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June 1999, Week 2


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James Shedlock <[log in to unmask]>
Reply To:
James Shedlock <[log in to unmask]>
Wed, 9 Jun 1999 17:17:18 -0500
text/plain (114 lines)

TO:     MEDLIB-L Readers
FROM:   Jim Shedlock, Northwestern University
RE:     MLA Processes

There is nothing 'stupid' about wanting to know how MLA or any other
organization works.  In fact Dalia asks good questions that should be
reviewed from time to time lest we forget (which we are wont to do).  The
issue here, as it always seems to be with us humans, is COMMUNICATION.  We
strive to be better at it because we don't do it perfectly.

Specifically, based on my experience (and someone from HQ can correct me),
MLA does not operate as a secret society.  Far from it!  The only 'secrets'
are the ones you see in any human organization -- personnel matters.
Everything in MLA is out in the open for anybody to read, if they take an
interest.  For example, the issue of a new edition of Hospital Library
Management is probably mentioned and discussed in a report of the Books
Panel (I haven't checked, but the MLA Annual Reports is where I would go
first).  MLA reports tend to be general so they can be brief and therefore
more readable.  But if you want details, you need to use your reference
skills and identify the person with the answer you want.  I would venture
to say that the vast majority of MLA leaders who write various reports
would be thrilled to have members take an interest in the finer details of
their voluntary effort!

The other specific example referenced below is the Benchmarking Task Force.
Task forces are appointed by the Board since they serve the Board and are
not mandated by the Bylaws as are standing committees (though I admit
ignorance at this time re: the difference between an Ad Hoc Committee and a
Task Force).  The MLA Benchmarking effort started when Shelley Bader was
going off the Board and Bernie Todd Smith was coming on.  Both addressed
the need for benchmarking data that is not available in MLA, data that
would serve teaching and community hospitals and their related institutions
facing financial pressures related to managed care trends.  Both spoke
eloquently of the need for hard data and good facts that could be used to
counter arguments about the value (or lack of it) of scholarly information
services related to patient care and hospital bottom-lines.  I suspect
references to this discussion are in the Board minutes, which  are
summarized for MLA News, again appearing only in a brief format so members
read them.

So the issue, in my opinion, is not secrecy but communication.  Going
directly to the MLA leadership and asking for more details is reasonable.
But you have to ask -- show your leadership skills by seeking the
information you want. Take the initiative!  Frankly, it seems that if a lot
of members don't ask more questions or take an interest in MLA activities,
then MLA leaders are not going to waste their time making an effort that no
one uses or even appreciates.  MLA leaders are human, and practical, people
too!  Can MLA leaders do more?  Sure!  What do you want them to do?  Tell
them!  Give them your ideas, as well as your solutions, for making a new
service work for you.  It's the same thing you would expect to hear from
your users, right?!  I'm sure they would love to hear from you.

Hope this helps!

>MIME-Version: 1.0
>Date:         Wed, 9 Jun 1999 14:07:12 -0500
>Reply-To: Webster Library <[log in to unmask]>
>Sender: Medical Libraries Discussion List
>              <[log in to unmask]>
>From: Webster Library <[log in to unmask]>
>Subject:      Re: One more try
>Comments: To: Debra Rand <[log in to unmask]>
>To: [log in to unmask]
>I commend MLA for doing what many of us NEED and needed for years, and I
>am surpised to  discove that, lo & behold, it's being done but the
>membership at large does not know a thing aboauat it.  (The other
>exampl;e of secrecy is the updating of the Hospilta Library
>Managememnt textbook, that has been in process for severa lyears now,
>also under cover).   Why the secrecy, or sure looks like either secrecy
>or neglected communication with the membership.
>Although I have been an MLA member for 24 years, and have served on the
>HLS and MLA committees, I have to admit that I have no incling as to how
>Task Forces come about at MLA, and how participant get on board.
>And I do read the MLA Bulletin, and this one does not strike a
>bell, and it is not, I think, one of the opportunities presented when MLA
>reminds us to volunteer for committees.
>If I am truly stupid about the process, so be it, but I have a feeling I
>am not alone.
>Dalia Kleinmuntz                                          847/570-2664
>Webster Library                                      FAX: 847/570-2926
>Evanston Hospital
>2650 Ridge Ave
>Evanston IL 60201                                 [log in to unmask]
>"..the secret of the care of the patient is in caring for the patient"
>                                                - Francis W. Peabody
>                                                     (1881-1927)

James Shedlock, AMLS, AHIP
Director, Galter Health Sciences Library
Northwestern University
303 E. Chicago Avenue
Chicago, IL  60611

VOICE:  312-503-8133
FAX:    312-503-1204
EMAIL:  [log in to unmask]