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Librarians and publishers live uncomfortably in an era of disintermediation. Google, Amazon, ResearchGate, SciHub, and others interact directly with our readers and users in ways that diminish the value the information provider and the librarian deliver in the information chain.

MLA’s InSight Initiative is a thought-leadership initiative uniquely designed to address our common problem of disintermediation by engaging health sciences librarians and information providers in high-level, high-value dialogue on issues that matter to both our communities. It aims to reinforce, expand, and communicate the value that we contribute in the chain of moving information from the author to the reader.

Apply Now: 2021–22 InSight Summit Cycle

Applications are now open for librarian participants in the 2021–22 InSight Summit Cycle. Participants in this cycle will engage the transformative opportunity of Moving toward Equitable Health Sciences Knowledge Sharing through the lenses of Dissemination, Diversity, and Disinformation. MLA will host the first summit virtually via Zoom on May 4–6, 2021. Librarians are invited to apply to participate, and health information providers have the opportunity to sponsor this Summit cycle as Participating Organizations. For participation and sponsorship details, please see below and visit the Summit 6 webpage.

InSight Fall Forum 2020

In 2020, based on the success of previous summits, the MLA Board of Directors established a Steering Committee to guide the InSight Initiative into a new summit cycle. To kick things off, MLA hosted a free online Fall Forum that brought together librarians, health information providers, and other scholarly communications professionals to discuss vexing problems. The theme for this Fall Forum was Equitable Access to Knowledge. Forum participants worked collaboratively to determine the transformational opportunity and associated practical outcomes that will provide the focus of the next three summits. The call to participate will be made in early 2021 so stay tuned for more details coming soon.


Since 2018, there have been five in-person summits for thirty-two to forty participants (equal representation of librarian leaders and participating organizations) featuring keynote speakers, panelists, and small group discussions on the thematic topics for each summit.

Participants of these summits praised the open and collaborative atmosphere, and the opportunity to discuss big-picture issues and brainstorm potential solutions that impact both librarians and publishers.

For additional details, please visit these two documents: The MLA InSight Initiative and The MLA InSight Initiative: The 2020 Summits. Information about each specific previous Summit can be found here.


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Outcomes as of 2020

In 2020, the MLA InSight Initiative Task Force developed a series of short, informational videos on critical aspects of user behavior. The task force hopes that these videos will enable professionals working in the various facets of the information industry to better serve their users.

These videos include:

Anticipated Future Outcomes

  • White papers, professional guidelines, written standards to help advance responsible health information publishing
  • Articles in the academic literature about discoveries from the summits, press releases, social media campaign
  • Action plans to invest in or cocreate informational content
  • Development of educational programs for MLA members
  • Support from and interaction with key outside groups

Note: Outcomes will continue to be made public and reflect the diversity of perspectives rather than seek consensus, without identifying a specific individual or organization unless mutually agreed to.

Participation in the MLA InSight Initiative 2021–22 Summit Cycle

MLA is now accepting applications for librarian participants. To apply, please visit the Summit 6 webpage.

Librarian participants

Consider applying as a librarian participant if:

  • You have professional knowledge, expertise, and/or interest in the summit theme, Moving toward Equitable Health Sciences Knowledge Sharing;
  • You will commit to:
    • attendance at the three summits that are planned for the 2021–2022 summit cycle;
    • between three and five hours of preparatory work (pre-summit);
    • active participation in and contribution to the work of the summit; and
    • up to ten hours of follow-up work with other members of the small group to which you will be assigned  (post-summit activities and products).

Participating organizations

  • 2-year commitment: 
    • $20,000 per cycle for corporations for a 2-year cycle (up to 2 people per company)
    • $10,000 per cycle for nonprofits and small businesses for a 2-year cycle (up to 2 people per company).
    • Fees cover cost of summits and outcomes; net proceeds help to cover cost of MLA’s journal and advocacy programs.
    • Pre-summit and post-summit participation in program development and production of published work or courses that result from each summit
  • Benefits:
    • Listed as an MLA InSight Initative participating organization on MLANET and in MLA publications
    • Invitation to special events and sessions
    • Unrivaled networking opportunities with senior-level medical librarians, the MLA membership at large, and commercial peers
    • Access to all initiative-related resources
    • Full participation for up to 2 representatives from participating organizations per summit
    • Credit for your organization’s direct contribution to the development of the intellectual property that results from the summits
    • Proceedings available to public at no cost

More Information? Contact Sabrina Sheth, responsible for participating organization recruitment for the MLA InSight Initiative; 703.442.2079


These guidelines address confidentiality, rules around business intelligence and information sharing, recognition/attribution, and the nature of information to be shared after each event resulting from the summit.

