What academic librarians do….

Health librarians assume a number of important roles within the university and academic health community. For example, they evaluate, collect and curate print and electronic resources for the purposes of delivering reference and information services to their users. They evaluate the information needs of users. They are responsible for the provision of liaison – face-to-face & digital for a variety of disciplines and professions. They provide expertise in the area of systematic review searching. They monitor information trends such as data curation, data visualization and social network analysis. They teach courses and workshops on a range of information technology topics to academics, clinicians and health care managers. Even though health professionals are increasingly self-sufficient in locating information, due to easy access to information on the web via search engines, and because health librarians have increased their teaching in information literacy, there is still much teaching to be provided. With so much information, some concern has been expressed that health librarians are not teaching the necessary skills for users to be self-reliant. Health librarians need to do some creative strategic planning to assess these deficits.

Health librarians provide instruction & educational support to scholars and clinicians by:

  • Providing bibliographic instruction to support programs at the university, and medical school via face-to-face and online workshops and classes
  • Providing in-depth reference services to undergraduate medical students, graduate students and faculty, as well as clinicians in allied health
  • Building their presentation skills and expertise in learning theories and their application to user groups

Health librarians are involved in ensuring access to high-quality, evidence-based information by:

  • Staying current with trends in information technologies, eHealth, mHealth, medical informatics, social media etc.
  • Acting on behalf of the university and hospital communities in negotiations on consortia for usable and affordable collections & technologies
  • Negotiating affordable rates for subscriptions to important databases (and keeping track of any free alternatives)
  • Negotiating the transition of websites from static silos into a sophisticated and useful portals
  • Providing consultation and leadership in the areas of expert searching and systematic review searching
  • Working with the national and international library community on the formation of new policies around intellectual property and fair usage, in light of new technologies

Health librarians are involved in collection development & maintenance by:

Health librarians are involved in collection organization and access by:

  • ensuring that scholars and clinicians have access to materials to support their research
  • providing timely and useful presentation of information on library websites and by cataloguing resources for findability
  • advocating for wide and uniform access to scholarly and clinical information, including the use of information visualization techniques
  • negotiating access to electronic serials with publishers and through provincial and national consortia
  • representing the library and university on national and international standards committees for information encoding, description and classification
  • ensuring that the health library conforms to standards of resource description and access i.e., Dublin Core, Resource Description and Access (RDA)

For more information, see Health librarianship pathfinder & Managing health libraries

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