The Medical Library Association (MLA) voter: a survey of attitudes, perceptions, and voting practices in MLA national elections


  • James Shedlock Retired MLA Member, Chicago, IL
  • Elizabeth Perkin McQuillen Manager, Faculty Affairs, Support and Data, College of Nursing, Wayne State University, Detroit, MI



Voting, Candidate Qualities, Single Slate, Campaigning, Medical Library Association


Objective: Voting in professional associations is critical for selecting leaders who will implement a desirable vision for an association. Members of the Medical Library Association (MLA) were surveyed to assess their attitudes and perceptions of the voting process to elect the MLA national offices of president and members of the Board of Directors and Nominating Committee. Survey data were also used to test the hypothesis that committed MLA members are more likely to always vote.

Methods: SurveyMonkey was used to deliver a 46-question survey to 2,671 email addresses of MLA members who were eligible to vote. Survey data were analyzed using quantitative and qualitative approaches.

Results: A total of 676 responses were received, resulting in a 25% response rate. Respondents indicated that the most desired qualities in candidates included experience in professional positions, contributions to MLA, and a vision for the association, whereas candidates’ personal characteristics were rarely considered. Respondents expressed doubts about the use of a single slate, had positive views of campaigning but were doubtful about its impact, and were generally accepting of the current voting process. Committed MLA members were significantly more likely to always vote in MLA national elections.

Conclusions: The survey results provide insight into understanding the concerns and motivations of MLA voters and add to the limited literature on professional association voting.


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Original Investigation