Yes? Or No? Or HOW? Catching a Predator at Birth (Maybe)

Catching a Predator at Birth

I almost called this post: “Create attention for your article; write a layman’s summary,” which was the subject line from the e-mail we are discussing locally in trying to decide if it is a predatory publisher or not. (Short version of what we did for those who don’t have time to read the whole story: Identity, Authority, Credibility, Language, Editing, Timing, Licensing, Accessibility, Openness, Sources, Resources. Basically, defining a chain of trust.) I’ve blogged here before about the idea of layman’s summaries, a.k.a. plain language abstracts. They have a great tagline. It’s a great idea. My first reaction was, “How can we help?” Obviously, I think the idea is awesome, and I’ve thought so for a very long time, many years. I am far from the only person to think so. Just take a quick look at these few selected quotes.

DC Girasek: Would society pay more attention to injuries if the injury control community paid more attention to risk communication science?
“We also need to call attention to the injuries that continue to take lives, despite the fact that solid solutions for them have been published in our scientific journals. We need research on translating study findings into public action. Epidemiology and engineering remain central to the field of injury control. We must look to the social and behavioral sciences, however, if we hope to overcome the political and cognitive barriers that impede our advancement.”

Alan Betts: A Proposal for Communicating Science
“Given that the future of the Earth depends on the public have a clearer understanding of Earth science, it seems to me there is something unethical in our insular behavior as scientists.”

Jason Samenow: Should technical science journals have plain language translation?
“Some scientists might resist the onus of having to write a lay-person friendly version of their articles. However, I agree with Betts, it’s well past time they do so”

Chris Buddle: Science outreach: plain-language summaries for all research papers
“1) Scientists do really interesting things.
2) Scientists have a responsibility to disseminate their results.
3) Scientists do not publish in an accessible format.
This is a really, really big problem.”

Chris Buddle: A guide for writing plain language summaries of research papers
“A plain language summary is different because it focuses more broadly, is without jargon, and aims to provide a clear picture about ‘why’ the research was done in additional to ‘how’ the work was done, and the main findings.”

Lauren M. Kuehne and Julian D. Olden: Opinion: Lay summaries needed to enhance science communication. PNAS 112(12):3585. doi: 10.1073/pnas.1500882112
“But rather than an unrewarding burden, scientists (and journal publishers) should consider widespread adoption of lay summaries—accompanying online publications and made publicly available with traditional abstracts—as a way to increase the visibility, impact, and transparency of scientific research. This is a particularly important undertaking given the changing science media landscape.”

This is seen as SUCH an important idea that multiple grants were provided to create a tool to assist scientists in doing this well!

Center on Knowledge Translation for Disability and Rehabilitation Research (KTDRR): Plain Language Summary Tool ((science OR research) (attention OR “plain language” OR “clear language” OR layman OR journalist) (summary OR abstract)

Imagine my excitement when a colleague (many thanks to Kate MacDougall-Saylor) alerted me to a new online publication specifically for this purpose! How PERFECT for Health Literacy Month! A faculty member had asked her if it was a legitimate enterprise. So we looked at the email she’d received, and at the web site.

Dear Dr. XXX,

We are interested to publish the layman’s summary of your research article: ‘ABC ABC ABC.’ on our website.

The new project ‘Atlas of Science‘ started from 1st October 2015. It is made by scientists for scientists and the aim of the project will be publishing layman’s abstracts of research articles to highlight research to a broader audience.
Scientific articles are often difficult to fathom for journalists, due to the scientific jargon.
Although journalists like to assess the news value quickly, that is by no means simple with most research articles. Writing a short, understandable layman’s summary is a good means to reach this goal.

This makes sense, has a good message, and is accurate about the potential impact so far, but the English doesn’t read as having been written or edited by a native speaker of English, and the formatting is inconsistent. It doesn’t look as if a professional editor did a final review before promoting to the world. Warning Sign #1.

