MLA 2019: Stand Up for Health

Tuesday, May 7, 2019

Tuesday morning was gray and rainy. Nevertheless, my husband Ed and I took the morning to walk through Millennium Park and enjoy café au lait et croissant at Toni Patisserie. For me, a quiet moment before launching into a day of conferencing. I am fond of rainy days when they involve baked goods and caffeinated beverages. Anything from tea and cinnamon toast while sitting on my own couch, to café au lait et croissant in Chicago, or NYC, or Paris, France! Speaks to my soul.

Ed was museum-bound that day. After dropping off my collapsible umbrella and donning my conference lanyard in my hotel room, I headed into the National Library of Medicine (NLM) Update. Deputy Director Jerry Sheehan shared NLM’s progress on the 2017-2027 Strategic Plan. Janice Kelly, Joyce Backus and Amanda Wilson covered topics such as the evaluation of online resources for sustainability, reorganization of Outreach and Special Populations services, staff achievements of the National Network of Libraries of Medicine (the program that I contribute to) and physical renovation of the Library itself.

The NLM project involves re-purposing the existing reading room spaces, the library’s entrance foyer, and existing exhibition space to meet current needs. The scope includes full interior renovation, addition of skylights, and full mechanical and electrical systems upgrades. ~Hanscomb Consulting

In my handwritten notes, I jotted down “Amanda is rocking it!” I am happy to be reporting to such a dynamic leader.

From the NLM Update, I dashed down to Sweetwater Tavern to meet with the editorial staff of the Journal of Hospital Librarianship. I share editorial duties for the “Charting Consumer Health” column with Dana Ladd (VCU Libraries) and Angie Tucker (Memorial Health OH). Carole Gilbert reviewed our responsibilities, and we had a chance to socialize before heading back for the afternoon sessions.

Legislative Update

I attended the Consumer and Patient Health Information Section (CAPHIS) Business Meeting before dropping into the Legislative Update. I heard a review of the key areas of federal legislation that impact the work of health sciences librarians:

  • National Library of Medicine Funding
  • Access to Federally Funded Research
  • Intellectual Property and Copyright

I am grateful for the committees that pay attention to relevant legislation. For example, the Fair Access to Science and Technology Research Act of 2015 (FASTR) supports better patient care, biomedical research and innovation, education, and health information technology through public access to high-quality health information in the United States. FASTR requires each federal agency with extramural research expenditures of over $100 million to develop a federal research public access policy that is consistent with, and that advances, the purposes of the agency, and that follows common procedures for the collection and depositing of research papers ~Medical Library Association

Even my cursory understanding of these pieces of legislation helps me stay aware. And, motivates me to remain politically active.

Poster Session: Stand Up for Health

My last conference responsibility was to head into the Exhibit Hall to join Bobbi Newman (Greater Midwest Region) and Carolyn Martin (Pacific Northwest Region). We were there to pitch our poster on Stand Up for Health: Health and Wellness Services for Your Community for Public Libraries. The poster describes an asynchronous, four-week course offered by the National Network of Libraries of Medicine to train public library staff. Each week, our learners take on topics such as community health needs assessment, health information reference services, health information collection development and health-related programming.

With support and input from multiple partners, Bobbi Newman re-designed the established course Health and Wellness @ Your Library in order to create cohorts limited to public library staff. These cohorts foster nationwide connections based on similar work environments. Bobbi, Carolyn and I work diligently to improve and deliver this course to hundreds of public library staff.

The Exhibit Hall was not a busy place at 3:30 in the afternoon. I was grateful for a visit from Liz Kiscaden, Associate Director of the Greater Midwest Region. She is an enthusiastic supporter of our work to engage public library staff. Liz took photos and chatted with us. At the conclusion of the Poster Session, we headed upstairs for margaritas and tacos. My husband Ed joined us, and tolerated our shop talk.

On Wednesday morning, Ed and I headed home to Massachusetts. I missed the plenary sessions that day, as well as many panel discussions that interested me. I am still catching up on the recordings. I am not sure that I will attend MLA 2020, but I am hoping to make the trek to Washington DC in 2021. I am deeply grateful for the opportunity to attend these conferences.