MLA ’19: A Refreshed and Renewed Recap

(The following is a blog post from Rachel Becker, MLIS, one of the 2019 winners of the UNYOC Professional Development Award).

The view from the Hyatt Regency Chicago.

Maybe someday I’ll be jaded about attending MLA, but after my 3rd annual meeting I can confidently say I’m not there yet! Thanks to UNYOC’s Professional Development Award, I got another chance to spend time with librarian colleagues, absorb new ideas for our services, and eat So. Much. Food. (Note to self: next time try to have at least a few vegetables in those four days.)

This year’s John P. McGovern Award Lecture used a slightly different format from previous years, and it was incredibly beneficial. A panel of four speakers from different clinical backgrounds (Hospital Medicine, Physical Therapy, Family Medicine and Nursing Research) discussed the ways they use their libraries and which services they found most helpful. For me, this talk was a great blend of reassurance and brainstorming. Our library is currently undergoing a space renovation project, and hearing directly from clinicians about the value of individual and group study spaces lent additional validation to our current plans. Twitter and other apps were repeatedly mentioned, which emphasized the importance of creating and maintaining mobile-friendly library services. Currently our website is mobile-responsive, but those features haven’t been updated in several years. The lecture motivated me to examine how we can improve aspects of our mobile design to make the site more accessible and aesthetically pleasing.

The last session I attended was perhaps the most useful. “Strategies for Library Mergers and Centralizing Library Services” was a 7-librarian panel in which the participants shared their experiences with the merger process. Our hospital system has acquired several new properties in recent years, and the library is enduring the growing pains of incorporating those new sites into our existing service model. Overall, the session was very encouraging! We are already using many of the speakers’ suggested strategies and have plans in place to implement others. It was also a nice opportunity to share our difficulties and gain suggestions for overcoming trouble spots. Mergers and acquisitions are never without challenges, but attending the panel made me feel better prepared for the future.

Armed with new knowledge and full of deep-dish pizza, I’m ready to take on the world! (Okay, maybe just my overflowing inbox.)