The name of the web site (Atlas of Science) is identical to the highly regarded book from MIT Press and authored by Katy Börner of the Indiana University Cyberinfrastructure for Network Science Center. At first, I thought perhaps they were connected, but quickly realized this was a separate group, simply using the same name. Warning Sign #2.

Most of the rest of the message came directly from the “For Authors” page on the web site (Why, What, Use), except for the instructions.

∙ Send your summary to [email protected], not later than ##/#/2015.

What do we do with your layman’s summary?
∙ We check the text, and in consultation with you we dot the i’s and cross the t’s.
∙ Your text will be available on the Atlas of Science website, .
We will actively promote this site to the press.

Please, let us know if you are interested and do not hesitate to contact us if you have any question (simply reply to this email).

This was less worrisome, except … the phrase “not later than” (combined with a date of just over a week to respond) seems to be pressuring the faculty member to respond quickly, without thinking it through carefully, and without time to actually create a well-done plain language summary. Warning Sign #3.

Speaking of a well-done plain language summary, do they explain how to do what they say they want? We checked on the web site. Not really. They tell you what they want, but not how to do it, and they don’t point people to any resources to help them understand what a plain language summary is, what this means, or how to do it. They define no standards, set no guidelines, make only the barest and simplest recommendations (such as word count — 600 words with 2 figures), and do not even mention appropriate reading level. Warning Sign #4.

Does the posted content on the site actually appear to match the stated goals of the site? Not remotely. The pieces posted don’t even match the minimal guidelines they stated in their own criteria. I tested a few of the newest posts. The titles alone (“Regulation of mediator’s expression and chemotaxis in mast cells”, “Minute exocrine glands in the compound eyes of water strider”, “Gene therapy not just counseling for your denim obsession”, tell you these are not plain language, but just to be fair and unbiased, I ran them through a Simple Measure of Gobbledygook (SMOG) Tool, which is only one of several tools and resources available for assessing readability.

Regulation of mediator’s expression and chemotaxis in mast cells
The SMOG index: 20.1
Total words: 766
Total number of polysyllabic words: 180
Total number of sentences: 41

Over 150 words more than the defined limit for the abstract (Warning Sign #5), and written for an audience with a reading level matching those with multiple graduate degrees. The SMOG Index, you see, displays the reading level by number of years of education. 12 is a high school diploma, 16 is a college degree, 18 is a masters, and 20 is well into PhD territory. The average reading level for adults in the United States is roughly 8th grade, meaning that a really well done plain language summary would be written to a SMOG level of 8, at most 12. 20 is a long ways from 12.

Minute exocrine glands in the compound eyes of water strider
The SMOG index: 16.2
Total words: 461
Total number of polysyllabic words: 70
Total number of sentences: 35

Gene therapy not just counseling for your denim obsession
The SMOG index: 18.7
Total words: 573
Total number of polysyllabic words: 79
Total number of sentences: 23

Save your pancreas from diabetes! Your beta cell reserve is critical for prevention and treatment of diabetes.”
The SMOG index: 19.6
Total words: 455
Total number of polysyllabic words: 100
Total number of sentences: 25

It’s easy to see that most of the authors take the word count seriously, and that some of them genuinely tried to reduce the reading level and had an idea of where to start with this. None of them came anywhere close to an 8th grade reading level, and none of them were below college graduate reading level. Warning Sign #6. The writing in the abstracts was highly variable, some included grammatical errors, and there was no sign of editorial oversight. Warning Sign #7.

You get the idea of how the checking is being done. I don’t want to walk you through the excruciating details for every piece, but here are a few more criteria, and then ending with a surprise reveal.

“About Us”: Can’t tell who they are, either individuals or institution. Improper grammar & punctuation. No contact information. Contact form has email address hidden. Warning Signs 8, 9, 10.

Content Sources: Most links are to RSS feeds from major science news services, not unique or locally produced content. For the unique content, authorship is unclear (is author of the plain language abstract the same as the author of the original article?), buried deep in the page, no editor mentioned, and no contact information given for the presumed authors. The links for the original articles go back to PUBMED, not to the original publisher, and nont of them give the DOI number for the articles. Warning Signs 11, 12, 13, 14, 15.

