On June 20th I traveled to Dallas and Denton, Texas, to visit with colleagues there and participate on a panel presentation sponsored by HealthLINE [http://dfwhealthline.org/index.html ], a consortium of medical librarians and libraries in North Central Texas. Everything about my visit, from the hospitality of my hosts to the intelligence of the conversation to the enthusiasm and energy of the librarians I met was OVERSIZED!
My gracious and accommodating host was Jon Crossno, Collection Development Librarian at the UT Southwestern Medical Center Library in Dallas. Jon met me at DFW and gave me an engaging tour of Dallas, a city I had only visited when MLA’s Annual Meeting was there a few years ago. We visited the Bishop Arts District, where Jon introduced me to a truly original and wacky DIY artists craft collective. We were then joined by UT Southwestern’ s Assistant Vice President for Library Services, the delightful Laurie Thompson, for a terrific Southern dinner at Hattie’s. Fried green tomatoes!
But my primary reason for traveling to Texas in July (!) wasn’t food or the heat but the HealthLINE meeting and panel presentation. The session was held at the Blagg-Huey Library on the Texas Woman’s University (TWU) Campus in Denton [http://www.twu.edu/library/default.asp]. Our host at the Library was Librarian Elaine Cox, and she was terrific! Elaine led me on a tour of the building and the various exhibits, which included the Texas First Ladies Historic Costume Collection [http://www.twu.edu/gown-collection/] with mannequins outfitted in examples of very smart fashions from, as far as I could tell, the 60’s thru 80’s. Pictures are included in this posting!
This progressive and innovative academic library features a working children’s library, an extensive collection of rare and unusual children’s books, a research-quality collection of cookbooks, and the most diverse archives collection I have yet encountered. Special Collections Coordinator Kimberly Johnson was available to answer my many questions and was a most articulate spokesperson.
After a good HealthLINE business meeting, the panelists were assembled. The theme under discussion was “Opportunities in Medical Librarianship” and the presenters included:
· Cindy Scroggins, Library Director at Baylor Health Sciences Library in Dallas;
· Carol Perryman, Instructor, School of Library and Information Studies, TWU;
· Jodi Philbrick, Teaching Fellow and Assistant Director, Houston Program, Department of Library and Information Sciences, College of Information, University of North Texas (UNT, also in Denton);
· Dr. Suliman Hawamdeh, Professor and Chair, Department of Library and Information Sciences, College of Information, UNT;
· Ginger Roberts, Lead Liaison Librarian, UT Southwestern Medical Center Library; and
· yours truly.
Both TWU and UNT support graduate schools of library sciences and so a good number of students were on hand, and the talk was really directed to them. But I think our coming together to discuss this theme also served to encourage and support the many librarians already in practice in this very active North Texas community.
Jon served as moderator and got us underway by asking the panelists, “What do health sciences librarians do?” Well, as you can imagine, for this group it wasn’t long before the discussion opened up and everyone was participating. The conversation came alive with meaning and truth-telling as folks described the work they are doing, the sorts of skills that current students need to be acquiring, strategies for advancing in a career during the ongoing challenging economic times, and the sorts of new initiatives underway in our libraries. The discussion ranged from techniques to launch and invigorate a liaison program to return on investment calculations to ways to be an effective “minute mentor” to the knowledge domain needs of embedded librarians.
After the panel session, my hosts waited patiently while I took photos of the Library. After lunch, Jon and I paid a visit to the UNT’s Discovery Center, a “repurposed” Texas Instrument campus and now home of the College of Information and the Department of Library and Information Sciences. Suliman and Jodi gave us an outstanding tour and I learned about the PEARL (Promoting and Enhancing the Advancement of Rural Libraries) grant-funded initiative [http://pearl.unt.edu/ ] as well as the work of the Visual Thinking Laboratory [http://vtl.unt.edu/ ], among other highlights. The faculty members I met were so excited and enthusiastic about their work that it was truly infectious and inspiring.
Alas, Dr. Ana Cleveland, recent MLA Janet Doe Lecturer and Professor, Department of Library and Information Sciences, College of Information, UNT, was not able to participate, either on the panel or the UNT tour, but she did manage to see that I received a most outstanding gift. Thank you , Ana, for the Nelly Cruz #17 Texas Ranger’s T-Shirt!
I had been advised by both Connie Schardt and Ruth Holst that the best part of being MLA’s President was the opportunity to visit with folks at Chapter and other regional and local meetings. While talking with the TWU and UNT graduate students and practicing health information professionals involved in HealthLINE was only my second such event since Minneapolis, I must say they are RIGHT. To no one’s surprise, I must add!