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From the Medical Library Association on the survival of hospital libraries

Posted by Editor on August 24, 2009

mlaconnectby Connie Schardt, MLA President

…The world of academic medical libraries is also rapidly changing and positions are being lost, space is being challenged and budgets reduced. MLA has a strong program of advocacy and tries to provide all health science librarians with the skills, knowledge, and networking needed to successfully manage access to quality health information:

  • We are reviewing our continuing education program to make sure that the courses needed to maintain basic competencies are readily available to members.
  • The Benchmarking project provides members with comparable data about the services and resources of hospital libraries. (The 2007 survey data is based on the records of 375 hospital libraries.)
  • The Research Section through a survey of MLA Leadership identified priority topics for research. The top question is — “In what ways do library services improve or benefit health care education and patient care?” Here’s an opportunity for Sections and Chapters to collaborate and develop a research proposal or project to address this vital question.
  • The Vital Pathways was charged “to review existing data and trends in the status of hospital librarians, collect data on the links between libraries and quality and financial outcomes, and develop an action plan for MLA to use this information to influence hospital decision-makers and key leaders in the health care field.” The groundwork has been done.Many of the reports and resources are available at
  • MLA tracks changes in hospital library status and offers to send letters of support to appropriate hospital administrators.
  • MLA provides a large, geographically-dispersed network of colleagues who will support and mentor individuals in planning their future career moves, whether that is within health science librarianship or out in the broader library realm.
  • The NN/LM has developed a ROI calculator to help quantify the value of library resources and service.
  • MLA maintains an Allied Representative to the JCAHO and monitors the evolution of library and information standards within other appropriate organizations.

We all have to factor in personal responsibility for the sustainability of our professional positions. But, especially in these tough economic times, it’s essential to recognize that there will be circumstances where even the most consistently high performing librarian may find themselves red-lined out of a job.

What else can we be doing to help you?  Please share your ideas and suggestions with the MLA Board, Section Chairs, and Chapter leadership.

See more at and about MLA at:


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