Posts with category - Conference Tips

2 Ts

My blogpost will be short tonight because of the 1st “T.” I am tired. I know it was only Monday, but… I was up to get to a 7am meeting that I chaired. I was busy all day moving from one meeting or session or visiting with friends and then to end my day I hosted the Hospital Libraries Section Ice Cream Social. At the end of it all, I wanted my sneakers and fresh air. I really realized how tired I was as I walked down the Miracle Mile to Water Tower Place. I was dragging. I felt a little bit better when I ran into Renae Barger on the street. She had felt the same way as I and took a walk, found a takeout restaurant and was now on her way back to her room for quiet with her feet up. She too was tired.
I am not too tired, however to say my second “T” – thanks. Thanks for the buzz about the Hospital Libraries Section VALUES2 Initiative. We know how important this work is and we are so glad so many agree about its importance. Thanks to Margaret Bandy for an outrageous Doe Lecture with the shoutout about the VALUES2 Initiative and my coauthored paper with Claire Joseph about proving the value of a hospital librarian. Thanks to the MLA Rising Star Panel for approving HLS to have a Rising Star. Roy Brown is a great choice for us. We look forward to his many contributions to this project. I am delighted to be his Mentor and say thanks to the Rising Star committee for the new knowledge I will gain from this experience. And finally, for tonight, thanks to the attendees of the HLS meeting today that gave me a standing ovation for my efforts as Chair and to Priscilla, Claire and Sheila for the most beautiful crystal bowl.
So, I am physically tired, which is about right for Monday evening at MLA and thankful for a good meeting so far.

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A Library Student at MLA ’14 – tweckling, the ACA and other Lessons Learned

Due to my work schedule and family commitments, Sunday was my last day at MLA ’14. Besides being tired from travel and not wanting to write last night, I also put off posting my report on my third day at MLA because I didn’t want to post this right after Kelly Thormodson’s “And it begins!” post. Although I learned a lot and experienced a lot in three packed days, I think my goal for the next MLA will be to take it a bit slower and perhaps spend more time on fewer things.

That being said I guess I have to tackle the Big Issue we all considered yesterday as we listened to Dr. Aaron E. Carroll deliver the John P. McGovern Award lecture, “The Affordable Care Act: Health Care Reform Is Far From Over.” Over the past few years I have learned not to bring up Obamacare on social media unless I am prepared for never-ending and frustrating debates with some guy I went to high school with and my wife’s second cousin’s friend. If my Facebook interactions are even a skewed measure of how people understand and feel about the current state of healthcare in America, then this lecture is still timely even four years after Obamacare became law.

As Dr. Carroll spoke, I began to understand why healthcare is such a big issue. As his graphs showed (and everyone retweeted and tweckled), we don’t have a spending problem or a social security problem we have a healthcare problem. Once again I fell into my MLA ’14 pitfall of trying furiously to understand, take notes and tweet about what I was learning all at the same time.  (Wait, was that smoke coming from the touch screen of my iPad??!!) Finally I sat back and just began to listen to what Dr. Carroll was saying. I agree with Rachel Harrison’s blog entry below, that his explanation of Obamacare was the most clear cut and fact-based explanation I have heard to date. His rule of threes, from the Iron Triangle of Cost, Quality and Access to his Three Legged Stool of Regulations, Individual Mandate and Subsidies helped to make a complex and emotional issue more rational and understandable.  His lecture gave me a clear overview of the challenges we face as healthcare professionals and a new rational voice to listen to.

I wish I could say that after my first experience at MLA ’14 I am now a master at statistics, electronic health records, iPad apps and the Affordable Care Act. Was I too ambitious in my goal setting, perhaps? But what can I say? Like a good librarian I gathered and organized my resources (or I will be this week).  So now I have an answer to the following questions:

Q: Where would I go for a primer on how to assess statistics published in medical journals?
A: Steve Simon’s retro webpage at and his book “Statistical Evidence in Medical Trials: Mountain or Molehill, What Do the Data Really Tell Us?

Q: I want to see what a typical Electronic Health Record System (EHR) looks like, but my hospital won’t give me access. How can I find out what EHRs are all about?
A: Set up a free account and enter some fictitious patients in Practice Fusion and see what functions are common to most EHRs, without worrying about HIPAA or institutional red-tape.

Q: I want to jump on the bandwagon and really use my iPad. What free apps are out there for Medical Professionals?
A: Start with the National Library of Medicine’s “Gallery of Mobile Apps and Sites

Q: My sister’s friend’s uncle says Obamacare will ruin this country. Where can I go to read the latest information from an expert?
A: Try The Incidental Economist blog (Affordable Care Act tag) where Dr. Aaron Carroll is an Editor.

