Lurching Toward Transparency


When I leave for Chicago tomorrow, it'll be to attend my 25th annual meeting of the Medical Library Association.   It'll be the third I've been to in Chicago, and the previous ones were memorable.  In '93 the meeting was at the Palmer House.  I remember seeing Jackie McLean at the Jazz Showcase and sitting up late talking with the guys in his band.  I remember sitting in the lobby of the Palmer House at dawn, with a companion, watching the hotel come alive for the day's meetings.  Most significantly I remember accepting Lynn's late invitation to join a group that she was taking to the Parthenon for dinner.   And later that night, she showed up at Excalibur where I'd gone to meet some of the Dakotans (a reunion that, alas, no longer takes place).  I remember stopping on the Michigan Avenue bridge that night as I walked back to the Blackstone and looking down into the water, seeing all of the twists and turns my life had taken in the past few years and wondering what would happen next.  I had no idea...

By '99, MLA had outgrown the Palmer House and the meeting had moved to the Hyatt.  I was on the National Program Committee that year (the only year for which I can actually recall the theme -- "Present Tense -- Future Perfect?").    Lynn and I were married, and for her birthday I rented a limo and we drove along the lake on a beautiful sunlit evening, drinking champagne, before being dropped off at Charlie Trotter's for dinner.  That was the year that I applied to be the editor of the JMLA.  I had no idea...

When I was an NLM Associate in 1984, it was simply assumed that one of the things one did was to join MLA and go to the annual meeting.  I was a sponge in that year, and if my mentors told me that one of my responsibilities as a medical librarian was to become involved in MLA, who was I to question it?  So my attitude is a little different from that of some of my colleagues who think carefully about whether or not association involvement is worthwhile for them.  I do it because contributing is one of the things I'm supposed to do.  I get an awful lot out of it, of course, but I've remained involved and active because I believe it's part of my responsibility to the profession.  It's one of the ways that I try to pay back all of the people who have mentored and helped me along the way.  It's a debt that I don't ever expect to fully discharge.

This is something that we take seriously at my library as well (and that was the case long before I got there).  There will be ten of us at MLA this year -- three are section chairs (current or incoming), there's a committee chair, a SIG convenor, several people doing posters or moderating panels.  One's a member of this year's NPC and somebody else is teaching a CE course.   I'm quite proud of them.

As for me, it'll be long and busy.   It's not as hectic as the years when I was JMLA editor, but I've got a very tight schedule -- the MLA board meets Thursday afternoon and all day Friday.  I'll be at all the plenaries, of course, and attending several section & committee meetings on behalf of the board.  There are a handful of other meetings that I've set up to talk with people about various projects and there are even a few papers that I'd like to get in to see.  Of course there's the Bearded Pigs event on Sunday and the flurry of logistics surrounding that.  The evenings are lined up with receptions or dinners.

To finish it off, on Wednesday I'll move over to the O'Hare Hilton for the Joint AAHSL/Publisher Task Force meeting that will take place all day on Thursday.  By then I'll have been gone more than a week, but I'm really looking forward to that session.  And then I get home very late that night.

I'm eager to dive into it.  I know I'll get a lot done and I'm sure I'll have a fine time.  And what will be the singular memories that'll rise to the fore when I look back at this Chicago meeting years from now?  I have no idea...


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