Wednesday, October 17, 2007

MAC - Part 1 - "Nearly a Disaster"

The purpose of me attending the Mid-Atlantic Chapter of the Medical Library Association conference in Baltimore, Md. Oct 9-12, 2007 was to present a poster: The D-Word: Deciding What to Digitize. The actual poster presentation was on Thursday, Oct. 11 during the Technology Symposium.

But, since I'm a linear person, I need to post the events in the order in which they happened! So first up is Dr. Georges C. Benjamin, MD, FACP, FACEP and director of the American Public Health Association. He spoke about the need for disaster preparedness from a public health view. His speech was decent and appropriate for our time but I felt like he had given it many times before and worked in a couple of slides in his PowerPoint to make it appropriate to medical librarians.

The one interesting fact I gathered from it was that medical and hospital libraries can serve as a gathering place/triage location in a disaster because they have space, technology access if equipment is still available and in particular medical and hospital libraries are close if not already in hospitals. Another interesting part of the speech is the American Public Health Association ( is developing a movement for national disaster preparedness, perhaps somewhat late after Hurricane Katrina, but at least the group is exploring it. This association is focusing on preparing for pandemic flu.

To veer off the linear path a bit, the conference also included an update from the National Network of Libraries of Medicine (NN/LM) Southeastern/Atlantic Region and Janice Kelly gave that update on Thursday, Oct. 11. The Regional Libraries of NN/LM (University of Maryland-Baltimore is where the Southeastern library is located) are becoming buddies with another medical library in preparation for a national and/or regional disaster. An example is the Southeastern/Atlantic Region Library's buddy is the University of Washington-Seattle. Ms. Kelly suggested that MAC members start thinking about a buddy library for their libraries.

And finally as a side and very related note, while Ms. Kelly was giving the update of NN/LM and happened to be discussing disaster preparedness, the hotel's alarm system went off and we immediately evacuated the hotel to across the street to the University of Maryland-Baltimore research section of the library. Now can it get any more exciting than that experience? See below for an "evacuation" shot.

No, we did not find out why we had to evacuate but returned out of the chilly weather back to the hotel within 10 minutes and I heard no sirens even though there is a fire department across the street from the Marriott Inner Harbor hotel.

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