MLA 2016: A Chance to Fill in the Gaps

June 3, 2016 at 9:36 am | Posted in Meetings, Professional Development | Leave a comment
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Gary Atwood is another winner of NAHSL’s Professional Development Award to attend MLA 2016 in Toronto.  Gary presented a poster, How to Prevent Your Flip from Flopping:  Five Key Mistakes to Avoid When Switching to the Flipped Classroom Model.  Below is his blog post sharing his experiences.  Congratulations, Gary!

MLA 2016: A Chance to Fill in the Gaps

 Whenever I attend a library conference, my primary aim is to fill some gap in knowledge. Since I’ve only been a health sciences librarian for a few years, there are still a lot of them left to fill. My goal for MLA 2016 in Toronto was to learn how to better integrate both myself as a liaison and the overall library into medical education. I was fortunate enough to see several examples of how others are doing this; of these, three stood out:

In “Pop-Ups!: Extending Consultation Services Beyond the Primary Library,” Julia Kochi described how they created a “pop-up” consultative service on a branch campus that did not have a library. As the name suggests, these were irregularly scheduled times when researchers, faculty, and students could drop by for assistance from a librarian. After a lot of trial and error, they discovered that the need for their services was so great on this branch campus that they established regular hours. My take away: Go where your patrons are.

The second example was “Embedding Librarian Expertise Across a Public Health Curriculum” by Abraham Wheeler. In it, he described how he worked closely with faculty to identify opportunities in the curriculum where the library could provide support. What he discovered was that they wanted help with higher level skills like critical assessment of research instead of more traditional topics like PubMed searching. Although he had to learn new skills, he is now more tightly integrated into their curriculum and is reaching more students. My take away: Redouble efforts to reach out to the faculty and be willing to teach something new.

The last example is “Real Time Education on Location: Developing a Modular Clinical Pediatrics Evidence Based Curriculum” by Nicole Capdarest-Arest. This presentation provided a brief overview of a new program that takes place in a weekly noon pediatric residents meeting. The curriculum is divided into four modules and focuses on skills such as creating a clinical question. Although the implementation hasn’t always gone smoothly, the overall response from the residents has been positive. My take away: Go where your patrons are and design content that is flexible.

On one hand, the important things that I learned at MLA 2016 do not seem all that original. Go and teach where the faculty and students are. Work closely with faculty to identify their needs. Design programs that address what they feel is important. Hearing about these great new programs, however, reminded me that information literacy in the curricula continues to be important, even at the upper levels. I still have a lot of reflecting to do about all of the information I gathered, but am extremely grateful to NAHSL for providing me with the support to attend MLA 2016. The conference can be overwhelming, but it can also be a tremendous source of inspiration as well.

Atwood-MLA-Poster Session_1

Atwood-Totonto Skyline

Gary S. Atwood, MA, MSLIS

Health Sciences Librarian

Dana Medical Library

University of Vermont


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