Licensing: For a project of this sort to have the impact it is supposed to on journalists and the public, it would need to have a Creative Commons licensing structure, presumably with attribution. Instead it has
copyright, all rights reserved,” but gives no information on how to get permission to use the content. It appears that the intellectual property rights are held by the website, not by the actual authors. This is (in my opinion) terrible. Warning Signs 16, 17, 18.

Accessibility: Problems using the site on my phone. Tested desktop view, and there are a number of fatal errors, missing ALT tags, empty links, duplicated links, etc. Sloppy, sloppy coding. Nobody’s perfect, but MEDLINEplus has zero fatal errors, just for comparison. If this is from a reputable organization, I’d expect better. Warning Signs 19, 20, 21.

Now, the big surprise! While I was digging around online, I found some of the content, almost verbatim, from an authoritative site! Virtually all of the “For Authors” page is from the Technishe Universiteit, Eindhoven (TU/e). Evidently, they have or had a requirement for graduate students to write a plain language summary of their research prior to graduation. Brilliant concept! The submitted content was reviewed, edited, and selected for possible inclusion in their university research magazine, Cursor. They also had a campus website to host the content. The link for this was broken when I checked today, but the Wayback Machine has several examples over the past several years, including just a few months ago.

The big question now is whether this project is taking the Technische Universiteit model and making it bigger for the world, or was the content stolen from TU/e? There is no way to tell by looking. If this is a genuine project from TU/e, there are some changes they could make to improve the project. If the project is not theirs, I would really love to see the National Library of Medicine recreate a project like this, but done properly. They’ve proven they can. And there is a genuine need.

Section Programming Changes at MLA Meetings

The MLA Futures Task Force investigated things members within MLA should/would/want to change going forward.  One of the big things that members wanted to see change was the annual meeting, specifically section programming.  Members expressed frustration that section program themes were too narrow or the program themes were too closely married to the overall annual meeting theme (which was sometimes very narrow). Members wanted an abstract submission process that was responsive to the current topics and trends of librarianship, not dependent on any theme.

In an effort to address members concerns the NPC for the 2016 has changed the submission practice for section programming.  Starting in 2016, the NPC will send a call out for papers and posters and they will not be asked to submit to any specific section driven theme.  Once submission deadline has passed members of section programming will select the best overall abstracts then base the themes and categories off of the approved abstracts.

This is a big change for section programming.  As result, the section planners for 2016 will be meeting in 2015 to discuss the changes going forward with programming planning because it will be a completely different process.  2016 section planners should be aware these changes will be happening, Amy Chatfield sent an email to all sections describing things.

Basically instead of forcing a square abstract peg into a round section programming hole, the section programming hole will be shaped around the shape of the abstract peg. This type of responsive programming is often found at biomedical conferences.  The intention is for this type of responsive programming to continue in 2017 and beyond.  Will it be perfect in 2016, no but we can learn from our mistakes and make tweaks to the process so that we can have the type of programming that our members and the Futures Task Force said we need.

There will be a #medlibs tweet chat discussing the upcoming section programming for 2016 on May 7, 2015. Check for more information as time gets closer.

What is Going on at MLA?

If you haven’t had a chance to check out MLA’s new blog, Full Speed Ahead, then you are missing out on all the latest changes that will be happening within MLA as we move into the future.

In the post, MLA’s Culture Revolution, Linda Walton describes  how the MLA has board and staff have spent the past month dreaming big and thinking about what’s possible for the organization. We are looking at the organization as a whole to determine what we are currently doing, what we should be doing and what we shouldn’t be doing.  MLA was founded in 1898, it’s time to take a closer look at how our process and how things have changed and how MLA has to change as a result.

Action is the Secret Sauce, is a post from our new Executive Director, Kevin Baliozian describing how the achilles heel for strategic plans is execution phase. Have you ever noticed how s-l-o-w-l-y things get done at MLA?  Action is the secret sauce for the execution of the strategic plans.  Kevin talks about how have moved away from MLA’s previous strategic plan (which was heavily focused on static words like “maintain” and “continue”) and created a new living and evolving action plan.

