First ever all-virtual conference

I love conferences: meeting other librarians, learning about new products and services, and getting great ideas from others’ innovative projects. However, it is always hard to get away to go to conferences. Both the time and funds can be hard to find. This is why I was so excited for the first-ever virtual conference by the Midcontinental Chapter of the Medical Library Association (MCMLA). This was also the first ever all-virtual meeting of any MLA chapter in the history of the organization. I did not have to find money in my budget or time in my schedule, but still was able to attend many informative conference sessions. And, I got to attend the conference while wrapped in my fleece blanket.

I know the virtual conference has been years in the making from many dedicated librarians, but they made it look easy. Also, Elsevier, McGraw-Hill, Wolters Kluwer, and Rittenhouse agreed to participate in this experiment and gave presentations about their new products. Overall, the conference had great presenters, engaged participants, and moved smoothly past the few, small technical glitches that occurred.

Check out #MCMLA2015 to see the Twitter discussions during the conference and go to the MCMLA conference page for more details about the meeting and the poster that was presented at MLA 2015 about the virtual conference. I hope this is only the beginning of associations experimenting with virtual conferences and exploring alternative ways of sharing ideas and research with each other.

Medlibs Chat: Presidential Priorities, I Have No Priorities

Join us tomorrow (6:00pm Pacific / 9:00pm Eastern) on the #medlibs chat as I try to successfully balance watching the Cavs in the NBA playoffs and moderating the discussion on the changes happening within MLA, specifically the MLA strategic plan.

(reposted from #medlibs chat blog)

In the past each MLA President has presented their list of priorities for the upcoming year for MLA.  This year is a little different. I have no priorities.  OK, that sounds a lot different. But it really isn’t.  Instead of coming up with priorities each year the incoming president will look at MLA’s strategic plan and evaluate the goals within the plan.  If we are near accomplishing a goal, then the incoming president looks at other potential goals that we should add to the strategic plan. The idea is that these goals live long enough for accomplishment and are not specifically tied to the president’s term. They are part of the entire MLA strategic plan which is tied to MLA, the board, staff, etc. As in the case of MLA’s technology goal, a goal could be accomplished in less than a year.  In the case of the Education goal, it may take more than a year.  However, steps toward accomplishing that goal will be continually happening.

Speaking of continually happening… In years prior the time line for getting things done always seemed to be centered around the meeting in May.  Why? There are probably a lot of reasons, but I think (total guess on my part) is that it is a legacy of when we (librarians) did less business electronically.  We live in a time of email and other forms of online communication. Now days things can happen faster because we can communicate more easily and more often. We agree to take on projects at MLA then scurry around next March/April to make sure something was accomplished before the meeting again in May. We don’t even read and approve the prior meetings minutes until a year later at the next meeting. This has given us the nimbleness of an AT-AT in regards to change.

We need to look at ways to speed up processes and work towards the evolution of our organization as well as the groups (Sections, SIGs, Committees, etc.) within our organization.  So this Twitter chat will focus on ways that we as a group can work toward improving the speed at which we accomplish things.  Because waiting a year to approve something makes any organization sluggish and less adaptable to responsive change.

What are your ideas for making us more nimble?

Come share your thoughts and perspectives! Never participated in a #medlibs or other Twitter chat before? Check out this overview and come on in, we’re a supportive community and are especially keeping an eye out to welcome and support your participation if you’ve just heard about this community for the first time during the meeting.



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.

Nominate Your MLA Leaders for MLA Offices

(reposted from MEDLIB-l)
The MLA Nominating Committee is identifying potential candidates for the fall 2015 election. If you would like to recommend someone to be nominated for president or the board, or would like to be considered yourself, please send current curriculum vitae and a paragraph outlining why the recommended person would be a good candidate to one of the members of the Nominating Committee listed below by May 6th.


The 2015 Nominating Committee members are reviewing the job descriptions for president-elect/president/past president and Board of Directors members and are discussing desired attributes for candidates, as well as the importance of multiple types of diversity in the slate.


You can find the job description for president-elect/president/past president at .

You can find the job description for Board of Directors members at .

Reviewing what is required of people in these positions might help you determine who would be potential candidates.


The process for selecting candidates and electing the MLA president-elect and members of the MLA Board is described on pages 2-4 of the MLA Bylaws, (log in to MLANET to access). The slate will contain at least two candidates for president-elect (president during 2017/18) and at least four candidates for two Board of Directors positions (2016/17-2018/19 term). The Nominating Committee will meet at MLA ’15 in Austin to finalize the list of candidates.


