SCC/MLA Chapter History

Preface

Through 1998 and 1999, the Medical Library Association (MLA) celebrates its centennial anniversary. Among the events, exhibits, and presentations planned for the year, the MLA board requested the chapters compile and submit their respective histories, if at all feasible.

The South Central Chapter (SCC) was in the enviable position of having a fine history written in 1992 by Charles W Sargent, Ph.D., FMLA. And looking ahead to its own twenty-fifth anniversary in 1998, the Chapter commissioned Brady E Banta, Ph.D., to update the Sargent history. So in addition to good timing, it was the prescience of the chapter leadership and the yeoman service of our authors which made this SCC history a reality. While excellent leadership may be taken for granted in SCC, the chapter owes Sargent and Banta a profound debt of gratitude.

Readers expecting high drama or low comedy in the following pages will be grievously disappointed. Nor is this tale the stuff of epics. It is the bare-bones story of how the chapter came to be and how it prospered. And like all professional societies, this chapter has no raison d'etre without a dedicated membership. It is outside the realm of the achievable that this story can encompass and describe every member, for the attempt alone is fraught with the hazard of omitting someone worthier than another. Enhancing the story with more detail, color, and personality, is the task remaining to each of us, as members of SCC. Sargent and Banta have given us a lattice of sound structure and simple design around which we may twine the stories of our careers and community. It is the sum of these stories, the written history embellished with our private experiences, that comprise our communal memory. The dimensions of that memory may wax and wane, but should always be kept vivid.

W D Postell, Jr.
New Orleans, LA, May 1998

A History

The South Central Chapter of the Medical Library Association (SCC/MLA) has a dynamic and distinguished history which showcases the talents of many individuals. It also chronicles their determination that a vast area of the south and west will receive the best in library service. Thanks to their efforts and perseverance, the medical librarians of the five-state area served by SCC/MLA have access to a strong, well-balanced organization.

SCC/MLA had its earliest beginnings in the Texas Council of Health Sciences Libraries (TCHSL). The impetus for the development of that organization came in an April 1966 letter from Carl D. Douglas, Ph.D., Chief of Research Training Division at the National Library of Medicine, to Pauline Duffield, then Librarian at the Texas Medical Association. Writing about the recently passed Medical Library Assistance Act of 1965, Douglas stimulated the development not only of SCC/MLA but what was to become the Regional Medical Library. Although it is doubtful that Ms Duffield and her colleagues realized the ramifications of the letter, they seized upon it as a possible solution to long held desires for some kind of an organization that would make the collections of the health sciences libraries in the State of Texas available to all health professionals.

Soon thereafter Carleton B. Chapman, M.D., Professor of Medicine at the Southwestern Medical Center in Dallas, announcing a meeting for individuals interesting in exploring the establishment of cooperative agreements among health sciences libraries in Texas. In responding to this invitation Dr. David Kronick, Director of the South Texas Medical Center Library in San Antonio, wrote, "I hope at a minimum it will lead to the formation of a Texas council of medical libraries."

As the gathering's unofficial chairman, Dr. Chapman explained that the meeting's general purpose was to consider the possibility of creating an inter-institutional organization of biomedical libraries in the State of Texas patterned after the regional medial library system described in the Medical Library Assistance Act of 1965. Chapman informed the group that in October 1965 the University of Texas Board of Regents had authorized the Southwestern Medical School to negotiate for the establishment of a Regional [Medical] Library Center. Moreover, representatives of the three University of Texas Medical Schools [Drs. Chapman, Kronick, and Thompson] had agreed that:

  1. The State of Texas should, initially, be defined as a region for biomedical information purposes.
  2. A regional organization of biomedical libraries, with an independent director, should be established in Dallas.
  3. The regional organization should coordinate biomedical information activities and needs among member libraries, but not create a large central library.

Having concluded his background briefing, Chapman asked the Austin gathering to consider the following motion:

Resolved that this group approve the concept in principle of a regional biomedical library organization in Texas, to serve the biomedical libraries of the state as a means of coordinating and improving their individual operations.

The motion passed unanimously.

Dr. Spencer Thompson, Assistant Director and Coordinator of Sponsored Research, University of Texas Medical Branch at Galveston, then moved that the biomedical libraries in Texas be invited to form such an organization as soon as possible. This motion, too, was unanimously passed.

