12 October 2009

2009 Medical Library Association Conference Report

By Olivia Baca

When I decided to pursue my higher education in librarianship, I did not anticipate working in glamorous settings. My assumption that the work of librarians had little to do with glamour has been happily refuted. Thanks to the Special Populations Office at the National Library of Medicine, I was afforded the opportunity to attend the 2009 Medical Library Association Conference. As in real estate, conference location can have a significant impact on the total experience. This year the MLA conference was held in Honolulu. I was duly excited. Frankly, I still am.

The structured portions of my time at the conference were illuminating. Spending the past year as a graduate assistant at the Arizona Health Sciences Library has instilled in me a strong respect for the services health sciences librarians provide to communities, students and health professionals. The conference complemented my experience by introducing me to a broad range of options within this specialty. Throughout the conference, professionals were open and welcoming of questions. I was able to network with classmates in continuing education courses. One of my instructors described her transition from public librarianship to working at a medical center. The luncheons and conference–sponsored luau provided a welcome setting in which to invite a variety of librarians to explain their work.

I participated in the Graduate Symposium at the University of Arizona this past spring, so I found the poster sessions at the MLA conference to be especially instructive. Many posters were presented in stunning simplicity without sacrificing clarity. These exceptional examples challenge me to improve my own work in future designs.

I am a native to the Southwest; the stunning beauty found throughout the island of Oahu introduced vitality to the experience that I will not soon forget. I am so grateful that my education at the University of Arizona School of Information Resources and Library Science, as a Knowledge River Scholar, made possible my attendance to the 2009 MLA conference.

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