Interview with JJ Pionke, MLA’s current Midwest Chapter President

Lauren Hays

Lauren Hays

June 04, 2024

I had the pleasure of interviewing JJ Pionke, the current President of the Midwest Chapter of the Medical Library Association.

1. Please introduce yourself to our readers.

My name is JJ Pionke and I am an adjunct instructor of information at Syracuse University. I teach the disability and librarianship course which coincides with my research around disability and libraries for patrons and employees.

2. Share about the Midwest Chapter of MLA.

The Midwest Chapter of MLA comprises the states of Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kentucky, Michigan, Minnesota, North Dakota, Ohio, and Wisconsin. Our members are librarians who work in the health sciences. We have an annual meeting as well as an annual business meeting. We also do various continuing education activities and host social activities.

3. Why are you involved with the chapter?

I am involved with the chapter because I was, up until very recently, a medical librarian and the Midwest Chapter is my “home” chapter. The chapter is made up of people who practice medical librarianship in the region where I live so it makes sense to be active in the chapter and connect with my medical librarian neighbors.

4. How does the chapter support its members?

We provide various activities throughout the year; sometimes they are more social and sometimes they are more educational. We also have a yearly annual meeting where there are posters, presentations, and continuing education sessions.

5. What topics is the Midwest Chapter of MLA discussing?

Among other things, we are discussing Artificial Intelligence—just like pretty much every other medical and/or academic librarian out there. We are also working on doing an accessibility audit of our chapter to make sure that we have policies in place to make our annual meetings, website, and communications accessible to all members.

6. How does the chapter interface with the Medical Library Association?

MLA is our parent organization and as such, many policies and documents, such as bylaws go through them. Let’s take bylaws for example. There is a boilerplate of bylaws that MLA provides to us, then we go through and make changes based on our needs. We then send the changes to MLA who makes sure we are not doing anything illegal or against ethics. Once MLA approves the bylaw revisions, they come back to us, where the membership will vote on whether to adopt the changes. It is a long process but it helps the chapters stay in line with one another and with MLA as a whole. In short, MLA supports us and we support MLA.

7. Is there anything else you would like to share?

The Midwest Chapter is not a super busy one. That said, when we do come together for a webinar or the annual meeting, we are engaged, learn a lot, and have fun together. 

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.

**Disclaimer: Any in-line promotional text does not imply Lucidea product endorsement by the author of this post.

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