Subsequent to the approval of Thompson's motion, an organizational meeting was set for August 13, 1966, at the Lutcher Conference Center of the University of Texas in San Antonio. It featured a discussion led by Dr. David Kronick regarding possible routes that the new organization could take. As this was to be a cooperative venture, Kronick analyzed other such arrangements then in existence, specifically the National Library of Medicine. Kronick then enumerated philosophical and practical points that he deemed essential in formulating the new group. These were:

  1. The organization should be non-profit.
  2. Any library establishing eligibility could be a member.
  3. The organization should have a governing board.
  4. The organization should elect its own officers.
  5. The elected officers [president, vice-president, and secretary] should be responsible for drafting the constitution.

The discussion that followed Kronick's presentation generated a consensus that, with or without federal aid, Texas medical library collections should be developed. To expedite this process, a cooperative organization of medical librarians was both desirable and necessary. This organization, to be chartered in Texas, should be known as the Texas Council of Health Sciences Libraries.

The second meeting of what became the TCHSL occurred on December 19, 1966, at the Jesse H. Jones Library Building in the Texas Medical Center in Houston. Spurred by the success of the August meeting, Kronick, Thompson, and Pauline Duffield crafted a proposed constitution and bylaws. Implementing these organic instruments, the December meeting elected Kronick president; William J. Fahlberg of Baylor College of Medicine as vice-president; and Pauline Duffield of the Texas Medical Association secretary/treasurer. The institutions joining the organization as charter members were: Baylor University College of Medicine; Baylor University Medical Center; Bexar County Medical Society; Houston Academy of Medicine; Houston State Psychiatric Institute; M.D. Anderson Hospital; Nueces County Medical Society; Scott and White Hospital; Texas Medical Association; University of Texas - Austin; University of Texas Medical Branch at Galveston; University of Texas School of Medicine, San Antonio; and University of Texas Southwestern School of Medicine, Dallas.

As an organization of institutions, the TCHSL served to expedite and facilitate the creation of a regional medical library affiliated with the National Library of Medicine. Work toward that goal continued throughout 1967 culminating in a meeting at the Lutcher Conference Center in San Antonio to which medical librarians and representatives from health sciences libraries in Arkansas, Louisiana, New Mexico, Oklahoma, and Texas were invited. The attendees discussed the regional medical library program and subsequently a grant application was submitted to the NLM asking it to fund a regional medical library to serve the five-state area. The application received a favorable reception and in 1970 the South Central Regional Medical Library Program opened.

As it became clear that a regional medical library would be a reality, suggestions were made to change the purpose and the thrust of the Texas Council of Health Science Libraries into something which would be affiliated with the Medical Library Association (MLA). Up to that time the Council had been based on institutional, not individual, memberships. Many of the librarians within the region realized, however, that they had much in common. Moreover, they needed services that would not be funded by the Regional Medical Library Program. Chief among these was a union list of serials.

This momentum gain expression in August 1970 in a memorandum sent to the members of the TCHSL concerning a proposed change in the bylaws foreshadowing the formation of a group affiliated with MLA. The memorandum called for a meeting to be held at the University of Texas School of Medicine in San Antonio. This meeting, held on May 15, 1971, expanded membership in the Council to "all health related institutions and their library staffs." C. Lee Jones of the University of Texas Medical Branch at Galveston was elected president.

Having led TCHSL through the transition to individual membership, in August 1972 Jones sent letters to the MLA members residing in the five-state area served by the South Central Regional Medical Library soliciting their support for the creation of a new MLA chapter to be called the South Central Regional Group of the Medical Library Association. The following month a meeting was held at the Albert Pick Hotel in Houston to decide the fate of the TCHSL. Those in attendance resolved to:

  1. dissolve the Texas Council of Health Science Libraries contingent on the formation of a new group to be called the South Central Regional Group of the Medical Library Association
  2. keep unspent monies in escrow until such a group was formed
  3. appoint a committee comprised of the past board and the new board to work on the establishment of the new organization.

Subsequently, Jean Collier resigned as president of the Texas Council of Health Sciences Libraries on August 31, 1972, in order to facilitate the formation of the new group.