Q: Can you beat @TonyNguyen411 at silly selfies?
A: No!

Q: What is tweckling?

So for all you #medlibs and fellow library students still in Chicago, don’t be afraid to jump into the deep end of the pool with the big kids. Have fun, and learn a lot but remember to pace yourselves. There are more MLA’s coming: Austin, Toronto, Seattle, Atlanta and back in Chi-town in 2019! I know I’ll be there next time!

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Making the most of MLA: a brief New Members guide

Welcome, new member!

So, this is your first MLA… or maybe your second.  You’ve picked up your badge and are flipping through the program, trying to figure out how to get from one session in the West Tower to the next one in the East.  Right there with you!  So, aside from reading this blog (you’re here, so you already know how much great information there is on here), how do you make the most of this experience?  Here are some brief tips that may help:

  1. Say hello to the people next to you.  Share your interests.  Exchange business cards.  You’re here for more or less the same reason, and you never know who might turn out to be a great mentor, collaborator, and/or friend.
  2. Ditto for the session presenters.  They’d love to know what you are taking away from their presentation.
  3. Ditto for the poster presenters.
  4. Stop.  Go back to 1 through 3.  They bear repeating.
  5. Attend the New Members SIG Business Meeting today (Sunday) at 3:30pm, Columbian Room, Bronze Level, West Tower.  We’d love to meet you and could really use your help in the coming year.
  6. Attend other SIG and/or Section Business Meetings.  Talk to the other members and find a way to get involved.
  7. Take a break every day!  Give yourself some downtime, grab a beverage of choice and recharge your batteries.
  8. Use the #mlanet14 backchannel on Twitter to listen to and take part in conversations about the conference
  9. Use the Healthcare Hashtag Project to get even more out of the backchannel (current feed, top influencers, even a transcript)
  10. Attend at least one social event in the evenings (don’t know about any?  Use the backchannel to ask!)
  11. Keep a conference journal, or at least jot down notes and go over them each evening.  Everything goes by so quickly, this will help you remember the good stuff.
  12. Make a to-do list for yourself for when you get back.  Use the ideas and inspiration you get from being here!
  13. Wander through the exhibits hall.  Thank the vendors for being here.  Take some cool swag.
  14. Start planning for next year’s conference.  Look for calls for posters, presentations, bloggers, etc.  Follow your Sections and SIGs.  Follow up with the people you met.

I’m sure there’s more, but I know the other bloggers have this covered, so scroll on down for more great tips.  Have a fantastic MLA!


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Seeing Old Friends and Meeting New Ones

I set 3 goals for myself to achieve each year when I attend the Annual Meeting of MLA. Goal 1 is to see old friends. Goal 2 is to make new acquaintances and goal 3 is to pick up new pearls of wisdom. Today, I worked on Goals 1 and 2. I have been coming to MLA since 1976 just missing 1977, 1978 and 1979 giving me a very long list of wonderful MLA friends and acquaintances. I hugged alot of people today and shook lots of hands. I met Megan Rosenbloom today and saw Kristin Hitchcock today for the first time at Section Council. Two very impressive people. Also, it was my pleasure to meet my Colleague Connection, Rachel Hebling from Montana and tour the exhibit hall with her and another new MLA member, Linda Paulls. Two impressive new MLA members. I am working on Goal 3. I made an appointment to look at Clinical Key more closely. I picked up the NLM infosessions schedule in the exhibit hall. If you have not already set personal goals and objectives for a successful MLA meeting, it is not too late, as the real programming begins tomorrow. I wish you all a very successful meeting.

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A Library Student at MLA ’14 – Pacing Myself

I have heard several of my medical librarian colleagues commenting on how it is necessary to pace yourself when attending the MLA Conference.

Yesterday I felt like I jumped into the deep end of the pool with a sink-or-swim attitude.  Today was no different, but I am learning to take the time to enjoy being here, while not being in a frenzy.  There is so much to see and do on the MLA Schedule and in Chicago, that it is tempting to try to do it all, see it all and understand it all.  Not possible.

Here’s my rule of thumb: when all three of your mobile devices shut down you should probably lie down too and take a rest while they are recharging.

When you wake up ask yourself what is possible to accomplish during MLA 14?  Here’s what I’m doing: making some connections, having some conversations, taking notes on Google Docs, gathering business cards and emails, and stopping by interesting Chicago places, if only for a moment.

Here’s my list of things that I’ve enjoyed so far, starting with a few tips on Chicago:

Food: I love Indian food and had a great lunch buffet at Gaylord Fine Indian Cuisine about a 20 minute walk north on Michigan Avenue at Walton Street.  The food was well done and there were plenty of vegetarian options.  About 10 people waited on me, but the buffet was only $13.95.  For dessert they had the best gulab jamun I have ever tasted.

