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Advocacy for Medical Libraries. Kelly Rose LIS 600 UNC Greensboro October 23, 2013. The Issue: Survival.

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Advocacy for medical libraries

Advocacy for Medical Libraries

Kelly Rose

LIS 600

UNC Greensboro

October 23, 2013

The issue survival
The Issue: Survival

“The status of hospital librarians has concerned the Medical Library Association (MLA) for many years. As regulations, standards, and the economy have cycled through changes, hospital librarians have been challenged to demonstrate their value and avoid downsizing or closure of their libraries” (Thibodeau, 2009, p. 273).

What can we do
What can we do?

“Advocacy. We need to constantly tell administrators that what we do is mission critical and essential to quality patient care and economically sound. Without this understanding, more administrators will continue to think that everything is available on the web or a librarian can be replaced with one database” (Ennis and Mitchell, 2010, p.160).


  • The set of parameters we use to determine what is acceptable

  • A level of expectations designed to bring out the best in us

  • Realistic, consistent guidelines set to help us attain our goals

  • An adaptable goal set at a challenging, but achievable level in which a framework can be developed to assist in reaching that goal

  • A tool to measure (a rival’s product) in order to compare it with and improve one’s own product

    (Funk, 2008, p. 252)


  • Comparative - Compare performance measures such as budget or quantity of services

  • Process - Compare library practices and processes such as how many days interlibrary loans take to process

    (Funk, 2008)

Advocacy for medical libraries

  • Present standards in a way that the library’s institution or financing body understands them.

  • Benchmark against others who are comparable to them in size of community or types of patrons served, mission, institutional budget, etc.

    (Funk, 2008)

Advocacy in action
Advocacy in Action

  • Use standards and benchmarks

    • To identify areas of improvement

    • To communicate value to administrators

  • Utilize advocacy resources provided by MLA and regional professional organizations


Beales, D. (2012). Areas for Improvement in Medical library Advocacy: In Our Own Words. Journal Of Hospital Librarianship, 12, p. 208-217.

Ennis, L. & Mitchell, N. (2010). The Accidental Health Sciences Librarian. Medford, NJ. Information Today, Inc.

Flannery, M. (2010). Advocating for History and the Health Sciences Libraries and Librarians: A Position Paper by the History of the Health Sciences Section, Medical Association. Journal of the Medical Library Association, 98(1), p.9-11. doi: 10.3163/1536-5050.98.1.006Library A

Funk, C. (2008). Using Standards to Make Your Case: Examples from the Medical Library Community. New Library World, 109(5/6), p. 251-257. doi: 10.1108/03074800810873597

Goldstein, H. (2011). Developing a Strategic Plan for Transitioning to Healthcare Knowledge Services Centers. Journal Of Hospital Librarianship, 11(4), p. 379-387.

Johnson, Michael. (2008). Apple and Orange - they do not compare.

Medical Library Association. MLA's Librarian Survival Kit. (2007).

National Network of Libraries of Medicine. Advocacy for Librarians and Libraries. (2013).

Sherwill-Navarro, P. & Wallace, A. (2004). Research on the Value of Medical Library Services: Does it Make an Impact in the Health Care Literature? Journal of the Medical Library Association, 92(1), p. 34-45.

Thibodeau, P. & Funk, C. (2009). Trends in Hospital Librarianship and Hospital Library Services: 1989 to 2006. Journal of the Medical Librarian Association, 97(4), p.273-279. doi: 10.3163/1536-5050.97.4.011

Zenan, J. (2003). The Association of Academic Health Sciences Libraries’ Legislative Activities and the Joint Medical Library Association/Association of Academic Health Sciences Libraries Legislative Task Force. Journal of the Medical Library Association, 92(2), p. 168-172.