One of the major problems confronting the founders of the new group was the affiliation of many of the members with the Southern Chapter of MLA. This was particularly true of those librarians in Louisiana. A secret ballot was held in which the MLA members in the five-state region (281 individual and 133 institutional) could vote. One-hundred-sixty voted in favor of the new group, while 103 voted against it and 151 did not vote. It is worth noting, however, that the vote from Louisiana was overwhelmingly in favor of remaining in the Southern Region and that the vote in Arkansas was so closely split as to preclude the identification of a clear preference. These exceptions notwithstanding, the majority favored the creation of a new regional group, and a petition for its creation was sent forward to the board of the Medical Library Association. At the midwinter meeting of the board of MLA in 1972 the petition was approved.

With MLA's blessing secured, in March 1973 the organizing committee for the new regional group, chaired by C. Lee Jones, mailed information packets to medical librarians announcing an organizational meeting to be held in Little Rock, AR, on April 27 and 28. Clearly the meeting was to be formative as the agenda included the selection of a name for the organization, deciding whether to adopt a constitution, and the election of officers. It is also interesting to note that the registration fee was only $5.00.

The meeting convened on April 27 in the Arkansas Louisiana Gas Company Auditorium in Little Rock. The predominant sentiment favored forming a new regional group. The principal reason advanced by advocates of this position was the distance involved in traveling to meetings of the Southern Regional Group. Subsequently, this group decided to go forward with the establishment of the South Central Regional Group to represent the medical librarians of Arkansas, New Mexico, Oklahoma, and Texas. Anticipating this outcome, an informal committee chaired by Charles Sargent had drafted proposed bylaws for the group. The Little Rock assemblage discussed, revised, and adopted these bylaws. To complete the organizational process, they selected Marie Harvin to serve as chair, Robert Divett as vice-chair and chair-elect, Keith Russell as secretary-treasurer, and Edwina Walls as nominating committee chair.

Clearly the Little Rock meeting was significant as the organizational hearth of what would eventually become the SCC, but the meeting also established a pattern for the annual meetings that survives to this day. Along with organizational business, the meeting featured educational opportunities and social events. Indeed, the day preceding the organizational meeting featured several sessions on audiovisual materials in medical libraries and both days of the meeting had educational programs. The social highlight was a program of folk music presented by Judy and Sheryl Klemmedson of the Ozark Folk Culture Center that following the Friday evening dinner.

While the Little Rock meeting brought SCRG into existence, at the first annual meeting in San Antonio, TX, in October 1973 began the hard work of sustaining the organization and giving it vitality. Whereas seventy-one had registered for the organizational meeting in Little Rock, 114 registered to attend the annual meeting in San Antonio. Despite this 65% increase in attendance, the San Antonio meeting was not a lucrative event as the revenue exceeded the expenditures by only $55. While the extant financial report does not indicate how many registered for the second annual meeting in Albuquerque, NM, in October 1974, at least the Albuquerque convention produced an almost 200% increase in revenue by showing a profit of $157.25.

In 1975 the SCRG held its annual meeting in Dallas, TX, thus initiating a seldom violated practice of returning to Texas every other year. The following year SCRG convened its annual meeting in Shreveport, Louisiana. Although more and more academic and hospital medical librarians in Louisiana were joining SCRG, MLA still recognized Louisiana as part of SRG. The actual meeting reflected this dichotomy as it was a joint meeting held in conjunction with SRG. It is interesting to note that it was, to that date, SCRG's biggest convention with 191 registrants. Of that number, however, seventy-eight were identified as SRG members. The attendance numbers, therefore, reveal two trends that would have some influence in the future development of SCRG. First, the SRG attendance at the meeting reflected the fact that Louisiana was the far-western periphery of that organization. Second, the SCRG attendance at Shreveport, LA, was off thirty percent from the previous year's meeting in Dallas. This trend continues today as only New Orleans, LA, among the non-Texas host cities consistently matches the attendance appeal of Dallas, Fort Worth, Houston, and San Antonio.

The 1976 meeting in Shreveport also reflects that there had been and continues to be a lighter side to these annual gatherings. The featured entertainment for the Friday night was the "Red River Romp" which included dinner and entertainment from the Louisiana Hayride, a legendary Country and Western music show staged in Shreveport. In promoting this event, the host committee announced that dress was casual but that shoes were required. Clearly, the adjective "sensible" was understood. Also, so as not to offend those whose cultural tastes were somewhat more refined, the convention's entertainment options also included a trip to Louisiana Downs in Bossier City.

