Interview with Amy Blevins, President of the Medical Library Association

Lauren Hays

Lauren Hays

March 12, 2024

Recently, I had the pleasure of interviewing Amy Blevins. Amy is the current President of the Medical Library Association.

Lauren Hays: Please introduce yourself to our readers.

Amy Blevins (She/Her): My name is Amy Blevins. I am the associate director for public services at the Ruth Lilly Medical Library, and the current president of the Medical Library Association. My term will end after the Portland meeting in May.

Lauren Hays: How long, and in what capacities, have you been involved with MLA?

Amy Blevin: I first joined MLA in 2005, when I was still in graduate school for my Master’s Degree in Library Science. I was a student member and then became a regular member when I started my first professional job in 2006 at East Carolina University.

I have been involved in MLA in multiple capacities during that time. I have been part of the Professional Retention and Recruitment committee and part of the Technology and Education Caucus. I have taught many MLA webinars and CE classes. I also served on Section Council, which is now Community Council.

Prior to being elected President, I was on the Board of Directors and served as the Treasurer for the Association.

Lauren Hays: As MLA President, what have you focused on? And what do you plan to continue focusing on during your tenure?

Amy Blevins: It has been a time of transition during my time as President. We have been reexamining our strategic priorities as an organization, and thinking about how we spend our time and our energy, so that our staff, who work with MLA headquarters, our members, and volunteers do not feel burned out by trying to do too much while ensuring that we are able to keep doing mission critical work.

I am also getting ready to appoint a new task force on educational assessment.

As we wrap-up the strategic priorities, we are looking to the future and thinking about how artificial intelligence will affect our profession and professional organization. We have a fireside chat coming up in March and a symposium on AI coming up.

Lauren Hays: How do you see medical librarians benefiting from MLA membership?

Amy Blevins: I personally have benefited from having MLA as my professional home. This is where I have received a lot of continuing education throughout the years on instruction, leadership, and evidence-based practice. It is a good place to find community, and people doing similar things or working on similar projects.

The two big things are community and continuing education–and advocacy!

Lauren Hays: What are the priorities of MLA?

Amy Blevins: To quote our mission, “MLA aspires to be the association of the most visible, valued and trusted health information experts. MLA strives to enhance the quality of healthcare, education and research throughout the world. To that end, MLA fosters excellence and is committed to diversity, equity, and inclusion in professional practice, leadership of health sciences libraries, and information professionals, now and in the future.”

Lauren Hays: For someone new to MLA, how do you suggest they get involved?

Amy Blevins: There is a community specifically set up for new members; anybody can join. That is where I would start out. All of the communities are open to all members, and there is no additional charge.

You can also go through our membership database, and find people who are willing to mentor new librarians or people who are new to the Association. At the annual conference, we have a new members breakfast you can attend in person. Many of the MLA leaders will come and talk about getting involved in the organization. There is a virtual version as well. If people can’t go in person, they can still attend the new members breakfast.

Additionally, look at the list of communities MLA has to offer and reach out to the leadership to let them know you are there and interested in participating.

Lauren Hays: Thank you. Is there anything else you would like to share?

Amy Blevins: If you tell people you are new to health sciences librarianship, or you are new to the Medical Library Association, you will find many people who just want to talk to you, help you be successful, get to know you and point you in the right direction. I have always found it to be a very welcoming association throughout my career.

It is also important to know there are Medical Library Association chapters around the country. You can get involved with the smaller organization first and get to know people. That is another avenue. Personally, I am part of the Midwest chapter of the Medical Library Association.

Lauren Hays

Lauren Hays

Dr. Lauren Hays is an Assistant Professor of Instructional Technology at the University of Central Missouri, and a frequent presenter and interviewer on topics related to libraries and librarianship. Please read Lauren’s other posts relevant to special librarians. Take a look at Lucidea’s powerful integrated library systems, SydneyEnterprise, and GeniePlus, used daily by innovative special librarians in libraries of all types, sizes and budgets.

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