A New Advocate for NAHSL

November 4, 2014 at 8:00 am | Posted in Uncategorized | 2 Comments

NAHSL 2014 was a great first-time librarian conference experience for me. Aside from the fact that I could finally put faces to names, the networking opportunities with colleagues, and publisher representatives, and the RML staff proved extremely valuable. The plenary sessions were extremely informative, the topics presented were timely, and the speakers were exceptionally personable and knowledgeable (thanks for those chuckles, Steve). I originally signed up to cover Paul Harris’ session, but other grant recipients did an exceptional job with that topic in their blog postings that there just wasn’t that much more I could add.

I can’t say enough about the program, the venue, and the food, but what I valued the most (believe it or not) was the NAHSL Open Forum session. This is the conversation I was hoping for, to hear from other librarians what they viewed as essential topics to discuss, as well as their vision of what the association should and could deliver. I was hoping to meet other librarians that came from more specialized libraries, and were of like mind in that there seemed to be a strong desire to develop Special Interest Groups (SIGs) on a smaller scale than what MLA offers. Don’t get me wrong, the information presented through the various MLA forums and listservs have helped me grow as a medical librarian a great deal, but that’s a lot of information to decipher on a daily basis, and oh by the way, the Mental Health SIG is defunct.

The idea of developing these SIGs with more local colleagues that you can truly connect with, visit, and use as sounding boards for your ideas just seems to be a strategic and much needed addition to the association. Creating networking listservs for specialty areas as in my case, mental health/psychiatric hospital libraries, or cancer centers, or the like could be so beneficial to the librarians involved. Having had the opportunity to see another colleague’s website from the “inside” and view the resources and services that she has made available to her patrons was invaluable. Even just discussing the addition/deletions of a particular journal to the collection, or purchasing an online resource over another helped validate the collection development policy I had just put into place. Am I willing to take the first step and create the listserv? I confess that I am somewhat of a neophyte when it comes to undertaking a task such as this, but I’m willing to give it a try.

The key question raised was whether NAHSL should continue as is, and if so, should dues be increased? I vote YES to both…I see the value in belonging to this regional association that offers an excellent return on your investment especially for small, budget conscious (read “strapped”) libraries. I’m looking forward to NAHSL 2015!

Karen Goodman, MSLIS, MA
Medical Librarian
Dorothy M. Breene Memorial Library
New Hampshire Hospital



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  1. Thanks for your thoughtful comments regarding the Annual Meeting, Karen. I’m so happy to hear that it was a meaningful and relevant time for you, particularly as a first-timer. Like you, I really like the idea of developing SIGs (or SIG-like groups) and personally hope that they will come into being organically, if the organization offers up fertile ground for them, i.e. time at the conference, support through electronic communications, leadership and direction, etc. They certainly represent a new way to make connections and build valuable community.

    Thanks again for the post!

    ~ Sally

  2. I think that developing SIGs within NAHSL is a great idea! We heard at the Open Forum that there are those who would like time to get together with like-minded colleagues at the conference, so the need is there. And I think that doing this as a region would be beneficial in a way that can’t be felt on a national level. SIG members could find their own opportunities and solutions with colleagues who are close geographically, and who have something in common as New Englanders. It is one more way for us to connect and help each other.

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