At my first MLA conference, I was completely floored by the second plenary for two reasons. It gave me an interdisciplinary perspective on my chosen career, and it gave me a clearer picture of the work done by the patrons I help day-to-day. Dr. Richard Besser’s plenary talk did both of these things yet again for me, and I hope it did for the other attendees as well.
Dr. Besser’s medical career has been wide and varied. His talk most interestingly touched on his time as the acting director of the CDC when the H1N1 epidemic broke out. He discussed precisely how he and other members of the CDC went about gathering the information they needed to make the proper recommendations to the leaders of the US government, including President Obama. It struck me as I was listening to him speak that this is exactly the type of scenario that many of our School of Public Health students are preparing for. Teaching them proper evidence-based practice is one facet of their skill-set that is necessary for them to ultimately make what could be critical health care decisions.
Hearing Dr. Besser speak and making that connection from the students I see every day to the possible future point where they could be making decisions that impact people on a national level is exactly the type of experience that helps me, and I imagine others, continue to have a high level of positivity, enthusiasm, and engagement with my patrons and students. This is a perspective that could not be imparted by a talk by another librarian, and that, to me, is why the second plenary is so important. It helps us remember that librarians are not in this alone. We are not on an island of information literacy. We are one part of a healthcare unit, working to better the world. For that reason, I will always do everything I can to attend the second plenary. It is a perspective I hope to never forget in my career.