Confidentiality and Rules around Business Intelligence and Information Sharing

When a meeting, or part thereof, is held (under the Chatham House Rule, as amended by the task force July 2017), direct attribution will not be disclosed. The substance of the discussion, including important details and nuance will be publically shared, as both substance and nuance are critical to having a meaningful, robust, and rich conversation of use to the community of practice. At no time and under no circumstance will participating organizations be asked or expected to share information that they consider to be confidential, they consider proprietary, or they perceive may harm them competitively if they disclosed it.

Vendor participants are encouraged to directly contact librarian participants on issues relating to the summit topic both during and after the summit and vice versa.


Vendors will be recognized in the following ways:

  • InSight Initiative web page: company logo and a link to the vendor’s website
  • MLA annual meeting: Official Program
  • MLA leadership: MLA presidential reception with participating organizations, InSight task force members, and MLA leaders
Information Sharing
  • Following each summit, the following information will be shared with the public/membership:
    • Program agenda
    • Participant list
    • Written highlights of the discussion in conformity with the above guidelines on information sharing (this will not include summit audio/visual recordings and transcription)
    • Tentative: open forum could be held at the MLA annual meeting where representatives from participating organizations informally meeting with the membership at large

Summit participants will have open access to intellectual property developed out of the event and be entitled to the use and consumption of it.

  • Each summit has its own program committee appointed by the InSight Initiative Task Force.
  • The summit theme is determined by the Insight Initiative Task Force in consultation with key participants and formal feedback from attendees of previous summits.
  • The program committee consists of three librarians, three representatives from the participating organizations, the program facilitator, and a liaison from the InSight Initiative Task Force.
  • The program facilitator is Dan Doody of Doody Consulting.
  • The program committee is responsible for developing the schedule and all program elements for its summit. The program committee is not responsible for logistics or preparation of program materials for summit.
  • Program elements must support the theme of the summit.
  • Program elements can include, but are not be limited to:
    • Keynote speeches
    • Panel presentations
    • Small-group exercises or discussions (including a summit-opening icebreaker)
    • Planning the intellectual property (i.e., white papers, social media campaigns) that will evolve from the summit
    • Program elements for a particular summit are determined by the program committee through five to six one-hour-long conference calls organized and chaired by the program facilitator. The program facilitator provides the call agenda and background material a few days before the call, followed by the compiled minutes of the call.
  • The program committee determines the mix and timing of the program elements and selects the invited speakers, panelists, and presenters within the limitation of the budget. Program committee members will volunteer to to invite the identified speakers, panelists, and presenters until all speakers, panelists, and presenters have been secured.
  • Following the summit they planned, the program committee convenes one final time to debrief on the success of the summit, lessons learned from the programming effort and output, and things that can be improved for the next summit. The program facilitator ensures these notes are passed along to the program committee of the next summit.
Rules for Selection

The InSight Initiative Task Force, with support from the MLA staff:

  • Recruits librarian and affiliate participants for the summit.
  • Ensures that each summit features a representative mix of librarians affiliated with the diverse organizations with whom vendors work, including academic medical centers, community hospitals, specialty schools (nursing, pharmacy, etc.), governmental agencies, corporations, nonprofit advocacy organizations, and community-based organizations.
  • Ensures that participants agree to their necessary level of involvement prior, during, and after the summit.
  • Uses an online application with defined criteria with which to evaluate interested librarians for selection of participants.
  • Selects librarian thought leaders with specific knowledge and expertise related to the particular summit being organized.
  • Invites individuals from trade associations, nonprofits, federal government agencies, and so on, who are subject experts on the summit theme.
  • Invites an equal number of individuals, based on the summit theme, to ensure the right balance of thought leaders.
Librarian Participants
  • For each summit, MLA will invite MLA members to express their interest to participate in the upcoming summit via a link to an application form.
  • Applicants are required to list their specific knowledge, skills, and expertise related to the specific theme of the summit, as participants are actively engaged in the discussions and outcomes of the summit.
  • Applicants commit to the required summit attendance, active engagement in and contribution to the discussion, and time commitment for pre- and post-summit activities.
  • Cost
    • There is no registration fee for MLA members participating as librarians.
    • Food is provided during the summit.
    • Travel and hotel is reimbursed based on actual expenses and MLA’s travel reimbursement policy, up to an $800 maximum.
Affiliate Participants

The InSight Initiative Task Force may identify and select a limited number of representatives from affiliate organizations to participate based on their engagement in the issues being addressed at and their ability to provide meaningful contributions to the discussion and outcome of the summit.

Steering Committee Members


InSight Initiative Articles

MLA InSight Initiative Fall Forum Future Possibilities and Opportunities

InSight Initiative Videos

Guest Post: MLA InSight — How to Buy Whisky

It’s Called Predatory Publishing for a Reason!

Report from InSight Summit 2: How Can Librarians, Publishers, and Providers of Discovery and Management Tools Collaborate to More Effectively Communicate the Value of Information?

Participating Organizations (2020)


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