Thursday, May 17, 2012

MLA/DLA 2012 Annual Conference

MLA/DLA 2012 Annual Conference
Ocean City, MD  May 9-11, 2012
Marilyn Pontius, Branch Manager of the Hancock War Memorial Library

The Maryland Library Association (MLA), together with the Delaware Library Association (DLA), held their joint 2012 Conference in Ocean City, Maryland May 9-11 at the Clarion Hotel and Conference Center.  The annual conference provides an opportunity to bring together library professionals from across the two states to “learn, share, and grow” (MLA, 2012). The theme of the conference was Choose Your Own Journey.

At the time of registration, first-time conference attendees were asked if they would like a mentor to help them navigate during the conference.  I took advantage of this offer, as was contacted via email before the conference by Ms. Monica McAbee, Adult Services Selection Librarian from the Prince George’s County Memorial Library System. She was very helpful  answering questions before the conference, as well as making me feel welcome once there.

The conference included social activities, organizational meetings, training workshops, speakers, and award presentations in a relaxed atmosphere. The conference included a vendor area, with booths from a wide variety of library vendors and library schools, including the University of Tennessee Knoxville School of Information Science.  

I was able to attend several training sessions including Great Graphics on a Shoe String Budget, presented by Christine Karpovage, the Graphic Designer/Webmaster from the Delaware Division of Libraries and Erica Karmes-Jesonis, the Graphic Designer/Webmaster of Cecil County (Maryland) Public Library. This workshop was targeted at librarians like me, who have little graphic design training, but find themselves making flyers and signs for their libraries. The workshop covered basic graphic design principles and tips on free and legal image sources.  Another session I attended was Using the Naikan Technique for Reflective Professional Development given by July Zamostny, Staff Development Coordinator from the Western Maryland Regional Library.  This workshop presented a simple technique that can be used to evaluate and reflect upon situations or events to help develop and incorporate a better understanding of the events encountered all around us every day. The technique uses critical thinking to examine a situation or event to identify what you gained, what you contributed, and how your actions impacted others, in order to fully incorporate the experience into your personal knowledgebase.

The dinner speaker on Thursday, May10, was Jay Parkinson, MD, MPH presented What Libraries Can Learn From Healthcare. Dr. Parkinson, a pediatrician and preventative medicine specialist, started a medical practice in his neighborhood of Williamsburg in Brooklyn, NY in 2007.  He wanted to return to the idea of a town doctor who made house-calls, bringing medicine to the patients rather than making patients come to the doctor’s office.  People would visit his website, see his Google calendar, choose a time and input their symptoms. His iphone would then alert him, and he would make the appropriate house-call. Patients would pay via Paypal. He would follow up via email, video chat or in person.  His success lead him to co-found Hello Health, a new way of experiencing healthcare via a Facebook-like platform that users technology to restore a traditional doctor-patient relationship updated for today’s lifestyle.  This was a very interesting presentation, and provided much inspiration for re-inventing library services and service delivery.

Throughout the conference, there were informal, social situations that promoted networking and camaraderie among the attendees. I was able to talk to several prospective students at the University of Tennessee Knoxville School of Information Science table in the vendor area, as well as visit several vendors.

Friday morning, I presented Training a New Breed of Rural Librarians to approximately 20 conference attendees to discuss my scholarship grant. The presentation was divided into three parts. First, the five phases of the Information Technology for Rural Librarianship (ITRL) Grant from IMLS was presented. Secondly,  I presented the curriculum and some of the outcomes my library has received in response to the customization of the course work. Finally, I reviewed the process of developing a library ‘elevator’ speech that can be used to promote and advocate for a rural library in a variety of situations. The presentation was well received and there were several questions following the presentation.  The slides may be viewed at
The closing event of the conference was a luncheon during which several awards were presented. One of my colleagues, Ms Lisa Key, was awarded the Maryland Library Association Paraprofessional Award.  The luncheon concluded with an author interview of Kate Alcot, the author of The Dressmaker: A Novel. The book is about the life of a young dressmaker who survived the sinking of the Titanic. The interview was staged to recreate two people having tea on the Titanic, which was a nice touch.

Overall, the conference was a wonderful experience. The conference committee did an outstanding job. I hope I will be able to attend more MLA/DLA conferences in the future!

MLA. (2012). What is MLA?   Retrieved May 16, 2012, from