I know as MLA begins to change and evolve Kevin and the staff along with the rest of the Board will be posting on Full Speed Ahead to keep you up to date on things.  This is your organization too and this blog will be our way of keeping you in the loop on things.

Who knows maybe there may no longer be a need for my Behind the Scenes posts.

MLA Executive Director Search: Update

I mentioned in my earlier Behind the Scenes MLA Executive Director Search that I would provide updates as they were available.

I wanted to let you know that Tuft & Associates interviews with MLA Board members, MLA Staff memebers, and a diverse group MLA members to try and determine the opportunities and challenges for MLA have been completed.  Tufts has created a profile as well as traits desired for the position.  The position currently being advertised on Tufts website as well as at various other websites and groups in libraries and association management. The position will also go out to various listservs such as MEDLIB-L, AAHSL, Chapter lists, etc.
View the position profile and job opening at Tufts.

Still in the near future….MLA members have an opportunity to participate in the process by suggesting questions for candidates. The search committee and Tufts anticipate interviews of top candidates will begin in late fall 2014.

Behind the Scenes: What does the President Elect Do?

During this year, the majority of my “Behind the MLA Scenes” posts will be focused on what I am doing as the president elect of MLA. There are several reasons why I am doing this.

First, I think it is always helpful to bring more transparency to the organization. As I have said several times, MLA doesn’t try to hide anything but even when you are trying to be transparent it still can be difficult to make sure the message gets out to everyone.

Second, I think it is important to detail what I am doing so that others have an idea of the day to day (month to month?) job duties of the president elect.   I hope this helps inspire others to become involved in greater leadership positions once they realize what is really involved.

Third, I want to be able to look back and see what I have done over the course of the year. I think this will be a good way to document my activities.


So what have I been up to as president elect since MLA in May?

  • The Wednesday after MLA, I met with the rest of the Board and we did a post MLA wrap up kind of meeting. Where we discussed things and business that happened at MLA. This could be anything from the meeting itself to action items brought up by committees, Sections, etc. We also then kind of create our to-do list of things that we need to do before we meet again in September. We then take a break and only Board Members and the past president meet to discuss our nominations for the Nominating Committee. I previously blogged about the Nominating Committee and how individuals are nominated, for more information go to Essentially, Section Council (based on input from the Sections) has a list of nominees, Chapter Council (based on input from the Chapters) has a list of nominees, and the Board has a list of nominees. After the Board is done nominating people, then we are done meeting.
  •  Following the MLA meeting I meet virtually once a month with the Technology Advisory Committee (TAC). Each Board member has a committee or task force of which they are a liaison. I am the liaison for the TAC and the Leiter Lecture. The TAC is a very active committee. Other committees like the Leiter Lecture are not as active all the time. Your time commitment depends on your committee/task force activity levels. The TAC is one of the more active groups, most don’t meet virtually once a month. 
  • In June I wrote the “Call to Volunteer on an MLA Committee” column. That was due in July and it should be coming out soon. The MLA staff are great at telling me when I need to write or do something as the president elect for MLA.
  • This isn’t a typical activity but these last 2 months I have been participating on the search committee for the new CEO of MLA. Our first duty is to select a search firm to help us find perspective people. The past president and the current president of MLA have been did a lot of work creating the RFP to send to prospective search firms.
  • I am also marking my calendar with the 2015 Chapter meetings. I realize 2014 Chapter meetings haven’t happened yet, but some Chapters have already contacted me about my 2015 schedule. I also find it is better to get it on the calendar ASAP because it makes my personal life scheduling easier and it is very helpful to my library and it and my co-workers schedule.
  • Finally, I am mentally figuring out and finalizing my priorities. That of course can be done anywhere and often does.

Going forward….I will continue meet virtually with the TAC and participate on the search committee. The Board will meet in Chicago in November to have our first meeting since MLA.

