIP, NNLM Southeastern/Atlantic Region, University of Maryland–Baltimore, delivered updates from MLA and NNLM, respectively. The second keynote was delivered by Jean P. Shipman, AHIP, FMLA, Global Library Relations, Elsevier, and formerly, Eccles Health Science Library, University of Utah–Salt Lake City. A longtime chapter member, Shipman addressed attendees about the changing landscape of scholarly communications and the implications for health sciences librarians in “The Circle of Scholarly Communications.”
The meeting ended with the first post-conference “lunch and learn” continuing education offering that featured Xan Goodman, AHIP, Lied Library, University of Nevada–Las Vegas, who informed attendees about cultural humility. Finally, the Southern Chapter Executive Board convened to conduct business and begin planning the 2020 Annual Meeting to be held October 21–24, 2020, in Montgomery, AL.
More information on the meeting—including archived papers, posters, and presentations—can be found on the SC/MLA website.