Southern Chapter Medical Library Association
Alabama Health Libraries Association
2000 Annual Meeting
October 20 - 24, 2000
October 20 - 24, 2000, the Southern Chapter of the Medical Library Association held its 50th meeting in conjunction with the Alabama Health Libraries Association's 20th meeting. The Adams' Mark Hotel in downtown Mobile, Alabama, was the site of this festive "Anniversary Jubilee". The theme of the meeting celebrated the anniversaries of the two organzations and the phenomena of "jubilee", unique to Mobile Bay, in which fish and shellfish literally jump onto the beaches to be gathered up by the multitudes to be put into jambalaya and gumbos (and the freezer). The jubilee phenomena is similar to what we see happening with electronic information resources - too bad we can't put some of THOSE in our freezers and figure out what to do with them later! EBSCO graphic artists graciously designed the meeting logo for us at no charge, incorporating the conference colors: purple (for Mobile's Jubilee and Mardi Gras), gold (for the 50th meeting of SC/MLA) and emerald green (for the 20th meeting of ALHeLA). A total of 234 people registered, including 35 first-time attendees and 39 exhibitors who represented 23 companies or organizations. Major financial contributors were the Alabama Health Libraries Association, Elsevier Science, ISI-Thompson Scientific, Majors Scientific Books, OVID Technologies, Rittenhouse Book Distributors and Swets-Blackwll. EBSCO Information Services contributed the conference bags.
101 registrants participated in at least one of seven continuing education courses. On Saturday, October 21st, Chaundra Alston taught "Bringing Your Library's Resources to the Web"; Nunzia Guise, Rebecca Jerome, Sandi Martin and Marcia Epplebaum taught "Quality Filtering: Principles of Evidence-Based Medicine"; and Beth Wescott taught Using New DOCLINE". On Tuesday, October 24th, Marjoire Icenogle taught "Management Basics"; Scott Garrison taught "Building & Managing Your Digital Library, Jett McCann taught "Serials Management", and Toni Yancey taught "Keeping up With NLM's PubMed".
Many people came in a day early and took advantage of one of the optional tours to the south Alabama swamps with Wildlife Expeditions on board the boat "Gator Bait" (!) or the slightly tamer trip to Bellingrath Gardens and Home recently featured on American's Castles television program. A tradition somewhat unique to the Southern Chapter is to hold an "Early Bird" reception for conference participants who arrive in town prior to the meeting in order to attend continuing education courses or committee meetings. This year's Early Bird Reception was held on Friday evening in the beautiful two-story Presidential Suite of the Adam's Mark Hotel and provided an opportunity for 115 conference-goers to meet, greet and eat.
The SC/MLA returned to the practice of opening the meeting and the exhibit hall simulataneously with a Welcome Reception in the exhibit area on Saturday night. Le Krew de Bienville was on hand to open the reception. The Alabama Health Libraries Association even had a huge anniversary cake in their exhibit booth to celebrate their 20th meeting.
In keeping with the celebratory nature of "Anniversary Jubilee", the program committee sought speakers and posters who would celebrate the medical library profession for the many contributions we make to our organizations. Tom McMullen of the Hay Group, who played a central role in the recent MLA study of librarians' salaries, was the keynote speaker. Tom discussed in detail the extent to which information technology responsibilities impact all of our jobs; however, salaries in medical libraries often do not reflect this. Having hard data from a respected organization like the Hay Group can help make a persuasive financial argument to administration at salary review time.
C.W. Goldsmith, Vice President of Information Technology at the University of Alabama at Birmingham and Jan Englert, Coordinator of Clinical Outcomes for North Mississippi Health Systems discussed librarians' contributions to the larger organization. We often hear about lack of respect for the profession or how difficult it is to work with a Chief Information Officer or get the attention of hospital administrators. These two speakers were very clear in their support and respect for medical librarians and the significant contributions they have seen librarians make to the organizations they've been affiliated with.
We were privileged to have several special guests at the meeting, including Richard Wood, Director of the University of South Alabama Library; Wilba Swearingen and Bill Postell from South Central Chapter/MLA; Michael Homan, President of the Medical Library Association; Carla Funk, Executive Director of the Medical Library Association; and Janice Kelly, Executive Director of the NN/LM Southeastern Region. Michael Homan presented the MLA Update on Sunday afternoon in "tag-team" fashion with two MLA Board members from SC/MLA, Jocelyn Rankin and Lynn Fortney. Janice Kelly also updated the group on developments at NLM and within the RML office.
Thirty-one members of the Alabama Health Libraries Association turned out for this meeting, and more than twenty others joined them over lunch to hear Carolyn Haines give an amusing talk about how she came to be a writer and how writing comes to her. Carolyn Haines is on the staff of the University of South Alabama's Public Relations department and is a prolific and terrific author of many books in several different genre. She had several of her books for sale and signing and completely sold out after her talk.