MLA 2015/2016 Nominating Committee:


  • Marie Ascher
  • Donna Berryman
  • Michael Fitts
  • Stephanie Fulton, AHIP
  • Emily Hurst, AHIP
  • Dixie Jones, AHIP, chair
  • Latrina Keith
  • Julie Kwan, AHIP
  • Terri Ottosen, AHIP
  • Brandi Tuttle, AHIP


Get to Know the New Executive Director of MLA

Kevin Baliozian, the new Executive Director of MLA, has graciously agreed to be the special guest for the weekly #medlibs Twitter chat the evening of Thursday, April 16. The chat starts at 9:00 PM Eastern / 8:00 PM Central / 7:00 PM Mountain / 6:00 PM Pacific. Teresa Knott and I are regular participants; we agreed to facilitate the chat. Information about the chat is outlined in a blog post at If you want to get a feel for how conversations flow, please take a look at the transcripts from the previous chats.

If you are interested, please join us. You’ll need a Twitter account. Typically, I use when chatting in Twitter since it groups all the tweets with the same hashtag (#medlibs) into the same room. In addition, if you tweet into the room, the chat box automatically adds the #medlibs Twitter hashtag so your tweets are seen by chat participants.

If you have any questions, please let me know. Hope you can join us!  Lurkers are welcome too!

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.

Wanted: MLA News Social Media Column Editor

(reposted from MLA Focus)

The MLA News is looking for a Social Media (formerly Blogs to Follow) column editor. The editor is responsible for soliciting authors every month to submit reviews of the best in medicine, librarianship, or related social media (e.g., blogs, Twitter feeds, Facebook groups, Instagram). If you are social media savvy and would like to share your knowledge as a column editor, please send an email stating your interest and qualifications to Laurie Thompson, AHIP, FMLA, editor, MLA News, by November 15. This is a 3-year appointment and earns AHIP points.

What a neat opportunity.  If it were 3 years earlier or 3 years later I would totally be all over this like white on rice.  I like the idea that MLA News is broadening the column to be more than just blogs.  I know there are quite a few social media savvy medical librarians out there that would be perfect for this.

Vote for MLA Leadership Now

Today as people are going to polls to vote for their local and state officials, don’t forget to vote for MLA President, Board members, and Nominating Committee.  Don’t wait because if you are like me, once that email goes down below the first page, it might has well have disappeared because I totally forget about it.

Last Day to Sign Up for MLA Committee

Today is Halloween, but it is also the last day for MLA members to sign up to join a committee. So Jack is here, politely knocking on your door to remind you to sign up.

If you want to be included in the appointment process for 2015 appointments, please log on to MLANET and complete your application by today, October 31, 2014.

Visit, and log on; then visit

MLA 2016 Toronto: Problems Traveling Internationally

The 2016 annual meeting will be in Toronto and the NPC is looking to see if there are any barriers to going to an international meeting in Toronto that normally wouldn’t be a barrier if the meeting was withing the continental U.S.

Obviously people traveling to the meeting in Toronto will need an updated passport.  Plan early to get your passport if you don’t already have one.  Also check its expiration date, sometimes you may not be able to travel on a passport that is set to expire within three months.

The one nice thing is that the US dollar is stronger than the Canadian dollar so that gives us little bit of a “discount” when buying things over there.  However that usually isn’t realized on air travel and the cost of flights really depends on the airports.  For example, Cleveland is one of the more expensive airports to fly out of, so airfares for me are often painful. We all have budget issues to consider, I don’t think Toronto being an international conference is on the same cost level as an international conference overseas.  Based on a very brief look at the expenses, it doesn’t appear the cost to be any more or less of a barrier then one would typically encounter going to MLA.

I am not saying cost isn’t important, but my blog post today is more focused on the barriers unique to an international meeting.  One such barrier that may be related to this meeting is the permission or the ability to attend an international meeting.  Some hospitals, government entities, and other places will not fund travel to an international meeting (even if international is within North America and is closer than flying to San Francisco).  In this case the barrier is the fact that it is an international meeting and the institution will not fund international meetings.  So it isn’t the amount of the trip that is the barrier, but the fact that the institution will not pay for the trip at all.

Do you typically attend MLA?  If you typically attend, will you have some problems attending a conference in Toronto because it is international or will it be just fine?  Please make a comment and let us know.  I know the NPC would like to try and address any issues ahead of time.