My Highlights from MLA Mosaic ’16

by Brian Chambers

In May, I had the honor and pleasure of attending the Medical Library Association (MLA) annual meeting in Toronto, Canada, on a First-Time Conference Attendees grant from the Statewide California Electronic Library Consortium.

My goals in attending were to:

  • Improve my overall knowledge of library science in the realm of medicine, biomedicine and related sciences
  • Learn more about bioinformatical tools, as well as the role a librarian can play for a research institution using bioinformatics
  • Attend workshops related to cataloging, acquisitions, interlibrary loan and performance metrics
  • Meet with vendors that offer products that would improve services at the Lee Graff Medical and Scientific Library
  • Network with other medical librarians and information professionals

I’m happy to say that these expectations were met and exceeded. The plenary sessions offered a deeper understanding of the profession and ample opportunities to network with other medical librarians and information professionals. I was particularly struck and invigorated by Ben Goldacre’s talk on the state of the publishing industry and how scientific outcomes often get distorted as they make their way to the public.

There were several poster presentations that addressed my desire to learn more about bioinformatical tools, as well as how a librarian can help facilitate bioinformatics research. I was very excited to see that Johns Hopkins was using LibGuides for their Bioinformatics Portal. This is very similar to a tool that I am currently working on to support bioinformatics at City of Hope.

I attended several sessions and panels each day that covered my topics of interest (with the exception, sadly, of interlibrary loan). I am particularly interested in performance metrics and was excited about the “Using Assessment Data to Drive the Big Picture” panel discussion. I engaged the group in a discussion about data dashboards and what key performance indicators their library leadership is looking at. This was particularly interesting as our library is currently developing and utilizing metrics to improve service and resources.

Attending MLA Mosaic ’16 was an experience that I am very grateful for and will never forget. I look forward to attending future conferences to share the exciting work of the Library Services team and bring back new knowledge.

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