Professionalism & Leadership

Paper: Research Abstract

Investigating Emerging Roles for Medical Librarians at College and University Libraries

Monday, May 6
3:05 PM - 3:20 PM
Room: Columbus IJ (East Tower, Ballroom/Gold Level)

Objectives: This study seeks to identify emerging roles for health sciences librarians by examining position descriptions at U.S. college and university libraries. We hypothesize that because of increasing interdisciplinary research within colleges and universities, there may be emerging roles for medical librarians at academic institutions without dedicated academic health sciences libraries as signified by AAHSL membership.

Methods: To gather these position descriptions, we are using two methods. We are collecting position advertisements posted to several job boards and health sciences librarian mailing lists between September 1 2018 and March 1 2019. Positions that include at least one of the following term in the position title, qualifications, or responsibilities are flagged for review: medic*, health, life, nursing, veterinary, bio*, pharma*. We are also advertising this study on several health sciences librarian mailing lists, soliciting individuals who meet these criteria to deposit their position descriptions into a repository via a Qualtrics survey. We are using grounded theory (an inductive, qualitative research methodology) to identify themes within the collected position descriptions that meet the inclusion criteria.

Results: We found a total of 104 job postings that met our inclusion criteria. Of those 104, 60 were advertised at AAHSL member institutions, and 44 from non-AAHSL institutions. 81 of these advertisements were for front-line librarian positions, with the remaining 23 for management level positions. Job postings were listed in 32 distinct states, with at least one posting in all 8 National Network of Libraries of Medicine (NNLM) Regions. We found the highest number of postings in Region 2 (Southeastern / Atlantic Region), and the fewest in Region 6 (Pacific Northwest Region). Qualitative and additional quantitative analyses of the content of the collected position descriptions are ongoing at this time.

Conclusions: Our preliminary quantitative data suggest the existence of a relatively high number of health sciences librarian job postings at institutions outside of AAHSL. Librarians entering into these advertised positions, specifically into front-line positions, will likely seek out professional development opportunities that will align with the MLA Competencies for Lifelong Learning and Professional Success. This suggests an opportunity for MLA to expand its membership by designing continuing education opportunities for health sciences librarians employed at academic institutions without dedicated academic health sciences libraries.

Alexander J. Carroll, AHIP

Lead Librarian for Research Engagement
NC State University
Raleigh, North Carolina

Alex Carroll, MSLS, AHIP, is the Lead Librarian for Research Engagement at the NC State University Libraries. In addition to supporting research faculty who use engineering methodologies to investigate health-related problems, Alex develops curriculum-integrated information literacy instruction programs for students in the sciences. Alex serves on the editorial board of the Journal of the Medical Library Association, is a Senior member of MLA's Academy of Health Information Professionals (AHIP), and in 2016 was selected for the Award for Professional Excellence by a New Health Sciences Librarian by MLA's Mid-Atlantic Chapter. His research interests include evidence-based practice, mentoring emerging LIS professionals, and improving information literacy instruction for students in the sciences; he has published on these topics in journals such as portal: Libraries and the academy, The Journal of Academic Librarianship, and the Journal of the Medical Library Association.


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Jason B. Reed

Health Sciences Information Specialist
Purdue University
West Lafayette, IN


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Investigating Emerging Roles for Medical Librarians at College and University Libraries

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