By: Tony Nguyen, Outreach/Communications Coordinator
The MLA annual conference is a beneficial meeting that gives me the opportunity to learn what other colleagues in the field are working on. My intent as a new coordinator for the NN/LM SE/A Region was to connect with many colleagues, understand the issues and trends in our field, and learn new skills related to the profession.
I had the opportunity to participate in two continuing education (CE) courses. The first class I attended was Becoming an Expert Searcher provided by Terry Jankowski from the University of Washington Health Sciences Library. The course focused primarily on utilizing PubMed with discussions on creative ideas and variances in search strategies. This class provided me with a good refresher to the reference interview and many of the intricacies of PubMed and a couple of new ideas on how to approach certain research questions. This class is a great complimentary course with PubMed for Trainers offered by the National Library of Medicine Training Center.
The second CE course, Public Speaking: Polish, Not Panic, was taught by Donna Berryman and Suzanne Bell from the University of Rochester in Rochester, NY. While I’m not necessarily someone that has difficulty speaking in front of crowds, I thought that there may be something new I could learn that would benefit my presentation skills. This class focused on understanding several causes of tension and anxiety related to public speaking and focused on learnable skills participants could utilize to improve speaking in front of groups. I found the class to be beneficial in gaining several tips and recognizing my personal habits related to public speaking.
Aside from the many sessions I attended, I was particularly interested in the Section Program sponsored by the Educational Media and Technologies Section. The theme was Structural Adjustments: Changes in Education. What interested me in this section was the topic of teaching theory and methodology. What I failed to realize is that this was the first flipped classroom offered at the conference. However, without having watched the presentations earlier, I found the discussions to be quite informative and beneficial.
While this isn’t my first year attending MLA, it was my first year as a coordinator for the NN/LM SE/A Region. I thought it would be beneficial to meet as many people as possible. Since I’m fairly active on Twitter as @TonyNguyen411, Kimberley Barker from the Claude Moore Health Sciences Library at University of Virginia suggested a fundraising project to support the MLA Scholarship Fund. We decided that for every ‘selfie’ an attendee took with us, a dollar would be donated to the scholarship fund. It was a great way to meet many people at the conference and contribute to the MLA Scholarship Fund. Though I don’t know exactly how many approached Kimberley, I was able to donate $45 to the fund. As a last minute first time project, I thought it turned out really well.
I found that this was a great conference to attend. I managed to meet many people, including my AHIP mentor. I observed many sessions related to marketing, outreach, survey design, and education. I feel that next year’s conference may be busier as I plan to apply to a committee and join a couple of the special interest groups. It was encouraging meeting many talented and passionate people within the profession and I look forward to meeting everyone again in the future.