This is a guest post from scholarship recipient Tara Malone, a member of the Design for Learning community who attended the annual meeting of the South Central Chapter of the Medical Library Association in Galveston, Texas.
From Oct. 21 to 25, I attended the annual meeting of the South Central Chapter of the Medical Library Association (SCC/MLA). The meeting took place in Galveston, TX, and I am so grateful for the D4L scholarship that allowed me not only to attend, but to fully participate. I had previously attended a meeting of the SCC/MLA in Little Rock 2015, and this experienced impressed upon me how valuable small, regional conferences can be. Because of the D4L Scholarship, I was able to build on relationships established at last year’s conference, as well as begin to nurture new connections. This is especially vital as someone who works in health information outreach. The states in the South Central Region—Arkansas, Louisiana, New Mexico, Oklahoma, and Texas—all face a large number of health challenges, and it is essential for medical librarians to connect and collaborate in order to help address the rampant health disparities in our region. Not only was I able to learn from my fellow librarians in the SCC region, but I also was able to do so in a non-intimidating, welcoming conference environment, which can be a big deal to someone as new to the profession as I am.
I was fortunate enough to take part in many conference activities. Colleagues from my department and I offered a well attended continuing education course on active learning techniques, from which we learned a lot as well. I also was able to present one of our department’s conference papers, which discussed the challenges and opportunities of using the NIHSeniorHealth Toolkit for Trainers to teach older adults in public libraries about how to find and apply accurate, understandable online health information. Another colleague from my department presented our paper about our experiences using peer learning to teach database searching in our department. So as might be obvious, it was a busy meeting—so busy that even though the beach was across the street, I only got to go for about 20 minutes!
In addition to connecting with others and getting to both teach and learn, I was really impressed and informed by the speakers at the conference. Two of the speakers were from the Galveston National Laboratory at the University of Texas Medical Branch, one of only a handful of Biosafety Level 4 labs in the country. Dr. Joan Nichols, associate director of the lab, provided some truly awe-inspiring insight into how her group is bioengineering lungs for transplantation and the teamwork that made it possible. Dr. David Niesel provided another fascinating (if terrifying) talk on the ongoing fight against infectious disease and bioterrorism.
I didn’t get many pictures, but I’ve included a sample concept map from our active learning class, the fabulous sunrise over the Gulf of Mexico, and a close up of Galveston’s famous oleander bushes. With current budget crises in the state of Oklahoma dramatically affecting our travel funding, I don’t think it would have been possible to attend this conference and learn all I was able to without support from the D4L program. Thank you Arden, my fellow students, and everyone else for all your support and insight over the course of our months together!
By: Tara Malone