One of the highlights of this anniversary meeting was "A Walk Down Memory Lane" with Bill Postell and our own T. Mark Hodges. Kathy Torrente was in charge of this panel and knew that Tom and Bill have been members of SC/MLA from way back when, when we were called the "Southern Regional Group" and also included members from Arkansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Missouri, New Mexico, North Carolina, Oklahoma, and Texas. If it's true that those who don't know Southern Chapter history are destined to repeat it, they will have a really good time! As a conclusion to this session, Bill Postell extended an official invitation to New Orleans for the first ever triple joint chapter meeting (SC/MLA, South Central and Midcontinental Chapters) to be held at the Riverside Hilton near the French Quarter October 24 - 28, 2001. Planning is underway to provide for 500 registrants, 12 CE courses, 50 posters, 50 contributed papers in six sessions, 40 exhibits, ten vendor demo sessions, and three general sessions. A good time is expected to be had by all.
It is well known that the Southern Chapter likes to have a good time. The banquet, held Sunday night at the historic Bragg-Mitchell Mansion, was not one any of us who attended will soon forget. Fortunately, the weather was balmy and allowed the overflow crowd of 187 to spill out onto the veranda, where we were entertained by an excellent jazz combo.
If we didn't have enough good food to eat at the banquet on Sunday night, Tom Singarella, SC/MLA Chair, opened the business meeting Monday morning over a lavish breakfast buffet. Highlights of the business meeting were the announcement of Fay Evatt at Atlanta Medical Center as Hospital Librarian of the Year and an Honorary Membership in SC/MLA bestowed upon Ada Selzter, Director of the Rowland Medical Library at the University of Mississippi Medical Center. Ada has been very active in SC/MLA and MLA and was recently named a Fellow of the Medical Library Association in recognition of her outstanding contributions to the profession. Carol Burns, recently retired as Director of the Health Sciences Center Library at Emory University, was also named as an Honorary Member. However since Carol was out of the country and thus unable to attend the meeting in Mobile, her plaque will be awarded to her next year in New Orleans. The Martha Childs Watkins Memorial Scholarship was established in 1996 to honor Martha Watkins who was not only a founding member of the Southeastern Conference of Hospital Librarians (SCHL), but also a friend and mentor to a generation of hospital and other health sciences librarians in the South. This year, Jan Burns of the VA Medical Library in Birmingham and Arlene Desselles of Georgia Baptist College of Nursing were awarded Watkins Scholarships to help defray the costs of attending the SC/MLA annual meeting.
At the conclusion of the meeting, Tom Singerella, 1999-2000 SC/MLA Chair, turned the Frances Verble Gavel over to Lynn Fortney, 2000-2001 SC/MLA Chair, and the newly elected officers: Janet Fisher, Chair-Elect; Brenda Green, Secretary/Treasurer; and Sandra Franklin, MLA Nominating Committee Candidate. Nancy Clemmons and Jack Smith summed up the highlights of the meeting in their resolution of thanks to all involved.
The Majors Walk, including breakfast early Sunday morning, gave those eager to get on with the program a head start. The meeting program left very little time any other activities outside the hotel, which is why the Hospitality Room got rave reviews in the conference evaluations. Excellently appointed and equipped with two computers for e-mail access, fresh coffee, lots of sofas and a fascinating poster display of SC/MLA by Tom Williams, the Hospitality Room was ideally located in the Jubilee Room near the exhibit area and well used by conference participants. Those interested in AHIP accreditation also appreciated having a separate room and scheduled time allotted to discuss their questions with SC/MLA's Credentialing Liaison, Sandra Franklin.
If past conference evaluations are any indication, the overall success of the meeting is largely dependent on the contributed papers and the posters. Participants have wanted more of both and lots of time to see and hear them all. This year, thanks to Sally Murrary's good efforts, we had 16 excellent posters and an hour and fifteen minutes of uninterrupted time to visit with the poster presenters as well as peruse two large tables of PR materials contributed for the PR Materials Jubilee coordinated by Janice Debose. The most frequent complaint about the meeting was that, with 19 contributed papers, it was impossible to get to all of them. Andrea Batson considered this carefully when she grouped the papers together in five sessions at two different times on Monday and she did an excellent job of coordinating so many papers. We were fortunate to have so many excellent papers this year; the conference evaluations indicate that contributed papers are clearly a major draw for the meeting.
The Hospital Library Luncheon was also on Monday, with Eileen Stanley speaking on "AHIP and the Hospital Librarian". Eileen took some of the fear and mystique out of the AHIP application process and outlined the many benefits of AHIP membership. Eileen is a member of the MLA Credentialing Committee and was also gracious enough to provide her mentoring services at the AHIP Credentialing session held on Sunday.
As a final wrap-up to the meeting program on Monday afternoon, five current officers of SC/MLA served as a very informal "talk-show" style panel to discuss the nature of leadership. Those hardy conference-goers who still had the stamina left for this session provided very positive feedback about how much they learned about some of their colleagues - even though they had known them for years.
Tom Williams and his fantastic Conference Committee can finally breathe easy. Conference evaluations have been tabulated and 78% of them rate the meeting as excellent or above average. These are the people to thank (or to blame, if you are one of the other 12%):
Tom Wiiliams, SC/MLA
Susan Williams (no relation!), ALHeLA
Lynn Fortney, SC/MLA
Susan Williams, ALHeLA
Brenda Green, SC Prof Dev. Comm
Martha Cook, ALHeLA CE Comm
Mary Fran Prottsman, Hosp. Libr. Sec.
Tom Singarella, SC/MLA Chair