Newsletter of the Medical Library Group of Southern California and Arizona

My Experience at MLA Austin

Posted on July 24, 2015 by Kelli Hines | 2 Comments

Norma Layton

Norma Layton

This year the MLGSCA professional scholarship award gave me the chance to experience firsthand the conference that is dedicated specifically for librarians in the Medical profession. I had heard many interesting stories and adventures from my mentor, Lisa Marks, and now I could fully take it in.

While not a new comer to Library conferences, I am a new comer to the Medical Library Association conference.  And while not a new comer to Texas, I’m a new comer to Austin. As a newbie I also decided to get out there and give a first time talk at this conference as well.

Arrived in Austin on a muggy and raining Friday afternoon and checked in to the hotel that a fellow MLGSCA member, who I’d met at the Quint meeting in Denver, was gracious enough to let me share a room with her. Soon hunger got the best of me and I went in search of food. Luckily for us we had a good view of the convention center and restaurants.  Texas is considered part of the south so I thought some good soul food was in order and I found it at Gus’s World Famous Hot & Spicy Fried Chicken.

Then I headed on over to the convention center to check in and check things out. After checking in, I ran into a fellow MLGSCA member Rikke Ogawa who was manning the MLA Toronto booth and later found out that my roomie, Sunny McGowan would be manning the MLGSCA chapter’s booth during her attendance to the conference. MLGSCA not only has active members at the Chapter level but also at national level.

Saturday morning was spent exploring a little of Austin, which included the capital building but with the weather so humid, we weren’t inspired to do too much site seeing and we rested up before heading on over to the Exhibit hall for the Grand Opening of the Conference.

If you’ve never been to one of these conference, don’t let the Exhibit (namely vendors) scare you off. One vendor partnered with a local massage therapy place and offered free massages.  One vendor, I hadn’t seen in a while and I actually needed to talk to them about some new products. I’ve come to look at the exhibit hall as a giant candy shop for library services. They have lots of shiny products, of which most of our institutions can’t afford, but it’s fun to play with as long as you can put it back.

You will also run in to former colleagues, other professionals you have met at previous conferences, or classes or perhaps even a few fellow MLGSCA members. They are always welcoming, and if they know you’re a first timer, they will gladly give you all the tips on vendors.

Librarian conference? Isn’t that boring? That was the reaction I got when I told people what I was doing. But after attending a few of the vendor sponsored events, I can say that is not the case.  Like I said vendors are your friends. However, I will say that Ovid had the best BBQ in town.

Now, to the real reason we attend our conference. While you can feel overwhelmed by what is offered, I thought it’d be best to attend the meeting for New Members and First-Time Attendees. I’ve always been fascinated with how libraries and librarians came about and in all the library school classes I’d taken, I had never once felt I had a lightbulb moment,  but this light bulb came on during the 30 minute talk that Lucretia McClure gave.  She not only talked about the evolution of the medical library but reminded us of the innovations that took place that got us to the place we are today which included embracing fellow colleagues.

I also enjoyed the plenary speeches, but my favorite, which I think most agree, was Mae Jamison. While her talk was a bit over my head, what I did take away was that librarians, who are facing many challenges in our profession need to be open to “impossibilities”, use existing knowledge in new ways, and more importantly contribute if the medical library is to be sustainable for the future. Don’t just accept but be willing to take risks.

A few of my fellow MLGSCA members came and supported me during my lightening talk, and I learned quite a few things and idea from the other speakers as well.

MLA was a great experience, and much more manageable than ALA, but it gives you a better chance to network with fellow medical librarians across the nation, make new friends, meet old colleagues, and let our librarian hair buns down for a bit.

If you are a first time MLGSCA member or a recent Library school graduate, do try to get to at least one MLA conference during your career. You will be inspired.

Thank you to the Awards Committee for giving me this opportunity.


2 Responses to “My Experience at MLA Austin”

  1. Andrea Harrow
    July 24th, 2015 @ 11:45 am

    Nice! I enjoyed your post Norma. I also liked the chance to let my librarian hair bun down!

  2. Joy Pacheco
    July 29th, 2015 @ 10:50 pm

    Very well said Ms. Norma..I appreciate well everything you’v said.

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