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The MLA Educational Media & Technologies Section: A Twenty-Five Year History


The development of HSAG and their early interest in relationships with other groups was nearly simultaneous with the birth of the Health Sciences Communication Association (HeSCA) Biomedical Libraries Interest Group (BLIG). At the 1973 annual HeSCA meeting, a group of attending media librarians met to discuss the formation of BLIG. By February 18 of 1974, Helene Zubkoff (Chair of BLIG) sent out a formal letter to media librarians inviting them to participate in the formation of this group. The competition seemed to have MLA a little worried. In a letter written on March 26th by the MLA President, Sarah Brown, to our HSAG Chair, Dorothy Spencer, the last paragraph addressed the HeSCA invitation.

"I am sending a copy of a letter that was received by MLA concerning a group of media librarians. I wonder if you might interest these people in becoming MLA members and coming to your particular subject group (SIG?). The fact that 'MeSCA' (Sarah obviously meant HeSCA) is attracting people with health science interest is of much concern to many members of the Board. Do you have any ideas about this? Please get in touch with me."

Although we do not have records of Dorothy's response to MLA, we do know that Jack Hartley, D.D.S., M.S. of HeSCA, took a direct approach in his letter "proposing a liaison between HeSCA and MLA" (Mar 20, 1974). MLA did respond by appointing a representative to HeSCA for 1974-75, Reba Benschoter, but felt that it would not work out on an administrative level. The last two sent sentences of the MLA letter to HeSCA dated May 24th indicated that: "There is a new special interest group in MLA -- the Audiovisual Group--which certainly would be interested in HeSCA's activities. Contact Dorothy Spencer....."

Records pick up again with the first publication of a joint HSAVS HeSCA newsletter in 1984. The joint newsletter was published once annually and was later issued once every other year. The November 1985 joint issue provided a description of both organizations detailing the complimentary nature of each group and "...the need for networking with other biocommunications professionals." In recent years the association has drifted apart as HeSCA/BLIG membership has dwindled. This trend may be linked to a combination of less funding for academic biomedical communications divisions, the development of more computer-based material and/or the increased commerical distribution of such products.

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