I hope to have another “What does the president elect do” post in the next several months. I hope this was helpful.

Searching for MLA’s Next Executive Director

We will be sad to see Carla Funk leave as MLA’s executive director. Carla has given us many years of her guidance and wisdom.  Carla will be staying on with us while we search for the next executive director, and the process to select that person has begun.

Linda Walton, MLA’s current President, posted on her Facebook page that the search committee has been formed and we will first be looking at and identifying a search firm to help us find the right candidate.  We will also be review the current job description for the MLA executive director.

We are in the very very beginning of the process (we haven’t even had our first conference call) but as a member of the search committee I would like to ask MLA members if they had any thoughts about what they would like to see in the next executive director.  Feel free to comment on blog.  If you would like your thoughts to be more private you can email me (use the email you find within the MLA membership directory).

Last Chance to Nominate for the Board or President

The last day to submit a name to nominate for the Board or President is May 12th.

I always hear on various discussion groups or from people personally that they are fed up with MLA.

  • MLA isn’t going in the right direction.
  • What has MLA done for me lately?
  • What is MLA doing to help hospital librarians, academic librarians, etc.?
  • MLA is just an “old boys club” unless you have a name you don’t get on any committees.
  • MLA is unresponsive to the needs of the real medical librarian.

You get the idea.  My response is: “What have you done to help shape MLA and change things you find to be a problem?”

Well now is the perfect opportunity for you to help shape the future of MLA.  The 2014 Nominating Committee is asking YOU, the members, to submit the names of fellow members who you think would be good to serve as a Board member or President and who will lead us for the next three years.

Please read through the process for selecting candidates and electing the MLA president-elect and members of the MLA Board  (pages 2–3  MUST be MLA member and logged in to MLANET to read this document).

The slate will contain at least two candidates for president-elect (president during 2016/17) and at least four candidates for the two vacant board positions (2015–2018).

Job descriptions:


Board members

You are responsible for the direction and shape of MLA. You can either actively shape it or you can indirectly shape it through inaction.

Submit your candidates to the MLA 2014/2015 Nominating Committee:

  •  Jane Blumenthal, Chair – janeblum[at sign] umich [dot]edu
  •  Amy Blevins – blevinsamy[at sign] gmail [dot] com
  •  Jonathan Eldredge – jeldredge [at sign] salud.unm [dot] edu
  •  Susan Fowler – susanfowler.library [at sign] gmail [dot] com
  •  Mark E. Funk – mefunk [at sign] med.cornell [dot] edu
  •  Sally Gore – Sally.Gore [at sign] umassmed [dot] edu
  •  Heather N. Holmes – holmesh [at sign] summahealth [dot] org
  •  T. Scott Plutchak – tscott [at sign] uab [dot] edu
  •  James Shedlock –  jshedlock [at sign] rcn [dot] com
  •  Laurie L. Thompson – lauriethompson [at sign] ymail [dot] com

Learn More About MLA Sections and Chapters in Chicago

Every other year at the annual meeting MLA used to hold the Section Shuffle where each of the sections would man a table and talk to members about their section.  Often there were themes and the sections would dress up or have candy and little prizes at the their table to try and entice members over to their table so that they could talk about everything the section is doing and encourage the member to join their section.

Section Council and Chapter Council decided to conduct a survey to determine what members were getting out of Section Shuffle, why people became a member of a Section or Chapter, why they continued (or didn’t) to be a member, and whether there could be alternatives to the Section Shuffle.

To sum the survey up….

  • Members found the Shuffle to be too crowded
  • Some did not like the food at the Shuffle or there wasn’t enough of it
  • Members weren’t always able to get in depth information they about the Sections due to the crowded and chaotic nature of the Shuffle
  • While members may have signed up during the Shuffle…Section engagement was the driving factor for renewal

So the Section and Chapter Council decide to change things up this year.  Instead of a Shuffle, Section and Chapter will be staffing posters during Poster Session 1 on Sunday May 18th highlighting their activities and unique characteristics at MLA ’14 in Chicago. Posters for participating Sections and Chapters will be on display at the MLA Registration Center. While the posters will be staffed during Poster Session 1 they will remain on display throughout MLA ’14 so members can drop by and learn more about the Sections and Chapters any time during the conference.

