History of the Association
The Medical Library Association
An oral history program was proposed at the 1977 Medical Library Association Board Meeting to provide one basis for the history of American medical librarianship and the Medical Library Association [by recording] in their own voices the memories, reminiscences and experiences of medical librarians. An Ad Hoc Committee on the Feasibility of an Oral History Program recommended establishing a project to provide the basis for a history of the Association and for an understanding of the dynamics of medical librarianship.
Interviews began in 1977, and in 1980 a three-year grant from the National Library of Medicine provided funds to further support the project. Links to summaries of published interviews can be found in the list of interviewees. MLA has continued to provide financial support of this ongoing project with funding for audio-taping equipment, travel support for the interviewers, and for the cost of printing and distributing the completed histories.
The Medical Library Association Oral History Program uses accepted oral history techniques to collect and preserve interviews with members. The original taped interviews and transcripts are kept in the Medical Library Association archives. The printed, soft-bound volumes of edited transcripts are made available through interlibrary loan from the National Network of Libraries of Medicine, (NN/LM). These volumes also include biographies, and in many cases photographs, of the interviewees. Victoria Pifalo and Diane McKenzie prepared summaries of forty-three interviews completed prior to 1998; these were published in the Bulletin of the Medical Library Association.
A retrospective indexing project, coordinated by Dee Jones, AHIP, was completed in 2011. New indexes were prepared for 37 oral histories published before 2009 that lacked any index or had an inadequate index. The project followed indexing standards and used controlled vocabulary. Where an oral history has a new index, a link to the index is provided in the list of interviewees below. The complete history may be accessed through the instructions below. Histories without indexes on MLANET include indexes in the published copies.
List of interviewees as of July 2012
(* indicates not yet edited or not available)
(For individuals with the "FMLA" designation, additional information may be found on the Fellows page.)
All members of the Medical Library Association are encouraged to participate in the Oral History Program as interviewers or to suggest names of librarians to be interviewed. You may apply for Oral History Committee membership in the members-only area of MLANET. For other information or to provide suggestions, contact the committee chair or project director.
A portion of the material for these pages were adapted from: "The Medical Library Association Oral History Project: voices of the past." by Elizabeth Figa, School of Library & Information Sciences, University of North Texas, and members of the 1998 MLA Oral History Committee.
Information on many individual interviewees was derived from a series of three articles authored by Victoria Pifalo and Diane McKenzie and published in the Bulletin of the Medical Library Association during the centennial year, volume 86, numbers 2-4, 1998. The first part of article 1 (Bull Med Libr Assoc 1998 Apr; 86(2)166-177) also discusses the background of oral history and issues involved in the technique and examined the association's program.
Remaining information that did not appear in the BMLA article are oral history summaries that were derived from the transcripts of oral history interviews that have been conducted since 1977.
The manual contains a history of the MLA oral history project, guidelines for selecting interviewees and interviewers, setting up and conducting the interview, and editing the interview, and other helpful information for managing the oral history project.
The following options are available for obtaining copies of an oral history of the Medical Library Association:
Medical Library Association
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Last Updated: 2013 February 06