My MLA 2013 Reflections

I used the NCNMLG Professional Development Grant to cover a portion of the expenses that were incurred by attending the 2013 Annual Meeting of the Medical Library Association (MLA).  This meeting was held May 3-May 8, 2013, but I attended from May 4-May 8.  This was my second time attending the MLA conference, but my first time was in 2008, which was about two months after I had just begun my career as a medical librarian, so I am sure you can imagine I was somewhat overwhelmed and the experience was a whirl!  While that first experience was certainly a valuable learning experience, this year’s meeting gave me an opportunity to build upon the years of professional experience that I have acquired since that first meeting.  When considering the meeting in retrospect, two themes particularly stand out: relationship building and professional inspiration.  I’ll devote the rest of this “MLA Reflection” to these two themes.

Relationship Building.  To me, the word “networking” sounds so impersonal….after spending time with colleagues (friends!) that I already know, and meeting so many new folks, I left MLA convinced that “networking” should be replaced with the concept of building relationships.  “Networking” conjures images in my mind of business card swapping and navy blue buttoned-up suits.  While I definitely did do some business card swapping, and of course there were navy blue buttoned-up suits present (nothing wrong with that!), I found that what was of most value to me was (in no particular order):

  • wandering the exhibit hall and randomly running into a familiar face,
  • attending the various programs with different friends (or sometimes planning to attend program after program with the same friend!),
  • making colleague connections during the poster sessions,
  • having lunch with old coworkers,
  • unexpectedly going out for a late night cocktail after the MLA Closing Party,
  • meeting the MLA Headquarters staff member that designs the Annual Meeting logos (gotta admit I was star struck!), and,
  • being introduced to new friends by a friend that we already have in common.

Professional Inspiration.  I could just say “I learned a lot,” but I feel like that doesn’t capture everything- not only did I learn so much, I was truly, professionally inspired!  We medical librarians are truly a bright and creative group- I was exposed to so many new ideas and find myself still pondering ways that some of these ideas, tools, and resources can be applied here at the UC Davis.  In addition, I presented my first poster as an individual author, which was exciting and much more fun than I expected!  It was a great feeling to finally present the results of a project that I have been working on for almost a year.

In the interest of brevity, here is a list of some of the highlights/thought-provokers for me.  If you are interested in any further details, feel free to send me an email:


  • Addressing the MLA Research Agenda Questions: Where Are We Now? (#25)
  • All But the Search: Supporting Systematic Reviews without Performing the Literature Search (#28)
  • Finding Our Way in the World of Systematic Reviews: Hospital Librarians Contribute to the Creation of Systematic Reviews (#110)
  • Mapping the Core Journals of Evidence Based Health Science Librarianship (#190)
  • What Factors Contribute to or Inhibit Publishing Among Medical Librarians (#219)
  • Building Evidence-Based Practice Skills in Medical Students with a Four-Year Curriculum Integrated Plan (#248)


  • Sunday 5/5, 10:30-12:00 Plenary Session 2: Richard Besser
  • Monday 5/6, 10:30-12:00 Section Program: The Role of Librarians in Evidence-Based Medicine: Part One
    • Abraham Wheeler: “Evidence-Based Medicine and the Reinvention of a Librarian’s Role in a New Medical School Curriculum”
    • Terrie Wheeler & Kristi Holmes: “Telling the Research Story: A Role for Librarians in Analyzing Research Impact Based on Evidence”
  • Monday 5/6, 3:00-4:30 Section Program: The Role of Librarians in Evidence-Based Medicine: Part Two
    • Susan Fowler: “Use of Bibliometrics to Validate an Evidence-Based Clinical Practice Tool”
    • Michelle Henley: “The Changing Face of Evidence-Based Practice: New and Emerging Roles for Health Sciences Librarians”
  • Monday 5/6, 4:30-6:00: Translational Sciences Collaboration SIG
  • Tuesday 5/7, 7:30-9:00: MLA Membership Committee Meeting
  • Wednesday 5/8, 10:30-12:00 Plenary Session 4: Laurie Garrett

To summarize: I had a wonderful time at this year’s MLA Annual Meeting.  I am truly grateful to have received one of the NCNMLG Professional Development Grants and urge others to apply in the future for this great opportunity!