MLA 2018: Fred and the Avenging Chicken go to Atlanta

Fourth in a series. You can see the second one here, and the first one here. The third, Fred and the Avenging Chicken go to Internet Librarian, will be up someday. Same disclaimer as before: Any opinions, either stated by me or inferred by you, are strictly my own, and do not necessarily reflect any opinions of my employer, co-workers, the avenging chicken or any of the stuffed animals shown in these photographs. The cat has his own opinions--very firm opinions--which he once again shared at full volume when I got home.

I hadn't actually intended to go to MLA in Atlanta, but my boss wanted someone from our organization at the conference so I volunteered. Then my friend Margaret Hoogland asked me to be on a panel and I applied for a spot in the talent show.

My schedule was set.

This time the cat wasn't at all interested in going along. At BWI airport. It's raining. This is going to happen a lot on this trip. Breakfast at BWI. We get ready to board the plane.
We arrive in Atlanta. Gee, I wonder which airline dominates this airport. Looks like they knew the medical librarians were coming. (If you can't make it out, the orange and white display is the logo of MLA 2018 Atlanta.) MARTA has a subway line that runs from the airport to the downtown hotels. We meet Jolene Miller, who instantly realized she had met a fellow librarian. She gave me her permission to post this picture, but would like me to emphasize that none of us was looking our best after a long plane ride. Well, maybe the chicken was.
I had to explain to the chicken that this wasn't a typo. We go to the chapter council meeting. Our establishment is worried that hospital libraries will fall through the cracks in the MLA reorganization; we were there to remind them we were there. One of the advantages of knowing one of the program organizers is that you get an occasional fringe benefit. I ran into Margaret Hoogland, Program Chair and Chair Elect of the Educational Media and Technologies Section in the hall and she invited me to a meeting where NLM Director Patti Brennan was speaking. The four of us pose for a picture. No conference is complete without a trip to the exhibit hall. Here we are atop the ClinicalKey tower.
We prepare for our presentation on "My Favorite Library Tool." Yes, I wrote a song about the program. My shirt says "Introverts Unite. We're Here, We're Uncomfortable, and We Want to Go Home." Sadly, there are no pictures available of my Koha presentation. Imagine someone standing at a podium with a stuffed chicken. We meet incoming MLA president Beverley Murphy and Cardia. It's amazing how much you can get away with if you ask nicely. Olympic Centennial Park, built when Atlanta hosted the 1996 Olympics, is down the street from the hotel complex. We managed to make a couple of trips to see it.
What could be more fun than a fountain to play in on a hot day? Well, a lot of things, but it's still fun. Pierre de Coubertin, founder of the modern Olympic Games. The Avenging Chicken thinks that resting should be an Olympic sport. Where's that gold medal?
The park entrance nearest the hotels has a series of pools and waterfalls. You can tell it's a hot day when the pigeons are lying down. The hotel had a pool, but it wasn't all that secluded. We sat at a table and enjoyed the fresh air. We spent a lot of time at the NLM booth, hearing about the new projects coming up. Stephen Greenberg gave a talk about the library's work in the History of Medicine Division.
NLM is planning to release a new version of PubMed in late 2018. You can see the progress at Here, we try to convince Bart Trawick to add adjacency searching to the new interface. (Reenactment) Earlier in the conference we met Brooke Ballantyne Scott from Vancouver, BC. I urged her to consider Koha as her system's ILS, and she attended my Koha talk. We ran into each other again at the NLM booth. A mouse had made a hole in the metal and cloth panels in the MLA registration area. We waited, but no mouse appeared.
And of course we had to go to the NLM update. Last night of the conference, and time for the Silver and Gold Networking Dinner. This year, the organizers included a talent show for the first time. We applied a couple of minutes after the invitation went out on MEDLIB-L. Jerry Carlson, Master of the Revels, introduces me to the audience. (Photo by Jerry Carlson)
Then I introduced the Avenging Chicken to the audience. A lot of the audience weren't familiar with the Avenging Chicken, but the Avenging Chicken wasn't familiar with them, so it was all right. I presented a dramatic reading of "The Access Code," a poem I wrote about scratch-off access codes in medical textbooks. It's more interesting than it sounds. (Photos taken by Brooke Ballyntine Scott) I get to the scary bit. The audience gave us a warm round of applause. According to Julia Sauer, this hotel only appears in the fog. If you enter through the right doorway, you will meet people from the 1980s. (Bragging rights go to anyone who gets the reference without going online.)
Pretty much every breakfast in Georgia includes grits. A last look around the room. And back on the MARTA train to the airport. It's possible to go between the downtown hotels and the airport without going outside at all. Sometimes this is a very good idea.
This is a very different Atlanta airport than the one I remember from back in the days when people dressed up to fly. (In those days, it was said that if you died in the South, it didn't matter whether you went to heaven or hell--you'd have to stop in Atlanta on the way.) Back in Baltimore. Right chicken, wrong suitcase. Right chicken, right suitcase. Home at last!