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2013/14 President: Dixie A. Jones, AHIP: Presidential Priorities

Dixie Jones, AHIPBuilding Our Information Future, Building MLA’s Future: Presidential Priorities for 2013/14

Much excellent work has been done in previous years to establish a solid foundation for the organization and the profession. This foundation is a strong mix of time-honored principles and an acquired body of knowledge. To secure our place in the future, we must build on this foundation with employment of new technology and new ideas, as well as a willingness to take on new roles. In 2011/12, President Gerald (Jerry) Perry, AHIP, encouraged us to change our game. In 2012/13, President Jane Blumenthal, AHIP, invited us to generate positive energy. Now let’s use those game changing ideas and energy to construct a new vision for MLA. To work toward the future that we envision, we will need what all builders need: a blueprint, manpower, and tools. President Blumenthal has appointed the MLA Futures Task Force to structure the design of tomorrow’s organization and provide us with that blueprint. Members have already contributed to this plan through responses to the Leadership and Management Section survey that was conducted prior to MLA ’12, but members can continue to contribute ideas in a number of ways.

In MLA Board member orientations, explanation is provided for the ways that member ideas are translated into actions. Members may submit suggestions for action through any of the organization’s many units, e.g., sections or committees. A motion is developed by a unit in conjunction with its MLA Board liaison who then presents the motion to the MLA Board. The MLA Board’s vote on the motion is communicated back to the unit and to the initiator. If the motion passes, an appropriate unit is tasked with taking action on it.

Thus, we are the architects of our own organizational future. In addition to contributing to the blueprint, we supply the manpower for bringing the plans to fruition. The organization provides us with the tools. With blueprint in hand, we must:

  • build relationships and partnerships with external organizations to work toward common goals and provide advocacy
    • for librarians in the health sciences as well as for our constituents
    • through demonstrating value and providing librarians with tools to prove our value so that we can thrive and survive in today’s volatile environments, i.e., evidence-based librarianship
    • for free flow of information through open access
    • for adequate funding for the National Institutes of Health and, in particular, the National Library of Medicine
    • for health information professionals of all types and for society by forming partnerships with organizations such as the Association of Academic Health Sciences Libraries (AAHSL), Association of American Medical Colleges (AAMC), American Hospital Association (AHA), and American Library Association (ALA) and its divisions, e.g., Association of College and Research Libraries (ACRL) and Public Library Association (PLA)
  • build ethical awareness among our members and in the profession based on enduring principles
    • through broad dissemination of the Code of Ethics for Health Sciences Librarians
    • through a variety of activities that stimulate thought, e.g., “What Would You Do?” scenarios
    • through an ethical audit (survey) of the membership
  • provide tools that facilitate conduct of research for evidence-based practice in librarianship
    • on topics such as value of librarians’ services, optimal ways to educate users, and determination of users’ wants and needs
    • through education on properly setting up studies
    • through education on use of statistics
  • continue to build leadership skills through education and mentorship
    • to prepare members for leadership roles in MLA
    • to prepare early to mid-career librarians for management roles in their institutions
    • to prepare health sciences librarians with experience in traditional roles for new roles as the health information skill set expands
    • to work with educators to prepare library science students in graduate programs for those skills needed in today’s health sciences environment
    • in a variety of modalities
  • remember the historical foundation upon which current practice has been built and upon which the future will be built
    • by increasing the amount of organizational history that is accessible online
    • by featuring items of historical interest on a periodic basis in publications or online

We will employ advocacy, ethical principles, research, education and mentorship, and our historical foundation to build the MLA of tomorrow. As we go about designing our future, let us be mindful of the diverse needs among our own members, the information needs of our constituents, the health information needs of society, and the lessons learned from those who have gone before us.