Four years later, in 1980, the SCRG librarians were once again brave enough to accept the challenge of a Louisiana convention, this time in New Orleans. As had been the case in Shreveport, it was a joint meeting with the SRG. The combined meeting drew 264 registrants, 160 of whom were identified as SCRG members. This was almost 80% of the membership and only eleven fewer than had registered for the Houston meeting in 1979.

Ironically, SCRG finally had to address its "Louisiana Problem" at the New Orleans meeting. MLA had decided that its regional groups could no longer overlap. Thus, Louisiana would have to choose between SCRG and SRG, and the SCRG bylaws would have to be amended to reflect that decision and to comply with MLA's bylaws. Meeting on October 15, 1980, the SCRG Executive Committee decided that the issue would be brought before the organization's business meeting later that week and that the Louisiana MLA members would be asked to select a regional affiliation for their state by August 1981. At the business meeting President Jane Lambremont explained that Louisiana must choose a regional home, but that individual librarians would be free to belong to either or both regional groups.

Subsequent to the New Orleans meeting, the new SCRG president, Virginia Bowden, sought a clarification from MLA as to how the Louisianians should accomplish the task confronting them. The response, while enlightening, didn't address the immediate question. In the current round of MLA bylaws revisions, the various regional groups were to become chapters. Since, according to MLA, Louisiana was a member of SRG, it would be recognized as part of the Southern Chapter. Should the Louisianians prefer to join the South Central Chapter, they would have to petition MLA for permission to make that change and then seek admission to the South Central organization. Thus, there was a procedure for making the change, but not a clearly defined mechanism for initiating that process.

Given those conditions, it was not surprising that the "Louisiana Problem" remained unresolved when the SCRG gathered in San Antonio for its 1981 annual meeting. SCRG decided to poll all MLA members in Louisiana (individual and institutional) regarding their primary chapter affiliation preference. During a caucus of the Louisiana members attending the San Antonio meeting, Mayo Drake, library director at the Louisiana State University School of Medicine in Shreveport, agreed to chair a committee that would conduct the mail ballot to determine the state's regional chapter preference.

Subsequently, in November 1981 Drake mailed preference ballots to the 63 MLA members in Louisiana. The committee requested that the marked ballots be returned to Drake at the LSUMC-S Library by December 15, 1981. Drake received forty-seven ballots by that deadline. The preference was overwhelming for aligning with the SCRG. Forty-two ballots favored joining SCRG, while four preferred to remain with SRG. There was one abstention.

In February 1982, Drake reported the results of this poll to Joan Ash, chair of the MLA Chapter Council. Drake indicated that the results should not be interpreted as an indication of disharmony between the Louisiana MLA members and the Southern Chapter. Rather, he attributed the outcome to the cooperative relationships that Louisiana librarians had developed with SCRG members through their participation in the South Central Regional Medical Library Program. Subsequently, Drake and SCRG officials learned that the next step was for Louisiana to petition to join SCRG, and that this petition must be approved by a simple majority of the MLA members in the SCRG region (exclusive of Louisiana). Upon receiving Louisiana's petition, the SCRG Executive Committee authorized a mail poll of the region's MLA members on acceptance of the petition. Two hundred and sixty ballots were mailed and by the deadline for their return 177 votes had been cast. The results were overwhelmingly affirmative with only one vote against the petition.

The SCRG Chapter Council Representative carried Louisiana's petition and the endorsement of it to the council meeting held in June at the MLA meeting in Anaheim, CA. Council unanimously approved the petition and forwarded it to the MLA Executive Board. That body approved the petition, also. With these hurdles crossed, the SCRG Bylaws Committee prepared an amendment to change Article I, Section 3, of the SCRG Bylaws to recognize Louisiana as a member state in the region. SCRG adopted this amendment at the 1982 meeting in Little Rock, AR. Louisiana was now officially a member of SCRG.

