Health Sciences Interest Group

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Charge: An opportunity for academic librarians with health sciences responsibilities to have a place in ACRL to network, share information, ask questions, and work on special projects relevant to the academic health sciences.
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  • 1.  Question - Specialties within Medical Library

    Posted Apr 16, 2024 06:13 PM

    Hi Health Sciences Interest Group,

    I had posted a question before and someone mentioned about the specialties within medical library. May someone elaborate about the various specialties within medical library?  I thought the structure of a medical library in terms of jobs consist library admin/director/manager, reference librarians, research librarians, interlibrary loan specialist(s), and library assistants. 

    Bryan Gonzalez

  • 2.  RE: Question - Specialties within Medical Library

    Posted Apr 18, 2024 07:37 AM

    Hi Bryan, 

    It is really going to vary a lot by size of the library how this plays out. For hospital-based libraries, all those roles are often the responsibility of a single person or maybe a single librarian and a few library assistants. For academic health sciences libraries, it can be as you noted - director, reference/instruction folks, circulation/access staff, and student workers, but it can also get more specialized depending on staff and community size. 

    Here at Countway for example ( we have a number of different departments, most of which have multiple staff within them, and those individuals may have further specializations and special projects. In addition to the roles mentioned above, we have a team dedicated to scholarly communication and the science lifecycle (publishing and data department), our archives and museum folks, and me with a position dedicated solely to collection development (rare in health sciences now). Using me as an example, I also specialize in graphic medicine and conduct outreach, programming, and provide reference/research support for that topic - tasks that usually belong to other departments, but that I take on for a specific subject. Our R&I team also has folks with their own specializations, with some spending nearly all of their time on systematic review work while others do some of that but primarily focus on teaching and other reference responsibilities. 

    All that to say: there is specialization as in specific positions or departments that focus on more narrow work and then there are subject or skill based specializations that staff may have or seek out. There are some MLA specialization competencies out there, where you take x number of continuing ed courses to be considered certified, that fall into this later category. 

    I hope this helps?

    Matthew Noe
    Lead Collection and Knowledge Management Librarian
    Countway Library of Medicine | @NoetheMatt

  • 3.  RE: Question - Specialties within Medical Library

    Posted Apr 18, 2024 07:39 AM



    I am not sure what they were referring to with regards to specialties unless they meant hospital, academic, academic medical center, pharmaceutical, associational. There are medical librarians that work in all different kinds of health sciences libraries. I hope this helps.

    Sarah Wade, MLS
    Medical Librarian
    Campbell University Jerry M. Wallace School of Osteopathic Medicine

    (910) 893-7620 (direct)
    Post Office Box 4280
    Buies Creek, NC 27506

    Schedule a meeting with Sarah

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  • 4.  RE: Question - Specialties within Medical Library

    Posted Apr 18, 2024 08:59 AM

    Additionally special collections and archives which can include archivists, digital archivist, curators/public historians, rare book librarians, oral historians, and various specialists and associates under those.


    Carrie Meyer, MA, MA

    Assistant Professor

    Head, Robert S. Wigton Department of Special Collections and Archives

    Leon S. McGoogan Health Sciences Library


    University of Nebraska Medical Center

    986705 Nebraska Medical Center  |  Omaha, NE 68198-6705



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    The information in this e-mail may be privileged and confidential, intended only for the use of the addressee(s) above. Any unauthorized use or disclosure of this information is prohibited. If you have received this e-mail by mistake, please delete it and immediately contact the sender.

  • 5.  RE: Question - Specialties within Medical Library

    Posted Apr 18, 2024 09:43 AM


    I think all the responses so far have addressed many different specialties within medical libraries. I think Matthew gives some great examples of additional functional areas, like scholarly communications. I would also add that in the clinical settings there are librarians or informationists who support patient care teams and/or graduate medical education programs. These librarians sometimes round with the teams seeing patients or participate in case reports to research clinical questions that arise during discussion of the cases.  I also know of one librarian at a larger health system who focuses on supporting nursing departments in their research and knowledge dissemination activities that are part of Magnet accreditation (American Nurses Credentialing Center).

    I suggest taking a look at jobs at the Medical Library Association site: MLA : Career Center : Find a Job ( to browse some descriptions for different types of positions. 

    Sara mentioned different types of organizations. I would add government agencies - NIH, USDA, FDA, CDC

    Amy Allison
    Associate Provost for Library Services
    Geisinger College of Health Sciences