Going to MLA 2008: Your advice, please?


I get to go to the MLA 2008 Annual Meeting and I’m awfully excited about it.

More details later, but right now I’m looking for advice from you. I’d especially looking for thoughts from those who plan to attend, but I’d also love to hear from physicians and other health care professionals.

I’m going to be participating in a few sessions- all involve the use of Web geekery in medical libraries. In one session I’m giving a talk (with a co-presenter whose work I really admire but whom I’ve never met) about the use of social technologies in medical libraries (and /or by medical libraryfolk). Here’s stuff I’m looking for your thoughts on:

  • What technologies or trends should we talk about? Which ones have you heard enough about and which ones do you need to know more about?
  • What issues should we talk about?
  • What are the obstacles to use that we should address?
  • What do you think are the most important things to emphasize? What’re the things that you’re worried might NOT be emphasized?

All opinions and ideas are welcome from all quarters and all comers.

Thank you!

12 thoughts on “Going to MLA 2008: Your advice, please?

  1. Are you planning on posting responses? I’d love to read them, given then I’ll be doing my little song & dance at MLA as well πŸ™‚

  2. I’m very much looking forward to your song and dance, Amanda. πŸ™‚ I’m hoping to receive responses here in the comments.

  3. Hmmm, I’ll have to think about this. Off the top, if I hear one more word about wikis, I might just vomit. πŸ™‚ Also, I’ve seen a lot of discussion on a listserv recently about chat reference and why that might not be working how the librarians expected. In general, I’d like to see discussion of using technologies that actually return some benefit emphasized, with planning and understanding your users and what actually works, rather than “here are some shiny things to play with!” Does that make sense? How to distinguish between new/trendy and *actually useful to my patrons.*

  4. Rachel, I really want to hear *any* opinion you feel like sharing. I absolutely hear what you’re saying about the need to for information about real and useful applications, but I’d also like to hear what specifically about wikis you’re tired of hearing. What’s the ListServ with the discussion of IM? We can’t use IM reference at CGH, so I can’t claim to know a lot about it- but this is a conversation I’d like to read.

  5. The listserv is dig_ref. I think I’m just tired of hearing about wikis because I haven’t personally noticed a way that they can be more useful for libraries/librarians/patrons than other tools. I don’t want to talk about things because they’re shiny tech, I want to talk about them because there are real, practical reasons to learn about and use them. I think it’s important to distinguish between what we’re using for our own edification/amusement and what are actually the best tools for the job. Libetiquette has a somewhat amusing take on wikis – http://libetiquette.blogspot.com/2007/10/wikis-on-pretending-to-give-shit-that.html

    But maybe I just have my cranky hat on today. πŸ™‚

  6. David – our faculty (library and med school alike), though not at all old, may have to be convinced of the value and use of web 2.0 stuff…do you have suggestions as to how to “get” to them?

  7. I’ve gotten a few emails in response to this post along very similar lines, Jacque. This is clearly an important topic to address and I’ve started making some notes on how I might do so. Thank you!!

  8. David,

    I just left working in a non-profit hospital that was NOT affiliated with a large academic university. We did have our own family medicine residency but that was it.

    My concerns which I mention over and over to anyone who will listen is that hospital librarians because of the tight restrictions on technology (most are single librarians with no IT department and don’t have their own servers) have no chance of using these 2.0 technologies. All blogs, wikis and other social networking features were shut out. Plus there is a thought by administration that these would allow people to waste time when they should be taking care of the patient. When I left I was still fighting to get some nursing units access to the Internet so they could access the IP accessible nursing journals. Some of the nurses didn’t even have email access. I love being at an academic where I can actually participate but saying “work with your IT Department” may not cut it. Other strategies that you can recommend would be good. Reality is that while MLA and others champion 2.0 (there is a huge emphasis on this at MLA 2008) this is often not an option at all of a large number of front line hospital librarians.

  9. Hey Julia-

    Yeah, I think this is a common and important problem. Of course, the hard part about speaking to this problem is that it takes radically different forms depending on the particular demands/requirements of the particular IT department.

    Perhaps, though, we can discuss some real examples of creative work-arounds that may give others ideas…?

  10. Hi,

    Springboarding off: “our faculty (library and med school alike), though not at all old, may have to be convinced of the value and use of web 2.0 stuff…” & “using technologies that actually return some benefit emphasized, with planning and understanding your users and what actually works, rather than β€œhere are some shiny things to play with!”

    Indeed, there are those in the librarian population, who either because of their own age or personality/skill set or perception of time limits on the job may not be enamored with jumping on every new bandwagon when it comes to technology. How can they decide when in the technology learning-adoption cycle they should “jump in”…When is it “worth it” for them to learn? Is being aware of the technology, but not necessarily learning ir or adapting it enough?

    What are some techniques & success stories from the front lines of conversations & dialogs, meeting in the middle and not “talking up” and “talking down” between “early adopters” and “late adopters” of technology trends (in MLA & professional organizations, at an institution). There was a great session at the Charleston Conference in Nov. 2007 on innovators and innovations, but the “tour” was way too fast…