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Making the most of MLA 2012

Colleen DeLory, Editor Library Connect Newsletter | July 01, 2012

It was my pleasure and privilege to be able to attend the annual Medical Library Association Annual Meeting in Seattle in May. In addition to the many individual tracts, there were excellent plenary sessions that I highlighted in the Library Connect blog and more than 100 librarians attended Glen Campbell’s Publishing Ethics lunch presentation (Campbell is Elsevier’s Executive Vice President, Global Medical Research Journals). For those who missed the blog posts, I’ve highlighted two plenary sessions below, but also wanted to call out the MLA blog which had a host of correspondents and a comprehensive series of resource links.

In examining the history and philosophy of medical librarianship, Mark E. Funk chose to do a frequency of word analysis from text within the Journal of the Medical Library Association (formerly the Bulletin of the Medical Library Association). He was able to contrast interesting trend lines, such as the decline in frequency of the word book(s) with the rise in journal(s), decline in acquisitions vs rise in licensing, and interestingly, decline in the use of the word medical/medicine and rise in health/ healthcare, indicating a shift to a more holistic view of health. He was also able to trace the start of the increase in words like strategy, collaborate, partner, focus and outcomes to the peak in bestselling management books during the late 1980s.

In Steven Johnson’s plenary session, he expanded upon the theme of “chance favors the connected mind.” His examples were entertaining and enlightening. His advice – get away from the “echo chamber,” i.e., following/friending those who are primarily like you. Broadening the pool from which you drink will lead to different ideas and drive innovation. Johnson also linked the Age of Enlightenment to the birth of coffeehouses, where individuals from various walks of life met to expound and argue. He likened his Twitter stream to these coffeehouses – both giving the ability to connect with an eclectic group, which could inspire a new use in a new context.

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