ALHeLA’s Steering Committee first met on July 25, 1980. The committee consisted of Lynn Fortney, Kathy Dexter, Dick Fredericksen, Anne Tolle, Rachel Jones and Bobby Powell. Before this meeting, a questionnaire was mailed to 151 health science libraries in Alabama to assess the interest in forming a state organization. The committee received 110 responses of which 96 were positive, so the committee agreed that the formation of a state association was feasible. During 1980, an interim executive committee was formed, goals and objectives were established, a newsletter was planned, and program ideas for the first annual meeting were discussed.
The first meeting for the ALHeLA membership was held April 10, 1981 at the headquarters of the Medical Association of the State of Alabama in Montgomery. The program, which focused on JCAH, drew 33 librarians and library managers. A second meeting was held that fall, on November 13-14, with the theme “Alabama Health Libraries: Where we are….where we can be”, which concentrated on the role of the health librarian. ALHeLA’s annual meeting has been held in the fall since then. In 1983 and 1993 ALHeLA had the opportunity to co-sponsor the Southern Chapter/Medical Library Association meeting.
Synapse, the ALHeLA newsletter, was first published in 1981 to provide a vehicle for communication within the Association. ALHeLA leaped into the information age with the establishment of a listserv in 1994 and the development of a home page on the World Wide Web in 1996. A directory, now published biennially, serves not only as a tool for the ALHeLA membership but also as a resource for others seeking library services throughout the state. The Alabama Biomedical Union List of Serials (ABULS), the original union list of serials holdings of Alabama’s health libraries, became a part of the Alabama Union List pf Serials (AULS) in 1990. ALHeLA, in collaboration with the Medical Association of the State of Alabama, has also produced two resource manuals on accessing medical information for medical professionals.
Source: Laughlin, Beth. President’s Column, Synapse, V. 10(1), Spr 1990. With added information by Lisa Russell.