I have found Sections and Chapters to be a great way to get involved in MLA and my participation in my Sections and Chapters has significantly enriched my MLA membership experience.  So I encourage everyone to stop by a poster and join a Section and/or Chapter.


Help Choose the MLA Leadership

Do you know somebody who is innovative, inspiring, and basically would make a great leader within MLA?  Well time to step up and take action. The MLA Nominating Committee is identifying potential candidates for the 2014/15 election.  That means if you know of somebody you think would be good as a Board Member or President, then you need to submit their name (or yours), current current curriculum vitae and a paragraph outlining why the recommended person (or you) would be a good candidate.

This information must be sent to one of the members of the Nominating Committee (see below) by May 12th.

This is the perfect opportunity for you to help shape the future of MLA.

The 2014 Nominating Committee members have reviewed the job descriptions for President Elect/President/Past President and Board members, and have discussed key qualifications needed for candidates, including a person who has *broad experience within MLA, significant professional achievements,  a great capacity for leadership, a vision of the future of health sciences libraries, and an infectious enthusiasm for the excitement of librarianship at the present time*.  The Nominating Committee also discussed the importance of diversity in selecting the slate – key issues to consider are geographic region, library or information service type, and amount of experience.

Please read through the process for selecting candidates and electing the MLA president-elect and members of the MLA Board  (pages 2–3  MUST be MLA member and logged in to MLANET to read this document).

The slate will contain at least two candidates for president-elect (president during 2016/17) and at least four candidates for the two vacant board positions (2015–2018).

Job descriptions:


Board members

Remember, you need to submit by 12th because the Nominating Committee will meet at MLA ’14 to finalize the list of potential candidates.

Submit your candidates to the MLA 2014/2015 Nominating Committee:

  •  Jane Blumenthal, Chair – janeblum[at sign] umich [dot]edu
  •  Amy Blevins – blevinsamy[at sign] gmail [dot] com
  •  Jonathan Eldredge – jeldredge [at sign] salud.unm [dot] edu
  •  Susan Fowler – susanfowler.library [at sign] gmail [dot] com
  •  Mark E. Funk – mefunk [at sign] med.cornell [dot] edu
  •  Sally Gore – Sally.Gore [at sign] umassmed [dot] edu
  •  Heather N. Holmes – holmesh [at sign] summahealth [dot] org
  •  T. Scott Plutchak – tscott [at sign] uab [dot] edu
  •  James Shedlock –  jshedlock [at sign] rcn [dot] com
  •  Laurie L. Thompson – lauriethompson [at sign] ymail [dot] com

Behind the MLA Scenes: MLA and Government Relations Committee

Many have been wondering what MLA has done for them regarding government lobbying and trying to advocate for the profession.

IF you are a member of MLA, it isn’t hard to find out what MLA is doing in this area.  Simply go to the Annual Reports and look for the Government Relations Committee (GRC) report. I have posted edited versions of their full report (edited due to space) here.  Check out their entire report, which shows how much more they are doing.

In the 2009/2010 report they…

  • Published public policy updates in MLA Focus (lots of Focus issues listed) including NIH funding, patient safety, health information technology, etc.
  • Distributed three action alerts urging support for NIGH funding and FRPAA.
  • Planned a legislative update day for the 2010 meeting. Where MLA’s Washington representatives and Health Medicine Counsel of Washington provide key issues and information to members participating in MLA’s Capitol Hill Day.
  • Planned Capitol Hill Day for 2010 Annual Meeing. MLA members were given briefing packets, fact sheets and other information resources to use in their Hill visits.
  • Connie Shardt wrote Senators John Cornyn and Joe Lieberman expressing support for S. 1373
  • Requested opportunity to present testimony in Washington DC on behalf of MLA in support of NLM’s Fiscal Year 2011 appropriation
  • Hope Barton co‐chaired, along with J. Michael Homan, a working group of the task force to develop the statement, “Health Sciences Libraries and Health Care Reform: Providing Quality
    Information for Improved Health.”
  • Educated Congress and relevant federal and international agencies about importance of maintaining fair use in digital environment in support of health care, education and research

