The Poster Presentation That Almost Wasn’t

June 15, 2015 at 12:28 pm | Posted in Professional Development | Leave a comment

Donna Belcinski was another of our NAHSL/MLA award winners who attended MLA in Austin, TX. Below you can read all about her Poster Presentation that almost didn’t happen.

Going to MLA in Austin, TX was very special for me this year. Not only was I going to be a first-time presenter with my poster, Creating an eCurriculum for Greenwich Hospital Medical Education, but both my mother and sister were coming along with me. My sister Jan lives in Houston, so the three of us decided to meet up there and turn this into a part conference/part “girls’” weekend. I would spend my downtime with mom and sis.

I decided it would be easier to mail my poster to Houston rather than have it as one of my carry-ons, so I sent it express mail to my sister’s house. Mom and I both arrived in Houston on Friday May 15th. We were relaxing after our day of travel when my sister asked “When is your poster supposed to get here?”

“WHAT!?!?!?!?!? IT’S NOT HERE YET?!?!?!?!?!?!?” Absolute panic gripped me. I had to call USPS but couldn’t find my receipt with the tracking number. I called my husband. “MY POSTER ISN’T HERE AND I CAN’T FIND THE RECEIPT YOU HAVE TO LOOK FOR IT I DON’T KNOW WHAT I’M GOING TO DO IF IT DOESN’T SHOW UP THIS IS A DISASTER!!!!!!!!”  He found the receipt, and I called with the tracking number.The poster left Massachusetts the day after I mailed it and then… nothing. Three days of no activity. My poster was lost!

“Can we help?” My mother the artist asked. What? Help? How? “Well, if we can get to an arts and crafts store, maybe Jan and I can help you make a new one.” Huh? “Mom, no, it’s not that kind of poster. Let me show you online.” I used the conference app to pull up the picture of my poster. They both looked at it and their eyes widened. “Oh, we can’t make THAT!” Then I remembered I had put it on my thumb drive. If I had only brought that with me, YES! Thumb drive in hand, I calmed down a bit. “Okay, if it doesn’t show up tomorrow, I can get it reprinted before we leave for Austin.”

The next morning, Saturday May 17th, I got a text. “Your package arrived at the Houston post office. 5:17am.” Perfect! Jan and I drove down there, only to be told it was “out for delivery.” Back at my sister’s, I waited, and waited, and waited. My brother-in-law kept saying “the mail’s usually here by now” every 15 minutes, which did not help my feeling of insecurity. Finally, at 3pm, the mail arrived and so did the poster. Relief! “Just don’t forget it the next day” I told myself.

We packed Jan’s car for our ride to Austin, and I nearly left the poster by the back door. Hahaha! That poster, what a lot of trouble, we talked about it off and on during our 2.5 hour ride. When we got to the Hilton, I made sure I took the poster out of the trunk of the car first, before handing the keys to the valet. We registered, got up to our room, and I was off for a quick tour of the Exhibit Hall, and then to a 2pm meeting. I decided to run back to the room to get the poster and hang it up, just to get that out of the way.

“Where is the poster?” It wasn’t in the closet, or next to the dresser/cabinet/TV stand, or near the bed. Did you see me with the poster? I asked. Oh, yes, they both saw me with it in the hotel lobby. Hmmm…could I have left it there? Well, yes, I could have, and did! After calls to the front desk, and security, and a walk to the lobby, I had my poster once again. I kissed the security officer who brought it from Lost and Found for me, kissed the desk clerk, and ran over to the Exhibit Hall. I hung that poster Sunday afternoon and left it up until 1:55pm Tuesday. Unless someone stole it that poster was going nowhere for at least two days! We had a few good laughs over that, and I told the story more than once.

My presentation was quite successful, as several people asked me to contact them after the conference to discuss my project. I was also asked to write an article about the project for the Journal of Hospital Librarianship. As I was taking the poster down and struggling to get it back into its travel tube, a helpful colleague wandered over and said “I always get mine printed on cloth now. That way you can pack it in your suitcase and not have to worry about getting it on the plane.” Or mailing it to your sister’s house, leaving it by a back door, or forgetting it in a hotel lobby. Oh, the lessons we learn at MLA!

Donna Belcinski

May 29, 2015

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