Just as a revision in the MLA Bylaws finally prompted the Louisianians to change their geographic identification from SRG to SCRG, other changes in the way that MLA conducted its business initiated calls for SCRG to change its name. Changing its official terminology, MLA began referring to its affiliate organizations as chapters. Subsequently, many of these affiliates changed their bylaws to reflect the new structure—evolving from regional groups into chapters. Not unexpectedly, several officers of SCRG, being in frequent contact with MLA and their peers in other affiliates, suggested that SCRG follow the trend and rename itself as the South Central Chapter.

It soon became apparent, however, that a strong maverick sentiment pervaded the five-state area. Many of these librarians were content to remain identified as a regional group, even though MLA recognized SCRG as a "chapter." Moreover, through the process of seceding from the SRG to form the SCRG many of these librarians had developed a sense of ownership and pride in "their" regional group that they were not inclined to set aside in order to become just another chapter of MLA. Since there was neither a mandate nor requirement for action, the name change movement quietly faded away.

In May 1988 President Mary Ryan revisited the topic. She indicated that only one other MLA chapter still held to the regional group name. Responding to her willingness to propose a name change amendment, several Executive Board members cautioned that the sentiment for retaining the regional group identification might still be strong. The board decided informally to poll the membership before initiating the amendment process.

Apparently their unscientific sampling of opinion revealed no strident opposition to changing the name. Some members still preferred the regional group label, but time and distance had mellowed their advocacy. And, the organization's membership had increased by one-third during the 1980s. These members had no personal investment in the regional group tradition and probably were more amenable to accommodating the mainstream MLA organizational structure. Therefore, the Bylaws Committee proposed that the name be changed from South Central Regional Group to South Central Chapter. President Cindy Goldstein endorsed the amendment and urged the membership to ratify it because continued use of the regional group label was a source of confusion within MLA. To her amazement, when the issue was placed before the membership, the name change was accomplished without significant opposition or undue turmoil. What had begun twenty years earlier as the Texas Council of Health Sciences Libraries was now the South Central Chapter of the Medical Library Association.

Annual Meetings

Annual meetings have been held in the month of October, although there is no constitutional or bylaw requirement to have them at this time (see this page for a list of meetings, their dates, and the presiding officers). Several of these meetings created their own folklore. Lubbock, TX, in 1977 was a nightmare for the local library staff, especially Tim Judkins. From the time the agreement had been made with the Hilton Hotel to just a week before the meeting, owners, managers, and convention directors had changed. Not only had the hotel doubled booked another convention, unfortunately it was an at home football game. Rooms were very scarce. To add anguish to torment, a number of delegates had sent in their reservation cards for rooms, but, also, had called their local Hilton and made a second reservation. Tim spent a great deal of his time calling these delegates, asking them to release one of the rooms. Charles Sargent frantically sought other accommodations. Some of the delegates had to be transported to the meeting from other sites.

Rain plagued the 1982 meeting in Little Rock, AR. One of the informal events was a picnic in a local park. It began to pour half way through the event. Eventually, all mixes for the bourbon and other potent potables were exhausted. It was observed that a number of librarians were ingenious in solving this problem. They simply held their glasses under the streaming eaves and used nature's own mix.

The 1984 meeting in Tulsa, OK, was a footnote in history. When some of the delegates tried to use the elevators and other facilities, they were barred by Secret Service agents! It developed that the then Vice-President George Bush, was in residence. They spent of the rest of the meeting trying to get a glimpse of the man who was to become President of the United States.

Probably no meeting was fraught with such anxiety and problems at the one held in Texarkana in 1985. The meeting had been scheduled to be held in Shreveport, LA, but due to the illness of Mayo Drake, the host library's director, Shreveport had to withdraw its invitation almost at the last moment. Dena Plaisted, that year's president, rose to the occasion and assembled a small cadre of volunteers. They put on one of the most successful meetings in the history of SCRG. Not only was this meeting a professional success, it made more money to swell the coffers of the treasurer than any other meeting to that time.

The 1975 meeting in Dallas, TX, was the first to have exhibitors. Although this did not establish an immediate precedent, since the mid-1980s our meetings have had a very good showing of exhibitors. These friends of the group not only furnish timely and valuable information on materials and services, they consistently contribute to the social and financial success of the meetings.

Although not part of the annual meeting, a much anticipated and widely enjoyed SCC function occurs each year at the MLA annual meeting. This tradition began as a cocktail party/reception hosted by the assistant director of the Regional Medical Library in Dallas, Pat Murphey. Initially these events were quite informal with beverages and snacks furnished by the host and several friends. All SCRG/SCC members were welcome to attend, and the date/time/location spread through the convention by word-of-mouth.

