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Pearls of Wisdom

Presented by Lucretia W. McClure, AHIP, FMLA, at the New Member-First Time Attendee Program at the MLA Annual Meeting

mcclure.jpgWelcome to all of you, the newest members of the Medical Library Association. It is a pleasure to be here with you and to have the opportunity to talk with you about what it means to be in this association.

You have come into librarianship at a time when many new and exciting things are happening. It is also a time when we are being threatened in ways never experienced before. We have the very best in the new technologies, providing us a force that we can harness and use for the benefit of our users. At the same time, we find that libraries are closing or being merged, that jobs formerly consider to be in the realm of the library professional, are going to other information professionals. We are being squeezed by the software, music, and film industries as well as publishers in the copyright arena. To me it means that librarians must be better than ever, be more knowledgeable about topics we never studied in library school, in other words, we must out-Dewey Dewey.

In all the avenues that we encounter in our work, there is one constant that gives us an edge. Librarians are human beings, not machines. We have the best minds, the most fertile imaginations, are the most curious of any people in the world. Estelle Brodman, one of the great librarians of the 20th century, wrote a paper called Money Talks, But People Count. (BMLA 53:567-72, 1965) That is why we have an association.

You may be thinking that you are here alone, that you do not know anyone, that this is a bewildering place. But let me tell you what this association can mean to you. I did not know anyone when I came to my first meeting, but I sat at lunch with different people every day. I found that there were many others who did not know anyone and by the end of the meeting I had some friends and some of them are still my best friends. You are fortunate to start this meeting with a breakfast for you have the opportunity to talk with people at your table.

When you attend the Awards Ceremony, listen to the names of the Awards. The Lois Ann Colianni Award for Excellence and Achievement in Hospital Librarianship, the Estelle Brodman Award for the Academic Medical Librarian of the year, the Louise Darling Medal for Distinguished Achievement in Collection Development in the Health Sciences, the Janet Doe Lecture, just to name a few. The names represent leaders in the association, leaders whose work is recognized through these awards. You can get acquainted with them by reading their publications. And you may be sitting next to someone who will make the next breakthrough in some area of librarianship, who will become a leader in the association.

Many things will happen to you on the way to your life as a librarian. You may work in different places and have different kinds of jobs. The one constant that will be with you and never let you down is friendship, the kind of friendship that stems from meeting your colleagues in this association environment. Yes, you will learn lots of new things, see the latest technology developments at the exhibit hall, hear some challenging speakers. But most of all, you have, by the end of this meeting, become a part of the Medical Library Association, a part of a vast congregation of librarians who want the same things you do and who will share their ideas and dreams with you.

When you have a problem, you have a wealth of talent in your colleagues. When you need advice, members in this association will be happy to talk with you. The tradition is that we are here for each other. That is something that money cannot buy.

Perhaps you cannot change the world yourself, but you can have real power as a member of an association. MLA fights battles that help all of us: in the profession, in the legislative arena, in the field of education. You are here today because you want to get the best information, see the latest technology, and add your voice and support to the causes of our profession.

As you participate in this annual meeting, and as you go back to your home library, please remember one thing: people count. Whether it is your fellow staff members, your library users, or your colleagues in the association, people make the difference. A thinking librarian is the best resource in the library.

People do count.