Beyond the COM: Librarians at MLA 2016

Earlier this month the faculty librarians had the chance to travel to the 2016 Medical Library Association Annual Meeting. Themed “Mosaic: Be part of the big picture”, the meeting was held in Toronto, Canada from May 13 – 18 and brought together two additional groups for the event, the Canadian Health Libraries Association and the International Clinical Librarian Conference.

Photo May 15, 10 19 18 AM

From left to right, Shalu Gillum, Deedra Walton, Pammy Herring, Nadine Dexter, and Natasha Williams at the opening session Sunday morning

But really, why is this necessary?

But really, why is this necessary?

If you’re not familiar with the weather in Toronto in May, we’ve got news for you; it’s cold. Definitely a change from the sort of weather our team is used to down in Orlando mid-May. But the weather didn’t stop our team from making the most of the networking and learning opportunities the meeting was able to provide. Every day was packed with sessions to attend and speakers to listen to. Guest speakers like Ben Goldacre, author of Bad Pharma: How Drug Companies Mislead doctors and Harm Patients and MJ Tooey, past MLA President inspired the assembly to take the initiative in creating better science and becoming better leaders. Our colleagues across the US shared with us the projects they were working on through posters and presentations, and we also had the chance to reconnect with friends in the field we hadn’t seen in a while.

Shalu and Natasha presenting their poster

Shalu and Natasha presenting their poster

Our library team participated in three different sessions during the conference. On Sunday afternoon, Shalu and Natasha presented a poster titled “Medical Librarians’ Role in Clinician Recruiting in the Information Age”. The poster was based off of a paper written in collaboration with the  College of Medicine Department of Internal Medicine and COM HR Department, and details some interesting observations made when searching for employment as a physician using Google. The results of the project are meant to guide both HR Departments seeking applicants and applicants seeking employment to make more informed decisions when posting and looking for jobs. Special thanks to Alex Chacon in the COM Faculty Collaboration Center for our fantastic design. We hope to publish the paper itself soon!

Deedra and Shalu being introduced before their talk

Deedra and Shalu being introduced before their talk

On Monday, Deedra and Shalu presented a 15 minute PowerPoint presentation on behalf of the library faculty titled “Librarians as Part of the Big Picture: Collaborating with Faculty and Instructional Designers to Create a Rubric for Students on How to Use Evidence-Based Medicine Resources”. Our library faculty are discovering more and more opportunities to work within the curriculum and to provide instruction on the proper use of library resources to the students. This talk explained the process our team developed with the Practice of Medicine faculty to evaluate first year medical students on developing a clinical question and the types of resources used to answer that question. As always, it’s much better to use library resources to find reliable evidence-based solutions than to rely on Drs. Google and Wikipedia.

Pammy presenting her team's poster

Pammy presenting her team’s poster

Later on Monday, Pammy had the opportunity to present a poster she had been working on in collaboration with a group of librarians outside of the Health Sciences Library. Titled “Developing a Replicable Methodology for Automated Identification of Emerging Technologies in Health Care”, it describes a systematic review-type process the Emerging Technologies Team for MLA entered into to create a simple way for librarians to search PubMed for emerging technologies related to health and medical librarians. It’s great that she had a chance to work together with a team outside of COM and represent our library!

During breaks in the action we had a chance to take in a few sights as well. Sunday night we had a chance to visit Ripley’s Aquarium of Canada and hang out with the sharks and fishes. If you’ve never tried to take a selfie with a shark while standing on a moving walkway, know this: it’s really hard to do well. We also made a point to visit the CN Tower, the world’s tallest building and free-standing structure. We took the express elevator 351 meters (1,151 ft) up to 360 The Restaurant to enjoy lunch and spectacular 360° views of Toronto. Throughout our meal, the entire restaurant revolved slowly to give us great looks at Toronto and the surrounding Lake Ontario. Bonus, we got a chance to meet up with Michael Garner, one of our former team members who now directs the library at Ross University in Dominica!

The team enjoying lunch at the CN Tower

The team enjoying lunch at the CN Tower

We really enjoyed visiting Toronto for MLA, and were glad for the opportunity to share some of our accomplishments with others in our field.  Next year the meeting will be held in Seattle, Washington.


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