A Trip to Seattle: The MLA 2017 Annual Conference

MLA ’17

Over Memorial Day weekend, I had the pleasure of attending the annual conference of the Medical Library Association in Seattle, Washington. I was there to present a poster on a study my NYMC colleagues and I are currently undertaking, and also to learn from other librarians about trends in the medical library field.

I had never been to an annual conference before, and I was amazed at how packed the schedule was. Luckily, MLA created an app just for the conference, in addition to their print program, which was invaluable in keeping track of all the sessions offered. From the opening ceremony Saturday night until the end of my poster presentation on Tuesday afternoon, I was constantly on the move from one interesting program to the next! It would take a veerrry long blog post to cover everything, so I’ll just go over some highlights of my trip.

One of the first plenary sessions was with Julie Angus, who was the first woman to row across the Atlantic Ocean from mainland to mainland. She talked about overcoming challenges, something she became very familiar with on her journey, which was beset with hurricanes, tropical storms, equipment failures, and bureaucratic entanglements. One of her points had to do with ranking priorities:

  • Is it going to kill me now?
  • Is it going to kill me?
  • Is it going to stop progress?

Obviously (well, hopefully), these are less applicable to library life than adventuring, but I think they’re still good to keep in mind.

The Janet Doe lecture was given by Julia Sollenberger, an associate professor at the University of Rochester Medical Center and the director of Medical Center Libraries and Technologies. Her talk was entitled “Looking Inside Ourselves: A Culture of Kindness” and focused particularly on mindfulness, even concluding in a short meditation exercise given by her son.

Librarian Carrie Levison with her poster presentation

As the Scholarly Communications Librarian here at Touro, I was interested in seeing what other libraries are doing in terms of scholarly communications. I was gratified to see a number of relevant presentations, including ones talking about promoting research services, introducing new and different kinds of metrics, and creating interdisciplinary scholarly communications communities within an institution. I hope to incorporate some of the information I learned into our workshops and services.

As I mentioned before, I also presented my poster and discussed the work we’re doing with our institutional repository, Touro Scholar. If you’re interested in seeing the poster yourself, you can take a look at it here.

Of course, it wasn’t all work, work, work! I made sure to see some of the sites of Seattle. Despite Seattle’s reputation for rain, I had pretty lovely weather most of the time.

The waterfront view, complete with almost ethereal mountains.

One highlight was the famous Pike Place Market, which is a real food market with eclectic stalls and shops, and…a giant shoe museum.

I’m so glad I had the opportunity to go to MLA. I learned a lot, met a lot of great librarians, and came home enriched by the whole experience.

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