2011 MAC Vision Scholars reflect on the Annual Meeting

Anona Earls
School of Information and Library Science
University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
As a first year Library Science student, I was thrilled to have the chance to attend my first conference through the MAC Student Vision Scholarship Program. Attending the MAC-MLA Annual Meeting was a fantastic introduction to the field of medical librarianship and an exciting jumpstart to my beginning professional pursuits. Connecting with current professionals was one of the highlights of the meeting for me. Everyone was very welcoming and seemed genuinely interested in including us and sharing their expertise. I also enjoyed learning more about the topics presented by the speakers and through poster presentations. Through these, I gained more insight into projects and events outside of my own institution, as well as ideas on how I might participate in future conferences.

The resume clinic was a standout feature of the Scholarship Program in particular; receiving input from the very people who might be evaluating my future job applications was certainly an invaluable opportunity. Being paired with a MAC Buddy was also a great part of the Program. Although my buddy and I were able to spend only a brief amount of time together, it was nice going into the meeting with an experienced librarian as a contact who could make introductions and answer any questions I had. I really appreciate the special attention that we were shown as MAC Scholars, as well as the opportunity that this afforded me to begin engaging in librarianship professionally. I would recommend the experience to other students interested in this field, and I look forward to attending MAC meetings in the future!

Dave Ghamandi

School of Information and Library Science
University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

The MAC Student Vision Scholarship is a boon to emerging librarians.  I was able to use this scholarship to attend my first professional conference, where I also presented a poster to my peers.  I met my conference buddy on my way to the welcome reception and he offered insight to help me and another student prepare for the days ahead.  At the welcome reception I immediately became acquainted with a number of affable librarians, a number of whom are leaders in the field.  I was surprised by the amount of librarians eager to engage me and the other students in discussion.

The speakers and programs at the 2011 MAC Annual Meeting were enlightening.  Lisa Gualtieri and Molly Shadel gave interesting talks.  During the poster sessions I was able to see what other librarians were doing and probe them with questions.  I also presented a poster on the role of reference librarians and open access publishing, which was an exciting experience.  There was programming specifically tailored to the scholarship recipients that proved to be rewarding.  During the resume clinic I interacted with a number of library directors who gave me advice that could not have come any sooner, as I will begin applying for jobs imminently.  Pat Wagner offered her advice on successfully starting a career in a workshop later that night.

My experience at the MAC meeting was a positive one and the Student Vision Scholarship enabled it.  There were many takeaways from the conference, including new ideas, contacts, and perspective.

Michael Hughes
School of Information and Library Science
University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

As a student and soon-to-be full-time job searcher, the MAC conference was very much an informal class on how to start a successful career. From presenting one’s experience in a CV to interview tips to best practices in the workplace, the conference was an opportunity to learn crucial skills not often covered in library school.

But this professional polish was only one among many learning opportunities presented at the conference. Dr.Gualtieri of the Tufts University School of Medicine demonstrated patient pathways to health information and identified critical areas where medical librarians can help improve this information-seeking behavior. Trainer and consultant Pat Wagner reminded beginning and veteran librarians alike that vigilance in self-improvement leads to satisfied patrons and happy co-workers, but that we must also give ourselves credit for the things we do well.

And each of the conference’s many poster presenters shared his or her unique knowledge and experience with the curious, often with dazzling design. A favorite poster of mine was the University of Virginia’s experience integrating Elluminate (now Blackboard Collaborate) into library instruction and outreach sessions. The theme: Maslow’s hammer. It turns out the Elluminate “hammer” isn’t well-suited for every “nail”!

With its entertaining and educational programming, the MAC conference was an unqualified success. My sincere thanks to the Student Vision Scholarship committee for granting me the opportunity to begin my career on the right foot.

Karen McElfresh
School of Information and Library Science
University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

I am extremely thankful that I had the opportunity to attend the MAC-MLA conference this year as a Student Vision Scholar.  I just began library school this year, so it was a wonderful opportunity to see what librarians at institutions other than my own are working on.  I really enjoyed the Welcome Reception dinner on the first night of the conference, as it was an excellent chance to network with other librarians, and as an added bonus, we got a tour of the beautiful Virginia State Capitol building.  I also got to meet my conference buddy, Teresa Knott, who introduced me to many of her colleagues and helped me navigate the conference.  I was able to attend the keynote address, the leadership skills workshop, and the NLM, MLA, and RML updates meeting.  I also enjoyed seeing the poster presentations on what types of research projects and outreach programs are being conducted in the medical library field.

Probably the most useful part of the conference was the résumé clinic.  This was an excellent opportunity to have our résumés read by librarians with extensive experience making hiring decisions.  Everyone at the clinic had constructive comments to offer and it seemed almost like a mini-interview, giving me a chance to practice my interview skills.  While I won’t be finished with library school for a few more semesters, it’s never too early to start working on a good résumé.   The workshop for new professionals with Pat Wagner also provided excellent advice for making a good first impression at a new place of work.

This program was an excellent experience, and I am very grateful that I was selected as a MAC Student Vision Scholarship recipient.  Thank you so much for the opportunity, and I hope to be able to attend the conference again next year.

Kevin Pardon

School of Information Sciences
University of Pittsburgh

Prior to my arrival at MAC MLA 2011, I had no idea what to expect.  I received some information and advice from both my MAC mentor and one of my professors; nonetheless my lack of firsthand experience attending professional conferences left me wondering what MAC MLA was all about.  At the conference I was able to speak with a number of people, including library directors, library liaisons, vendors, and fellow students, all who shared their various opinions, insights, and knowledge with me.

Of particular benefit to me was the luncheon session.  I chose to sit at the table discussing evidence based medicine in nursing, because I wanted to learn more about the topic, as well as hear the opinions and experiences of librarians in the field.  By the time the lunch session ended, my understanding of EBM had increased greatly.  Moreover, several of the luncheon members willingly continued the discussion with me, sharing further information during and after the conference about the subject of evidence based medicine.  Thanks to my experience at the conference, when the topic of EBM became a focus of one of my classes, I already had a basic understanding of the topic.

The resumé session was also particularly useful.  I was able to pick the brains of individuals who have been involved in the hiring process and glean useful information regarding ways to improve my resumé and cover letter.  Lastly, the poster sessions allowed me to simultaneously speak with various individuals about not only their research, but also their experiences in the field.

As I navigated the winding roads of the Appalachians back to Pittsburgh after the conference’s end, I was no longer uncertain of what occurs at MAC MLA.  My experiences at the conference gave me further insight and knowledge that I can use as I continue to think about my potential future career paths.  Ultimately though, it was the willingness of conference attendees to provide advice, speak with me, and make sure that I was involved that made MAC MLA 2011 a worthwhile experience.  I am grateful to you all.


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