Sightseeing:  My nephew who lives here in downtown Chicago said that if you want to view the city from the Hancock Tower, it is a better deal to go to the Signature Lounge on the 95th floor and buy a $10 drink than to pay the same money to go to the observation deck.  We went there last night and the views were awesome, as well as the Tanqueray and tonic!

If you find yourself up by Northwestern’s Feinberg School of Medicine for a hands on CE class, stop by the Museum of Contemporary Art, just across the street.  Right now they have an exhibit of Zachary Cahill’s work which explores the “implications of art as a therapeutic exercise.”  I enjoyed a 30 minute art therapy session after my CE class this morning.

CE Courses:  Technology was the theme of my continuing education courses today.  At 7 am a group of MLA attendees gathered in the lobby and walked about 12 blocks (20 minutes) north along Michigan Avenue (not stopping to shop) to Northwestern’s Feinberg School of Medicine.  There I attended CE202: Breaking an Electronic Health Record (EHR) System: a sandbox workshop by PJ Grier from NNLM/SEA.  Once again I was overwhelmed with excellent and idea-provoking information.  Wireless and personalized medicine (a la Dr. Eric Topol)?  The necessity of the librarian to advocate for a defined role in the Electronic Health Record? Meaningful Use 1, 2 and 3? HIMSS? Health Level Seven?  Took notes so I can read up on all this fascinating and important information!!!  Not to mention taking some time to explore a freely available sample EHR system in Practice Fusion.

Then a quick walk back to the Hyatt for CE501-Information at Your Fingertips: Tablet Technology by Emily Hurst of NNLM/SCR.  I did not know about all the mobile sites and mobile apps that the NLM makes available for us: Also going to spend some time looking at Bloomin’ Apps (iPad Apps to support Bloom’s Revised Taxonomy) and the Padagogy Wheel which “shows teachers that the pedagogy should drive the technology and not the other way around.”

So that is why I am now resting and reflecting on the day, while everything recharges.  (Good thing my Chromebook can recharge while I type!)  My second day at MLA ’14 is in the books, and I paced myself – didn’t go back for seconds at the Indian buffet – and satisfied myself with taking notes, knowing that I’ll have time when I get home to review it all at leisure.  Now, let me check my devices to see if they’re recharged yet . . .



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Last Minute Planning? Check Out the Online Schedule

If you’re like me and still adjusting your MLA ’14 itinerary, check out the online schedule information at

Features of the schedule include:

Personally, I’m finding this year’s online scheduling tools somewhat easier to use than in years past, so if you haven’t tried it out in a while, take a look!

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A Library Student at MLA ’14 – Jumping into the Deep End!

Hello, I am Don Pearson from Mount Carmel Health Sciences Library in Columbus, Ohio and I am blogging about the MLA ’14 from a Library Student Perspective.  I am just beginning the MLIS program at Kent State University, although I have been working in libraries for several years, and with computers for much longer.  Coming to this conference for the first time seems quite overwhelming, just as it is coming from Columbus, Ohio to big city Chicago.

My traveling companions and I arrived by car last night (Thursday) and experienced a very quick and painless parking and check-in experience at the Hyatt.  It is very large, beautiful, and modern. In fact, the MLA venue this year, the Hyatt Regency Chicago, with 2019 guest rooms is the largest hotel in Chicago (according to Chicago Business).  My companions and I marveled at the huge number of buttons in the elevator as we headed to our room on the 14th floor.  I realized that I hadn’t been in a building over 10 stories in more than a year.  But we’re OK, we parked our car, found our room, got some food and a good nights rest.

Speaking of food here are some good places we found last night and this morning.  All are within 2 blocks of the hotel.  Bockwinkel’s for groceries is right behind the hotel. Giordanos Pizza at 135 E. Lake Street is about 2 blocks away and really satisfied the need for Chicago deep dish.  The Corner Bakery at Michigan and Wacker  had great coffee and Apple Hand Pie.

I think from the beginning the theme of this conference for me is that I feel like I’ve jumped into the deep end of the pool.  Big city, big hotel, big conference, big ideas and lots of learning to do.  But so far so good and so far I’ve come up swimming.  I’m taking my lunch break on Friday to write this, while I think about statistics.  I’m in the middle of CE700 – Statistical Literacy for Medical Librarians: Swimming in a Sea of Conflicting Medical Claims.  I know less about research statistics than I know about medical librarianship, but I’m glad I took this class.  Even though much of this is going over my head, I was reassured by Steve Simon, one of the presenters, who said,

“The one who knows the least benefits the most from my class. You will learn more than anyone else.”

