Friday, June 6, 2008

Canadian Health Libraries Association conference: update

Halifax was lovely as always but it's good to be home.

As promised I have posted a link to my April 10 lecture at McGill's Continuing Medical Education (CME) Thursday Evening Learning Series. I think I did a better job at McGill CME so I'm glad that's the one filmed for posterity. It seems I do better in front of the camera than I do playing Twister while I present.* Good to know.

I won't try to summarize the conference itself. Greg Rowell has done a much better job than I could. He's written a series of letters that Dean Giustini posted on his Google Scholar blog on June 2-4 (I get a mention in letter no. 3:-). Ryan Deschamps has recapped his own presentation here. Ryan and I went to school together and I was sorry not to have been able to see him speak (I arrived in Halifax the next day).

All the presentation slides (including mine) should be available on the CHLA website soon.

The two things the conference has got me thinking most about are Professional development (what should my next steps be?) and society participation (what's the big deal and how can I get involved?). I know there are proven ways to do both, but I am an unconventional cookie and will have to find my own way.

One of my favourite sessions at the conference was the round table discussion which asked the question: are we preparing health information professionals for the future? The panel included a spanking new graduate from Dalhousie SIM, Annie Noble, a slightly less but still recent graduate, Lori W. Leger, Ada Ducas who is the head of the Health Sciences Libraries at University of Manitoba, and two library school directors, Margaret Ann Wilkinson from Western University, and Fiona Black from my very own SIM (a wonderful speaker).

The presentations were very interesting and the discussion that followed even more so. It was unfortunate that we ran out of time just as things were getting good. I would have willingly given up the half hour break that followed (hint hint).

The overall consensus was that we are indeed preparing information professionals for the future, or at least the immediate future, although Ada Ducas expressed concern over the quality of candidates accepted into LIS programs. For myself, I did feel prepared when I graduated.

Here's another question: are we preparing information professionals for the less immediate future? i.e. not the first job out of school, but the one after that (hence my preoccupation with Professional development). Any thoughts?

*At CHLA the set-up was a bit awkward. The mic was way to the right and the laptop way to the left with the tiniest mouse I've ever seen. This meant that I had to reach over and across with my right hand (I am right handed) in order to switch slides, while keeping my mouth close enough to the mic to get sound.

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