As the tradition matured, SCC members began to look upon the party as their own and became involved in the arrangements. Indeed, in the late 1980s the relationship with the RML lapsed and for several years it was sponsored by SCC. In the early 1990s, however, financial difficulties threatened to bring the tradition to an end. Not willing to let the tradition cease, from 1992 through 1995 the South Central Academic Medical Libraries Association (SCAMeL) made the arrangements for the party, with its board of directors personally providing a wide array of popular beverages and demonstrating their bartending skills.

This period of SCAMeL sponsorship also led to referring to the party as the "Armadillo Ball." While planning the 1993 event, Janet Minnerath, then library director at the University of Oklahoma Medical School in Tulsa, suggested that the party should have a name or theme as a manner of differentiating the SCAMeL era from that which had come earlier. Bill Postell proposed adopting an icon that would represent the five-state area. Janet responded with the idea of an animal mascot. This prompted Postell to quip that "the only critters we all shared were cockroaches, rats, and armadillos." Understandably, according to Postell, "the decision went to armadillos by default."

The use of the armadillo appellation received a tremendous boost at the 1993 MLA meeting in Chicago because Postell had obtained a supply of cloth armadillo stickies that SCAMeL board members distributed to SCC members and other friends as unofficial invitations to the party. The "Armadillo Ball" was born. Since then SCC has reinforced this connection by selling gold armadillo lapel pins as a fund raising activity.

Toward Maturity

The Newsletter 

One of the purposes for forming the chapter was to improve communications between the medical librarians of the five-state region. From its beginnings in 1973 to 1980, SCRG had no publication of its own. The first indication that SCRG was seriously considering launching its own newsletter came at the Executive Committee's meeting on March 1, 1979, in Houston, TX. President Richard Lyders announced that a bindery had offered to subsidize the production of a newsletter. A lengthy discussion ensued. The general sentiment favored launching a newsletter, if it could be made self-sustaining; however, expanding SCRG's profile within SYNERGY, the newsletter of the TALON Regional Medical Library, or developing a joint newsletter with TALON also received support.

When the Executive Committee assembled in February 1980 for a mid-year meeting in New Orleans, LA, the newsletter was again a topic of discussion. This time the committee decided to put out one issue of a newsletter and to monitor membership reaction. Texas Tech agreed to furnish the production support through its Medical Services operation and Mary Moore of Texas Tech would serve as its editor.

What began in 1980 as the SCRG Newsletter has continued to the present. Mary Moore served as editor through 1984. Subsequently Sally Shrout served as editor from 1985 to 1989. Michelynn McKnight assumed the editorship in 1989 and serves in that capacity to this day. During her tenure the publication's name became the South Central Connection, a change prompted by the transition from regional group to chapter. Also, in 1993 the South Central Connection became the first MLA chapter newsletter to publish an electronic version.

Another indication of the group's maturity was the publication of a directory. The first directory appeared in 1981, and there has been one published annually since then. Along with the names and addresses of all the members, the directory lists the current officers, contains the most recent bylaws, and includes information about committee appointments, awards, and other pertinent information.

Continuing Education 

As soon as the SCRG achieved financial stability, the organization began making annual contributions to the MLA Scholarship Fund. It became clear, moreover, that the membership wanted to act more directly to promote continuing education opportunities. As early as 1977 the SCRG began to consider offering its own scholarship to support continuing education (CE) for mid-career professionals who were SCRG members.

This movement came to fruition in 1980 with the implementation of a scholarship fund to support the development of a cadre of MLA recognized continuing education instructors within the region. Scholarships awarded from the fund were designated to be used for tuition to attend MLA CE 626 (Training Skills for Library Instruction) or to subsidize the travel expenses of novice instructors to gain experience in a team-teaching environment. The first SCRG Continuing Education Scholarship awards were made in 1980 to Barbara Pace, Dan Taylor, and Tricia McKeon.

Within a few years it became apparent, however, that specifically linking the scholarship to tuition payments for MLA CE 626 had a detrimental effect on the program. The 1983/84 annual report of the SCRG CE Committee reveals that there were no applicants for these scholarship; and in 1984/85 there was only one, but it was subsequently withdrawn when the course to be attended was canceled.

