Health Explosion Heats Up in Phoenix: Medical Library Association Annual Meeting

American Libraries, August 2006 | Go to article overview

Health Explosion Heats Up in Phoenix: Medical Library Association Annual Meeting


If you wanted to learn how medical librarians swim with sharks or soar with eagles, then Arizona was the place to be May 19-24. That's when 2,317 health care professionals--slightly higher attendance than last year's meeting in San Antonio--converged on the Phoenix Convention Center and nearby hotels for this year's Medical Library Association's annual meeting and exposition "Transformations A-Z." Downtown construction, daily 100-degree-plus weather, and a sandstorm didn't deter either the business or the camaraderie.

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The meeting included numerous continuing education credit opportunities and programs that covered virtually every aspect of medical librarianship, with sections that focused on such areas as collections and resources, education and outreach, leadership and professional development, and research. An awards program and luncheon highlighted the best and brightest in the field.

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In her welcoming address, 2005-2006 President Mary Joan (MJ) Tooey announced that close to $14,000 had been raised to aid members, medical libraries, and chapter institutions adversely affected by hurricanes Katrina, Rita, and Wilma. Video clips called Katrina Minutes were shown throughout the meeting depicting the damage to Gulf Coast medical libraries as well as the emergency services rendered.

Donations are still being accepted for the Medical Library Disaster Relief Fund, part of the association's Librarians Without Borders global initiative. Affected medical libraries have until September 1 to apply for monetary awards of up to $2,500. For more information, visit www.mlanet.org/hurricane_katrina.html.

Tooey, executive director of the Health Sciences and Human Services Library at the University of Maryland at Baltimore, announced that 444 new members joined the association in the past year. She also unveiled a new recruitment video, produced by the College of DuPage in Glen Ellyn, Illinois, that is being distributed free to all members.

"Information can save lives," asserted John P. McGovern lecturer Dr. Atul Gawande, associate director of Brigham and Women's Hospital's Center for Surgery and Public Health in Boston. "We are at the stage where we've got the know-how, and libraries are at the center of how we make that connect."

Gawande, a practicing surgeon and author of the 2002 National Book Award finalist Complications: A Surgeon's Notes on an Imperfect Science (Metropolitan), said medical librarians have their "fingers on the information" that physicians need when making medical decisions. "I turned to medical librarians when writing my book and other kinds of historical articles," he noted.

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"A really important part of information technology and know-how is not just having the textbooks and the research enterprise available to us, it's knowing and having available at our fingertips some idea of what the registries show and what information is out there," Gawande asserted. …

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