In 2010/2011 they some of the things they did were…

  • Published public policy updates in MLA Focus (lots of Focus issues listed) including NIH Public Access Policy, America COMPETES, meaningful use of electronic health records.
  • MLA and AAHSL prepared testimony in support of NLM’s appropriation which was submitted to the House and Senate L-HHS Appropriations Subcommittees
  • Requested opportunity to present testimony Washington, DC on behalf of MLA in support of NLM’s Fiscal Year 2012 appropriation
  • Educated Congress about the role that funding for the National Library Medicine plays in support of our nation’s health care, education and research and the role health sciences librarians play
  • MLA sent a joint letter to the chairs and ranking members of the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science and Transportation and the House Committee on Science and Technology expressing concern about the public access provision section 123 of the America COMPETES Reauthorization Act of 2010.
  • In response to GAO September 2010 report (GAO-10-947) MLA, AALL and SLA wrote a to the Senate Committee on Environment and Public Protection Agency (EPA) library network.

In 2011/2012 the GRC reported they…


  • More than 30 public policy updates have been distributed through the GRC and Legislative Task Force listservs
  • Published public policy updates in MLA Focus (lots of Focus issues listed) including NIH and NLM funding, EPA’s Strategic Plan for its library network, Rederal Research PUblic Access Acts
  • An Action Alert was distributed on the Research Works Act
  • Submitted House testimony in March and Senate testimony in April on NLM Fiscal Year appropriation
  • Developed of the association’s annual testimony to the House Labor -HHS-Education Appropriation Subcommittee  and distributed current fact sheets, statistics, and anecdotal information with Congressional staff during Legislative Task Force Capitol Hill meetings each year.

In 2012/2013 the GRC reported they…


  • Published public policy updates in MLA Focus (lots of Focus issues listed) including NLM funding, impact of sequestration, Orphan Works, Meaningful use of Electronic Health Records.
  • Provided updates on FRPAA legislation, the Research Works Act, and OSTP initiatives related to public access policies
  • MLA and AAHSL submitted a joint statement to the House Appropriations Subcommittee on Labor, Health and Human Services, Education and Related Agencies in March and to testimony to the Senate in April supporting NLM funding
  • Signed two group letters to Congress expressing concern about the impact of continued cuts on the NIH, urging Congress to support a balanced approach to deficit reduction that avoids further cuts.
  • MLA and AAHSL wrote to the chairs and ranking members of the House and Senate Committees on Appropriations; Labor -HHS-Education and Related Agencies Submicommittees, etc. over concerns about the sequestration.
  • MLA signed onto an Ad Hoc Group for Medical Research letter expressing the research community’s concerns with several provisions related to the NIH appropriations bill
  • MLA signed onto a Coalition for Health Funding letter to Congress


As I mentioned this is just a snap shot of their submitted reports.  My fingers could not type everything and this blog is too small for the reports in their entirety.  To read the GRC’s complete annual reports, detailing their activities go to MLA’s Annual Reports page, click on a year then click on Committees and look for the Government Relations Committee.  Also click on Add Hoc Committees  and Task Forces to see what the Joint MLA/AAHSL Legislative Task Force is also doing in this area as well. To get a better idea of what MLA had done in ways of advocacy and policy check out their Information Issues and Policy page.

All of the MLA staff work to help advocate for medical libraries and librarianship, but they do have one staff person who is responsible for government relations and she works with the Government Relations Committee and MLA/AAHSL Legislative Task Force.  If you are concerned about medical libraries and librarians and would like advocate for them to the government and other political agencies then I am sure the Government Relations Committee would love to have your help.  Although the deadline to officially join a committee has past (October 31st), perhaps you can contact somebody on the committee for more information on how you can be of help advocating for the profession.