Recognizing that the effectiveness of the scholarship program was being diminished, the SCRG CE Committee recommended that the guidelines governing the application of these funds be liberalized. At the Executive Committee's meeting in New York in conjunction with MLA's 1985 annual meeting the CE Committee chair suggested that the scope of the award be broadened to include a wider range of educational offerings. The SCRG formalized this transition later that year at Texarkana and in the CE Committee's 1985/86 annual report chair Sarah Knox Morley reported that the first of the new professional development awards had gone to Mary Moore and Mary Asbell.

Concurrent with these initiatives to expand the applicability of the mid-career professional development scholarship, the CE Committee also championed the provision of scholarships for students to attend the SCRG annual meeting. Having gained the blessing of the Executive Committee, the CE Committee prepared guidelines for the scholarship and in 1986 awarded scholarships to two students from the Graduate School of Library and Information Science at the University of Texas at Austin, Susan Bennett and Janna Lawrence, to attend the SCRG annual meeting in Fort Worth, TX.

Along with expanding opportunities for the professional development of mid-career librarians and students attending library schools, these awards also provided vehicles that SCRG/SCC used to honor two of its most revered founding fathers. In 1982 the original Continuing Education Scholarship was named for William D. Postell, Sr., in memory of his "many contributions and dedication to medical librarianship." Seven years later, at the suggestion of William D. Postell, Jr., the student scholarship was named in honor of Mayo Drake.

Distinguished Service Award

To recognize outstanding service to SCC by an individual member, the chapter established a Distinguished Service Award. The record is unclear regarding the origin of this idea, but it germinated in the Membership Committee in the early 1980s. At the Executive Board's May 1984 meeting, held in Denver in conjunction with MLA's annual meeting, committee chair Helen Saylor reported that the committee was preparing a recommendation for the creation of a Distinguished Service Award. They were polling other chapters with similar awards regarding their guidelines for eligibility, nomination, and selection. That fall at the SCRG meeting in Tulsa incoming committee chair Nancy Bierschenk unveiled the proposed guidelines. Both the board and the general business meeting approved the guidelines as submitted. One year later in Texarkana the SCRG awarded its first Distinguished Service Award to Ann Gilmer.

Previous Recipients of the Distinguished Service Award 

Hospital Library Interest Section

Another indication of the organization's maturity was the recognition of diversity within its membership. The most striking manifestation of this awareness occurred in 1980 with the formation of the Hospital Library Interest Section. The impetus of this development came at the previous year's SCRG meeting in Houston, TX. Several hospital librarians had expressed their perception that the general tenor of the annual meeting programs was decidedly toward the interests of academic librarians. At New Orleans, LA, in 1980 SCRG President Jane Lambremont convened a small, informal meeting of hospital librarians to address this situation. Their consensus was that a formal group structure was needed "to promote hospital librarianship and to ensure that each chapter meeting had program content that would help librarians working in non-academic libraries." Moving from form to substance, the group elected Regina Harris (Lee) as their president and Dena Plaisted as vice-president. They shepherded the section's melding into the SCRG organization structure and oversaw the effort that produced a highly successful HLIS luncheon/meeting at the 1981 SCRG convention in San Antonio. From this humble beginning of fewer than fifteen librarians assembled for a "discussion" in New Orleans, the HLIS has grown to over 140 members.

Beyond SCC/MLA's Borders

SCC/MLA's influence has been felt beyond the five-state region. Its members have been active in all levels of librarianship+local, state, regional, national, and international. The region has contributed six presidents of the Medical Library Association: William D. Postell, Sr. [1952/53]; Samuel W. Hitt [1974/75]; Erika Love [1978/79]; Charles W. Sargent [1981/82]; Jean K. Miller [1985/86]; and Richard Lyders [1990/91]. Three other MLA presidents moved into the region during or after their terms as president: Helen Crawford [1972/73]; Holly Shipp Buchanan [1987/88]; and Naomi Broering [1996-97]. In addition, members of the chapter have served on the Board of Directors of the Medical Library Association and on many of that organization's committees.

By Charles W. Sargent, Ph.D., FMLA, 1992
and updated by Brady E. Banta, Ph.D., 1998


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