Widen the Lens: NAHSL Open Forum

December 1, 2014 at 6:18 pm | Posted in NAHSL Annual Meeting 2014 | 1 Comment

First, let me thank NAHSL for the scholarship to attend the 2014 Conference. It was an excellent conference, and an enjoyable experience.

An important part of the conference, I felt, was the open forum. Here, the attendees at the conference discussed their thoughts about NAHSL, as it exists today, and the future. Following this discussion the executive board sent out a ballot to the members regarding a dues increase from $30 to $50 annually.

The discussion was based upon a summary of a survey that had been distributed to members in the Spring of 2014. 177 members completed the survey. 50% of the respondents are hospital librarians, with another ⅓ who identified themselves as Academic Health Science librarians. The majority of the membership is from Massachusetts and Connecticut (62% in total), with the remainder from the other New England states: Maine (11%), New Hampshire (9%), Vermont (8%), and Rhode Island (7%). The services which were most important to the survey respondents were the annual conference and continuing education opportunities. 86% of responses indicated that NAHSL was important or very important to them.

Confirming the importance of the annual conference, less than 20% are able to attend both NAHSL and MLA in the same year.

When asked about a preferred meeting format, the leading response is the current format with 28%. After that, all the responses are about equal. The choices include alternate between 2 night and 1 night stays (23%),  a one day meeting (23%) and to hold the conference every other year (21%). These answers cannot be combined to create a majority response.

The highest individual response to a question about meeting location is to continue to rotate through the New England states (39%). 29% would like Massachusetts or Connecticut. 23% would like the chapter to find one location and have the conference there every year. Here, a combined answer  would appear to want  to have the conference in one location, somewhere in Massachusetts or Connecticut. This conference was my first visit to Rockland ME, and I certainly want to return. That would put me in the 39% category!

In answering the question about what ideas respondents would like NAHSL to explore, the answers included coordinating CE with other associations, joint meetings with other MLA chapters, and for NAHSL to work actively with the RML to coordinate services and resources.

When asked about the members own satisfaction with NAHSL, the responses were overwhelmingly positive; Very satisfied 29%, Satisfied 51%, Somewhat satisfied 16%, and Not satisfied 4%.

NAHSL, covering all of New England, is recognized for providing an excellent annual conference. 42% consider the conference very important, and an additional 37% consider the conference important.

Continuing education opportunities are ranked very important by 49% and important by 33% of the respondents.

Professional Development Awards consist of scholarships to attend the conference and are available to enable members to pursue another form of scholarship, that may not be provided or supported by their employer. 38% consider this award somewhat important, and 27% consider the award not important. I am surprised by this information.

When asked about ways to stabilize NAHSL finances, the top two choices were to change the annual meeting format to incur lower costs and/or to increase membership dues. This question about dues was just recently formalized by asking the members to vote on an annual dues increase from $30 to $50.  Previous questions indicated the members did not wish to change the format of the conference.

When asked about membership in MLA, 75% indicated that they are members, and that 52% of the respondees indicated that they were not able to attend the national conference in the same year that they attend NAHSL conference. 40% of respondees attend NAHSL conference yearly, an additional 20% attend every other year, and 30% attend at least every five years. I wonder if they may be attending the conference when it is held locally, thus not incurring any hotel bills. The top reasons they attend the conference are to socialize and network with colleagues, to listen to the invited speakers, and to attend the CE courses.

I felt that the discussion was interesting and fruitful. I hope that the entire membership votes to approve the dues increase, as an indication that NAHSL is important to the health sciences community. Finances have dropped over the last several years, and it appears necessary to provide our chapter with additional income as it attempts to continue to provide the conferences and CE courses that we need and desire.

Thank you.

William H. Anger, Jr.
The Miriam Hospital
Providence, RI 02906


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  1. This is a great summary of the Open Forum, very valuable for anyone not able to attend.

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