That is certainly true for me and I’ll hang on to this quote as a memento from this conference.  Even though I jumped into the deep end by even coming here, because I’m starting from zero, I think I will learn more than anyone else!



Hashtags for the Meeting

If you’re using Twitter to share your observations during the meeting, or want to follow along with what people are thinking in real time, you may want to be aware of these hashtags:

#mlanet14 – the overall hashtag for the meeting, to be used in any/all tweets

#mlaemts – for the Educational Media & Technologies Section business meeting, Monday, May 19 at 4:30 pm

#mlattt – for Top Technology Trends VII (Tech Trends), Tuesday, May 20 from 6:00 pm to 7:30 pm

#mlaflip – for the flipped format session sponsored by the Educational Media & Technologies Section: Structural Adjustments Changes in Education, Sunday, May 18 from 4:30 – 5:55 pm

#nlmtheater – for updates from and about NLM Theater sessions and the resources/changes presented there

And some unofficial, fun activities at MLA:

#mlanet14bingo – for the card game being organized by @mascher to help us meet new people at MLA. Tweet a pic of your completed BINGO card with the hashtag #mlanet14bingo to win. “Complete” in this case means your full card is completed, not just one line.

#drinkingsig – “unofficial and completely unsanctioned,” the rules are that “any time two or more MLA members are together and drinking (even water), it constitutes a #drinkingsig meet up.” When you purchase a $5 #drinkingsig button from @LaMedBoheme73, proceeds go to the MLA Scholarship Fund.

You do not need a Twitter account to follow along with what people are posting with these hashtags, simply click on the links above or search Twitter for the tags.

If you’re aware of other hashtags for various events and programming during MLA ’14, leave them in the comments!

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Don’t Forget to Pack

I am very excited to be a MLA Meeting Blogger again this year. My posts will reflect thoughts as a MLA Distinguished Member.

As many of you know I have retired after 22 years from the Weill Cornell Medical Library, and starting to wind down my participation in MLA. This year I am the Chair of the Hospital Libraries Section and next year I will be past Chair; after that not sure what my MLA future looks like,

As I have done in past years, here is a list of 10 things not to forget as you pack for MLA in Chicago.

1- Light jacket or favorite hoodie. If you can trust the weather people, forecast is for mid50s – low 70s.
2- Comfortable walking shoes or sneakers. The hotel is a nice but doable walk along the Miracle Mile to Water Tower Place. You may want to run along the Lake. You may want to participate in the YPB Health Walk very early Sunday morning..
3- Gym clothes. The hotel will have a 24 hour fitness center for your use. It is on the Blue Level of the West Tower. The CAM SIG and co sponsor Hospital Libraries Section is offering yoga early Sunday morning in the Buckingham room. Bring your mat or win a mat. You can always bring a bath towel from your room.
4- Business cards. Bring plenty to enter vendor contests in the Exhibit Hall and also to exchange with old or new colleagues.
5- Chargers for all your technology-laptop, tablet, phone, camera, etc.
6- Camera in your iPad or phone or your digital camera to record highlights of the meeting, Chicago and maybe selfies .
7- Reading light or flashlight. Your roommate may have different sleeping habits than you. With a light you may be able to read when he/she is sleeping in a dark room. Of course tablets or kindles or nooks or iPads provide their own light.
8- Your meeting scheduler that includes when you are taking a vendor class in the exhibit hall, meeting a colleague for breakfast, lunch, dinner, breaks or drinks.
9- Umbrella. Rain is not in the schedule, however, if we bring them, it will not rain.
10- Snacks. If you have room, you may want to pack your fiber bars, drink mix, nuts or what you may need when there is no time for breakfast or lunch.
Safe travels to Chicago

Helen-Ann Brown Epstein, AHIP

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#medlibs Chat Tonight Takes on MLA Tips for Newbies

The unofficial Thursday night #medlibs chat on Twitter will address tips for first-time MLA attendees, what experienced attendees can do to welcome new folks, and more.

From this week’s chat description:

Open mic chat
Thursday, May 1, 2014
9pm Eastern/6pm Pacific

We officially covered Making the Most of MLA 14 in a previous chat so be sure to check out the great resources shared there. However, are you a first time Medical Library Association meeting attendee? A first time in forever attendee? What can we do to be more welcoming to these, students and others who may be overwhelmed by the annual meeting scene in Chicago? Never participated in a #medlibs or other Twitter chat before? Check out this overview and come on in, we’re a supportive community!

It’s also worth checking out the transcript of the April 10th chat, which focused on making the most of MLA ’14.

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