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Midwest Chapter: Truly a community

By Rebecca Freihaut
University of Kentucky
School of Library & Information Science
Louisville, KY

Like most graduate students, I have the desire to attend conferences and association meetings, but I don’t always have the financial means to do so. When I first read about the Midwest Chapter MLA Annual Meeting to be held in East Peoria, IL, I dismissed the idea of attending because of the expense involved. It should come as no surprise, then, that I was thrilled to receive an email about the outreach scholarships being offered this year through the GMR. I was even more thrilled to later find I had been chosen as one of this year’s recipients.

The venue for this year’s meeting, the East Peoria Conference Center, was a perfect location to hold a conference. I immediately jumped in Saturday morning by attending a continuing education class entitled, “Planning, Conducting, and Publishing Research” led by instructors Nancy Allee and Jo Dorsch. The class was a great introduction to the world of academic research and publishing and also provided opportunities for networking. Later that day I took part in the Mentor/Mentee program and was introduced to my mentor, Deborah Lauseng, who is the Assistant Director of Academic and Clinical Engagement at the Taubman Health Sciences Library, University of Michigan. Deborah and I had a fun time chatting about our interests, and she was kind enough to introduce me to many of her colleagues during the reception and vendor exhibits time that evening.

I arrived at the conference center early the next morning to volunteer for the GMR booth in the vendor exhibit area and then quickly made my way to the NLM Update. I’m currently working as a Special Volunteer with NLM with their web archiving initiative, and was beyond happy to hear that the work I’ve been doing with them was highlighted during the update. People hearing the update seemed genuinely interested in the work that was being done at NLM, and the librarians I discussed my work with were very encouraging. It made me realize that medical librarians aren’t just concerned with their own areas of expertise but are truly a community, all working together toward a common goal. As a graduate student who is completing my degree completely online, it’s easy to become isolated and forget about the warm sense of community that exists within this field.

I thoroughly enjoyed all of the lectures, poster presentations, and contributed papers over the course of the weekend. The lecture on using technology in disaster planning and response by Amy Donahue, Marcia Francis, and Kacy Allgood was of great interest to me, since I’m interested in the topic of disaster management. Kacy Allgood’s talk on her experiences of traveling with the EMS were especially memorable. I also enjoyed the keynote speaker on Sunday, Michelle Kraft. I’ve followed her blog for quite a while now, so it was nice to hear her speak in person. The poster presentations on Sunday were all very informative. The poster about professional networking and altmetrics was fascinating and encouraged me to learn more about the topic.

Probably my best memory of the annual meeting was spending time with other librarians at the Night at the Museum event. I ran into a few people I knew and met some new friends along the way. It was a fun way to network and blow off some steam after learning so much new information at the conference. Overall, I couldn’t be happier with my experience at the Midwest Chapter Annual Meeting. Without the scholarship, I wouldn’t have had the opportunity to attend the meeting and expand my horizons!

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