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MLA 2017 – Data and Networking

Posted by on June 5th, 2017 Posted in: Blog

3 NER team memebers smiling

3 of the NER team! From left, Martha Meacham, Allison Herrera (me), and Matthew Noe
















Hello everyone!

Last week was the exciting Medical Library Association (MLA) 2017 conference in Seattle, Washington.

One of the great strengths of MLA is the networking and professional connections. I would have never moved to the New England Region to work for NNLM if it weren’t for MLA 2016. Speaking of working for NNLM NER – if you’re interested we are currently hiring an Education and Outreach Coordinator. If you’re curious about the position, but would like to learn more informally first I’d be happy to talk about NNLM at any time (allison.herrera@umassmed.edu or my office number is 508-856-5979).

Below are some wonderful colleagues that I was able to meet with this year. I always learn a lot from talking to other professionals in the field, from successes to failures we all seem to have something in common!


3 librarians from the University of Arizona

From left, Allison Herrera, Yamila El-Khayat, Ahlam Saleh

5 librarians in front of market place

From left, Brian Leaf, Allison Herrera, Debbie Montenegro, Victoria Rossetti












An overarching theme that I found throughout MLA this year was – big surprise – data!

I attended many sessions in which librarians discussed data in research, being more data-driven, and using data more efficiently. The variety of data-projects was encouraging and also a bit disjointed. This seems expected when so many professionals are still exploring and testing out the data science field. It also leads me to wonder if we should focus on more “actionable aspects” of data, such as data analysis or data visualizations, instead of continuing to talk in the abstract about “needing more data” or “being more data-driven”. I’m a big fan of big picture leadership that guides us in the long-term, but I also understand how it can be frustrating to constantly hear “data, data, data” without enough practical and reasonable examples.

I believe that more data-literate librarians can only help the profession, but we can’t ignore that our field is openly conflicted about being asked to pursue data initiatives and data-driven practices.

What do you think? Should we have an open and informal discussion to hear what the New England Region has to say?

Feel free to send me an email (allison.herrera@umassmed.edu) or comment below!


Thank you

Allison Herrera

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